Archive for November, 2011


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 | Uncategorized | 60 Comments

A Roman Catholic writer named Tim Padgett, the Miami and Latin American bureau chief for TIME, wishes that Roman Catholic bishops would quit being so damned obstinate about abortion and calling it human life and stuff:

Shouldn’t our national abortion conversation stop obsessing on the pro-life/pro-choice extremes and focus on the reasonable, conscience-driven approach that cohorts like Catholics are in fact taking? Isn’t it time we stopped thinking of Catholics as a gauge of abortion opposition and instead as a barometer of how Americans think abortion rights should be kept humanely legal and humanely limited? The bishops this week recast their condemnation of abortion rights in terms of “religious liberty.” But when only 3% of U.S. Catholics have even read the bishops’ guide for voting in elections, according to Fordham University, I think we can say that Catholics are indeed practicing religious liberty — just not the kind the bishops want us to.

Like the members of a certain British-derived, overly-influential, mainline American Protestant church that shall remain nameless, Tim seems to believe that God both has and needs a Congress.

The bishops themselves are partly to blame for this: their crusade to demonize abortion rights and any politician who defends them has backfired, because it has forced Catholics to engage the matter all the more deeply. And most Catholics do so not via hierarchical regimentation but via human reason, as our faith tells us to. Because Catholicism richly contemplates Jesus’ human as well as divine nature, it emphasizes our God-given reason as the door to faith. We embrace our church’s protection-of-human-life impulse; but I think most Catholics have rationally concluded that no matter how we feel about abortion personally or spiritually, we cannot in good conscience call abortion in the early stage of pregnancy — when more than 90% of all abortions occur in the U.S. — murder in a legal sense.

But while the Catholic bishops have to toe the Vatican line, the Catholic laity doesn’t. Most of us have long since discarded Rome’s primitive homunculus model in favor of more modern and reliable science demonstrating that until a fetus develops a central nervous system and cerebral cortex – after the first trimester – it cannot be regarded as a sentient being let alone a human being. To many of us, the moral and legal “threshold” should be “sentiency,” or the ability to feel pain, as philosophers Daniel Dombrowski and Robert Deltete wrote in their 2000 book A Brief, Liberal Catholic Defense of Abortion.

So what should the bishops do now?  Keep their mouths shut, basically, since they’ve been wrong about so much else.

There is social as well as scientific awareness involved, says Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics For Choice in Washington, D.C. “Catholics tend to side with the underdog, the oppressed,” O’Brien argues, “and many of us feel that even if we wouldn’t make that decision [abortion] for ourselves, we don’t want to see a woman who does feel she has to make it victimized by not having legal access to it.” He also notes that ever since Rome’s senseless refusal in 1968 to condone birth control, most Catholics have resolved to “make our own decisions about the pelvic zone.”

I’ll let this journal’s Catholic readership eviscerate Padgett’s theological nitwittery and confine myself to a few general observations.  I think it’s fair to say that a significant number of American churchgoers from all churches couldn’t give you a cogent explanation of why they spend their Sundays where they do if you put a gun to their heads.

Why?  Because the question doesn’t really interest them.  They were born into their churches and all Christian churches are basically interchangeable as far as they’re concerned.  They’ll learn whatever they have to learn in order to be considered full members of their church and let it go at that.

Or they were brought up in Church A but became engaged to someone who was brought up in Church B and rather likes it there.  Since they can’t theologically argue why Church A is correct and Church B is not and since Church B is a Christian church, what difference does it make whether they spend their Sundays in Church A or in Church B?

I was like that.  In 1956, like two of my older siblings, I was baptized an Episcopalian because my mother was attending an Episcopal church when I came into the world and my father couldn’t have cared less where I was baptized or even if I was baptized at all.

But eventually, I started asking myself the same question kids everywhere ask themselves on Sunday mornings.  Why am I here?  What am I doing this for?  When it was explained to me one winter evening (by Billy Graham, someone outside of the tradition, as they say), my question underwent a subtle change. 

“Why am I here?” became “Why am I here?” 

Why am I an Episcopalian?  As the Episcopalian descent into brain-dead universalism picked up speed, “because my mother was” became less and less compelling a reason to stick around.

Tim Padgett reads like he not only never got to the same place I did, it never occurred to him to begin the trip.  He’s a Catholic because his parents were or because his hot girlfriend slash wife was.  He’s learned all the right lines and convinced himself that he’s just as “spiritual” as anyone else.

But it is a curious “spirituality” that finds nothing odd about the idea that Christian doctrine can and should be established by majority vote.  You could probably poll Catholic churches from one end of this country to the other and find a significant number of Catholic males who would love to be able to boink anyone they wanted to guilt-free.

So the bishops should drop anti-adultery lectures then?  For that matter, if your poll allowed for anonymous answers, you could probably find a fair number of Catholics who believe the same thing about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Episcopal Organization does.

Adios Eucharistic Adoration and, well…the Eucharist?

Theological approaches like Padgett’s cut both ways.  Suppose Tim was interviewing a Roman Catholic US president and asked her why her administration wasn’t spending more money to help the poor and needy, citing several examples of Catholic teaching and papal writings on the subject to back himself up.

“Well, I don’t believe that teaching applies in this particular instance,” says the President.

“But you claim to be a devout Catholic!” Tim triumphantly exclaims.  He think’s he’s just rhetorically nailed the frickin’ President of the frickin’ United States.  How frickin’ good is this going to look?  “How can you pick and choose Catholic doctrine like that?!”

