Friday, December 29, 2006

Preach it, Mike!

Some great insights on sin at Adventure Faith. Pastor Mike's absolutely spot-on; it's always a battle to treat sin as sin, rather than just a mistake or a lapse of judgment.
[R]eligion will not help me. Humanism will not help me. Rationalization will not help me. Going numb with drugs and alcohol will not help me. Listening to someone's story of faith will not help me.

The only thing that will help me is this: to fall on my face, daily if possible, and invite the presence and power of Christ to heal me and fight with me. To lean on the Word of God and trust it to carry me through the next battle. To grow up and fight.

Finally, I need to recognize that the more I rationalize away my sin the less I need Christ.

I have a pet peeve with my pastor (whom I love and respect, BTW): In the Mass, when you get to the Kyrie, the priest's usual line is something like "Let us call to mind our sins." My pastor always says, "Let us call to mind the ways in which Our Lord invites us to love, honor and serve Him, and how we are answering that call." I can jolly well tall you how we are answering that call, Father. We're answering it badly. Sometimes very badly, sometime not as badly as other times, but I can assure you that anybody who says, "Well, I guess I've answered all right this week" is brimming over with the well-known bovine byproduct.

We shouldn't be asking "how are we doing?" as though "Great!" were a possible answer. The focus should be on "What do I need to ask forgiveness for, and what should I try to avoid next time?" We don't say "Lord, have mercy" over our successes. Most of us think about our positive points quite enough as it is. Let us call to mind our sins.

You love me! You really love me!

I made the list of the year's best entries in the Friday [Fornicate]-Off Thread at It Comes in Pints! My entry was probably the cleanest, from back in October:
Madonna. Madonna can [FORNICATE] OFF. With big, splintery nails.

You don't just tootle down to the used-child lot and pick one out like it's a 1998 Nissan. You remind me of those people who buy baby chicks for their kids at Easter, knowing the poor thing won't live to see May, but it's just SOOO CUUUTE!

Next time you crucify yourself in concert, do some other child a favor and stay on that damn cross!

Steel yourself to the language and go check out the rest of it. It's really cathartic.

Swingin' in the New Year

It's looking like sometime between now and when that big ball falls in Times Square, Saddam Hussein will dance the Tyburn jig.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving chap. May God show him more mercy than I think He will, and certainly more than Saddam ever showed.

Update: Looks like it will be 7:00 tonight (Pacific time, that is). Sooner than I expected. And it will be on YouTube by 7:02, I'm betting.

Another Update:
Al-Nueimi said U.S. authorities were maintaining physical custody of Saddam to prevent him from being humiliated before his execution. He said the Americans also want to prevent the mutilation of his corpse, as has happened to other deposed Iraqi leaders.

"The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully," al-Nueimi said.

Good. Political reasons aside, this is how Americans handle executions. We are not barbarians.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Just as an aside...

...to the person who came in on this search, her name is Nicolette Scorcese. I don't know if she's any relation to Martin or not. But boy, howdy, could she sell absolutely anything to any man whose eyeballs hadn't been physically removed!

Now you know who she is, if you ever come back this way. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Shakin' it for Santa

I don't know what to add to this that won't leave me sleeping on the couch. Except that I wonder what kid wound up with the stuffed dog, and what he'd think if he knew where it had been. On, Vixen!

This just in

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has filed criminal charges against überabortionist George Tiller. No further details yet on the newswire, but be assure I'll be keeping it updated.

Go get 'em, Phill! Nail his loathesome, murderous hiney to the wall! The spirit of Simon Wiesenthal be with you!

Update: Not much information out yet, but here's a preliminary story. Sure enough, it's for covering up for child molesters. It'll be an uphill climb, since apparently abortion clinics are the only "health care providers" who aren't subject to legal oversight.

A shame it has to be a lame-duck effort, but it may have the effect of shining some light on one of the abortion industry's dirty little secrets.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Monks gone wild

They'll know we are Christians by our crowbars.

Turkmenbashi, we hardly knew ye

In my case, that's literally true. I'd never heard of the man until yesterday, when I ran across this amazing account of a foray into Turkmenistan, and then lo and behold, when I pulled up the news wire this morning at the office, there was his obituary. No two ways about it; this guy was fascinating. I don't think he was as loony as he's made out to be, though. He may have had a staggering sense of self-importance, but he managed to keep Turkmenistan from descending into the sort of bloodbaths and power vacuums that other countries went through after the USSR fell apart. No mean feat, that.

Nevertheless, he was an unusually colorful guy (which is sort of like saying that Stalin was unusually forceful). Check out his legacy of weirdness here.

A more serious story here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Helsinki Complaints Choir

My best-friend-from-childhood comes from a Finnish family, as does about half of Klickitat County where I grew up (Motto: "Baaaa!"), so I'm not as surprised as Mark Shea that they have a sense of humor. Anybody who's taken a real Finnish sauna (a hundred-plus degrees of steam followed by total immersion in a snowbank) knows that as oppressive as the heat might be, you come out as thoroughly clean as you've ever been in your life. This video is just about that cathartic. I don't think I'll bellyache for a while after seeing this. Fun!

Danny Bonaduce has class...

And this sunglassed dickhead doesn't. I had to wait until I got home to watch this, but I'm glad I did. I don't care if you're for or against the Iraqi occupation, what this pissant did was inexcusable. You don't just ooze up to someone in mid-meal as though just because he was famous 30 years ago he's somehow obliged to talk with you. As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Bonaduce would have been well within his rights to give the guy a microphone enema; he showed great courtesy in merely speaking to loser-boy as though he MATTERED A RAT'S PATOOT.



A/T to It Comes in Pints?.

Cartoons at half mast

Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby Doo... all died today.

Going through the motions

Note: Once again I'm recycling an article I wrote a few years ago for a Christian (mostly Protestant-oriented) magazine I used to put together for The Greatest Newspaper in the Northwest™. Since it deals with ordinary time, I probably should have waited until Christmas was over and posted it then, but a blogfriend seems to be going through a rough patch, and I thought this might be the right time to bring it up. (You know who you are, brother.)

I dread the time between Christmas and Lent. The holidays are over. The carols have been replaced by the whines of children. The snow that was charming two months ago now leaves me snarling at my shovel. And my spiritual life reminds me of the feeling you get driving at three in the morning with nothing on the radio and seventeen cups of gas station coffee dissolving the lining of your stomach. On the church calendar, it’s called “Ordinary Time.” I can see why. And as soon as I say this, I feel a little guilty. A Christian isn’t supposed to feel this way.

Remember the songs we used to sing in Sunday School?

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”

“I have the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart!”

“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam!”

It starts early, this conditioning to feel happy. And it continues into adulthood. As mature Christians, we know intellectually that there will be spiritual ups and downs. Still, how often are we exhorted to be “on fire for God?” Not to “go through the motions?” And the oft-quoted “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?”

Bah. Nobody moved. I’m still here, and He’s still here, and how I feel at any given time has nothing to do with it. I’ll “go through the motions” as long as it takes, thank you. Every Christian has times like that. The important thing is to have motions to go through.

For a Catholic, it’s easy. You go to Mass, sing the songs, read the responses, and receive the Eucharist. The routine is mostly the same. As the Mass goes along, I find myself adding my mental commentary:

Priest: “The Lord be with you.”
Congregation: “And also with you.” (I could do this in my sleep. In fact, I think I might be.)
Priest: “Lift up your hearts.”
Congregation: “We lift them up to the Lord.” (Does drop-kicking it in the general direction of the altar count?)
Priest: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”
Congregation: “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” (The guy in front of me seems to be hygienically challenged. Hey, buddy, praise with your arms down, willya?)

And so it goes. If you’re not Catholic (or some other liturgical denomination), then it gets a little trickier. It’s kind of expected that you will have a “worship experience” at church, and you have to find a balance that will allow you to worship without feeling like a hypocrite. People tend to notice if you show up, glower at your hymnal for an hour or so, and go home without saying a word to anybody. Not the best witness, perhaps, but what can you do?

