Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Repost: The Play of the Nativity of the Child Jesus

Bringing it back from last year, not just because I'm crunched for time, but because it was a really, really good (non-) Cheesy Christmas Movie!

I've been saving this one for last, because it's decidedly not cheesy.

If you're looking for a plain old Christmas pageant on screen, you're going to be caught a bit off-guard, especially by the dialogue. This isn't some hokey Hollywood bastardization of the Christmas story. This is modeled after the medieval Nativity plays.

The archaic, rhymed dialogue and the lighting give this an overall tone of reverence and age befitting to such a holy narrative. Notably, the commercials are only at the beginning and end; the play is uninterrupted.

Such a solemn, joyful treatment of Christmas on TV is impossible to imagine today. I doubt it was commonplace even in the early 1950s. If you've watched none of my Cheesy Christmas Movie series, watch this and leave me your thoughts in the comments.



Available for streaming and download here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's get childish

After the festival of banality that was the last Cheesy Christmas Movie, here's a bit of a palate-cleanser. Santa's Magic Toy Bag is a cute little TV special from 1983. The characters all appear to be Muppets, but not connected with Jim Henson. (What would you call those? Pseudo-muppets? Muppetoids?) There seems to be some connection with the TV series ALF.

The protagonist is a good-hearted bumbling elf called Sherman, who has managed to make a shambles of every department at the North Pole. He expects to be sacked, but instead is trusted with Santa's titular bag. Hilarity ensues.

It's cute. It's lightweight. It's a pleasant half-hour. Drop the whole adulthood thing for a bit and get childish.
Part 1:

Part 2:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Because every dead horse deserves one more flogging

I'm getting a late start on the Cheesy Christmas Movies this year, because I'm trying to branch out a little bit and find some new films. That means I actually have to watch these stinkeroos, at least enough to be able to review them a little bit.

Let's kick off with a fairly recent one: The Christmas Clause (2008). Apparently somebody in Movieland had a brilliant idea: "Hey! How about this for a premise? A person is unhappy with their lot in life and a guardian angel changes the past to give them an entirely different one! And they end up appreciating what they had so much more!"

It was magnificent in It's a Wonderful Life. It was even pretty good in The Family Man. But for heaven's sake, can we just let the horse corpse decompose in peace?

True, Lea Thompson gives a fair if not overly inspired performance. The viewer can feel the frazzlement right along with her during the first pivotal scene in the mall. (The hot chocolate incident alone would make Mother Teresa drop-kick the kid across the food court.) And I really, really hope that husband of hers turns out better in the second half of the film, because he's a bit of a useless oaf in the opening.

One thing they must have gotten right is that her new-and-improved life is much more unappealing than her old one. I'd take Jimmy Stewart's non-existence over her two-dimensional fantasy any day.

Presented for your revilement:




As always, do please leave a comment.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Advent! And you know what that means...

Time for Cheesy Christmas Movies! I'll probably recycle a few of the same ones from years past, simply because I like them and it's my blog, dagnabbit! But I'd love some suggestions for some new ones to add.

They should be public domain if possible (although I probably won't be as picky about that as in years past), embeddable from the Internet Archive or YouTube or some other source. Preference goes to older or more obscure films. Leave your suggestions/links in the comments.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Whoo!

Bill Whittle is in fine form:
The KKK was formed by Democrats, after the Civil War in which the Republican Party freed the slaves. It eventually morphed into the Jim Crow south whose laws were written by Democrats, and all of those guys turning the hoses on the Civil Rights marchers – guys like Lester Maddox, Bull Connor and George Wallace, were all Democrats turning the same hatred on Republican Martin Luther King as they had a century earlier when the Democrats in white hoods turned it on Republican Frederick Douglass, who said: “I recognize the Republican party as the sheet anchor of the colored man's political hopes and the ark of his safety.”
Now of course, modern Progressives say that’s all true, completely true, 100% true, absolutely and undeniably true -- but in the 60’s the two parties switched sides, you see? In other words, if Florida is beating Florida State 60-0 at half time, and then the Gators score 72 points in the second half… the Florida State fan says the Seminoles really won because at half time both teams went into the locker rooms and switched uniforms. They actually believe this.
Preach it!

