Sunday, March 30, 2014

Don't take the Media at face value with Pope Francis

“Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God.”

Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”

“God is changing and evolving as we are, For God lives in us and in our hearts. When we spread love and kindness in the world, we touch our own divinity and recognize it. The Bible is a beautiful holy book, but like all great and ancient works, some passages are outdated. Some even call for intolerance or judgement. The time has come to see these verses as later interpolations, contrary to the message of love and truth, which otherwise radiates through scripture. In accordance with our new understanding, we will begin to ordain women as cardinals, bishops and priests. In the future, it is my hope that we will have a woman pope one day. Let no door be closed to women that is open to men!”

-Pope Francis

What are we to make of these quotes? On the surface, they appear to overturn virtually every Catholic belief ever taught. Yet that seems so completely, well, un-Catholic, that it is difficult to take the quotes at face value. We wonder about the context from which they were drawn.

For example, the Holy Father supposedly made the statement about Hell sometime around the end of December. Yet we found a more recent article from March 21st where he explicitly warns Italian mobsters that they risked going to Hell if they didn't change. You can find it here: http://news.yahoo.com/pope-warns-mobsters-risk-going-hell-182557557.html;_ylt=A0LEVzc3BThTTGQAPFpXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEza2FkbDBxBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDM4NV8x Why would he do that if there were no Hell?

The same December source supplied the quote on women's ordination. But only a few weeks before that another source stated unequivocally that the Pope would not ordain women nor promote and to cardinal. Catholic Online said so on November 4, 2013. The article is here: http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=53058 Why would he make so glaringly opposite statements so closely together if big changes were in the offing? And as we can see now, as no women were made cardinals in February, Catholic Online had the edge on the issue.

As to Hell, we wonder if the Holy Father was not merely expressing the thoughts of John Paul the Great on the matter: simply put, that God wants to embrace us, but we put ourselves in Hell. If so, there's nothing extraordinary about that. As far as our Church being for everybody, well, it is. It is big enough for everybody, every single person, who sees their sin and repents. We would love to know if that played into the conversation at all. But we suspect it does.

We could go on and on as there could much hay made of these passages, but the point, we hope, is made, and it's a rather obvious one these days. Anyone can put anything on the Internet. That also means they can put it up with whatever spin they like, and doctored however they want. This isn't to say that the Pope didn't say some of these things...but it is to say that we should not take (wonderful pun approaching) what we read online as Gospel. What did George Will say well so many years ago? "If the data don't jibe with common sense, doubt the data."

It took maybe 20 minutes of searching this morning for us to find holes in the quotes attributed to Pope Francis. What we need to remember is that, as the website Catholic Online says, the media is trying to hijack the Holy Father, and some areas of the media more than others. Meaning is so very often contextual. And context is often what the writer wants to seem true more than what was actually said or done.

The Church will suffer Her trials. There is no need for the faithful, though, to contribute to them. The media wants the faithful worried; they're stirring the pot for their own nefarious purposes. Why should we believe it over thousands of years of theology? In that context, there's surely no reason to put today ahead of all of history. Especially when today only cares about selling newspapers or driving traffic to websites.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hobby Lobby will be Denied Its rights

Hobby Lobby and other corporations are having their day in court over certain Obamacare mandates. The best guess is that they will lose their case, and that's sad. Corporations have as much right to express their morals as anyone else, if they are reasonable morals.

For starters, they are moral person. Every corporation, institution, nonprofit and what have you is a moral person. We don't mean moral in the sense that they necessarily act morally. But they have a certain individuality, an existence of their own, and as such must be treated as persons. Especially as persons run them, it strikes us as quite logical that they have the same responsibilities, and therefore rights) as flesh and blood people. They're simply expressing themselves in a different, less direct, medium.

This means that their religious sentiments, again, where reasonable, may be expressed through their policies towards both their workers and their societies. If they don't want to pay for their employees' birth control on religious grounds, and especially as sex is a wholly voluntary action, then they should not have to as a matter of moral and constitutional right.

