Friday, October 31st, 2014 | Uncategorized | No Comments

Pope Francis’ Synod on the Family is about halfway over.  Although that “bombshell” document which thrilled liberals just a few weeks ago turned out to be a dud, at least for now, many on the left still think that Roman Catholicism is definitely trending their way as this Guardian leader indicates:

Three things in particular need to change. They are all connected by a particular interpretation of natural law, a phrase in Catholic moral theology that means “Nature doesn’t work like that”. The first is the theory that sexual intercourse is only really an expression of love when efficient contraception is not involved. This, codified in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, has been entirely rejected by the Catholic couples at whom it was aimed. Then there is the claim that homosexuality is an “objective moral disorder” – since gay desire does not aim at making babies, or rely on the rhythm method to avoid them. Finally, there is the belief that marriage can only be once and for life, so that all subsequent arrangements are more or less sinful.

Essentially, church doctrine should be whatever the majority of the laity decides it should be.  For some reason, that concept sounds vaguely familiar.

Over the past 50 years, the language in which these things are condemned has gradually softened, from one of disgust and condemnation of “perversion” and “living in sin”, to the ostensibly neutral and objective claims of “moral disorder”. Pope Francis has opened the door to a language that would be much more welcoming still – one that might suggest that there is nothing uniquely dreadful about sexual sins, nor uniquely morally significant about sexual acts. This is a long way from the claim that nothing consenting adults agree to can be morally wrong: no Christian church could agree with that. But it is perhaps still further from the position of Catholic traditionalists today.

In other words, I actually didn’t say what I clearly just got done saying because shut up.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who heads the church in England and Wales, has said that he did not vote for the tepid language on gay people because he felt it did not go far enough, and that even an earlier draft, referring to the special gifts they can bring to the church, did not, in his opinion, offer an appropriate welcome. He would never have said this even five years ago, under the previous pope.

Quick reminder: James Pike wasn’t convicted of heresy because he wasn’t a heretic.  James Pike wasn’t convicted of heresy because the bishops of the Episcopal Organization at the time thought that convicting anyone of….shudder…heresy in this day and age was a perfectly horrid idea.

But this does not mean the Vatican has been entirely captured by the Guardian’s view of the world. As Francis said, the first duty of the pope is to maintain unity. That sets clear boundaries to how far he can go and probably clear boundaries to how far he would want to go. Even if he dreamed of a move in a wholly liberal direction, he could not without risking a schism, and it would be impolitic even to shuffle in that direction without issuing fierce denunciations of liberal errors – as indeed he has done.

The problem is that these proposals suggest, to this outsider anyway, that if they are accepted as is, a de facto (but most definitely not de jure) schism may begin to happen whether Francis wants it to or not.  Why do I think that?  Three reasons.

The first is language.  Control the language and you’ve basically won the cultural war.  And the simple fact of the matter is that the left now controls the language.

Consider what words “welcome” and “love” now mean.  “Welcome” used to mean that, while you and I may disagree on things, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.  And “love” used to mean that I want the best for you which may mean that from time to time, I’m going to tell you the truth, however personally unpleasant you may occasionally find what I have to tell you.

These days, “love” and “welcome” are now basically synonyms for, “I and I alone am the single determining factor in deciding whether or not you are loving and welcoming.  And in order to be loving and welcoming to me, you must immediately renounce any views you have on any issue which differ from my own.

“Failure to do so will personally offend me, which is not obviously not a loving or a welcoming act on your part.”  To a very great extent, too many people in the Church have absorbed these ideas.

The second reason I have for thinking a de facto Catholic split is not off the table is that I was an Episcopalian for 48 years and I know that the Christian left doesn’t think in months or in years but in decades.  They think long-term, they’re patient and they take their time.  Austen Ivereigh thinks Francis’ revolution is already over.

The remarkable gathering of global Catholic leaders in Rome that ended on Saturday has mostly been filtered through a political lens, as a debate between factions. Thus the hopes of gay people and the divorced were raised by a swing to the liberals but dashed by the conservatives reasserting themselves. But that doesn’t capture what happened. The actual dynamic was more complex, and very different.