“The same way you can,” the President smugly replies.  As Jim Rome puts it, “Scoreboard.  Look up at it.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Six years ago, a leftist writer named Thomas Frank published a book entitled What’s the Matter with Kansas? in which he attempted to figure out why so many Americans vote, according to him, against their economic and political self-interest.  For the benefit of anyone who actually doesn’t know, Lee Siegel answers Frank’s question:

The man making $60,000 a year who can’t afford health benefits for his family looks at you, the liberal elite—sorry, guys, but let’s call a spade a spade—and sees that the fix is always in. You went to the same private schools. You graduated from the same handful of Ivy League universities. You live in the same exclusive urban neighborhoods, and you summer in the same exclusive enclaves. Your children—like us—network through your pre-established connections to the top of society. You prescribe conduct for others that you will never have to follow yourselves. You pass laws that will never apply to you. You turn on your own constituents, like public-school teachers, at the drop of a hat. You sell out the middle class by passing legislation that makes it almost impossible to declare bankruptcy. You make the middle class pay with soaring premiums for expanded Medicaid programs that will bankrupt state treasuries, thus fueling the backlash against the push for universal health care.

The man you think is a “sucker” because he votes for Republican candidates who don’t seem to give a hoot about him will vote for them every time. He looks at you, the crowd of The-Fix-Is-Always-In, and he casts his lot with the crowd of wealth and initiative.

You see, Mom and Dad, they don’t lie about his prospects. They tell him that he has to sink or swim. They don’t disrespect his willpower by promising that government will make life easier for him. They tell him that they respect his individuality. They tell him straight out what you, the liberal elite, know to be true but will never say. They tell him that life in America is winner-take-all, and that they are the people who will let him keep what he has. They tell him that his religion, his wife’s capacity to reproduce, his children—whether they are “successful” or not—are his treasure. They tell him that they don’t care if he is a person of modest ambition, little sophistication, and humble means. What they value is his capacity to change his own life.

What you tell him is that he should put his life in your hands. Yet you scorn his religion. You mock his faith in the sacredness of conception. You deride his belief in family. You tell him that his love for hunting makes him a murderer, and that his terror at being economically displaced makes him a xenophobe and a racist. Then you emasculate his hope for the future by telling him that if his ship comes in—that dream of a ship that makes the grinding disappointment of daily life worth living through—you’ll help yourself to a big slice of it. And you expect him to believe your rhetoric about fairness and equality when, all the while, you are accusing him of gullibility in his politics and bad faith toward the least fortunate of his fellow citizens. When, all the while, you are living untouched by your own policies. When you are cushioned against life’s hardness, not by government, but by simply knowing other people in your class. You expect him to buy your talk about equitable distribution of wealth when you are sailing through tax loopholes off into the sunset. For this man, his emotions make all the rational sense in the world.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

If an Anglican Covenent actually does see the light of day, Adrian Worsfold suggests a course of action:

I imagine that I am going to make a proposal to General Assemblies and equivalent bodies of Unitarian denominations worldwide (no limit to my worldwide ambition) if the Anglican Communion Covenant comes into being and Anglican liberals and progressives become thoroughly marginalised.

It will be to set up Unitarian based Liberal Anglican Ordinariates, in other words congregations that can be run by Anglicans and peopled by Anglicans using Anglican liturgies, although some in their new freedoms may wish to revise these (which they will be welcome to do at whatever pace wished).

An Ordinariate should be one congregation at a time; however, there may be occasions when they might consist of more than one congregation. The new congregations and their trusts will be independent, and sorry but Bishops who join will have the same status as any minister. In a generous offer, these will automatically join the ministerial roll of the General Assembly, and lay readers will become recognised Lay Preachers and Lay Leaders too. Practices such as ordination can continue. The only conditions are that promises regarding doctrine and practice cannot be made, and the Ordinariates will be expected to be fully inclusive and without discrimination. Otherwise the Anglicans can run these units as they wish.

Ordinariates would be welcome to use the Flaming Chalice symbol, and use their own related symbol which would be similar to the symbol of the Anglican Communion Lambeth Conference. This would be in a bizarre recognition of the work of Archbishop Rowan Williams, who brought about such tolerant bodies by defective intention.

Thanks to the Prof for the heads-up.

I have no problem with any of this; indeed, I’m surprised that something like it has never been seriously proposed before.  The Anglican left has been functionally universalist for decades so I doubt that anyone in the pews would notice any difference in preaching, liturgy, the quality of the coffee hour coffee and Danish or anything else.

I can see one possible drawback, one reason for hesitation.  Taking such a step would force liberal Anglicans to admit something about themselves that most of us have known for a very long time.  They are no longer Christian in any meaningful sense of that term.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Part the ninth.  Big fertilizer sale.  Inquire Santa Cruz, California:

County officials this week released a list of 93 complaints of disruptive and illegal behavior near the county’s main offices and courthouse, adjacent to the Occupy Santa Cruz camp.

Since the camp was joined by dozens of tents that belong to the homeless, county workers and others have documented drug and alcohol use, public urination and defecation, littering, bathing in county restrooms, fights and more. Two pieces of artwork on display at the county building were vandalized – although county officials said it is not known who was responsible for it.

At least one incident on the county list wasn’t noted by the Sheriff’s Office: the discovery of an estimated 200 pounds of human feces near the county Veterans Memorial Building, just across the Water Street bridge from the camp.

The county called in a hazardous materials team to clean up the mess, and installed a security fence around the building, which is closed for renovations. There is no evidence that linked the excrement to the camp.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 21st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Seriously, Penn State Fan.  Do you want the Nittany Lions to be the most hated sports team in the entire world?

Victim One, the first known alleged victim of abuse by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, had to leave his school in the middle of his senior year because of bullying, his counselor said Sunday.

