Archive for February, 2013

STRAW SAVIOR

Thursday, February 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Since it stopped being funny 25 years ago, give or take a decade, I don’t watch Saturday Night Live any more so I didn’t see this.  But a while back, SNL apparently spoofed Quentin Tarantino’s latest gore-fest, Django Unchained, with a sketch called “Djesus Uncrossed” in which Our Savior was portrayed as vengeful, ultra-violent and bloodthirsty.

The wrong people (Bill Donahue) complained, of course.  And it really does no good to say once again, “You douchebags don’t have the courage to put Mohammed in that role, do you?”  Because Christians don’t behead people who insult Christ in that way. 

But here’s where we are.  Quite a few alleged Christians actually thought that there was something kind of…admirable in that bit.  Kurt Wiesner:

But I have been pleasantly surprised at how many thoughtful reactions there have been as well.  More than one blogger has suggested that the video reveals how misguided many people are who preach a Jesus whose return will be about violence (and credit to Kurt Willems for consolidating them, even as I quote different sections).

How do you do that if you have any intellectual integrity at all?  If you’re a liberal, you neither understand nor respect the traditionalist Christian viewpoint, be it Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox.  So you have to invent a Jesus who doesn’t exist, never has and never will.  Then you automatically assume that this cartoon Christ of yours is how conservative Christians really see Him. 

David Flowers.

I believe that SNL’s portrayal of a “kick ass” Jesus is representative of the bad theology and sloppy biblical hermeneutics that’s so often prevalent among believers who have shaped for themselves an American gun-slinging Jesus—a Jesus that is unlike the Christ revealed in the Gospels. 

Heath Bradley.

Christ is declared to be the conqueror over all forces of evil, hence the graphic imagery of violence. Yet, the way he actually “conquers” is through the non-retaliatory, sacrificial love put on display on the cross. This is crucially important to keep in mind, because many people take this imagery at face value and conclude that the second coming of Jesus will be much different than the first coming.  

David R. Henson.

We’ve been trying to uncross Jesus for decades in this country, long before SNL got their pens into him.

We have tried to arm him with our military-industrial complex, drape him with our xenophobia, outfit him with our weapons, and adorn him with our nationalism. We’ve turned the cross into a flagpole for the Stars and Stripes. We have no need for Tarantino to reimagine the story of Jesus into a fantasy of violent revenge. We’ve done it for him. We’ve already uncrossed him, transforming him from a servant into a triumphalist who holds the causes and interests of our country on his back rather than brutal execution.

The SNL sketch reveals the paucity of American popular theology with its camouflage and flag-draped Bibles that segregate the story of God for American patriots only. It pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is: We want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some ass and take some names. Specifically, our enemies’ names. And maybe the names of a few godless Democrats. Definitely the Muslims.

 But satire reveals truths that are hard to hear. That triumphalist Savior many of us worship? He more resembles the sword and gun-toting DJesus who brings righteous vengeance than the prophetic vagabond foot-washer Jesus who preaches liberation and love of neighbor in the Gospels. The Savior we have created in our own violent images seems more like a character of a Tarantino film than the one at the heart of God’s story of eternal love.

Whatever, dumbass.

This is why I don’t put a whole lot of stock in when Christian leaders, however important their offices may once have been, start idly tossing around words like “reconciliation.”  Because it is literally impossible to “reconcile” with someone who thinks you are the Devil.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Thursday, February 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 58 Comments

With his usual class, Episcopalian priest Tom Ehrich weighs in on Benedict XVI:

I wish I could see Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise decision to resign on Feb. 28 as a mea culpa for having led the world’s largest Christian body backward for eight years.

And not into union with the Episcopalians which is where he should have led it.

Alas, he has made no apology for cementing Roman Catholicism’s reputation as male-centric, homophobic and uninterested in sex abuse scandals beyond their litigation costs.

coughBEDEPARRYcough.  Glass houses and all that, Ehrich.  But Tommy’s screed actually gets worse than this.

In an eerie tone-deafness, he announced his retirement in Latin and had it translated into seven languages of Europe, where the church is close to extinct, and not into any of the African, Asian or Middle Eastern languages spoken by emerging Catholics.

Way worse.

Rome’s obdurate stands against oppressed peoples are shameful. Its harsh treatment of women and gays are not only anachronistic but bad theology. Its institution-first responses to sex abuse by clergy are appalling.

