Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Crush of Business

As much as I would like to expound in detail on some important question or another today, I have to beg off. Work calls, and as I'm one the leading economic indicators by which the Federal Reserve Board is hailing the end to our recession, well, it would be letting the country down to take a half an hour to blog.

Look at it this way: I'm being patriotic by making money for myself, while also helping all those out there with drain issues rest assured that their plumber, properly equipped with the best machines Cosgriff Sales has to offer, can clear their sewers of any blockage. Why, what we sell can clear any sewer except a liberal's.

Why not those, you ask?

Because they're so full of crap nothing can get through.

See you tomorrow, friends.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Minding One's Own

If you mind your business then you sure won't be mindin' mine.

-Hank Williams Sr.

How often have we heard heard in our lives, when one person feels they are being pushed by another, that that second fellow ought to mind his own business? With an almost appalling frequency, I'd wager. We feel that we can quite readily instruct everyone else as to the best way of doing things. Perhaps, dependent upon circumstance, we can. Yet I'm rather of the belief that by and large we should never venture an opinion about someone else's tasks or intents no matter what our feeling may be about them.

There are few exemptions to this, if there are any at all. Let me explain that point: I take the tack that where moral right and wrong are concerned you simply cannot argue to be left alone because things beyond your wants and wishes are at stake. Some of your potential actions are the legitimate business of the world at large. That's the ideal reason behind laws: to state the things which are not merely your concern. You cannot steal a thousand bucks from your neighbor and then insist I have to mind my own business when the police question my knowledge of the matter.

That said, I am slow to offer my thoughts about what others think and do without their asking me about it. Where a given thing is their business and in no way, shape, or form mine, on what grounds can I justify the expression of my views? Perhaps as a friend, true, but I should think that most friends would want to respect the parameters of their friends' rights and keep mum.

An example from my life may help. My Grandpa Joe whom I've occasionally spoken about on these pages got into the habit of painting his cars with sponge paintbrushes. That that is silly or, at the least, not the best way to paint a motor vehicle, I won't debate. But it drove one of my grandfather's friends crazy. He relentlessly badgered Joe that you couldn't paint a car with a brush. All that ever came out of it was that they both ended up upset with one another whenever the guy broached the subject.

He should have never brought it up. It wasn't his car, it wasn't his paint, it wasn't him doing the work. It was Joe. So what if it was silly? It violated no moral norms. Shut up and let the guy brighten up his car however he wants to. You only build resentment when you talk as though you are within your right to interfere, when you are not.

In short, if it isn't your time, money, and effort going into it, keep your mouth closed. Unless something is fraught with danger, or even, I'll allow, so foolhardy as to be completely ludicrous, clam up. Mind your own as you would have others mind theirs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The First 100 Days

The first 100 days, the more or less traditional breaking in time for a new president, is almost upon us. The media will be all over President Barack Obama as he reaches this presumably important milestone. My guess is that the gushing will go far beyond cloying and into sickly sweet.

But what has he done? He's proposed skyrocketing deficits, which he lambasted Republicans over. He's allowed embryonic stem cell research and for the use of taxpayers money for abortions. He took forever to put together a cabinet, and has not made any real headway in securing a budget, and that last part with a Democratic Congress supposedly at his beck and call. He's signed the order to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay despite not having any place to put the detainees. In short, I don't see where we ought to be impressed.

Sure, many folks will say he hasn't had time to effect a lot of changes or institute new policies, and I will give him a begrudging amount of slack on that point. But there's nothing yet to show me that he truly has a handle on things.

Time, perhaps, will tell. I will but ask: is it worth the wait?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Glowing to the Dogs?

I see this morning (all right, I'm probably behind the curve on this story, but bear with me) that South Korean scientists have added gene material from another creature to a beagle puppy, causing it to glow red in ultraviolet light. The dog is named Ruppy, which is short for Ruby Puppy. Cute.

Cute in and of itself only, I should add. There is great debate in the scientific community about the value of such experiments, and well there should be. Ruppy is part of a series of experiments designed to make dogs more like humans genetically in order to use them in researching human diseases. I am not sure what to make of this. I have no qualms about using animals to seek cures for human ills. Yet I have to question the point of a glowing dog, even in that context.

Perhaps it was inadvertent; the articles I read either did not say whether the team of researchers intended that effect, or I missed the reason. Maybe it was simply to see what kind of genetic alterations could be effected, as a step on the ladder towards more useful experiments. I can live with that second point; but if it was the first reason, I am not so sure I would agree.

