Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Jack? Pot? Jackpot! That's a joke, son!"

I'm totally opposed to people being cruel to animals. But animals being cruel to other animals is hilarious.

I always wondered why there isn't a band called Foghorn Leghorn. Oh, wait, there is one.

Oh, heck yeah.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Not many people want Obama's health insurance

UK Daily Mail has the exclusive: Less than 1% of visitors are signing up for Obamacare on state health exchange websites. Here's the summary:

  • California's program registered an estimated 0.58 per cent of website visitors in its first day
  • Obama administration won't say how many Americans signed up on the central website that covered insurance exchanges for 36 states
  • Kentucky's 5.3 per cent application rate seems to be the nation's highest
  • Other states wouldn't provide statistics, or tracked only the creation of new online accounts, not numbers of completed applications
I have a friend who really is poor and doesn't have health insurance. He basically works as a handyman, maybe makes $20,000.00 a year. His wife gets disability, SSI or whatever. He's the perfect candidate for some type of government insurance program like Obamacare supposedly offers. But I don't think he's ever even been on the web, and he's not going to sign up. You have to go after people like that, but the government doesn't work that way. They don't really care about people like my friend.

This part cracks me up:

Millions want to get covered,' according to the Obamacare system's main Twitter account on Wednesday afternoon.

'Americans across the country – millions of Americans – are taking advantage of the opportunity to shop for affordable health insurance that they could not attain before now,' White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted on Monday.

But without enrollment figures, it's impossible to know whether Obamacare is seeing a flood of new customers or just a trickle.

The White House did not respond to a request for those numbers.

Not ready to brag yet I guess. Don't forget to give them another hit.

Father Kevin Estabrook's homilies are online

Earlier I linked to a post about priests blogging from our friend, Dymphna. She mentioned that it okay its strictly "homilies, apologetics and other writing." I think she would approve of Father Kevin Estabrook's blog which is a collection of his great homilies along with some related Catholic art. Here is an excerpt from his sermon on St. Francis from today's Mass.

The night after meeting Francis, Pope Innocent had a dream. Pope Innocent dreamt he stood looking out over the Lateran Church and watched with fear as the proud and ancient building shook, the tower swung, and the walls began to crack, it was in danger of collapsing in on itself. Suddenly, a small common looking man came towards the Lateran. He was dressed in peasant garb, was barefoot, and wore a rope around his waist for a belt. Rushing to the falling Church, he set his shoulder in under the wall and with a mighty push straightened the whole falling church, so that it again stood aright. The pope then recognized the man as Francis of Assisi.

The Pope interpreted his dream to mean that St. Francis would been instrumental in reforming and strengthening the Catholic Church.

This story is very interesting, especially in light of the story where St. Francis knelt in prayer in the crumbling San Damiano chapel. As Francis knelt and prayed in front of the crucifix, Jesus began to speak to him, saying, “Francis, rebuild my Church.”

Father Estabrook is the newest priest at my parish, St. Angela Merici. So I was happy to find his homily site. I actually remember hearing this homily from two Sundays ago. I didn't know the meaning of the name Amos was "burden-bearer". The man definitely puts effort into his homiletic work. Kudos to him!

Interesting Panel Discussion on Pope Francis

The two men on the panel are really the only ones who make any sense. I knew one of them when we both lived in Pittsburgh, Father Frank Hoffman, aka Father Rocky.

Not holed up in the bunker yet

Recently I've been getting crazy emails about how Pope Francis is absolutely destroying the Catholic Church. These emails claim that Pope Benedict is the real Pope and has been blackmailed into exile. Supposedly Pope Francis has a crucifix which is really some sort of Wiccan magic wand. Or something insidious like that.

One reason I laugh at these kinds of conspiracies is how predictable they are. Back when John Paul I died in office there were plenty of conspiracies tailor made to fit pet agendas. One person told me he was killed because he was going to bring back the Traditional Latin Mass. This astounded me considering that another fan of the TLM told me that Albino Luciani had started the unforgivable practice of waving, smiling and shaking hands with people while in procession at the beginning of Mass. Upon suggesting this might be his interpretation of laetificat juventutem meam I was met with an unimpressed silence and a very holy frown.

Since John Paul II didn't die after a month after his election, the conspiracy theory I heard about him was that there were two Pope John Pauls. The real one was locked away somewhere and the one you saw on television or at WYD celebrations was a modernist plant with plastic surgery sent into the Vatican in the early eighties to destroy the church. If that were true I'm sure that was that agent's last mission, having failed so badly. There was reportedly a Mass celebrated by the soon-to-be-Saint John Paul II at Assisi where someone had put a statue of Buddha on top of a tabernacle. "But the Pope didn't put the statue there, did he?" I asked. "No, but he didn't remove it either, which he should have," I was informed. "Maybe he thought it was a statue of an angel. Some of them are as chubby as Buddha, you know," I suggested. I received more holy frowns for my insolence.

