Saturday, April 24, 2010


Whenever I'm sitting in my office in Cleveland on a dreary, rainy Saturday I listen to this. And immediately I feel like I'm in Pittsburgh on a dreary Saturday and I'm just starting to go bald.

Jaco lives.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not just students, I'm afraid

Internet addiction is the pits, isn't it? Let's you and him pray for all our addicted friends.

In the United States a small private U.S. center called ReSTART, located near Redmond, Washington, opened last year in the shadow of computer giant Microsoft to treat excessive use of the Internet, video gaming and texting.

Know anyone in Washington who needs to be ReSTARTed?

I make me laugh, part II

Here's a post from about three years ago that made me laugh, so y'all enjoy.

WRT playing the "hater" card

If anyone cared about being factual at all, he or she wouldn't assume that I hate Rod Dreher. There's evidence enough to convince me: positive comments on his blog posts with which I agree and private emails back and forth. If my readers are decent types, they will take this at face value, and I won't have to sift through old internet conversations because unlike some people, I don't have time to do that, providing a play-by-play of who said what.

Thinking someone has some mistaken, stupid ideas or that they are acting badly and then subsequently being vocal about it is not equivalent to hating that person. If this were so, it could be said that I hated all my kids and my mother, for starters. Likewise my mother could be said to hate me; she's the most vocal person about my conversion to Catholicism. But to my point: people who possess any kind of vocabulary should really reconsider before they descend to this juvenile accusation of hatred. Even referring to an argument as a fight amounts to "inflationary language".

So let's all cool off with Victor Borge, shall we?

"Three-faced triple-crosser!", lol

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Historic low for "trust in government" poll numbers

My previous post linked to a piece in Investor's Business Daily stating that only 22% of Americans polled favor a Value-added Tax be implemented. Now I'm looking at Dan Henninger's "Democrats at the Edge of the Cliff" article in WSJ and he's pointing out the record low in public trust of government, also 22%.

I don't think this is a coincidence; I think this 22% represents the same people.

There are some more ominous numbers in the last 2 paragraphs:

A Quinnipiac poll released yesterday has the Obama presidential approval rating down to 44%—after health care, after the arms treaty with Russia, after the 47-nation, anti-proliferation convocation in Washington.

He insists on more government. People want less, and don't trust what they've got. They want reform. Here's the Pew blowout data:

In 1994 when the Democrats lost over 50 House seats at mid-term, the party's favorable rating was 62%, and for the Congress they controlled it was 53%. They still got killed. Now the party's favorable is 38% and Congress's approval is 25%. The Republicans' numbers are low, too, but they're not in charge.

The Democratic Party is on the edge of an electoral cliff with a long fall to the bottom. No wonder they're seeing a demon under every bed.

Gimme some good times, bro!

IBD on VAT. Excerpt:

It's been estimated that a 5% VAT would generate $250 billion in annual revenues. So to get rid of the $1 trillion annual deficits expected through 2020 would require a value-added tax of 20%. And that's in addition to all the taxes we already pay at every level of government. Such a tax burden would kill innovation, jobs and economic growth. Our economy would be more like those of the stagnant, debt-ridden European Union, where the VAT averages close to 20%.

A Chamber of Commerce study suggests that spending in countries with a VAT grows 45% faster than in non-VAT countries. A VAT, it seems, emboldens money-drunk politicians to spend even more on expanding the welfare state.

That's why, as unpopular as it is, Democratic politicians in the White House and Congress can't quite let go of the idea. White House spokesmen have insisted no VAT is in the cards, but President Obama on Wednesday left the door open, saying, "I want to get a better picture of what our options are."

This tax ain't gonna just "trickle down" either. It's going to hit people at the bottom like sacks of bricks.

Dawn Eden's Thesis

Yesterday I purchased an eBook (PDF format) of Dawn Eden's masters thesis entitled Towards a "Climate of Chastity": Bringing Catechesis on the Theology of the Body into the Hermeneutic of Continuity. You can buy it here for $9.95. [Note: no longer available―see below.]

