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More Katrina August 31, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Politics.
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Michelle Malkin reports

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said earlier on Wednesday 10 to 12 foreign governments have offered general assistance to the United States to deal with the hurricane aftermath but no decision had been made about how these offers might be used.

Would be nice to know which 10-12, wouldn’t it?

.

While it WOULD be nice to know who those countries are, in the end it is simply nice to know that the offer stands, even if we do not take anyone up on it.

And I think we ought to, if for no other reason than to show a bit of humility, as opposed to the current tendency to try to appear to be rock-solid, unflappable warriors never in need of any assistance.

UPDATE, 9-1 I almost can’t believe this, but it seems that former President Billary err…Clinton, put a CNN talking head in her place when she tried to pillory GW Bush for “ignoring the plight of the people in the Superdome” or some such nonsense. If the story is correct, Bush the Elder (who was also in this interview) couldn’t defend his son well enough, so Clinton jumped into the breach and set things right.

If so, my hat is off to him, for the first time EVER!!

Reflections on Katrina August 30, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Politics.
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1: A great opportunity for the Moonbat Left to show their true idiocies. (go here for some samples.)

2: WHY have we continued to grow New Orleans when it is surrounded by water at least ten feet higher than its base (The notoriously fickle Mississippi River to the north and West, and Lake Pontchartrain to the East)? The question at some point is going to have to be asked: Should New Orleans be restored to its pre-Katrina glory? It smacks a bit too much of government subsidy to me; “Don’t worry about building here; the government will bail you out in the event of a disaster.” (Go here for a great essay on the subject).

3: WHY DID PEOPLE STAY??? This is not a cyclone slamming into Bangladesh, a country with no early-warning system. This is a modern AMERICAN city; we knew for days that NO was in peril, yet so many stayed. (Granted, there are the old and infirm; either too fragile to move or wishing to stay where they lived their lives. I get that. But what is up with the able-bodied? Even WALKING could possibly have alleviated some of the misery.)

4: Want to see what happens when a modern American city breaks down? Sociologists will have grist for their degree mills for years to come with the shocking breakdown in civil order in NO. (See Michelle Malkin’s blog for a blow-by-blow account.

This does give one interesting pause: WHY didn’t this same madness break out in San Francisco back in 1989? God knows the conditions were similar; serious natural disaster, loss of communications/power, limited law response (due to overwhelming need), racial tension (see Oakland). Is it simply that we are that much more concerned with grabbing our own while we can?

5: The moral permissibility of looting food. I can quickly feel myself being hauled in two directions at once on this one.

VERSUS

6: The justification of looting valuables because the rich “have it coming to them.” This is bullshit. I MIGHT be able to defend looting food, especially given the impossible living conditions in NO right now. #6 is flatly untenable. It is simply replacing an aristocracy (those who rule through wealth) with a meritocracy (those who rule through perceived moral superiority due to their reduced financial situation). Neither ruling class has any real moral authority; it is not based on justice or social order, it is based upon who has what social standing, a thoroughly arbitrary standard for determining fitness to govern. France in the 18th century already experienced these same convulsions, with the corrupt court of Louis representing the aristocracy, and the Committee for Public Safety becoming the meritocracy (government only because they were NOT aristocrats, and there were then responsible for the Terror). Neither was fit to rule.

And now we have similar events playing themselves out in our only real French colony here in the US (execepting the St. John’s Francophones of northern Maine).

UPDATE Go here for a cogent essay that totally nails the topic discussed in point 4 above.

Utter and complete crack-up August 30, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Personal.
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Crack me up.

I have been a fan of Wolverine for over 20 years now. But I never thought I would have one of my students suggest that I actually REMIND them of Wolverine, though I’m not as “hot” as the guy in the movie.

Ho ho ho. I am on the grim cusp of 40. Of COURSE I’m not as “hot” as Hugh Jackman.

Apparently, the resemblance comes about from being a little less than average height and being more than average in terms of crankiness.

Best laugh I’ve had in weeks.

Musings on the Spokane Diocese Bankruptcy ruling August 27, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Catholicism, Cultural Pessimism.
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The LA Time reports that a federal bankruptcy judge ruled that the Spokane Diocese must include all parish properties and schools as part of their assets in paying their liabilities to vicimts of clerical sexual abuse.

