Sunday, March 31, 2013
We do not pretend to be theologians, but as wonderful as December 25th is, it is something of a 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 we tread lightly in making such comparisons we have to believe that Easter should be felt more profoundly than any other Christian celebration. 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.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
No one, and that means absolutely anyone under absolutely any conditions, has the right to do anything they please based merely on intuition, feeling, or physical or psychological makeup. They may not be able to help what they do if and when a genuinely physical ailment or other explicable impediment is involved, yet even then we do what we can to help them learn to do the right thing, because even their genuine ailments or unfortunate conditions cannot justify their actions. It can only mean, at most, they are not morally culpable for what they do.
But most of us are. As such, we can choose what we should or should not do as we get along in our lives. We make decisions, and it is up to us to be rational about them. Indeed we have a duty to act rationally so far as we can, and we must be willing to face the consequences of what we do as well. But if we are to be rational, we must admit that we have a basic, general control over what we do. Why? Because one of the things which most of us are indeed born with is the capacity for intellectual considerations.
A properly developed intellect must tell us that we simply cannot do things just because we have a desire to do them. This includes doing the things we like to do which are not wrong in themselves. If you are inclined to play baseball, you may play it. But not because you're born with an affinity for sports and games; rather, because it is not wrong to play baseball. Even then, it can be wrong, according to circumstance, to play it. If you're supposed to be at work or doing your chores, then you can't play because more important obligations trump the desire.
If you cannot accept that, well, so be it. But you had also better not hold anything against conservatives supporting conservatism. Because, of course, they're just born that way.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Steven Horowitz, an economist, penned an interesting article on the subject of how capitalism has affected modern notions of marriage and the family. You can find it here: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/capitalism-and-the-family#axzz2OgYVzXYM
In a nutshell, he asserts that, as the free markets have allowed people an increasing amount of freedom as to when and how they might marry, then people ought to be allowed to marry (and, of course, divorce) in different ways than the conservative view of marriage, which is of one man to one woman for life. What this leads to in his estimation is that modern society, as openly and actively gay people can support themselves more so than before, they ought to be allowed to marry. Capitalism, to Horowitz, dictates that same sex marriages are proper marriages.
The trouble with such attitudes can be found on a rather simple level. He begs the question of whether human actions ought to be done merely because they can be done. He fails to address the question of an introspective life.
He tries. He argues that capitalism allows us greater time for love (whatever that means) and leading fulfilling lives (whatever that means). There's the rub, however: what's the point in speaking about love and fulfillment if you will not considering what love might actually be, or what might actually be fulfilling. He fails to ask whether love and fulfillment ought to be rewarding in ways and manners befitting our human station rather than in just any old way or manner. He says, by implication, that because certain things are doable, they are allowable.
If that isn't a recipe for moral relativism, it would be interesting to find out what might be. What Horowitz is arguing for isn't about economics but rather moral philosophy. The problem with that is that economics, if it is to be useful as a science at all, must be grounded in empiricism. Moral philosophy conversely is grounded in reason. Try as you might, you can't make philosophic decisions the way you make purely economic ones. Economics can only tell us how markets in their myriad forms may work. It cannot tell us what we should and should not do with regard to the value of our actions. That's something decidedly not empirical. It is however introspective, reflective, and yes, rational. It requires us to ask what we ought and ought not do as both persons and societies.
This is not to argue against the value if free markets. But it is to say that free markets or their effects are not the end all be all of human endeavor. They are, as are every other human endeavor, flawed, simply because humanity is flawed. They will not answer everything, particularly not the questions of who we are as opposed to how we ought to be. Those questions are far more critical to our survival, again as persons and societies, than in how we earn our daily bread.
