Thursday, January 30, 2014

The movie theater inquisitors need to stand down

First of all, I'm glad to report that Bookgirl (see post below) is doing much better!  She'll be updating her birthday post soon.  It's never fun to be sick on your birthday, but she handled it with grace and good humor--her trademarks!

Now, on to business.

Since the doctor told Bookgirl to take a few days off from school (and even though I'm a homeschooling mom I'm not foolish enough to think that a teenage girl who is getting over a stomach flu is in any condition to handle calculus), I've had a bit more time to read (both online and offline) these last couple of days.  Which is why I ended up reading pretty much all of the long and winding comment thread below this post of Mark Shea's (excerpt):
Just so it’s clear.  I haven’t boned up on geocentrism or Lizard Creatures in the Vatican or the Jewish International Banker conspiracy to create Nazism as a prelude to conquest of Palestine.  I have better things to do than read the turgid manifesto of a mass murderer.  These things will not occupy one moment of my waking thought, much less every moment for years and years.  Because that is the mark of a crackpot. ”Apostolates” like Church Militant TV should not be promoting and mainstreaming utter and complete crackpots.  But since they have chosen to do so, I heartily urge their growing audience of crackpots to make their thoughts and ideas about geocentrism and, especially, the Jewish conspiracy heard loud and clear in every American chancery and in Rome itself.  It’s long overdue that they receive the attention and reward they so richly deserve.

What Mark is referring to above is the upcoming movie The Principle, a movie that bills itself as "...destined to become one of the most controversial films of our time..." because it attacks the Copernican Principle and posits, instead, a universe with a fixed earth at the center (that is, geocentrism).  It is the work of geocentrists such as Robert Sungenis, a man with a B.A. in religion and an M.A. in theology; he also has a "Ph.D" from an alleged diploma mill in the South Pacific, but even that "degree" is in religious studies--in other words, he has no apparent scientific credentials at all.  Sungenis is also known to have a history of anti-Semitic beliefs and writings, but he is reported to have removed those writings from the Internet (though he is not believed to have apologized for any of them).

So why are Catholics even talking about The Principle?

Well, Michael Voris of Church Militant TV interviewed the producers, Robert Sungenis and Rick DeLano.  And Christine Niles at Forward Boldly interviewed Rick DeLano.  And Catholic forums and message boards have lit up with conversations about The Principle.  And the narrative seems to be shaping up as it often does: those supporting the movie and its producers start asking whether those who mildly point out, "You know, this is a movie about cosmology by mostly non-scientific people who believe NASA faked the moon landings and also crop circles as part of the efforts by the scientific community (controlled by shadowy forces) to make people doubt the Bible and who also think that JFK was assassinated by his wife and that reading the stars correctly will give us the date of the Second why would you believe them on geocentrism?" are Real Catholics or not.

Let's get this stated, and as often and as clearly as possible: the Catholic Church does not teach that the Bible is to be interpreted literally or that Catholics must believe, as a matter of faith, that the Earth is the physical center of the universe.  A Catholic who shrugs at the idea of buying tickets to see a movie that claims to debunk Copernicus, Galileo, and Einstein is not being a Bad Catholic.  The Movie Theater Inquisitors need to stand down; there will never be a time when "Did you fail to go see The Principle?" will be asked by one's confessor, with the understanding that it was sinful not to buy a ticket, or something.

And, of course, the same thing is true about those who choose to see this movie--that is, it's no sin to go watch The Principle, provided that you're not shirking some important duty or other at the time (which is true of any entertainment choice we make).  At least, it's no sin to go see The Principle out of curiosity, or for fun, or because you have an actual Ph.D. in physics and could use the stress relief of seeing people other than your college students fail to grasp basic principles of cosmology, etc.; but if you are going to see The Principle because you already believe that mainstream science is, without exception, a vast conspiracy to poison the minds of the faithful and turn them against God and that this conspiracy is being run by the Jews, the Jesuits, the LCWR, the Illuminati, the Masons, or any other group of people you have decided you have a duty to hate and to fight against whatever the personal cost to you--you may be on much shakier moral ground, and ought to run your temptation to believe in conspiracy theories by your confessor just to be safe.

If any supporter of this movie reads this post, I suppose I'll be given the standard objection: But you haven't seen the film!  You can't possibly know how mind-boggling, how earth-shaking, how amazing it is!  You will be blown away by the reaction from the mainstream scientific community (conspiracy) as they run for cover--and you will have missed out on the glory of being a part of it all, even if that part was merely to collect a ticket stub as a relic for posterity!

To which I reply: Meh.  On the astonishingly tiny, 0.0000000000000000000000000000001% chance that this movie even makes one mainstream cosmologist scratch his forehead in a good way (as opposed to the Forehead Slap of Derision), I'll live with the consequences of not being able to tell my great-grandchildren that I Was There When....etc.  In the meantime, can't we all just agree that movie theater inquisitions aren't really proper behavior for good Christians, and that nobody should be told that his or her failure to support a film of dubious value produced by somewhat dodgy people is proof that he or she isn't a Real Catholic?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy birthday, Bookgirl! (Placeholder post--to be updated!)

Today our sweet second daughter, who goes by "Bookgirl" on this blog, is turning 17.  I can't believe how the time has flown!

This post is just a "placeholder," though.  Unfortunately, our dear, sweet birthday girl is down with a seriously nasty stomach flu.  Poor girl--she can't have her birthday dinner or cake for a few days--doctor's orders!  She is resting and enjoying some of her birthday gifts, and we're planning to resume the celebration of her birthday in a few days, when she feels better.

I mentioned the birthday blog post to her, and she said she'd really like to come out here in a couple of days to post some of her recent artwork.  So watch for this post to be updated when our Bookgirl is feeling better!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The only choice they ever cheer

By now, you've probably heard that a judge has ordered that a brain-dead pregnant woman be removed from life support, even though her fetus is 22 weeks gestational age.

Just for reference, here's what that age looks like.

