Friday, December 30, 2005

Anniversary


Three years ago today, God gave me the best gift I've ever gotten bar salvation. I expect to spend the next five or six decades marveling that this lovely, brilliant creature actually married me. That's okay. I don't have to understand it. I'm just grateful.

Sick! Vile!

And uproariously funny in a guilty, why-am-I-laughing-I-must-be-a-really-evil-person sort of way. Rejected Chicken Soup for the Soul stories. Hopefully not coming soon to a glurge near you.

Oh, I get it now! You're Jesus!

And here I thought you were just a nut!

Up next on Fox!

A contest for my readers (all three of you): What would be a good title for a reality show based on this?

Please, somebody come up with something better than "Porkin' in the Paleocene!" Please!

All your consciences are belong to us!

Abortion is an "international human right," but freedom of religion isn't? Look what's sprouted in Brussels:
A European Union advisory panel has issued a statement saying that medical professionals are not allowed to refuse to participate in abortions. According to the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights doctors should be forced to perform abortions, even if they have conscientious objections, because the right to abort a child is an “international human right.”

[...]

The Network states that agreements which guarantee Catholic doctors and nurses a right not to be involved in abortions violate EU law. Leftist groups have complained that some new EU members – namely Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia – are so overwhelmingly Catholic that far too few doctors are willing to perform abortions. This makes it hard for women who want an abortion to find a doctor who has no conscientious objection. In such cases, the EU experts say, doctors should be forced to abort:
“Indeed, the right to religious conscientious objection may conflict with other rights, also recognized under international law. In such circumstances, an adequate balance must be struck between these conflicting requirements, which may not lead to one right being sacrificed to another.”

Translation: One right must be sacrificed to the other, and the one to be sacrificed is the right to exercise of religion. Unless, of course, religion isn't a right but a privilege.

I think that's the crux of the matter. Religion in and of itself is apparently seen as being morally neutral in Europe these days. It's kind of quaint, like putting out milk for the fairies on St. John's Eve. But when it interferes with the will of the non-religious, it's morally impermissible. Religious customs are all right; religious principles are verboten.

A/T to Amy Welborn.

Looks like I was unnecessarily nasty

The other day I sneered at Joe Hatchie, who tried to knock over a smoke shop with an air pistol. I called him a vermin, as I recall, and today I find out it's not so. Turns out Joe was just a poor schlub with a wife and kids who was out of work, piled under bills and about to be evicted.
Joseph Hatchie, who had no criminal record, stayed at home with his four children and took time to stop by his mother’s home for morning coffee, his family said, and was a neighborhood handyman who helped people repair cars, fix televisions and get computers working again.

“We’re all shocked and upset that he felt that desperate,” his wife said. “What he did was wrong. He made a dumb mistake. But there aren’t many people in this economy who find themselves in that position and don’t feel desperate.”

In 2000, Hatchie lost his job as a regional manager for a telecommunications company. He was in financial trouble by Christmas when his landlord delivered an eviction notice. Then Kim Hatchie lost her job at a grocery store.

The family asked for help from a church his wife had once attended.

But Kim Hatchie said the officials at the church told her the family was “unworthy.”

“Everything just seemed to hit a head right now,” she said. “I think he just didn’t know what to do.”

I doubt there will be charges brought against the clerk, which is only right. He did right for the situation he was in and the knowledge he had. And it was dumb of Joe to do what he did, no error. Still, I've been in similar shoes myself, and the constant dread really does muddy your thinking. Doing dumb, panicky things is a lot easier when the Sword of Damocles is hanging over you.

As for the church, I don't know the story, but if it's true that they turned these people away because they were "unworthy," then I hope there will be charges to face before a much higher authority than the State of Idaho.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A lurker in the blogosphere

I see my best-friend-from-childhood Nate Hilman, the Greatest Wedding Photographer in the Northwest™, has taken up blogging, but is in denial, with his anti-blog blog. Take a look, and if you leave a comment, tell him Mike Brady sent you.

BTW, does anybody know what a Klog is?

This took cojones!

Not much sense, maybe, but cojones. I'll tell you what, though, if I were an editor, I'd hire this kid in a heartbeat. As long as II didn't have to insure him.

Single White Nutcase seeks... what, exactly?

Ah, the things we do for love!
A British man is giving a whole new meaning to begging to be loved as he set off on a 55-mile (88.5km) crawl on his hands and knees to find a partner.

With a sign saying "Could you Love Me?" strapped to his back and 18 boxes of chocolates trailing behind him on string tied to his wrists and ankles, Mark McGowan began his unusual quest to find a girlfriend.

Let's see... physically fit, good at self-abasement and bearing chocolate. Maybe he has a chance after all. Lord knows if they chase him, he won't be hard to catch.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

South Dakota: Not an Abortion Utopia

Two takes on the WaPo's story about a lack of doctors willing to do abortions.

From Tim Graham at the Corner:
When I talk to college students, I cite this kind of an article to explain that reporting isn't "pro-choice," it's pro-abortion. When you think something like this is a social good, you complain that it's not more readily available, cheaper, and easier. When you want more doctors to choose the specialty of abortion "providing," and want abortions provided in every small town, you're not just for "choice," you're for making that choice as leisurely as possible. If someone argued that smoking should be available in every bar and public office building, they wouldn't be called "pro-choice," but "pro-smoking." The same logic applies to these stories.


From Amanda at Pandagon:
Leslee Unruh, one of the prime lobbyists for the law that created the abortion task force, said, "I want abortion to end."

I wonder if her breath stinks with so much horseshit coming out of her mouth. Abortion isn't going to end when it's illegal. Abortion will end when unwanted pregnancy ends, but unwanted pregnancy is only going to get worse with anti-choice legislation that makes it harder for women to use contraception. Anti-choice laws only serve to punish women for having abortions by making abortion hard to find, painful, expensive and often a ticket to prison...

