Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What if we could abort homosexuals?


I posted this on my page last night, and an old friend from high school who practices the homosexual lifestyle opined thusly:

Hey guess what??? I just pulled up planned parnthood's home page and they actually do offer help and information about planning to have children........golly.........that add is full of crap.
Whenever my friend does this to me, it's like throwing bloody, raw meat to a ravenous lion or putting out a red cape before an angry bull. I charge at it, as you'll see below. Therefore, I'm sharing this because a) I hope the arguments I use will prove useful to others and b) I think it shows the sophistry and lack of reasoning so endemic in our sundry debates. For, just like I do with his responses, my friend always takes the bait whenever I post something on abortion (odd, since short of conversion to the Courage model, he'll never have to worry about it). And whenever he does, he takes such a simplistic, uncritically liberal view of things that, I hate to say it, I cannot help but cringe in frustration. Ergo, my response:

X, we must make distinctions. It's the key to being a good philosopher. Otherwise, we're just people spouting opinions.

If what you wrote were the case, I would have not posted this. (Indeed, I looked at this with some care to make sure that this is not what the tag is saying.)

However, there's a difference between planning out a pregnancy ... although I doubt they know much about the Creighton Method and ovulation cycles, which help pinpoint when pregnancy is most likely to occur ... and helping someone plan for being a parent. As in, "What do I do with this baby once I get her/him home?"

Planned Parenthood's primary drop down menu has information on their locations, abortion (parenthood prevention), birth control (parenthood prevention), body image, general health care, men's sex health, the MAP (parenthood prevention), pregnancy, relationships, sex & sexuality, sexual orientation & gender, STDs, and women's health.

Understandably, there is nothing about parenting under "Get Involved" or "About Us." Under their "Tools for Parents" section, there's plenty about talking to one's children about sex. Although I didn't read it, I was pleased to see the article about delaying sex.

We'll leave aside the fact that these sex talk articles were all written from an atheistic perspective. We'll also leave aside that the first image you see once you pull up the home page is an article about the wonders of IUD ... which prevents the implentation of a fertilized ovum, i.e., a fetus, i.e., a baby, i.e., a human person who was fully human and distinct from its mother and is therefore *not* a part of its mother, any more than you and I are now or ever were (after all, a baby can't help where it starts off life; that's just biology).

But what about what to do once you get the baby home? Or what to be thinking about from a non-health care perspective while your unborn child is gestating? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So the offending image is not "full of crap." In this respect -- as I understood it from the get go and found it to be a wry comment that might make people think -- I found it worth sharing.

And since we're on the subject, let's not forget that the whole reason for PP's founding is inextricably linked with the murder of unborn persons, usually of color (according to government statistics). It's not for nothing that they're the largest abortion provider in the nation. Indeed, without abortion, as they have implicitly admitted, PP couldn't stay in business. It's an incontravertible fact that they have pressured their branch managers in recent years to increase the number of abortions performed at their clinics.

And abortion is simply murder by a less offensive name. While it might make one squeamish to say so, while it's nasty to think about, while it's unpleasant to have to discuss, this is an incontravertible medical, biological, scientific fact. It is the extinction of human life. Unborn human life, but an human life, nonetheless (as if born or unborn should make a difference). And how anyone can condone the murder of even one such innocent, can shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh, well. Too f---ing bad for the little brat," frankly not only shows a degree of callowness on the part of such people, but it sells short the very women whom they purport to support. Women deserve better than abortion, and it's to the detriment and shame of our society that we settle for this.

BTW, I know how to get the entire homosexual rights movement behind the pro-life message: Find the gay gene. Then watch the number of abortions rise for babies conceived with that gene, just like 90% of Downs' babies are aborted in the US. What would have happened, X, if your parents, given the times, had decided to abort you because you had that gene (and recall that abortion was legal in CA before it was nationally)? This conversation would not have happened. If that doesn't put what is implicitly at the heart of this conversation in perspective, I don't know what does.

Said it before, saying it again, will forevermore say it: I love you, X. I always have and always will. You're a fantastic person, and arguing with you keeps me on my toes. Thank you! Make it a fantastic Thursday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

California: We're #50! We're #50!

Eureka! We've learned that California is the worst state in the nation for the second year in a row! Yeah! What pride we Californians must take in this news.