As a moral rule, doing something just to do something, doing 'science' just to see what can be done, is not particularly defensible. That's not to say that such actions are wrong, only that they may be little more than a waste of time. Especially in areas where public money may be being spent, I would go so far as to say they may be in fact wasteful of the taxpayer's cash.

Not to mention the effects on the animals. Again, I don't mind animal experimentation for the legitimate pursuit of ending diseases. But I don't see where we have the right to experiment on them merely to play with their DNA. If there is no, or within reason expected to be no, help to be developed against the bad things in the human condition, I cannot see where it is right to mess with any given animal.

Perhaps I am speaking out of turn, as I am admittedly shooting from the lip. That said, we must remember that we are not God, even when it comes to our treatment of the lower creatures with whom we share this planet. We have no right, in this area as well as almost all others, to tinker merely to tinker.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You Say You Want an Evolution?

As I mentioned the other day, I have begun reading Mr. G. K. Chesterton in earnest. While it is still very early on in my journey with him, I have to say the road traveled has been quite smooth and rewarding.

I am a few chapters into The Everlasting Man, and I have to say I am happy to find, as we all are I'm sure in such cases, someone whom I agree with who can say the things I wish I were able to say as well as they do. Mr. Chesterton is speaking about evolution, specifically the evolution of man as a thinking being but also about evolution as a scientific theory.

His most significant point is that evolution is not a particularly scientific theory, something that the science community would be all up in arms about. Yet the Englishman is right: if science, as we were all taught in school, is based upon observation over time, then what is truly observed when bone fragments and skeletons and fossils are discovered and catalogued?

Bone fragments and skeletons and fossils, that's what. These things do not actually tell us anything about evolution: they only tell us, in and of themselves, that we have artifacts of the past. To put in place a grand scheme of evolutionary development in an attempt to explain a connection between them is putting the cart ahead of the horse; it is presumption. That so many skeletons have similar structure may well be a hint that we are in fact linked: the skeletal structures of the human hand, bird wing, and whale fin are somewhat near to one another. Yet it may be that an Intelligent Designer knew that a certain basic bone structure was what worked best in putting together flesh and blood creatures and thus employed it across the board, with certain variances.

Can we prove either of these from the standpoint of scientific evidence? No; it's that simple. We must step outside of science and into philosophy: we must get metaphysical about the origins of man and look at what science gives us under the light of a reason.

What science is doing is superimposing a belief system upon its discoveries of human and animal remains while assuming that all the questions will be one day answered. Scientists talk incessantly of the Missing Link which will tie it all together: yet that must, at this point in time at least, be seen as unscientific talk. It is like discussing in a literature class the play Shakespeare never wrote. What can we usefully say about what is not there?

We may well find it someday. Or we may not. But do we want to make the very unscientific mistake of assuming something's already present? How might that cloud our science, particularly if, as I've long understood, the real scientist is expected to put as much effort into disproving his theories as affirming them?

The short story is that too many moderns want evolution to be true, so they go about purporting that it is. And it may well be: my point here is only that I must agree with Chesterton and say that for any objective study of the truth about evolutionary theory, the jury is still out. Science is going beyond the evidence present, a fact which should not be overlooked in the consideration of our origins.

I am not saying that a certain amount of useful conjecture is not a good scientific tool. I am saying however that it must be seen as conjecture only, until and if something more concrete appears. A hammer is all well and good when you want to drive a nail, but I should much rather have a wrench when I am tightening a bolt. I will abandon in a second the wrong tool if need be. Will science, I ask, ever consider dropping the hammer?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Word on Unions

Employees of the City of Windsor, Ontario, are on strike. I just read where this is hurting some people who have nothing to do with the union(s) on walkout, as they are impeding the ability of regular folks from getting onto city property, such as the golf course owned by Windsor. This hurts the people who work at the course, as some folks won't wait and consequently take their cash to other courses. So, to paraphrase one of the course employees, "I'm losing money so that people making three times as much as me can strike."

Isn't that how it is with unions? They care not for rights in general but for their rights in particular. There seems nothing wrong with this on the surface. Yet it is precisely because rights so often go below the surface that we need to be concerned.