Go read the article. The assumption behind it is that fewer abortions is a bad thing. Clearly, it's vital that we get more abortions happening in South Dakota, and stat!

But here's what gets me: The WaPo story quotes the director of South Dakota's Planned Parenthood, which obviously means that the organization has a presence in the state. So why isn't PP simply building a clinic in some part of the state not currently slaughtering locally served by an abortuary? After all, as has been established on an earlier Pandagon thread, Planned Parenthood, although it shows a profit every year, isn't really in the abortion business for the money. No, they want to help women take control over their lives (by ending someone else's), keep healthy (by drastically increasing their risk of breast cancer), have access to information (by blocking informed consent and covering up risks) and feel good about themselves (by putting them through a dangerous procedure that will leave 80% of them in a deep depression). So if Planned Parenthood is so generous and concerned, why aren't they operating a clinic in western South Dakota?

Stop off and leave a comment for Amanda, if you feel the urge. But for heaven's sake, be polite! They call us trolls; let's not prove it.

Update: As usual, Mark Shea phrases it better than I could:
I like the thought of a world where abortionists are as highly regarded and as wealthily rewarded as circus geeks. There's much to be said for stigma, whispers and quiet contemptuous revulsion.

Why armed robbery is a bad idea in North Idaho

And why gun-control fanatics are darwinally unfit. Note the difference in firepower between the principals in this story.
STATE LINE, Idaho -- Confronted by a masked man who pulled an apparent handgun and demanded money, a tobacco shop clerk pulled his own .40 caliber handgun and shot the intruder 10 times, killing him, a Kootenai County sheriff's officer said Tuesday.

Killed was Joseph Kalani Hatchie, 47, of Otis Orchards, Wash. Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said Hatchie entered Lew's Smoke Shop shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, wearing a gray ski mask.

The masked man aimed his weapon at the clerk's chest and demanded money, Wolfinger said.

The clerk told sheriff's deputies that he reached under the counter for a bag, came up instead with his semiautomatic and started firing.

When deputies and medics arrived, Hatchie was lying dead on the floor.

The weapon found with Hatchie turned out to be an air-powered pellet gun that looks identical to a Walther P-9 semiautomatic, Wolfinger said.

Hatchie came into the store with a fake gun, presumably confident that his victim would be so afraid of a gunlike object that he would quail in unquestioning fear. Whereupon said victim, apparently not as cowed as the vermin had expected, produced a real gun and blew Hatchie's sorry hiney to Kingdom Come. In more enlightened areas of the country, where guns are considered uncouth, Hatchie would have been absolutely correct. It's like the great Robert Heinlein said: An armed society is a polite society. And a society where the "victim" is better armed than the criminal and knows it is a society not run by those criminals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

And you thought "Blood on the highway" was bad

File this under "What the hell were they thinking?"!
Marla Higginbothem says her daughter saw graphic pictures of her dead father during a presentation designed to discourage drunk driving.

While Knoxville police usually shield the public from accident scenes, last August they showed some Holston Middle School seventh graders pictures of mangled bodies and bloody cars.

They say the program's goal is to scare kids straight at the age studies show many have already taken their first drink.

However, Higginbotham says she knew right away her daughter saw something she shouldn't have...

It turned out one of the dead drunk drivers was her father.

Full story here.

Monday, December 26, 2005

How about a couple of aspirin for Bishop Galeone?

The bishop of St. Augustine is going to need them, since investigating apparitions is part of his job and this is in his diocese.

Employees at The Stadium Club Restaurant on Beach and Southside Boulevards say they see an image of Jesus in a cooking pan used to heat water.

The pan, which is usually used to warm nacho cheese containers, actually has mineral deposits from water left on it.

The kitchen staff at The Stadium Club say they won't be using the pan anymore in the kitchen, but people are welcome to come check it out anytime.

Praise the Lord and pass the jalapeños!

A note on Christmas Mass readings

I know I'm biased; I prefer the King James for most uses, although I'll use the Douay-Rheims if I want doctrinal accuracy. The NAB isn't my favorite, sure, but I don't usually have more than a minor beef with it. But did anybody else wince at the rendering of Isaiah 9:6 in the Christmas readings?
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

Come on, whoever chose this translation! I know you felt you had to suck all the majesty out of the rest of Old Testament, but was it really necessary to make the Messiah sound like a comic book caricature?

That's not a burqa she's wearing!

In fact, she's wearing durn little. A lot less than her uncle Osama would approve of.
Wafah Dufour, 26, is seen sprawled on a bed in lingerie, a feather boa and high heels with an attitude seemingly calculated to outrage Islamic traditionalists.

New York-based Wafah, who adopted her mother's maiden name after the September 11 attacks directed by bin Laden, is the daughter of his half-brother Yeslam.

She risked Osama's wrath by saying she wants to launch a pop career. But that was nothing compared with her appearing in a photoshoot for American GQ magazine's January edition.

Sometimes it's fun to be a decadent Westerner!

Blame it on the Copts and the Mormons (revisited)

Note: I'm dusting off this conversion story for the Catholic Carnival's "best-of-the-year" event, where we're supposed to pick out our favorite post of the year. I was torn between this and a couple of others, especially since it's a bit out of date, what with the passing of John Paul the Great shortly after I posted it, and at that time I was revamping this post from one I had put up in a Calvinist forum. Nevertheless, I've re-reposted it here, more or less as it appeared back in April, changing only a couple of awkward phrases.