Or not.

As a former longtime resident of the formerly Golden State, I take no pleasure in this. As a former denizen of the "Belly of the Beast," as my friend Eric Hogue puts it, i.e., the Capitol, however, I do take a certain devilish delight in the ranking, only because it gives me what I think is a well-deserved right to say, "I told you so." The quacked thing is that the voters not only keep voting for the status quo, but they made the situation worse by giving the governor and co-partisans in the Legislature super majorities. California used to be a great place to live. Now? I'm glad I escaped, and I use the word "escaped" advisedly.

A big part of this last ranking is not mentioned: California's cost of living. Try finding a reasonably priced two or three bedroom apartment in a major metropolitan center that isn't in a bad part of town. Look at gas prices. Look at taxes (even with Prop. 13). And then look at the regulatory climate. It's insane.

I worked in the Capitol for seven years, and we minority staffers would just shake our heads in disbelief at what the majority was allowing to happen. Of course, it could be that all the majority's legislators were almost exclusively class warfare ideologues (I hate to put it that way, but it's true).They were union activists and lawyers or career pols or all of the above. I can only remember one being a businessman, former Assemblyman John Dutra.

In other words, they had no real world conception of the burden their onerous laws placed on the ability of the economy to continue creating the kinds of jobs needed to keep up with their ever burgeoning social spending. When the coffers ran dry after the Internet bust -- and they were always bone dry -- the class warfare types' answer was to raise taxes on the rich. Never mind that the super rich could easily move to Nevada and commute into their LA or San Francisco places of employment (as a good number do).

They never did raise taxes because they could never get the 2/3 majority they needed to do so as there were still enough GOP legislators there to make a difference. But now, with the loss of the GOP bullwark in the Legislature during the last election? All bets are off. You have Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, the most liberal governor California has ever had (didn't people learn their lesson during the '70s and '80s?), and a legislature controlled by San Francisco and Los Angeles liberals with no real understanding of how economies work and with no real world business experience. None have ever had to meet a payroll, etc.

My bet is that next year, California will be no. 51 (and I know there are only 50 states, but that is how bad things will be still, if not much, much worse). I take no pleasure in saying this. It makes me sad. But Californians have made their bed. That it continues to do as well economically as it does is a miracle and a testimony to the resilience and ingenuity of American businesses.

"Good times for a change ..."

OK, so maybe it's not "good times," but I couldn't think of a song that had "good news for a change," so I settled for this chestnut by the Smiths (as Richard Blade might say, "one of my fay-vorite bahnds.")

Anyway, we can a) all use a little good news and b) agree that this report showing abortions hit a five year low in 2009 is good news.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fascinating history: The Massacre at Duffy's Cut

Who knew?

On my way home from retreat Sunday, I saw a big historical marker at the intersection of Kings Road and Sugartown Road in Malvern, PA. Now, I'm a sucker for historical markers. Mea culpa, I've broken many a road law pulling illegal U-turns and scared the bejeebers out of my wife and kids (not to mention others) swerving off to the side of the road to see what one says.

So as soon as I noticed the one pictured in the link, I quickly (and this time safely) pulled over to the side of the road, got out of my car, and walked back to the intersection.

In case you don't want to click on the link, it says that 57 men died nearby in 1832. They were Irish immigrant railroad workers who contracted cholera (contracted by drinking feces tainted water). Due to a mixture of anti-Catholic sentiment that said they didn't deserve to be treated and because of ill-founded fears of contagion, some died naturally, and some were shot and/or bludgeoned to death. Forensics has proven that last assertion.

At the time, public opinion largely held that Catholics were stupid, incapable of thinking for themselves, superstitious subhumans beholden to a foreign power. Twelve years later, this thinking would erupt into rioting and the complete immolation of St. Augustine Church, not far from Independence Hall. For a great contemporary woodcut, see here. It also led to the Nativist/Know Nothing movement, not to mention the rebirth of the KKK in the last century (most historians agree the 19th century KKK was animated strictly by prejudice against blacks; its 20th century rebirth, however, was the result of prejudice against Jews and Catholics, as well as blacks).

In Malvern, it was reflected in the Horse Company, which was the de facto police force and was in cahoots with Judge Cromwell Pearce. According to the man who verified the Duffy's Cut deaths, both were anti-Catholic (or is "Cromwell" something average, well-informed papists would name their kid? ... not likely, is it?), and His Honor's land is probably where the executions took place.