Her husband says she never wanted to be hooked up to machines, though there's little indication that they ever had a conversation about whether that would apply if she were pregnant and the unborn child still alive.  News articles give the impression she left no written directives at all, and her supposed wishes are being based on family members' recollections of conversations.

Of course, the justification here is that the fetus is probably disabled.  Because ending the life of a disabled unborn child is much better than letting him or her be born and given to someone who would care for him or her to raise, right?

I think the hospital, should they comply with this order without trying to appeal it, ought to insist for their own protection on monitoring the fetus via ultrasound and fetal distress monitors while the mother's life support is discontinued.  They ought to measure any thrashing, struggling, signs of distress as the unborn child fights to get oxygen that is no longer available.  They should record all of that, every moment of sickening, heartbreaking struggle as the unborn child slowly dies.

They should do it so that if her family ever sues the hospital, the hospital can show those tapes in court to prove that they considered themselves to have two patients: one brain dead, the other very much alive.  And that they only complied with the direct and intentional killing of the second patient under court order, and under duress.

The ironic thing here is that all sorts of pro-abort groups have lined up to insist that life support be removed, even though they are sort of agreeing here that whatever the mother's wishes for her unborn child might have been--and remember, we don't know what those were--the father has the absolute right to pull the plug and end his unborn child's life.  Most of the time, these same groups insist that the father has no rights at all over the life or death of his unborn child, and that if the woman wants to pay somebody to shred his kid in utero, he doesn't get a say.  But now, they're all about the father's "rights" here.

As several people on other sites have pointed out, the bottom line for the "pro-choice" groups is that it's all good so long as the outcome is a dead baby.  The only choice they ever cheer is the choice that ends the life of an unborn child.  Because we just can't afford ever to let people think that maybe, just maybe, the child's life has value of his or her own.

UPDATE: The ghouls at Planned Parenthood can go ahead and schedule their celebration party; another unborn baby is dead. Granted, the mother apparently wanted this child, and the father got to make the sole decision to kill his offspring, which isn't what they usually celebrate--but what do the abortion ghouls care so long as unborn life is determined to be worthless and disposable?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Asking your prayers...

...for my sister-in-law and her extended family; her brother's wife has passed away.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy hear and answer me.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What good are today's Catholic schools?

Msgr. Pope has a thoughtful post today about Catholic education:
Indeed, one of the great tragedies of modern Church life is the demise of Catholic Schools. They were founded at a time when Catholics did not want their children indoctrinated in Protestant and secular settings, largely inimical to the Catholic faith. Since faith and the salvation resulting from it was most precious gift of all, the thought of exposing their children to these dangers was of such a concern that parents, along with priests and religious made tremendous sacrifices to built, maintain and support Catholic Schools for their children.
The government, then as now, saw this as a threat, realizing that it could not easily influence Catholic children with modern sectarian notions and thereby build “good citizens” (read: loyal party members).
There were many showdowns where government officials spoke menacingly of Catholic Schools and sought to compel either public education, or to severely marginalize Catholic and other sectarian schools.
Most notably, President Ulysses Grant in 1875 indicated in a presidential address to Civil War veterans that, now that the Civil war was won, “The dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.” He was referring to the Catholic Church when he said ‘superstition’ and went on to insist that there be no funding for Catholic schools and that Church property be taxed. (quoted in McGreevy, Catholicism and American Freedom pp. 91-93). [...]
The demise of Catholic Schools is complex. It is not merely that Catholic parents no longer rate the handing on of the faith as important as in the past, but also that many, parents and priests alike, had come to doubt that Catholic schools were any longer doing that effectively. The handing on of the Catholic faith to the young has become difficult in a broken culture of broken families. Further, some argue that Catholic Educational leaders became too enamored of public school ideologies and techniques.

There are a couple of areas where I disagree with Msgr. Pope; for instance, he points out the poisonous errors the public schools teach (particularly about issues dealing with the sanctity of life and moral virtue) but fails to note that some (perhaps most) Catholic schools have been making those same errors for the last thirty or forty years or so.

And there are a couple of things he doesn't mention, that I think are important.  One of them, brought up by many of his commenters, is the prohibitive cost of Catholic education in most areas.  In our diocese, for instance, grade schools run about five thousand dollars per year per child, and high school is more than fifteen thousand a year.  Uniforms, mandatory fund-raising or volunteer hours, and other costs add to this total until it becomes out of reach for many families.  Sadly, the families for whom Catholic schools are most out of reach are the families who are open to life and who try to live on a single income so Mom can stay at home with the youngest children.  It doesn't help these families to be told at Mass (as I personally experienced) that if you just gave up luxuries like fancy new cars and annual vacations you could easily afford tuition at the Catholic schools; it also doesn't help when some young moms get the idea that their pastors think they are lazy and selfish to want to stay at home with their children instead of earning that second income to pay for diocesan schooling.

Another is the implosion of the teaching orders of religious nuns; the lack of religious sisters willing to dedicate themselves to the teaching of Catholic children primarily for the purpose of instructing them in the faith has had a devastating effect on Catholic schools, not only by increasing their cost, but also by resulting in the hiring of lay teachers, some of whom are not only not Catholic but actively inimical to the Church.

But the biggest problem of all is the one I keep mentioning: Catholic schools no longer produce Catholic graduates.  They produce ex-Catholic, former Catholic, "Catholic but dissenting," or lapsed Catholic graduates.  Since this is a violation of their mission so deep and profound it can almost not be overstated, the question arises: what good are today's Catholic schools?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

55 million dead

A moment of silence today, for the 55 million unborn Americans murdered in the womb since Roe v. Wade.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The fine art of dereliction of duty

So, Sr. Mary Tracy, the principle of Eastside Catholic High School, has resigned.  I'm only sorry she's resigning over the gay "married" administrator issue, and not because she has clearly and negligently failed to oversee anything even remotely resembling a Catholic education at Eastside Pagan--oh, sorry, Eastside Catholic High School.