“Obdurate stands against oppressed peoples.”  “Harsh treatment of women and gays.”  Yeah, Rome hates them oppressed people a whole bunch.  And it is, in fact, funny to read an Episcopalian using the term, “bad theology,” thanks for asking.

That is a sad legacy. The world has needed more. Not just the insular world of the Roman Catholic Church has needed more, but the world itself, for the pope is the public face of global Christianity. With its largest force stuck in the 19th century, providing safe cover for oppression and intolerance, Christianity has a reputation that smaller denominations and individual congregations struggle to escape.

Basically, Tom wants his doctor to tell him that the hacking cough Tom’s had every day for the last three months is nothing to worry about.

When young American adults are asked what “church” means to them, they answer with words like “harsh, judgmental, intolerant, angry, old and dull.”

Must be nice to attend a “church” without sinners.

I doubt anyone expects an eruption of progressivism in the upcoming papal election. But a sign of moving forward would be welcome to many Catholics — and more than a few non-Catholics. Those crying for kindness and tolerance, justice and courage, aren’t just a ragged bunch of malcontents or anti-Catholics.

Yes they are.

These are the faithful — not all of the faithful, of course, for faith comes in many forms, some of them quite conservative — but large cadres of 21st century believers yearning for a 21st century church that’s capable of hearing their needs and proclaiming a gospel set free from the reactionary attitudes of self-preservation.

Episcopalians in search of apostolic legitimacy, in other words.

How will Benedict be remembered? It’s hard to say. My guess: as a placeholder. He tried to turn the tide of history because he disagreed with that tide and found it theologically dangerous. I hope the next pope does what Jesus did: hearing the beggar’s cries, against his disciples’ wishes, inviting the beggar closer and then healing him.

In the world and of the world.  Certainly, Episcopalians are kicking ass and taking the names of empty pews with that approach.

SECESH

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 23 Comments

There are two possibilties.  The Confederate States of America has just at least doubled in size.  Or absolutely nobody in this country is serious:

1. Sequestration cuts of $85 billion are impossibly painful, the equivalent of asking Uncle Sam to perform an appendectomy on himself with a nail file, but

2. ObamaCare adding $6.2 trillion to the deficit – nearly 75 times the size of the sequester – is no big deal… and even that new projection might under-estimate its cost, because

3. ObamaCare includes a massive expansion of Medicaid, which reluctant states like Florida, and now New Jersey, have been bribed to accept with bags of federal money, and

4. We’re about to extend citizenship to a huge new population of people who will soon enough qualify for this expanded Medicaid coverage – it’s inconceivable that their “access” to such programs will not be swiftly demanded, but

5. Obama’s releasing waves of illegal immigrants from detention because he says that tiny sequestration spending cut makes it impossible to keep them in custody.

Either way, I’m having a tough time continuing to give a crap.

I DID NOT KNOW THIS

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

There is actually something beyond total indifferrence and destestion.  There is loathing, abhorrence and disgust.

ROME?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 33 Comments

Yeah, here’s the thing.  We Protestants obviously don’t have a dog in this hunt, as they say, but lots of us would really appreciate it if you mackeral snappers would pick the damned pace up and elect a new pope yesterday.  Then we wouldn’t have to have read about how Sally Quinn visited the Vatican right around the time that William Howard Taft, AKA ”Fatso,” was US President:

The first time I visited the Vatican as an adult I was in my 20s.  I was so excited. My boyfriend and I dressed up as if it were Easter Sunday. He wore a coat and tie. I wore a long sleeved black dress with pearls and little ballet flats. We were turned away. It seems my skirt was a half inch too short. I was crushed. I felt ashamed and humiliated. I certainly had not set out to offend anyone, much less God.

Two things, Sal.  They’re called “travel guides” and just about everybody publishes them.  So ignorance of the law and all that.  And if I’m wearing a Motörhead T-shirt and I haven’t shaved or bathed in three days, give or take, I don’t have anything to complain about if Vatican border guards tell me, “Not so much, no.”  Quinnsie, on the other hand, went back to the Vatican some time during the Coolidge Administration.

The last time I visited was five years ago, after the child sexual abuse scandal. Not long before, I had spent a weekend at Williamsburg, and I remember thinking that perhaps one day the Vatican would be like that same historic village. There would be actors dressed as priests and nuns and one actor playing the pope in flowing robes waving from the balcony, remembering an institution as it once existed.

And anybody with a brain would be Episcopalian by now.  A few days later, Sally’s little “On Faith” thing ran some advice to the Roman Catholic Church from a Jewish atheist.