Well, you can pray. A lot. And remember that God hears you even when you mutter. You don’t have to be exuberant or interesting, just pray. Again, this is where having a set routine helps. My wife is a Secular Carmelite, so she prays the Divine Office regularly. (Translation for Protestant readers: the Secular Carmelites are sort of like a religious order, but without vows of celibacy and poverty. The Divine Office is a traditional series of prayers, mostly from the Psalms, that takes about 15 or 20 minutes twice a day.) I don’t have the self-discipline for that, but I can set myself a series of prayers and stick to it like gum to a theater seat. One “Our Father”, one “Glory Be”, repeat as needed. It’s not fancy, but it gets me through.

And for now, getting through is the name of the game. In a month or so, it’ll be Ash Wednesday, and the zeal will return. (Who but a Catholic gets fired up over penitence and self-denial? Praise the Lord and pass the hair shirt!) Meanwhile, I keep remembering the words of Bob Dylan:
“And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn,
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin’ on...”

...and on, and on and on. Our Father, Glory Be, Yadda yadda. World without end, amen. It’s a good thing the Lord knows how I feel even when I don’t feel it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Circumcision reduces risk of AIDS...

... by almost half. No mention of how much the risk can be reduced by simply not buggering other men.

Lying godbag defames self-sacrificing hero

But... but... things like that don't really happen! Women who have abortions are happy! Happy, I tell you! And Dr. Tiller is a great man, who gives his profits to charity! Yeah, that's it! Secretly! And it wasn't a baby! It wasn't! SHUT UP!

Stop it! Stop saying those things! La la la la la...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

If things had gone terribly, terribly wrong

This alternate-history obituary of St. Jack is really disturbing. I don't think it's all that plausible, but the convergences are fun to ponder, in a Lovecraftian sort of way.

Christmas reality check

As fast as the decorations come out, somebody starts going on about how "Christmas is just a glossed-over pagan celebration, blah blah blah." Next time you hear that twaddle begin, shut it off by directing them to someone who knows what he's talking about.
The idea that the date was taken from the pagans goes back to two scholars from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a German Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th was one of the many “paganizations” of Christianity that the Church of the fourth century embraced, as one of many “degenerations” that transformed pure apostolic Christianity into Catholicism. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel.

In the Julian calendar, created in 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar, the winter solstice fell on December 25th, and it therefore seemed obvious to Jablonski and Hardouin that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one. But in fact, the date had no religious significance in the Roman pagan festal calendar before Aurelian’s time, nor did the cult of the sun play a prominent role in Rome before him.

There were two temples of the sun in Rome, one of which (maintained by the clan into which Aurelian was born or adopted) celebrated its dedication festival on August 9th, the other of which celebrated its dedication festival on August 28th. But both of these cults fell into neglect in the second century, when eastern cults of the sun, such as Mithraism, began to win a following in Rome. And in any case, none of these cults, old or new, had festivals associated with solstices or equinoxes.


Thanks to Catholic Überblogger Mark Shea for reminding me about this. He's got some really good comments on the subject here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stuff you can't make up

A high school art teacher suspended for making a YouTube video demonstrating how to paint with your butt.

Where do you even begin to make fun of something like this?

Peter Boyle, R.I.P.


It's hard to say what my favorite performance of his was, especially since I was never a fan of "Everybody Loves Raymond." Didn't hate it or anything, just never got into it.

I first saw Boyle in Yellowbeard, which (despite almost universal gagging) remains one of my favorite parodies of all time. I remember him as a police commander trying everything he could find to relieve stress in Red Heat; he made an otherwise forgettable movie as least a little enjoyable. And everybody loved him in Young Frankenstein.

I think my favorite role of his, though, was as the father (Ox Callahan) in the sappy romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping. Some of the quotes still crack me up:
Man at Church: Will you please pipe down?
Ox Callahan: Hey, be nice pal-ly, we're in Church!
Man at Church: You're disrupting the Mass!
Ox Callahan: Who made you the Pope?

And one I throw around sometimes for no particular reason:
All I know is, she was pretty high and mighty for someone named after breakfast meat!

Incidentally, looking at his trivia, I notice that before he was an actor, he was a Christian Brothers monk. How cool is that?

Rest in peace, pal. Make God laugh.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I can talk gooder'n anybody!

Given that I work for a newspaper, 98 percent shouldn't be good enough. But I don't have time to go back and see what I missed.
Your Language Arts Grade: 98%
 

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz



I'd be curious to see how Dani does, since I occasionally hire her to freelance. I'd like to think she can, like, write a correct sentence, y'know? I'll bet she beats me. H/T to Patrick.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

For my Reverend Auntie

She was very active in Mensa for a long time, ever since she discovered it through administering my Mensa test when I was a kid. In fact, I remember her telling me that she had been letched after by the Good Doctor himself at a Mensa gathering. (I didn't envy her that, although I would have liked to have met him.)

Here's a few lines I hope he didn't use:
The Top 5 MENSA Pick-Up Lines

5> "If I were to mention to you that you have a bellus corpus, would you take umbrage?"

4> "I bet your brain stem reaches almost down to your gluteus maximus."

3> "Ooohh, your IQ is 145? I like 'em dumb and strong!"

2> "By visually measuring the wrinkles in the front of your pants, calculating your body mass based on your height and weight, and dividing that number by your waist size -- I conclude that you have absolutely nothing in your pocket and are, in fact, glad to see me."

and the Number 1 MENSA Pick-Up Line...
1> "Baby, I'll have you barking like a canis familiaris."

Our Catholic governor...

... leaps eagerly at the chance to please her NARAL masters. This wasn't even a political necessity; it was just a gesture to show how committed she is to betraying her faith for the sake of the abortion industry.

I take some solace in the knowledge that she actually lost the election. But not much.

Counseling by phone

While I was cleaning out some stuff, I found this from a back issue of the Wittenburg Door, back when it used to be funny. I thought I'd post it just for the heck of it.
Hello.

You have reached Enormous Christian Center's automated spiritual counseling and referral line. If you were trying to call Domino's Pizza, please press (1) now.

If you have a loved one in the hospital, please press (2) now.

If you have done something you feel ashamed of and you wish to anguish over it without any real resolve to change, press (3) now.

If you wish to complain about another member of the church who does not meet your expectations, press (4) now. If you wish to complain about the pastor, press (5) now.

If you would like marriage counseling, press (5) now.

You already used 5.

No, I didn't.

You most certainly did. Complaints about the pastor were 5.

Well, pardon me. I suppose you never make mistakes.

I can count, if that's what you mean.

Oh, really? Then how do you explain last month's checking statement?

I was still in a stupor from your tuna casserole.

(BEEP)

If you would like to speak directly to God, think very hard about the number (7) now.

If there was no answer at that extension and you are now experiencing a crisis of faith, please press (8) now.

(BEEP)

You have selected menu item number 8, a crisis of faith. This automated service offers various arguments for the existence of God.

To hear a defense of creationism by the biology professor from a nearby Bible college, press (1) now.

To hear about God's message in the awesome beauty of nature, press(2) now.

For a celebrity's personal testimony, press (3) now.

For a pretty lame attempt to deal with the problem of evil in 45 seconds, press (4) now.

To return to the main menu, press (5) now.

(BEEP)

For general counseling, please press (9) now.

(BEEP)

You have selected menu item number 9, general counseling. Please begin describing your life situation. Press the pound key when you are ready for a response.

(#)

Uh-huh.

(#)

Uh-huh.

(#)

I see.

(#)

And how did you feel about that?

(#)

I see. Well, perhaps you should pray about it.

(BEEP)

For church softball league results, please press (1) now. Softball league results are $2.95 for the first minute, 95 cents for each additional minute.

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I kind of saw this coming

The more seriously the MSM begins to take Mitt Romney's chances for the White House, the more Gee-Whiz-Those-Mormons-Sure-Are-Kooks stories like this one we'll be seeing. The media didn't care about Mormons when it was just fresh-faced kids at the door, but with Romney considering a presidential bid, it's time to start establishing the meme in people's heads that the LDS are really just Branch Davidians in weird underwear.

Monday, December 04, 2006

B-I-N-G-O

... and Pervo was his name-O!

