Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Monday, 25 July 2016

A Hierarchy of Atrocities, How the "News" Ranks Tragedy

Why do American news outlets give so much more coverage to one act of barbarity than to another?
They seem to have so much more to say about murders at a shopping center in Munich than a suicide bombing in Kabul.
Is the level of the victims' otherness the deciding factor?
Is where Americans might vacation?
Is war news fatigue to blame? (Oh, some more of those people have blown up yet more others of those people...)

And in nightclub shootings, it seemed there was an immediate effort to put a  face on the Orlando victims, even while a stand-off was occurring.
Not so with the children killed in Ft Myers.
Is that because in the Pulse incident both victims and murderer were members of privileged-by-forces-of-political-correctness classes? (Never mind the rush to blame the atrocity on those who were members of neither of the two.)

Then what to make of news reports on the Club Blu horror? Clearly from news photos, twitter postings and facebook videos, the club's teen-aged clientele was primarily, if not exclusively black. Is that not relevant?
And if not, why not?
Are victims' identity as African-American, (presumably, though one cannot tell residence or citizenship from photos and names,) teen-agers of less moment that that of Latino homosexuals, do they matter less, is it a less "sex" story?
Or conversely, is neglect of such details an effort to forestall commentary on black-on-black crime, whether that be rational or bigoted?

My hear is sick, how the world needs prayer!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

"Morning Star Over America"

I am a staunch believer in the miraculous in general - I know the Almighty sets aside the laws of physics, the law of nature whenever it please Him to do so - but in particular?
Not so much.
I don't disbelieve them, Medjugorje, stigmatics, [is that the word?] intermittently liquefying blood, the Virgin Mary visiting Long Island.... but I am agnostic.
But an agnostic, or at least a thinking agnostic, by very definition is open to being convinced, and perhaps even, sometimes, eager to be convinced - at least one way or the other.
Has the Blessed Mother been appearing to two men in Illinois?
One might ask why would she? but might just as well ask why not?
In any case, Bishop Paprocki is just the man to depend on in determining the truth of the matter.
"I could hear a voice coming from outside me. It was a pleading voice from a very young girl. There was authority in her voice, even though it was very mild.”
...[Two] former Ashland residents who now live in Springfield, said they have been receiving visions of and messages from Mary — communications they recently turned over to Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese for a commission to review.
Parsons-Heather and Roth said they have experienced visions, miraculous phenomenon, apparitions, prophetic knowledge and daily conversations with the Virgin Mary since February 1991.
“After the initial shock, she began teaching us about moral truth and what kind of people Jesus wishes us to become,” Roth said. “I don’t see mystical phenomena or miracles, per se, as something extraordinary or rare anymore. They accompany our faith. Many beautiful spiritual gifts become part of anyone’s life when we are consecrated in obedience to Jesus through his mother’s guidance.”
...“The purpose of the commission is to study the body of literature concerning what is referred to as the ‘Morning Star Over America’ in accord with the ‘Norms Regarding the Manner of Proceeding in the Discernment of Presumed Apparitions or Revelations,’ in order to express a judgment regarding the authenticity and supernatural character if the case so merits,” Paprocki said. “I would advise people to do nothing with the published ‘Morning Star Over America’ works until the commission yields a response.
“This is the only such request for the establishment of a commission to examine private revelations that I have had during my tenure as bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, which began in June 2010."
...  In 1989, [one of the men]  received a book about Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, and that inspired him to visit the holy site.
“It was probably the most profound experience of my life up to that time,” Roth said. “I had grown up being taught about our Holy Mother’s appearances at Fatima and Lourdes, and it struck me that it was happening right now, and I thought that we were very, very blessed to have an event like that happening.
“What I saw was the truth through the faith of the visionaries at Medjugorje. I became convinced that the power to change the world was through the Virgin Mary’s miraculous intercession. I knew it was the gift that the world had been waiting for.”
One might find the fact that the apparitions began after a pilgrimage to the location of another reputed Marian apparition makes them suspect, inspired by the power of suggestion, but what if we look at it another way?
What if we acknowledge the possibility that such things have happened over, and over again, are happening even now, are occurring constantly, to each and every human creature, if only he opens the eyes of his soul, the ears of his heart to recognize it?
It occurs to me that I may have been the potential recipient of mystical communication but having given it no thought, failed to so much as notice it.

Birders know that it takes practice and knowledge and awareness to take in all the sightings one could make.

I remember when I was involved in a wedding being planned, being shocked at how many gracious homes with charming gazebos in beautiful gardens there suddenly seemed to be.
Had they not been there before?
Had they sprung up overnight?
Do I think they weren't really there and I only thought I saw them through the power of suggestion?