Horowitz is dabbling in the field of moral philosophy where he claims to be arguing economics. He is, we daresay, superimposing his morals upon his science. That will not help anyone's understanding of either field. But as he presents it, we are all the more sure that libertarians are moral relativists. That's what happens when you mix disciplines. It may be an honest mistake, even a well meant mistake. It is an error just the same.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
We hope that those following these events fully realize that theses guys are Republicans standing up for civil rights. You know, Republicans, the folks who get a bad rap for trying to control people, when the areas where they want government laws are actually relatively few, and confined mostly to abortion and gay rights? Rarely do the voters look at how the liberals try to control the populace through global warming fears, environmental regulations, higher taxes and tremendously increased government spending, running to the Supreme Court every time the voters vote against the will of the left; and these issues only touch the tip of the iceberg. The left wants to control people, not the right.
Enter Senators Paul and Cruz. They're making principled stands for the rights of the people. Has anyone yet said, running mates in 2016? That may be stretching things at this point, but still, aren't principled leaders what we want, or ought to want, anyway?
Especially dealing with the Kentucky Senator. Mr. Paul has the value of being like his father Ron, but without the 19th Century baggage. Further, he seems to have a savvy about Washington which his father lacked. Like or not, and there's a lot not to like about politics, sometimes you must play the game on the politicians' field. The right must never stray from their principles; consequently, some issues cannot be compromised. Yet sadly, sometimes compromise, even distasteful ones, must be made. Dealing with reality is a term to be despised. That doesn't mean we cannot or should not deal with it.
And a good way to deal with it is to bring certain issues to the fore, forcefully and unequivocally. Senator Paul seems bent walking on that path. The GOP would be well advised to recognize that in 2016.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Football is chess. Really? Yet every player except the quarterback has one thing to do every play. Every player except the quarterback has only to block someone in one direction, run one route, block one man in one direction. That's it. That's all he has to do. Well, that is, until the play breaks down, at which point we have only a bunch of people who are running around hoping to be seen by the right person trying desperately to be at the right place at the right time. That ain't skill: that's anarchy, and it only works through dumb luck. How chess like.
Football players, even the quarterback, who can only act according to what is in front of him (how fortunate!) have one thing to do each and every play. And even that player, the Queen, invites all sorts of derision which we cannot express in polite company. Check down, and when all else fails, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! That comparison ain't even chess; with chess, you do what you must for the sake of the entire team, for the sake of each player on the field (because, of course, some of the players are gone at any given point in the game} who might, luckily, be open. With football, when everything goes wrong, you run around and hope for the best. Chess, ideally, anyways, is about where everyone is at a given time. So, is football chess?
Absolutely not. Chess is highly organized. Each and every piece can only do what it is assigned to do, and after that, whaaa? Pawns? Move forward one space at time, except on the first move, then at an angle only with an indirect permission: when you might capture someone of the enemy camo. Bishops? Only move diagonally, along the properly colored squares, of course! Knights? Move only at an ell, nothing more, dear fellows. Kings? Despite your high office, you have no real power. You move one space at a time. Queens can do more, and invite all sorts of jeering catcalls, as we have already said, anyway, in this day and age.
Football is chess? I laugh, because such ideals come only from those who do not understand chess. Or football.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Detroit's leaders are pathetically territorial. That means that Detroit voters are pathetically territorial. Leave us alone, we'll fix it. Leave us alone, it'll be alright. In short, leave us alone.
But Detroit isn't alone. It is part of an entire state, an entire state which can be brought down if it does not think of the entire state. When Detroit has wanted help, it has appealed to the court of Michigan. It has said, we are a part of you, indeed, we are you. Don't touch us, should you violate who you are.
Yet, should that be true, should we and Detroit be the same, doesn't it work both ways? Should not Detroit think of the entire state?
Of course it should. Yet should it not, of whom does that speak ill: the state, or the city?
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Alaska and Texas did not sign on. This is not surprising of either, particularly for the Lone Star State, as it has apparently gone its own way on content standards. Regardless of your opinion of Texas' education reforms, the one thing that stands out about the Common Core State Standards initiative is that it takes just a bit more control of education from the states and directs it towards the federal government.