A number of related topics begin to swim in my mind as I contemplate this ruling. Among them:

-The impact this could have on the Diocese of Spokane’s ability to minister to the community it serves
-the actual liability of the bishops in this tragedy
-the unspoken yet real impact of homosexuality in the priesthood and its contribution to this tragedy
-the stance and needs of the victims, and the apparent continuum between those that are aggrieved and wish for justice, and those that are past aggrieved and are out for vengeance, hoping to see the ultimate demise of the Church
-the parallels (and lack thereof) between this tragedy and the greedy confiscation of church houses and properties in the Reformation
-some personal reflections, as I actually work (but do not live) within the physical boundaries of the Spokane Diocese
-the issue of LAWYERS, and their retainers, and where the money is actually going
-and why this is being tested in a remote diocese like Spokane, when everyone knows that the BIG dollars are to be found in major metropolitan sees, such as Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

That’s a big budget of issues to review, so my intent and hope is to address these issues over a series of postings in the future.

In casting about, it might be best to begin with the actual liability of the bishops in this case. A Google search on “bishop’s liability” is not very illuminating. I recommend FirstThings for a generally balanced view on this. FirstThings publisher Fr. RJ Neuhaus has been very critical of the bishops’ generally poor fidelity in insuring the safety of the victims, and in their reprehensible practice of simply moving pedophile priests from one parish to another.

In general, it cannot be denied that numerous bishops across the nation were abrogating their duties when they damped discussion/revelation of pedophile priests, and were verging on the criminal -in terms of aiding and abetting- when they would move suspect priests from parish to parish, as opposed to taking more active stances, which could range from the minimum of removing the priest from any ministry that provided them access to children, to suspending them a divinis until a proper investigation was made. Way too many bishops simply swept the significant problem under the rug, and now they are being forced to pay the piper.

My belief is that dioceses need to make financial, therapeutic and spiritual restitution to the victims. In that, organizations such as SNAP and myself are in agreement. In reality, it is my impression that this is also the stance of the Bishop’s office in Spokane. The difficulty there lies in exactly what the office should pay. SNAP et al believe that the bishops should pay from all material wealth within the Church. The bishops stance (as of now) is that this is impossible; as he does not actually own the churches and schools under his jurisdiction.

The Catholic Church (at least in the Western US) has their dioceses set up so that the Bishop is head of the diocese as corporation sole. As near as I can figure, that means that the bishop has full responsibility for the spiritual, canonical and financial health of the parishes within his purview. (This does NOT mean that he has this authority over all Catholic churches within his physical realm. For example, there is a Byzantine Rite of the Mass within the Church [as opposed to the more commonly known Roman Rite]. Spokane has one of these parishes within the Diocese, St. Cyril and Methodius. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Spokane has no authority over this parish; that authority is vested in the Byzantine Eparch of Van Nuys [based in Phoenix]. St. Cyril and Methodius is not subject to the civil lawsuits that Spokane is facing).

SNAP, and others, are making the seemingly logical claim that these assets are subject to the Diocese in computing its general worth in then compensating the vicimts of clerical sexual abuse.

The Bishop, on the other hand, has argued (so far unsuccessfully) that he is only in control of direct diocesan properties, such as Diocesan offices. Canon law apparently supports this reading, though it would seem to fly in the face of our traditional interpretations of US law.

In one sense, the Bishop is correct: At the end of the day, it is the parish pastor and board of trustees, as well as the parishioners themselves, that actually run and maintain individual fiduciary responsibility of the parishes. If the parish gets into a financial jam, the Diocese is not going to bail it out. If the Parish wishes to build a new Religious Education Center, the Diocese is not going to provide the proceeds for construction; the parishioners are going to have to pony up. And in this case, if in the end the parishes are in fact liquidated for the abuse settlements, it is the individual parishioners that are going to have to pony up to keep the parish.

And in that fact, forcing the individual parishioners to pay out of their own pockets to cover the bishop’s failure to shepherd properly, I see a violation of justice. How is it that parishioners today, who had NO KNOWLEDGE that previous bishops were shielding pedophile priests, are in the end being told they have pay the victims of the bishop’s infidelity? And the Bishop of Spokane was looking to shield his parishioners from this very injustice.

Now, one can turn around and suggest that since we are collectively the Body of Christ, we are ALL liable for the actions of renegade priests and delinquent bishops. That is another topic for another day.

One thing that concerns me is the ability of dioceses to continue their ministries in education, care for the ill and suffering if their properties are liquidated. The following quote from the Executive Director of SNAP, David Clohessy, suggests there is nothing to fear:

“It’s just not true (that the schools and parishes do not belong to the bishop). Dioceses across the country can do justice, and offer closure and healing, without any curtailing of church functions or activities.”