I'd had some conversations with Traditionalists of a more general nature which I remember fondly. Rich was a truly great guy who had a saintly devotion to the Latin Mass. He had read a lot of books about spirituality and I learned a lot from talking to him, but every once in a while he'd get really angry and blurt out an unqualified assertion. "Millions and millions of souls are going to hell all because of the Second Vatican Council!" Rich stridently stated. "Are you sure of that? How do you know that?" He was sort of apologetic and said "Well, I don't really know; I could be wrong about all of this of course."

My point is that defectibility doomsday predictions have so far been pretty far off the mark. They sometimes get downgraded to semi-doomsday predictions before dissipating altogether, or if they completely lack even a kernel of truth they go straight into the bin.

But laying wild-eyed craziness aside, I know a lot of serious people have real concerns about the current Pope's messaging that have nothing to do with weird conspiracies, rumors or exaggerations. But I still think those people can at times be prone to making overstatements. I'm in agreement with R. R. Reno's take and tone on our current Holy Father's recent interviews. More about this later.

With regard to being prone to overstatement about the present Papal interview material, I remember back when female altar servers were approved by Pope John Paul II. It was shortly after I converted, and I knew people who thought that was the beginning of the end of the Catholic Church’s tradition of a male priesthood and anything resembling reverence in the Mass. One friend who was extremely upset pointed out that seeing "cute girls" up in the sanctuary was going to make it impossible for red-blooded dudes like us to concentrate on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I think he might have had a bit of a point if he just would change the word impossible to more difficult. I wasn't worried so much about that; I'm not sure how distracting a girl wearing a shapeless white alb can be, especially compared to what I've seen some female Eucharistic Ministers wearing for years before altar girls were legalized. Not to mention women dressed horribly in the pew in front of you. Plus there are many more things to distract parishioners during Sunday Mass: football games, how your stocks are doing, the work week ahead, etc. And this was all before the iPhone was invented.

I was, however, temporarily convinced that female altar servers were not a good development and allowing them was a definite concession to secular pressures. I think I was completely wrong about that and recent history has proven that I was wrong. The dome has not cracked, lightning bolts have not been sent down from Heaven upon Masses with female acolytes, cute or otherwise. As a result, I have absolutely no problem with altar girls now and frankly I barely even notice it.

The Pope is first and foremost a Father in his essence and so my relationship to him always reminds me of my own relationship to my father. I sometimes get bored listening to my father talk about some conversation with some guy named Bill he had about something I totally forget now. But I'm intrigued when he explains how vacuum tubes work. I think my brother would rather hear news about what Bill So-and-so said and could care less about the vacuum tubes. But we love him no matter what he's off about. Most of the things we all agree on are discussed only cursorily.

Of course our father taught us right from wrong when we were children; he was indeed our first teacher. The Pope is also a teacher, I realize, but I accept his teaching as an adult who can examine my own conscience and decide whether what he is saying applies to me. When the Pope goes on and on about fighting poverty my eyes glaze over, I'll admit. I don't feel bad about this; even Jesus got sick of hearing about "the poor" sometimes (Mt. 26:11), although he directly commanded one rich guy to give ALL his money to the poor (Mk. 10:21). Obviously that was what that prig needed, and there is a time and place for everything. However I'll listen to the Pope and throw in an extra $50 when I can spare it. My eyes may glaze over but I still love the guy. Like I said in the comments before, I don't think he's talking about me when he says " It is not necessary to talk about these issues [abortion and same-sex marriage] all the time." I do know some people who are so obsessed with fighting abortion that their marriages have suffered or even failed. In other words, they may have saved the lives of unborn children, but they didn't harvest the grace of the sacrament of marriage and instead, they entirely blew their vocations and alienated their families. Randall Terry is a public poster child for this phenomenon. Maybe these people are analogous to those who said "Lord, Lord, didn't we cast out demons in your name? (Mt. 7:22)" It would appear to be so.

Another Francis, Francis Cardinal Arinze, was asked once about why the Bishops weren't fighting more against abortion and talking about it more. He said something like "You don't need a Bishop to tell you that abortion is wrong. An eight year old preparing for First Holy Communion can tell you it's wrong. (paraphrasing)" This comment is put a little less flippantly than "It is not necessary to talk about these issues [abortion and same-sex marriage] all the time," but contains a very similar underlying message.