Supporters say that it doesn't tell teachers what to teach but merely gives them goals. If there's a difference between what to teach as opposed to presumed goals to be met, we can't fathom it. Having a standard that says all kindergartners ought to be able to count to one hundred by tens sure doesn't leave a lot of room for imagination. Perhaps they are talking about the content of higher grades, and there would surely be more diversity of such content farther up the learning ladder. Still, even that seems little more than pablum. How much real difference can there be in teaching math or reading skills?
But the main threat here, again, is that that much more control will be lost to states and localities and that much more given to a national association of some sort. This has been put in place so that states may qualify for Race to the Top funding, a White House education program.
We see the true colors of the movement now. Schools have almost universally, at least in the last generation or two, praised diversity. Yet they now call for something which shall centralize education just that much more, and erode a little further the state and local control of teaching. And all for the sake of more money from the feds.
It strikes us that a new golden calf has been forged.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The first question which entered our minds was, where's the lack of dogmatism within such statements? It was simply another way of saying think outside the box, which itself is dogmatic, isn't it? Which brings us to the crux of the issue here: isn't every axiomatic statement dogmatic? As such, what's the point in even those flaccid sentiments if we aren't supposed to be dogmatic?
Yes, we know, they're talking about the sort of pig headed dogmatism which does indeed prevent the solving of problems and the possibility of greater understanding among peoples. But isn't there something more to that, really? Simply the fact that we've qualified the term 'dogmatism' with the derisive term 'pig headed' indicates that it is not the dogma which is the problem but, rather, the lack of reason on the part of such speakers. Surely those who are dogmatic in the cause of righteousness, whose dogma is true dogma, aren't wrong to insist on their points of view?
The fact is that everyone's dogmatic. Every single one of us. We all have axioms at the heart of our philosophies which guide us and are taken by us as simply true in themselves, which require no defense (as one isn't really possible) due to the fact they are reason itself. The question then becomes, are those defining points true in themselves?
So please don't ask me, as nothing more than a result of your dogma, to release my dogma. You'll have to do better than that if you really want me to listen to you. You'll have do something more in countering my dogma than rely on yours. Especially when what you assert fights against itself. That isn't useful dogma. But it is a recipe for a holy war.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
This isn't to disparage such endeavors as academic exercises. If there are things to be discovered which may help us in the here and now, if even there are things whose discovery would cause us to appreciate the wonders of the earth and space around us, that's cool. But our fear isn't about any of that. Or fear is that too many of the folks who seek such things aren't seeking them for the sake of real and useful knowledge. We wonder if they are in fact following along a trail which will do nothing less than make humanity less special than it is.
Not that we seek an arrogant humanity either, as may happen should we being to think ourselves too special, too 'all that'. It strikes us that either extreme may be, well, a sin of some kind. We should want to know and understand who we are, with either approach.
Still, the one seems less critical. We are talking about the one which addresses more the flesh and bones humanity, the scientific approach which sees only empiricism. Aren't the abstractions, the philosophical ideals of who and what we are, and what we ought to be, more important?
Does the formation of planets, the study of evolution, nay, even the Big Bang, actually deal in those questions? The purveyors of science say yes. But we don't see how. To be sure, they appear to believe that if we should come to understand the start of the Universe, the developments within evolution, that we shall then understand creation and can dispense with tired concepts such as God. They are quite unwilling to consider whether such things may require a God of some sort. But why?
The only conclusion we can see is that it would take away from their being God. That's truly sad. Too many scientists or, at least, the pop scientists such as Stephen Hawking or Carl Sagan, try to make us believe that creation is wonderful without a Creator. But what does that leave us with? Exactly this: two human beings, neither of whom can possibly be, in a scientific sense, any better than any given one of us. Because if all we are are products of an evolutionary environment, if we are wholly accidental and not guided by anything, then why are they and their thoughts so important? Their very own knowledge and 'understanding' is only incidental. If it's only incidental, as any knowledge thus must be, then it is valueless.