I fail to see where Clohessy can issue this optimisitic assessment. If liquidation is pursued, many diocesan parish organizations are going to close for good, especially given the plaintiffs’ desire to extract as much money from the dioceses as possible, even at the risk of closing Church services.

I guess I would find Clohessy a bit more believable if the plaintiffs now assessed the diocese’s holdings at resale value as opposed to replacement value. Churches that are placed on the real estate market nowadays don’t come close to selling for replacement value; they cost a ton to HVAC, maintain, and their usable space is not in the configuration demanded by most business and industry.

If SNAP and the plaintiffs ask the Diocese for monies commensurate with the resale value of properties, then we know they are really pursuing justice. If they assess at replacement value, then we know this is not about justice, but vengeance, with a hope of destroying the Church.

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Theater teaching parenting August 26, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Drama, Education, Family.
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Without wishing to bore you with too much detail, my wife and I have seven children. Given the tremendous BUSYness this causes in our household, there are consequently few opportunities for quiet, tender time with individual kids.

And as a father of seven, I foolishly thought that I knew most of what needed to be known about parenting, if only due to brute repetition. (As an example: after changing diapers for 13 years, I bow to no man who claims that he knows more about diaper changing than I do.)

Then, rehearsal the other day taught me different; that those tender, individual moments are in fact critical.

In Beauty and the Beast, as reported earlier, I have been cast as Maurice, the father of Belle, and I have to sing (gulp).

Well, we have been rehearsing that song; and while I will certainly never be mistaken for Ol’ Blue Eyes, I will be able to hold my own, so long as I keep practicing. (There is nothing like sheer terror to act as a motivator for practicing!!).

The song I have to perform is not in the Disney movie version. It is sung right after Belle returns from town, after the opening sequence. The song is sung mostly by Maurice to his daughter, at first to reassure her that she is NOT odd, as she is her mother’s daughter, “. . .therefore, you (Belle) are class”. Then, this reflection upon Belle’s mother causes the song to focus on the mother that is not there. We quickly come to realize that Belle’s mother is dead. As actors, both I and the young woman playing Belle are forced to face that; I have no wife, she no longer has a mother. As actors, if you are both honest and effective, one must to a greater extent become the character you are playing. And I became Maurice that day, becoming a widowered father, singing support to my lovely, forlorn daughter. I realized that these characters have been clinging to one another as father and daughter in a way that I have never experienced, due to the number of children I have/siblings my children have, and it brought home for me in a very electric jolt the power of the parent/child relationship.

They say also that you have to bring material from your own experience to your acting to make the role more real. This was the opposite. The play actually taught me, at least in a glimpse, what it is like to be a widower, to raise a girl all alone, and to have her cling to me like a port in a very long storm. Which makes for a powerful scene, though one over which I really had no control. I am not a widower, I have not had to raise a daughter on my own, yet during that scene I knew what Maurice was feeling.

More importantly, aside from being a powerful scene, it reinforced and strengthened for me my own very unique parental love for my children, and to cherish them both in heart and in deed like Maurice cherishes his daughter.

On another note, I am going to have trouble performing this song without crying real tears, over the loss of my stage wife, and with love for my stage daughter, while also feeling the love I have for my own flesh and blood children.

So much for the idea that it is the actor that brings all the goods to the stage floor. It seems that the play itself brings quite a bit to the actors to then take home with them.

In the short week that has not even fully transpired since that rehearsal, I have had individual time with some of my children of a type and quality not previously known. . .and it has been wonderful, and the play taught me the need and importance of this.

For that, I am now very grateful that I was cast in this show, however reluctant I was in the beginning. It is proving to be a blessing for me and my family.

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Why Christians get a bad rap. August 23, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Blogging, Cultural Pessimism.
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In part, because of irresponsible fools like the Rev. Robertson, who advocated for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today on his TV show.

Now, there is little doubt that Chavez may be a blustering demagogue in desperate need of some common sense, but he is the democratically elected ruler of Venezuela, and no one should be advocating for his assassination, especially not a “Christian” commentator.

You might contact the Rev here and remind him that advocating for the death of someone else is pretty much a violation of the Sixth Commandment, and would he please in the future keep his demented, anti-Christian ravings to himself.

UPDATE The Rev has now apologized (sort of) for his idiot statement. I would like it better if he would simply SHUT UP after apologizing, but that is another post.