I will admit that this made things a bit clearer to me:
Tracy, 63, had more than 30 years of leadership experience with the Seattle Archdiocese and at area Catholic schools before 2010, when she joined Eastside, a private, independent school affiliated with the archdiocese but overseen by its own board. [...]

Originally from Spokane, she’s a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She spent 20 years as dean of students and principal of Holy Names Academy in Seattle and served for 15 years at the National Catholic Educational Association in Washington, D.C. [Emphasis added--E.M.]

Holy Names Academy was the unholy faux "Catholic" school where I was taught, among other things, how to use contraception during fornication (hey, don't all high school students fornicate regularly?) by our supposedly Catholic "health" teacher and, by my religion teacher, that the Church used to burn all intelligent women as witches so they wouldn't question male authority.  Charming place, really; I credit my survival as a Catholic to my parents' heroic decision to pull my siblings and me out of the Seattle area's sad excuses for Catholic schools and begin homeschooling us all those decades ago.

It's not at all a surprise to me, then, that Sister Mary Tracy is skilled in the fine art of dereliction of duty and taking money under false pretenses ("Why, yes, we are a Catholic school full of authentic orthodox Catholic teaching!  Now fork over the dough!" etc.).  I'm actually more surprised that she fired the gay "married" administrator in the first place; perhaps some orthodox Catholic parents found out about the marriage and threatened to go public or something, or perhaps the administrator posted his "wedding" pictures on the school's bulletin boards.  Who knows?  All I know is that if Sister Mary Tracy and her ilk had resigned from Seattle's Catholic schools a long, long time ago, there might be some hope of restoring them to actual Catholicism.  As it is, I stand by my earlier recommendation that the schools be vacated and shut down, then burned to the ground which should be salted and blessed in accordance with approved Church exorcism rituals.  Nothing less will help the benighted Catholic high school students of Seattle, I'm afraid.

Monday, January 20, 2014

This made me laugh

Rod Dreher shares this funny take on what the Homeschool Barbie (tm) might be:
Need a Christmas gift for your sheltered home schooled children? Well now there's Homeschool Barbie™!

Homeschool Barbie™ is just the toy for your precious little angel. She has a fresh, clean complexion and simply styled hair to show forth her natural beauty. And because she loves her family so much, she keeps right on smiling as she rises with the sun and works until long after they're in bed, and she has the eyes to prove it. (Coffeemaker and mood enhancers not included.)

Homeschool Barbie™ comes modestly attired in a denim jumper with an embroidered t-shirt for warm months and a turtleneck for winter. And no bare legs and flip-flops for this doll--her legs and feet are properly covered with dark tights and comfortable shoes. As an added bonus, Homeschool Barbie's™ underclothes are painted on. So, even when your daughters are interrupted at play, your boys won't be scandalized by the sight of a naked Barbie™.

As homeschooling has grown in popularity, there's a Barbie™ to meet every need. The Protestant Christian version comes with a miniature Bible (the complete King James version!) and will recite Scripture verses when her hand is pressed. Catholic Homeschool Barbie™ wears a crucifix, chapel veil, and can lead your children in praying the Rosary (in your choice of Latin or English) when her hands are placed together. Secular Homeschool Barbie™ comes complete with a grain mill and Birkenstocks™, and shares her favorite home remedies & recipes with a pat on the back. All three dolls include a variety of Math curricula with manipulatives and chalkboards with tiny real chalk!
Read the rest here.

I think they're missing a few.  My suggestions:

Third-quarter blues Homeschool Barbie (tm): This version of the Homeschool Barbie (tm) features a baggy sweat suit, a snarled ponytail, and a look of total desperation; she also comes with a mini-book titled One Hundred Things To Try Before You Give Up Homeschooling Forever.

Prairie Living Homeschool Barbie (tm): This Barbie (tm) knows that denim jumpers are from the devil because they reveal a woman's ankles!  The Prairie Living Barbie is totally modest from the top of her bonnet-covered head to the long, draping prairie-skirt hem which covers the tips of her boots (complete with buttons!).  Her clothing cannot be removed, and her female children are similarly clad.  For the boys in her family, you can choose between the Daniel Boone-style male clothing or the Little Lord Fauntleroy version.  Prairie Living Homeschool Barbie's (tm) husband is named "Kenneth" and combines both traditional-approved male fashions by wearing a smoking jacket over his farm overalls.

Smugly Superior Homeschool Barbie (tm): This Barbie (tm) is a better homeschooler than you, and she knows it.  Unlike the other Homeschool Barbies (tm) she is clad in modern fashions and her nails can be painted!  And while she's on her way to that manicure, her perfect children are translating Sanskrit (the only language they haven't yet fully mastered) at their "on-the go" van desks (van sold separately)--except for Kyle, who is preparing for total domination in the National Geography Bee.

Completely Faking It Homeschool Barbie (tm): She looks like the standard Homeschool Barbie (tm) but under that denim jumper she's wearing jeans and a tee-shirt with a rock band logo on it.  What looks like a stack of Ridiculously Hard Curricula opens to reveal a martini glass; inside her classroom globe (included) you will find a secret stash of mystery novels.  When you squeeze her hand, she says, "Not now, honey; Mom's trying to find Venezuela on the globe," or "Just a minute, sweetie, I'm looking for that in the curricula pile." 


Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy trads and the less than sane trads

I think Father Dwight Longenecker hits it out of the park today with his post about traditionalist Catholics:
The reason I love traditionalists is the same reason I love Franciscans or Charismatic Catholics or Jesuits or Missionaries of Charity or Friars of the Renewal or Priests for Life or Benedictines or Legionnaires….and on and on and on. Each of these groups or sub-categories in the church offer the whole church a particular vision and aspect of the whole truth, and members of each group serve the church best by being faithful to Christ within their path. The traditionalists offer us a reminder of the hermeneutic of continuity. They work hard to bring forward the best in our Catholic traditions of spirituality, liturgy, music, art and architecture. They remind us of the call to radical discipleship and the need to love the Lord with our whole heart.