And why not kill them? They were not only expendable because 57 more were waiting back in Ireland. What made them especially expendable to Cromwell and Co. was that they were Catholics, subhumans, untermenschen.

Since verifying the story and discovering the dig site ca. 2004, a group led by Dr. Bill Watson from Immaculata College (a stone's throw away) has unearthed artifacts such as this and bodies such as this woman, the only one there (beware: it's a little scary looking, just in case you're bothered by this sort of thing). Every coffin has had 120-180 coffin nails in it. Why so many unless someone wanted to make sure no one inadvertantly opened the coffins and saw faces blasted off and people with point blank bullet holes on the tops of their crowns?

Watson is convinced this was a mass execution followed by a massive coverup. For instance, reports of initial newspaper reports shows that about half of Frank Duffy's railroad crew died during the epidemic. Given that he had roughly 100-120 men working the mile of track for which he had a contract, 57 would be about right. However, subsequent newspaper reports stated he had lost only eight workers.

As project leader Watson told me, this tree was "nurtured by the bodies of found human beings." He believes there are still body parts within the crevices and surrounded by the tree's roots and stump.

This picture is of a grave enclosure holding roughly 50 of the bodies. Wouldn't it be great if they turned this humble enclosure into an oratory dedicated to the Blessed Irish Martyrs of Malvern? I'm not presuming the judgment of the Church, mind you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

You Muslims out there, help me to understand if I have this wrong

I think the key point here is that if Muhammad cannot be criticized because he is "the Prophet" and, indeed, must be imitated in all things, if this is true, then Muslims are bound to murder people like us, that is, those in the "World of War" (consider the language ... man!), we who are dimmi.
And if this is correct (I'm just doing the logical progression here, folks ... if my logic is faulty, let me know), then there are no "good" Muslims vs. "bad, radical, terrorist" Muslims. There are only poorly formed Muslims, those who don't know their faith, vs. those who are well formed and know the story of Mohammed, who know their religion and what it requires, and who accept it even though it is on its face, by the natural law, and by definition so patently crazy, so, dare I say, evil.
After all, any religion that says it's OK to ram an arrow in someone's eye for singing a couplet goes against God, especially when that person poses no threat against you. It's really, "I don't like your opinion, so I'm going to kill you."

That's evil, because only God knows peoples' hearts. It's evil because, even if someone's heart is black as coal and their views so displeasing to God as to warrant eternal damnation, God says, "Vengeance is mine"! God says, "You shall love your enemies.... Bless those who curse you.... He who rejects you, rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.... Shake their dust from your feet."

It's not, "Shake their dust from your feet after you ram an arrow through their eye."
Furthermore, since such definitely goes against the mind of God (to the extent we can know it, granted), and because anything that is against the truth of God is evil by definition, I can't see how the story related in the link is thus anything but evil. As such, it shows Mohammed's incapacity to be God's messenger, let alone the bringer of true religion to mankind. Quite the opposite, actually.
Have I fundamentally missed something? If so, what? I'm not being insincere. I want to know.
For instance, do Muslims have some recognition of Muhammed like Catholics do of the Church? That is, we believe she is made of sinful members, of members needing redemption for their sins by Christ's loving sacrifice on the cross. However, the sins of her members don't obliterate the truths held and taught by the Church.
Similarly, do Muslims believe Mohammed was sinful as all men are, but that even so, his message is true? So they ignore -- even condemn -- the times when he did bad things (just like Catholics ignore and condemn the actions of John XI, Stephen VI and Formosus, Boniface VIII, Alexander VI, etc.) and focus instead on the message? I don't see that happening, but maybe it's just hard for the message to get through here in the West for any number of good reasons.
If it is correct, i.e., that Muslims see him as sinful but his message as true, then I'd like textual proof from some sura of the Koran, some hadith, something from sharia, etc.