Unintended consequences

At least we know the kids are paying attention.

Here comes the bride

Okay, so I'm a  few days overdue. My Virtuous and Excellent Daughter, who took the photos on Saturday, had to have some time to get them posted on Facebook. I stole a few good ones.

The lovely Drama Queen:






The unlovely old goat giving away the bride:





And the happy couple:





The ceremony went fairly well. Ostrogoth had a meltdown at the rehearsal but did beautifully at the ceremony, strewing her flower petals with great care. Visigoth and Octopus Boy were ringbearers and (mirabile visu!) stood still voluntarily through most of the wedding. My wife's family wasn't able to come up from California, alas, but my parents and all the siblings except Long Drink were there. (He's in a phase of not wanting anything to do with his family. It's either typical teenage stuff or his mother messing with his head. I'll never know for sure.)

It wasn't the grand affair she was hoping for, but the end result was the same: she got a good husband. And I think he will be. They're both young, but he's made of excellent material.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Three to get ready...

Heading out shortly for Drama Queen's wedding rehearsal. For the second time this year I get to walk a beautiful young lady down the aisle and hand her over. (I'm not supposed to heave an audible sigh of relief, but I can think one.) My Virtuous and Excellent Daughter will be photographing; I'll post pictures as they become available.

In honor of the date

Try and watch this without grinning. Go ahead, I dare you.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Shutdown horror

Okay, shutting down veterans' memorials and evicting people from their homes was bad enough. But this is going too far.

Where will the madness end?

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Apocalypse of St. Cassandra the Awesome

The end is nigh.
And I saw when The Lightworker opened one of the seals and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the 232 beasts saying, "Come and see".
And I saw, and beheld a white horse: and he that sat on him had a face of orange; and Lo! a bomb was strapped to his chest. And he rode forth to wreak havoc upon the economy in the midst of the worst Recession since, well... ever, really.
And when The Lightworker had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say with the false consciousness of a token Hispanic, "Come and see".
And there went out another horse that was sickly red and reeking of coded racism and ill concealed misogyny: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth and free contraceptives from struggling Georgetown coeds and bread from the mouths of innocent babes, the elderly, and the near-poor. 
Tolle, legge!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Elwha tragedy

It was thirty years ago today, and every Washingtonian can tell you where he was when he heard about it. Read about that harrowing night here, and listen to the song written in tribute.

Never forget.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The last of his kind

One of the original science fiction writers, editors and fans has passed.

Frederik Pohl was a founding member of the Futurians, along with Isaac Asimov, Donald Wollheim, Damon Knight, Cyril Kornbluth and others of blessed memory. He edited Galaxy and If magazines, in whose pages I had my first introduction to the joys of sci-fi pulpdom. His 1978 memoir The Way the Future Was is a fascinating insight into the history of my favorite writers and literature.

Even at the age of 93, the man simply could not stop writing. His blog covered on sci-fi, politics (from a very left-wing perspective) and other topics, often several times a day. He blogged Monday morning, and died Monday afternoon, a departure befitting his life.

Travel in elephants, sir.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I love it when atheists get history

I can get along really well with this guy.
I love to totally stump them by asking them to present me with the name of one - just one - scientist burned, persecuted or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages. They always fail to come up with any. They usually try to crowbar Galileo back into the Middle Ages, which is amusing considering he was a contemporary of Descartes. When asked why they have failed to produce any such scientists given the Church was apparently so busily oppressing them, they often resort to claiming that the Evil Old Church did such a good job of oppression that everyone was too scared to practice science. By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists - like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa - and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents have usually run away to hide and scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.
Bonus: A graphic that he declares (and ( concur) The Stupidest Thing On The Internet Ever. Go read it all.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Once again. life imitates classic movies

Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah... here.

A fantastic film, and one that lets Olivia DeHavilland move beyond her Maid Marian persona into some serious drama. Watch it if you can find it.