When traditionalists live out their traditional Catholic faith with zeal, joy and love for others they will evangelize and grow the church in a truly authentic and wonderful way, but this can also be said of Catholics in any of the other sub groups. A radiantly authentic Franciscan or Benedictine–a joyful Missionary of Charity, Dominican or Jesuit will do the same. The key thing to remember is that we are following Christ the Lord. He comes first–not our particular sub-set–no matter how beautiful, good and true it happens to be.  [...]

I realize that traditionalists may not appreciate my take on the matter. They may say, “But we are not a sub group of the church. The Latin Mass is the mass of the ages. This is what all Catholics used to do. We’re keeping the true faith! The others are all wrong.” I understand that opinion, but that’s not actually the teaching of the Catholic Church. Like it or not, the second Vatican Council has taken place. Like it or not, by decree or by popular practice, changes have happened. The vernacular Mass is accepted as the Ordinary Form while the Latin Mass is appreciated and valued as the Extraordinary Form. This means that the rituals in Latin are an accepted alternative. I, for one, am glad the Latin rituals are treasured and promoted by traditionalists. They are a gift to the whole church.
In other words, Father likes sane, happy traditionalists who are bringing the gift of a traditional movement to the Church; he doesn't quite see eye-to-eye with the bitter, unhappy Reactionaries who believe that everybody in the Church is wrong except for them (including the popes who have promulgated one particular Mass as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite).

That's exactly what I think of traditionalism, too.  I think that people who love the E.F. and share that love with the rest of us are great!  I think the people who insist that God loves the E.F. and hates the O.F. (along with everybody from the Pope on down who participates in its celebration) are not quite sane.  And I think most of the happy trads would agree.

Sadly, in Father's comment box a commenter had to rush to give an example of what a "less sane" trad might look like.  I say "sadly," but on further reflection I'm rather glad this young man gave such an illustration.  Otherwise people who have never met a less than sane trad might think they were fictional.  They might also miss the part where the happy trads show up and say (I'm paraphrasing): "Dude.  Less than helpful."  Because the sane and happy trads know that people who start combox-screaming that a priest who is a convert and not really old enough to have been a "Spirit of VII" wreckovator even if he'd been a Catholic his whole life is personally responsible for sledgehammering high altars and ripping out altar rails and STEALING OUR TRADITIONS is not the true face of traditionalism, and it's bad for everybody when these less than sane trads pretend that, why, yes, they are the only trads, or at least the only ones who matter.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The pope's one weird trick to get families to come to Mass together

Okay, the headline was inspired by Mark Shea's posts here and here yesterday.  :)

But I knew as soon as I saw this article, we'd be having that conversation again about whether or not it's okay to bring small children to Mass and/or to nurse infants at Mass:
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis baptized 32 babies in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday and told their mothers, including one who was married in a civil service rather than in church, to have no qualms about breast-feeding them there [...]

"Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry," he said in a familiar, relaxed tone to the parents.

Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are some of the world's most celebrated works of art. The ceiling depicts the creation of man and the altar wall shows a severe God at the Last Judgment. But the pope told the mothers not to feel intimidated by the surroundings.

"If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here," he said, speaking in the same room where he was elected on March 13 as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.

Francis said in an interview last month that mothers should not feel uncomfortable breastfeeding during his ceremonies.

Okay, let's get this out of the way: Pope Francis was not speaking ex cathedra, so it's not positively required that mothers take babies to Mass and breastfeed them there.  But  I can't exactly blame the Quartermaster for his exuberance:

Did Pope Francis suggest that babies who were loud or disruptive should be removed to the Sistine Chapel Cry Room? [Hint: there isn't one.]


Instead, he invited mothers to nurse their babies. In the Sistine Chapel! The Pope told mothers to have “no qualms about breast-feeding them there.” In his 300-word homily, the Holy Father was quoted: “Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry,” he said. “If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here…

According to the Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff, Servant of the Servants of God, His Holiness Pope Francis, the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of infants who make noise. Of course, this should not be a surprise, in light of Our Lord’s own words, to “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them.” 

Case closed. Children don’t belong in Cry Rooms, and neither do you!
I don't go quite as far as the Quartermaster--there are times when the Cry Room can be a relief to a young family struggling to teach several young children to sit still and behave at Mass.

But I am a big proponent of children being brought to Mass.   And as a former nursing mom I can state emphatically that those who believe nursing babies can be put on a strict schedule so they won't ever need to eat during Mass, or will happily take a bottle instead of nursing, etc. are people who have never breastfed a baby.  I think it is possible to nurse discreetly anywhere, even at Mass, and that "nurse discreetly" doesn't necessarily mean, "cover your shoulder, nursing equipment, and baby's entire body with a heavy blanket when it is 110 degrees outside in a Texas summer and the a/c in church has only produced the weakest accidents of cooling without any substance."  I think most nursing or former nursing moms would agree with me.

To me, the endless debates about whether children should set foot in church until they are old enough for First Communion or old enough to vote or something are a kind of proxy for something else.  And that something else is the reality that our culture has been experiencing the slow but relentless disintegration of the family, such that it is actually possible to live for long periods of time without any small children around, both at that stage of life when you are a young adult and not yet married and again when your children are grown but haven't married yet and there aren't any grandchildren.  We forget how abnormal this is.  In many other ages, people were surrounded by children, if not their own, then those of extended family, neighbors, fellow parishioners and friends.  And something happens when you are surrounded by small children: you get used to them.  You get used to their noise, their fidgets, their charmingly simple ways of expressing their immediate needs regardless of the circumstances, and so on.  Thus, when the toddler two benches over from you crawls commando-style toward you under the benches in the zero point three five seconds his parents were distracted by his baby sister, you don't freak out or head after Mass to the blogosphere to complain about how "your Mass" was completely ruined by those selfish parents who think the world revolves around them (and you don't notice the irony, either).  You just smile, and if you know the kid and his parents you extract him from under the bench and hand him back, and if you don't, you turn around and point to him so they know he hasn't left the building and can come and get him.  Simple, right?

It should be, anyway.  But we often make it harder than it needs to be.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Will the military discriminate against men?