This is the lamest excuse for despicable behavior I've heard in a long time.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Like an old dog gone astray...

... I'm just old and in the way.

Update: Sorry about that, Paul. It's an MP3 audio, so you might have to actually download it if you want to hear it. I can spare you the bootleg recording quality and link to the lyrics instead.

I didn't mean to be obscure. It's my birthday, and I'm wallowing in my encroaching obsolescence. :)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Praying hard

Pastor Paul reports that Larry Brice, an associate pastor here in Moses Lake, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, and it doesn't look good. We've already seen that prayer can beat cancer, so let's get going again.

Rosaries ready, aim... pray!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gobble, gobble!

Which is exactly what I intend to do today, being as it's the one day out of the year that I can convince myself that gluttony isn't really a sin. We're heading over to my sister's for dinner today, but I couldn't resist posting the funniest Thanksgiving moment in TV history. (Thanks to Miss Cellania for finding it!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sometimes "anger management" just means knowing where to aim

I mean, both of these guys strike me as responding fairly reasonably under the circumstances, although the former might want to address some obvious underlying problems in his marriage. But in the latter case, it seems to me if more people did that, there would be a lot more public decorum in the world.

A tip of the Akubra to Jim Romanesko for both links.

Update: That doesn't apply to this bozo, but at least he was on his way to the right place.

Monday, November 20, 2006

This is embarrassing

Embarrassing, that is, because it shouldn't be this easy. I'd like to think that all of my teenagers could have passed this long before graduation.

You paid attention during 100% of high school!
 

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz



As a side note, I actually don't have my high school diploma. I graduated all right, by the skin of my teeth, but my diploma was withheld pending payment of a library fine. Now I've had a lot of books overdue in my time, and if I'd had this one out I would have paid the fine, but I can say for a certainty that I never checked out The Scarlet Letter during my junior year. Nevertheless, the librarian (in true school librarian fashion) was unyielding, and wouldn't take my word for it. She's 71 now and presumably retired (I haven't seen her in twenty years), so I guess we're at an impasse. But dagnabbit, I deserve the diploma anyway, and now I have the score to prove it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oh. My. Word.



I literally couldn't stop gaping at this. How on earth do you set something like this up? At least dominoes have a flat side. But coins!!

I could think of more practical uses for 10,000 quid, but none more elegant. H/T to the delightful Miss C.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Phooey!

All right, pooches, you win. This time. But there's still next year.

Now get off the couch and for heaven's sake stop licking yourself there!

Friday, November 17, 2006

An Apple Cup Prayer

Reposted from November 2005:

My friends, this being the Apple Cup weekend, let us all join in prayer for our mighty Cougar warriors, that they might by their God-given superiority prevail over their perfidious foes. Let us also pray for the conversion of the pagan Huskies, that just as God will change their mourning into dancing, so may He change their purple and (fool's)-gold into holy crimson and grey. And finally, let us pray for the poor benighted heathen who are misled into rooting for the foul curs, that they might see the error of their ways and become true Wazooites in heart, if not in alumni affiliation.

Those who will not so pray, let them be anathema, as they are no better than Seattle coasties themselves, and perhaps (gasp!) not even Washingtonians and so not salvable even by the grace of a merciful Crimson-and-Grey-wearing God.

Amen, and go Cougs!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gives a whole new meaning to "going stag"

Okay, maybe it's not a crime, but it sure is yucky. Next time you complain that we have too many laws in this country, bear in mind that there wasn't one in place specific enough for this sicko to break.

Update: I hadn't realized the link required registration. Go to Bugmenot.com for a login.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

An animated parable



I don't see this the way Mark Shea does, as a "lesson for postmoderns" in the inexorability of natural laws. Rather, it reminds me of the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. I don't think the bird is in denial here, I think he just wants something so badly he's willing to take the consequences to have it just once. Which is how we ought to desire God, and (I, at least) so seldom do.

Caption contest



All right, it's not my caption contest; it's one going on over at Ship of Fools. But there are some wonderful ones:

The lucky Calvinist knew the simplicity of mating by predestination...

Now, THAT is what I call 'irresistable.'

No, honey, I didn't say I was Elect, I said I was ... oh, whatever.

Oh baby, you bring out the total depravity in me like nobody ever has before.... Can you feel it too?


Get in touch with your inner smart-elbow and see if you can come up with some more. If you really are a Calvinist (are you still reading, Pilgrim?), give yourself double points for being able to laugh at yourself.

Pastors on crack

That's the only explanation I can find for some of these church signs. Is it really necessary to hawk Jesus like he was a used Honda?

Rosie got something right

At least, Pastor Mike finds some unintentional truth in Rosie O'Donnell's blather about fearing "Radical Christianity":
If radical Christianity took root in this country it threatens our way of life and the underpinnings of this great nation....

Let's look at the potential damage a bit closer:
Radically following the person and teachings of Jesus would erode materialism and obliterate a financial system that is derived from leveraging debt over and over again.
Radical Christianity would cause millions of jobs to be lost as prisons became nearly vacant, court rooms had no backlog, hospitals didn't have many sick, and peace officers across the country are laid off because crime rates drop to a ridiculous level.
Marraige counselors would be broke as repentance and humility and honesty took root in families across this great nation...

Go read the whole thing. Then let's go live it, and show Rosie and her ilk what there is to be afraid of.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I guess that's a silver lining

Emily managed to find something good in the election results:
The good news about Democrats taking the House is that we won't have to endure months and months of lawyering over election fraud and imagined disenfranchisement. Because when Republicans win, it's only by acts of thuggery and abuse. When Democrats win, it's because The People™ have spoken.

What she said.

The day after

Reagan announced in 1981 that it was "morning in America." Well, it's morning again, but this time with a hangover that will last for years. Our country is now run by people who believe that it's not only permissible but actually preferable to slaughter the unborn, the elderly and the infirm; who would abandon the Iraqis to a theocratic power vacuum and gloat at the deaths of soldiers; and who would demand that religions that hold to traditional marriage abandon their beliefs or pay the price. We are at the mercy of a party for whom mercy is at best a joke and at worst an abomination.

God help us, because the electoral process has not.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Worth a thousand words of apologetics


Found on Crossed the Tiber, along with a plethora of other good stuff.

"The ketchup bottle you rolled in on?"

Warning: Extreme language alert!

Over at It Comes in Pints?, there's a weekly tradition called the "Friday [Fornincate]-Off Thread," where you can get in touch with your inner mouth-foamer and release all your anger at anybody you choose. Now, I'm moderately skilled at the use of profanity, but the folks that post there are out-and-out masters of the art. In particular, Val Prieto of Babalu Blog launched into John Kerry this week in such blistering terms that I just had to reproduce it here verbatim. (My very humble apologies to anybody who has a problem with the language. I usually keep it clean, but editing this would destroy the whole effect.)
To that Senator from Massachusetts - no, not the drunk fat rat bastard, the other skinny YOU RANG? LURCH looking one - that exemplifies the definition of arrogance and hubris and condescension and who saw fit to denigrate men and women in the Armed Forces that have more honesty, courage, integrity and dignity in a pinky nail clipping than you have in your whole entire wrinkled sorry excuse for a body: FUCK THE FUCK OFF YOU FUCKING WHY THE LONG FACE? MONSTER LOOKING, MONEY MARRYING, VIETCONG ASS KISSING WHILE MEN WERE STILL DYING IN VIETNAM, FALSE CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY GIVING, FORM 180 SERVICE RECORD HIDING SNIVELLING PURPLE HEART FOR A MOSQUITO BITE RECIEVING COMMIE ASS KISSING POLITICAL OPPORUNIST DOESNT EVEN HAVE THE BALLS TO STAND BY WHAT HE BELIEVES OR SAYS MOMTHERFUCKING FUCK OF FUCKING FUCKHEAD FUCK MOTHERFUCKER. No, seriously, FUCK YOU JOHN FORBES FUCKING KERRY AND THE FUCKING KETCHUP BOTTLE YOU ROLLED IN ON.