But that won't happen. Common sense, let alone any sense of the Constitution and religious freedom, mean little these days. Our nation has lost its moorings and is adrift on a sea which will take it with the currents. That they will take us somewhere somehow is certain. And we will be further and further from our moral dock as time goes on.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What can be learned from the Copenhagen Zoo?

The Copenhagen Zoo is in trouble one more. After killing a giraffe and openly feeding the animal to Lions (where visitors could see) the Zoo has now put down four lions, including two cubs, to make room for other lions.

Why this uproar over animals? This isn't to say that things could not have been handled better by Zoo officials, but it isn't as though the animals have any actual rights either. Then, factoring in that human beings may be selectively killed through abortion and, increasingly, euthanasia, why should anyone be shocked when human beings treat animals in a similarly cavalier manner? In an increasingly secular and godless world, why should we expect that animals would treated differently than people, or that people should be treated so poorly?

We're just asking. But we do look forward to the gyrations of the people who attempt to defend such practices. Or worse, that there will be no defense at all. Nonchalance may tell us everything we need to know about those who see no problem in treating humans as mere animals.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Modern Hedonism

A popular viewpoint in modern culture is that our lives are not leading somewhere but are instead simply a journey. We might be searching for ourselves, whatever that means, or seeking meaning, whatever that means, or seeking enlightenment. Yes, whatever that means. But there's one glaring problem with each of these approaches.

What do they mean?

The answer is, on their own accounts, not much, really.

If the point of our lives is only that life is nothing more than a journey, well, then, won't any old journey foot the bill? And as we're all surely going somewhere whether by accident or design it appears we've all accomplished that. There you go, the mystery of life solved. Sixpence, please, and tell your psychologist to shove off.

The trouble is that a journey really doesn't mean anything at all without a destination. And a destination really doesn't mean anything at all unless the destination is worth the trouble of traveling towards. Yet having a destination means judgment; it requires us to ask, should we be heading that way?

And what is judgment? It means considering the well from the ill and consciously accepting that we should travel towards the well. But ouch; that means introspection, and introspection might lead us to condemn what other folks do or, horror of horrors, condemn what we do or want to do.

That really is the major problem in today's world. We want to do whatever we want (on whatever grounds, but the grounds don't mean anything either without introspection, do they?) yet we don't want to make judgments. So we develop an opinion which tells us we can't judge the actions of others, simply and conveniently so that we may assert that they can't judge what we do. We call it freedom.

Yet at one time that attitude was called hedonism. Civilization may not be developing; it may be regressing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Native American Mascots Not Necessaily Offensive

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is asking federal officials to issue a national ban barring schools from using American Indian mascots and names on the grounds that such names are offensive.

We wonder who is actually being offensive on issues such as these. Catholics do not appear offended by the San Diego Padres logo of a goofy looking monk swinging a baseball bat. Why should they be? It's all in good fun. Are Irish Americans bothered by Notre Dame's Fighting Irish and that mean looking two-fisted leprechaun image with which they proudly adorn themselves? It doesn't seem to be the case. It's not meant to provoke the Irish, and indeed they might rather like the idea that their ancestors from the old sod are seen as rough and tough.

So why should Native Americans be offended by Chiefs or Hurons or Chippewas or Braves or even Indians? We'll wager that a good many aren't, in fact; they may actually like the references along the lines of the Irish and the Catholics. We will concede something on Redskins, to be honest, as that moniker does seem to cross the line in rudeness. But then, we aren't saying that all's fair either. Do we really think that a group of citizens are so thin skinned that they can't appreciate a powerful, or even playful, nod towards their culture? If they are, we humbly suggest, then, that that's their problem.

In short, don't insult or use overtly racist slurs in naming teams and institutions. But don't be a stick in the mud either. It's supposed to be fun, remember?

Or does our increasingly politically correct society wish to ban that too?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fred Phelps Dies

Fred Phelps, the head of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died. What might we think about his life now? Should we think about his life now?

