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CLUELESS AT 1600

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 35 Comments

Captain Awesome doesn’t get it:

President Obama is a singularly ungracious and non-self-reflective person. In his press conference today he refused yet again to acknowledge reality.

He tried to downplay the Democrats’ loss of the Senate by talking to the two-thirds of people who did not vote. He tried to insinuate that it was a bipartisan rejection. He reminded us several times that he is still president. (“I’m the guy elected by everybody.”) He boasted about an economy most voters think is rotten. He has, however, learned nothing. After a historic repudiation, he is staying the course and still threatens unilateral action by year’s end on immigration reform. One would have thought his policies were not on the ballot or that his party saw historic losses in consecutive midterm elections. He defiantly announced that he will veto some bills and that Congress won’t like his executive actions. He insisted it had to be his way: “If there are ideas that the Republicans have that I have confidence will make things better for ordinary Americans, the fact that the Republicans [are] suggesting it, as opposed to a Democrat — that’ll be irrelevant to me. I want to just see what works.” In other words he sees no reason to compromise; Republicans must agree with him.

As for Chris Matthews, I guess the thrill really is gone.

What bothered me about him [today] he keeps talking about common ground. Damn it, there’s very little common ground between left and right, but what there is is compromise. You do something for me on minimum wage, I’ll do something for you in corporate tax reform. You give me something on corporate tax reform and I’ll get rid of some of the loopholes or I’ll do something on trade for you. He never talks about trading and compromising, he always talks about common ground. Well, damn it, you can not run a government on common ground.

He misses the main point of politics which is to be a politician and to trade. Okay, you want this? You want to take care of people who have been here illegally for 20, 30 years? Here’s what I want. No more illegal hiring, and that’s all in the Senate bill. But he won’t sell the compromise. There’s something in this guy that just plays to his constituency and acts like there is no other room out there. And that’s going to be a collision at the end of this year like you have never seen. I do believe it will be like waving a red flag in front of the bull. I think Mitch McConnell is headed for a fight with the president.

So what are the next two years going to be like?  Your guesses are as good as mine so here are two of mine.

(1) Absent King Putt’s long-threatened royal decree on immigration, which the Congress will fight with every fiber of its being, that issue is basically dead given how politically toxic it was yesterday.

(2) Is impeachment back in the picture?  Maybe.  Ironically, given that Typhoid Barack has decimated the Democrats over the last four years and whose base has basically been reduced to MSNBC and the rest of the radical left, if the President does something impeachable, it may well be the Democrats who bring impeachment charges against the man while the Republicans resist them.

If you’re the GOP, would you want this guy out of the way?  The longer President Ladies’ Tee stays in, the better chance you have of winning the presidency.  But if you’re the Democrats, you might want to get clear of Obama as soon as you can, let Crazy Joe pretend to run the country for a year or so and give Hillary at least a slight shot.

DECISION 2014

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 85 Comments

An MCJ open election thread.

DEAR EPISCOPAL ORGANIZATION

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 40 Comments

What?  We don’t make enough fun of you?  The following resolution was voted on at the Diocese of Connecticut’s recent convention:

RESOLVED, that the 230th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut affirms that  including both genders in the priestly order has been a transformational example of advancing God’s mission in this place;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we applaud the work of the various General Conventions in committing us to challenge the sin of sexism by striving to eliminate the use of gendered language in worship and in church life;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, in contrast to the orders of Bishop, Deacon, and Laity, we find that the continued practice of using gendered titles to refer to male and female  priests effectively creates a different and unequal status for female priests;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, while context, culture, and class are critically important dimensions of ministry, and that while there is not yet a consensus on the use of a common gender-neutral title for priests, to advance the goal of developing and using such titles, it is a necessary first to eliminate any gendered titles for priests still in use in parishes, such as “Father” and “Mother,” while encouraging congregational conversations about the preferred use of gender-neutral titles;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in all parishes in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, we commit to ending the use of gendered titles for priests no later than the 231st Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut…

Why has the D of C decided to groove a fastball right in my wheelhouse?

1. It unites all orders of the Church, across genders, in challenging institutional sexism throughout the church and society, advances the goal of full gender equality, and strengthens the witness of the priesthood as a whole.
2. It invites ordained men to re-examine the nature of male privilege, and to evaluate what they are willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of justice on behalf of their sister priests.

As the Chairman-and-CEO reported a while back, the Diocese of Connecticut just got done selling one of its properties to Muslims so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that “sexism” really isn’t Connecticut’s big problem.

For those of you who occasionally wonder, this is why I still write about these people.  Not because I think I can turn this shipwreck around; TEO is a lost cause.  But TEO is also the single greatest source of ecclesiastical comedy gold in the world.

The mother lode, basically.

I mean, what are our options here?  Person?  Parent?  Parent of Unspecified Sexual Situation (PUSS)?  I don’t know if this idiocy passed or not and I don’t feel like looking it up but I pray that it didn’t.  If only so certain Connecticut Episcopalians don’t have to make complete jackasses of themselves.