Officials at Central Mountain High School in Clinton County weren’t providing guidance for fellow students, who were reacting badly about Joe Paterno’s firing and blaming the 17-year-old, said Mike Gillum, the psychologist helping his family. Those officials were unavailable for comment this weekend.

The name-calling and verbal threats were just too much, he said.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, November 19th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 36 Comments

If I’m going down, Mark Lawrence tells the Episcopal Organization, I’m taking some of you people with me:

There was an interesting development in the Diocese of South Carolina this week. A Quit Claim Deed to the parish property was mailed to every parish in the diocese from Chancellor Wade Logan on Wednesday (the fact that it was coming I understand was announced to the clergy present at the clergy conference on Tuesday night). In Mr. Logan’s letter, the following explanation was given:

“For 190 years (1789-1979) there had never been any idea that somehow the parishes did not completely and fully own their property. Our Supreme Court has now said that the attempt to change that in 1979 by the General Convention was not binding on the parish of All Saints, Pawley’s Island, SC.  In recognition of that ruling, and in continued pursuit of our historic unity based on common vision rather than legal coercion, the Diocesan Convention removed the relevant section from our canons in October 2010. The issuance of these quitclaim deeds lays to rest any lingering issue that may exist for some parishes when they seek to obtain title insurance or secure bank financing for parish projects. Parishes may choose to file them or not based on their individual needs. We trust this action will enable parishes to freely exercise their rights and responsibility to oversee that which God, through the faithfulness of prior generations, has bequeathed to them.”

Why would Bishop Lawrence and the diocesan leadership take such a step? I believe it was out of a desire to preserve the legacy of the gospel in the parishes, as well as to keep the parishes together with the diocese as the means by which the good news of Jesus could be proclaimed. (The fact is that without such deeds some individual parishioners and particular churches would not feel protected from potential threats).

You and I both know that both the diocese and the bishop are under growing pressure from the national church leadership.  We also know that exactly those leaders will countenance all sorts of ruinous teaching of Christian doctrine and life, but suddenly when it comes to questions of property they insist that their new line (which is out of step with Episcopal polity and history) be toed.

I leave it to those with a legal education to explain the ramifications of this move.  I rather suspect that of its reasons was to severely complicate any attempt to depose Lawrence along with any legal case 815 might bring against Charleston.  Given that some of Mrs. Schori’s Quislings are going bat crap, Mark Lawrence has probably just made the bullseye on his back even larger.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, November 19th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments

Now that the general public is becoming increasingly disgusted with Occupy Wall Street, the Episcopalians, with their usual impeccable timing, have hitched their wagon to the OWS star.  New York Episcopal Bishop Mark Sisk:

On Friday, Oct. 21, I visited Zuccotti Park, the site — at least until last night — of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Whatever happens next in Lower Manhattan (and as I write, on the morning of Nov. 15, things are moving fast, with the outcome unclear), there can be no doubt that this protest has struck a chord, and given birth to a movement that appears, in spite of everything, to be gaining momentum.

The Bishop has a point if by “gaining momentum,” he means losing momentum.

It is true that it was not easy at Zucotti Park to sort out the substance from the theatre. The media have offered little help, with their focus, unsurprisingly, on the most colorful and extreme expressions of protest.

Those would be the rapes, the public masturbation, the odd murder or two, the violence, the property damage, preventing people from getting to and from their jobs, terrorizing little kids on the way to school, public urination and defecation, vermin infestations, endangering the public health and other “colorful and extreme expressions of protest.”

Nor, sadly, have those in public leadership often commented helpfully — and they are certainly disingenuous when they point to the protestors’ lack of a plan as evidence of a lack of seriousness, when apparently they have no plan themselves.

To do what?

Indeed, all too often the opposing voices that we hear are shrilly dismissive — their aggressive, trivializing tone hinting, to me, at a deep, largely unconscious, level of anxiety.

Or scorn and contempt for people who consider it a matter of “justice” that somebody else pay off their student loans and find them high-paying jobs even though they deliberately chose to major in Art History. 

As for that “deep, largely unconcious, level of anxiety” of yours, Bishop, the only one I’m picking up is coming from your side, fueled by your terrified realization that this may be the last chance the Episcopal Organzation has of ever becoming relevant to anyone.

To-may-to, to-mah-to, Bishop.

The particular motivations of those protesting are, undoubtedly, as mixed as the American people itself. One dominant thread, however, is an (admittedly inchoate) critique of unfettered capitalism.

Don’t start calling Mark a socialist or anything.  Because he’s not.

There can be little doubt that capitalism is a productive way to order economic life. But we need to remember, as the protestors have reminded us, that that is all that it is — an economic system based on the entirely reasonable propositions that capital has value, and that supply and demand are the most efficient way to set prices.

A “but” goes right here, doesn’t it, Mark?

Capitalism is of no help at all in determining what is morally good — that is something that must instead be determined by the community’s wider values.

Easy, big smacker.  Sure you want to go there?  I can remember a time when the “wider values” of a whole lot of communities in this country thought that there was nothing morally wrong with buying and selling human beings.  The “wider values” of Islamic communities around the world make life a living hell for any women forced to live there.

If “the community’s wider values” are the sole determinant of “what is morally good,” then morality is mere convention and can be changed whenever the mood strikes the “community.”  And a “morality” like that is worse than no morality at all.

And there should be no question that when an economic system fails to reflect those communal values, it should be modified and governed until it does.

There’s a term for that, Mussolini.  Corporatism.  As for your suggestion that a country’s economic system ought to reflect its communal values, you’re not the first person to come up with that idea.  That concept strongly influenced a certain European political party.  I’ll give you a hint.  Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz.