In this scenario, certain people, in this instance City of Windsor employees, and likely not even all of them mind you, are worried about their 'right' to make the money they feel they're worth. Maybe they are worth that money, yes, I'll concede; that particular is more than I know. But do they have the right to cause monetary harm to those who are not harming them in order to make that point?

They do not. They further do not have the right to keep off of the golf course, even if only momentarily, those folks who may choose to play it at a certain time. When a union interferes with the legitimate rights of others who are simply going about their business they have gone beyond the rights involved in striking and into the realm of the rights of others, and those others have the right of redress.

Whether they are afforded that right is another issue. One, you will note, that the selfishness of the union fraternity shall not consider. Because, in the end, in their mind, in this day and time, it's all about them.

I'm am now not so ready to concede the point that they are worth the money they want.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why Should We Be Shocked?

While channel surfing a few minutes ago I stumbled across another of those sordid tales we have such a plethora of these days. It involved the killing of an 18 year old high school senior who was sleeping with his teacher. When her husband arrived at home and discovered the pair, he shot and killed the youth.

The entire story is reprehensible for the start. Yet there is one aspect of the whole, if you will forgive this, wretched affair, on which I'll wager a month's wages you will never hear. It won't come from the authorities, it won't come from the general society, and it certainly will not come from the school people. It is the simple point that when we approach education from the standpoint of being nonjudgmental, we should not be shocked when despicable acts such as this occur.

We teach our teachers that nothing is eternally right or wrong. We are expected to teach our students the same thing. That is what I saw in the education classes I had to take in order to become a certified teacher. That is what I was taught, or, well, what they attempted to teach me. Being of sound mind, I laid the idea on the dustbin of rancid thought where it belongs.

It's right out of the bible of the educationists, though: Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. It says right in that haughty tome that nothing is to be seen as right or wrong for all times and all places. That's why schools preach being nonjudgmental.

So when teachers sleep with students, why are we surprised? The pedagogue and the young paramour are not, by education's own definition, doing anything wrong. Until we understand that fact and begin to appreciate the ramifications of such dismal thought which today passes as intellect, we will only condemn ourselves to more and worse news with the passing of time, as true right and wrong become dim and shadowy concepts in the mists of the past.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Year Older.

Today I am 49. For an entire year, one complete circumnavigation by our happy planet circling around the Sun, I was but a wee lad of 48. How do I feel?

Not one iota differently than I did Tuesday. I think the same, work the same, feel the same way on the issues. And you know what?

I don't care. Age is just a number, and wisdom doesn't come from mere changing your thinking but rather in developing and refining it. Further, seeing as the alternative to aging a bit more lies in not aging, or, more to the point, dying, I think I'll try aging a few more years. The good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, of course.

Who's with me on that?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Earth Day Birthday

Today is Earth Day, and perhaps not coincidentally my birthday. I point this out not in search of salutations, or condolences as the case may be, but as an example of the irony found everywhere in our wild little universe.

Why else would the powers that be (likely greeting card companies who were looking for yet another way of encouraging the buying public to purchase prepackaged, smarmy, and shallow goodwill) honor the birthday of a rabid and aging conservative with what seems at first glance an incongruent alignment of ideals? Somebody is surely laughing somewhere.

I can't blame them for that. Many of those somebodies will take the opportunity to point this out to me as they wish me happy birthday, as it is, no point denying it, funny on a rote level. Still, I don't understand why so many folks out there believe that conservatives have no respect for the planet or her environment. The very fact that we refer to Mother Earth in the feminine demonstrates the great respect we have for her.

We readily acknowledge that good stewardship is right and proper, not only as God has given us this gift of a place to live and we should honor it on that point alone, but because our own interests command it. We cannot continue as a race without maintaining our world properly.

So plant a tree today if you so desire. Cultivate a field, or begin using cleaner burning fuels if that is your mission in life. I certainly won't stop you. So long as you don't make it into a cause which puts Earth ahead of people, living, breathing people with eternal souls that matter much more than dirt and leaves, we can coexist happily.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Early Word on Mr. Chesterton

In the 1998 comedy Blast From the Past, a neat little clash of cultures film which I rather enjoy, it was remarked towards the end that in life, 'The parents care for the children, then the children care for the parents', or something very near to that. It occurs to me that sometimes it's a little more like the parents raise the children, then the children raise the parents.