[A whole lot of stupid-ass liberal bumper stickers omitted.]

So, Rome?  We’re going to need you to hurry things along, all right?  Really.

DEAREST HOLLYWOOD

Monday, February 25th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Have any of you idiots ever seen Family Guy?

Your BFF,

Chris

STACKING THE DECK

Sunday, February 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 50 Comments

Is the media trying to influence the upcoming papal election?

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

The pope’s spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called “Vatileaks” affair.

Last May Pope Benedict’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and infighting.

According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising “two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red” had been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope’s successor upon his election.

The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were “united by sexual orientation”.

Since the Guardian’s original report, the Vatican has angrily denied everything.

The Vatican has attacked reports in the Italian media linking Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation to the alleged discovery of a network of gay prelates as attempts to influence the cardinals in their choice of a new pontiff.

The Vatican secretariat of state said in a statement: “It is deplorable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave … that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.”

Other sources have indicated that this story is about as weak as is possible for a “news” story to be.  And books “bound in red” are incredibly hard to find.

Is there anything to any of this?  God only knows.   But I think that the media realizes that the head of the Roman Catholic Church matters and will do whatever it can possibly do to influence the election of Benedict’s succesor.

Even if that requires the media to (once again) lie through its teeth.

BLESS HER HEART

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 | Uncategorized | 77 Comments

Susan Russell is just making crap up now.  She got to thinking about Luke 4:1-13 the other day and had the following reaction:

What I heard — what I noticed for the first time — is that the third temptation, the one that sends the devil off to wait for “a more opportune time,” is arguably the Temptation of Scriptural Literalism. 

Seriously. Check out the passage above.

In the first two challenges, Jesus responds with quotes from Scripture: “One does not live by bread alone” and “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him” — and the devil is stumped.

It is in the third one that the pattern changes.

This time it is the devil who leads with Scripture, trying to tempt Jesus to jump off the temple with: “For it is written ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you” and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”

And while Luke records Jesus’ answer as “Do not put the Lord your God to the test,” what I also heard his year was, “Dude! You’re not supposed to take this stuff literally! This isn’t about jumping off a roof, for Pete’s Sake — it’s about changing the world! Now get out of here, I’ve got work to do.”

Ohhhhhhhhhh-kay.  We’re not supposed to take this stuff literally?  Really?  So when Jesus took this stuff literally enough to quote it directly, was He committing a sin?

Susie?  Most people figure out fairly early on that not every thought that pops into our heads ought to be publicly expressed.  Otherwise, we tend to look like you look here.

A blithering idiot.

UPDATE: Speaking of Apostasy West, Ed Bacon gets FAWN-kay!!  Trust me; you really don’t want to click on that link.  Unless, of course, you enjoy the idea of watching the elderly trying to be hip  Thanks to the Chairman-and-CEO.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 52 Comments

It’s either that or Chuck Hagel, likely this country’s next Secretary of Defense, is one of the finest liars in the history of the world:

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that Chuck Hagel “almost had tears in his eyes” as he explained to the former Nebraska senator that the expression “Jewish lobby” is rooted in a negative depiction of Jews.

Schumer said he spent 90 minutes asking Hagel questions — including about a “nuclear Iran” — and “he answered them very well.”

“He struck me as sincere, and you know, you have to be sitting there at the meeting obviously, but I also told him when he used the word Jewish lobby what it meant to Jewish people,” he added.

“And I told him what a double standard is. That Jewish people throughout the centuries have suffered a double standard. Everyone could be a farmer except Jewish people. Everyone could live in Moscow except Jewish people. I said when everyone else can lobby but all of a sudden when those of us who are pro-Israel lobby, it’s a negative, that’s a double standard. And I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but it harkens to the old days.

“And he really, you know, he almost had tears in his eyes when he understood. So I believe he will be good.”

HEAD, KEYBOARD, ETC.

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 63 Comments

For the edification and amusement of those who actually thought that Anglican affairs would get better once the Communion got clear of Rowan “Come On Over And We’ll Talk About It” Williams, I give you Justin Welby:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is delighted to announce the appointment of Canon David Porter as Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace. Canon David will work part time on the Archbishop’s personal staff, seconded by Coventry Cathedral where he remains Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry – bringing first-hand knowledge of the Cathedral’s eminent and longstanding reconciliation work to Lambeth Palace and the wider Church.