No one was going after core doctrine.

For the bishops who attended, assent to doctrinal orthodoxy was the starting point. What Pope Francis called “the fundamental truths of the sacrament of marriage” were never in question: before, during and after the synod, sex was for marriage, marriage was for a man and a woman, open to life, for life, and sexually faithful. There was no debate on these points.

Except that there implicitly was but we’ll pass over that.  Here is the third reason why Catholics should be on their guards.  Because of what is, perhaps, the single most dangerous word for any Christian church or Christian minister.

Pope Francis did not call this synod to change teaching, but to expand it to include the missing part: the “missionary” and “pastoral” dimension – the merciful, healing, loving, welcoming part of Catholicism, which those outside the faith don’t get to see. Understand why they don’t and you get the point of the synod.


Those of us who know the church know that in our parishes and schools and institutions, our pastors pastor. They tend to us, nurture us, help us and support us, whoever we are, and whatever our stage of moral development. Most of us live in the gap between who we are and who we are called to be; being a Catholic isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. The doorway is wide; and inside, on the whole, it’s warm and welcoming: a clinic for the feeble, not a club of the smug. It’s nuanced and compassionate, even if it keeps the goals clearly in the spotlight.

As opposed to the last few papacies, say.

So why do so many people see only judgmentalism and rejection, even pharisaism? Because since the 1980s, Rome has concentrated on asserting doctrinal clarity and uniformity, partly to restore direction following divisions opened up by the second Vatican council in the early 1960s. This meant keeping out the pastoral. Bishops attended synods but the Vatican controlled the agenda. Awkward pastoral questions were asked but not discussed, and existing teaching and practice were reaffirmed.

To former Episcopalians, this next paragraph will sound all too painfully familiar.

Francis has flipped that omelette. He has brought the periphery into the centre, breaking open the Vatican to a new pastoral language. He has invited tough questions to be asked with unprecedented frankness: how to bind the wounds of the divorced, while promoting indissolubility? How to embrace gay people while celebrating marriage as a conjugal institution? How can the church be, like a good parent, both clear teacher and merciful mother? The tensions are as old as Jesus, who called people to lifelong sexual fidelity yet saw the adultress as both sinner and victim. What’s new is bringing the tension into the governance of the universal church.

And if these numbers are right, a good deal of incipient episcopalianism seems to have crept into the Catholic hierarchy.

A few think this is deeply misguided. Tallies of the votes on the final document reveal a small group of 25-35 “rigorists” opposed to the Francis pontificate; they yearn for the old clarity. They made a lot of noise but compared with the 160-180 who consistently voted in favour of Francis’s pastoral and missionary reset, they are a tiny number. The synod was made up overwhelmingly of pastors like Francis, who have agreed to review a whole series of practices and changes.

On two issues the synod did not get a clear green light. One group couldn’t see how the divorced and remarried could ever return to the sacraments without compromising indissolubility. Another group of African and Latin-American bishops refused to agree to treat gay people with respect and tenderness because the wording implied the existence of a gay “identity” which they cannot for cultural reasons accept. These are still minorities – perhaps 30-40 – but, combined with the rigorists, their veto ensured there would not be a two-thirds majority for three of the 62 paragraphs of the report.

Ivereigh finishes with a flourish.

But that means only that a lot more discussion and reflection are needed before the synod of bishops comes up with concrete proposals next year. What matters is that the pastoral is being brought to bear on the doctrinal: the church has decided to

All together now.


It’s a lot less tidy, but a lot more holy.

See how much damage the word “pastoral” can do?  If you want another example, here’s a theoretical one.

Todd and Kyle are two gay Catholics who have lived together for several years.  One Sunday, both of them go up to Father after Mass with a question.

Their relationship, they tell Father, is the single most important and valuable aspect to both of their lives.  And both Todd and Kyle want more than anything to stand up before God in their own parish, with a few family and friends, and have Father bless their relationship in a short ceremony that they had written themselves.  Would he agree?

