Monthly Archives: December 2009

Is Obama smarter?

The claim has been made that Barack “TOTUS” Obama is more intelligent than George W. Bush–by which the claimant means that he is sometimes more eloquent.

Everyone slips up from time to time. I’m sure Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln would have sounded like “idiots” if they had cameras constantly following them and able to catch them every time they stumbled over a word.

Of course, the mainstream media fell over themselves to identifY Bush’s every gaffe, but Obama gets a break–except on YouTube:

And let’s not forget when TOTUS needed his lawyer’s advice on signing executive orders:

This Couple are a threat to National Security

There’s a meme circulating the Internet about shocking photos of a couple who managed to sneak into the White House with no credentials, endangering our National Security at a fundamental level.   These reality TV stars have put our security at risk just to increase their own celebrity status and schmooze with the likes of Joe Biden.

Prepare yourself for a shocking image of these dangerous people. . . . .
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NCRegister / Faith and Family “Top Pro-Catholic Movies”

Got this link from a Facebook Friend.

The Register and Faith and Family magazine have published a list of the “Top 100 Pro-Catholic Movies,” based upon a reader poll.   They’re not necessarily movies with Catholic themes (though most are) but films that present Catholics, or Catholic ideals, in a positive way.  Similar concept was a list in the early 90s of “pro-Catholic” TV shows that offered such diverse entries as Who’s the Boss and Homicide: Life on the Streets (both great shows). 

Obviously, The Passion of the Christ is #1, but, given the other entries on the list, Sound of Music is a rather surprising #2.   I’d sooner list Phantom of the Opera before Sound of Music.  No Narnia films (any of the three versions) or Tolkein films are on the list, but some other great Catholic books have made it, including at least one Chesterton: 1954’s The Detective (aka Father Brown), the film that inspired Sir Alec Guinness’s conversion is way down at #96.

The person I got the list from noted the absence of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a fantastic film which depicts not just the sensationalism of possession and exorcism but (unlike The Exorcist) the power of prayer and the more “ordinary” experiences of “extraordinary” demonic manifestation we all experience from time to time, whether we realize it or not (the various experiences of the lawyer).  Another good film based on exorcism is Possessed, a Showtime TV movie based more directly upon the source material of The ExorcistThe Exorcist is based loosely on a book based loosely on a real-life case. Possessed is based more directly on the book and fairly accurate to the real life case.  The advantage of Possessed is that it thoroughly depicts the process Fr. Amorth talks about, where people go to the secular “experts” first, then through various false religions, and only Catholic priests are capable of driving away the demon.  The film really depics the inadequacy of the Lutheran minister.

The excellent 1988 version of Don Bosco makes the list, and contains one of my all-time favorite quotations.  Breaking up a brawl at the local brothel that has attracted the attention of his students, Don Bosco cries out, “You people can drown in your own sins if you want to, but if a single one of my boys is lost due to your bad example, not one of you can be saved!”

Two versions of Therese make the list, as well as just about every Gospel-based movie.  I could think of several excellent Bible based films that aren’t on the list.  Prince of Egypt and One Night with the King are good examples (but I wonder how many people realized that the latter was a Biblical movie–its promotion and packaging were rather provocative, and Mary kind of reacted in shock when I rented it, but it’s a really good depiction of the story of Esther).  Saint Ralph didn’t make the cut, either.

The rather lame 1984 TV movie Pope John Paul II, which we recently watched, makes the cut, even though it’s more like “The people who knew JPII,” but the 2005 film with Jon Voight (which I haven’t seen, but the film inspired Voight’s re-commitment to his Catholic faith) is not.

As much as I love VeggieTales, I’d think there are a lot more overtly Catholic films that could make #29 than Jonah

1981 Brideshead Revisit: there; remake, not.  Neither version of End of the Affair makes the cut.

2003’s The Gospel of John is fairly textually accurate but with some clear Protestant biases and a rather poor depiction of Jesus.  The Miracle Maker, by contrast, is a fantastic animated depiction of the Gospel and partially produced by Catholics.

I only remember seeing 38 of the films (not counting a few that I saw when I was a kid but don’t remember well enough to comment), and strongly agree with 49 of the entries (based upon what I know about them second hand).