I really wonder how this real-life example will end up. Despite the changes in technology, the problem is the same: how can they possibly prosecute?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

An apology letter to Mr. Obama

I am not worthy to link to this. (But I will anyway.) I can't possibly excerpt it; you'll just have to go read it all. Akubra tip to Heroditus Huxley.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Quote of the Day

Totalitarianism does not consist of iron law; it consists of capricious law, because those in power get to decide when it will not apply.
Found at Ace via SondraK.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cluck away!

My Virtuous and Excellent Daughter (see here for gorgeous photo) has resumed blogging at Clucking Catholic. Check it out!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thinking of amputating...

... Visigoth's dialing fingers. I just answered the door to find a mobile computer tech on the porch. She had apparently gotten a call from my Lovely and Brilliant Wife, to come fix a faulty laptop port. I called her and lo and behold, she hadn't.

It didn't take much to put two and two and nine together and figure out that it was Visigoth. To his credit, he didn't try to deny it. Which (combined with the fact that we weren't charged for the visit) is the only reason I haven't stuffed him in a box and mailed him to Tristan da Cunha or some equally inaccessible place.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Mmmmm

Nothing says "Happy Birthday America" like chickens being cooked in an undignified position vis-a-vis a beer can. With tequila, lime juice, garlic, onion and jalapeno.



Friday, June 28, 2013

About frimpin' time!





What's the point of being in the desert if we can't have real summers? For the weather we've had this year, we might as well have been in (God forbid) Seattle.

To the lake this weekend!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

D-Day post

Sixty-nine years ago today, 160,000 men gave it all they had and saved the world. Every time I do this, it gets harder to find enough of them to link here.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
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 Crispian’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 rememb’red.
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 remembered –
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 accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Thank you, gentlemen. Just... thank you.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

And here she is!


As you can see, my Virtuous and Excellent Daughter was absolutely breathtaking. (Pay no attention to the geezer next to her.)

The wedding went off fairly well. Ostrogoth had a meltdown on the way out the door and had to be dragged bodily to the car, but was all sugar once we arrived. Not so Octopus Boy, who pitched the mother of all tantrums halfway through the ceremony and had to be removed by Drama Queen. I kid you not, I could hear his screams all the way in from the parking lot. That kid has a set of lungs that would make professional hog-callers wince.

We had a little confusion when VaED announced that the cake-cutting would be at a neighborhood park, forgetting to mention it to her new husband beforehand. But he's pretty used to rolling with the punches, which is exactly the sort of husband she needs. They fit well together.

Minor bobbles, but they ended up married in the end. And that was really the whole point of the exercise, wasn't it?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Ding dong, the bells are gonna chime

Tomorrow, I get to walk my Virtuous and Excellent Daughter down the aisle and hand her over to her new husband. She's his problem source of joy now.

One down, seven to go.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A credit to his cassock

Father Andrew Greeley travels in elephants.
A highly-regarded sociologist, preternaturally prolific author and unabashedly liberal Chicago priest, the Rev. Greeley regularly took his church to task in both his fiction and his scholarly work. His non-fiction books covered topics from Catholic education to Irish history to Jesus' relationships with women.

The Rev. Greeley authored some 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction that were translated into 12 languages.

His racy novels and detective stories, which often closely paralleled real events, aired out Catholic controversies and hummed with detailed bedroom romps that kept readers rapt and coming back for more. Best-sellers like "The Cardinal Sins" in 1981 earned him millions of dollars, much of which he donated to the church and charities.
I'll be honest: Father Greeley was generally a mediocre novelist, with two or three passable plotlines that he recycled perpetually. His politics were as opposite mine as you can get. His theology (or that of his leading characters, anyway) has often struck me as borderline heretical.

None of that matters a whit to me. Shortly before I started looking seriously into the Catholic Church myself, I read several of his novels. The faith that pervaded them was tangible. It was human. Even priests (and at that time, I'd never actually even met one) were ordinary people in his books. Catholicism was simply a central fact of life. (So were his heritage and hometown. In his books, everybody who was anybody was either from Chicago or Irish, and usually both.)