Father thinks it over.  He’s obviously not down with the gay thing but Todd and Kyle are really good guys and Father’s glad that both men found someone to love them unconditionally.  Since the ceremony has absolutely nothing in common with the Church’s rite of Holy Matrimony, Father thinks that the “pastoral” response would be to go ahead and participate.

So he does.  Then the Archbishop finds out about it.  The Archbishop “pastorally” decides that this really isn’t that big of a deal and does not sanction Father in any way.  Eventually, this makes its way to Francis who decides that the Archbishop made the right “pastoral” call.

At that point, “same-sex blessing” ceremonies start happening in Catholic parishes from one end of this country to the other.  The media calls it a “sea change” in Catholic thinking or something.

Fast-forward 35 to 40 years where we find that the Roman Catholic Church, while still officially one body, effectively resembles what the Anglican Communion is right now.

A “Western” church that believes and practices one thing and a non-Western church that believes and practices something quite another

Because if you ask any modern Episcopalian what “Holy Matrimony” means, he or she will tell you that “Holy Matrimony” can only exist between a man and a woman.  Never mind the fact that he or she performs “same-sex blessings” all the time.  So we haven’t proposed to change any fundamental Christian doctrines.

At the moment.

Because we’ve got all the time in the world.

Should Catholics start looking for Orthodox parishes and service times?  It’s nowhere near time for that.  Should Catholics start worrying?  Not just yet.  Should Catholics be concerned?  I would be.  Because I’ve been through all this before.


Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Are you doing anything next Tuesday evening?  Because I’ve got a proposition for you.  And for the rest of the MCJ commentariat, for that matter.

UPDATE: Never mind.  I was thinking of liveblogging the election.  But the Chairman-and-CEO’s got hockey tickets that night and I don’t think I could do it by myself.


Monday, October 27th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 38 Comments

I consider myself to be a person of at least average intelligence, and with a reasonable grasp of current events. I try to be open to new ideas and opinions other than my own, and will gladly listen to well-reasoned, fact-oriented arguments that take issue with my own beliefs.

But there’s one topic which is getting massive news coverage recently, and I somehow feel that I’ve missed something important, because I can’t recall when it became as commonplace as McDonald’s, baseball, and Grand Theft Auto XXXII.

Where has the “transgender” movement come from?

I remember not that long ago, there was a “let’s stop abuse against homosexuals” movement, followed by “don’t discriminate against LesbiGays” which then morphed into “equal rights for LGBT’s.” (Anyone who has watched these developments and said “there’s no such thing as a slippery slope” – let me assure you, the progression of the Rainbow movement looks very much like someone coating a playground slide with motor oil.)

So where in the world does this latest fascination with sex changes come from? Are there really *that many* men and women (yes, I know that by using those terms I’m demonstrating my sexism, transphobism, heteronormism, and terror of eating beets) in the world? Out of the entire population of the United States (estimated at 316 million in 2013), just how many “transgenders” (or, for that matter “other than heterosexuals”) are there? A simple Google search for “US Transgender population” yields no useful results. You’ll find lots of speculation by various groups; estimates from City YY or State XX, but no one seems to actually know what the facts are.

Now, without implying that I approve of anything other than the traditional Christian norms of sexual conduct, I do have to say that I think it’s one thing to allow for various combinations of the “obvious” – male-male, female-female, male-female – but we’ve gone far, far past the “where no man [woman/trans/bi] has gone before point. Facebook issued guidelines in 2013 listing OVER 50 sexual identifications:

“There are signs that American society is increasingly willing to acknowledge the transgender community. In February (2014), no less a cultural force than Facebook added more than 50 custom gender options — from gender nonconforming to pangender — for its users.”

Here’s the Facebook list of 56 “sexes”

Now, let’s assume, for a moment, that each of these 56 “sexes” has it’s own set of likes/dislikes/behaviors/norms. How can it ever, ever be possible for them to all be addressed simultaneously? If Transgender Male is offended by having to use the same bathroom as Genderqueer Female, whose “feelings” take precedence? Is it unreasonable for a Bigender to take offense at being leered at by a Gender Fluid?