We should not think much today about what he did on Earth, no matter how awful we believe his actions and attitudes to be. What we need to do today is pray for him, even if that's something he would, were he still here, to scoff about. We should do that because no matter what he said or did, he was still a human being, and human dignity requires that we have regard for his soul. Even, and perhaps especially, if we believe him evil. Every single human life should mean that much.

This is an excellent opportunity for those who preach tolerance to demonstrate it. This is the chance to show that we respect him as a person even though we found his ways in life reprehensible and irresponsible. Forget how he lived and say a prayer for him. Isn't that what we really want, redemption for everyone, for every man woman and child to be made better, to become more fully and completely human? It's what we should want if we don't.

You may have noticed that the Catholics, while routinely declaring people to be in Heaven, have not once formally declared a person to be in Hell. That's at the crux of their teaching to hate the sin and love the sinner; we don't know, we cannot know, how morally culpable any given person was or is for their actions. We may rightfully condemn the act. We can never condemn the person.

Judge not lest ye be judged. Do not judge Fred Phelps; have mercy upon him even if you're certain he would afford none to you. How he acted towards you is not on you. How you act towards him, despite him, is.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

No compete clause wrong

Okay, the Detroit Red Wings get a new home, paid for mostly by the people. And once it's built, Detroit cannot compete with the new arena by hosting events. The city cannot hold events in its own arena.

This is simply wrong. How and why would anyone in their right minds accept it? Because otherwise Mike Ilitch might take his team somewhere else?

The correct response to that is, let him. It is absurd that a wealthy man should coerce the city over something such as this. Indeed, such corporate welfare is probably worse than welfare for individuals; Mr. Ilitch certainly doesn't need the money while at arguably welfare recipients do.

Yeah, jobs, blah blah blah. All we know is that we don't get taxpayer handouts or subsidies for buying a home or playground for ourselves, and those would create jobs too. Why should the rich and powerful? Only, it seems, because they are rich and powerful.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gay Bullies in Boston

Supposedly, gays and lesbians have been excluded from the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, and the New York parade as well, due only to their sexual orientation. Consequently, the mayors of those respective cities did not or will not participate in them either. But what's behind the scenes on this issue?

In Boston, it was that the organizers wanted no indication of any sexual orientation on any parade floats, banners, or clothing. This ban applied to everyone and thus was to be enforced equally, so no true inequality was involved. But then the gays and lesbians essentially demanded they be allowed to proclaim themselves en route and were thus excluded.

Why should such things be allowed as a matter of course in any given function? Why must one proclaim their sexual orientation all the time under any circumstance? Especially as gays and lesbians weren't among the founders, organizers, or parade sponsors, why should they feel they have the right to make demands upon it, again, empathizing that no one else was allowed to express messages about their sexual preferences? It leaves us to wonder who's really all that uncertain about who they are.

This is what they are: gay bullies. They aren't demanding simple tolerance; they are demanding capitulation. They are demanding, through heavily coercive means, that everyone, everywhere, and under every circumstance, not merely accept but promote their chosen lifestyle. This includes even organizations which celebrations of a heritage which has little if anything to do with them, such St. Patrick's Day parades trying to be nonpartisan, as at least the Boston parade strives towards. It isn't about inclusion at all. It's about unconditional surrender in favor of a cause many people simply cannot support, and for significant reasons.

We are all expected to examine our consciences when considering our actions. We have no less a moral authority than the Pope cautioning us about judging people, and rightly so. That said, there are two points to be made: one, while we cannot judge people we must judge actions (and their potential positive and negative effects on society) and two, who, and we mean who, are the gay rights activists in Boston and New York judging?

Friday, March 14, 2014

One Year with the Pope

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been our Pope for a year now. It is a blessed anniversary for all the faithful.

He has spoken with great kindness and charity. There is a lesson in that, one not easily learned. The lesson is simple, so simple in fact that it is often seen as trite and formulaic. We are not to judge. It is not our job.

What does this mean? Are we not to consider what is right or wrong? Are we not with a guideline to our acts?

