Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sister Mary Martha on Lent

Best thing I've ever read on what to give up and the correct attitude about it. Favorite parts follow, but you should read the whole thing:

If you want to lose weight or quit smoking, do it on your own time. [emphasis hers] Lent isn't about looking better in your jeans or avoiding emphysema, although we wish you the best on both those counts.

Lent is about giving up something that will be a daily reminder of the fact that it's Lent. Then while you're thinking about the fact that it's Lent, maybe you'll remember what Lent is all about.


And don't try to sidestep your plan. If you've decided to eat your oatmeal plain, with no brown sugar or milk or raisins or anything, and then you eat eggs half the time for breakfast, shame on you, you slacker. No one let up on Jesus.

Yeah, you slacker! You go, Sister. People who try to give up cigarettes just end up being grumpy and becoming a mortification to everyone around them. This is serious advice from a spiritual offensive coordinator, delivered straight, no chaser. You want to get to Heaven don't listen to me, listen to Sister Mary Martha.

St. Blogs Parish Member

Congratulations are in order -- to me. Contra Pauli is now a member of St. Blogs Parish webring, so everyone has to behave themselves, OK?


NY Bishops Blast Bloomie

Full story here.

In a joint statement released yesterday, Cardinal Edward Egan, head of the Archdiocese of New York, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn sharply criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration for distributing free condoms last Wednesday.


The bishops described the initiative as "tragic and misguided,” and said that "our political leaders fail to protect the moral tone of our community when they encourage inappropriate sexual activity by blanketing our neighborhoods with condoms," the statement said.

Cardinal Egan and Bishop DiMarzio also accused Bloomberg's administration of hypocrisy, by encouraging condom usage while also acknowledging abstinence is the only fail-safe method.

"By their actions, they ignore that truth and degrade societal standards," the leaders said.

"The taxpayer money that is being spent to distribute condoms and promote the attitude that 'anything goes' would be far better spent in fostering what is true and what is decent," their statement said.

That's a really strong response, and I'm proud of what they said. Reminds me of the two junkies, one says to the other, "Lend me your needle." Shocked, the second one says, "Aren't you afraid of AIDS??" "No," says the first, "I'm wearing a condom."

Clarification Regarding Kids' Safety and Fear

Someone responded a bit wildly in a recent post when I was trying to merely urge caution when posting personal details in the strongest possible terms. Hot-button concepts were mentioned -- racism, rape and homophobia -- and I suppose that the commenter wanted to stress that we shouldn't have to live in fear even though, he later admits, we do anyway. ("When I was a child, my parents let me play in the front yard, ride my bike across town, walk home from school alone... now, I'd be a fool to allow my kids to do that...")

I'll restate and reiterate: the new version of blogger has a "By Invitation Only" security feature. Use it. You can invite as many people to have access as you want to via email. Just like you can give out keys to your deadbolt locks to anyone you trust.

I don't let fear "govern my every move." I'm very much against what Dennis Prager refers to as the "stranger danger" programs that infected schools in the silly seventies. I'm not going to teach my kids to beware so-called strangers in general; it's counter-productive at best. But the world wide web is the Wild West at best and a wild wasteland at worst.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Parents Should Be Seen and Not Heard

That's an appropriate lead-in for this TIME article about parents inflicting their own sense of cool on their progeny. I found it at the car dealership whilst performing remedial winterization a few days back. The long faces of the other NE Ohio patrons were glued to the gloomy weather reports on the lobby TV and they were probably wondering why I was laughing so hard. (I even had them photocopy it for me which helped to take the sting out of the bill, oy....) Excerpt:

Full disclosure: I have two young sons, and if anything, Pollack gets my experience unsettlingly right. I live in Brooklyn, which along with the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles is the apparent epicenter of the hipster-parent movement. When one of my kids requests the Magnetic Fields on the iPod, I swell with pride as fathers of another era did when their sons completed touchdown passes. And if it's easy to criticize Pollack's preciousness, it's because, like a good, self-aware Gen Xer, he does it for you. "I wonder," he writes, "what Ariel Dorfman, Primo Levi and Arthur Koestler, men who wrote memoirs about actual struggle, would think about the genre of whiny new-parent hand-wringing."