To say, as some do, that any attempt to control or guide our economic system is neither wise nor possible is to admit that an economic system has decisive control of our lives. For a Christian, such an admission would be nothing less than to yield to idolatry.

Not bad.  A straw man or two and a non sequitur in two sentences.  Can my people kick rhetorical ass seven ways from Sunday or what?

I believe Aristotle once referred to what the Bishop is up to here as stacking the deck.  Sisk demands that you accept the first part of his syllogism, that it both wise and possible “to control or guide our economic system” even more than it already is.

If you don’t, then according to Sisk’s “logic,” you have just admitted that an economic system decisively controls your life.  Which, according to Sisk, is “idolatry.”

And which is about the most idiotic thing the Editor has read in quite some time.

What Sisk means by control and guidance, of course, is even more control and guidance than American capitalism operates under right now.  And then, when that level of control and guidance fails, even more control and guidance than that. 

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I see two major problems here.  One is that increasingly strict government control and guidance of the economy has never worked anywhere.  Government-guided economies are basket cases; China didn’t begin to get where it is today until it relaxed government controls.  Even Cuba is beginning to back away from a planned economy.

The other and far more serious problem with Sisk’s ludicrous statement is that it is…well…ludicrous.  Believing that it is a horrible idea for any government to excessively control and guide an economy does not force me to admit that capitalism has “decisive control” over my life or over anything else.

Capitalism qua capitalism decisively controls nothing at all, let alone anyone’s life.  I’m not in the financial position I’m in because of capitalism or because some evil banker had it in for me.  I’m here because of choices that I freely made and that I’m living with.

Because that’s what adults do.  Adults don’t sit around in public parks, hallucinate conspiracies to explain their situations and get leftist clergy to provide them with “spiritual” cover for their bitterness, their insolence, their laziness and their denial.

For the non-theist to make the argument that the laws of economics are immutable is to concede that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves.

Wrong again, Siskie.  You have as much power of yourself to help yourself as you need.  More if God is real to you and not just professional jargon.  The only people conceding that they have no power of themselves to help themselves are those people who think that “Wall Street” is singularly responsible for the situation in which they find themselves.

As the OWS protestors point out, wealth in our country is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, the real income of the broad middle class has not increased in more than a generation, and the ranks of the poorest among us each year become ever more solidified. These are the facts — and the reality behind them is, quite simply, morally wrong. Ultimately, left unchecked, that reality is deeply dangerous. It is at odds with our vision of ourselves, and as Americans we ignore it at the peril of our most cherished national ideals. As Christians, we ignore it at the peril of our souls.

Wow.  Did you know that there are way more non-wealthy people than wealthy people in the world?  I didn’t until just now and I profusely thank Bishop Sisk for bringing that fact to my attention.

That is, of course, Baby Boomer hubris talking.  We are the first people in the history of the world ever to have to face a situation like this!!  Okay, maybe the country has had economic difficulties in the past but they’ve never been as bad as they are right now!!

Coming from what is supposed to be a Christian bishop, words like those are interesting.   For one thing, they indicate an almost total lack of understanding of or faith in God.  Spiritually speaking, the fact that there are a few billionaires in the world neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, to borrow Jefferson’s phrase.

Those of us who understand that life is more than food and the body more than raiment might make bold to suggest that American souls are in infinitely more peril from the tens of millions of unborn human beings who have been allowed to die hideous deaths than they are from the fact that we believe that taking money from people who have a lot of it and giving it to people who don’t have as much is stealing.

Which is a sin, last time I checked.  But it’s apparently okay in the Episcopal religion if your heart’s in the right place.

The way forward is not simple. In spite of what some in the public square would have us think, there are no obvious and easy solutions for complex problems. But what we must strive for is clear. We must — and I believe that this is what lies at the core of the OWS protests — rein in the imbalances that have caused our economic house to careen off course as though it is a self-perpetuating, self-governing good. The solution that we find will not be perfect, just as human beings are not perfect; but to surrender to forces as though we are helpless before them is not an answer, but an excuse.

A fine notion if your sense of history only goes back five years.  If you’ve lived any longer than that and you know how to read, you know that economic houses careen off course fairly regularly for a great many reasons.

You also probably understand what Sisk resolutely refuses to grasp.  Economies are complex things that don’t respond well to excessive government fiddling.  If you’re old enough, you no doubt recall Richard Nixon’s wage and price controls and the long-term damage they did to the American economy.

So you’re left with two options.  You can agree with Mark Sisk that the American economy needs to be radically restructured and that we have the power to make the American economy do whatever we want whenever we want for as long as we want.

Of, if you’re not hopelessly delusional, you can do this:

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Your call.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, November 18th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

The US abortion controvery could be ended overnight, says acclaimed Roman Catholic apologist Nanner McBotox, if Catholics would just stop listening to that stupid small voice:

Pelosi recently was criticized for the way she characterized a bill to amend Republican-proposed conscience exemptions for health-care reform that allow providers to refuse to perform abortions. Pelosi called the measure, which passed last month with some help from Democrats, “savage,’’ and said, “When the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor and health-care providers do not have to intervene, if this bill is passed. It’s just appalling.”

In retrospect, does she think that assessment went too far? Not at all, she said: “They would” let women die on the floor, she said. “They would! Again, whatever their intention is, this is the effect.’’

Catholic health-care providers in particular have long said they’d have to go out of business without the conscience protections that Pelosi says amount to letting hospitals “say to a woman, ‘I’m sorry you could die’ if you don’t get an abortion.” Those who dispute that characterization “may not like the language,’’ she said, “but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it . . . but they have this conscience thing’’ that she insists put women at physical risk, although Catholic providers strongly disagree.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, November 17th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Part the eighth.  Spiritualize this, Christian left.  Terrorizing little kids:

They were caught in the middle of madness.