Whew! How cathartic is that? Extra points if you can read that whole thing without coming up for air.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The contrast

This just about sums up the level of discourse between right and left:

Liberal gesture to Bush
Conservative gesture to Kerry

And yet liberals honestly believe we're their intellectual inferiors.

First snow...

... just started coming down a few minutes ago.

This is part of why I like living in central Washington. Although it's been years since Moses Lake had a really snowy winter, there's still a charm about the first flurry of the season. It's not sticking yet, and I'll be surprised if it does this time, but it's still fun to watch through the window. Preferably with a fire and a hot cup of something.

Update: Rats! It's morphed into plain ol' freezing rain. Ah, well, for one bright shining moment...

Feeling my age

It just occurred to me, listening to the reporters in this newsroom (average age about 24), that I still think of "chill" as strictly a transitive verb. Which makes me a geezer.

Sigh.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Blogroll addition

I'd like to welcome to the blogroll Dani, of Life in 3D, who's a homeschooling stay-at-home mom, an old friend and a helluva writer with some really good things to say. You'll find her link under "Prods" in the sidebar. Mosey on over and say "hi." (Maybe this will make her blog more frequently.) :)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Spam zen

Every once in a while I actually look at one of the spams that show up in my inbox, not because I have the slightest interest in whatever they're hawking, but to see the random text they use for filler. There's some interesting meditative possibilities in it.

Today's Spam Zen: When you see the chess board, it means that the insurance agent self-flagellates.

Now, what shall we make of this? Let's consider first the chess board. What does it represent? At first glance it's an icon not only of war, but of coolheaded, measured warfare. It's war as fought by the generals, not by the dogfaces in the trenches. By men whose personal courage may have already been tested – probably they would willingly stand in harm's way, and most likely did in their youth – but who have nevertheless been relegated to a swivel-chair and a duty less physically dangerous but harder on the soul: that of ordering younger men to die, and figuring out how to extract the most good from their deaths.

Moving to the next part of the sentence, what has the insurance agent done that he should so mistreat himself? Has he cheated his clients? Has he cost his employers by speaking truthfully to his clients, sinning through virtue? Or is there some secret sin in his private, non-insurance life for which he must atone?

Let's assume it's related to his profession. Insurance agents serve the function of insulating people from risk. Chess, like war, is by its nature a give-and-take of risk and sacrifice. One trades one's pawn for a queen, and occasionally gambles on one's opponent failing to discern one's plan. It's not too hard to draw a connection here between the chess board and an insurance agent in distress.

But one question remains: Why is it that the salesman's self-punishment only becomes known when you see the chess board? Surely he was aware of its presence all along, and it appears that he's been whipping himself already, independent of your perception. Moreover, why should you be looking for indications that the salesman is practicing his self-sadism? Is it perhaps a Schrödinger's Cat phenomenon, wherein he either is or is not self-flagellating until the chess board is seen, at which time the waveforms resolve themselves into one or the other? That seems the most likely explanation, albeit one that leaves open several more questions. At what point does the insurance agent let up on the whipping? Does he tire, or grow weak from blood loss, or merely continue until he dies? Is his self-torture affected by the arrangement of the pieces on the board? And if so, what does he do at checkmate?

Let's make a meme out of this. I charge you, O faithful readers, to take a random line from your spam and squeeze it like a used tea bag for insights. (Keep it clean!) I'm tagging Patrick, Hindu, Ms. Kitty (hers ought to be really interesting), and Ken. And, as always, my Lovely and Brilliant Wife.

Friday, October 27, 2006

St. Crispin's Day

I had completely forgotten that Wednesday was St. Crispin's Day until Ken mentioned it yesterday. Because it's Friday, and because I literally can't read this without a lump in my throat, here's the St. Crispin's day speech from Henry V:
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Here's a dilemma

What's a pro-abort to do when this happens?
COLVILLE, WASH. - A Stevens County man accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill his unborn child pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

Charles Young, 18, of Suncrest northwest of Spokane, was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors allege Young offered an undercover officer posing as a hitman $3,250 to injure his 17-year-old ex-girlfriend so badly that her nearly full-term fetus would die...

Young said he wanted his ex-girlfriend beaten in the stomach sufficiently to cause the death of the fetus and that he wouldn't mind if she also perished, the sheriff said.

The murder solicitation charge relates to the ex-girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant, while the manslaughter solicitation charge relates to the fetus, prosecutors said.

Okay, so it's a little weird that he's charged with attempted murder against the girlfriend when nobody is asserting that he intended to kill her (he simply didn't care if she was collateral damage). But you can't charge him with attempted manslaughter against something that's not a person. Vandalism, maybe. Possibly even animal cruelty, although even that would establish the baby's right to live.

So where will the pro-aborts line up? Will they cheer to see this guy sent up for trying to have a woman beaten up? Ordinarily, yes, they would. But I will bet a silk pajama that if it comes down to a choice between nailing an abuser or allowing an unborn baby to have rights, the pro-deathers will side with the man. Sure, abuse of women is a bad thing, but it's still better than preventing abuse of the unborn. There are priorities, after all.

Give us Barabbas!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Book meme

My painted, tainted, sainted aunt tagged me with this meme. Sorry it took so long, but I... well.. I sorta have... a life.

1. One book that changed your life?
I'm tempted to say "Mere Christianity," because I read that as a teenager and it was the first time I had actually had any of my questions regarding Christianity answered. I suspect I probably would have become a practicing Christian as an adult anyway, though, just out of kind of a spiritual inertia. I had been raised with certain Christian assumptions, after all, and I never really dropped them even when I was seriously questioning them. I suppose I had been looking for an excuse to believe what I had been taught.

But the book that jolted me out of my rather shallow Protestantism and into serious study of historic Christianity was The Way by Clark Carlton, a Protestant-turned-Greek Orthodox Christian apologist. It was a bit of a shock to realize that the Baptist Protestantism I was raised believing was kind of a stripped-down version of a faith that had not only begun in the first century but had continued uninterrupted. As Carlton put it, the Church is still at Corinth.

2. One book you have read more than once?
That would be most of the ones I've read, actually. I'm a terrible one for rereading. The one currently by my bed is John the Balladeer, a collection of Manly Wade Wellman's wonderful forays into Appalachian mythology.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
A guide to boatbuilding with minimal materials would be appealing. But I don't think that's what the memestress had in mind. I suppose I should say a Bible, but if so, it should be one of those interlinear ones with originals and various translations.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Almost anything by George MacDonald Fraser. I'm seriously addicted to his Flashman series, but by far his funniest was The Pyrates. Anybody who enjoys the old swashbuckling movies will want to glut themselves on that one.

5. One book that made you cry?
My Daddy was a Pistol and I'm a Son of a Gun, by Lewis Grizzard. No further comment.

6. One book you wish had been written?
At one time there was a two-volume biography of Robert Heinlein planned, but I haven't heard anything about it for several years now. I wish that had been written. (Not that I've given up hope.)

7. One book you wish had never been written?
My auntie, who tagged me for this, mentioned The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion as one possibility. I have to disagree with that. (As my PC readers gasp and create a suction to rival a jet engine, let me make it worse by admitting that I actually have a copy.) The Protocols only collected in one place what was "common knowledge" at the time. (That it was a forgery didn't make a lot of difference; it would simply have been called "truthy.") The long-term result of the propaganda was a Holocaust that galvanized the Jewish people like nothing else could have. Had there been no Holocaust, it's entirely possible that world Jewry might have been whittled down by attrition, from pogrom after pogrom, or assimilated into the cultures around them. Zionism was kind of a faddish thing among a few "intellectuals," not a policy anybody paid a lot of attention to.

But after the horrors of the Nazi extermination, the Jews that were left became determined that nobody – but nobody – was going to make victims of them again. Much of the rest of the world rallied to the Jews' side and made it possible to establish a nation, a single corner of the world where (as one writer put it) the word "Jew" would never be a slur. Today, no country on earth is so ready to fight for its survival as Israel, and the Chosen People are unlikely ever to be wiped out.

