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


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.