My oldest son has inspired me to read more fully the works of Mr. G. K. Chesterton. Of course, as a Catholic, I have known of Chesterton for years, having read a few of the Father Brown mysteries (I especially like the one where the good padre sniffs out a fake priest wholly on the grounds that the fraud 'questioned reason' and a good cleric would never do that) and having started The Everlasting Man several times but never getting back to it. I knew he was legendary: no less that C. S. Lewis (whom I hold tremendous respect for) cites The Everlasting Man as one of the things which impelled him back to Christianity. But I had trouble making myself read him, for inexplicable and surely nonsensical reasons, if not simply out of plain laziness.

Then my son comes along and lists on Facebook Orthodoxy as one of his five favorite books, and I found I was amazed and pleased at that selection. He further tells me that he was currently reading Heretics, the companion or precursor to Orthodoxy and had thoroughly enjoyed The Man Who Was Thursday, perhaps Chesterton's most well known novel.

All that caused me to get a move on and dig out that copy of Everlasting Man which had languished on my bookshelves for a good twenty years and seriously try to read it.

Good move. I have read but the introduction and the first chapter, and am well rewarded. When you read, as I did on the first page of The Man in the Cave (the title of chapter one), "I think there is something a trifle vulgar about this idea of trying to rebuke spirit by size.", you know you've hit paydirt. Chesterton was decrying the false idea that we on Earth, as mere specks in an infinite universe, must therefore be insignificant. His point was that there is no corollary between physical size and spiritual significance. They are separate concepts: one is a mere fact of nature, the other an idea of innate value.

Brilliant, simply brilliant, as the obvious so often is when we get off our intellectual high horses and see things as they are rather than as we wish them to be. I can see why no less an atheist that G. B. Shaw (what is it with the English and their double-initialled nom de plumes?) called his friend "A man of colossal genius".

Thanks, Chuck. I have ordered Orthodoxy and Heretics and The Man Who Was Thursday from Amazon and expect them any day. The problem now is, can I finish one before starting the next?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mitt Romney and Religion

I found this bit as I went through my older writings this morning and, feeling lazy, quite honestly, I decided to use it here today. I think it worth your time, and as I did at some point put a good effort into it, and the issue being timeless, well, I offer it to you today.


Mitt Romney, one of many Republican candidates for President last election season, spoke out during his campaignon the subject of religion and politics. I gathered that his overriding point was that without a Deity of some sort we cannot truly comprehend the moral needs of civil society. If that is what he meant, I have to agree with him.

Everyone either believes in something beyond himself or they do not. The Jew, the Christian, the Muslim, and so on, believe in a Deity which instructs them on behavior. The secularist, I presume, does not. On what, then, does the secularist base his creed? His own affirmation? Well, why should I, as a human being who is a moral equal to him, accept that as a basis for human development? It’s simply circular. Without a Deity above it all, where do we appeal for affirmation (or, to be true, negation) of what we think should be done with, not only our laws, but our own direct dealings with those around us?

That said, the seriously religious need to understand that they cannot make people without faith have faith. If it is coerced, it is of course without value. Yet that does not mean that our faith cannot enlighten even our public will. The trick is to know where to stop: I, as a Catholic, cannot legislate to make you believe the Eucharist is the Body of Christ, as that is wholly a tenet of faith. But on issues which involve more than faith, and I will use abortion as an example not to inflame but as it’s an easy and obvious political issue with moral implications, I can legislate, for it does not require faith alone to see a human life as a human life requiring government protection.

Is there, then, a religious aspect to my politics? Of course. But that does not make my politics wrong. The secular world needs to understand that distinction if it is to understand us at all. The real question is, does it want to? If not, then I may fairly ask who's the one being unilateral and non-inclusive in our political arena. Is it us on the right, or those whose religion is themselves?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Late Sunday Blog

I am writing a new blog entry at about the latest in the day I've ever thought to. I almost didn't write at all, but my conscience bugged me too much to allow that. Still, I've good reason to be so late.

We had breakfast with friends after Church this morning, and by the time we arrived home, well, it was Noon and the last curling match of the year was on the CBC. I had to watch it; there would be no more curling until October once they were done. It was my last fix. You understand.

Oh yeah, sure, I could have taped it. But how many of us actually watch what we tape for later? Uh-huh. No TIVO in this household either, so I was quite stuck to view it live. What a concept: seeing things as they actually happen.

So that's my story. It will have to do until the morrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Curling and Canada

This is it, my friends, the blog which I've threatened to write for a long time. Or, at least, since last June when I fired it up. Today I speak about two of the best things in my world: curling and Canada.