There's something a little narcissistic about personal conversion stories from converts to the Catholic church. It sort of sounds like bragging on what smart fellows we are to have left behind the nincompoopery of Protestantism and grasped the obvious Catholic truth. Nothing could be farther from the truth in my case. In my youth I was a passionate sort of Evangelical, but my theology went little farther than just trying in my adolescent way to get peeople to "accept Jesus." I read the Bible, C. S. Lewis, and a little of George Fox, and that was about it. So I haven't made a heavily intellectual journey like Scott Hahn or Mark Shea. In fact, most of my knowledge of theology – Catholic or Protestant – has come since I poped; in reading all the things I never knew were out there and engaging in apologetics discussions, in which I'm seriously outclassed most of the time.

Still, the Lord led me to Rome even though I wasn't a Biblical scholar or theologian, by fits and starts, and without a lot of cooperation from me. He's good at working with His children where they are, and the Church isn't just for the apologists or the intellectual powerhouses. He's the God not only of the scholar but of the amateur as well. So here's how a mediocre Protestant became a loudmouthed Papist:


I was raised Baptist (American Baptist, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for Baptists, I think, I suppose leaning to the liberal side). My mother was a preacher’s daughter, and I grew up in the same church where my grandfather had been the pastor. When I was a teenager, we moved to another city, and I got involved with the occult. I don’t want to get too much into detail on this one, but when I finally got out of it at 17, I threw myself into Christian youth culture with a vengeance. This was mostly due to a friend of my parents’ who gave me a copy of C.S. Lewis’s "Mere Christianity." Still, I never did much actual doctrinal study; my Christianity, while sincere, was a lot more shallow than I realized at the time.

Two more or less simultaneous things happened in my adulthood that first steered me toward the Church. The first Catholic thing that appealed to me was, frankly, an emotional one: the confessional. I was in a state of recurring sin by this time, following a divorce, a cohabitation, and a history of faithlessness. At 29ish, I was a believing Christian, but I didn’t act it out in my life. I had attended a number of different churches (Friends, Presbyterian, and finally back to Baptist), but I always knew I was just a little hypocritical.

The trouble with the Evangelical approach to sin is that although we know we can confess our sin to God and be forgiven, it’s harder to believe that we really are forgiven. There’s no point of demarcation. If I repent, and then revert to the same sin, was I really repentant enough the first time? And how would I know? I envied the Catholics their confessional; the knowledge that they could be objectively forgiven, and their forgiveness didn’t depend on their feelings about it. This, unfortunately, is an unspoken assumption in Evangelicalism. You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?” The issue wasn’t salvation (I believed in once-saved always-saved) but a desire to be the sort of son God wanted, and a knowledge that I wasn’t doing it.

The other thing that happened was that I became friends with a Mormon couple. I live in a heavily Mormon area, and I had a lot of respect for them as neighbors, but with this couple, my respect grew considerably. They lived out their faith in a way I didn’t. They didn’t try to “evangelize” me, but I started looking into Mormonism anyway. Although I found that they had reasonable explanations for some of their beliefs that I had pooh-poohed, I still couldn’t make myself believe as they did. Mormonism (like Protestantism) is founded on the presumption that at some point, the gates of Hell really did prevail.

This was the big sticking point for me, although it took a little while before I applied it completely. I distrusted Joseph Smith because he came along 1800+ years and said, in so many words, “Christianity as it has been practiced all along is wrong; this is the right way to do it.” Ditto for Charles Taze Russell and the other modern “prophets.”

About this time I got curious about the Coptic Church, simply because it’s not something we hear much about in the West. I found that not only did they practice auricular confession, they also believed in the Communion of Saints, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and Apostolic Succession, as well as that big bugaboo for Protestants, reverence for Mary. So did the Eastern Orthodox. So did the Mar Thoma Christians of India. In short, all the things I had always assumed were unique products of the medieval Catholic Church were facts of life for ALL the oldest Christian churches, since long before the Middle Ages. Only the newfangled Protestants rejected these things. Protestantism had done a Joseph Smith.

The final straw was Sola Scriptura. I had questioned whether the Bible was truly the Word of God, as well as whether other “scriptures” – like the Book of Mormon – were, but it had never occurred to me to wonder whether God meant a book to be the primary (let alone only) repository of Christian doctrine. In reading an overview of Orthodox Christianity by Clark Carlton (an ex-Prod convert), I realized for the first time that the Church was not just a collection of “Jesus fan clubs” but a living, established, authoritative body. Here was the place to look for interpretations of scripture. If I disagreed, well, that was my prerogative, but I was still wrong. This was when I remembered Steve Camp’s song from the 80s, “Upon this Rock,” where he quoted Christ’s promise to Peter. Individuals in the Church (even leaders) could do wrong, but the Church would go on as the “pillar and ground of truth.” The gates of Hell hadn’t prevailed after all. (Incidentally, Steve Camp is a committed Calvinist, who would probably be appalled at having nudged me Romeward.)

So I wanted to become Orthodox. Well and good, but in this corner of Washington State, the nearest Orthodox parish was an hour and a half away, and my car was unreliable at best. (Yes, it sounds like a weak reason, but the Lord was moving behind the scenes.) The Catholic Church held to all the same things as the Orthodox, with two exceptions. One was the “Filioque” in the creed, and the other was the primacy of Rome. I wasn’t about to debate the nature of the Trinity; smarter men than I had broken their teeth on it for centuries. As for Rome, it dawned on me that the Pope, the bishop of Rome, is still the patriarch of the West. Even the Eastern Orthodox recognize that. As a Western Christian, I come under his authority. If God prefers obedience to sacrifice, He also prefers obedience to perfection of doctrine, especially in a case like the Filioque where I would have to take somebody else’s word for it anyway. Having determined that the Catholic Church’s teachings were authoritative, I would be both a fool and a hypocrite to stay out of it.