The people I hear talking about contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage the most in America are members of the Democrat Party. They sometimes call the first two "women's services" and the last one "marriage equality", but those are merely code words. This is why one Bishop changed his party affiliation to Republican, by the way, and it made the news. Was Pope Francis upset by this at the time? I hardly think he would be. The Democrats are trying to push all this stuff on everybody, and we're pushing back. But we're not pushing back "all the time." It's not what solely defines us as Catholics.

These are random musings to be sure, and I'm jumping all over the place I realize. But I hope this gives people an idea of why I'm not in the bunker yet over Pope Francis and his different style. I think that Reno criticizes some of the Pope's words respectfully and I think respect is a key attribute in this dialogue. I've seen what is commonly called "Catholic Fundamentalism" by liberals—something I would merely call "speaking the truth without charity" (Ep. 4:15, I Cor. 13:1ff)—and it may not be as widespread as some Jesuits think, but its effects can be quite harmful, especially on the young and impressionable.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

St. John Devouring the Book from The Apocalypse

If you hear a voice from Heaven telling you to eat something, you eat it, no questions asked, no Monday morning left-overs. Whether the Angel server your table has burning columns for legs or not. Then leave a tip even if it maketh thy belly bitter.

Text: "And I heard a voice from heaven again speaking to me, and saying: Go, and take the book that is open, from the hand of the angel who standeth upon the sea, and upon the earth. And I went to the angel, saying unto him, that he should give me the book. And he said to me: Take the book, and eat it up: and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. And I took the book from the hand of the angel, and ate it up: and it was in my mouth, sweet as honey: and when I had eaten it, my belly was bitter."

I was thinking of changing my top picture to a detail of this one. I'm really sort of a Philistine when it comes to art, but I have an appreciation for Dürer.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mistaking Gigantism for Genius

Obama's comparison of his behemothic health care plan with something as brilliant and compact as the iPhone should evoke memories of this O'Rourke piece from a year ago. It's short, so I'll republish the entire thing here illegally without requesting any permission.

Let's Cool It With the Big Ideas
P. J. O'Rourke Jun 19 2012

I don’t have a big idea, and I don’t want one. I don’t like big ideas. And I’m not alone. Distaste for grandiose notions is embedded in our language: “What’s the big idea?” “You and your bright ideas.” “Whose idea was this?” “Me and my big ideas.” “Don’t get smart with me.”

When we say our children are “starting to get ideas,” we’re not bragging. It gives us pause to hear our spouse say “I have an idea!” If our boss says it, we panic unless we’re sufficiently quick-witted to spill coffee on the iPad the boss has just used to Google some portentous concept.

This is not anti-intellectualism. This is experience. The 20th century was a test bed for big ideas—fascism, communism, the atomic bomb. Liberty was also a powerful abstraction in the 20th century. But liberty isn’t a big idea. It’s a lot of little ideas about what individuals want to say and do.

I like little ideas. What Alexander Graham Bell thought up occupied less space than a flower vase. Now it’s so small that I have to search all my pockets to discover I’ve received a spam text. Thomas Edison’s moment of enlightenment could be sketched in a cartoon thought balloon. (Although once government started having deep thoughts about it, we got compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and now I need to don a hazmat suit if the dog knocks over the floor lamp.) There was Henry Ford’s Model T, of modest dimensions, and the bread box–size gizmo that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were fiddling with in the garage. But in 1875, 1879, 1908, or 1976, we wouldn’t have called any of these Big Ideas. We couldn’t foresee their consequences.

We still don’t know what ideas will have which results. But I fear the bigger, the worse. And we’re back in an era of big ideas. Our financiers have very big ideas. The rest of us are left looking for investment advisers clueless enough to be honest.

“Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come,” said Victor Hugo. In either case, run.

Prager responds to Dawkins

Whenever I'm listening to the radio at Noon and I notice that Rush Limbaugh is getting a bit repetitive, I always kick over to Dennis Prager's show. The man is really brilliant, and this article showcases his persuasive, bold and clear defense of the Truth against the serious error of the kind of modern, militant atheism espoused by Richard Dawkins. Excerpts:

Years ago, I interviewed Pearl and Sam Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt and the authors of one of the most highly-regarded works on altruism, The Altruistic Personality. The book was the product of the Oliners' lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.

The Oliners, it should be noted, are secular, not religious, Jews; they had no religious agenda.

I asked Samuel Oliner, "Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?"

Without hesitation, he said, "a Polish priest." And his wife immediately added, "I would prefer a Polish nun."

That alone should be enough to negate the pernicious nonsense that God is not only unnecessary for a moral world, but is detrimental to one.