And our good adversary GOB has suggested that your obedient blogger would take the Rev’s side on this. . .despite the fact that I beat Biscuits onto the Net by eight hours denouncing Robertson for his folly.

And he says we are the only ones to make snap judgements without thought.

Will Biscuits apologize? We shall see.

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Jekyll and Hyde, Superego and the Id, Humility and Arrogance August 21, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Drama, Mechanistic Relativism.
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I know it might sound like a bad joke, but I went to Columbia Basin College’s production of Jekyll and Hyde, the Musical last night with my two elder children, in part because my stellar better half also played the violin in the orchestra (once again, our family’s involvement in the fine arts rears its head. We are in rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast as I write this, and will have updates up as we go. Tangent finished, on with the review.).

The title alone sounds like it ought to be in The Producers (aka Springtime for Hitler). How can one do a musical about RL Stevenson’s tragic story of the 19th century scientist?

But it is a crackerjack piece of work, very well staged by the folks over at CBC, in particular the strong voices of Jason Fowler as Jekyll/Hyde, Carisa Simpson as Jekyll’s doomed fiance Emma, and the astonishing Wystie Edwards as Lucy.

The script does have one shortcoming, in that the show is 2.5 hours long, and tries to do too much in covering both the morality play of Jekyll’s arrogance (more on that later) and the strivings of the prostitute Lucy in overcoming her lot in life and her infatutation with Jekyll.

The morality play in the story is utterly gripping, yet also depressingly prophetic. Jekyll, as a scientist determined to lessen the suffering of humanity, embarks on a quest to eliminate the dark side of man’s soul through the use of esoteric drugs. He attempts to isolate this dark side through the use of drugs, then his plan is to drug it into oblivion once isolated.

He approaches the local medical society for permission to obtain a human subject upon which to perform the experiment. The society is aghast at Jekyll’s proposal, suggesting that he is engaging in the height of scientific arrogance in fiddling with what amounts to a person’s soul in an effort to ease suffering. Jekyll replies that the society consists of a bunch of sanctimonious, hypocritical and cowardly windbags who are stuck in the politics of the past, standing in the way of the perfection of humanity.

(The depressingly prophetic comes into play when we think that the role of Jekyll today might be played by proponents of fetal stem-cell research, while the medical society plays the role of the naysayers. . .or the Church).

Jekyll, confounded by what he sees as the forces of foolishness, of course performs the experiment upon himself, and with results with which we are all familiar; instead of controlling the beast (or id) within himself, the monster Hyde goes on a rampage of increasing murderousness, in the end destroying both himself and Jekyll, all the while Jekyll remonstrates with himself for his foolishness, wishing he could put the genie back in the bottle.

Stevenson of course was re-writing the Faust legend, and in these fevered times of scientific progress for its own sake, we would be well-served to revisit the warnings of Stevenson, Mary Shelley, Goethe, Marlowe and even Oppenheimer; that we need to ask ourselves the question; “Just because something CAN be done, does it mean it SHOULD be done?” In our quest for immortality, it is a desperately needed question, and all too often it is only the Church that continues to ask it, and of course gets excoriated for its temerity.

If you get a chance to see Jekyll and Hyde, I urge you to do so immediately.

Harvard out to prove ID incorrect August 15, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Mechanistic Relativism.
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Read it for yourself.

The short of it is an effort by Harvard (founded by a Fundamantalist Puritan John Harvard [renamed after him in 1639]) to renounce God’s hand in our life and world by proving that “we will be able to reduce (the origin of life) to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention,” said David R. Liu, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard.

Two questions:

1) How is this supposedly imminent discovery proof that God’s providence was still not instrumental? (Assume they are looking for a “random” event).

2) Say the origin is found. How does that then explain our eventual evolution into the amazingly complex organisms we are now?

Doors and country music August 15, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Blogging, Personal.
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When appointed Dictator of the Universe, despite the shudders and whimpers that would surely emanate from a tiny home in Frisco, I would not outlaw homosexuality; I would simply say forget the idea of marriage. That is reserved for a man and a woman.

No, there are only two things I would outlaw: the playing of ANY music by the Doors, and following the deportation of all country music performers to Branson, Missouri, the forbidding of any country music being played over the air/ether/television/satellite waves except for those in the city limits of Branson. Branson stations are limited to no more than 25 watts of broadcast strength. This way, country music performers and fans can enjoy the company of one another in a place FAR AWAY from the rest of American “civilization.”