I’d like to hear from an expert (not merely a “spokeswoman” or “advocate”, but a real professional [with an earned, not honorary, "Ph.D"] speaking with the benefit of verifiable research studies and survey data to back them up) just exactly how society is supposed to evaluate, prioritize and then act upon the needs of transgenders, and all of the other “56 sexes.”

The one question I’d like to have answered more than any other is:

Should schools (especially grades 7-12) allow individuals with incompatible sexual organs to share a locker room? In other words, if football star Donnie Q. , who was born with male DNA and genitalia, claims to be Gender Fluid, will the school allow him to thereby use the same locker room nominally designated for “girls”? And if so, who will assume responsibility for any harassment complaints that may be generated by Donnie’s presence?

We hear all the time that insufficient precautions are taken to prevent harassment against women, and it stands to reason that allowing someone with male sexual organs access to naked girls is tantamount to an invitation to sexual assault. But if denying that same individual free expression of their [1 of 56] sexuality, isn’t that discrimination – at least to the LGBTxyz movement?

If Nick and Justin, a “married” couple with a 15 year old daughter Stacy (by artificial insemination/surrogate mother) are faced with their daughter coming home in tears from school one day and telling them about how she was made to feel trashy by this big, hulking man getting naked in front of her in the locker room and then watching her every move – what do they say to her? Does she have no rights? And, if not, what would it take for her to “get” some rights?

This is all very complex. I’m not trying to brush it off, or dismiss it casually. But the explosion of references to “Transgender” has caught my attention, and I think it’s about time the “average person” took stock of what’s going on around them.

Bill (not IB)


Sunday, October 26th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s always wrenching whenever anyone dies way too young.  What’s even more tragic is that some people were making Albert Pujols noises about this guy:

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and one of the top prospects of the past several seasons, died today in an auto accident in his native Dominican Republic, Dominican police confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.

Taveras’ girlfriend also died in the crash, according to police in Puerto Plata.

The Dominican newspaper Listin Diario said the name of his girlfriend is Edilia Arvelo. She was 18.


Sunday, October 26th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

A fable:

The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: “Master, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews. How many Tolerance Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds?”

Bodhidharma answers: “None at all”.

The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why not.

Bodhidharma asks: “Well, what do you think of gay people?”

The Emperor answers: “What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? Of course I have nothing against gay people!”

And Bodhidharma answers: “Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them!”

If you love only those who love you…


Friday, October 24th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments

Once again, I can’t claim to be a sleuth in locating the topic for this comment – it was on the front page of today’s “Dallas Morning News”. However, it is a *real* news item, giving me the chance to subject it to some choice commentary.

More than 60% report psychological torment, nearly 20% physical

NEW YORK — From violence to verbal taunts, abusive dating behavior is pervasive among America’s adolescents, according to a new, federally funded survey. It says a majority of boys and girls who date describe themselves as both victims and perpetrators.

Thank goodness for “new, Federally funded surveys.” It never, never would have occurred to me that teen dating could have any problems. Raging hormones, developing personalities – no chance that there will be any untoward complications when Frank Hardy goes out on a date with Nancy Drew. They’ve got *hours* of experience with this kind of thing. And dating is something new, isn’t it? No one did it back in the 70′s, 50′s, 20′s……………. right? Teens pairing off for social activities is a concept so recent it needed to be evaluated. Don’t waste good research money on something useless, like funding cancer research.

Nearly 20 percent of both boys and girls reported themselves as victims of physical and sexual abuse in dating relationships. The researchers, however, reported what they called a startling finding when they asked about psychological abuse, broadly defined as actions ranging from name-calling to excessive tracking of a victim. More than 60 percent of each gender reported being victims and perpetrators of such behavior.

True physical and sexual abuse (beatings, rape) are wrong, terrible, and need to be addressed seriously. But note how having seen that such behavior isn’t the “norm” ( 4 out of 5 relationships are free of abuse) the researchers promptly move from cold reality to mere speculation. They cite “psychological abuse” – things like name-calling. So, if Frank is less than happy with how his dinner and a movie with Nancy went, if he says to her “you sure weren’t a ‘fancy’ date, Nancy” he should promptly be hauled away to the (Background music of tiny violins) “how not to ever, ever ever: bruise, tear, wound, harm, scare, stifle, frustrate, handicap, erode, fracture, suffocate, or otherwise damage someone’s iddy-biddy-ego ward of Bellevue.

