Category Archives: activism

“It belongs in a museum,” they say.

Actually, it already is.
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We visited the SC State Museum this evening for the first time since a major renovation, and we noticed how, hidden in a dark corner behind a very interesting exhibit about Mitchelville, a community for escaped slaves started during the War Between the States, there is a display of the two Confederate battle flags that flew over the State House for 40 years–with a  text explaining the history of the flag over the state house and when and why it was taken down, and then-governor Jim Hodge, a Democrat who probably wouldn’t even have been elected were it not for two issues, the Flag and the lottery, giving the State House CBFs to the curators of the State Museum.  So the controversial one at the current Civil War veterans’ memorial on the grounds wasn’t even above the State House dome previously.  The display is pretty easy to miss if you’re not looking for it or studying the exhibits carefully–it’s essentially a closet with a motion sensor light that you have to be standing in front of the glass to turn on.  As you can probably tell from my picture, I was too far away for the light to be on.
Meanwhile, when people argue about the one that’s currently there, I keep seeing  people say, “It shouldn’t be higher than the American Flag.”
I keep wondering why they’re saying that, and it dawned on me that it’s the angle of the pictures the media keep using, to make it look more prominent than it really is. Pictures like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

Give the impression that it’s bigger, higher, etc., when it’s not.
It’s actually rather pathetic, and here’s a more accurate picture:

Do I like that it’s one of the first things one sees at the state capitol? No, but mainly because it looks pathetic and tacky, not for any ideological statement, one way or the other.
But this is a perfect example of how people let media distortions influence their understanding of truth. Even cameras, as my journalism professor said, are not unbiased.

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“but, Daddy, at school they said, . . .”: Why I homeschool

A few years ago, we tried brick and mortar.  We had our girls in a pretty good Catholic school and our son in a pretty good public school.  At Christmas that year (kindergarten), he started talking about the (alleged) religious symbolism of the candy cane.  We asked if he’s heard it at CCD, Lord’s Brigade, or on EWTN.  He said, “No.  From [my teacher].”  Indeed, our town’s general homeschool community, which my wife follows on Facebook to keep up with events, Is largely made up of secularists who find the local public schools too religious!”

But, still, even if you set aside questions of the moral and psychological dangers, bullying, peer pressure, subversive agendas, disputes about curriculum or teaching models, ability of the school to accommodate learning or physical disabilities, and so forth, those  two years, and the continuing aftermath, have highlighted a dilemma that troubled me my whole life.

My children’s generous uncles and aunts, starting with the Wii that I expected to be a one-time capitulation, have given them a steady stream of video game systems, so each of them now has at least one DS-whatever, and they’re constantly talking about the next thing they want.  I recall when I was laying in the hospital two years ago, watching my daughter play her DS, and thinking–whether I was actually hearing this or hallucinating, I may never know–the nurses, the hospital patieht rep, and others complaining about my kids having so many video games when we always say we’re struggling financially.  We are, and we’ve purchased very few of the games they have, and of course games have horrible resale value.  The point is that they’ve been roped into a materialistic cycle I’d always wanted to avoid.

My son’s hand me down DS broke over Thanksgiving.  His uncle sent him a hand me down Of what .i thought was the latest middle for first communion.  

Today, I took the kids to the park to fly a kite we bought at a dollar store.  We were having a good, old fashioned, inexpensive, fun time, but while I assembled the kite, I heard him talking about how he wants to save up for the latest model, which apparently is literally the “new 3DSXL.”  Within what I thought was reasonable for his fragile psyche, I lost it a bit and got a bit preachy.  We had a moment, hugged it out, but when I tried to talk about living in the moment, he said how at school they always talked about preparing for the future and planning for emergencies.  In his mind, having a second DS in case one breaks qualified as an emergency.   I’d been enjoying those 6 months when he carried around a box of Legos.

But how do you teach your child to be humble, to have poverty of spirit, to put others first, etc., when schools, and ironically Catholic schools especially, teach pride, ambition, and competitiveness?

The Jesuits have always been controversial for their accommodation of local cultures, and for their frequent interference in politics,  but I do not understand how an Order which rarely produces bishops or cardinals and has taken 500 years to produce a Pope because it teaches against pursuing advancement has contributed so much to the competitive approach to education we find in modernity.