I started attending Mass, sitting in the back and leaving discreetly afterwards. (This is a small town, and I didn’t want to have to explain to people I knew who were Catholic what kind of struggles I was going through. I still wasn’t sure I was going to join.)

The first thing that struck me was how much of the Mass came directly from the Bible. I had already been awestruck by the Orthodox liturgy (St. John Chrysostom) and the Pauline Mass was a bit of a letdown after that. But almost every line came from Scripture, much of it verbatim. It seemed to me that this was the context in which the Bible belonged. It took most of a year before I decided to enter the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program and make moves toward actually joining the Church. In the meantime, I read St. Augustine’s "Confessions", and "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis, and wondered how I had managed to be a Christian for so many years without ever reading these great men. (Easy; they don’t sell well in Christian bookstores.) I began to understand what my hero, C.S. Lewis, had been talking about in his apologetics.

I also went back to my Bible, and this time I found I didn’t have to skip over the uncomfortable parts, or re-interpret them to make them fit my Protestant assumptions. I discovered then, and I still maintain, that if you read any or all of the Bible at face value, it comes out Catholic. I bounced a lot of things off my best friend, a good strong Evangelical (attending an Assembly of God church), and he had to agree that he couldn’t come up with better or plainer interpretations than the Catholic ones.

When I finally started the RCIA program, I got a couple of surprises. First, I was already considered a Christian by my baptism in a Baptist church. Technically, a Protestant isn’t “converted” to the Catholic Church; he’s “reconciled” to it. That’s why Protestants are so often referred to as “Separated Brethren.” The other was that I was the only person in the class joining the Church for doctrinal reasons. Everybody else was either marrying a Catholic or had been poorly taught in their youth and wanted to know more about their faith.

Shortly after I was received into the Church in 1999, I was in the local Catholic bookstore and noticed a book called “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic.” I took it to the counter and told the owner, “I just did this!” Apparently, there had been a small army of Protestants who were examining the Catholic Church and finding the same thing I had, that they couldn’t remain Protestant without claiming to believe things that they could not accept as true. I’m actually grateful that I didn’t know about this before. I truly believe that the Lord was moving in my life, and the fact that He had to drag me to the Church bit by bit was much better than going along with a “movement.”

I still had some struggles with Catholic teaching. I was unsure about Mary – although the theory made sense, the practicality is still uncomfortable for an ex-Protestant. (To be honest, the Catholic Church doesn't seem to emphasize Marian stuff nearly as heavily as Protestants think we do.) The Real Presence took a while to sort out, but I found that the traditional take on it made a LOT more sense than the Baptist “Lord’s Supper” I had gotten used to as a child, where they never seemed to know why they were carrying out a ritual, but they were determined to do it anyway. And I’ve found that auricular confession, besides being Biblical (I wonder why those verses never came up in Sunday School? ) was exactly what I had been looking for. Just before my entry into the Church, I started my first confession with “Bless me, Father, for this is going to take a while.” Oddly enough, the papacy had never been a big issue for me. It helped that John Paul II was such a good, Godly man.

So six years later, I’m a Catholic: a Romanist, a Papist, a mackerel-snapper, a left-footer. And I have no doubt that I’m exactly where the Lord wants me to be.

A must-read

Tim Bayly has up a wonderful reminder of what the parable of the sheep and the goats was all about. Now that Christmas Day is past and the Salvation Army Santas aren't ringing bells outside Wal-Mart anymore, it's more important than ever that we remember our duty as sheep.

Sheep are useless if all they do is bleat. They have to give up their wool (or even be served up with mint sauce) before they're worth even the grass they consume. Likewise, our Shepherd isn't taking care of us just so we can stand around munching grass and banging our gums about things that won't matter past this earthly life anyway. He has a purpose for us, and it's not as noisemakers.

Drop whatever you're doing and go read it. Now. Really. And then take the message to heart next year. I aim to.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Twelve Diseases of Christmas

This is funny until you remember that although it's a condom ad, not one of these conditions would actually have been prevented by wearing one. With that caveat, it's hilarious.

A/T to Miss Cellania, whose Christmas spirit is far more warped than mine. I bow to the mistress.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mistletoe and meat

I can't begin to describe it. Just go here.

A/T to Ken.

It's the most Marian time of the year

As a Catholic convert whose friends and family are mostly Protestant, I take a slightly vindictive pleasure in this time of the year. Whether you call it "Advent" or "the Christmas season," it's the one time when everybody has to admit that Jesus had a mother.

Most of the year, Protestants tend to be what The Crusty Curmudgeon calls "Romophobic" about Mary. They keep her stashed away in a little closet, not wanting to talk about her for fear of being too effusive about her. (Check out his thoughts on the phenomenon here; they're excellent.) But in December, the Blessed Virgin gets trotted out for pageants and readings of Luke 2. Come December 26, of course, she'll be relegated to obscurity again. But for these few weeks, she gets to share the stage with her Son. During Advent, she's an actual person, not merely a handy uterus for the Lord to occupy. Protestants who would usually be very leery of any tradition more than five hundred years old (or even more than forty years) are drawn back to old, half-remembered traditions that make the season a mystical one in a rationalistic culture. So for the occasion, I'm trotting out something half-remembered myself: a column I wrote a couple of years ago for a local Christian (mostly Protestant) magazine:

I wish I could say I loved the Christmas season. I really wish I could. It’s supposed to be a time of festive anticipation. Peace on earth and all that.

Unfortunately, Christmas is also a time of great commercial promotion, as every retailer tries to convince shoppers that their product is exactly what all your loved ones want for a Christmas present. And being in the newspaper business, I have to advertise all this stuff. It’s caused me to have sort of a cynical view of the season.

(Incidentally, I’m using “Christmas” here to refer to the time before Christmas Day that Catholics and other liturgical Christians more properly call “Advent.” Just so we’re all clear on the terminology.)