We are with a guideline to our acts, of course. As are all others. Yet when they stray we are not to look at them nor what they do. We are only to look at the act, nothing more. Why?

That is the great question. It is based on the idea that we don't know them; we don't know what cross they carry. We don't know their burden. No creature, no created thing, does, nor can, know what cross another man bears.

This is the lesson which the Holy Father teaches. We would do well to heed it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Libertarians sell Conservatives a Bill of Goods

One area which libertarians pride themselves on is that they hold few positions on the issues. As such you can, in theory, be both Catholic and libertarian. You just can't force your Catholicism on others. Similarly, libertarianism is sold to conservatives in general. One can be anti-abortion and still be libertarian because there is no libertarian position on abortion. It sounds good, and if it weren't for one teensy trifle we might actually accept the premise.

The trifle, you say? Well, simply that libertarians do hold positions on the issues and to become libertarian, you must hold those positions too.

Yes, before someone argues otherwise, they do hold positions on the issues, even issues such as abortion. They think a woman who wants one should be allowed to have one. This is not a neutral stance: this is being pro-abortion. It's no different than the tired liberal saw (which many if not all seem to accept) which states, "I'm personally opposed, but..." If you believe that abortion should be allowable then you are in favor of it and that's you're actual position on the matter. To say anything less is disingenuous, quite frankly.

Abortion is but one example, so there's no point running down the litany of relative political positions. Yet there is a further problem involving things such as abortion. If we can't work against it through the law and remain libertarian, then libertarianism becomes a shell. It asks us to give up on a very basic principle through which by surrendering we have violated our most basic and essential beliefs. It asks us to give up not only the vaunted individualism which the creed champions (a pretty obvious point when you think about it) it really asks us to give up our souls. How can we be people who believe in the dignity of others if we have no yardstick by which to grade human behavior?

Libertarians have positions on the issues; there could be no libertarian movement if this were not true. It's time they acknowledged as much, and played fair with Right Reason and human intellect.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Paul, Putin, Blarney, and the M-1

What to say on a Sunday morning...

Rand Paul has won the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) straw poll for President. That's two years in a row. He would be a good choice for the GOP in 2016, if for no other than he doesn't seem to carry the baggage his father did. What this county needs is not a full blooded libertarian but a libertarian conservative. Senator Paul might just fit that bill.

Around 70 people were arrested at the University of Massachusetts yesterday. It was the result of the 'Blarney Blowup' a pre-St. Patrick's day event at UMass. There's apparently nothing like sort of honoring a saint by getting drunk and rioting.

It appears that the Pentagon is studying Russian leader Vladimir Putin's body language in an attempt to determine what he'll do next. Some experts say that his actions, such as a karate chop when speaking, are aggressive. So we're to believe that his aggression in the Crimea wasn't evidence enough?

In Detroit, the proposed M-1 rail line is supposedly a go for a spring groundbreaking. The thee mile route will be funded partially by naming rights (as many sports stadiums sell), and there are hopes that it will all lead to a broader regional public transport system and...we don't care. We're conservatives. We believe people ought to be able, by and large, to go where they want when they want. A fancy new light rail system doesn't change that. Especially one funded by tax or bond monies. Has anyone noticed how, ahem, useful, the People Mover has been?

And so ends our potshots on this fine Sunday morning. You're welcome.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Change the 14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment needs to be changed so that we alter the Constitutional nature of birthright citizenship. This is a good and necessary change which is long overdue.

As things are, any child born in the United States is entitled to US citizenship. But this begs the very important question of whether their parents are themselves here legally. Quite frankly, there is nothing immoral, not one little bit, about denying citizenship privileges to the offspring of illegals. Their children are not entitled to it simply and perhaps solely for the reason that they should not have been here to be born in first place.

Such birthright privileges are not fundamental rights. The United States, just like any other nation, has both the right to set reasonable citizenship qualifications as well as to alter its basic law, so long as a true moral evil is not involved. This is nowhere near a moral wrong.