The focus of Canon David’s role will be to enable the Church to make a powerful contribution to transforming the often violent conflicts which overshadow the lives of so many people in the world. His initial focus will be on supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

Canon David brings extensive front-line experience in the area of reconciliation having served on the Northern Ireland Civic Forum, chairing its working group on peacebuilding and reconciliation, as well serving as a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council. Since September 2008 David has been the Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral, England. An experienced community relations activist, peacebuilding practitioner and community theologian he has thirty years experience in regional, national and international faith based organisations.

Speaking about his new position, Canon David Porter said:

“How we live with our deepest differences both within the Church and our increasingly fractured world, is one of the major challenges to the credibility of Christianity as good news.”

“It is a privilege to be asked to take on this responsibility for Archbishop Justin and I look forward to working with him in serving the Church in making reconciliation and peacebuilding a theological and practical priority in its life and witness.”

Somebody get me a bourbon.  Oh, that’s right, there’s nobody here but me.  I’ll have to get my own then.  Back in a bit.

Okay, I’m good.  Let’s try this one more time and let’s bottom-line it.  If I think homosexual sex is a sin and you think homosexual sex is blessed by whatever deity you pretend to worship, then what POSSIBLE “reconciliation” does Justin Welby think can be brought about between those two positions?

One of us is going to have to change our positions.  Admit we were wrong, if you will.  Unless I see a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night along with a scary voice telling me to rethink my assumptions, that person isn’t going to be me.

BRASS TACKS

Sunday, February 17th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 72 Comments

Give America credit for understanding something basic.  US gun-control advocates will never get what they want until this country deals with the elephant in the room:

On June 26, 2008, in a closely watched, far-reaching decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the D.C. law, ruling that it violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In the court’s majority opinion, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that the prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution…. But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”

Justice Scalia was right. Even those who subscribe to methods of constitutional interpretation other than Mr. Scalia’s brand of modified originalism must concede the basic point: The Second Amendment impedes the power of the government to regulate the sale or possession of firearms. Unfortunately, the grim consequence of this constitutional restriction is measured in body counts. The murder of 20 elementary school children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in December was merely the latest in a string of mass shootings: Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek. In the last 30 years, there have been 62 mass shootings (each leaving at least four people dead) in the United States. Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colo., there have been 130 shootings at schools; nearly half involved multiple deaths or injuries.

True, gun control wouldn’t have stopped all those attacks.

True, stricter gun laws would not have prevented all these tragedies. But it is very likely that stricter measures could have prevented at least some of these incidents and could have minimized the number of casualties involved. Two facts should be kept in mind. First, the easier it is to get a gun, the easier it is to make use of one. Second, a violent act involving a gun is far more likely to result in fatalities or multiple casualties than a violent act involving some other type of weapon. The notion, therefore, that there is no meaningful correlation between the nation’s relatively lenient gun control laws and the extent of the nation’s gun violence simply defies common sense.

What’s the body count of Chicago, a city with some of the strictest gun laws in this country, up to so far this year?

We do not have to live in such a world. Both Australia and Britain, for example, experienced gun massacres in 1996 and subsequently enacted stricter gun control laws. Their murder rates dropped. Yet in the United States, the birthplace of pragmatism, our fundamental law proscribes practical, potentially life-saving measures.

Americans are not Australians.  Neither are they Europeans.  Show me a place in the United States where strict gun laws have caused a drop in murder rates and gun-related violence.  Then and only then will this argument will have merit.  Plunging ahead anyway, America admits that nothing truly meaningful can be done until the United States sheds some historical baggage.

Americans must ask: Is it prudent to retain a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms when it compels our judges to strike down reasonable, popularly supported gun regulations? Is it moral to inhibit in this way the power of the country’s elected representatives to provide for the public safety? Does the threat of tyranny, a legitimate 18th-century concern but an increasingly remote, fanciful possibility in the contemporary United States, trump the grisly, daily reality of gun violence? The answer to each of these questions is no. It is time to face reality. If the American people are to confront this scourge in any meaningful way, then they must change. The Constitution must change. The American people should repeal the Second Amendment.

One can argue, of course, that “the threat of tyranny” is no longer as much of a threat as it once was precisely because the citizenry has been armed.  One can also argue that any government can and will get a whole lot more tyrannical if it knows that the citizenry can’t shoot back.  America even admits that this idea won’t work.