Some grade school students were forced to walk a gauntlet of screaming “Occupy Wall Street” protesters just to get to school on Thursday.

It was a wild day in lower Manhattan for most everyone involved, including elementary school children who had to brave the mayhem just to get to class on the other side of Wall Street.

In the middle of thousands of protestors yelling and chanting — some kicking and screaming – CBS 2’s Emily Smith found little school kids trying to get to class. Nervous parents led them through the barriers on Wall Street. The NYPD helped funnel the children, anything to ease their fears while some protestors chanted “follow those kids!”

“These guys are terrorists, yelling at little kids,” one father said.

“For them it’s horrible. They’re afraid of all the crowds. We’re not even able to get through. They’re just, he’s … very afraid now,” a mother added


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, November 17th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 35 Comments

You know who’s hysterically funny?  People who are funny when they’re trying as hard as they can to be deadly serious:

Controversial animal rights group PETA has asked the town of Turkey, Texas, to change its name to ‘Tofurky’ for Thanksgiving.

A letter was sent to Turkey Mayor Pat Carson on Monday that urges him to change the name of the town in time for Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving is murder on turkeys,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “By changing its name to ‘Tofurky,’ Turkey would send a clear message that delicious, savory mock meat is an easy way to celebrate without causing suffering-and give a bird something to be thankful for.”

Birds don’t have the intellect to…aw, screw it.  What do a bunch of Texans think about changing their town’s name to a fake “food” that makes sweet potatoes seem like a good idea, if only for one day?  You get two guesses but you’re only going to need one.

“What do I think of changing the name of Turkey to tofu? I think it’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Tommy Sims, who does business regularly in Turkey.

“We are insulted,” said resident Carol Redd. “We like Turkey. We are proud to be Turkey.”

Here’s the letter the pinheads activists sent to the mayor.

Dear Mayor Carson,

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 3 million members and supporters, including thousands in Texas, with an idea that will boost Turkey into the spotlight and promote compassion: Rename your town “Tofurky” for Thanksgiving. If you agree to adopt this moniker for just one day, we’d be happy to provide a delicious, healthy vegan holiday feast for all the town’s residents.

PETA pretty much blew it right there, I should think.

Tofurky is a savory, flavorful, “meaty” vegan entrée with wild-rice and bread-crumb stuffing that is 100 percent cruelty-free.

If, by “flavorful,” you mean that its “flavor” isn’t anything like turkey and by “meaty,” you mean nothing at all like any meat from any animal who has ever lived.

In contrast, virtually all turkey meat sold in the U.S. comes from factory farms, where birds are confined by the thousands to filthy, barren sheds. They are drugged and bred to grow such unnaturally large upper bodies that their legs often become crippled under the weight.

Tell me about it.  I don’t know how those of us with “unnaturally large upper bodies” make it through life, frankly.  Maybe we should stop boozing up drugging ourselves,

These bright

Turkeys are intelligent?  Next thing you’ll tell me is eating that whale roast I made last weekend was wrong or something.

and social animals are denied everything that is natural and important to them, and at the slaughterhouse, turkeys are still conscious when their throats are slit. Changing the town’s name to Tofurky will remind people around the country that we each can have a delicious, protein-packed, and satisfying Thanksgiving meal without supporting animal abuse.

No we can’t.

PETA’s feast would feature Tofurky with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes (made with vegan margarine), and vegan apple pie topped with vanilla dairy-free ice cream.

Ever heard the one about not digging when you’re in a hole?

Introducing vegan cuisine to your residents would help improve their health

Lecture them.  That always goes over well.

A vegan diet is free of the saturated animal fats and cholesterol found in meat and dairy products, and according to the American Dietetic Association, a vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

And call ’em fat.  PETA’s on a roll.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to rename your town and give turkeys, as well as your town’s citizens, something to gobble about! Please let me know of your decision.

Sincerely yours,

Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

Mayor Carson?  If I may:

Dear Ms. Reiman,

Turkey, Texas is in receipt of your letter containing PETA’s request that we change our town’s name to Tofurkey, Texas for one day.  After much discussion, we are afraid that we must reject your proposal.  Quite frankly, Ms. Reiman, the only people who would find such a “feast” as you suggest to be anything other than an ipecac would be leftist hipster douchebags and Texas is lamentably short of those(with the exception of Austin).

But since we share your horror at factory farms and what goes on therein, Turkey, Texas would like to make a counter-proposal.  We will agree to change our town’s name to Tofurkey for one day provided that:

(1) PETA agrees not to bring any of that Tofurkey crap anywhere within a 100-mile radius of our town.
(2) Since the practices of factory farming are the issue before us, PETA members agree to purchase hunting rifles, show up three days before Thanksgiving and while accompanied by local, experienced hunters, shoot and butcher enough wild turkeys to feed the town and provide sufficient leftovers for a week’s worth of turkey sandwiches.
(3) If wild turkeys cannot be found, other meats such as deer, elk, wild boar or rattlesnake may be substituted.  PETA members must participate in the butchering and preparation of these meats.
(4) Side dishes will be provided by local residents.
(5) To demonstrate their seriousness in combatting the evils of factory farming, participating PETA members must consume at least one helping of meat.

Let us know of your decision at your earliest convenience.


Christopher S. Johnson
Wise-ass blogger


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, November 17th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Katharine Jefferts Schori finally signed her name on a statement written by one of 815’s legion of lawyers issued a statement on the Bede Parry situation:

Bede James Parry was serving as organist and music director at All Saints Church, Las Vegas, when I became aware of him.  His arrival preceded my own in the Diocese of Nevada.