And that simply doesn't make sense. We don't mean scientific sense. We mean philosophic sense. Science is only, and will never be more than, flesh and blood and rock for it knows not what. Scientific knowledge will always be nothing more than rote. That doesn't mean it isn't important. But it does mean that science is only a tool for our use, and nothing more. It means science can only tell us what will happen with certain chemical reactions under such and such conditions. Yet it will never tell us why they must happen.
If all we are is material, atoms inadvertently coming together by nothing more than accident, then we are no better than inanimate objects. What good is a thought which we cannot help but think? But when we can judge, ah, our freedom becomes obvious. We can choose the right or the wrong, whether scientific or philosophic. We are more than muscle and sinew and electric reactions in the brain. We are human. And we can think for ourselves.
In that light, we find meaning. It is a much brighter light indeed.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
The fact is that is you have to be against some things if you are to be a rational man, let alone a good leader. You must be against and preach against things which are wrong in themselves as well as what will not truly help people. But the liberals have done something about that: they've dictated the terms of the left/right debate and put conservatives on the defensive. And we've let them have their way: we've let them makes us the people who always say no.
Never mind that little factoid which we only just said, that sometimes we must say no. Yes, must must: but we must do something further. In explaining our naysaying we must grasp the bull by the horns and explain why our ideas are better, in terms both practical and encouraging. There's a very easy reason why Ronald Reagan won so big, even among traditionally Democratic voters. He did exactly that. He reminded Americans, in a very passionate and caring manner, why conservative principles are what made our nation great. And what happened? The high economy of the 1980s.
So we should not be afraid to say no when it is called for. But we must go beyond that. We must tell people why we say no, and say exactly why our ideas are best. As it is, we have allowed the Democrats to control the debate. We end up responding to their false charges an innuendo rather promulgating real truths which we know will keep our country great. We must stop that; we must stop being reactive and become instead proactive in our cause. Reagan showed us how. We must review his lessons and make them the blood and sap of our vision. Only then will the Republicans become the dominant party in American politics. Make the people say yes to us, and the nos will be drowned out.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Those hostilities will raise their ugly heads. After all, all those liberals, atheists, and secularists who cry so loud for tolerance aren't about to tolerate anyone not like them.
And Pope Francis certainly isn't like them. While preaching for the poor and the sick he has yet insisted that Church teaching is true and must be followed. Though he is seen as a personable man, there is no amount of personal goodwill which the left holds for those who work against them.
The celebrations are still happening; the masses of thanksgiving and the prayers for the new Pontiff still fall from the lips of the faithful. The grace period has only just begun. Yet it will end soon enough, as soon as Pope Francis has to remind the world of the errors of her ways. That is when the prayers of the faithful really begin to matter, when we pray for him to have the strength to speak for Christ in an increasing relativist world.
We trust that he will have that strength. All the evidence, all the tradition; all of our faith says so.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
And in the meantime, let's also be for happiness and sunshine and, and, unicorns. Yes, unicorns, because it all makes about as much sense, doesn't it?
Aren't we all for peace? Happiness? Sunshine? Of course; but then all those bugbears get in the way, don't they? All those nasty facts such as that there are members of the human race who do not and will not support us. All those who will use war and propaganda against all of our very trendy ideas about peace will work against us despite our lofty ideals.
But we will win, our ideals will win, won't they? Because they are ideal and everyone will see them, will they not?
They will not. Why? Simply and obviously because some folks will, simply and obviously, choose not to accept them. The curse of a vapid individualism is that it must allow that the feelings of every individual deserves to be heard. Every faction, it seems, deserves its day in court.
At what cost? The millions who died during World War II or the Great Leap Forward? Would they share a general and vacuous feeling that: 'all we are saying, is give peace a chance?'