Monday, 18 July 2016

Credit Where Due, THIS USCatholic Article Needs to Be Read

The boondoggle that is TANF needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed now.
Haunted by the Reagan era, (and pretty much mythical) bogey of the "welfare queen," the federal government overhauled a system intended to provide vital aid to poor families, especially those with children, in a reform intended to help people get OFF welfare, becoming self-sufficient. Those seem like good intentions, but we have been left with a system that leaves the most vulnerable among us inadequately cared for.
[The old welfare system] used to reach as many as 68 out of 100 families in need; [the Clinton era program we now have] now reaches 23 out of 100. The purchasing power of our parsimonious public aid—some states offer less than $300 a month to a family of three—has similarly declined dramatically. Meanwhile, the national TANF average monthly caseload has fallen by almost two thirds—from 4.7 million families in 1996 to 1.7 million families in 2014—even as poverty has intensified. It appears while TANF is great at moving poor families off of poverty caseloads, it is far less successful at actually moving families out of poverty. Two decades in, is TANF due for reform? The church’s teaching on human dignity insists that the authentic needs and dignity of the “client” have primacy over the prejudices of society when devising public aid proposals. And its preferential option for the poor demands that in a just society the treatment of the poor will have primacy over other public spending decisions
And yes, before you small-government types say it, the current welfare system still wastes an enormous amount of tax-payer money.

But guess what?

It's not going to the poor.

It's going in block grants to the states, in the name of subsidiarity, where it is spent in myriad ways that bear no fruit in moving people out of poverty and that have created ever more complicated machineries and protocols and systems and programs that benefit - the people who devise them and execute them.
"What's YOUR Love Style?"
Why do I ask? you wonder...
Give a listen. In case you don't feel like listening, Oklahoma was offered as an example...)

... but looked at my state, and we're doing an even more shameful job of caring for the poor.

"Disagree"? I Think You Mean "Dissent" or More Possibly, "Disregard"

USCatholic has a piece about supporting the Girl Scouts by someone named Cait.
I was surprised to find that there are some who feel the Girl Scouts and its parent organization WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) don’t fall in line with Roman Catholic teachings. Specifically, they take issue with the inclusion of gay and transgender girls within troops and WAGGGS’ known advocacy for reproductive rights.
As a former Girl Scout, I choose to disagree.
"Disagree" with what?
Surely not the facts.
Would you deny that through the Girl Scouts it's members, leaders and donors, (including, yeah, those of us who purchase cookies at exorbitant prices,) contribute financially to WAGGGS? (as well as providing moral and p support, of course, making it possible to say "we serve/represent xxxxx gazillion girls internationally!")

Of course not.

Do you deny that WAGGGS advocates for reproductive rights? ("Reproductive rights" is a euphemism for abortion, artificial contraception and the freedom to engage in consensual fornication. Not making a moral judgment on those things, that is simply what is meant.)

I don't see how you can.

Are you denying that support for those "doesn’t fall in line" with what our Faith believes and has always taught?

Again, surely not.
So what you really mean is, the Girl Scouts do some good things and you benefitted from belonging to them and so you don't really care if you give aid and support to an organization that is a proponent of the deliberate destruction of innocent life, which you, as an educated and faithful Catholic, know to be vilely sinful.

You don't disagree at all, I'd imagine.

You just don't care.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Principles? We Don' Need No Stinkin' Principles

I am finding myself less bothered by people with whom I simply disagree on The Big Issues, than with supposed true believers who, in what is admittedly a no-win situation, bail on values to protect fiscal preferences.

Friday, 15 July 2016

So when you think about it, it's kind refreshing: the Public Square and the Minions of Hell

I suppose it can be refreshing to hear someone say what he's thinking - no obfuscation, no shading... 

No manners.

I have a friend who tells me that when she was young, if the kids whined that they "wanted" something, her Grandma would cock an eyebrown and mutter, people in hell want ice water.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Bastille Day, You Know, Liberte, Egliate, Fraternite; Ushering In the Secular Utopia of the Enlightnment

St Kateri

First time out my door since Sunday, fitting that it was for the feast day of the "Lily of the Mohawks."

Here's the thing - I thought it wryly funny, and appropriate, the day in honor of a saint with scarred, and probably, let's be honest, ugly skin.
I happily implore her intercession and accept her patronage. My skin is ugly, and so the face under it is often as well, and I accept that. It's also painful, I'm not as accepting of that.

But what had somehow escaped me was that it was not just her appearance damaged by the smallpox, but her eyesight.