Repealing the Second Amendment will not create a culture of life in one stroke. Stricter gun laws will not create a world free of violence, in which gun tragedies never occur. We cannot repeal original sin. Though we cannot create an absolutely safe world, we can create a safer world. This does not require an absolute ban on firearms. In the post-repeal world that we envision, some people will possess guns: hunters and sportsmen, law enforcement officers, the military, those who require firearms for morally reasonable purposes. Make no mistake, however: The world we envision is a world with far fewer guns, a world in which no one has a right to own one. Some people, though far fewer, will still die from gun violence. The disturbing feeling that we have failed to do everything in our power to remove the material cause of their deaths, however, will no longer compound our grief.

So hopefully lowering the body count constitutes doing something meaningful about gun violence?  Okay.  I’m sure the families of those who are unable to protect themselves and thus are murdered in America‘s post-Second Amendment, “gun-free” utopia will find all that extremely comforting.

Once again, props to America for admitting the obvious.  But no accolades whatsoever for their manifestly unserious proposal, one more demonstration of a fundamental law of the universe.  To the liberal, merely hoping an evil goes away is exactly the same thing as actually doing something meaningful in order to eliminate that evil.

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

Saturday, February 16th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 59 Comments

Any period between popes is always an exciting time for liberals, particularly liberal Catholics.  Leftist manifestoes concerning what the new pope and the Church MUST DO NOW are more numerous than snowflakes in a thundersnow, all of which, as David Fischler correctly points out, can be summed up as advancing the project to turn the Roman Catholic Church into the Episcopal Organization.  Annie Selak weighs in on behalf of Young Catholics.  What kind of Roman Catholic Church do Catholic kids want anyway?

A church that takes our experience seriously: If you dig through church teaching, you can see that experience is a valid and necessary aspect of forming conscience. However, it does not feel like that is the case. Whether it is the sexual abuse crisis or new translation of the Roman Missal, the church seems distant from what is actually going on in the world. We want the church to ask the questions we are asking, rather than ones that seem trivial at best and irrelevant at worst. Catholicism can recover from mistakes, but one thing the church cannot recover from is being irrelevant.

Three things, Annie.  Why should the Church ask the questions Young Catholics are asking?  Seems kind of redundant.  What makes the “experience” of Young Catholics so vital anyway insofar as Young Catholics haven’t had all that much of it? 

What kinds of questions is the church asking that you believe are “trivial at best and irrelevant at worst?”  That stuff about sin and redemption?  And in case you think that whole “turning the Catholic Church Episcopalian” idea is hyperbole, Annie’s very next paragraph could have been written by Katharine Jefferts Schori.

A church that emphasizes the inclusive ministry of Jesus: Jesus was incredible, right? Why is it that we so rarely hear about that? Jesus consistently reached out to those marginalized from the community, yet the church does not follow suit. Who are the marginalized today? Most young Catholics are quick to point to two groups: women and people who do not identify as heterosexual. Regardless of political leanings, there is an overwhelming consensus that the church needs to do better in these areas. The Vatican has repeatedly shut down any dialogue surrounding the ordination of women and church teaching on homosexuality. At the very least, these issues need to be opened up to a thoughtful, informed dialogue that includes historical analysis, social sciences, tradition and Scripture (notably, all areas the church affirms in the formation of conscience). There is an urgency to these issues, as these are not nameless people on the margins, these are our friends, family members, mentors,and leaders. One of the things that draws young people to the Gospel is the inclusivity of Jesus; how is it that the exclusivity of the church turns people away?

Yes, by all means, the Roman Catholic Church should have a “thoughtful, informed dialogue” about these matters since it has never, ever considered these issues before.  What Annie means, of course, is that the Church came to the wrong conclusions and needs to come to different ones.  Therefore we need continuing, relentless, brain-dead “thoughtful, informed dialogue” until the Church gets its head out of its narthex.

A church that embraces that God is everywhere: The younger generation of the church resonates with the universal notion of Catholicism. We see diversity and unity as two concepts that go together, rather than being opposites. Moreover, we recognize the importance of other religions. Some of Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest missteps related to his interactions with other religions. But young Catholics have grown up alongside people from different religions who are some of the holiest people we know. Nostra Aetate , Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” affirms that God is present in other religions, yet you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the pews on a Sunday morning who knows this. We need to affirm and emphasize that God is present in other religions and sincerely work on improving our relationships with them.