When a dress code is not just about teaching modesty and obedience but wearing a “blue blazer with brass buttons,” is that teaching children to follow the examples of John the Baptist, Martin of Tours, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, or Pier Giorgio?  Even the Monarchs who’ve been canonized generally dressed below their stations.  

When a school advertises its “high academic standards,” makes students compete for titles like “valedictorian” even to the point of destroying friendships, gives awards for “perfect attendance,” etc., his is that teaching children to live the Beatitudes?   Help that homeless person you pass on the way to school, get a few minutes late, lose perfect attendance and lost the edge on being “#1.”  Besides, helping the homeless is dangerous, might be illegal, and you need to direct them to proper charities.  Is that a message that teaches kids to be Saints..

I know I could do a lot better as a parent, but I also know that what Ai consider better is the opposite of the World.

That’s why I homeschool.

On Riots, Racism, and Standardized Testing: All you need is Love, and that means Christ

Our nation is in turmoil.  Everything distopian novelists and “crazy conspiracy theorists” have written about seems to be coming true.  Early in the Obama administration, for example, people said he’d create a national crisis to declare Martial Law and establish a dictatorship.  Well, the tensions are arising, and Obama  established aprogram under everyone’s noses to begin nationalizing local police forces.  Major cities keep erupting in race riots.  The Supreme Court is likely to overturn every state law on marriage and establish yet another fictious constitutional “Right.” Some people are being driven out of business for expressing thir Christian beliefs while other businesses are denying Christians their services.   Hillary Clinton says if (and when) she’s “elected” President, she wants to force all religions to accept abortion.

All of it just shows society’ need for Christ.   

Attempts to “fix” broken schools with more money and more legislative interference for 50-60 years have only made things worse.  All we have is a “race to nowhere” with high stakes standardized tests that demonstrate nothing about real learning, line the pockets of educational conglomerates, and cause students to burn out, or worse, from the stress.  When I was in elementary school, the teachers would say, discussing the differences between the US and Communist countries, taht Communists made students take tests that determined their entire lives.  When I was a young adult, a teacher friend went through a few years where a faculty member had a heart attack or stroke during standardized testing, because it was so stressful.  

We can’t fix something unless we know why it’s broken, and what’s broken is a lack of transcendent values.   
If the reason people riot is lack of advantage, or discrimination by police, what is served by looting or burning small businesses and charities?  One of the reasons the July 1832 revolt that Hugo immortalized failed was that most of “the people” were mad at the students for stealing their stuff.  But, at least they knew whom they were revolting against (a just, Catholic king who was popular for giving he people more rights than the “Republic” or Napoleon) and why (they believed that secular government could and should end poverty). I saw a meme pointing out how people riot over sports games, and implying that race riots at least have a point.  The way I see it, it’s equally meaningless: unbridled anger, expressed in random violence.  If revolution is ever effective or just–and the Church has always been wary of revolution, even in the case of the Cristeros–it needs to be focused on the right enemy.  

I often refer to Catechism 676, the passage that tells us to beware of any movement that claims to try and solve all the world’s problems through  secular means because that is the “spirit of Antichrist.”  This was the reason the Church condemned Freemasonry.  It’s what Pope Benedict XVI expounded on in _Caritas in Veritate_, saying taht charity must be from love and truth, both of which are personfied in Christ, and that since the Church is the arbiter of Christ’s teachings and the Natural Law, economic justice cannot be divorced from the Church.

Prayer, fasting and forgiveness are the only solutions to these crises.  The more we abandon Christ as a society, the worse thigns will get.  If as 1 Samuel warns us, we choose a “King” over God, the warnings Samuel gave to the Israelites will continue to be proven. 

“Don’t show me those graphic pictures!”

There is a common complaint, with which I tend to sympathize, that we shouldn’t focus so much on the graphic images of abortion or of victims of terrorism and persecution. On the other hand, as Fr. Frank Pavone says, “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.”
However again, people rightly point out that images of violence can desensitize us to violence and/or inspire us to violence. Particularly when it comes to seeing the images of those being martyred by radical Muslims, we’re warned that promotion of such images might promote further violence or allow to the terrorists to get exactly what they want by allowing them to get credit for their misdeeds.
As far as that goes, as Thomas Merton points out in Bread in the Wilderness, would anyone know of Sihon, king of the Amorites or Og, the king of Bashan were it not for the Sacred Scriptures recounting how Israel triumphed over them?