For instance, I loathe secular Christmas music. I enjoy traditional carols, but “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” leaves me with an inexplicable craving for venison. If I ever see a snowman called Frosty, I’ll turn a hair dryer in his direction and use him to water my lawn.

My wife (I found out after we were married) has no such grinchiness in her nature. Within 24 hours of the beginning of Advent, she will have our house looking like a craft bazaar, with angels, santas, stars and strains of “Jingle Bell Rock” pervading the house. Naturally, we’ve had to compromise on this. I don’t complain, and she doesn’t ignore my complaints.

I think what irks me about the season is the loss of tradition. Christmas is essentially a Christian celebration of the Nativity, and that gets drowned out sometimes under the shopping-mall feeding frenzy and the ordeal of the Christmas card list. (“Let’s see... Aunt Gladys sent us one last year, but she spelled our names wrong. Should we send her one this year or not?”)

Many Christians are as frustrated as I am by the secularization of Christmas, and so I’ve noticed a funny thing happening: Protestants start worshipping a lot like Catholics.

Not that the theology changes, or anything like that. It’s just that Protestants, especially Evangelicals, are put off by a lot of the traditions Catholics observe. At Christmas time, though, that discomfort seems to fade.

Take Mary. A lot of Protestant Christians are understandably nervous when it comes to Mary, because Catholics make such a big deal about her. But at Christmastime, she makes appearances in pageants, nativity scenes, and the like. This is her big moment in the Bible, and it’s a time when all Christians can honor her without feeling like they’re being idolatrous. “Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed,” she said, and at Christmas, they do.

(By the way, did you ever notice that whenever you see Mary in a Nativity scene, she’s wearing blue? That comes from an old Catholic custom and is both symbolic of the sky and the mark of a queen. I wonder how many churches use a blue costume for Mary in the Christmas pageant without realizing how far back the practice goes.)

Speaking of nativity scenes, there’s another tradition that reappears at Christmastime. Christians who would be uncomfortable around statues of the saints at any other time will put up little statuettes on their mantel to show the birth of the Savior. They also sing carols like “Angels we have Heard on High” with its beautiful refrain, “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Latin in hymns, candles, even incense in some churches, all carry us back to a time when the division between Catholic and Protestant wasn’t so cut-and-dried. It’s a memory of Anglican and Lutheran worship, held over even in Evangelical churches that are wholly contemporary in their worship style the rest of the year. Christmas, it seems to say, is a time to be old-fashioned. And I agree.

A few years ago, I went to a midnight Mass at the Cathedral in Seattle. I was with some Protestant friends, and I wondered how they would react. What I saw was interesting. Not only was the Cathedral so full that people were literally pushed out the doors, but a large number of the worshippers were obviously not Catholic. I overheard more than one conversation in which somebody was explaining to a visitor what was meant by a particular phrase or symbol, and as the hymns were sung, I saw a number of those same visitors with upraised hands and a rapt look on their faces, lost in the sheer beauty of the liturgy. There were probably as many Protestants there as Catholics, joining together to sing “Glory to God in the Highest” to the God Who was born in a stable to save all humanity. There was no self-consciousness or discomfort about it. For this occasion, no honor, no homage, was too great for our Lord.

Gloria in excelsis Deo, indeed!


Merry Christmas to all my Christian siblings, Papes and Prods alike!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Still praying?

Good. At least there's been no body found yet. No news may not necessarily be good news, but it could sure be worse!

Thank heaven for little molested girls

If I were Dawn Eden, I'd be very careful walking through doors, never get into an elevator without lots of witnesses, and eat only food from cans I opened myself. She's got to be right at the top of Planned Parenthood's hit list. (And it wouldn't surprise me a bit if they had one.)

Lord knows their supporters are foaming at the mouth. This time, Dawn caught Planned Parenthood Golden Gate bragging about its ability and willingness to protect child rapists. An 11-year-old girl was expressing her thanks for PP not turning in her rapist (yes, she said "rape"), and leaving him free to keep molesting. For healthcare workers (as PP employees claim to be), refusing to report a child molester is a crime in most states, and certainly in California. Naturally, PP tried to cover its tracks by taking down the web page, but Dawn got a screen shot. Being caught red-handed (in several metaphorical senses) meant that it was time to call out the troops to shrill about how the little girl's privacy would be jeopardized if the police were contacted. "It's all about the girl!" they say. "Maybe she'll be afraid to come back if they expose what happened!"

(Update: Amanda's pulled the actual post off her blog at some point, but it's WayBacked here. Scroll down about three-quarters of the way. Comments are lost forever, alas.)

Well, yes. First off, it is all about the girl, or it ought to be. She's been raped, people! Are you so enamored of abortionists that you consider rape a piddly thing when it compromises the industry? Under what other circumstances would you consider rape a tolerable thing? Is there any other rapist you would actively protect from the law? And is it automatically true that PP is better qualified to judge the little girl's welfare than her parents are? Granted, there are some parents who don't have their children's best interests at heart, but they're damned few. You can't assume they don't. Even if they don't (always a possibility, true), you can't assume that the police or the judiciary care nothing for the girl. Contrariwise, we know PP doesn't. And that's the second part.

The perv-protectors who are defending PP on this bleat that reporting the crime (as the law mandates, remember) might inhibit the girl or others like her from coming to PP for help. Indeed it might. Do you really think they want her there because they want to protect children? No, or they would be working with law enforcement, not thwarting them. What PP wants is to see the girl back again. They put her on birth control at 14, she said. When that fails, and the girl gets knocked up, where do you think she'll go for her first abortion? And her second? And her third? At several hundred dollars a pop?