Now for the “money quote”:

Elizabeth Mumford, one of the two lead researchers for the survey, acknowledged that some of the behaviors defined as psychological abuse — such as insults and accusations of flirting — are commonplace but said they shouldn’t be viewed as harmless. “None of these things are healthy interactions,” she said. “It’s almost more of a concern that our gut reaction is to accept this as natural.”

“It’s a concern that our gut reaction is to accept this as natural.” Not to me, sweetie. I trust my instincts; they’ve saved me from many a stupid decision, because those instincts that you’re inclined to sweep aside have taken a long time to develop, and are based on a wealth of accumulated information and experience. It’s our “gut reactions” to what is right and wrong that keeps this crazy world on somewhat of an upright bearing – there just isn’t time to deliberate every decision that needs to be made.

But wait – for those who order now, you can get TWICE the amazement! Who, in the name of Clearasil, is spending precious money on “its campaigns (sic) against teen dating violence?”

a) The American Psychological Association
b) Boys & Girls Clubs of America
c) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
d) The Associated YMCA’s/YWCA’s

If you chose “c”, ding-ding-ding-ding-ding – you’re a loser! Yes, the organization now wailing about insufficient funding for Ebola already blew some of its budget figuring out what can be discovered from a five-minute talk with just about anyone between ages 13 and 18 – dating isn’t easy, and can lead to frustration and disappointments.

I do believe in full disclosure – The CDC didn’t pay for this study, but it does fund “campaigns”:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its campaigns against teen dating violence, also stresses the potential seriousness of psychological abuse.

Sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, the National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, a prominent research center which provided preliminary results to The Associated Press.

Here’s news for you, scientists with nothing better to do than perform surveys like this one:

Life isn’t easy, and can lead to frustrations and disappointments.

(The author hereby certifies that he did not arrive at the above conclusion by means of any research, study, or investigation; it is a “gut reaction.”)

Bill (not IB)


Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Let it never be said that I’m unwilling to take a cheap shot at an easy target. (I watched lots of TV in the 60′s, and loved the Banana Splits!)

“More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola.” (nudge nudge, wink wink)

From the New York Times:

A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea became the first person in the city to test positive for the virus Thursday, setting off a search for anyone who might have come into contact with him.

The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center and placed in isolation at the same time as investigators sought to retrace his steps over the past several days.

At least three people he had contact with have been placed in isolation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which dispatched a team to New York, is conducting its own test to confirm the positive test on Thursday, which was performed by a city lab.

Bill (not IB)


Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

I wish I could say that I’m a great researcher, digging out important stories from obscure corners of the Internet.

But – that would, in most cases, be a complete lie. Because there are lots of other folks who locate the “dirt of the day”, and all that’s left to do is to give them kudo’s for their efforts, and copy what they’ve found.

In this case, Arnie at BCF (Blazing Cat Fur, the husband of Kathy Shaidle of ‘Five Feet of Fury’) has reported on how once again, TEC has managed to find a “fitting” use for one of its “surplus” churches.

“Former Connecticut church sold for benefit of local Muslim community”

The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) has sold its property at 35 Harris Road, Avon, former home to Christ Episcopal Church, to the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, Inc. (FVAMC).

The sale, for $1.1 million, was completed on Oct. 21.

The building was vacated after the congregation voted in 2012 to dissolve as a parish and close by the end of that year.

The following spring, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and other ECCT staff hosted a meeting of community leaders and interested residents to discern how the property could best be used “as an asset to God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation” in greater Avon and beyond.

At the meeting they learned that the local Muslim community needed a place to gather for prayers, teaching, youth programs and interfaith work. In September 2013, the ECCT entered into an interfaith partnership with FVAMC that included leasing the Avon building.

Since then the FVAMC has reached out to its neighbors with open houses and other interfaith efforts, expanded its worship and service work, and grown its programs, particularly for youth.