All my worst flare-ups until now had hurt, yeah, and had looked appalling, but this last episode had left my vision, albeit only temporarily, affected.
I didn't, couldn't help at all with the driving, (on the way south after the glorious, glorious CMAA Colloquium.)
I wore my sunglasses all through Mass on Sunday, and have pretty much stayed in dim rooms since.

I've always been very grateful for my eyesight, which was not just good but, once upon a time, exceptional.
I have noticed I don't have as much leeway with distance vis a vis music rack,as opposed to hand-held, as opposed to hand-held in a dense choral crowd, (Brower's choir at the Cathedral, f'rinstance.)
But that's a normal part of aging.
Presbyopia, no?
But now I wondering if something more specific and serious is in play.
S. Kateri, ora pro me

Monday, 11 July 2016

Saint Anthony of the Desert

"The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices. He is also afraid when we are humble and good. He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much. He runs away when we make the Sign of the Cross."

"The devil dreads fasting, prayer, humility, and good works: He is not able even to stop my mouth who speak against him. The illusions of the devil soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which He triumphed over and disarmed them.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Parable of the Good Unattractive, Home-schooling, Transgendered Samaritan

A man person fell victim to robbers as said person went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and shot said person and went off leaving said person half-dead.

A conservative think tank happened to be going down that road, and when they saw zir, they variously cried out, see? if only he'd been carrying a gun this wouldn't have happened, why hasn't he done something to help himself, it's these people's own fault because that's how they live, maybe we should build a wall, how would new laws have helped anyway? I don't recognize him so I bet he shouldn't have been here in the first place, I blame all this on leaders of the other party, anyway, he's obviously a loser, he's only one person and THOUSANDS have died from... as they passed by on the opposite side.

Likewise, members of a liberal grass-roots movement came to the place and when they saw him, they too variously cried out, prayers won't help, someone come up with a hashtag, we need more gun control, we should take advantage of this crisis, perhaps ze had victimized the perpetrators via micro-agressions and the robbers finally had just had enough, so they are  the ones who really need our hashtags and help, I blame this on the legislators of the other party, we can't let this take the focus off the real victims here, let's start chanting, anybody got a slogan? You know what is gross? thoughts and prayers and Samaritanaphobia after you created this anti-Jericho climate, as they also  passed by on the opposite side

But an unattractive, home-schooling, transgendered, mixed-race, evangelical, Christian, undocumented, immigrant, obese, vegetarian, law enforcement officer with a congenital disability that should have made him an obvious candidate for abortion which would have been the most humane thing to have done, but oh, well, too late now, who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight.
He She They Ze approached the victim, poured oil and wine over zir wounds and bandaged them. Then ze lifted zir up on zir own animal, took zir to an inn, and cared for zir.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Making Sense of the Senseless

We need to have a conversation about this. We cannot solve problems until we know their root, and we cannot know the root of a problem unless we examine it and discuss it.

It was being brought up by hate-filled parents.
It was homophobia.
No, it was easy access to assault weapons,
The government didn't keep good enough tabs on its citizens.
No, the government is oppressing us by keeping tabs on us and our guns.
Not enough care available for the mentally ill.
The problem is the PC refusal to recognize dysphoria and deviance as disordered and in need of care.
Militant Islam that seeks to destroy its enemies
¿Por qué no todos ?
Why can't they all be discussed? why must conversation be shut down on any of these possibilities? why are people so afraid of what they will find?
You, crazy ACLU lawyer-types - I'm willing to discuss it.
You think Christianity is to blame, that if Christians didn't advocate for traditional marriage and resist being told they must recognize and even serve activity they regard as an abhorrent sin the Orlando gunman would not have behaved as he did, that my praying for you is one cause - wanna discuss it? wanna tell my how prayer is hateful?

Monday, 13 June 2016

Me, at 7: I Looooove Root Beer My Snarky Little Brother: Yeah? Then Why Don't You Marry It?

What hicks we were!
Little did I know that what he suggested was possible.!
Earlier this month, a professor at Santa Monica College led students in an ‘EcoSexual Sextravaganza’ in which participants ‘married the ocean.’
Amber Katherine, a philosophy professor who helped organize the May 14 event, explained to Campus Reform that the purpose of the “wedding” was to bring about a deeper love for the planet through “ecocentric passion and even lust.”
The ceremony began with ... a former SMC student, proclaiming to those gathered at Santa Monica Beach that “today we stand upon this holy earth and in this sacred space to witness the rite of matrimony between the sea and us all.”
Next, leaders of the event distributed rings to the students, announcing “with this ring, I bestow upon the sea the treasures of my mind heart and hands—as well as my body and soul. With the power vested in us, we now pronounce you ‘married to the sea.’”
Oh. Or would that have been a mixed marriage? I mean, the body is what? about 60% water? But alas, no root beer at all...