Perhaps the most powerful proof of the moral decay that follows the death of God is the Western university and its secular intellectuals. Their moral record has been loathsome. Nowhere were Stalin and Mao as venerated as they were at the most anti-religious and secular institutions in Western society, the universities.

Nowhere in the West today is anti-Americanism and Israel-hatred as widespread as it is at universities. And Princeton University awarded its first tenured professorship in bioethics to Peter Singer, an atheist who has argued, among other things, that that "the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee" and that bestiality is not immoral.

Dawkins and his supporters have a right to their atheism. They do not have a right to intellectual dishonesty about atheism.

I have debated the best known atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss ("A Universe from Nothing") and Daniel Dennett. Only Richard Dawkins has refused to come on my radio show.

RTWT (Stands for read the whole thang.)

"Oh, Smaug the Stupendous!"

"Crunched in the Head"

Thanks go to J-Carp for pointing this one out. Steve Kellmeyer has a succinct style which comes to the point quickly:

Many Catholics today are getting upset about Rod Dreher's insistence that he can't return to the Catholic Church because it is too touchy-feely. He'll stick with the Orthodox church because it "teaches the hard lessons."

Yes, it is hard to read the sentence above without snorting.
Now I hate the sugary sweet sermons and spinelessness of American Catholics as much as the next guy, but let's get serious.

The Orthodox Church accepts divorce and contraception.

If Rod Dreher was REALLY looking for doctrinal rigor, he wouldn't be Eastern Orthodox.

Now, I'm quite certain he is being honest when he says he can't bring himself to return to the Catholic Church. But I'm also sure that the problem isn't the treacle that American Catholic priests commonly mistake for preaching. God bless his little heart, as they say in Texas, but Rod didn't get where he is today by disagreeing with the mainstream media. His incoherent essay just proves that point again.

Yes, we know this by Dreher's own words.

What if a priest gives a lecture to young engaged couples on the constant teaching of the popes on the topic of contraception and the indissolubility of marriage? He starts with Castii Connubii by Pius XI and goes right up through Humanae Vitae by Paul VI and into John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Oh wait, I heard a priest do this once at a Couple to Couple league gathering. They are not a secret society; I'm sure Dreher would have been allowed to attend the lecture.

Would this be too touchy-feely a talk? Would this lecture lack "doctrinal rigor"? Would this be simply too sugary-sweet, and betray a lack of spine? Hardly. And yet Rod Dreher has gone on record stating that he "never really understood the church's teaching on contraception", but that he doesn't have to accept it because he stopped believing in papal infallibility. Again: Dreher's own words:

Because if any doctrine taught authoritatively by the Roman church is untrue, then it's all up to be questioned. I never really understood the teaching on contraception, but I lived by it because I did believe in the authority of the Roman church to teach these things. If you tell yourself, "Well, the Magisterium got that one wrong," the whole thing logically unravels.

This is not the voice of a man bemoaning wimpiness and lack of character in an institution. This is the voice of someone refusing to accept Christ's hard sayings, a sad reality which existed from the time of Christ Himself.

After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. (Jn 6:67ff)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthcare Site is still DOWN

Yay, Obamacare!! Let's keep hammering it, click here.

Little Sisters Versus Big Brother

Sick and sad.

Obamacare is so wrong. Every part of it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

And this time he really really means it.

Oh goodie.

Rod Dreher was invited by Time magazine to write a piece about Pope Francis.  Of course, he was happy to oblige, and he did so in a way that only Rod Dreher could.  Literally, as it turns out.  I can't set it up any better than Dreher does himself:

I tried to think of something nobody else had said. 

And what might that be, you ask?  The title of the Time piece says it all:

I'm Still Not Going Back to the Catholic Church

And he's exactly right.  No one else had written on whether Rod Dreher is going back to the Catholic Church.

Read the whole thing, as Dreher himself would say (and did say).  Executive Summary:  Dreher goes into some length about how the Church did not preach "God's judgment", in effect preaching "Christ without the Cross", and that this lack of interest in teaching repentance was reflected in its reaction to the Scandal. Pope Francis doesn't help, not because of what he says (which Dreher likes), but because of how Francis will be misinterpreted.  Same old saw, but a bit more expanded.  Whatever.

The odd part about all this is that his Time essay didn't really say why Rod Dreher really isn't going back to the Church -- it just left the impression that it did. Instead, as he says in the TAC pimping of his Time essay, the real reason he isn't going back is "because [he does not] believe in Catholic doctrine any longer".   And he only tells us what the problematic part of the doctrine is when pressed in the comments: it turns out that the stumbling block is papal infallibility.

I'm confused, and at a loss for words.  I'm sure y'all won't be.  

P.S. The Time commenters are a bit rough on him already.