You may have already seen this; I found it pretty hard to believe:
WASHINGTON -- More than half of female Marines in boot camp can't do three pullups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.  

The delay rekindled sharp debate in the military on the question of whether women have the physical strength for some military jobs, as service branches move toward opening thousands of combat roles to them in 2016.  

Although no new timetable has been set on the delayed physical requirement, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos wants training officials to "continue to gather data and ensure that female Marines are provided with the best opportunity to succeed," Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine spokeswoman, said Thursday.  

Starting with the new year, all female Marines were supposed to be able to do at least three pullups on their annual physical fitness test and eight for a perfect score. The requirement was tested in 2013 on female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., but only 45 percent of women met the minimum, Krebs said.  [...]

Because the change is being put off, women will be able to choose which test of upper-body strength they will be graded on in their annual physical fitness test. Their choices:
  •    Pullups, with three the minimum. Three is also the minimum for male Marines, but they need 20 for a perfect rating.
  •    A flexed-arm hang. The minimum is for 15 seconds; women get a perfect score if they last for 70 seconds. Men don't do the hang in their test.
Officials said training for pullups can change a person's strength, while training for the flex-arm hang does little to adapt muscular strength needed for military tasks.

So, let's get this straight.  Both men and women have to do three pullups as the minimum standard to pass their annual physical fitness test--but more than half the women couldn't do that.  So now women can choose, instead, to do a flexed-arm hang for a minimum of 15 seconds, but men don't get that option.  If a woman can do eight pullups, she gets a perfect score--but a man doesn't get a perfect rating unless he can do twenty pullups.

But we have been constantly told by a cadre of feminists that the only reason women have traditionally not been allowed to hold certain combat roles is gender bias and discrimination, not because women generally (as opposed to a handful of freakishly strong women)  don't have the physical strength needed to survive in these roles.  So why the different standards?

As I see it, the only gender bias and discrimination going on here is aimed at the men, who are being told they must do the three-pullup minimum--no arm-hang option for them--and that they can only get a perfect rating if they do twenty pullups, which is more than double the number women must do for a perfect rating.

So, if the military is going to push for a true gender-blindness, then they have only two choices: make the standards for women exactly as hard as the standards for men, or make the standards for men exactly as easy as the standards for women.

If the military does the first, then not that many women are going to be able to qualify for combat roles, let alone handle combat roles long-term, and the supposed benefits of being able to serve in combat and earn promotions based on that experience will never materialize.

If the military does the second, then soon practically every man will qualify for perfect scores and ratings on the dumbed-down physical fitness tests which will help their career advancement in the military as well.

The only way the military can bend to the whims of those who desire to see it used for a social experiment that pretends to increase the equality of men and women is to engage in active and even punitive discrimination against men, forcing them to achieve standards and perform at levels their female counterparts will never, ever be asked to match.  And the men will know this, which will, some say, create a predictable effect on troop cohesion and morale.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wait...kittehs iz librul?

So, I haven't quite gotten back into the habit of this blogging thing: three days last week, and then Thursday and Friday I wimped out.  Okay, so Friday I was down with a migraine, but I can't explain Thursday except to quote Arthur Dent: "I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

And here it's Monday, and Kitten is back at college, and it's nearly 8 p.m., and I have no excuse for not blogging except that I cleaned the house today--oh, and I spent a bit of time hanging around at Rod Dreher's blog.

Which is where I followed the link from this post and took this quiz to determine one's political leanings based upon cultural indicators.

And according to that Time quiz, I am at least 68% liberal and 32% conservative.  But it gets worse--when I took the quiz a couple more times to check my results I came out as high as 76% liberal and as low as 24% conservative.

As I joked in the comment thread over at Rod's, I guess preferring cats, fiction movies and art to dogs, documentaries and Times Square makes one a liberal.  That, and the messy desk thing: who knew it was inherently liberal to have a messy desk?

But I have a feeling that what really skewed my results in the "liberal" direction were the questions I answered as Catholic first, conservative second.  I can't, in good conscience, say I "strongly agree" that I am proud of my country's history--history, as distinct from America herself or American ideals or American inventions, etc.  And I strongly disagree with the idea that my government should treat the lives of its citizens as being much more valuable than lives in other countries--again, more valuable, not that my government should think of its job as being to protect American lives even when that might mean that the lives of those in other countries might not be protected, which would really depend on the situation in order to be morally right.

Then again, it might be because I tend to like things like fusion cuisine.

Or it might really be because I like cats better than dogs.  But hey, with these two around, can you blame me? :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Catholic schools aren't Catholic anymore

In the never-ending swamp that is Eastside Catholic, another gay teacher has come out to announce she's "marrying" her partner, which, by the way, is translated for Catholics as "Committing to spend their whole lives committing objectively mortal sins objectively worthy of eternal damnation together."  Because nothing says love like "I really hope to spend my eternal Hell with you, baby." Ain't love grand?

This would be yawn-worthy, except for the jaw-dropping statement by the school principle, Sr. Mary Tracy:
The Seattle NBC station also reported that Gene Colin, the chairman of Eastside Catholic’s board, was involved in Zmuda’s dismissal and has resigned and that Sister Tracy said that Merrow “is ‘welcome’ to continue working on campus.”

“Sister Tracy also told KING 5 the board discussed ways to prevent the current controversy from happening again, indicating the school would seek counsel from the Archdiocese and research other similar circumstances around the nation,” the report added.

According to a student, Sister Tracy said that “I look forward to the day where no individual loses their job because they married a person of the same sex.”

Sister Tracy, according to the school’s website, worked for 15 years at the National Catholic Educational Association in Washington, most recently as the NCEA Director of Advancement Services. 