Disagree with a few, and 11 of the films, if they should be on the list at all, should be a lot lower, while I think 5 of them should be a lot higher.  And, of course, the list is talking about positive portrayal of Catholics or Catholic ideas, so movies like The Fisher King which might make the cut for “Catholic themes” can’t apply here (as with the aforementioned Lewis or Tolkein based films).

I will say, though, that some of my selections are a lot better.  I mean, the devil basically wins in The Exorcist, so that’s hardly a positive portrayal.  Maria leaves the uptight convent to get married in Sound of Music, and there isn’t much explicitly Catholic about the rest of it.

It’s a Wonderful Life has a great theme (but that doesn’t count, does it?) and a good depiction of intercessory prayer (of both Christians on earth and saints in Heaven), but introduces the New Age version of angels that we see later in Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel. Sister Act is “positive” if “Catholics are old fuddy-duddies who need to get with the times and trash the liturgy to win converts” constitutes “positive.”  The aforementioned 1984 JPII flick is actually rather pessimistic, focusing on skeptics and troubled friends.

The Rookie, One Man’s Hero and We Were Soldiers are all good, but Catholicism of the characters is mostly superficial and could be replaced with devout Islam faith or Jewish faith or Evangelical faith.  And, come on, Moonstruck?????  A film about fornication and vow-breaking?  If “superficial depiction” is the rule here, and not themes, Moonstruck is no better than any film where the confessional is played for comic relief.

I’ve never seen Dead Man Walking but the real Sr. Helen Prejean is slightly to the right of Joan Chittister, and the real Susan Sarandon is mildly to the left. .  . .

Great bumper sticker quote

“Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing its idiot.”

Heard about this one in a story about a Connecticut firefighter who was told he couldn’t park his car in the firehouse because of his anti-Obama bumper stickers

Considering how many “Impeach Bush” and “Somewhere in Texas a Village is Missing its Idiot” and worse stickers I’ve seen on the cars –and office doors–of public college faculty in the past several years, seems a bit of a contradiction.

In any case while the joke is an old on it is initial punchline, it obviously has the double whammy of our President’s constitutional ineligibility.

“What about the women who have abortions?”

Pro-abortionists have a particular question they like to throw out at pro-lifers.  Like the Pharisees trying to trip up Jesus, they think this question particularly clever and creates an impossible dilemma.

My recent interlocutor, the pro-abortion terrorist and demonaic who goes by “Operation Counterstrike”, prides itself on its website for supposedly “confounding” pro-lifer bloggers with this question.  Although I answered the question on its blog, and the direct question never came up here in our lengthy exchange, this person (whom I strongly suspect has gender identity issues, given that its rhetoric sounds like NOW but seems to avoid the personal identification with abortion that radical feminists have) tried to say that I put its comments under moderation because of my inability to confront that question.

No, I put its comments under moderation because a) the arguments were getting circular and unprogressive and b) the person insisted on using language that was both rude and crude, as well as personally attacking my friends. This individual needs to learn about a modicum of civil discourse.

Anyway, the question goes like this:

“If abortion is made illegal, and you consider abortion to be murder, what should happen to the women who have abortions?”

They see this is an an “aha!” question, exposing us for either being hypocrites or for “not really thinking abortion is murder.”

The paradox, they think, goes this way:

1.  If you think they should be punished as murderers, they’ll call you “unreasonable.”

2.  If you say they shouldn’t, they say, “Then you don’t really think abortion is murder.”

Of course, these are the kinds of people, especially the CounterStrike person, who think that people like Scott Roeder, Paul Hill and John Salvi are the only consistent anti-abortionists.  According to their logic, a) if you believe abortion is murder, then b) the only way to punish a murderer is to c) kill him/her in an act of vigilantism.  Otherwise, you’re a liar and/or hypocrite in that a) you don’t “really” believe abortion is “murder” or b) you’re not “really” pro-life.

Of course, they set up the false dichotomy in that, case they set up the false dichotomy in this one, too.

Yes, the question does pose a paradox for certain kinds of Republicans and conservatives, but it shouldn’t pose a paradox for a Christian, or certainly any person with an understanding of psychology or legal responsibility.