Then it occurred to me, reflecting on the recent 21 Coptic Christians whose status as martyrs was affirmed by ISIS recording them professing Christ as they died, how Christian devotion is fundamentally based upon “graphic images” like these:

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 51 (New American Bible)

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 102 (New American Bible)

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 130 (New American Bible)



So, yes, please don’t glorify evil by showing graphic images of evils being committed today.

What is truly a “slap in the face”?

We’ve all heard by now of the suicide of Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old brain cancer victim who decided to become the poster woman for so called “death with dignity,” and then got mad when people criticized her “personal choice.”  The Pontifical Academy for Life issued a statement condemning assisted suicide, and calling her death “reprehensible.”  Maynard’s mother has now posted an article on some site called “Compassion and Choices“, saying that PAV statement is “immoral” and “a slap in the face.”  The Culture of Death is now calling it “the Pope’s sin.”  I submitted the following to “Compassion and Choices.”  Re-posting here:

You posted an article by Brittany Maynard’s mother, claiming that the Pontifical Academy for Life’s statement on her daughter’s suicide is a “slap in the face” and “immoral.” No, Brittany Maynard’s suicide, and your entire “death without dignity” movement is immoral and a slap in the face to every one of us who deals with debilitating, life threatening illnesses. I have Marfan syndrome. I have suffered horrible pain every day of my life. I have dealt every day with the knowledge it could be my last. I have also dealt quite regularly with the temptation to “end my suffering” in this life–but a death with *true* dignity, the death of a Saint, is far more appealing to me. The risk of eternal suffering in Hell, and the knowledge that Jesus died undeservingly for my sins, and continues to suffer that infinite pain of the Passion for me, make it worth it to me to share His sufferings now for love of Him. Leon Bloy said the only tragedy is not to be a Saint.
What is reprehensible is the notion that people with terminal illnesses should be killed or pressured to kill ourselves because we are a “burden” to others. What is reprehensible is saying that it is dignified and courageous to die the death of a coward.
I pray that Brittany Maynard was not culpable for her decision, or that she repented in her last seconds, but what she did was neither moral nor compassionate, for herself or others.

Sincerely,
John C. Hathaway, OCDS

Which is easier to deny?

Thought: if a conservative Catholic says that, for example, Pelosi, Biden, or Giuliani isn’t “really Catholic” because Catholicism is a set if beliefs, and one must at least nominally adhere to them to claim membership, secularists will insist that baptism and possible parish registration are sufficient.

On the other hand, if you respond to the claim that conservatives are racists and/or sexists by pointing out conservative figures who are women and/or minorities, it’s “Clarence Thomas isn’t ‘really’ Black,” or “The Little Sisters of the Poor are anti-woman.”

“Really” Catholic, and don’t dare suggest otherwise:
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These people are anti-woman:

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Alan Keyes, not “really” African American, and only a racist supports him since his conservative ideals, say the liberals, are too nuts for anyone to actually support:

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So, “Have it Your Way” is now “We’re all the same on the inside”?

Burger King has raised controversy by their so-called “Pride Burger”.  Obviously, restaurants are in the business of promoting capital sins, usually in the form of gluttony and covetousness (advertising), to serve their own avarice.  So we shouldn’t be too surprised when they branch out.  However, what strikes me about the attempt at raising “awareness” that has “progressives” rejoicing and conservatives disgusted is that it coincides with their transition from their classic  “Have it Your Way” motto to the nonsensical “Be Your Way.”
The burger, as you’ve probably heard, has a special wrapper that says, “We’re all the same on the inside.” I’ve read it as a one-time thing in San Francisco and as a national campaign.  Either way, the corporation supports it.

Let’s side the fact that we are not all the same on the inside: that, as St. John Paul II points out in _Theology of the Body_, the differences between men and women are far greater on the “inside” than the “outside,” that our very skeletons differ in how women’s bodies are constructed specifically for child-bearing.
Let’s set aside the fact that the very claim of LGBTQXYZ advocates is that they’re not the same “on the inside,” that they may look “male” or “female” but “identify” differently “on the inside” than what they appear.

imageLet’s ignore that and focus on the stupidity of this phrasing as a marketing ploy: “Have it Your Way” is now “We’re all the same on the inside,” doesn’t that mean, “Eat your pickles.  Eat your lettuce.  Special orders do upset us”?