A mug like that.....? Forget that mug and find another, One of your own kind, Stick to your own kind!

And the Lord Replied, "What Else Have I Been Doing?"

I cannot be the only one who mused fondly on some less-than-competent liturgical music programs from ones past or present this morning during the Responsorial Psalm, and thought, hmm.... good thing we don't often sing much of the Mass on weekdays.
Lord, listen to my groaning.

St Anthony, find us the Lost Chord?

Thursday, 9 June 2016

I don't need to imagine it...

“A wedding party where no wine makes the newlyweds ashamed, imagine you finish the wedding party drinking tea!’ Francis said, noting, “The wine is necessary to the party.”
Actually, I think it was a bit warm for tea, I may have had Diet Coke. Pretty sure Himself had coffee. Saw no reason to make the evangelical neighbors and the alcoholic in-laws uncomfortable or in need of fabricating a polite excuse for beating a hasty retreat from the reception.

And you know, morning.

Understand his point though.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Sometimes, You Just Don't Know Against Whom To Root

Wealthy, conservative, wishes-he-were-still-closeted activist does battle against How-Is-Two-People-having-Sex-In-What-They-Think-Is-Private-NOT-Newsworthy? media outlet.
Former compared elite universities to the pre-Reformation Catholic Church.
“You have this priestly class of professors who aren’t doing a whole lot of work, supported by a system dedicated to convincing people to buy indulgences and amass enormous debt for the dubious salvation that a diploma represents.”
But the latter, Gawker is.... well, Gawker.

I think I'll just concentrate on a journey where the path to Virtue and Rectitude is better marked - who gets my vote in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Catholic Cultural Currents, and Words

What does it mean to "conserve," to wish to "conserve"?
Could we say that sometimes the opposite of "conservative" is "neglectful" or even "destructive"?
If you disparage others as "scrupulous," are you saying it's better to be "negligent"?
Is the opposite of "nostalgia-hankering" perhaps "novelty-chasing" or "trend-infatuated"?

If you insist on setting yourself apart from those you deride as "pro-life," what does that make you? How would you like to identify yourself, vis a vis your position on "life"?

And what does it say about a Catholic who

When you speak of opinions outsiders may have of the Church, do you say, "They are known for the...." when it is aspects which you condemn or disavow, but ask "What do they say about us now?" (The way in '50s sitcoms when Junior drove Mom crazy she'd ask Dad, "What do you think YOUR son just did?")

Just wondering....
As Santayana said, or at least should have, 
Those who fail to appreciate history are doomed to be embarrassed when they look back on the present.