He approached me to inquire about being received as a priest, having served as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.  At the time, he told me of being dismissed from the monastery in 1987 for a sexual encounter with an older teenager, and indicated that it was a single incident of very poor judgment.  The incident was reported to civil authorities, who did not charge him.  He told of being sent to a facility in New Mexico, serving as a priest thereafter both in New Mexico and in Nevada, and recently (2002) being asked to formalize his separation from the monastery.

In consultation with other diocesan leadership and the chancellor, we explored the possibilities and liabilities of receiving him.  I wrote to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Diocese of Santa Fe, receiving brief responses from each bishop, who indicated no problematic behavior.  I wrote to Conception Abbey, from whom I received only an acknowledgement that he had served there, been sent for treatment to a facility in New Mexico, and had been dismissed for this incident of misconduct. 

Bede Parry himself, on the other hand, seems to suggest that he was let go for a lot more than that.

In the summer of 1987, Conception Abbey hosted a choir camp. I had been involved with the Abbey Boy Choir as organist, director, or both, for several years. During the camp, I had inappropriate sexual contact in my living quarters with [John Doe 181], a member of the Abbey Boy Choir.

My misconduct with [John Doe 181] was reported to the leadership at Conception Abbey the same day. At a meeting with [John Doe 181’s parents] and the Abbot, I admitted to the misconduct and apologized for my behavior.

Soon after the incident with [John Doe 181], I left Conception Abbey for Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Abbot Jerome Hanus drove me to the airport. I took part in a three-month program at the Servants of the Paraclete facilities.

I am aware that in 1990, someone from Conception Abbey asked [John Doe 181’s parents] about my potential return to the area. I am unaware of the details of the conversation but was told by Abbot James Jones that it would “not be wise” for me to return to Conception Abbey.

Also in 2000, I considered joining the Prince of Peace monastery in Riverside, California. Prince of Peace had me undergo a series of psychological tests. After the testing, Prince of Peace’s Abbot Charles Wright informed me I was no longer a candidate. The psychological evaluation had determined that I had a proclivity to reoffend with minors. Abbot Wright called Conception Abbey’s Abbot Gregory Polan with this information.

Back to the Presiding Bishop.

Neither then nor later did I receive a copy of any report of a psychological examination in connection with his service in the Roman Catholic Church.  His departure from the Roman Catholic priesthood had to do with his desire to take up secular employment.

On the one hand, Bishop Schori asserts that Parry “approached me to inquire about being received as a priest, having served as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.”  Later, she claims that the reason Parry left the Catholic priesthood “had to do with his desire to take up secular employment.”  Which is it?

And as far as receiving the results of a psychological evaluation, Parry disputes that point as well.

Abbot Polan would later share the information with Robert Stoeckig from the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas, Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the human resources department at Mercy Ambulance in Las Vegas. Bishop Daniel Walsh, Monsignor Ben Franzinelli, Bishop Joseph Pepe, Archbishop Robert Sanchez and Rev. Bob Nelson were also made aware of my previous misconduct.

As does one of the legal filings.

34. In 2000, Fr. Parry underwent psychological testing relating to the possibility of entering another monastery. The results of this testing revealed that Fr. Parry was a sexual abuser who had the proclivity to reoffend with minors. The results of this testing were provided to the Abbey, the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Episcopal Bishop for the [Diocese] of Nevada.

Returning to Schori.

Parry was required to fulfill all the expectations of the canons regarding reception of a priest from another communion in historic succession. 

Like this one?

Evidence of moral and godly character; and that the person is free from any vows or other engagements inconsistent with the exercise of Holy Orders in this Church


He did undergo a psychological exam in the Diocese of Nevada, was forthcoming about the incident he had reported to me, and did not receive a negative evaluation. 

One wonders why the results of the Episcopal and Catholic psychological evaluations were as diametrically opposed as they turned out to be.

His background check showed no more than what he had already told us.  He was forthcoming about the previous incident in his interviews with the Commission on Ministry and with the Standing Committee. 

If you overlook the St. John’s University incident Parry admits to, Bede was a straight-shooter all the way down the line.

I made the decision to receive him, believing that he demonstrated repentance and amendment of life and that his current state did not represent a bar to his reception.  I was clear that his ministry would be limited to an assisting role, under the supervision of another priest, and like any other diocesan leader, he would not be permitted to work alone with children. 

A rather crucial piece of information, one would think, that the then-Bishop of Nevada seems to have kept to herself.

In an apparent contradiction to the bishop’s claim that restrictions were placed on Fr. Parry’s ministry and the “reasons for it conveyed” by Bishop Jefferts Schori to his supervisors, Fr. Lovelady[Parry’s Nevada rector] said he “never had even the smallest hint of any kind of inappropriate behavior, or any inclination to such.  I was not aware of anything in his past and now that I’ve been made aware of these allegations, I have not changed my opinion about Bede in any way and if I were still in the diocese of Nevada, I would be supporting him.”

So would the Presiding Bishop by the sound of it.

Since that time, as far as I am aware, he has served faithfully and effectively as a minister of the gospel and priest of this Church. 

The records of his reception are retained by the Diocese of Nevada, and further questions should be directed to Bishop Dan Edwards.

Jim Naughton’s previous and quite admirable caution about taking people’s word for it seems to have been superceded by a “Katharine said it, I believe it, that settles it” stance.  Not that Schori’s statement matters in the slightest, at least in the short term.