So what book do I wish had never been written? How about the Koran? With no waves of Islam, the Middle East would still be Christian, and I suspect that the Protestant Reformation could have been averted as well. One of the reasons that the Church was in such desperate need of housecleaning was that so much of the leadership's attention was being absorbed by successive Muslim assaults on Europe. The Spanish Inquisition grew out of the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain, which probably wouldn't have happened had the peninsula not been under Muslim domination for several centuries. (I don't know if the East-West schism would still have occurred, but it might have been easier to reconcile without the barbarian literally at the gates.) Imagine a world with no 95 Theses, no Institutes of the Christian Religion, no Black Legend. And no foaming fanatics eager to strap on a bomb belt and die with an honor guard.

8. One book you are currently reading?
Currently I'm reading – and enjoying thoroughly – Forgotten Kingdom, a history of Utah during the years between the first settlement in the Salt Lake Valley and the extension of US control over Utah in the 1850s. The Mormon "Kingdom of Deseret" was a virtually autonomous theocracy during that time, and the society they created is a fascinating historical study.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Well, I've been wrestling with Aquinas' Summa Theologica for years, and every so often I tackle it again. Someday I'll get through it. I've also got a copy of Mein Kampf in the original that I've been meaning to read. (Pause while readers resume breathing normally.) The little bit I've read creeps me out about as much as The Turner Diaries did. But my German is really rusty, and I don't want to read a translation because God knows what a translator has done with it. If I'm going to read something so socially poisonous, I at least want to know what it really says. So it's slow going.

I'd also like to read some St. John of the Cross, which shouldn't be too difficult because my Lovely and Brilliant Wife has it all over the house. (Hint: notice her blog title.) But somehow every time I try, my head spins. I'm ot what anyone would call a mystic, and John confuses me. Oh yes, and I'd like to read St. Augustine's City of God. He's my patron, and I feel bad not having read more of him.

Okay, I'm inflicting this on Pastor Paul, Pastor Doug, Pastor Jeff, Pastor Mike (whenever he gets back from lolling around in Hawaii), and Father Sam. Let's see what the clergy read.

And of course, the love of my life.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Is it just my imagination...

... or do stories like this and this seem to show up more during October?

Warning: The second link is pretty grody. Don't try to read it at lunchtime.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"He never took his eye off the grenade"

CORONADO, Calif. - A Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into a sniper hideout his unit had discovered, fellow members of the elite force said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure Sept. 29 when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to The Associated Press this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret.

"He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him."

This is how a man dies. I don't care how you feel about the Iraqi occupation;read and be humbled.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

And the cat came back

I'm not one of those hamfisted tough guys who advocates the noose for jaywalking, but I have to admit this sounds like a good idea.
A MAN convicted of trying to rape an 83-year-old woman was sentenced to eight lashes with a cat-o'-nine-tails, a punishment used by the British Navy in the 18th century and reinstated in the Bahamas 15 years ago.

Altulus Newbold, 34, was sentenced on Saturday to 16 years in prison after being found guilty of burglary, attempted rape and causing harm.

Justice Jon Isaacs ordered that he receive four lashes of the whip at the start of his sentence and four upon his release, but suspended the punishment for three weeks pending a possible appeal.

The cat, a whip made of knotted cords, leaves flesh wounds and is used on the offender's back by a prison guard.

It was outlawed in the Bahamas many years ago, but reinstated in the former British colony in 1991 in the face of rising crime.

This, to me, is the biggest argument in favor of it:
Former assistant police commissioner Paul Thompson said the cat was always considered an effective form of punishment.

"A long-serving prison governor told me that prisoners who received the cat never returned to prison. He considered it the ultimate deterrent," Mr Thompson said.

Reducing prison populations without having to execute seems like a good idea to me. A whipping might be painful enough to keep people from wanting to risk it again, but it's not permanent, and it's less likely to be tied up in decades of appeals. I know it's not a cure-all, but we might give it a try.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Amen!

I'm not going to embed it; you'll have to go look. But it seems Ken at It Comes in Pints? feels the same way about Fred Phelps' pack of dirty-eared inbreds as I do.

Really?

Says here that the pope may have signed a universal indult to bring back the Tridentine Mass. Does anybody know more about this? (The Times isn't notoriously careful about religion reporting.)
The Pope is taking steps to revive the ancient tradition of the Latin Tridentine Mass in Catholic churches worldwide, according to sources in Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI is understood to have signed a universal indult — or permission — for priests to celebrate again the Mass used throughout the Church for nearly 1,500 years. The indult could be published in the next few weeks, sources told The Times...

The new indult would permit any priest to introduce the Tridentine Mass to his church, anywhere in the world, unless his bishop has explicitly forbidden it in writing.

Of course, I wonder how much difference this will make, with the last generation of priests who know how to celebrate the Tridentine rite dying off.

Mel Gibson haikus

Apparently ol' Mel hasn't yet lived down getting snockered, shouting about Jews running the world, and calling a female cop "Sugar Tits." Is "being mocked in haiku" one of the twelve steps?

Some of the better ones (be ready for language):
Mel wanted to be
Ted Kennedy, but instead
was Jerry Falwell

Mel is drunk again
Screaming like a Nazi twit
Passion of the Cops

Now apologize
For making us all look at
Your ass in Braveheart

Face it, sugar-tits
Point-one-two is not that drunk
You just hate the Jews

Wait, don’t let me out
Of jail yet. I still haven’t
Slagged off the faggots.

Did I say “the jews”?
the tequila slurred my words…
meant to say “fruit chews”

King of Malibu
pull over and enjoy your
own crucifixion

Anybody have any to add?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Is that what "sacking the quarterback" means?

The usually ho-hum race for Wisconsin secretary of state is being spiced up by one candidate's naughty tell-all book about her bed-hopping exploits with Green Bay football legends during the team's glory days under Vince Lombardi in the 1960s.

Sandy Sullivan, a 65-year-old Republican with no political experience, self-published a gushing memoir in 2004 titled "Green Bay Love Stories and Other Affairs" in which she claims she was the girlfriend of Green Bay Packers Paul Hornung and Dan Currie, deflected a pass from Hall of Famer Don Hutson and was on the receiving end of a saucy comment from Richard Nixon.

If the book is to be believed, the Packers did a lot of their scoring off the field, and Sullivan got her share of playing time.

Why am I not surprised...

...that the person who found me on this search was surfing from UC Davis? There's the rest of the world, and then there's Northern California. (Now I've done it; my Californian wife is probably already getting the couch made up for me.)

Speaking of my LaBW

She'll know all of these. I'm no expert (whereas Christina is), but I found I knew a few of them myself.

H/T once again to Miss Cellania.

Some things a fire can't erase

My Lovely and Brilliant Wife will understand why I posted this. Someday I hope I can see it with her.

The Carnival is up

I didn't get around to submitting a post to this week's Catholic Carnival, which is a disappointment because the theme this week is the Rosary, which I've just been rediscovering. If you read nothing else, you absolutely must read this article on the Battle of Lepanto, where those little strings of beads may have been the reason we're not bowing toward Mecca today.

But she's a woman, so it's her civil right

All this woman did was take more literally than most what uterofascists have maintained is their right anyway: to treat babies – and everybody else – any way they see fit.

Being a woman means never having to be told "no." And only a men's rights sexist would question it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

This land is whose land?

This cool animated map shows the successive empires that have passed the Middle East around like a bottle in a brown bag for the last 5,000 years. Kind of puts today's conflicts in perspective. This, too, will pass.



A tip of the kaffiyeh to Julie.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I coulda been a contender

You most resemble Marlon Brando





You are very smart, and very talented, although you don’t really enjoy social company. You prefer to live alone, go to movies alone, cry alone in the corner...


Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com


H/T to the unrefusable Miss C..

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fighting down waves of nausea

A guest post at The Dawn Patrol:
I'm a man, so I'm not supposed to have an opinion about abortion. Instead, let me tell you about the wonderful morning I had yesterday, taking my 2-year-old daughter Dot to speech therapy and physical therapy. Her major interest right now is reciting the colors (which she does in English and American Sign Language, yet) and reciting the names of her boyfriends in her early start toddler class ("Edgerrrrr! Androooo!") and informing me they wear "backpacks." She waved at everyone she saw that day with a cheery "Hello!" and smiled a gap-tooth smile under her mop of red hair. They smiled and waved back. What a cutie!