It was that matter-of-fact approach to the Church that made it seem more accessible to me later. By the time I began my journey to Rome, I had reference points for some of the things I was about to encounter for the first time. God used Father Greeley to soften me up, as it were, for the plans He had for me.

The other quality I absorbed from his books was a certain integrity. Two-dimensional though his characters often were, they were true to themselves. His priests really believed what they preached, and if they strayed from their vows, they did so knowing it was wrong. His laypeople sinned, but they knew right from wrong. I could have done with less sex in the books, but even there, the moral dimension was always present. As too few writers do (Orson Scott Card is another), he knew how to treat religion as more than just a personality quirk. That's because to him, it really was everything.

And finally, he had an optimism and friendliness about him that may be priestly, or it may simply be Irish. I dunno. But in spite of the critical things I said about him in this post, I think I'd have liked him immensely.

Thanks, Father. Partly thanks to you, I'll see you 'round.

Note: This is one of the few Andrew Greeley novels I can recommend. Yeah, it's not great literature, but I still enjoy rereading it now and then. Sappy, romantic, and genuine.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Re: Joyce!

I just discovered via Mark Shea that my high-school Sunday School teacher, Joyce Crain, is not only a Catholic convert, but is leading a plethora of ministries at St. Francis Parish in the San Juan Islands. She was an awesome teacher in the 1980s (and especially patient with the teenage pissant I was back then) and I have no doubt she's just as wonderful today. Her husband was the one who gave me the copy of "Mere Christianity" that triggered my decision to embrace the faith I'd been raised in. Otherwise, I shudder to think where I would have wound up.

Joyce blogs here. I've just started reading it, but she's got some rich material. Check it out!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Finally! Now we can tell what they're saying

Jim Goad at Taki's has bridged the gap between liberals and ordinary people with the Progressive Glossary. Never let a conversation be derailed again through vague terminology!
DIVERSITY—A magical incantation used to divert your attention from the fact that it is strikingly similar to the words “divide” and “division.”
DOG WHISTLE—A high-pitched screech from the enemy that only progressives are able to hear. Lately this term has been deemed offensive to canines and should therefore be replaced with “coded speech” wherever possible.
ELITES—Wealthy people on the political right. This term is never used to describe wealthy people on the left who control much of the media, government, and academia.
EMPOWERED—Loud and annoying.
GUN NUT—Anyone who owns a gun yet doesn’t belong to the group that actually commits the majority of American gun violence.
HATRED—Anything that we hate.
HERSTORY—The part of history that is usually ignored because not much really happened.
HETERONORMATIVE—Sexually normal.
HOMOPHOBE—Someone with a distaste for sex that involves feces and AIDS.
LOOKISM—A term used by ugly people to explain why beautiful people won’t [fornicate with] them.
REDNECK—A racial slur used to describe people we assume are always using racial slurs.
SOCIOPATH—A non-socialist.
STARTING A DIALOGUE—Starting a monologue.
Go read the whole thing. Ambrose Bierce would be proud.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Yes!

Arlene's is fighting back!
Barronelle Stutzman has decided that the best defense is a good offense. Stutzman, 68, is the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, the Richland, Washington, business being sued by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Ferguson is suing Arlene’s because Stutzman declined to violate her faith by doing the floral decorations for the wedding of longtime customer Robert Ingersoll and his partner Curt Freed.
Stutzman filed a countersuit yesterday against the attorney general, arguing that his suit violates her rights under both the United States and Washington State Constitutions, as well as violating the federal Civil Rights Act.
Bullies have to be stood up to or they'll keep finding new victims and new ways to torment them. Read the whole thing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What she said!

I thought I had a pretty good command of invective, but Heroditus Huxley comes up with phrases here I'd never have thought of. I'm in awe. Also in agreement with every unrepeatable word of it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A shot at the new frontier

If I were twenty years younger and had no family responsibilities, I'd be doing whatever it took to be in on this. Yeah, yeah, nine chances out of ten it'll never go anywhere. But that tenth... ah, to be one of the first.

Heard around Boston

"Hey, I've got the day off. Wanna go downtown and get legless?"