(Yes, I know the abortions will be subsidized, so she's not having to pay. But that doesn't mean PP will do the abortions for free. For that matter, they're not giving away pills or condoms without being compensated for them. It's not a charity.)

I'm from farm country. I understand about maintaining animals for milk, wool, and eventual slaughter. Apparently so does PP. If you give a girl police protection, you risk getting her out of the sex game altogether. If you give her rubbers or pills and encourage her to boink her little brains out, you can keep reaping the benefits until she either hits menopause or dies. And I suspect it doesn't really matter which. With livestock, you get what you can and then have a barbecue.

Everybody sing: Thank heaven... for little girls/Without them what would abortionists do?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Flash! I have a life!


My computer geek score is greater than 35% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

A/T to Ransom.

Muslims guarding churches on Christmas

If Muslims want to be perceived as followers of a "religion of peace," this is a good way to start.
A youth wing affiliated with Indonesia's largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama, some 40 million strong, said that members would guard churches for the coming Christmas festivities and it had persuaded youths from other religions to join the project.

"We have an annual programme to set up posts to secure Christmas. For this year, I have contacted groups from other religions like the Hindus and Buddhists and they have responded positively," said Tatang Hidayat, National Coordinator of NU's Banser group, known for its military-like uniform.

After a steady diet of news stories touting hatred for Christians in Muslim countries, it's refreshing to see Muslims who disapprove taking some kind of a stand.

We're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny [fornicating] Kaye!

Your Christmas is Most Like: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Christmas is a big, boisterous event at your place.
And no matter what, something hilarious usually happens.


A tip of the Akubra Santa Hat to Cindy Swanson, who turned out to be "A Very Brady Christmas." I'll be happy to lend her some children to fill out the cast, as long as she promises not to return them until Candlemas at the soonest.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Washington Democrat to oversee fair elections

Now clean the coffee off your monitor. They're serious.
"The elections in Iraq are an important act of democracy and an initial milestone for independence," she said, adding that President Bush and Congress must do a better job "making sure that troops are trained, infrastructure is secured and the international community is engaged to help the new government that emerges on Thursday stand on its own two feet."

No word on whether the Senator will also be training Iraqi vote counters in ballot-altering and creating fake residences.

How nice!


I could understand if this was a private thing, but this sticker was for sale at the Washington State Democrats' official website. In true Democratic cowardly fashion, the image has magically disappeared. Fortunately, Delta Mike Charlie preserved it for all time.

I wish I were surprised at this, but the level of hatred from Washington Democrats toward anybody even marginally less rabid than themselves is frightening. Take a look here and here to get a smattering. If you really want to see the lefty piranhas lick their chops, leave a friendly-but-dissenting comment.

Eastern Washington needs to secede from the West side. Now. Before one more election is stolen. Before this crowd gains any more power.

Update: Paul Berendt, the Grand Poobah Kleptocrat in Washington state, has apologized for the sticker and disclaimed all prior knowledge of it after several days of exposure in the Blogospheric pillory. He says that the magnet was removed at his direction "as soon as [he] became aware of it". I wonder how long it would have taken Berendt to take it down if there hadn't been such a hooraw. Weasel.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Next contestant: BMC Medicine. Special subject: the bleedin' obvious.

Wonder how long it will take before this report is suppressed.
An abortion can cause five years of mental anguish, anxiety, guilt and even shame, a BMC Medicine study suggests.
University of Oslo researchers compared 40 women who had had a miscarriage with 80 who chose to have an abortion.

Miscarriage was associated with more mental distress in the six months after the loss of a baby - but abortion had a much longer lasting negative effect.

Pro-choice campaigners said there was no evidence abortion directly caused psychological trauma.

"Hey! Where are you going? The Titanic isn't sinking; it's just propaganda! Get out of those lifeboats!"

Obligatory quiz

'Tis the season to be silly, and blog quizzes are about as silly as we get. A/T to Michelle.

You Are Dasher

You're an independent minded reindeer who never plays by the rules.

Why You're Naughty: That little coup you tried to stage against Santa last year

Why You're Nice: You secretly give naughty children presents.

Sacraments for sale?

Okay, so there's a discussion of homeschooling and school options over at Challies Dot Com, and Tim Challies mentioned that the Catholic schools near him (Diocese of Hamilton, Ont.) require a Catholic baptism for students, and that Protestant baptism won't do. That's offensive, but I guess it's the bishop's prerogative. Then Tim went on to say that several of his neighbors had had to pay for their kids to be baptized so they could send them to a Catholic school.

Now, I'm not a canon lawyer, but Canon 848 would appear to me to rule out charging for baptism, and Canon 868 prohibits baptizing children who aren't going to be raised Catholic.

A couple more comments that have surfaced on this thread seem to confirm that I didn't misunderstand:
A couple of years ago my mom was sitting in a coffee shop near here and struck up a conversation with a woman at the next table. The woman was talking about all the different fees the priest was levying on them for baptism, membership and so on. She said that all that church ever wants from her is money. So I believe it is fairly common around here to charge for baptisms...


I know that here, you have to pay the Catholic church for everything! If you want an actual funeral mass instead of a simple prayer over a casket, you gotta pay up. If you want to be baptized, get out your checkbook. You have to pay tuition for catechism, for crying out loud! I can't imagine a Protestant Church refusing to admit kids to Sunday school unless they paid for it. I know members of my family who not only had to pay to get married in a Catholic church, but were allowed to marry non-Catholics in a Catholic church if they gave even more money. I don't know about the rest of the country, but the Brooklyn Diocese and the Rockville Centre Diocese operate on Tetzelian economics, for sure!