Face?  Keyboard?  You know the drill.  Mrs. Schori’s “small box” line?  Front and center.  I’ll let the Catholic readership determine exactly how badly Annie mangled Nostra Aetate.  I’ll just say once again that given the choice between performing meaningless rituals in Annie’s ideal, high-church universalist Catholic Church and sleeping late on Sunday mornings, I expect to hit the snooze button a lot.

A church that engages struggles and is open to dialogue: We want to wrestle with the hard questions of how our experience interacts with Scripture and tradition. Yet, it feels like young Catholics are alone in this desire. Many young people respond to this vacuum in two ways: by either taking everything the hierarchy says as absolute truth or completely disregarding the church. Neither of these responses are what the church actually calls us to do. We do not need answers; we need to engage the world. We do not want to be spoon-fed theology. Rather, we want to wrestle, grapple, use our minds, engage our hearts, debate, think and pray. And we want our church to do that with us.

When Annie says that Young Catholics “want to wrestle with the hard questions of how our experience interacts with Scripture and tradition,” what she means is that Young Catholics want the Church to pimp out its principles to the Zeitgeist.  Annie, I know the jump is the hardest thing in the world for some Catholics to make but there has to be an Episcopal Organization outlet within driving distance of your home who will quite happily and quite enthusiastically oblige you.

You “do not need answers,” Annie?  Really?  Figured it all out, have you?  I’m 57 years old and I need answers.  And I expect I’ll need answers until the day I die.

That comes with the whole “experience” thing, Annie.

THINGS I KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW

Friday, February 15th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sammy Baugh, one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks in history, might have been a St. Louis Cardinal.

NEO-MONARCHISM

Friday, February 15th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Why do Americans hate the American political class again?  Oh, right, right, right, right:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Diva-Calif.) said Thursday that she opposes a cut in congressional pay because it would diminish the dignity of lawmakers’ jobs.

“I don’t think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.

“And where the hell’s my Great Seal?!!”

Content edited slightly.

ULTIMA THULE

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 38 Comments

There are lots of cool places in this world.  Israel, for obvious reasons.  Insofar as it has the last bastion of anything resembling conservative government in North America, Canada has crept its way on to my list.

Ireland has one of the great Great Seals in the world, light years better than our own (Sigillography.  It’s how I roll).  And I’m pretty sure that they make whiskey in Ireland but don’t hold me to that.

What’s not to like about Bulgaria? For one thing, there’s the name; who wouldn’t like a country called Bulgaria?  For another, ten years or so ago, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria was one of its former kings.

But far and away, the clear winner, going away, of Cool Countries That Aren’t The United States is Iceland.  The Irish discovered the place before being run off by my distant Scandinavian pirate ancestors (I mean, Johnson?  Do the math).

Icelanders basically discovered America.  Iceland came up with a body of literature that continues to astound the world.  With the institution of the Althing, Iceland invented the idea of parliaments.  And at one of these, Iceland voted to become Christian.

I’ve even read somewhere or other that Iceland’s national arms, based on a story related by Snorri Sturlason in the Heimskringla, might possibly have been influenced by the symbols for the four Evangelists.  And now, Iceland is considering this:

The government is considering introducing internet filters, such as those used to block China off form the worldwide web, in order to stop Icelanders downloading or viewing pornography on the internet.

The unprecedented censorship is justified by fears about damaging effects of the internet on children and women.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister, is drafting legislation to stop the access of online pornographic images and videos by young people through computers, games consoles and smartphones.

“We have to be able to discuss a ban on violent pornography, which we all agree has a very harmful effects on young people and can have a clear link to incidences of violent crime,” he said.

Methods under consideration include blocking access to pornographic website addresses and making it illegal to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography.

But at least people will still have their print porn to fall back on.  Uh, no, not so much.

A law forbidding the printing and distribution of pornography is already in force in Iceland but it has yet to be updated to cover the internet.

I guess I should be shocked by this or something.  I’m well aware that a similar law would never pass constitutional muster in the United States.  First Amendment and all that.

But there is something genuinely, deliciously and astonishingly countercultural about a country deciding that pornography is a bad thing at with which you should never ever be able, never mind want, to look.

Because after all, what is pornography but turning human women into things?   Or into narcotics whose sole purpose is “improving” the male human life experience? 

Let pornography die; let it be morally ranked alongside kiddie porn.  Those Scandivavian pirate ancestors of mine had a lot going for them.

Also, the official name of the Church of Iceland is the Þjóðkirkjan.  I’m sorry but it JUST doesn’t get any cooler than that.

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