The several committees of the ECCT needed to approve the sale gave it their solid endorsement and support.

Both ECCT and the FVAMC share the understanding that the sale isn’t the end of their relationship but the beginning of a new phase in this interfaith collaboration…

Thank goodness for the generosity of TEC; it’s a certainty that there were *no* Christian churches that could have made use of the building, and we all know how blasphemous endeavors interfaith efforts are the very pinnacle of re-purposing “Christian” facilities.

Bill (not IB)


Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Philip Jenkins asks the last Episcopalian to turn out the lights:

I’m doing a little math, and the consequences are troubling.

My own Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) just released its annual statistics, showing a rate of decline that would be truly amazing if it were at all unexpected. Between 2012 and 2013, the denomination’s membership fell by 1.4 percent, to 1.87 million, while Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) fell by 2.6 percent. Those percentages may not sound like much, until you realize that these are figures for a single year, and they closely echo the percentage drops for several preceding years. (I discussed these broader trends at this site back in 2012). The report received a “nothing special” headline at Episcopal Cafe, “Rate of decline in Sunday attendance little changed from recent years.”

But here’s my mathematical point. Obviously, those rates are not going to carry on year after year, precisely as in the past decade or so. Sometimes they will be lower than that, sometimes higher. But for the sake of argument, assume that the rates for recent years do continue more or less unchecked.

If we extrapolate that rate into the not-too-distant future, then the number of people attending Episcopal churches on a typical Sunday will be negligible by mid-century, typical of a tiny sect rather than a great church or denomination. It won’t reach zero for a while, but in effect, the church will cease to exist. We might need a new vocabulary of religious decline. How about church evaporation?

That mid-century date is really not far off. In fact, the baby baptized at my church last Sunday will by that point only be a young adult in her 30s.

Non-attending notional members will persist for a few years longer, but by the end of the century, we should be talking total disappearance.

In that scenario, America’s last Episcopalian walks among us today.

You know what’s funny?  For the last several years, studies similar to this one have assured us again and again that the reason why the Young PeopleTM no longer identify as Christians to the extent that they once did is that they don’t share the outmoded, retrograde attitudes of their parents or their churches on social issues such as abortion, women in leadership roles, duh gaze, etc.

Frankly, I’m starting to doubt the validity of those studies.  Because if they were true, would it not follow that the Episcopalians would be cleaning up?  That you’d have to make a reservation weeks in advance just to be allowed inside an Episcopal church?

Because Episcopalians pretty much have the whole leftist package.  They look Catholic…ish  with their bishops who wear pointy hats and carry hooked sticks.  Lots of these bishops are women and a couple have even been gay.

The only time they ever talk about sin is when they’re dealing with a sin none of them commit, like racism.  Otherwise, they’re never in-your-face about who you’re hooking up with or why you’re hooking up with them.

Yet the Episcopalians are dying.  Go figure.


Monday, October 20th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 47 Comments

Yeah, here’s the thing.  If you actually elect this broad as your governor, I’m pretty much done with you:

It wasn’t enough for Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, to claim that her opponent — who is wheelchair-bound — doesn’t care about disabled people. Now she and her campaign are claiming that Abbott might also want to ban interracial marriage.

There’s only one problem: Abbott’s wife Cecilia is Hispanic.

This new campaign tack from Wendy Davis — accusing the guy whose wife is Hispanic of maybe wanting to ban interracial marriage — was roundly mocked by pretty much everyone on Twitter within minutes of the attack going out.


Saturday, October 18th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 41 Comments

I know that I ask You for a lot of unserious stuff (another job before I die, some kind of two-by-four-upside-the-head guidance about what I’m supposed to do with myself between now and checkout time, etc.).  But if you could somehow find it in Your heart to keep Mississippi and Mississippi State  unbeaten until they meet on November 29th, I’d really appreciate it.  That game’s going to be EPIC.