TO GOD’S EAR

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

The Economist looks at a country where religion is rapidly losing its influence:

By law, all public buildings in Iran must have prayer rooms. But travelling around the country you will find few shoes at prayer time outside these rooms in bus stations, office buildings and shopping centres. “We nap in ours after lunch,” says an office manager. Calls to prayer have become rare, too. Officials have silenced muezzins to appease citizens angered by the noise. The state broadcaster used to interrupt football matches with live sermons at prayer time; now only a small prayer symbol appears in a corner of the screen.

Iran is the modern world’s first and only constitutional theocracy. It is also one of the least religious countries in the Middle East. Islam plays a smaller role in public life today than it did a decade ago. The daughter of a high cleric contends that “religious belief is mostly gone. Faith has been replaced by disgust.” Whereas secular Arab leaders suppressed Islam for decades and thus created a rallying point for political grievances, in Iran the opposite happened..

The transformation of Shia Islam into an ideology undermined both the state and the mosque. The great irony of the Islamic revolution is that inadvertently it did more to secularise the country than the tyrannical shah, who ruled Iran after a coup in 1953 and persecuted clerics. By forcing religion on people it poisoned worship for many. They are sick of being preached at and have stopped listening.

Some have found salvation in materialism. Ever more shops and malls have sprung up. In the words of Saeed Laylaz, a noted economist, “You can’t shower a trillion dollars in oil money on a society in a decade and expect it to stay pious and revolutionary. People get comfortable.” This is not unique to Iran. “The country is Islamic in much the same way that Italy is Catholic,” says a southern European diplomat. “Everyone professes to believe, but in private we cheat on our taxes and our wives.”

A PLAYER TO BE NAMED LATER

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Apple CEO Tim Cook joins the other team:

The big news this week is that Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay. While our personal theologies might not line up on every account, I can tell you that his perspective on sexuality is one that I find both thoughtful and refreshing.

In a Bloomberg Businessweek op-ed on Thursday (Oct. 30), Cook shared that he treasures being gay because it has given him a “deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with everyday.”

“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” Cook wrote. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

“Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender,” Cook wrote. “I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.”

And this, thinks Liberty University’s Tré Goins-Phillips, is a Really Good Thing.

This is not to say that one’s sexual choices and orientations are unimportant. Because they are. They just do not, or should not, box us in, hold us back, or shut us down. These individuals are human beings first — intellectuals first, entrepreneurs first, engineers first, visionaries first, artists first.

We are human beings with innate value — first.

At the end of the day, we have to find common ground. Common ground is what makes the world continue to move, grow and advance. Cook gets it. He understands the weight of his announcement. He understands its importance, but also sees that there are things in this life of even greater importance — what it means to be human.

Kid?  Within limits (children, animals, corpses, etc.), I am a sexually open-minded guy.  I honestly don’t care whether you prefer your packages to be delivered through the front door or the back door, if you know what I mean and I think you do.  Do you accept deliveries through both doors?  Makes me no never mind.

Do you REALLY enjoy being spanked?  Fine by me.  Do you need to be chained to a bed and have chubby Liechtensteinian hookers over the age of 45 in full bondage gear whip you in order for you to achieve mahogany?  Who am I to judge?

But this is how life works, junior.  If you really don’t want to be “defined by your sexuality,” then here’s some practical advice.

SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT IT!!

Nobody cares.  Nobody.  If you feel the need to write an op-ed to tell us what your sexuality is but don’t you dare define me by my sexuality, then guess what?  We’re going to define you by your sexuality.  Man up and deal with it.

LEADER IN THE CLUBHOUSE

Friday, October 31st, 2014 | Uncategorized | 46 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.

Pastoral.

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.

LIVE IN THAT TENSION.

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; I’ve been through all this before.

UPDATE:  Case in point.  Damon Linker.

And that’s where we are — conflicting views squared off against each other on opposite sides of an unbridgeable divide, just like in the broader culture war. And as Douthat rightly points out in his column, the opposing sides are far more evenly matched today than they were, for example, during Vatican II, when the most sweeping reforms were passed by a margin of roughly 22 to 1. In the United States and Latin America today, conservatives and reformers can each claim the support of millions of parishioners. In Europe, by contrast, the reformers far outnumber their opponents, while in Africa (where the church is growing rapidly) the situation is reversed, with conservatives in a very strong position. Everything’s in place for a cultural war of attrition played out across the globe, within nations, between regions — with the possibility of the outright schism that Douthat appears prepared to endorse looming ominously in the background.

BILL?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Uncategorized | 34 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.

PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND………….

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)

TOO SOON

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.

TOLERANCE

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…

IF SOMETHING EXISTS, IT WILL BE STUDIED (BILL’S 3rd LAW)

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.

“DATING RIFE WITH ABUSE, TEENS SAY”
FROM WIRE REPORTS
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)

HAS THERE BEEN ANOTHER KARDASHIAN DIVORCE/MARRIAGE?

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)

EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF IS BROUGHT TO DESOLATION; AND EVERY CITY OR HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF SHALL NOT STAND

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)

END OF THE LINE?

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.

TEXAS?

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.

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