Oh, sorry — she has Down Syndrome. Reboot. Let me try again:

Bringing her to term was obviously a big mistake! What a tragedy SHE is! How inconvenient for everyone involved! We can't possibly get her into advanced placement classes, or an Ivy League college! What'll we say to our neighbors? Better off just to make the "hard decision" to get rid of her. Ignore my first paragraph. Just forget I said anything ...

I'm really having a hard time coming up with words to describe my incredible anger. Pro-deathers like to describe abortion as "a hard decision," but the fact is, it's the lazy-ass way out. Particularly in this case. Let's face it; the women who will abort a DS child aren't scared teenagers who dare not give birth. They want children, just not this child.

So these lovely, sweet human beings are squashed like spiders because they're just too much trouble to keep. Hard decision, my big hairy butt!

I'm going to have trouble not throwing up for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I hadn't noticed...

... that October was the Month of the Rosary until Julie and Sarah both mentioned it. Kind of fits in with the last post, doesn't it? I think I know what I need to start doing on the way to work in the mornings.

Prayer works, believe it or not

Back in July, I asked for prayer for Mike's father, who had cancer. Turns out it's been answered beyond all expectation. At least any expectation of mine.

I e-mailed Mike the other day to ask how things were going, wonderinng if it was time to start praying for his soul instead of his healing. Mike's answer (posted with his permission):
Nope... he is actually doing great. In fact it is quite miraculous how well his is doing. What is more, he gave his life to Christ in my church about a month ago... walked up to me crying after service and said he prayed the prayer with me and I can see the change in his life already. Thank you so much for praying for him... God has certainly listened and responded.

I wrote back:
This business with your dad has been a smack-in-the-gob reminder of something that we're constantly being told but that I have a hard time believing: prayer works. It really does. Yet I know I've been disappointed so often in praying that I had come to believe in the back of my mind that it only works for other people. You know, the sort of people who announce to the world that their prayers for the most unlikely things have been answered, and hint loudly that if we would just pray more, or better, our cars will run better, our children will grow up right, and our toenails will cease to be ingrown. I'm not even talking about the prosperity gospel, name-it-and-claim-it bunch; they're comparatively straightforward. I mean the people who are more-prayerful-then-thou, whose eyes naturally fall into a gaze-toward-heaven position. You know the kind I mean.

But when I pray, it always seems like that's God's cue to do exactly the opposite. "You think you've got troubles NOW? You just watch!" I know intellectually that that's not what happens, but emotionally it's hard sometimes to see effectual prayer as anything more real than Santa Claus.

In your dad's case, I did something I'd gotten out of the habit of doing: I prayed the rosary. I went into it with the same lackluster trust in the power of prayer that I've had for several years, and it didn't make any difference. The prayers were still answered.

The thing I have trouble remembering about prayer is that its efficacy isn't dependent on how good I am at it. In praying the rosary, I asked the strongest prayer warrior in Heaven for her help in praying. But if she hadn't been there, if it had just been me, God and a string of beads, I still wouldn't have been praying alone. God is always at the other end. Even the beads would have been optional at most.

And there's my dirty little secret. Even when I pray, I don't really think it's going to do much good. Fortunately, God ignores my bad attitude and takes the prayers at face value. Prayer works, in spite of me.

Thanks to everybody else who prayed, particularly Julie, who posted the request on her blog. And especially, thank you, Blessed Mother. I'm sorry I doubted you. Praise the Lord!

Blogger Beta thingy

Has anybody else tried this "Blogger Beta" they keep pitching every time I publish a post? Is it really as whiz-bang as they make it sound, or is it something us lead-pencil types should steer clear of?

This is humbling

Some of us try to act like Christians. And then, there are those who really, actually, do it.
They accept these tragedies as the will of God, an approach to life they call yieldedness, Mr. Shachtman said. He said this helped explain why the Amish interviewed after the shooting in Nickel Mines, Pa., sounded more resigned than angry. They are pacifists, and some spoke of the need to forgive the killer.

In one sign of their approach to tragedy, Amish residents started a charity fund yesterday not only to help the victims’ families but also to help the gunman’s widow. [Emphasis mine.]

“This is imitation of Christ at its most naked,” Mr. Shachtman said. “If anybody is going to turn the other cheek in our society, it’s going to be the Amish.”

He continued, “I don’t want to denigrate anybody else who says they’re imitating Christ, but the Amish walk the walk as much as they talk the talk.”

I'm in awe.

Hat tip to Mark Shea, The Godfather of St. Blog's Parish.

Clerical coffee snorter

Outcry as clergy say calling God 'He' or 'Lord' encourages wife-beating.

In other news, calling milk "homo-genized" leads to buggery, and ordering "poached" eggs encourages theft.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Prophetic? Or just pathetic?

I was tidying up this paper heap laughingly known as my desk today, and ran across a column I wrote about four years ago. It's the only thing of mine my editor ever bounced; he felt the reference was too direct. Today, I wonder if it's coming true.

"Good morning, shoppers, and thank you for shopping at All-Mart. We trust you're enjoying your total shopping experience with us today. At this time, we'd like to make a few announcements.

"In our Home Improvement department, all All-Mart brand paints are 25% off today only. While you're there, check with our Home Improvement Financing consultants. They're ready and waiting to assist you with those major repairs.

"In our grocery department, All-Mart brands of soda, diapers, and soap are discounted ten percent for today and tomorrow only. Also, we have just received a new chardonnay from 'Sunset Hills', All-Mart's own winery. Our in-house wine taster describes it as 'demure, with a hint of naughtiness.' We recommend it with all our poultry and fish selections, particularly those being served at Chez Lucre, All-Mart's fine dining establishment located at the north end of aisle 117.

"After your visit to Chez Lucre, consider rounding out your evening with a show. All-Mart Cinemas is now showing the latest in film entertainment; check our schedule for times and features. Also, the All-Mart Players theatre troupe will be presenting 'Secrets and Sycophants,' the hilarious new farce by Jacques Reynard, our new All-Mart playwright. We look forward to a full season of Jacques' work.

"All-Mart is proud to announce that our shuttle service has now been extended to all parking areas, which should cut down considerably on crowding and traffic accidents. Please be aware that these shuttle vehicles have right-of-way at all intersections. For you shoppers in Parking Area F-7, formerly known as Sixth through Ninth streets, please be advised that personal vehicles may be parked only in driveways or designated areas. Curbside parking is no longer permissible, so that our transit service may better serve you.

"Just a reminder, many of you have rental or mortgage payments due in two days. Please make sure checks are made out to All-Mart Mortgage Services, and deposited at the First Bank of All-Mart before the close of business Friday. If you'd like to upgrade your housing, please see our representatives at All-Mart Realty.

"We are proud to announce another stunning victory by our own All-Mart High School football team over their arch-rival, the Giant-Mart Peons. Way to go, All-Mart Minimum-Wage Slaves!

"Due to remodeling, services at All-Mart VersiChapel have been rescheduled. New times and days are listed for each denomination outside the chapel, or ask the clergyperson of your choice at the Religion Help Desk.

"Finally, All-Mart would like to welcome two more former downtown businesses to the All-Mart family: Fred's Jewelers and Independent Appliance. If you know a business that has not yet joined the All-Mart Corporation, please let our Department of Acquisitions know. After all, we at All-Mart are committed to bringing you the best selection, and we can't do that if just anybody sets up shop anywhere they like.

"This concludes our announcements for today. Have a good day, and thank you for shopping at All-Mart. Remember, we're more than just your neighborhood store; we're the whole darned neighborhood."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pondering Protestantism: a letter to a friend

Note of explanation: About a year ago, a close friend of mine was unjustly dismissed from his job teaching at an Evangelical Christian school. We had a long talk when I heard about it, about the clannishness of such schools, and about the tendency for rules to go unwritten: "the Club and the Code," as he described it. He'd had it up to his kiester with Christianity, and was seriously doubting his faith. This rattled me, because he had been a strong influence on my own faith when we were teenagers, and a sounding board when I became Catholic. A couple of days after my friend and I talked, I sent him this long e-mail. I'm sticking it in here with identifying information changed. I still think what I said then is worth saying.