Friday, October 17th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 68 Comments

There are some things that aren’t really “funny” in a way that lends itself to satire or fisking (or at least that’s so IMHO.) One of these is Ebola; it’s a terrible disease, and deserves serious consideration and a “no kidding around” approach. I’ve read extensively on the 1917-1918 influenza pandemic; I had family that died from that far-flung flu, and if you want to be truly scared of what contagious disease can do to civilization, just pick up a copy of “The Great Influenza” by John Barry.

But still –

Two nurses have tested positive for Ebola here in Dallas, after we’d been told over and over again that “It’s really, really, really unlikely that anyone will catch Ebola from an infected person, unless they have sex or use the same needle for injections.”

Result – Center for Disease Control: mud on face, score 0-2.

The second case involved a nurse flying on a commercial aircraft just hours before checking into the hospital – and she was OK’d by the CDC to board that aircraft. No worries, eh? Never mind that the 150 or so other passengers are now being asked to voluntarily kind of quarantine themselves, and they’re all likely to be pretty scared people right now.

Fortunately, another country has a better handle on what to do in case someone with exposure to Ebola wants entry to their borders: Mexico.

Carnival cruise ship with possible Ebola case turned away from Cozumel

“A Texas health care worker who reportedly handled samples from Ebola patient Thomas Duncan is under quarantine aboard a Carnival Cruise ship. As a result, the ship was not allowed to dock in Belize.”

I sure hope that said health care worker DOESN’T have Ebola. Because being on board a ship with a diseased individual is bad, quarantine or no quarantine.

I’m afraid that this is our [very near] future – not from the Carnival ship, but from the repeated and significant blunders being made:

“On June 30, 1918, the British freighter Exeter docked at Philadelphia after a brief hold at a maritime quarantine station. She was laced with deadly disease, but the civilian surgeon general and head of the U.S. Public Health Service had issued no instructions to the maritime service to hold influenza-ridden ships. So she was released.”

(Sound familiar at all like the CDC’s current fiasco?)

“Nevertheless, the condition of the crew was so frightening that the British consul had arranged in advance for the ship to be met at a wharf empty of anything except ambulances whose drivers wore surgical masks. Dozens of crew members in “desperate condition” were taken immediately to Pennsylvania Hospital where ……. one after another, more crew members died.”

Bill (not IB)


Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 61 Comments

This article speaks for itself (please read the whole thing). All those who have said “churches won’t be affected by anti-discrimination laws” – you were wrong.

City of Houston Demands Pastors Turn Over Sermons

Bill (not IB)


Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

For those who think that Pope Francis is an Episcopalian in Catholic drag, there’s this:

Pope Francis has signalled his blessing to the breakaway traditionalist American church at the centre of the split which has divided the 80 million strong worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality.

He sent a message offering his “prayers and support” to Archbishop Foley Beach, the new leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the conservative movement which broke away from The Episcopal Church after the ordination of the first openly gay bishop.

His message underlines the pressure facing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, as he attempts to avert a formal schism in worldwide Anglicanism.

That ship has sailed, Your Grace.

The message from Pope Francis was delivered during the service by the Rt Rev Gregory Venables, the Anglican bishop of Argentina, who had a long-standing friendship with his former Roman Catholic counterpart, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, until his election as pope.

Bishop Venables, told how he was recovering from a severe illness earlier this year when he had a telephone call from an Argentine man who introduced himself as “Francis”.

To laughter from the congregation, he explained that he had responded: “Francis who?”

“He said, with a wonderful degree of humility and patience, ‘no it’s Father Jorge’,” the bishop explained.

He went on: “He asked me this evening … in fact he wrote to me just a few days ago and said when you go to the United States please, in my name, give my personal congratulations and greetings to Archbishop Foley.

“Assure him of my prayers and support at this moment and in the future as he leads the Church at this very important moment of revival and mission.”


Monday, October 13th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 175 Comments

I have a serious question for which I’d like a serious answer.  And I’m not going to provide any commentary of my own just yet; I’m much more interested in what you guys think.  But should we flying buttresses of the Catholic Church, to borrow Churchill’s analogy, start seriously worrying right about now?

In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.

Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs to emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle.

As regards matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially trained priest who would be able to offer the parties advice on the validity of their marriage.

In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

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