There is a difference between the objective nature of an act and the subjective culpability of the actor.  When a teenaged girl has an abortion, is she really culpable?  Does she know abortion is murder?  Does she know the unborn child is a person?  (Not if the pro-aborts have anything to say about it; they do everything in their power to fight informed consent, waiting periods and sonogram laws–they know most women would reject abortion if shown this information).  Are they really making the “free choice” that pro-aborts allege?  Or are they pressured by family, society, money, etc.?  What is their mental state?

Is a girl who has an abortion fully morally culpable for what she does? 

Now, this is quite different from, say, some upper middle class white woman who gets an abortion to avoid the stretch marks or pursue her career or something.

Interestingly, Patrick Madrid has been involved in a parallel exchange from the other end, on his Facebook page, radio show and blog, in which a pro-life advocate apparently took a fairly hardline stance with some women who had repented of past abortions, insisting they were still “murderers”.

Of course, objectively, the woman who has an abortion is a “murderer,” but that leads to two issues: 1) her aforementioned culpability and b) her intention of repeating the crime.

A person who copies and pastes a bunch of paragraphs out of Wikipedia and Cliff’s Notes is, objectively, a plagiarist.  However, a good teacher knows how to distinguish unintentional acts of plagiarism from intentional academic theft.  Sometimes, especially in this example, the student just doesn’t know how to cite or how to write a proper research paper, and thinks the copied and pasted paragraphs constitute “research.” 

So, let’s say the teacher decides to give the student a second chance, or that a student who was expelled from one institution for plagiarism gets admitted to another.  In either case, our plagiarist has learned his or her lesson.  He or she remains a plagiarist, but the question is: will he or she *continue* to commit plagiarism?

Inspector Javert chases Jean Valjean for years because he thinks that one act of theft should mark a man for life.

Christians technically believe in repentance and forgiveness.  The pro-life movement is an embodiment of this.  Many of our leaders have themselves been directly involved in abortion in the worst ways: Norma McCorvey, Sandra Cano, Bernard Nathanson, John Bruchalski and so many others have come to the pro-life cause after repenting of their involvement in abortion, whether it was their own abortions, abortion practices, or political/legal work.

Yes, we want to see abortion illegal so that it is stigmatized, and society can heal from the rift in Natural Law caused by legalized abortion.  Yes, we want to save babies’ lives.  Yes, those who are consciously and deliberately involved in abortion–and unrepentant–should be punished for it. 

Those who lack full moral responsibility, however, should be given clemency and understanding.  Those who have repented and turned over a new leaf should be given the benefit of the doubt.  They remain, objectively, murderers, but the real question is whether they will murder again.

There is no better illustration of this than a conundrum presented regarding George W. Bush when he was still Governor of Texas, a situation that puzzled liberals to no end.  It was the case where a woman on death row in Texas had converted to Christianity, repented of her crimes and showed a complete remorse.  Pro-life Christians argued that she should not be subject to the death penalty, and even that she should be released.

“Our God is the God of second chances.”

That’s what Christianity is all about: repentance of sins:

Make the St. Bridget Prayers part of your New Year’s Resolutions

Many copies of the Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden are circulated with a set of “Fantastic Promises.”  Now, the promises are rather specific to the point of superstition, and their provenance is uncertain.  Therefore, the Church has forbidden their publication (though certain prayer books and websites do publish their content).  The devotions themselves are highly approved and recommended.

The gist of the promises, however, is not much different than what one hears in the Scapular promises, Divine Mercy, or various promises made in conjunction with the Rosary: namely, that devout and consistent saying of these prayers will result in great graces.  Also, of course, the prayers are meditations on the Passion, and any reflection on the Bible, the Gospel in particular, and the Passion most specifically, carries great graces.

The promises encourage that the prayers be said every day for a year, and that such devotion will be repaid with fantastic graces, including the conversions of family members, release of relatives’ souls from Purgatory, etc.

I have never successfully said the prayers every day for a year, but I have gone for stretches of months, and always with obvious results–both positive results and demonic attacks.

One of the reasons I recorded Hide Me In Your Wounds was to facilitate my own practice of this powerful devotion.  I have Hide Me In Your Wounds on both our cell phones, two computers (including the file server on our home network, so I can listen to it on any of them), and in both cars.  Since  I completed the recordings, I’ve prayed the St. Bridget devotions fairly regularly. 

This past few months have seen many prayers answered, many signs of healing and progress for old wounds in both sides of our families.  I am eager to see what greater blessings await as I continue in my practice of this devotion.