I know it's not the main point here, but this comedic-yet-scary piece segues with my rantings about how bad an idea it is to "live out loud" on the Internet. Putting everything out there in a premature memoir is loosening up parents and future parents to turn their kids into Gerber babies without the revenue stream. They think of their kids as just another part of their life instead of people who should be given some privacy. Ever hear of search engines? The World Wide Web is not a family slide show in the basement, folks!

I've told commenters to my blogs that I'm pretty liberal about what they write in the comments, but start mentioning my kids names there and see how long they stay up. In my view, you can't complain about child molestors if your blog readers know their names and ages and where they're going to school. People need to learn how to discuss things in general terms and save the rest for private email discussions.

In saying this I realize that I am busting on some of the blogs I read and enjoy and I don't mean to offend them or suggest that they don't care about their children's safety. But if I can figure out how to search using target terms to identify virtually public family photo albums and weblogs, then families who put all this personal stuff out there must consider that this trend might be the greatest thing to happen to child predation in a great while. Fortunately the new version of blogger has a feature to configure a blog to be "by invitation only" and require a login; that is what I would suggest for family use.


More obsessing about obsession from the obviously obsessed. In response to the post here, Mark Shea responds:


This is not fair. Now that ConCrunchy is gone you don't have anybody to freak out and call you an America hater for suggesting that God might even be sovereign over *us*.

When I speculate on this stuff (and that's all it ever can be since I do not know the mind of the Almighty on such matters), I have the Rapid Response Team over at We Really Really Despise Mark there to assure the world that my guesses and pondering are the mark of an fevered, lying, and quite possible sick or evil mind. When you do exactly the same thing, it's crickets.

I think you need to lobby some of your readers to set up an obsessostalker site devoted to you again. It's not fair that I should be the only one with obsessostalkers! Or maybe you could just ask the folks at to expand their horizons a bit to attacking you for pointing out that profound sickness of our culture and remarking on it.

Mark P. Shea Homepage 02.15.07 - 9:49 pm #

When some people are trying to be funny, they really are funny. That's why I keep reading these comboxes. It's like a reality show comedy. Or something.

Dudes!! it's such a downer, you know, 'cause like we can't freak out anymore over at the Contra Crunchy site, man, about, like, how other people hate America because they believe God punishes evil-doers.

I must have shed the brain cells containing the memory of the posts anyone did doubting God's sovereignty. I think there were a few swear words over there....

I've always been irritated that Falwell and Robertson never mention sacrificing domesticated cats in the woods even once in their numerous diatribes about the sins of America.

BTW, my wife is always singing that "Awwwwww FREAK OUT!" song and now, thanks to Mark Shea, it's stuck in my head once again.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Abject Failure of First Things

Nowadays I open up my issues of First Things with more and more disappointment. What do you find in there? An Alexandr Solzhenitsyn thing, stuff on the Church Fathers' resurgence, Cardinal Dulles on Pope Benedict, ok, ok, yawn, yawn. I get it; this is important stuff, no argument.

But nowhere within it's pages does anyone provide even an opinion on other important stuff I'd really like to see covered. Just a fer instance, couldn't one of the smart guys over there give his take on the S&W Model 640 for concealed carry? I mean, it's macho to pack something big, but cheesy Louisy! Only five rounds and loud as a frickin' Sherman tank is going to get you out of a hole in the wall bar, but kind of on the heavy side, right, even for us "revolver guys". And what's with the stainless steel? I'm inclined to think that Chuck Hawks is right -- why use a .357 for a concealed carry when it's going to "kick like hell", and I'm right there with him when he expertly states, "For the person who prefers to carry a revolver, a .38 Special snubby is hard to beat." Damn straight, Chuck.

And I don't even know what Father Neuhaus is currently packing, man. He never mentions it. Isn't that crazy? It's not even in Damon Linker's book, or so I've heard from people willing to take the proper amount of NoDoz to get through it. And what about Joey Bottum? Someone with that cool a name... I'll bet whatever it is it's got to be heavy.

And what does Hawks think about abortion? Or Ed Lovette? Beats me. And that's what's so troubling about the silence of FT on these issues. Also -- book reviews out the wazoo, but no review of Ghost Rider... what's with that? To be sure, the SCCB is silent on these things as well, but I've come to expect more from FT, maybe I'm naïve.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New Poll Question

Attention all Contrapaulistas: please vote on the new poll question over to the right: Should blogger Bubba start his own blog? I voted Yeah!! already.