Until Abbot Polan testifies as to exactly what he communicated about Parry, who he communicated it to and when, this situation is pretty much dead in the water as far as the Episcopalians are concerned.  Katharine Jefferts Schori is not going anywhere.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 48 Comments

You know how there are certain incidents that shouldn’t fascinate you but do?  Auto accidents, disastrous political gaffes, celebrities making public jackasses of themselves on YouTube, that kind of thing?  You know that you really should keep moving (there but for the grace of God go I) but you just can’t make yourself turn away.

A correspondent of David Virtue recently witnessed something like that.  Unfortunately, what she saw was the consecration of new Washington, DC Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde.  Selections follow.  Before you settle in, you might want to go get yourself something enjoyable to eat and/or drink because this is good:

The service focused on bringing together many diverse musical elements with the opening processional done by a three-man group of Native Americans called Southwest Eagle Dancers. The lengthy constant drumming and chanting created a distinct tension as listeners wondered what religious tradition they were from. Clergy processed in to the syncopated drums and no singing.

Not to worry.  At this point, the cathedral’s pipe organ decided to take things into its own capable hands.  Or pipes.  Or something.

Before the Episcopal Church bishops and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori walked in, the sounds of the pipe organ began the introduction and first verse of “I bind unto myself today.” After the second verse, the organ dropped out and the singing stopped and an eerie silence filled the Cathedral only relieved by the sound of walking feet. Everyone began to look at each other as the silence grew to over one minute. The organ started with verse three, played about four measures and abruptly broke off. Another long and uncomfortable silence began during which time the bishops continued their tense procession for another two minutes. Then the next sound heard to the congregation with its many empty seats was a tinny, electric keyboard. The hymn finished with this bizarre musical accompaniment that was too quiet for the hymn. Everyone was murmuring in speculation about what happened but no answers were given.

Which is often a very good thing.  What you don’t know won’t hurt you and all that. 

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori began the service with the declarations of the election of Budde (who was ordained by John Shelby Spong.) During the Litany for Ordination, the prayer was being read “For Katharine, our presiding Bishop, and for all bishops, priests, and deacons that they may be filled with your love…” when something seemed to fall upon the pipe organ keys hitting simultaneously about three octaves of notes, creating a tremendously large sound of dissonance, overwhelming all spoken words and creating a sound like something from a horror movie. Everyone quickly stopped speaking and looked at one another aghast. A woman sitting in the row behind me said, “What is the Spirit doing?”

Be careful what questions you ask because they might get answered.  Moving on.

But the service became more and more confused. Dr. Paul Budde, husband to Mariann, read a long poem called “Coleman’s Bed” by David Whyte, not an accessible poem that seemed entirely out of place in a liturgical service. One line reads, “Ghost then, to where others, in this place, have come before, under the hazel, by the ruined chapel, below the cave where Coleman slept.” What was this? The only connection seemed to be odd ruins with the mangled liturgy at this point in a Cathedral whose entire ceiling was covered by netting in case more things dropped down on the congregation.

The sermon seems to have increased the Twilight Zone-ish feel.

But wait, the worst was still yet to come. The Rev. Linda Kaufman, a close friend of Mariann, gave the sermon. Kaufman started off with a reference to her own “beautiful and elegant wife” and the advice she had received about this sermon. This preacher went to describe Mariann in seminary as rich, thin, very liberal and driving a Volvo. Kaufman went on to make jokes about her weight and described herself several times as “fat” and she was surprised that the thin Mariann would be her friend. To make jokes about fat people was inappropriate to the maximum but Kaufman did this several times. Instead of the scriptures, Kaufman preached about the poem and told Mariann in a loudly yelling voice “to be hospitable, even to the stranger to you.” She offered no ideas about what this meant and left the image hanging out there of the wealthy Mariann Budde having an easy financial time of life. And this was Budde’s friend?

Then the possessed pipe organ reasserted itself.

But the service continued with Jefferts Schori reading the liturgy in a long, low monotone. Everything went very slowly. During the actual consecration, “Therefore, Father, make Mariann a bishop in your church” the pipe organ decided to make more unexpected dissonant sounds, though these notes were quieter but still noticeable.

After which, Budde got up to say a few words.

Following the consecration the newly consecrated Budde stood up to applause dressed in her new orange, purple and blue vestments. She was asked to speak and in a shaky voice gave a testimony to the great work of “John and Karen Dixon” apparently mixing together the names of Bishop John Bryson Chane and Bishop Jane Dixon.

Although I’d pay just about any amount of money for one, I seriously doubt that the Cathedral or the Diocese is going to sell DVD copies of this disaster.

Everyone in the congregation waited for someone from the House of Bishops to help her but they did not. Finally after a minute of this extremely shocking mistake, members of the congregation yelled out to Budde that she had her names wrong. She stopped and finally understood what was said but embarrassment reigned everywhere. She had recently dismissed Chane as Interim Dean of the Cathedral and it is widely believed that Jane Dixon organized to help Budde win the election.

Right about here, Budde decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

So who did she want to thank in her heart? Probably Jane Dixon. Budde said, “I should probably stop now.” After this mistake, Budde faded away and went to sit down for the offertory. She sat down next to Jefferts Schori and talked throughout the offertory with the Presiding Bishop (who seemed through her body language to be trying to discourage Budde’s continued private loquaciousness). But Budde continued and the congregation tried to recover from the failed tribute to John Chane, who looked shaken by this.

Fortunately, the rest of the liturgy went off without a hitch.

Even after all of this, none of the rest of the service went well with the liturgy continuing as a few words in English, a few words in Spanish. This pattern successfully added to the already broken and confused environment. The communion music between singers and a piano pulled apart several times, and the microphones squealed throughout the service.

Seriously.  If they sold DVD’s of this thing, both the NatCat and the Diocese of Washington would be in the financial clear for generations to come.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 14th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Ever have one of those days?