I've been thinking a good deal about the conversation we had Sunday, and I finally put my finger on something that I wanted to say that I couldn't really formulate at the time. You're welcome to dismiss it as "witnessing," although that's not really what I want to do, at least not in the Sunday School "bring-a-friend-and-get-a-prize" sense.

You're pissed, with excellent reason. You're pissed at a school that screwed you over, and a church that places its focus on "the club and the code," as you put it. In feeling this way, you think you're also pissed at Christianity, but you're not. This is why.

You're not, because you've never really had much experience of Christianity. (I don't mean experience of Christ; that's another matter entirely.) What you've had is extensive experience with a specific kind of Christianity. You've spent your entire life in a cocoon, the walls of which are defined by a small, recently-developed movement that thinks it's all there is. I'm not running down your church or Evangelicalism in general. They do good work, they love the Lord, and they hold to the core of the Gospel, which is redemption by Christ. But Evangelicalism is no more the whole – or even the essence – of Christianity than the third lug nut on your right front wheel is the whole of your car.

What the Evangelical movement of the 60s and 70s that you're familiar with has done is to strip away the visible aspects of the Christian faith and replace them with other visible aspects. The confessional is gone, but there's a coffee bar. The iconostasis is replaced by a video screen. Most tellingly of all, the altar has been eliminated and replaced with a podium.

Christianity is not just hymns and a sermon. It's not about the emotions or the bumper stickers or the intellectual study or the "codes." It's not even just the Bible. Those things are expressions of Christianity, and they're the familiar ones to you and me, but they're only the tip of the iceberg.

Christianity is more than just an American white-bread cultural imperative. Christianity is also ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday, and palms on Palm Sunday, and fires on Pentecost. It's painted icons of Christians who have gone before, and statues of the Blessed Virgin, and Stations of the Cross. It's rosaries and prayer cards and incense and holy water. It's not just the upraised hands of the Charismatic; it's also the dipped knee of genuflection and the sign of the cross and a kissed icon.

How many times have you seen pictures of people lighting candles before a statue of Mary and thought, "What idolatry!" But it's not. It's a Christian practice far older than Sunday School coloring books. The people who come to the Blessed Mother with their requests are Christians holding to a tradition that goes back to the catacombs. Those superstitious people who line up to see a bone of St. Anthony? They're honoring the memory and holiness of their Christian brethren and sistern. Yep. That's Christianity, too. It only looks alien to someone who's only seen one small slice of the faith.

One of my favorite corners of the calendar is the feast of Corpus Christi, where the consecrated host, the Body of Christ, is carried over the heads of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people parading through the streets. To you, it seems weird, but to the vast majority of Christians, it's the most natural thing in the world.

We hear all the time that the Church isn't a building; it's the people. That's true, but it's also a structure built not just out of laity but of priests in robes, bishops in funny hats, and monks in habits. You think of those things as frippery, but they're as much an integral part of Christianity as a preacher in a double-breasted suit. It's also ordinary people; not just the few currently walking around but the ones who have already gone to heaven. The Church, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, stretches not only through space but time as well.

Christian writing didn't begin with Rick Warren, or even with Lewis. Try reading John of the Cross, or Ephraim of Edessa, or (best of all, I think) Thomas A Kempis' "Imitation of Christ." These are a much deeper glimpse of a very deep faith than anything you can get at the Christian bookstore at the mall.

I'm not trying to put together a sales pitch for Catholicism here. For that matter, I'm not trying to sell Christianity at all. If you really are so browned off that you just can't stomach Christianity, then by all means leave, or at least take a hiatus. Better that than to keep chained to something you hate. But bear in mind that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dream't of in your Sunday morning bulletin. You've only dipped a toe into the sea so far. You kind of owe it to yourself to take a look at the whole thing before you dump it.

Joel

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

The old man and me

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a blog by a cop in Texas who could make a great living as a writer if he ever gets tired of catching bad guys. The post that was up at the time really set me to thinking.

Go read it now. Go ahead; I'll wait. The rest of this post won't make much sense if you don't.

All done? Excellent. Now, think about the rainbow of emotions that that story evokes. First, you feel for the old man, and you're even a little angry at his family, and at the wider world that abandons old men like that. Then, as you read about his life, you're horrified and finally resentful that he's got as much life left as he has. First he's an object of sympathy, then he becomes incurably evil, as you learn about a single episode of his life twenty-odd years earlier.

Did it occur to you to wonder what brought about the change? Why you felt sorry for the man at the beginning and hated him at the end? More to the point, why did you treat him differently upon learning the sins of his past?

Don't try to tell me you didn't. I know you did, because I did too. I was hurting badly for him, wondering why his family had abandoned him and how he had come to be so alone. I hurt to think of him sitting in a dark, silent apartment, losing track of time, even his ability to perform basic bodily functions falling apart. I hurt to think of his kids living God-knew-where, his siblings maybe alive or maybe dead; who knew? I hurt because he was suffering.

Then I read how he had come to be where he was. His retreat into the bottle. His wife. His daughter. His time in prison. Suddenly it seemed right that he should be miserable. For as long as there was breath in his lungs, he should be miserable. You want him to suffer.

But why is that? Because his sins have found him out? Because his sins are particularly disgusting? Or is it because our sins, thank God, are not like his?

I think that's the root of it. My sins are peccadillos, lapses in judgment, brief anomalies. His sins are crimes against God, man and nature.

But are my sins so innocent? I never drank my life away, but I went through a time after my divorce when I owed my liver a heck of an apology. I never raped my daughter, but I've had encounters with women (long ago) that I'm deeply ashamed of. I never killed my wife, but I can think of one or two people even now that I wouldn't cry too hard if they stepped in front of a bus. In short, I haven't committed his sins, but I've committed others. Mortal ones. Ones deserving of Hell.

Like the fictional old man, I've damned myself. Like him, I was the reason that Jesus came to earth, suffered and died. I've been pardoned and the eternal punishment remitted, but I still have some time to spend on earth before it's all over. Should I be despised by others for the sins God no longer holds against me?

Ever wonder what happened to the Prodigal Son after the last of the fatted calf had been finished off? Did the elder brother toss him out in the cold after their father was dead? Did he have to go back to the hog pens? Did he live out his life alone and broke? I hope not. He sinned, he repented, he was welcomed back. End of story.

It's hard to tell how repentant the old man in the story is, but for our purposes it doesn't really matter. It's not our place to determine the state of his soul. He suffers, and that's what counts. That's why there are prison ministries and shelters for drug addicts on the street. If we are to call ourselves Christians without choking on the word, then it's for us to pity his sufferings just as much at the end of the story as we did at the beginning. To do otherwise is to cheapen our own salvation.
The old man felt the tears on his cheeks and let them fall. His chest heaved and his breath came in short gasps. He hadn't thought about that in a long time. He wouldn't have thought he had it in him to cry anymore. He sat in front of the dancing blue light of the television and let the tears slide down his face. He sobbed without knowing he made a sound. He tried to decide if he was sorry for what he done to his wife and to his daughter and to his son too even though he never touched him like that, he tried to figure out if he was sorry for the wasted years he spent in prison or the years he wasted after he got out, or if he was sorry that his life had come to this, waiting alone for death in this ugly little room. The old man cried without knowing why.

I know why, and I could cry for the same reason. And God hurts as well, to see the misery that sin can cause. He hurt so much he died for it.

Does Islam need a pope or a Luther?

An interesting (if slightly heavy-handed) analysis of the correlations between radical Islam and Protestant Christianity.
The early Protestants were hardly “moderates” and, normally, secular liberals are keen to make this point. When was the last time you heard a Western liberal pine for a return of Puritanism? Luther and his immediate successors were true believers. And, while enormous theological and historical differences shouldn't be overlooked, today's Islamic fundamentalists have quite a bit in common with these religious crusaders.

Many Protestant sects were as austere as bin Laden's Wahhabi faith. The doctrines that birthed the Amish were hardly “modernizing.” Other faiths were more violent. Mobs of Protestant iconoclasts rampaged through European capitals smashing “Catholic” sculptures and burning paintings that violated biblical injunctions against graven images.