We doubt it.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Fortunately, She does not. Nor should She. If religion is to be of any real significance then it must do what it can to lead its flocks toward becoming better people. This cannot mean telling them to do whatever they want. In a sense, a seriously religious institute is analogous to being a parent: we cannot allow our kids to do anything they want or they will become vain and selfish adults. Neither should the Church follow poll results when considering doctrine, because it just doesn't matter what individual Catholics believe about eternal and unchanging morals any more than what a eight year old might believe about doing his chores or homework. Morality doesn't change simply because Catholics as a group may want it too. It doesn't change for non-Catholics either, of course, but that is a bit of a separate question right this minute.
In areas where the poll may have real meaning, it might well be good for Church leaders to step up and take notice; the priestly sex abuse scandal comes to mind. But there are three things which matter with such issues. First and foremost, sexual abuse is minors is an affront to morality and ought to be eradicated; Church doctrine teaches as much. This leads to point two: where such sins have occurred, up to and including any possible cover ups, we are not dealing with propagating dogma so much as with individuals within the Church doing heinous things. When Church leaders violate dogma, and this is point three by the way, then the laity have the right to call them out. The non-clerical members of the Church have an obligation to remind Church leaders to set things right when they err. Such is working within rather than against the Church.
All the bother about what type of leader the next Pope ought to be, then, is only so much blather. It doesn't matter what the people think, Catholic or not. It would very interesting to see how many of the poll respondents are in the pew week in and week out serious Catholics or simply folks who say they're Catholic. Would that not skew the poll numbers against the Vatican? Yet even that doesn't matter with regard to eternal truth. But it would interesting to hear, as an academic exercise.
Be all that as it may, what we should want in a Pope is a solid traditionalist from wherever in the globe the Spirit drives the Cardinals in conclave to find him. Polls will not affect that decision. Nor should they.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Abortion? A woman may or may not have one - her choice. Gay marriage or same sex partnerships? Any couple where each person enters into the contract freely is all right with them. Freedom of speech? You can anything you want without bother about whether it should be said. In short, whatever does not harm another person (and this generally seems to apply only towards physical harm) is to be tolerated by everyone else.
But of course, there are things which do harm that are not physically hurtful. Even our libertarian friends recognize the need for laws against theft or slander. So why are they so unwilling to consider whether other things not, perhaps, obviously harmful to an individual are in fact harmful to them or society, so much so that society has the right to ban them? This we ask before we are even near the question of whether abortion physically harms another individual. Why are libertarians so unwilling to even consider whether human women have human babies, with all that that question demands of us?
It appears that, in areas which don't tickle their fancy, libertarians don't particularly care about moral right and wrong. If a guard at GITMO looks at a detainee cross eyed you would think it the worst civil rights abuse ever (this without a consideration of why the detainee was there in the first place) and libertarians, quite properly, condemn drone strikes. Why not address any and all moral questions, questions of man's inhumanity to man, even of man's inhumanity to himself, if you will, with the same intensity if they are really interested in doing the right thing all the time?
Then we have their view of religion. Libertarians say they are for religious freedom. Yet as a group it is not something they stress. They were on the whole conspicuously silent over the HHS mandate debacle. They say they are for the Five Freedoms; they sure seem to fret over the four, with a decidedly shallower emphasis than on the fifth. This can only mean one thing: on the whole, they don't care very much about God.
And that is their weakness. Buckley's right, you know. The battle between the individual and the collective is the battle between God and atheism on another level. Without individuals ordained with individuality, along with the acceptance that that individuality is ordained upon them rather than being created for and by themselves as a mere human construct, then there's no point in working for individual rights. Without a consideration of the origin of the individual along with what he is or ought to be, it is ultimately pointless to discuss individual rights. Without knowing, the best we can, what we should be, we are no better than the collective.
We've said before that liberals want what the want solely because they want it. We fear that libertarians are the same way, and to an ill purpose. It allows them to ignore moral questions they prefer not to address.
So again we ask, are libertarians moral relativists?
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Not necessarily, if at all, can science do that. It may offer the opportunity to be a better, more virtuous people. But it does only that, and we are speaking somewhat anthropormorphically in attributing that much to it really.