New Year’s Day makes a great starting point for trying to make it a year.

Why not download a copy of Hide Me In Your Wounds today?

Catholic Geek Slogans #5

“Make it so!”

Paypal proves that “the holidays” is just a euphemism for Christmas Day.

Dear Paypal,

Technically, “The Holidays” are not over.

1. Christmas is not one day; it is twelve days, and it won’t be over until January 6.

2. New Year’s hasn’t even happened yet.

3. I believe that the communist holiday “Kwanzaa” is still going on.

4. Epiphany is January 6.

——————————————————————————– From: PayPal To: JCHathaway Sent: Mon, December 28, 2009 8:47:41 AM

Subject: John, the holidays are over, but the deals are still going PayPal Shopping. Great holiday deals didn’t end with the holidays. Shop now. Viewing on a PDA? View text version. Having trouble viewing this email? View online. PayPal Home Become a Fan Follow Us Save on Health & Fitness at Walmart.com Shop Now 25% off clearance items Use code: GEARUP Shop Now 100 prints for $12.99 Use code: PAL100 Shop Now 5% off + FREE shipping Shop Now 10% off entire order at SportsAuthority.com Shop Now Get $15 off $75 Use code: SVN98 Shop Now Hello John Hathaway, The holidays may be over, but you can still get terrific deals from PayPal and other great brands. With savings this big, now’s your chance to get something special for yourself.

Catholic Geek Slogans #4

“Yo, Joe!”

Attention Liberal Liturgists: “All” is not a noun

“It matters little if you are considered ill-bred and still less if you are taken for hypocrites: indeed, you will gain by this, because only those who understand your language will come to see you. If one knows no Arabic, one has no desire to talk a great deal with a person who knows no other language. So worldly people will neither weary you nor do you harm — and it would do you no small harm to have to begin to learn and talk a new language; you would spend all your time learning it. You cannot know as well as I do, for I have found it out by experience, how very bad this is for the soul; no sooner does it learn one thing than it has to forget another and it never has any rest. This you must at all costs avoid; for peace and quiet in the soul are of great importance on the road which we are about to tread.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 20, para. 5).

Catholic Geek Slogans #3

“May the Lord be With You!”

(That’s Sir Alec Guinness, Catholic convert, as G. K. Chesterton’s Fr. Brown, long before he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars; Guinness also played Pope Innocent in Brother Sun, Sister Moon).

Catholic Geek Slogans #2

“My other vehicle’s the Ark”

One of my favorite Christmas stories, from one of our patrons

One Christmas Eve, one of our patrons, St. Louis IX, King of France, was keeping an all night prayer vigil, when he was interrupted by a courtier.

“Your Majesty! Your Majesty!  There has been a great miracle at Midnight Mass in the palace chapel!  At the moment the priest said the words of consecration and elevated the Host, the face of Christ appeared in the Host!”

The saintly king and Franciscan Tertiary was perturbed.  “Why have you interrupted my meditation on the birth of Our Lord and Savior,” he asked, “To inform me of a miracle that occurs at every Mass?”

Merry Christmas!

It does matter

I read somewhere where Cicero, decades before Christ was born, professed that it was Ok to believe in myths in the days of Homer, but that men of his day were too sophisticated to believe in Gods, because there was too much scientific knowledge. . .. 
Then there were the debates over Aristotle’s incompatibility with the Bible.

Then there was that guy Galileo

And Columbus

And Darwin

Now, they talk about the possibility of aliens.

Each new epoch in scientific discovery is somehow seen by a vast minority as discrediting religion in general, and Christianity in particular.

God is not a proposition to be proven; God is not a proposition at all, but if we were to reduce Him to a mere proposition, God would be a proposition to be disproven.  There are basically three sorts:

1) your honest agnostic–“I don’t have any particular religion, and I’m not sure what I think about organized religion or whether God exists.”

2) Your basically-an-atheist agnostic.  Like the guy on an episode of Bones, speaking sarcastically to Dr. Brennan: “Like any rational person, I’m an agnostic.” (I’ll take for granted that he’s misusing rationalism and confusing it with radical empiricism).

3) the full-blown atheist.

For the latter two, the proposition is not proving that God exists but proving God does not exist.  Even when they claim no proof, either way, they obviously side with each other.  You’re less likely to see a radical agnostic criticizing an atheist than you are to see him or her criticizing a Christian.