Curling is a grand game played on ice where we sweep in front of 42 pound granite stones to make them go farther and bend in less of an arc. Does that sound odd to you? Well, it shouldn't. Okay, perhaps it should, but no more than shooting a ball through a hoop or a puck into a net. It's fun, it's strategic, but most importantly it's a team game where sportsmanship is paramount. You know, sportsmanship, where you play as though it really was a game to be enjoyed with friends rather than a match of smack talk and bravado. You actually congratulate the other team when they make a fine shot, almost as though that were a rule of the game. More sports could use a dose of that attitude, and I must say that it has blunted, to a degree anyway, the rough competitive edge I have when I play sports. I think that's a good thing.

Canada, meanwhile, is my great neighbor to the south. Yes, any Yanks reading this, Canada is south of Detroit, where I live. It is a really cool nation of good people and good graces. I curl there, and everyone at the Roseland curling club has been very kind to me, including me among themselves as though I were a native. They are truly among my greatest friends; there isn't a better group of folks to hang out with on Earth. That they put up with me is a testament to their ability to get along with anyone. I love them. I would start naming names except that I would inadvertently forget one or two and that would be wrong. But you guys know who you are.

Last night was my third and last curling banquet of the year, which means I'll be in Canada only occasionally until the curling season season begins again in the fall.

It will be a long summer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Credit Where It's Due

I have derided people and ideas from time to time here. All right, I suppose with regularity, yet I do not hide from it. Still, when you are willing to criticize you should likewise be willing to praise, perhaps especially of those who have knocked for one reason or another.

Keeping that in mind, today I must say kudos to Warren, Michigan Mayor Jim Fouts. I have attacked him in the past for telling city employees that they need to buy American cars when they replace their vehicles if they work for the City of Warren. I see in this morning's news that he has insisted on being issued a speeding ticket despite the issuing officer's willingness to let him go with a warning. He explained that government officials should not be above the law. To that I say bravo Mr. Fouts. Whatever differences we have, I do not doubt your character.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If You Don't Stand for Something

The people who are the most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all.
G. K. Chesterton

Ayn Rand, though a very entertaining author, has her philosophical flaws. But if she is right about anything, she is right about this so far as it goes: you must have a philosophy to live by or you will have no bearings for judging your actions. You will have no way of interpreting what to do or when to do it.

Too many people lack this. Set aside for the moment whether any given philosophy is right. That is surely the next question to ask, but it isn't my point just now. The thrust of today's commentary is that a framework is necessary for us to determine the value of our life's, in fact even of our daily, work. Certain frameworks will prove to be wrong; indeed I suggest that there can only be one right set of guidelines when all is said and done. But again, I am veering from the issue at hand.

Rand says, if I remember her correctly, that if you do not discipline yourself towards thinking about things at the least within a context of ideas which you take as a given, you will eventually merely wander from day to day, from idea to idea, and find yourself eternally at the influence of other forces without regard for what you may actually want or need. You will discover, if the thought ever actually develops in your mind, that you have not become an individual of any value. You will be a sheep. The time of slaughter will one day consume you, as you will have no way of defending yourself from it.

Or something worse will happen. You will become a petty little dictator, self assured that all that you do is itself the standard of right and wrong. And why not? You would be at the point where whims and passing fancy will guide you, or, more correctly, you will be the flag proudly fluttering in the wind, too proud to know that it is the air which unfurls you and not your own knowledge or will. As the breeze fades and dies, so do you. And what will be seen of you as you are opened to the world?

So you need a philosophy. You need some way of determining whether the people and events around you are evolving into things useful or things destructive. You need coherency in your life. You need to, in the words of that old saw, stand for something lest you fall for anything. This approach may well leave you standing for the wrong things in the end. Still, your only chance of being found by the just and true lies in the firmness of your stance.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Need to Say More.

Yesterday I commented on the death of Mark 'the Bird' Fidrych. I did not say nearly enough. My son mentioned to me about how, when he heard the news, it 'put a pallor on the twilight.' Understandably so, Chuck. The Bird was classic baseball Americana: he had fun playing a kid's game (as one should), and was totally sincere. He made the whole 1976 season special. I remember seeing him live on several occasions: old Tiger Stadium rocked every time. The curtain calls after each game, win or lose, were great. I wish you could have seen him pitch, son. It's cliched, but there will indeed never be another like him.