Burning Cats and Dogs

Oengus Moonbones over at one of the final Contra Crunchy posts described Rod Dreher as genial and chatty, although not really to be taken seriously. The upside to incurable sanguines like myself is that this style attracts chatty commenters and subsequently spawns some hilarious combox threads. The recent Santeria thread is a great example, here are some small doses:

There's animal sacrifice, and there's animal sacrifice. I once came across a burning stump in the woods. There was a sense of great danger and wrongness. After I approached and stared at it for a minute I made out the body of a cat in the coals.The fire department dismissed it as "kids playing with fire and a dead cat." - Lisa 02.08.07 - 1:15 pm #

Lisa, that story about the burning stump ENRAGES me. We need more advocacy for STUMP'S RIGHTS!! - Pauli Homepage 02.08.07 - 1:20 pm #

Pauli,I know that you're joking, but doesn't the idea of burning a cat alive bother you? - watsy 02.08.07 - 2:09 pm #

Watsy, OK, I'll let the cat out of the bag. I'm joking. But how do you know the cat was burnt alive? You need the CSI folks to determine that. It could have been found already dead or maybe lethally injected first. Or given the ol' baseball bat in the head like DeNiro's Capone in that "Untouchables" remake.Or maybe the pet owner just opted for cremation rather than burial and didn't have funds for the crematorium.Commenter Lisa provided no real evidence pointing to animal sacrifice, e.g., strange markings or symbols or other indications. Maybe she could clue us in on what gave her the "sense of danger and wrongness" beyond her own imagination. - Pauli Homepage 02.08.07 - 3:14 pm #

Pauli, the sense of wrongness was 1) my imagination, 2) my subconscious putting clues together, 3) a true perception of spiritual evil. Take your pick.I felt the wrongness before I saw the cat. There was no smell of burning flesh. I've seen a lot of unpleasant things in the woods, dead animals, animals eating animals, entrails dropped from the sky, a flasher, an adolescent groper on a bike, a crawling likely rabid bat, a dead squirrel tied to a rope, fires... and nothing else triggered that sense of wrongness and uncommon evil.My own guess - #3. - Lisa 02.08.07 - 5:07 pm #

Anyway, that was my favorite part and the part to which I contributed the most, but there are true gems of wisdom all thoughout the thread. I'll include some pearls of miscellaneous hilarity here:

  • If you can't appreciate the power struggle and class dynamic underlying Santeria's infusion of traditional African religion with Christian imagery, then you probably shouldn't really say anything about it in the same sense that if you don't understand anything about sin then you should probably keep silent about salvation.
  • Really, one mans's (sic) demon is another man's God.... I may not get along very well with those Gods, but I certainly will not call them Evil or Demons just becuase (sic) I don't like them. Just like I wouldn't call a fellow human a loser or a moron solely based on whether or not I like them.
  • The average grocery store chicken goes through a life of pain and misery with a very horrifying death at the end.
  • Slaughtering animals for gods that have no physical body seems like a violation of animal rights.
  • For chicken done right, one MUST go to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles.
  • ...whether federal animal welfare statutes are being broken.

(Also: commenter Daniel brings up Stranger in a Strange Land. We all grok it, Daniel. Embarrassing. There should be a blog rule against bringing up that book like the Hitler rule.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Kingfish Chronicles

Rod's coverage of the John Edward's campaign blogger thing is OK; he understands that Bill Donohue is doing good work on this. So good for everybody.

I don't think he's bashing the Catholic church in this instance, but why does he seem to have to remark "[I]t's more than a little embarrassing that some on the Catholic left don't have enough self-respect to stand up for their faith." Embarrassing to whom? Seems like he's reminding his Catholic readers that they have lefties so-called in their church. Well, that sure is necessary; thanks for the public service message, Rod, I almost forgot.

I'm one of those folks that really feel that the best strategy is to simply ignore publications like Commonweal and NCR as much as we dismiss the sedevacantist vomit on the so-called "Catholic right". Focusing on it makes the church appear divided and fosters to a kind of political correctness which would have us give equal time to everybody, including dissenters. The only reason most of these frowning hippies-with-hemorrhoids don't leave the church is that they wouldn't be employable in the cold, cruel world outside.

What do you all think? I'm already buried in snow here, so feel free to "pile on"!