Jesus’ birth still matters.  Say what they will about the apparent discrepancies in the Scriptures (most of which are discrepancies in how we’ve read into the Scriptures, not what they actually say), the advent of Jesus Christ changed the world.  There is a significant difference in the world pre-Christ and the world after Christ. 

Even the secularization of Christmas is itself a sign.  “Christmas is a season of Hope.”  “Christmas is a season of love.”  “Christmas is about peace on earth.”  “Christmas is about family.” 

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked His disciples, and today, there are many answers to “What is the real meaning of Christmas?”  VeggieTales illustrates this  in the new Saint Nicholas video.  But all those answers beg the question: “Why?”  “What makes it so special?  Why do these values become so special at Christmas?”

Catholic Geek Slogans, Christmas Edition

“Look!  Up in the sky!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s St. Nicholas!”

Today is the anniversary of one of my great miracles

Almost every year since 1989, I’ve made a novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague on the 16th to the 25th of December (OK, two mostly concurrent novenas).

For the first of those novenas, I prayed to be miraculously cured. Then I discerned that Marfan syndrome was my cross, and that I was not (as I then thought) called to the priesthood but to marriage. So, starting around age 15, I prayed for God to send me my spouse.

In 1999, I signed up for Single Catholics Online (now Ave Maria Singles). On December 8, I e-mailed a new member named Mary from Virginia. For a few weeks, we carried on an interesting correspondence, but I didn’t know if it was going to go anywhere (she says that she was settled on me from my first e-mail, picture and last name). I was used to online relationships at that point, but I was having a hard time deciding where this one was going.

On December 23, Dad and I were watching _It’s a Wonderful Life_. I thought, “I tend to be such a George Bailey, with my big dreams–I need a Mary to keep me grounded. Hey! That girl I’ve been writing to is named Mary, and she says this is one of her favorite movies!”

 

Well, after watching the movie, I logged onto my AOL account and had a message from Mary!

She had read this article of mine from the 1998 C. S. Lewis Institute:

“Wow, you’re wonderful!”  said the subject line.

To think I actually took Christmas off from emailing the answer to all my prayers, and then I let myself get caught up in a new game I’d gotten for Christmas.  I replied on the 23rd, but I noted it would be a few days before I’d get back on e-mail.

A few days later, when I resumed the correspondence, we started a whirlwind exchange that led to our engagement on January 15 and our marriage on July 29, and now here we are, 10 years later!

Happy anniversary, my love!!!  Thank you for 10 wonderful years!

Catholic Geek Slogans #1

“I have the Power!”

Progress in the SSPX Discussion

New Liturgical Movement reports that Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta, perhaps to now one of the least well known of the Society of St. Pius X bishops, has said the outcome of the first official doctrinal meeting was “good”.

The main points under discussion are, understandably:

a) The Magisterium of the Council and after the Council.

b) The conciliar liturgical reform.

c) Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.

e) Papal authority and collegiality.

f) Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, secularism and the social reign of Jesus Christ.

g) Human rights and human dignity according to the Council’s teaching.

Of course, most “traditional” Catholics who are not schismatic, such as yours truly, agree with the SSPX to some degree or other on these issues, if only that Vatican II is very confusing in the light of Church tradition. I believe in a hermeneutic of continuity, but it is rather intellectually puzzling in some cases.

Progress in these dialogues would be a great boon to the Church. If the SSPX is allowed to resume full canonical status, then it would not only be a victory for authentic ecumenism, but it would ease the minds of many troubled traditionalists–it would also infuriate a lot of liberal Catholics.

According to the article, the process of the dialogue is: a) SSPX writes a position paper on one of the issues; b) “technical experts” exchange e-mails on the subject; c) the Vatican issues a formal response; d) an in person discussion is scheduled (and recorded by both sides); e) the results are forwarded to Pope Benedict XVI and to Bishop Bernard Fellay.

Holy Father condemns “ecocentrism.”

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has condemned the manifestations of environmentalism that put the environment above human beings.

It’s a distinction I always refer to as “conservation” versus “environmentalism”

Conservation is about stewardship of God’s creation and preservation of resources. Environmentalism is about worship of nature–or, really, using the worship of nature as a cover for the Left’s desire for absolute power.