Do you remember the last game at Tiger Stadium, Chuck? How the Bird was the first old Tiger introduced, and he ran to the mound and got down on his hands and knees and groomed it, just as he would when he played? Vintage Fidrych. It was a classy move by the Tigers to bring him out first. I was glad we could be there. I miss him.

A young friend of mine, Samantha Beneteau, herself too young to have actually seen the Bird play, asked me if he really talked to the ball. Fidrych says no - that he was reminding himself what to do according to the situation in the game. But I think he talked to it. He would not pitch with a ball which a batter had gotten a hit with. He shook hands with the fielders after a great play. He would not step on the foul lines. He paced in animation around the mound after each out, righting himself for the next hitter. He did a lot of goofy, endearing things like that.

But more than that: he stayed unassuming and upbeat even after the baseball gods took away his ability to pitch. He simply went back to his old life, buying a farm to work and a truck to drive and working in his mother-in-law's diner when she needed help. Despite his antics, he was a man who had his head on straight.

He was cool, Sam. Sadly, now he is another part of that youthful innocence we all look back upon wistfully. I do not think it overblown to call it innocence itself, personified in one great, down to earth individual. He was what baseball should be about.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Remembering the Bird

Mark Fidrych, the eccentric yet deeply loved former Detroit Tigers pitcher, died yesterday at the age of 54. He apparently was the victim of an accident which occurred while he was working on his truck on his farm in Massachusetts.

His life was tragically cut short, not unlike his major league baseball career. But what a career he had: one great season as American League Rookie of the Year in 1976 as he filled baseball stadiums throughout the land. He will always be remembered for grooming the mound and talking to the ball when he pitched. His nickname, the Bird, came from a minor league player who thought his then teammate resembled Big Bird from Sesame Street.

He made his mark on national television when he appeared on a Monday Night Baseball game on ABC. He mowed down the Yankees 5-1 and that night began getting his customary curtain calls as the crowds could not get enough of him. I was in many of those crowds, and I remember that game in particular clearly. I had the sound off the TV so I could listen to Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey do the play by play on radio, and Carey, returning from a commercial break at game's end, was astounded at the cheers for Fidrych coming from the stands, demanding he reappear on the field.

He was a magical personality at a magical time in my life. Rest in Peace, Bird.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Holiest of Days

On this Easter morning 2009, I am reminded that this great Holy Day seems to play second fiddle to the other greatest Christian feast, Christmas. Not that Christmas is a lowly event, either; far from it! Yet I cannot help but conclude, in reconciling the levels of attention paid to each, that we ought to focus more of our efforts, if even only slightly, on Easter.

I do not pretend to be a theologian, but as wonderful as December 25th is I rather think that it stands as the precursor to our salvation: Christ comes into the world as all the rest of us have, as a child. His is the promise: for God so loved the world that He sent His only Son for our redemption. Christmas is hope. The celebration of it demonstrates trust in the future which Our Lord has set before us.

Easter fulfills that hope and promise. Though we grieve so deeply and so rightly at the misery and death which Christ took upon Himself for us, it is not His Death but His glorious Resurrection which redeems us. Who else has come back from the dead? Who else has defeated that last obstacle to secure the possibility of our everlasting joy?

So while I tread lightly in making such comparisons I have to believe that we should feel Easter more profoundly than any other Christian celebration. I hope that, maybe, beyond the mere feeling that I think it true and fair, my poor powers to demonstrate the point will allow us to open ourselves to the better display of our faith on the question. He is Risen. Our Heavenly destiny is opened to us should we accept. Let us rise with Him to the level for which we were created, made possible by His love for us. Made possible through the Resurrection.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

So...The Sky is not Falling?

Economists (you know, the dullards who pretend to understand the incomprehensible) say that the recession is going to end in September. Or, more to the point, they are cautiously optimistic that it will end then. Pent up demand will soon kick in and people and businesses will have to begin spending.

Yet it's still iffy. The housing market has to bottom out, and they fret that the credit industry will not loosen credit soon or quickly enough. Unemployment will likely still rise, and job loss will still occur even if at a slower rate than the last year and a half.

So what does it all mean?

It means that they don't actually know yet they they have to do something to justify their reputations. So they make a prediction for a date far enough away to be safe, with enough qualifiers to ensure they have an out if they're wrong.

I am not impressed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday.