I read it in a couple sittings,although I haven't read all the footnotes yet―there are a lot. It's very well written and I highly recommend it. It's a very respectful and measured critique of Christopher West's presentation of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Eden deals with the controversies arising from West's style, but also uncovers errors in subject matter and points at which he departs from church teaching. Interestingly enough, at least half of the references she uses to demonstrate this are from John Paul II himself. If nothing else, a reader comes away realizing that many of the things West proclaims are definitely his own ideas and may or may not reflect the thinking of our previous Holy Father.

The problem I've always seen with West is that of many in my generation―namely overreaction against those who hold views closest to their own. Example: everyone is prudish about sex, especially Catholics, right? So let's talk about how the Easter candle is really phallic and when it's dipped into the baptismal font on Holy Saturday to bless the water it's like a penis going into a vagina. Or let's call the Song of Songs the "centerfold" of the Bible because it can be said to contain erotic language. Or let's state that Hefner and Ensler are really on to something, barely noting that their beliefs and lifestyles are much farther away ideologically from Catholics than that pious Puritan guy who guards his eyes around the attractive women at a wedding reception.

The Easter candle example seems to be the exact opposite of preaching that the human body has a theological dimension, and it feels more like a manifestation of what JP2 called sexualism, and it amounts to an insistence upon a necessary sexual dimension for the experience of God. But what I just said and how I phrased it is about as crude as stating "West fails the Rorshach test", and that's why I advise everyone to read this thesis if they are interested in JP2's Theology of the Body. Because I could go on a great deal about the topic, yet she does a much more thorough job of it.

The release of the critique could not be more timely, arriving on the heels of West's newly-announced 6-month teaching sabbatical, the stated intention of which is "to reflect more deeply on fraternal and spiritual guidance he has received in order to continue developing his methodology and praxis as it relates to the promulgation of the Theology of the Body." I hope he considers her critique in his reflection.

H/T Mark Shea.

Update: Just received this email from Ms. Eden in response to my investigation:

I'm very happy you liked my thesis--thank you! The statement below explains why it's unavailable, I would be grateful for your feedback as I work on the second edition. You are of course free to blog about the thesis as you see fit.

God bless,

When made the eBook available for purchase, I offered at the same time to send a free copy to anyone who worked for a parish or diocese. The response to the free offer was truly overwhelming―over 100 requests in two and a half days, from priests, seminarians, and catechists throughout the United States and Canada, and even one in New Zealand.

I asked readers to send me their feedback, and have already heard from several of them. Some wrote that they found my work helpful, but wanted to see some of my arguments articulated in greater depth than I was able to provide within the confines of a 70-page thesis. As a result, I have made the decision to temporarily remove Towards a "Climate of Chastity" from circulation while I work on a revised and expanded version, which will be made available during the week of May 24. At that point, I will make it available for free once more to those who work for the Church, while others may purchase it from

Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The ol' Führer Boy is not pleased about the copyright enforcement

The Youtube "Downfall Parody" ban

Well this stinks. Just heard about it on Rush Limbaugh. Youtube will be removing the hilarious Hitler parodies from their site at the request of the Downfall owners, Constantin Film.

I agree with Rush that this is a stupid move on the part of the producers. I had the same reaction as he did when I saw my first one―this looks like a great film; I wouldn't mind seeing it sometime. So it really is a good advertisement for the film, and it just goes to show what the inability to take a joke can cost people.

But the good news is that this process will take some time; the vids are still there for now. This means that if you have a favorite then you can record it by downloading's free RealPlayer which allows Youtube videos to be downloaded from the browser via a "Download this clip" link which appears above the video.

Here's one of my favorites: "Hitler finds out there is no Santa." And now I've preserved it for posterity thanks to RealPlayer.

I mean, come on―if we can't laugh at Hitler, who can we laugh at?

BTW, this is my 1300th post, so I get to have milk and cookies. Or maybe coffee... but not crunchy cat's ass coffee, thanks.

"Amerikantsy konvertsy"

An Orthodox Christian blogger named Vara shares her opinion near the bottom of this page. She gets bonus points in my book for her use of the word jackanapes.