The Catholic Fringe Unraveling On Both Selvages, and Overplaying One's Hand

A bit of hubbub of late over some ordained persons' calling out of some unordained persons, in some cases by name, (one of said ordained persons being in the habit of threatening unordained persons with civil lawsuits,) following the unordained persons having called out other ordained persons by name, some consecrated persons by name, and even, in several cases, an installed person whose name is... well, known to virtually the entire world.
Some of all of this is deserved, other instances are unfair, some of it is bullying and clericalist, some of it is barking mad.
Hardly is anyone in these wars ever 100% wrong, there are often good reasons, up to a point, and very often, perhaps usually, good intentions. (We must assume that last, until the assumption is proved wrong.)
Even the ill-intentioned will begin with the reasonable and kind and inarguable.
Sometimes people give themselves away, of course, frequently by overplaying a hand,
Ah ha, the observer says to himself, I was with you up till now, you first point was undeniable and laudable but I see now that that was merely a set-up to this balderdash, an attempt to lull us into amiability so you could sneak in some poppycock.
Man cannot keep himself from Going Too Far.
Been discussing the failed 1998 translation a great deal with a friend lately,
While I admit there are some clunky moments in the one in use today, I overall drastically prefer it to the rejected one.
But there are other words and phrases spurned by TPTB that I would have endorsed, and more, endorsed the agenda behind them - but the reformers, as so often, went too far.
They knew, they had to know, that eventually, when push came to shove the Catholic Church was not going to allow the Anglophone Catholic Church, no matter how many of us like to think of ourselves as an autonomous sect, NOT to say, "I believe," and "and with your spirit," and "for you and for... many," (I actually think they could have sneaked that one in with "THE many.") Perhaps not on this go 'round, but eventually, and couldn't we finally have a few decades of liturgical calm now?
(Oh, and for the record, sometimes clunky is waaaaaaay better than curt.)
I digress.
Anyway, the Rad-Trad fringe has a lot of right on its side, and honest, it is possible to decry the feminization of ministry, and see it as a wedge issue for the impossibility that looms so large in the spiralist agenda*, the ordination of women, without despising women. (I promise you, I am not a self-hating gyno-American.)
But likewise, it would be easier to believe die-hard traditionalists oppose women in Holy Orders on loving theological grounds is so many of them did not openly display such contempt for women. Protestations that no, of course not, women are not held in less regard by the Church would be so much more credible if Aquinas hadn't said we were “deficiens et occasionatus”, if so many functions besides the confection of the Eucharist were not reserved to priests, and oh, yeah, the priesthood is reserved to men.
A contributing factor in the social recognition of the role of women is a greater appreciation of their responsibilities in the Church: their involvement in decision-making, their participation in the administration of some institutions and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers.
Well, yeah.... it could be.
And it could have been.
For centuries.
And the longer it took the Church, it still takes Her, to come 'round, the harder it is to believe that Her denial of the presbyterate to women isn't just part and parcel of Her denigrations and ignoring of other charisms woman might have to offer Her and all of mankind.
Anyway, among the much criticized bloggers, there's a fellow who in a newish thread is arguing against "sacramental trans-genderism,"
Good for him, good turn of phrase, and he's right, mostly.
But he can't let a side comment go without answering it with this stupidity:
universal suffrage was one of the worst ideas in human history. Personally, I'm all for head of household landowners being the only ones allowed to vote. They have the most skin in the game.
That's right.
Not everyone who is entitled to vote knows what he's dong, so let's limit it.
Oooh. Interesting.
I.Q. test?
Determining the potential voter's logical acuity or moral fiber?
By wealth and ownership of material goods.
And he caps it off with the inanity about "skin in the game."
Um, no. LITERALLY wrong.
His ideal voter may have capital staked, he may have money on the game, but we each of us, literally, have one, our own, skin in the game.
His idea is as contemptible as the idiot's in the UK who think young people's votes should count more than that of their elders in the BREXIT referendum, since they'll probably live longer with the consequences.
(*Those who hold it might prefer the phrase "progressive agenda," but it aint' progress when you're going around in circles.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

A Catholic Publication On Traditionally Masculine Roles - Not What You Think

 A periodical that regularly and peevishly revisits the women's ordination non-issue has an editor who deep down seems to understand that to insist that the idea that women's worth can only be properly acknowledged by having them assume male roles is... well, not only wrong, anti-feminist, and cock-eyed, - IT ACCOMPLISHES THE OPPOSITE FROM THE DESIRED EFFECT:

The idea that schools need to somehow “make” girls interested in [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]... reaffirms the social narrative that STEM is a prestigious boys’ club that girls must break into, and a girl’s intelligence is only validated once she excels in one of the more complex “boy subjects.”...
the STEM obsession is less about equality and more about masculinity.
[A female economist muses] "what does it say about me, as a staunch feminist, if I’m relying on masculinity to convey my worth?”
The underlying belief, whether STEM advocates realize it or not, is that traditionally male-dominated fields are more valuable to society than those that have traditionally appealed to women.... a field’s overall pay drops when women enter it in greater numbers. ...
Society simply undervalues jobs once women start doing them.
Do you think the rest of the editorial staff will finally see the clericalism of which they are guilty, that it is the notions THEY float that contribute to the denigration of not just women's roles, but all roles and offices proper to the laity?
Will they promote the Church's understanding of apostolate?

Friday, 3 June 2016

Suicide on Rise? Especially Among Women? Among GIRLS? No, Really?????

Yes, of course, we've all read about it in the past few months.
We know, you know, 'cause people study it.
And they study it, since, umm... it's bad. right?
Kristin Holland, a behavioral scientist at the Center for Disease Control, believes there are multiple factors contributing towards the increase in suicide rate, and mental health is only one of them.
“Many people view suicide as a mental health problem, but many people who die of suicide do not have a mental health problem. It’s a public health problem,” she said.
According to Holland, the economic recession of the late 2000s and the increase of substance abuse are some of the factors leading to more frequent incidents of suicide.
The report also says that the increase in suicide rate was higher among females (45% increase) than males (16% increase), narrowing the suicide rate gap between the two genders.
The report also states that for women, the highest percent increase in suicide rates was among those ages 10–14 (200% increase)
How can that be, when we as a society are telling them it's wrong? I mean, we are, aren't we? We wouldn't romanticize it, or celebrate those who commit it or encourage it, or anything like that, would we?

Is it possible that in the modern world suicide is most acceptable, as long as you meet certain standards of education, class or beauty?