Today is perhaps the day of the greatest irony on our calendar. It is Good Friday, the day we Christians remember the crucifixion of out Lord Jesus Christ.

For years I wondered why it was called good. On the surface, the celebration (perhaps veneration is a better word) of someone's death, particularly a rather gruesome one, seems odd to say the least. Yet that is an interpretation based solely on earthly terms. When you consider that the great Divinity was involved, it casts an entirely different light on the situation.

God sent His only Son to be humiliated, to suffer and die horribly, for us. Such a great act cannot be seen except as fantastic. How could a sacrifice of that magnitude be seen in other than a positive light?

We cannot rightly see it any other way. Remember what Aquinas teaches: Christ is either lunatic, liar, or Lord. He Himself gives us no option but to answer the question in that frame. He claimed He could forgive others' sins: sins committed (on the surface) against other people by other people. That itself is effrontery or lunacy or even diabolical if He is not part of the Godhead. If He cannot actually do that, if He does not really have that power, then He lies or is insane. If He lies or is insane, then we cannot trust anything else He may say or teach or do. It's that simple.

Yet if we choose the example which faith recommends, if we see Him as Lord of all based on His actions in life and death as well as through the testimony of his trusted companions, then we see the need for praise and holy fear which His death illustrates to us. We understand what that death means: that the God of all humanity will not forsake humanity to her own selfish desires. He will give us an out, if you will, by living the greatest love of all: to give one's life for one's friends.

When the greatest One does that, what choice do we have but to call it Good?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shame on You, Mr. Ilitch

Despite the lobbying which many have done for the change, despite the fact that every other major league team with a baseball game scheduled for tomorrow has done it, despite the fact the team owner Mike Ilitch is Catholic, the Detroit Tigers will not reschedule their Good Friday Opening Day game until after 3 O'clock as a courtesy to their fans. I'm not even asking that it be done out for respect for the suffering and death of Christ, though that ought to be reason enough in a, yes it is, my friends, Judeo-Christian nation. But as a gesture towards baseball fans who are Christian, why not do it? They support you, Mr. Ilitch. Why can't you throw them a bone?

Shame on you, sir. Shame on you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Myth of Public Money

Many people speak as though whatever money the government takes in is the government’s, or public, money. That is, they argue that government funds can be spent however the government chooses, and that my own or your say in how it is spent is a decision beyond us. The money, once taxed out of our pockets or taken as fees, isn’t ours, but theirs.

This is not true. Public money is my money and your money pooled together so that we can afford to pay for necessary services more readily. The government didn’t earn it; we did. It is ours.

Therefore, we have a say in how it is spent. We can say, through our elected representatives, what we do and do not want funded. Our hand is not taken from it through confiscation however legitimate that may be at the time; our will stays attached to it wherever it flows. The concept of public ownership of money is like public ownership of land, airwaves, or most anything else: vague, amorphous, and an open door to abuses. "Public money" is too great a temptation for politicians who want to fulfill the wish lists of those who funded their ascent to power.

Here's a handy rule of thumb: the less money (or anything else) that is publicly owned, the more freedom for everyone.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Alcohol, Golf, and Primadonna Monica

Last night we had our curling banquet as usual to end our curling season. Everyone brought a door prize, and nearly every contribution was either alcohol or golf related. I guess that says something about us as a group. Whether that something is favorable or not is subject to debate.

There was a very nice tool set, though, which didn't get chosen until all the alcohol and golf items were taken. Perhaps that is what truly speaks volumes about our league.

The University of North Carolina creamed Michigan State University to win the NCAA Men's basketball tournament last night. Heh, heh, heh.

Primadonna Monica Conyers, the President of the Detroit Common Council, is at it again. She told the widowed Sheila Cockrel, a colleague, that she needed a man. If I had said that to a woman...but let's not go there. Let us merely lament one more time the spectacle which has become Detroit politics, and hope beyond all reasonable hope that the voters of this once grand city take a serious look at their leaders and give at the least this most deserving woman the boot.

What's that? When pigs fly? That's so cliched; yet it fits.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Hate State.

Michigan State University is playing the University of North Carolina for the NCAA Division I title tonight, and I don't care on all kinds of levels.

For starters, it's basketball. I still think that the comedian David Brenner is right: give each side 100 points and play two minutes. Sure, I will watch if a team I care about is involved or if a friend or relative is playing, but I'll watch anything with which I have a connection for the sake of the connection. Other than that, basketball is actually a rather uninteresting game.