Lately, one Rod Dreher, one of the loudmouthed konvertsy, has raised a brouhaha. Firstly, I would like to apologise to all of my Roman Catholic readers for his indecent behaviour. Honest opposition is one thing… to use the sad events in one confession or another to smash others in an “ecumenical” venue is beyond the pale. I bow before you and ask your pardon (especially when the person involved only recently converted from the confession that he attacks... sheesh, that’s LOW).

That is why I have translated this piece. If Rod Dreher (and all like him… Jonas Paffhausen, Frederica Matthewes-Greene, Patrick Henry Reardon, Joseph Honeycutt, John Behr, et al) is not a legitimate example of an Orthodox Christian, then, pray tell, who is? Read these words of Dmitri Belyukin, and look at his art... look at the art of his teachers... and of their teachers as well (especially Pavel Korin’s A Farewell to Rus). One Dmitri Belyukin is worth more than all the posturing Amerikantsy konvertsy put together.

I am sorry that this posing jackanapes used the current crisis in the Vatican as a cudgel. When I mentioned it, I also mentioned our own failings, and, indeed, mostly confined myself to intramural affairs. As for my opinion, I believe that too many converts start posting before they have learnt “A cat sat on a mat” in spiritual things. Mr Dreher is one such... however, one can say this in his defence... he has been encouraged by equally ignorant clergy. All too many clergy in the OCA and AOCANA have heterodox, not Orthodox, formations... that is not a piffle.

Again, I apologise for the outburst of Mr Dreher, he should have left his former confession alone, and in peace (the sheer arrogance and hubris of it is breathtaking). If it is any comfort, these sorts are worse to us grounded Orthodox… they tell us we are “hateful”, that we need to go to confession, that what we believe is “wrong”, and they quote the Fathers and canons (from bad translations) ad nauseum.

It's pretty clear to me that he's still somewhere in the neighborhood of "a cat sat on a mat". And pooped out coffee.

There is SO much weird crap on the internets

Some people will hate me for posting this, but... I was watching old Roky Erickson vids and 13FE stuff on youtube when I saw this link and had to watch it.

I know I'm weird, but this is the sort of thing that makes my day.

Seriously I'm considering watching that documentary about Roky, You're gonna miss me, but I know it will be depressing as hell. Here's the trailer if you're interested.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Porcupine Tree: Trains

A reader told me about this band. I'm digging them.

I'm taking my wife to see REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar in August. Those are two of my wife's favorite bands, and I like them, too, although I must admit I'm more anxious to see Pat than REO. Anyway, that should kick ass.

Link between abortion and breast cancer

Gerard Nadal, a molecular microbiologist, blogs about a recent interview with Fathers For Good regarding the link between abortion and breast cancer as well as the link between taking birth-control bills and cancer. Excerpt:

Fathers for Good: Briefly explain what you see as the abortion-breast cancer link.

Dr. Nadal: I first learned of the abortion-breast cancer (ABC) link about three years ago when I came across a book entitled, Breast Cancer, Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill, written Chris Kahlenborn, a medical doctor. It’s a great read for those who are not medical professionals.

In brief, when women become pregnant for the first time, they make vastly increased amounts of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which stimulate the milk-producing tissue of the breast to undergo massive proliferation during the first trimester. These cells form the immature and cancer-prone Type-1 and Type-2 lobules. In the last trimester, hormonal changes will mature 85% of these lobules into cancer-resistant Type-3 and Type-4 lobules. Terminating the pregnancy through induced abortion robs these lobules of the last trimester’s maturation and leaves behind a great deal of newly made, cancer-prone cells.

Most women who have had miscarriages have miscarried precisely because they are not producing enough of the hormones estrogen and progesterone and have not undergone the proliferation of breast lobules. Therefore, they don’t share the same risk as women who have had induced abortions.

FFG: How is the birth-control pill implicated?