In the early 20th century, Muslim zealots launched a remarkably similar project. For example, in 1925 Ibn Saud, a patriarch of the Saudi dynasty and a follower of the puritanical Wahhabi sect of Islam, ordered the destruction of the sacred tombs and mosques of Mohammed and his early followers. They razed Mohammed's home and the graves of the prophet's mother and first wife. The prophet's tomb was barely spared thanks to popular opposition. Today, Saudi authorities are in the process of destroying ancient art and architecture of Mecca and Medina out of the same puritanical zeal. A similar fanaticism inspired the Taliban to blow up the Bamiyan Buddhas, to ban music and even kite flying.

The West is surely indebted to Protestantism. But the idea that liberal secularism was born from it steals a few bases. Protestantism lent itself to being a state religion even more than Catholicism did. And while Christianity has long recognized the distinction between secular and religious authority, the reality is that secularism rests on a foundation of blood, not theology. The Reformation inaugurated an era of relentless religious wars. French Catholics slaughtered Protestant French Huguenots. Calvinists and Lutherans beat the stuffing out of each other. The bloodshed continued until, as British historian Herbert Butterfield put it, religious tolerance became “the last policy that remained when it had proved impossible to go on fighting any longer.” Secular tolerance, in other words, defined the terms of cease-fire.

As much respect as I have for my Protestant brethren, the fact remains that when you have no magisterium, the only thing that remains is textual interpretation, and the interpreter with the heaviest artillery is automatically the orthodox one.

What a tangled web...

Cop masquerading as john meets hooker masquerading as cop. You can't make stuff like this up.

Rah, Rah Romney!

A nice piece on the man I'd like to see as our next president.

Photos!

You know those annoying people who corner you and whip out a a wallet full of pictures of their highly overrated offspring? I'm about to be one of those.


Here's Dai, two and a half with a vengeance, in bad need of both a haircut and sedation. Seriously, this was the only picture in the camera where he held still enough to aim the thing at him. His shirtless condition reflects not so much a need to be macho as an utter refusal to leave one on longer than it takes to get his arms unpinned.

And this little cherub on the right is Mona, five and a half months, and crawling like Swee' Pea in the old Popeye Cartoons. I've been told that she looks like nothing so much as a blonde version of my Lovely and Brilliant Wife. I find I can handle the idea of raising one that looks just like Christina quite happily, especially since I've had my turn producing ones that look like me.

Incidentally, our oldest daughter is setting out this afternoon with her boyfriend to drive home from Michigan, a good 2,200 miles. Prayers would really be appreciated for their safety.

What a prick!

Literally.
A 15-year-old sophomore who played on the Layton junior varsity squad was arrested for investigation of a juvenile class B misdemeanor charge of assault.
Police say the teenager put thumbtacks in one of his gloves and pricked players from the other team as he shook hands with them after the game.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday night funny

They say the good Lord watches out for fools and drunkards. Since He watches over me when I'm sober, I guess I know what that makes me.
Robert wakes up with a huge hangover after attending his company's Christmas Party. Robert is not normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol at all. He didn't even remember how he got home from the party. As bad as he was feeling, he wondered if he did something wrong. Robert had to force himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirin next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose!

Go read the rest at Happy Catholic. Priceless indeed!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Preach it, Chief!

Not just for Indians, either. This is the sort of thing all young people need to hear.

R.I.P. Danny Flores, aka Chuck Rio.

Never was so much fame gleaned from a song with a single word for its entire lyric. Everybody hoist a glass of Cuervo in his memory.

This should take care of the problem


Byzantine emperor apologizes to Muslims for quote

However, there seems to be some disagreement among hygienically-challenged mouth-breathers over whether to accept the emperor's apology.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Clergydudes!


I saw this and immediately thought of Michael at Adventure Faith. It seems like the sort of thing a surfing pastor would appreciate, as is the story I found with it. H/T for both of them to GetReligion.

In case anybody wondered

I support the Pope

Thanks to Shannon Donahoo for the image and the solidarity.

Legal loophole

Remember this sicko? Apparently, he's not going to be charged for what he was attempting to do, because it never occurred to Wisconsin's lawmakers that this was going to be a problem. However, he and his perv-buddies will still be charged with something, which God grant will keep them at a safe distance from the rest of us.

Yes, I'm being deliberately vague, as the story is pretty grody. Follow the links if you really want to know. Safe for work, but not for lunch.

Overdue post

I've been remiss in not adding a couple of links to newcomers in the Blogosphere. My sainted, painted, tainted aunt has started recording her thoughts at Ms. Kitty's Saloon and Road Show. Kit (my aunt) and I are kind of the family religious black sheep. Both of us were brought up as good Baptists, but I veered off into the traditional, whereas she headed off the other direction, and is now a Unitarian Universalist minister. Ordinarily, I'd say that we disagree on nearly every point of theology and politics, but I gather one of the basic principles of UUism is that you don't really disagree with anybody. Nevertheless, in her non-confrontational way, my Reverend Auntie has some really good insights, even if she disapproves of my occasional snarkiness.

Also bursting forth is Yet Another Look, whose owner has been one of my closest friends (give or take a few thousand miles) for many years. It looks like he's guarding his privacy, so I won't say too much about him, but I can tell you that if he ever wrote his memoirs, it would probably be dismissed as fiction. In the alternate history novel I've been slowly plugging away at, he's been my best source of information. So far he's only got one post up, but I'm looking forward to more. And when he says he's opinionated, he's not kidding.

Finally, I should add Lonely Man's Blog to the sidebar under "Papes." Tim's a convert like me, but unlike me, he actually makes good use of his experiences by helping lead RCIA. Incidentally, I know I asked for prayers in a job situation, but Tim could use them even more, having gotten the axe at his work for reading Catholic blogs. Others have speculated that Tim's got a good shot at suing them down to their BVD's, but he hasn't said what he's going to do yet. For now, let's just get the collective prayers of St. Blog's Parish behind him. Present... rosaries! Forward... PRAY!

Oh, and stop by and welcome all three of these to the Blogosphere!

What the pope should have said

All right, so Papa Ratzi is having to be more of a diplomat since taking the seat of Peter. But I still wish he could have responded like this.
ROME – In a televised statement this morning, Pope Benedict XVI lashed out at critics of his earlier comments on Muslims, referring to said critics as a "pack of crybaby snake-charmers" and recommending they perform various humanly impossible feats of flexibility and colonic accommodation.

The rest is obscene, and I won't quote it here. And it's seriously disrespectful of both Benedict and the Church in general. But boy howdy, was it cathartic just reading it!

I don't have anything against Muslims in general. I have my faith, and they have theirs. I think mine is right and theirs wrong, but that's what believing in a religion is all about. But where do they get off demanding that Benedict – and the rest of Christendom – speak only flowers and candy about Islam, while in the Muslim world, there are daily warnings in rather graphic terms that they intend to erase us from the face of the earth? You want to share the world in a civilized manner, talk like it. But don't hold us to a standard you don't think you should have to meet.

Miter tip to It Comes in Pints?.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does this mean I have to beat drums in the woods?



My pirate name is:


Iron John Kidd



A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. Even though you're not always the traditional swaggering gallant, your steadiness and planning make you a fine, reliable pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network


A tip of the flaming tricorn hat to Julie, from whom I also pirated this:

Top Ten Pickup lines for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day
(That's September 19, me hearties!)

10. Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?

9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

8. Come on up and see me urchins.

7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?

4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.

2. Well blow me down?

And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day is...

1. Avast! Prepare to be boarded!

That's my boy!

If this doesn't make your nostril hair ache just by reading it, then your taste buds have probably been tossed on the ash heap of history. Need I remind everybody of his little brother's adventures in highly caustic comestibles?

Covarr, incidentally, is the son I took over to WSU last month, and he's started blogging so that we, his loving parents, will know what to worry about. (Actually, my Lovely and Brilliant Wife will do more worrying than I will. Judging by how he handled a sozzled jock in an earlier post, I think he's holding his own just fine.)