Horrible. Stipulated. But sometimes grim laughter is all you can manage in the face of the need to weep. And I don't know when I'll have much more to say after spending yesterday afternoon in the newsroom waiting to hear if the runners from the Moses Lake area had come out safe. As of now, we've heard that two of the four are fine.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Today's prize...

... for the most fatheaded claim about the Catholic Church goes to Slate. See, it doesn't matter how far-fetched a statement is, if it involves the Church trying to take all the fun out of sex, people will believe it implicitly.

Akubra tip to Creative Minority Report.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Maybe it’s time for the Catholic Church ... to come out swinging"

This has needed to be said for years, but nobody outside of a few Catholic bloggers (and who listens to them?) dared utter it above a whisper:

Almost everything the media say about the Catholic Church is a lie. A deliberate slander intended to obscure the facts and besmirch good people with the filthiest possible stigma.
So why isn’t the Church launching a counteroffensive? For every accusation of molestation, why aren’t they publicizing the very existence of false accusations? What sort of misguided piety and humility prevents it from publicizing case after case after case of priests who were exonerated after falsely being accused?

If they really wanted to fight fire with fire, they should issue weekly press releases about the fact that the president of an organization that’s been antagonizing them ceaselessly—the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests—neglected to call the policewhen his older brother, a priest, was accused of molestation. Why are they sitting on that bombshell?

And since many of their antagonists are of a secular socialist bent who’d like to portray themselves as the sole protectors of the poor and disadvantaged, why doesn’t the Church shed a layer or two of humility and more aggressively publicize its global charitable work? Why does it shy away from quantifying the billions it spends to feed the hungry and heal the sick? Why doesn’t it challenge the socialist types to demonstrate they’re doing remotely as much to uplift the poor?

Read it all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

And... they're off!

The conclave begins and the world will wait with bated breath to see which cardinal will be reviled by the news media as a terrible disappointment.

Let's be honest: the new pope is not going to make any of the changes that the media are so frantically insisting the entire Catholic Church desperately wants. Catholics know this. Orthodox Protestants know this. Mormons know this. Atheists (those who actually have read anything more informative than The God Delusion) know this. The only people who don't know it are muttonheaded media mavens who have no concept that religion is anything but a fashion statement.

So for those folks, here it is in simple words: The pope has enormous authority but relatively little power. He appoints bishops to their respective dioceses. He acts as a symbol of the eternal, universal Church. And occasionally he defines some point of doctrine that has been in dispute, usually for centuries. What he does not do is change doctrines already defined, nor does he pull fresh doctrines out of his... er... cassock.

Gay "marriage" ain't-a-gonna happen. Neither is female "ordination." Those things aren't even issues. No matter how "liberal" (read, trendy) a pope might be personally, he can't screw around with sacraments. At the very least, he'd engender a schism that would make 1054 look like a squabble over what color to carpet the sanctuary in.

That's not to say he can't make an enormous impact. When John Paul the Great was elected, it started the communist bloc on its inexorable slide onto the ash heaps of history. The Poles had held (one might even say clung bitterly) to their Catholic faith despite being sandwiched between a Protestant power and an Orthodox one for centuries. That went a long way toward making them the weak link in the red chain. Even at that, their vibrant, colorful Catholic faith was slowly being dulled by the drab sameness of Marxism, coupled with a sense that the rest of the world just didn't give a damn what happened to a bunch of Polacks.

But when one of their own was set on the throne of Peter, it galvanized the Poles. Here was a man who had worked as slave labor under the Nazis, studied in underground seminaries during the war and walked the razor's edge of being an archbishop in the Soviet shadow before becoming the moral lodestone of the world. For the first time in centuries, Poland had a national hero.

I expect the next pope will be chosen for similar reasons. So what's the big bugaboo menacing Christendom today? Islam. Yeah, yeah, I know. Religion of peace and all that. And I'm sure that holds true for individuals Muslims, and I mean no disrespect to them. But Christians in Muslim countries are currently getting pretty universally crushed. Even Egypt, which until recently was pretty decent to the Copts who predated Islam by centuries, has begun abandoning Christians to Muslim mob justice.