Dr. Nadal: The pill contains very high doses of synthetic estrogen and progesterone, which mimic a pregnancy followed by abortion on a monthly basis. Studies have shown frightening rates of breast cancer for women taking the pill or estrogen replacement therapy in menopause. They all share the same mechanism for cancer production as induced abortion. One recent study leads some of us to believe that the synthetic form of estrogen in the pill may be responsible for a particularly aggressive and deadly form of breast cancer called Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Nasty stuff. And everybody gets riled up when some chicken gets jacked with a growth hormone.

Jim Schutze: "So I guess it's this: He's a weird guy."

Rod Dreher has proclaimed that he is "taking a break from blogging on the Catholic scandal" (code for "Not-Sure-How-To-Respond-To-Mark-Shea's-Critique-So-Hiding-For-Now") in order to post tasteful photos and learn Tai Chi. So we will turn to Jim Schultze, a former Dallas colleague of Dreher's, for substantive analysis of his religious viewpoint. Here's a teaser:

My Home Depot source happens to know Freedman, a journalism professor at Columbia, and called him to point out, just for grins, that Dreher actually believes in a syncretism of voodoo, Catholicism and vegetarianism (hence, Crunchy!), according to things he wrote here in Dallas.

I am unable to provide a link to The Dallas Morning News story that was perhaps the best example, an October 31, 2004 op-ed epistle headlined "A ghost in the family," but I can summarize: Various trailer-park-seeming misadventures the Dreher clan in Lousiana involving embezzlement, senility and late-life conjugation can be blamed on ghosts that had to exorcised by a Cajun lady who started vibrating violently and burned her hand when she touched the photo of the dead slut who had come back to haunt the socks off Rod. My Home Depot comrade felt that Dreher was not the one to be looking down his Coonass nose at Haitians and wrote to Freedman to tell him.

Read the whole thing; it's amusing.

Re: vegetarianism: I think Mr. Schutze is off here; he doesn't know about the sacramental chickens. However I don't know the word for vegetable-worship either.

Someone in the comments provides a link to the "Ghost in the Family" story, which I just read. Schutze is a bit mistaken on the plot, but not the overall B-movie tenor. It's one of those stories in which the embellishments are painfully obvious and you can just sort of feel the artistic license flowing liberally like gravy over less flavorful mashed potatoes. Kind of reminded me of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman for some doubtlessly oblique reason.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mark Shea Deserves Praise

In a post which could have been penned by our good friend, Diane, Mark Shea writes:

Rod, Rod, Rod:

Last week you ran the grossly inaccurate and inflammatory headline "Ratzinger: Bishop, take your time with that pedophile" and encouraged your readers to make plenty of false assumptions about a case against Ratzinger that, once again, turned out to be utterly insubstantial. You also encouraged your readers to assume that Ratzinger's language about the "good of the universal Church" was code for "don't let anybody know about the pervert" when it was, in fact, boilerplate, mid-1980s form letter bureaucratese for "Hey! We aren't handing out laicizations like Pez dispensers here. These priests who are all bailing on their vows need to slow down and think about the people of God they made promises to." In short, the guy was following basic procedures over which he had little control, not trying to cover anything up and not endangering any kids. Despite your reader Roland de Chanson's quite clear case for the sloppiness of this lazy act of defamation ("contumelious", what a cool word), I've seen no retraction from you on this, just more vaunting of how we all need to be grateful to the media for this grotesque feeding frenzy on Benedict.

Now you hold up Peggy "Keep walking. Some things should be a mystery" Noonan as our paradigm of moral courage in media in yet *another* entry in the ongoing Benedict Media Slamfest?

Seriously, Rod. You have battened on every rumor, every craptastic piece of reportage in the Get Benedict campaign for the past month. Ocassionally, you've been forced to dial back when it became overwhelmingly evident that, for instance, the Times reportage on the Murphy case was crap. But mostly, you've promoted the Benedict bashing far beyond the merits of the evidence and lectured us on our debt to the press while that press has been engaged in gross violations of decency and honesty. And now this encomium to Peggy Noonan, Voice of Transparency and Reform?