Can science define or defend the value of a human life? Can it teach us that stealing is wrong; indeed, can it define theft? Can it say anything about our responsibility towards the environment or, more importantly, one another?
Obviously not. To be sure, it may tell us that if we continue on such and such a road we might drive ourselves into extinction. But that's all it can do. Whether we ought to do such and such else so that we will not become extinct is a question of value. Science only tells us what will happen should we construct a building without the proper strengths, or perhaps even what may happen if we continue on a certain course with no variation. It does not, will not, and cannot tell us what we should do with the information it supplies.
People make those judgments, and they are not argued in the realm of science. They're argued in the realm of philosophy, the realm where we might actually be able, by conscious debate and a reasoned consideration of who we are rather than merely that we are, conclude what are and are not good things to do. Science provides facts; however useful they may be, they are ultimately very rote and, by themselves, without meaning. We provide value and virtue. We are above science.
Science by itself lacks virtue. Those who pray at its altar pray to a valueless void.
Monday, March 4, 2013
The charge of racism is the weakest. If Detroit could run itself, if Detroit voters had elected responsible leaders, this would not have happened. That about says it all. Vote responsibly and you'll get responsible leaders. Otherwise, you'll get what you got: arrogant grandstand players.
The leaders weren't all that leader like. They selfishly protected their turf while rejecting state aid which might have helped, such as putting Belle Isle under the state DNR. But Detroit have that, because Belle Isle is hers alone. Never mind that that once beautiful park is now an eyesore. Never mind that Detroit is part of Michigan and ought to be willing to share what it can with the state.
Which leads to another issue, one all to often overlooked if it's ever even considered at all: what about Detroit's obligation to the state? We incessantly hear, from Detroiters and her Democratic allies, about what Michigan should do for Detroit. But what about what Detroit should do for outstate Michigan, namely, keep her affairs in order? We don't hear about that. Why? Because it's undemocratic, it's racist, and blah, blah, blah.
Yet perhaps stupidest charge of all comes from those who say the emergency manager is undemocratic. Detroiters, supposedly, have now lost democracy. Yet two things are ignored by this argument. One, that they are still in fact represented democratically through their state representatives. Every Detroiter has a state representative and a state senator. The emergency manger law is a state law; this means that Detroiters had input on it through them. Oh? That wasn't enough? Well, that's democracy, folks. You will sometimes lose. Get over it, if you really love the democratic process.
The second ignored fact is that cities are subsets of states. Detroit does not have relationship to Lansing analogous to that of Michigan's to Washington DC. It is an entity crated by Michigan and thus subject to the state's whim. Detroit can be taken out of existence should the state so decide. If you don't like that, work to change it. But as with the state representative situation, Detroiters are still represented by that process. There is still democracy in Detroit.
Bring on the emergency manager. Hopefully it will bring on a better Detroit. Short of that, it shall at least give Detroiters, and we mean every single Detroiter who has voted for the terrible leadership from which the whole city has suffered, a comeuppance of their own making. And as childish as we will admit this will sound, it will delightful to see.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
What's $85 billion when the deficit is several trillion? Next to nothing, when you think about it for a moment. It should not be that hard to find that relatively paltry amount to reduce spending, especially when spread over the entire federal government. And to those who reject such cuts as a draconian use of the meat cleaver, well, what's wrong with the meat cleaver approach? Surgical budget cuts only mean that everything should be gone over with a fine toothed comb, which only gives entrenched bureaucracies time to legitimize themselves.
Use the meat cleaver, and use it more harshly than what may or may not be happening with the sequester cuts. Why not start by telling every government entity that it will lose ten percent of its budget next year no matter what? Force everyone to cut spending no matter what. Yes, they'll squeal. Yes, the special interest groups who live off government largesse will squeal. But they'd squeal if you cut their budget one small dime; a dollar cut would be treated like the amputation of a limb. Ignore their cries and cut their budget.
$85 billion dollars in spending cuts is nothing. Stop whining about it, and just do it, bureaucrats.