Now, it's not all that surprising that a nun from Seattle would support gay "marriage;" I mean, Seattle has been the home of pantsuited pro-lesbian nuns for decades now.   The shocking part here isn't even that she actually said so--in the bubble that is Washington State, supporting SSM is like supporting recycling or saving whales.  No, the shocking part (aside from the idea that a nun would worry more about the possibility of teachers losing their jobs than their IMMORTAL SOULS, except that the nuns of Seattle have probably gone On Beyond Jesus a long time ago and think that souls are a quaint medieval notion) is that this teacher worked for 15 years at the National Catholic Education Association.  You know--the group that overseas Catholic education in America, sets policies, promotes educational agendas, and is both politically and spiritually somewhat like the twin sister of the secular National Education Association.  On their website you will see samples of their glossy publications and lots of positive talk about forming the whole person; you will even see discussions of catechesis and religious education.  What you will not see is an honest admission that diocesan Catholic schools are failing, and failing badly, in their primary work of teaching Catholic children about the Catholic faith.

Never mind Church teaching on sexuality--the average Catholic school graduate can't list the Ten Commandments, doesn't know how to pray the Rosary, can't identify the liturgical structure of the Mass, can't tell you the difference between a mortal and venial sin or even list a serious sin other than murder (and even that he or she may not be sure about, depending on his/her personal view of abortion), can't name more than a handful of books of the Bible (let alone be able to identify any Scripture quotes), doesn't know the seven Sacraments or the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (unless he or she just went on a Confirmation retreat, in which case he or she may be able to rattle off three or four of those), can't define what a Sacrament is, and if asked about the Eucharist, will probably not know the word "transubstantiation" or be able to explain the Church's understanding of the Eucharist without lapsing into unintentional verbal heresy.  But, on the bright side, they care about the environment.  And they think it's mean to say that gay sex is intrinsically evil.

Catholic schools aren't just going to Hell in a handbasket--they've got the kiddies weaving the handbaskets and presenting them at Mass (oh, sorry, at "liturgy").  When a nun who worked for 15 years at the NCEA can't defend Church teaching and is all in starry-eyed favor of the evil of same-sex marriage, it should be quite clear that Catholic schools aren't Catholic anymore, and that actual Catholic parents--those of us who go to Mass on Sundays and still think our faith is important--should have as little to do with them as possible.  At this point, I think even the secular schools would be preferable, because at least at the secular schools your kids will know they are on enemy territory, and will protect themselves accordingly.  It's hard to overestimate the damage done to the souls of children when their Catholic school teachers are counseling them to accept gay marriage or contraception or whatever the trendy mortal sin of the day is, and making them believe that both their parents and the Church will change someday (with a strong implication that the change needed is some kind of maturity instead of modeling the behavior of Judas, which is what the teachers are really doing).

I think it's quickly going to reach the point where Catholic parents will have to decide that if they want their children to go to Heaven someday, the diocesan Catholic school is more of a hindrance to that goal than a help.  At which point the Catholic schools can drop their diocesan connections, go all "Private school in the Catholic tradition..." which is code for "We can charge you a fortune and reject any child who won't look good on our recruiting brochures," and continue their mission of destroying the lingering traces of the Catholic faith of just about any child unfortunate enough to cross their doorways--which last they are already doing, and doing diabolically well.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

25 head-scratching reasons for what, now?

It's always interesting to me when Catholics start sharing and spreading around lists or tips or spirituality and devotion practices that are written by other Christians.  Sometimes it's interesting because our brothers and sisters in Christ may be thinking about an issue or writing on a subject on which we Catholics have a lot of common ground with our separated brethren, and their insights and ideas can be truly beneficial at times.

Other times, though, I confess to scratching my head a bit, as I did when I learned that this Baptist blogger's list of twenty-five ways women can communicate respect to their husbands (from her recent book called, not surprisingly, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband: A Handbook for Wives (Volume I) started turning up on the Facebook pages of Catholic women.  Orthodox Catholic women.  Traditional Catholic women, even.  Because there's nothing really all that orthodox or traditional--or even Catholic--about this woman's list of ways women can respect--oh, sorry, communicate respect to--their husbands.

Sure, not all of the twenty five suggestions, taken individually, are problematic.  Number 22, "Protect his name," seems like common sense to me, especially if we agree that it should be a mutual thing: you don't bash your husband in conversations with others, and he doesn't bash you either.  That's good, right?

Except that this is what Number 22 actually says
Protect His Name
Honor your husband in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Guard his reputation and do not let minor disagreements at home cause you to speak ill of him in public. Live in such a way that it will be obvious to others why your husband married you in the first place. (Proverbs 12:4; 22:1

Guard his reputation?  Don't let minor disagreements at home cause you to speak ill of him in public?  Does that mean that if you are an hour late for a family event because he wanted to finish watching a game before leaving you should pretend it was all your fault, and laugh girlishly about how long it took you to do your hair?  'Cause in my book that would be lying.  Or do you remain tight-lipped and change the subject when you're asked why you are late?

Not bashing your husband in public is one thing, but feeling obligated to create a false image of him that is all flawless perfection so that " will be obvious to others why your husband married you in the first place..." is kind of insulting.

Okay, maybe I'm reading too much into that.  But take a look at a few items from the beginning of the list:
  1. Choose Joy
    It’s true: A happy wife makes a happy life. Please don’t use moodiness as an attempt to manipulate your man, but in all things rejoice, because that’s the right thing to do. (1 Thessaonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4)
  2. Honor His Wishes
    Give weight to what your husband thinks is important. Make those things a priority that matter most to him, whether it’s having dinner ready when he gets home from work or keeping the house tidy or limiting computer time. Don’t make him ask twice. (Philippians 2:4)
  3. Give Him Your Undivided Attention
    Yes, I know that women are masters of multi-tasking, but when your husband is speaking to you, make a point to lay other tasks aside, look into his eyes, and listen to what he is saying with the goal of understanding and remembering his words.

Is anybody else creeped out yet, or is it just me?  These three points of advice seem to boil down to: pretend to be happy whether you are or not, let your husband tell you what to do and how to do it (and don't make him ask twice!), and if he walks in to the room to ask you if you've seen his reading glasses, immediately leave Junior alone on the changing table sans diaper or leave the pot of soup just coming to the boil alone and unattended so you can give your husband your undivided attention (because it might be hard to understand the words "Have you seen my reading glasses anywhere?" or to remember them later, which is important for some reason I can't quite fathom, unless a book titled 25 Things My Husband Said to Me Just This Afternoon is in the works).