The Sugar Plum Fairy has been fired for cursing, though not while she was on the job.

And now a little Christmas controversy is brewing in St. Charles as St. Charles residents are banding together to try to save the job of the actress who plays her on Main Street.

She had become a fixture around Christmas.

Of all the costumed-characters greeting shoppers, her voice, her jokes were among the most memorable.

Laura Coppinger says, “I made her larger than life. And each year she kinda got bigger and bigger.”

But this year, Laura Coppinger won’t get a chance to spread Christmas cheer.

The Sugar Plum Fairy has been let go, after cursing.

It happened when she accidentally screwed up a drug test for the job, by flushing the toilet.

She says, “Out of pure frustration with myself, I said a curse word.”

But before she could retake the test, she was told not to bother because she had violated violated the Christmas Traditions Code of Conduct, which says Christmas characters don’t know naughty words.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, November 14th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 26 Comments

Washington, DC’s new Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde outlines her priorities:

Budde is among a growing group of Christian leaders who call themselves progressive and think their approach is a better match for an increasingly diverse America. They define progressive Christianity as accepting a range of theological ideas. They work to fix local problems such as poverty and affordable housing, and they look skeptically at powerful institutions, such as Wall Street and major political parties. Among the best-known leaders are Brian McLaren, founder of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Md., and Tennessee author Phyllis Tickle.

“I want to build up the liberal church again so we can be a legitimate conversation partner in the public arena, because right now it’s dominated by . . . what many would call the Christian right,” Budde said this week at the diocese’s offices. “It’s legitimate for them to be there, but they’re drowning us out. They’re better at organizing churches than we are, and I’m going to change that!”

On the one hand, I say go for it.  If the Episcopalians want to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, more power to them.  If their spiritual vision is attractive, they’ll lack neither members nor money.

But if Ms. Budde really wants “to build up the liberal church again,” she might want to reflect on why it fell in the first place.  People haven’t fled the Episcopal Organization by the millions because TEO was drowned out by the “religious right” or because conservatives are better at organizing churches than the Episcopalians are.

Ever since Gene Robinson got his pointy hat, the American news media has gone out of its way to communicate the Episcopal vision to the country.  And the country has rejected it.  Why does Ms. Budde suppose that is?

In this age of the Internet, isn’t competing in the public arena the easiest thing in the world?  Could it be that people don’t need to attend churches in order to tackle problems like poverty, hunger, and housing?  Is it possible that people attend churches for entirely different reasons than Ms. Budde seems to think that they do?

If you’re spiritually hungry, you attend an Episcopal service and you leave even hungrier than you were when you came in, will you go back?  Is it not possible that Mariann Budde will get nowhere until she confronts the fact that people know perfectly well what the Episcopal vision is and have rejected it?


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, November 13th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 40 Comments

The following appeared in the pending comments today.  Normally, any comment as off-topic as this one is gets pitched immediately.  But this was way too good not to share:

Why American men should boycott American women

I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

Tens of millions of American men have had their lives completely destroyed by American women through the following crimes:

1. False rape accusations (it has been proven that up to 80 percent of rape accusations are FALSE)

2. False DV charges (same as above)

3. Financial RAPE of men in divorce courts

4. Emotional destruction of men by ex-wives who have stolen their children from them and forbidden contact

5. Divorced dads who commit suicide as a result

Not one single American woman has EVER condemned their fellow American women for committing these crimes against men. Silence means consent. Therefore, American women support and enjoy destroying men’s lives and causing men to commit suicide. Therefore, is it any surprise that a huge percent of American men no longer want anything to do with American women, other than using them for easy sex and then throwing them away?

Over 50 percent of American women are single, without a boyfriend or husband; so the fact is most American men no longer want to marry American women. Let these worthless American women grow old living alone with their 10 cats.


Check out some of the posts on that web site which, by the way, has been operating since December of last year and doesn’t appear to be a joke.  They’re both funny and kind of sad at the same time.

Two thoughts entered my mind when I read that comment.  The first one ran something along the lines of, “Dude.  Seriously?”  And the second was, “Dude.  Bitter much?”

I may be pushing all-in holding Jack/trey off-suited but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Snake Plisken here doesn’t of a social life to speak of.  And believe me, I understand that a whole lot better than most people.

More than once I’ve mentioned in this space that most of you have personally seen more comets than I’ve had dates.  And there are two basic reasons for this. 

The first is where I live.  The women of the St. Louis, Missouri area are known throughout the world for their unusually high intelligence and their exceptionally keen perception.  It’s why Hemingway married three of them, you know.

And not to put too fine a point on it but I’m not the most perfect haggis in the lot.  I’m not the most balanced pot of kimchi anyone’s ever tasted.  I’m the chocolate-chip cookie on the baking sheet with only one chocolate chip in it.

Fifty-six-year-old overweight librarians are not chick magnets.  I know that if a woman I’m interested in has something else to do that night, that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with her.  It is what it is, as the kids say.

So when Tough Guy asserts that American women are “generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste,” what he really means is that they have opinions of their own and don’t feel the need to change them just because some man’s in the immediate vicinity.

Most of us recognize that as a feature rather than a bug.

And when dude claims that “the behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting,” he’s really saying, “How dare you contradict me!  Keep your mouth shut and fetch me a beer.”  And a lot of us would find marriage to a woman like that to be worse than no marriage at all.

For my part, I like to be challenged; I like an intellect that pushes back.  That might have something to do with the fact that I was raised by a woman like that.  And I thought that most people learned fairly early on that when you marry a woman, you marry an entire body and not just a vagina.

Bodies have minds in them.  And minds are terrible things to waste.

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