I need some help here from cradle Catholics, or even converts with wider experience than mine. I know I've never been charged for anything in my parish. Theoretically, there's a charge for CCD to cover materials, but I don't think I've ever paid it, and nobody's said anything. (I wasn't skipping out, BTW; I'm just forgetful.) But I've only beeen in one parish, and it's in a fairly small diocese, so things may be different elsewhere. What's the skinny on fees for sacraments?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

This just in



Richard Pryor has died of a heart attack at 65. Story here.
Pryor, whose audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, Pryor gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.

It's axiomatic that comedians are some of the unhappiest people alive. it seems to me to be kind of a chicken-or-egg question: Do they hurt from having to make light of the painful aspects of the human condition, or do they laugh to avoid crying out? Maybe it's both.

Either way, may God grant him the peace that eluded him on earth.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What was this all about, then?

Let me get this straight (you should pardon the expression). Bernard and Joyce got married in 1967. Bernard traded his outie for an innie and became Bernadette in 1991. They've been living "like sisters" ever since. Now they're going to have a "civil partnership" ceremony under the new British "gay marriage" arrangement.

So they were married. Then they divorced so that Bernie could be legally recognized as a woman. Now they're remarrying as lesbians.

What exactly was the point of the exercise? Other than to demonstrate how technology can make the world weirder than we ever dreamed?

Level-infinity cleric redraws the dungeon map!

Vatican City (Reuters): The Pope is set to abolish the concept of Limbo, overturning a belief held by Dungeons & Dragons players since Gary Gygax first described the cosmology of the game in the Players Handbook in 1978...

What this change in theology will do for the millions of Dungeons & Dragons players across the world is not yet clear. Randy Thomson, a Dungeon Master of 23 years from Buffalo, New York, is livid. "The Pope has no authority to mess with the cosmology of our beloved multiverse!" Thomson ranted, between gulps of cola. "This will be like Second Edition all over again, when they tried to take away our demons and devils. If it's a schism the Pope wants, it's a schism he'll get!"

Get the whole story here. A/T to Jimmy Akin.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A question for apologist types

Tim Bayly, whose posts I link to quite a bit here, brought up the pope's offer of a plenary indulgence for observers of the feast of the Immaculate Concception. Now, I don't pay a lot of attention to indulgences in general; it feels too much like keeping score of good things I've done as though I had no other reason to do them. I tried to explain to another reader in the comments section that indulgences aren't related to salvation, but after that point I got bogged down. I can more or less picture in my head how they work, but I can't find a way to express it that doesn't make it sound like earning God's favor, in a quid-pro-quo arrangement.

How would y'all explain Catholic beliefs about indulgences to a Protestant, without getting so technical that I couldn't follow it myself?

Right under my nose!

I had no idea that Doug Sherman was blogging only a few blocks away from me!

Doug's a pastor here in Moses Lake, whose articles I had the pleasure of publishing in a local Christian magazine a couple of years ago. I expect to be slugging it out with him for the last couple of tickets to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this weekend. And being a Protestant, he'll probably fight dirty, as revenge for that little Inquisition business a few centuries ago. Some people can really hold a grudge!

Check Doug out and welcome him to the Blogosphere!

Oh, and Mommy hates Christmas, too

Thank God Random Chance that we have such vigilant people guarding our kids from that pernicious Christmasism.
In tony Medina, east of Lake Washington, a Christmas-style tree bearing mittens labeled with gift ideas was up for about a week at Medina Elementary School before it was removed, office manager Chris Metzger said.

The idea was for pupils to take a mitten, get the listed gift, wrap it and bring it to school to be given to someone at Lake Hills Elementary School in a less well-off section of neighboring Bellevue.

Some parents had put up the spiral, lighted tree with a star at the top, but it was removed Monday after another parent complained that it had religious connotations, Metzger said. The mittens were transferred to a counter in the office so the gift program could continue.

"We covered the star and called it a giving tree. We hoped it would suffice, but it didn't," Metzger said. "Now we just have a giving counter."

See, if they just covered the star, people might still know it was there, sort of like lacy undies. It's not enough merely to avoid the appearance of religion; we must excise the reality as well.

Why Mommy is a Democrat

I can't wait to see what The Curt Jester does with this in Photoshop. H/T to Julie D.


Mommy is a Democrat because she hates America.

Mommy is a Democrat because she hates people who love God.

But most of all, Mommy is a Democrat because she wants to make sure children like you can be killed if you ever become an inconvenience.

Sleep well, little squirrels.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Adre-Anna Jackson is still missing

And we're still praying. There's a good update here.

Are big brains as important as big bazoongas?

The title isn't completely germane, but I took the opportunity to be gratuitously porcine. And it's not such a bad question, really. In a subculture that encourages stay-at-home moms and female students in search of their MRS. degrees, are men intimidated or attracted by women more intelligent or educated than themselves? A column in BYU-Idaho's student newspaper considers the question.
Women often are forced to choose between a career and a family. Latter-day Saint women have been taught that their families are their most important responsibility, but they are also taught to be educated. So when education intimidates so many men, what’s a Mormon girl to do?

While some BYU-Idaho women do experience problems with intimidated men, many Latter-day Saint men desire to marry intelligent women. Their support for educating women does not wane. Actually at BYU-I, it flourishes.

Max Checketts, Academic Vice President, explained that education helps a woman be more confident in the world and better prepared to live in it. Checketts encouraged each of his daughters and his wife to get an education. Education can lead to women living at what Checketts calls her “highest and best use.”

Still, some female students feel that their level of intelligence intimidates men.

Lydia Jones, a sophomore from Rexburg, used to be a math education major. When she met guys, they would be intimidated so she would try to ease the message.

The moment she would say math, men “would put a wall up right there.”

“Because you’re a girl you’re kind of expected to know less,” Jones said.