Please. When you were Catholic, there was call for you to crusade against corruption in the Catholic Church (though I would hardly say that "following a slow and dumb bureaucratic procedure in laicizing a priest who had been removed from ministry" is "corruption"). But you bailed on the Church and found a new spiritual home in the OCA. It's not my job to judge you for that and I wish the best to you and your family there. However, when you make that choice, it is rubbish to then invoke your duties as a crusading journalist dedicated to the public welfare to make Benedict-bashing mountains out of evidential molehills like the Kiesle case while studiously ignoring the log in your very own communion's eye. If you feel you need to write highly inflammatory headlines based on hair trigger assumptions of bad faith against good men, you might look closer to home at the story of how one of your bishops once received into the OCA a monastery crawling with pederasty (the "abbot" and his right-hand guy apparently imported young Ukrainian novices for all their on-site molestation needs). When this happened, it was under police investigation because one of the young Ukrainian kids, after years of sexual abuse, had stabbed a young nun 97 times.

There's actually a book about the whole depressing mess: Murder at Holy Cross. Is the book biased? You bet. Sort of like Castrillon Hoyos, under the gun from Benedict's Vatican for his stupid behavior, claiming that he had John Paul's full approval. But since there seems to be no problem instantly crediting Hoyos as a proof of JPII's perfidy, I don't see why you shouldn't turn to this book as proof for putting the darkest construction on the heirarchs in your communion too.

Of course, the ecclesial authorities in this matter might be as innocent as Benedict was in the Kiesle case. My money is on the truth that they are. But don't consider that. Your Abp Dmitri lives in the same geographical area. He apparently had nothing to do with it and even opposed it, and we don't really know that the people who did have something to do with receiving the monastery had evil intent, but don't bother with those distinctions. Just write a headline like "Local OCA hierarchy to pervert murder monks: Welcome aboard!" It will be as just and fair to Dmitri as that headline was about Ratzinger.

So: fine. Cardinal Law, I agree, needs to be doing something besides padding around some Church in Rome, doing nothing. Personally, I think we laity should have put him behind bars. You are unhappy that he has not been punished to your satisfaction. Duly noted.

But you aren't Catholic anymore. What's it to you? And before you say something with the phrase, "My sacred duty as a journalist" in it, lemme ask you again, what service to journalistic truth was done by publishing a headline like "Ratzinger: Bishop, take your time with that pedophile" on a hair trigger and inflaming people to mob hatred against a guy who is, as I do not doubt your own bishop is, a good man struggling to purify the filth in the Church? If your sacred duty impels you to send the torch and pitchfork wavers off to crucify Benedict as a guardian of pedophiles on evidence with all the strength and stability of wet toilet paper, why does it not likewise oblige you to crucify your own bishop and local hierarchy on equally dubious grounds?

Alternatively, you could take my suggestion: at the very least, retract and apologize for that headline and for the "Benedict thought pedophiles should be hushed up for the good of the universal Church" analysis that went with it. Cut him the same slack you cut Dmitri and your own bishops, Rod. That's only fair.

I've been hoping for this post for some time, and I firmly believed that it would have to be written if Rod kept up the Catholic bashing. While I disagree with Mark on some issues–especially with regards to how much attention certain topics deserve–I think he really tries, as an apologist, to get to the truth of a matter without counting the cost. I know that Rod and Mark are friends, but Mark laid out pretty clearly and bluntly what was wrong with Rod's arguments for leaving the church way back when and reiterated these points as necessary. And for Mark to be true to his "So That No Thought of Mine...Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!" motto he simply had to write something mentioning Dreher's unretracted defamation of the Pope, his mountains from molehills propensities, his hypocrisy vis-à-vis the OCA scandals and his overall delusions as some type of crusader when he isn't even Catholic.

I hereby echo Mark's call for an apology "for that headline and for the 'Benedict thought pedophiles should be hushed up for the good of the universal Church' analysis that went with it."

Update: Well it seems I've been accused of really, really hating someone―which is a mortal sin AFAIK―in a national publication no less. If y'all are wandering over here from there, first of all a hearty welcome to all y'all. Secondly, check out this post and you can decide for yourself whether or not we hate each other or if it's plain that we just really, really, really disagree about things.