Democrats don't like this idea, as the presumption is that many illegals support them. All right, illegals and their children may lean Democrat. If so, then such becomes another important issue: those not here legally have no right to influence our political system regardless of their personal philosophical leaning. Such things are, at the least, improper and at the most, downright immoral. No non-American citizen has the right to influence the direction of our country. To our libertarian friends we ask: is this really any different than the US attempting to interfere with the internal workings of other countries?

This is not xenophobic. Anyone who wants to become an American citizen who is no threat to our nation ought to be allowed to become citizens: relatively open borders are not a bad thing. But come in through the front door. Because coming in through the back is itself suspect behavior, and grounds alone for denying anyone the rights of legal citizenship.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Red Wings should pay for their new stadium

Mike Ilitch and the Detroit Red Wings are going to get a brand new hockey arena. After all, the Joe Louis Arena is clearly not a good place to play hockey, and at around 34 years old, well, it's just ancient. No self respecting major league franchise should have to play in a building which is sliding out of the prime 18-34 demographic. It would be an embarrassment.

Then there's the matter of who gets what benefit. The city of Detroit won't get a dime off of revenues, but, hey, look at the jobs which will be created. The new stadium will require about 400 more workers than the old while the construction trades will earn their share during construction. What's not to love?

Well, here's the fact that this is corporate welfare more than anything. That includes the unions who will reap the benefits of the new building. And who will, essentially, foot the bill? Those who get the lowering new jobs, through the taxes which will be collected against them.

Before going on, it is only fair to acknowledge the commitment and the good the Ilitch family has show the city of Detroit. It is even right to admit that new arenas and the nearby Comerica park and Foxtown developments have been nice additions to the northern downtown area. But is that the real point, especially seeing as the Ilitches footed a lot more of the bill for those endeavors? The rich and powerful, and this includes the high paid construction workers, should not get special help from the government.

What would make this new arena really great is exactly what will not happen: completely private funding. Not one dime of taxpayer money should go towards it. Not one. It's your hockey team, Mr. Ilitch. Your companies are the prime benefactors of the new arena. Therefore you should foot the bill. Indeed, we wouldn't even be talking about an arena without your ownership of the Red Wings. You ought to pay for their playground. We know of no family who received government help to build a sandbox in their own backyard for their own children. Neither should your children in the winged wheel get privileged treatment from the government trough.

Yet they will. And while the wealthiest of locals gets his corporate welfare many Detroiters will not have working streetlights or improved city services. That's just how it is when the rich pull the strings, isn't it? How it should be, Mr. Ilitch?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pregnant teacher should have been fired

The war on religious rights continues: a teacher has been fired from a Montana Catholic school for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. There are petitions going around and talk of legal action. And, of course, her supporters tell us that the teacher, Shaela Evenson, was a wonderful teacher and inspiration to her students.

Let's pause right there. She is an inspiration to students...would this include, perhaps, inspiring them to believe that Catholic teaching is not right on the point, and that it's okay to have children without being married? Because, living as she does, that's certainly part of what she's inspiring her students to think.

The Church has the right to see that Her doctrines are rightly promulgated in Her schools. When a teacher even and perhaps especially by how she lives flaunts Catholic values, the Church has the moral right to dismiss her. End of subject.

We will concede that Catholic institutions ought to be diligent about their hiring practices and hire the best they can employees who represent the Faith well. If this school had, there's a good chance this and similar situations would never arise. But kindly spare us the platitudes about Pope Francis preaching love; those of you who are chanting that line are only using it for your ends and not as the Church intends. Love in the form of open ended tolerance isn't love, and this teacher's defenders are simply hypocrites on the point. They only use Church teaching, and use it rather poorly at that, when and as it suits them.

Ms. Evenson's attorney spouts that even religious institutions must follow anti-discrimination laws. Quite bluntly, when such violate freedom of religion they must be changed. He asserts rightly that his client didn't teach religion. Yet that's not the point. The point is that her life choices violate Church teaching, and do in fact teach kids the wrong thing.

It had been generally understood for most of our nation's history that there were five great freedoms. Now, it seems, there are only four.