Personally, I think it's because women have to be a little deficient mentally to marry us in the first place, especially the sort of guys who refer to "bazoongas." But less flippantly, I have to side with the men in the article who said that they prefer their women smart. My Lovely and Brilliant Wife isn't called that for no reason. She would dispute it (yeah, but what does she know?), but I think she's probably quite a few synapses ahead of me. Certainly, there's no shortage of gray matter betwen her dainty shell-likes. Am I intimidated? Do I feel unneeded, as the article suggests? Not at all. I can keep up pretty well with her (except when she tries to explain her Carmelite lessons to me), and I don't feel like I need to be smarter when I'm also the one who can reach the stuff in the back of her tea cupboard. To be honest, before I met her I had dated women who didn't keep up with me mentally, and it was just frustrating for both of us.

So here's your question: Gents, have you ever felt like a woman was outstripping you intellectually, and if so, did it bother you? Ladies, have you ever dumbed yourself down to keep from bruising some fella's tender ego? Be honest, now!

A/T to Dave's Mormon Inquiry.

Sneaky!

Well, not really. They're not actually pretending to be anything they're not. But it's a nice trick anyway.
On Saturday, a trooper stood on a street corner in Spanaway, Pierce County, and helped bust 30 people for not wearing their seat belts. The trooper, wearing plain clothes and a cardboard sign around his neck that read "Happy Holidays Buckle Up," was able to keep a close eye on passing traffic from the southeast corner of Highway 7 and 112th Street East. When he spotted someone who wasn't wearing a seat belt, the trooper radioed fellow troopers parked nearby who pulled over the offender.

In four hours, 41 cars were stopped and 30 seat-belt tickets, costing violators $101 per infraction, were handed out, Trooper J.J. Gundermann said. Troopers also made one drug arrest and six outstanding-warrant arrests.

Some motorists, seeing a man on the roadside wearing a sign, offered him money, apparently figuring he was a panhandler, the State Patrol said. The trooper refused the money.

A plague on those people who bellyached about it being unethical. If you don't wanna get caught doing something, don't do it. There's no invasion of privacy involved, and I have yet to meet a bum on the sidewalk whose sign says "Will work if you unbuckle your seatbelt." For my part, I get a kick out of seeing cops outsmart scofflaws; it so often goes the other way.
One passenger rolled down his window, hollered obscenities at [Vancouver Police Sgt. Jason] Linn and hurled a half-full can of soda before he realized Linn was a trooper. The man was given a $1,050 littering ticket. A 15-year-old who was driving the car was cited for not having a valid license and for allegedly stealing his father's rental car, Kesler said.

Story here.

Take that, Cujo!



Somebody on eBay is offering a St. Bernard rug. No, it's not a joke. It's a leftover from the Victorian era, when apparently dogs weren't a whole lot more sacred than, say, polar bears.

My kids have been after me to get a dog. I'm too late for this one (bidding ended at more than I could afford anyway), but this might have been the perfect solution. No chewed-up shoes, no alpo breath, no little "gifts" on the carpet, and it would make the warmest "lap dog" you ever saw!

H/T to A Welsh View.

Everybody set?

Got your torches and axe handles ready to go? Then let the lynching begin!

Bear in mind, this man has been accused of no crime. He was enticed by his accusers into carrying out a legal but readily distortable act on his own time, using equipment that may or may not have been exclusively for work-related use. His accuser is a newspaper owned by the same people that West failed to procure a sweetheart deal for, and the investigation began immediately after that occurred. Almost all the information the media have had on this case has come from that same newspaper, and West gets drowned out whenever he tries to respond.

So vote away, Spokane! Vote Jim West out and vote for the continued undiluted power of the Cowles Family over Spokane. After all, if they own the city, and control its information, shouldn't they also decide who runs it?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Rosaries at the ready... aim... PRAY!


I don't know how many people outside Washington have been following this story, but a little girl in Tacoma left for school Friday morning and never showed up. The fmaily didn't know to look for her for hours because they hadn't heard that school was closed for snow. I might not have heard about it myself, except that my sister-in-law is her teacher.
Adre-Anna Jackson disappeared Friday after she left her apartment for a five-minute walk to Tillicum Elementary... Her mother said the fourth grader was carrying a black and pink backpack. She was wearing blue jeans, possibly a blue shirt and white tennis shoes. She's just under 5 feet tall and weighs approximately 78 pounds. She has brown hair with reddish highlights. She may have been wearing a puffy black coat or jacket.

Anybody with any information is being asked to contact the Lakewood, Washington police. Anybody without information is being asked to pray your little butts off.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Beyond cool!



A page of instructions on how to build a working set of bagpipes from PVC pipe! (Yes, there are people who own bagpipes on purpose.)

Check out some of Dennis Havlena's other stuff as well. Fascinating!

An Akubra tip to the equally fascinating Michelle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

We laugh because we dare not cry



A miniature Christmas village that looks like a Katrinaized New Orleans.
Bob and Jill Patin of Gentilly liked the "You Loot, We Shoot" graffiti on one of the ruined refrigerators.

"It's priceless," Jill Patin said. The couple, who are rebuilding their home that had wind and flood damage, came to the mall just to see the display, she said. And they weren't alone.

Kim Koster heard about it and brought her camera. "It's like putting Christmas lights up on your FEMA trailer. It just makes you feel better," said the New Orleans resident, whose home was flooded.

H/T to Stephanie Logerot.

The coolest marriage proposal ever!

I thought I did pretty well in proposing to my Lovely and Brilliant Wife, but Dave's beats mine all to heckangone. Check it out.

Thanks once again to Miss Cellania.

Go Granny Go!

Nebraska Woman, 76, Puts Up Her Dukes and Fends Off 17-Year-Old Would-Be Car Robber
"I think she was surprised that a little old, gray-haired lady with glasses would come around swinging," [she] said.