But where things really start to get creepy, to me, is at number 14:
Cherish Togetherness
I love to sit near my husband, whether at home or away. Our church shares potluck dinners every Sunday afternoon, and although the men and women normally sit separately to visit, I like to position myself close enough to my husband that I can listen to the conversation, as I think everything he says is so interesting. At home, I’ll take my book or handwork to whatever room in the house he’s working in, just to be close to him, because I enjoy his company, even when neither of us is talking.

Um, really?  You think everything your husband says is so interesting that you have to eavesdrop on his conversations at church potlucks instead of chatting with the other women?   And you follow him around the house, too?  Ooookay....

Let's skip past "Dress to Please Him" and "Keep the House Tidy" and move on to these, which are numbers 20 and 21 in the list:

Take His Advice
Do not dismiss his opinions lightly, especially when you’ve asked for his counsel in the first place. Make every effort to follow your husband’s advice.
Admire Him
Voiced compliments and heartfelt praise are always welcome, but you should also make it your habit to just look at your husband in a respectful, appreciative way. Think kind thoughts toward him. He’ll be able to see the admiration in your eyes. (Luke 6:45

Can you hear the sound of my head exploding?  If I made it a habit to just look at my husband in a respectful, appreciative way all the time, thinking kind thoughts and radiating admiration in my eyes, he'd probably insist I see a doctor.  Which does not mean that I do not love, respect, and admire him--but I love, respect, and admire him for the unique person he is, and am more likely to express that love, respect, and admiration by joking with the choir after Mass that I had a hard time keeping a straight face while singing the Responsorial Psalm "Every Nation on Earth" with him this past Sunday because all the way to Mass in the car he was singing, to the tune of "Every Nation on Earth," the words "Ad Nauseum Smurf."  That's just who he is, and I love him exactly that way--but if I went around practicing a 1950s movie heroine expression of respectful admiration at these moments he would think there was something deeply wrong with me.

And that, in the end, is why I find it seriously puzzling that a lot of Catholic women would think this list important enough to share with their Facebook or Twitter friends.  Leaving aside the oddly "Stepford Wives" vibe some of it has, there is still the problem that every husband is a different human being, and every wife is a different human being, and what works for some couples to help them strengthen their bond of love and affection with each other might be a total disaster for other couples.  The man who values his alone time will be annoyed if his wife follows him around every second of the day; the woman who thinks she ought to finish changing Junior's diaper before being expected to drop everything and help find the reading glasses will not take suggestions to the contrary very kindly; the man who likes to ask his wife for advice (yes, they do exist!  I'm married to one!) will find it unpleasant if her only answer is "Whatever you think is best, dear!"  and the woman who is battling postpartum depression will find the idea that she's supposed to just smile and be happy much less than helpful.

In short: all married couples are unique, and there's only really one rule for wives: love the man, dagnabit, and see to it that he knows it.  The rest is up to you.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Twitwits of Eastside Catholic

Not content with having created a bad situation and exposed their mind-blowing ignorance of basic Catholic teaching all over the country, Eastside Catholic's ignoramuses and Twitwits want to make even bigger idiots of themselves--and they're inviting other Catholic school students to do the same:
Students from Eastside Catholic High School and other Catholic secondary schools  delivered a message outside the Archdiocese of Seattle on Saturday afternoon:  We are not going away, and we are taking our protest to a new level.

“We care too much about Mr. Zmuda to let this go,” said Ian Edwards, a senior at Eastside Catholic, after speaking at the second demonstration in as many weeks outside the old chancery of the archdiocese.

With social media at their disposal, the students are thinking big. They plan to organize, nationwide, a  “Z-Day” on Jan. 31 to protest the forced resignation of Eastside vice principal Mark Zmuda after his same-sex marriage last summer.

“We encourage students, at Catholic schools or otherwise, as well as any other impassioned individuals, to proudly wear the color orange on that day. In so doing, we will be showing solidarity with Mark Zmuda, as well as expressing our hopes for an enlightened perspective on issues of sexuality in the Catholic Church,” said a statement read by Edwards and other students.

Let me translate that for you:

We, the students of Eastside Catholic, are abysmally, woefully stupid about our faith.  We understand nothing of Church teaching, and we demand the right to think with our genitals, as we have never learned to use our brains.  Thus, we support the right of all of our teachers to teach us how to hate the Church and all of her teachings, which we have never bothered to learn, since we're usually too busy getting laid (safe sex, people!) in the back seats of our mommies' Volvos (tm) after school to do any homework (not that our religion class homework would help, because our religion teachers have never taught us any of the doctrines of the Catholic faith, but only to love ourselves and our inner hippie children and also to recycle, 'cause, you know, it's mean to the planet to throw plastic bottles in the trash; we've never even seen a Catechism, and wouldn't recognize one if it hit us in the head, though since we don't use our brains at all getting hit in the head with a Catechism wouldn't actually hurt us any).  Thus, we see no reason why a male person who claims to be "married" to another male person would not be an excellent teacher for us, since he will teach us to despise Church teaching even more than we already do (while simultaneously helping us to remain in total ignorance of it and, indeed, staying at the intellectual and philosophical level of toddlers, given that we can't think about anything more serious than a cartoon without getting a headache).  We demand the Church change her teachings to suit us, or else we'll go all Twitter on the Archdiocese, because if Luther had had Twitter it would have been like awesome or something--besides, we're actually stupid enough to think the Church will change her ancient teachings to make us feel better about ourselves, even though that hasn't worked for any of the other heretics who have come along (oh, wait--what's a heretic?  Is that, like, a compliment?).