Then there's the fact that Tigers baseball starts tonight. I would be quite surprised if I am not the only one more interested in how they open the season in Toronto against the Blue Jays than in who wins the tournament. Baseball is a better game, my friends, and even the first of 162 matches merits greater attention than an overhyped tourney ender.

Consider as I mentioned that the NCAA thing is a tournament rather than a championship. No one game really tells us who is a better team. The better team may have already lost; anyone can have a bad night in any given sport. So who wins this evening may not actually be the best: they may only be fortunate.

Do I care at all? Yes, to one point only: I hate Michigan State. I hope the Tar Heels clean their clocks. MSU turned traitor on the University of Michigan awhile back, and I do not cater to such acts, persons, or institutions. Under better circumstances I would perhaps root for the Spartans, but if they have no in-state loyalty then I have none for them.

However all that may be, I will not watch a minute of the game and will only find out who won because someone will insist on telling me. I just hope I can find a place which will let me watch the baseball game in peace.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

A Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians.

Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped.
But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being,
he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.
And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names;
so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acknowledge JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

This is one of my favorite passages in all the Epistles. I get goose bumps reading it to this day. There are few greater exhaltations to the glory of God than these words of St. Paul. I hope that you may find the same inspiration in them as I do.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fit For a Queen

Yesterday I remarked on how President and Mrs. Obama gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod loaded with songs. I came to find out that they were show tunes. Now, what show tunes would the Queen of England like?

I Just Can't Wait to Be King! You know, from The Lion King? No, that would be a choice from Prince Charles.

Wouldn't It Be Loverly?, from My Fair Lady. To see how the other half lives and dreams, perhaps?

Luck Be A Lady, from Guys and Dolls. For all those ladies in waiting, one might suppose.

Something from Cats? Hey, she could be, in the depths of Buckingham, one of those aging cat ladies we occasionally see.

Rent? Stomp? Not really. Does she pay rent or stomp the yard?

Is Anybody There? From 1776? Oooh, no, no, no. Anything from that may be a tiny bit offensive.

Plant A Radish, maybe, from The Fantasticks? With all the goings on with her kids she might like a reflective tune such as that.

Oh really, now, there must be something...what am I missing?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Sublime to the Ridiculous

Yes, I suppose that title is a redundancy today, but it fits the mood of what I want to talk about. Perhaps Obamabomb IV would be more appropriate, but I'm saving that for something more heinous.

The Obamas are visiting Europe for the first time and of course they paid a visit to the Queen while in London. They were given a signed portrait of Her and her husband, Prince Philip. I know they're royalty and all, but doesn't a signed portrait seem pretentious?

But in return, the Obamas gave the Queen an iPod. Fully loaded.

Now, why would you presume to know what the Queen of England would like on an iPod? Why might it occur to you that she would like one at all? Can anyone really imagine her traipsing down the corridors of Buckingham Palace with a swing to her step listening to the latest tunes?

The whole gift giving thing just strikes me as going from the sublime to the ridiculous, with an emphasis on ridiculous.

Yet speaking of ridiculous, I went out last night and, with instruction, hit a bucket of golf balls in anticipation of this weekend's 'Swing and sweep' golf and curling tournament at my curling club. I hit them quite well. Very well, in fact. After years of the game doing absolutely nothing for me I find that I'm beginning to like golf.

You know what that means, don't you? That I'm getting old. I'm staring to like old people stuff. I'll be wanting an iPod next.

I sure hope the President and the Missus visit soon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Apologies For Yesterday: My Personal Economy was at Work

I'm sorry that I didn't blog yesterday. The fact is we've gotten very busy at work and it took all my time. I don't know where it came from but March is lined up to be our best month in maybe ten years. So I do hope it keeps up, but also that I can keep this up too!

Is our economic crisis easing? Is my own little taste of recent success a sign of that? Maybe so, maybe no; it's too early to tell. I did see where the chairman of the FED, Bannister or Baracke or whoever, believes the recession could end this year. Part of me does hope he's right, but I must confess that I hate the thought of Obama getting credit for any recovery. Especially if he hasn't been around long enough to reasonably merit it.

Still, what will be will be. There are other areas in which we can quibble with the President. Economics just seem to be the most critical one, and as people emphacize that over the more important moral issues it can be difficult to make them think that an abortion rights chief executive and Congress worth dumping. Yet if that is our cross to bear then bear it we must.