Now, I could be totally wrong. In fact, I've been thinking all along that the most likely candidate would be Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan. (Not my preference, but nobody asked me.)  But what if the cardinals are smarter than I give them credit for? What if we get, say, Jean-Louis Tauran, currently the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue? His homeland of France has a large culture war going with Islam. Even more provocative would be John Onaiyekan of Nigeria or Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines. Can you hear the heads explode across the Islamosphere if the dhimmis suddenly had their own pope?

The next few days could well be the most significant in the 21st century. Pray hard. (Note: Check out the semi-complete slate here, by one of the best-informed Vatican-watchers in the world.)

Update: The smoke is black. No big surprise there. More voting tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A good neighbor moves out

Richard Briers travels in elephants. The Telegraph has the best memorial I've seen so far.



 The Good Life (or as it was called over here, Good Neighbors) was probably the first Brit-com I saw, and the one that got me hooked on them. Penelope Keith and Paul Edgerton as the beleaguered and sorta-snooty neighbors were all right, but it was the chemistry between Briers and the adorable Felicity Kendal that made the show worth watching, and whetted my appetite for all things televised and British.

Thank you, Tom, for making the good life look a little bit better.

Sounds reasonable to me

Quote of the day:
"Given Sandy Hook, you have to make reasonable compromises."

Accepted. In exchange, gay men should make reasonable compromises over Penn State. They will simply have to accept being registered and kept a safe distance from children. This isn't a violation of their rights. It's just common sense.

RTWT.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Keeping Faith

The other day, I got into a discussion on Facebook with an agnostic friend (shameless plug for her business) about Jehovah's Witnesses and blood transfusions. She related an anecdote she'd heard about a Witness church leader (I'm not sure of his actual role) who was in the hospital, and loudly and publicly refused to receive a life-saving transfusion. But later, when it was just him and his family, he accepted the procedure secretly.

Now, obviously I don't share his scruples about transfusions. If I ever need it, a hospital can pump my veins full of walrus piss for all I care. It's not about blood. It's about faith.

Faith is one of the most misused words in the language. If you ask a non-believer, they'll usually say that faith is believing something with no evidence. (And if they're a Fundamentalist Atheist, when they say "evidence," as often as not they mean "absolute proof." If you can't prove a religious tenet beyond any possible doubt, they consider it proven false and worthy of ridicule. But I digress.)

Even Christians often think of faith as a set of statements. A person being baptized will affirm the Apostles' Creed and we say "This is the faith of the Church." And in that context, I guess it's applicable. But it's only one small aspect.

Faith isn't about things you believe. Faith is commitment. Faith is loyalty, to a person or an institution, placed ahead of one's own welfare. We use it idiomatically all the time: keeping the faith, acting in good faith, and so on. Faith isn't just believing; it's sticking to what you're committed to. Faith is a man sticking by his wife as she's dying. Faith is a soldier obeying orders that may well get him killed. Faith is St Damien of Molokai, taking on certain slow, miserable death to take care of people who would never be able to repay him. "I know Whom I have believed," says St. Paul. Not "what," but "Whom." Faith is, at bottom, faithfulness.

That's where this guy failed. He may well have believed all the religious doctrines about transfusions, but when the rubber met the road, he wimped out. He had committed his life to his God, but when it was actually required of him, he broke that commitment.

(Mind you, I'm not saying I'd have done better if I'd been in his shoes. I hope I would, but I've never had to find out.)

When it came to the Crucifixion, only one disciple, John, stayed with Jesus. Peter may have famously denied Him, but all of them ran away. In that, they broke faith as well. But in the years that followed, all of them (again, except John) died violent deaths. Andrew was crucified. Peter was crucified upside-down. Jude and Simon were beheaded. Thomas was martyred nearly three thousand miles away, in India. (So much for "Doubting Thomas.") They could have saved their own skins easily enough. Most people would say they were fools not to. But they didn't. They were committed to a Person, not to a set of beliefs. And for that Person, they would face anything.

That's what faith is. That's the real faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013