Though if the Peanut gallery doesn’t pipe down, I’ll change the Branson deportation order to the Castro district.

Gay rights v. Civil Rights. August 14, 2005

Posted by Administrator in Mechanistic Relativism, Politics.
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Check this out. Written, I believe, by a black man.

Don’t confuse gay rights with civil rights

Jun. 26, 2005 12:00 AM

The gay rights movement and the civil rights movement represent campaigns to seek justice before the law.

Both have rejected efforts to deny anyone access to employment, education, health care, housing and places of public accommodation.

For this reason, many civil rights activists of color have supported gays and lesbians in their fight against homophobia and persecution.
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Nevertheless, there are differences between the two movements. In America, race has been the most salient factor in determining one’s upward mobility and equality before the law.

Although the civil rights movement inspired nascent liberation movements on other fronts, it was in essence a Black liberation struggle that was primarily concerned with racial equality.

It is, therefore, inappropriate to liken, across the board, the struggles of gays and lesbians to the struggles of people of color.

Understandably, many in the gay rights movement have cloaked themselves in the civil rights movement.

Although hotly contested during its peak, the civil rights movement is now looked upon by many as the model struggle for moral righteousness and civil recognition.

Nevertheless, present-day gay and lesbian activists often invoke the civil rights movement without recognizing and acknowledging the extent to which the gay rights movement and civil rights movement differ.

One gay rights group recently likened marriage bureaus to “new lunch counters” for gay people, invoking protests targeting racially segregated restaurants during the 1960s.

Gays and lesbians did not, however, endure 246 years of slavery in America. The United States did not fight a Civil War over homosexuality.

And Jim Crow segregation did not target gays and lesbians. Americans have never been relegated to segregated hospitals, schools, swimming pools, restaurants, neighborhoods, cemeteries, etc., by virtue of their sexual orientation.

As Margaret Kimberly recently stated, “Everyone wants to use our (Black) story. Everyone with a beef, advocacy issue or pet project invokes the image of Black oppression in order to legitimize their case.” Even animal rights activists have been known to compare the plight of lab rats to that of lynching victims.

“Out” gays and lesbians are often targets of discrimination, bigotry, hatred and heinous hate crimes, and they have been subjected to job discrimination, anti-sodomy laws that mandated prison terms and forced treatment in psychiatric hospitals.

They have not, however, been met in mass by dogs, water hoses and guns wielded by law enforcement officers and terrorists such as the Ku Klux Klan.

More importantly, perhaps, they have not had their capacity to generate intergenerational wealth retarded by the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, state-sanctioned mob rule that destroyed entire communities of color, and contemporary race relations that react more readily to epidermal differences than sexual orientation.

It is necessary (not adversarial) to acknowledge that whether they do so or not, gays and lesbians can choose not to lay bare their orientation to avoid discrimination that might thwart their socioeconomic progress.

Moreover, the civil rights movement opposed the kind of White privilege that often characterizes gay and lesbian life. Admittedly, there is danger in assuming that one cannot be both gay and a person of color. Nevertheless, gays and lesbians are depicted far too often from a White perspective, which marginalizes people of color, gay and straight, even as the gay rights movement appropriates race-based civil rights movement language and style.

The real rub concerns the religious underpinnings of the civil rights movement and whether the gay rights movement is its moral equivalent.

I believe Fred Shuttlesworth, the first secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conferences, said it best: “I never took down anything in our minutes that addressed the issue of gay rights. The issue of gay rights was not our focus and should not be confused with the civil rights movement.”

The big and often emotional and spiritual question today is whether gay marriage is a civil right.

The key word here is “civil.” A “civil union” would be defined by the state and be available to all citizens, apart from the definitions of religious denominations.

The institution of “marriage,” however, whether by ancient contract or more recent religious sacrament, should not be extracted from its religio-historical context and co-opted to suit current agendas.

The civil rights movement demanded freedom, as set forth in our documents, so that the humanity and basic rights of all people are protected.

To deny gays and lesbians their civil rights would undermine the principles upon which these manifestos of freedom rest.

Nevertheless, appropriating race-based civil rights movement rhetoric and ransoming religio-historical institutions like marriage for sociopolitical legitimacy are at best ill-advised and ahistorical, and at worst disingenuous and irreverent.

Matthew C. Whitaker is an assistant professor of history at Arizona State University.

There’s nothing else to say.