I hope Archbishop Sartain will quickly end this nonsense.  I honestly wish he'd simply close Eastside Catholic High School immediately.  If the teachers have to be paid anyway, so be it--but there's no reason to allow a festering cesspool of heretical idiocy to continue to spew forth its toxic fumes of ignorance and malice all over the other high schools in the area (though several of them have enough heretical idiocy of their own they'd better get busy addressing now, before they find themselves in a similar situation).  Let the spoiled darlings of Eastside Catholic fend for themselves in Seattle's fine public high schools, which would suit their irreligious and blasphemous minds better anyway.  It's about time somebody taught these overindulged little monsters that a real Catholic education is a privilege, not a right--and it's a privilege they clearly and demonstrably don't deserve. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Praying for Simcha and her family

If you haven't already heard, Catholic writer Simcha Fisher and her family are mourning the loss of the little one she was expecting.  She writes poignantly about it here.  I'll be keeping them in my prayers, and invite you to join me.

The world doesn't always understand these losses and our grief when they happen.  I have never had a miscarriage, but know lots of women who have suffered this pain.  For them, I'd like to repost a piece I wrote back in 2009:


The Moment of the Rose

I came across it again, the other day, on a mommy blog I sometimes visit--sad news. News of a little one, carried, expected, longed for, lost. News full of real sorrow, of prayers and virtual hugs from friends far away and real ones from friends close at hand; news of the sort that someone close has shared at least once. I am one of the lucky women who has not thus far had a miscarriage, but I know many such women, family and friends. Their grief has touched my life, and the little ones they loved and named and prayed for and sometimes buried are remembered in my heart.

Our world has a tendency to close collective eyes to such grief; it isn't politically correct to mourn the loss of what other women freely chose to kill, after all. Doctors and nurses are often cold and utilitarian, dealing with the aftermath of the death of a loved unborn family member; even when they try to be consoling, they say things that sting--reminding the mother, perhaps, to forget all about it and be glad for the children she does have, as if her grief somehow diminishes her love for these; or saying heartily that after all, she's young, she can try if the little one now gone can be "replaced" by a future sibling he or she will not know on this earth.

But even more troubling than these things are the doubts and fears that may swirl around the thoughts of those close to the situation: where is God's will, in so early a death? For what purpose does our loving and merciful Creator call into being a life that will be cut so very short? Why does He allow this?

In some way, of course, what He allows is simply nature after the Fall. We are not immortal in body, and the natural processes of fertility and conception allow for such losses to take place. Just as our bodies are prone to sickness, disease, and eventually death, so to is it possible for a life to end only moments or hours or days or weeks after it has begun, before the little one has ever seen his mother's face. To the extent that it seems cruel, it is not the Creator's cruelty; He did not design us for this, and it was because of the sin of our first parents that death entered into the world at all.

But in another way, what we struggle with is what the poet T.S. Eliot defined, when he wrote:
"The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration."
Because we are physical creatures who can only perceive reality by referring to such concepts as "space" and "time," we think that the life of an unborn baby who dies in utero is unbearably, unbelievably short; we may similarly think that a person who lives past the century-mark has lingered on this earth far too long, especially if all those years have not added wisdom nor increased grace, as may sometimes happen. For the one to have only weeks while the other's life spans decades seems like a strange riddle, a puzzling paradox beyond our comprehension. Many find themselves doubting the existence of a merciful and benevolent God when they look at the question this way: why should the young and innocent perish, or the aged and (sometimes) wicked flourish?

But if we frame the question that way, we forget that reality that Eliot so beautifully expresses. We don't have years--none of us. We don't have decades or minutes or hours or even seconds in their brevity. We have only moments; we have only now.

And in God's mysterious and unfathomable eternity, the moment of the rose really is just as long as the moment of the yew tree. And the moment of the human soul is more than either of these, for these were not created for eternity, as we are. Our "now" will last forever, whether we are on this earth five weeks or ninety-five years. We who are born and live this earthly life have however much time God has set before us to learn to do His will; those called away before the hour of birth may be given a chance to do the same, for all we yet know. We know for certain that the merciful God who sent His only Son to suffer and die for every human being, no matter how small, will not abandon these precious souls, though just what happens may remain forever in this life a mystery.

It is in the great mercy and love of Almighty God that all of us find our consolation, and this is no less true for the mother who suffers the pain of the loss of a child to miscarriage. She who puts her trust in Him will not be disappointed; He will send comfort and healing, and lead her back to that joy, rooted in hope, which is the gift He gives to every Christian soul.


Prayers for Simcha and for all who mourn these kinds of losses today.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year! Comments are back on!

Since a reader wrote to ask, I thought I'd mention that comments are back on as of Dec. 31--but only on the posts written since then.  That's the software, not me; I'd have to go back and manually permit comments for all the posts that were written after I turned comments off, which would take quite a bit of time and probably be counter-productive in the long run.

The experiment of having comments off was interesting.  I found myself posting as often as I wanted without feeling tied to an arbitrary blogging schedule (which is just me--I have this thing about posting daily on weekdays even though I don't have to do so).  I also found it nice to go to my email box without dreading the near-daily set of comments from a handful of people who apparently hate Catholics, Church teaching, and anybody who talks about those things, and who vent that hate by posting obscenities and so on.  No, I'm not thin-skinned; no blogger can afford to be.  But it's still unpleasant to have to delete other people's verbal excretions, especially when they are so dull and predictable.  What ever happened to the art of clever invective?  I could at least enjoy that, and might even post some of it if it were clever and literary enough.

Most of all, the extra bits of time from not having to blog and/or moderate comments was very welcome in this busy season.  As I told the reader who wrote, I've seen other Catholic bloggers shut off comments during Advent or Lent and wondered if it is really helpful.  It was, for me.  So I may do it again during Lent--but since Lent is six weeks long and my busy weeks are really only the last two (choir practices and church obligations) I will probably only turn off comments those two weeks.  Unless I change my mind before then, which is a woman's prerogative. :)

So: any comments you've been wishing to share on the topics of unjust sentencing, the Legion of Christ, Eastside Catholic High's situation, or anything else I posted on from early December till now?  Want to talk about your Christmas, or anything else?  Open comments below!