Please do you a favor

I want to encourage you to do something for yourself in the near future, something I did this weekend: Go on a retreat. Find a good retreat house (don't just look one up in the phone book; it could be run by heretic nuns into the eneagram, worshipping goddess Gaia, and labrynths) offering a retreat led by competent retreat masters, and prepare for two-three days of rejuvenating silence. Never have I done a retreat where I didn't come back totally recharged and with much greater self-knowledge. Because of this, my employers have benefited, my wife has benefitted, my children have benefitted, and because of all this, *I* have benefitted, not only in the here-and-now but eternally. PLEASE DO YOURSELF THIS FAVOR. It's the greatest Christmas gift you can give yourself and those you love.

Personally, my best experience has been with a former Legionnary priest when he was still with the Legion, Fr. Jeffrey Jambone, now in Louisiana. Well, I take that back. I did a diaconate discernment retreat that was out of this world. For 12-24 hours (sadly, that was all), I lived as the Christian man, husband, and father I wanted to be. But I know it's possible now.

This past weekend's retreat was with Fr. Anthony Mastroeni. He is very good. However, he's not like Fr. Jambone, who touches you with Scripture and, through this, an encounter with the Word made Flesh Who dwelt amongst us. He takes you through a series of scriptural, historical, and philosophical considerations, largely letting you to connect the dots or draw the conclusions God wants you to have. And it works, largely speaking. I know it did for me this weekend. Nonetheless, it didn't surprise me that at least two handfuls of retreatants saw no purpose in the weekend at all. Listening to them, they missed the forest for the trees. "He's being anti-homosexual. He's being anti-woman. Why, who would say that segregating the sexes works and is what's best for the students? [Uhm, research and centuries old experience? Just sayin' ...] Why, my daughter's a public school teacher. Don't tell me she's not doing a fine job. Those public school teachers work hard." And, sigh, so on.

But I think most guys got the fact that we as men, both in general and as individuals, have a lot of room for improvement.

Anway, I know they can be expensive. Still, if you went on holiday for two days and two nights and all your meals and lodging were taken care of for $100-200, you would think you did pretty well, by and large. And if you need to write a check in one foul swoop, that can be hard. But it's not hard if you sock away $15-50/month (depending on your budget, naturally). If you're poor, do $5-10/month. Many retreats offer scholarships. At worst, on such means you don't go every year, but by the end of two years, you'll have enough saved up.

And then there are always those parish missions, the boxed lunch version of retreats. Granted, with these, you're not going away for a weekend, entering into Great Silence from the first conference/talk to the last, shutting off your pagers and cell phones, etc. (Wow ... pagers ... Am I dating myself these days or what?) That doesn't mean you won't get fantastic things out of them. By and large, you will! You'll always, without fail learn something, and if you pray for God to show you the one thing He wants you to take away from this experience, He will answer that pray ... sometimes in spades.

So, again, do you a favor. Do yourself the favor of going on retreat. They're absolutely wonderful experiences.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"The rich get richer, the poor get the picture ..."

As someone who's decidedly not wealthy, I'm getting really tired of the mantra, "The rich get richer, while the poor get poorer." As if that's the wealthy's fault (as far as I can tell, only those who are quasi-communist and keenly buy into the notions underlying class warfare -- e.g., "Let's sock it to the rich" -- could ever think so; I'm open to seeing another perspective).

Do people really think the wealthy by-and-large spend their days looking for ever more ways of getting blood from the turnips who are their employees or the vast underclass we have in this country (12-25% depending on your source)? Have you seen the income tax rates for the upper 10%? The upper 1%? Did you know that  according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, 1% of the taxable population (i.e., the wealthy) shoulders 70% of the federal tax burden? Or that "the bottom 20 percent of American earners paid just three-tenths of a percent of the total tax burden." Seriously: Who is not paying their fair share?

Also, what power do the wealthy have that we the unwealthy do not? They can move their wealth to where it's not taxed as much. Do you know how many millionaires have their residence in Nevada but work in Los Angeles or the Bay Area? How many millionaires states such as New York and Nevada have lost in the last few decades?

Do you know why British rockers such as Rod Stewart moved to the US back in the 1970s? It wasn't because they loved American ideals or had grown disillusioned with their homeland. It was because of the UK's confiscatory (i.e., enormously high) tax rates. The quest to use the tax code as a means of achieving social justice backfired. As a result, the very poor and working poor high tax rates were meant to help suffered even more.

Tell you what: When the rest of us start paying our fair share, then let's go to those who create jobs with their wealth (only a jackass hoards their profits; if you're smart, you prudently use those to try and grow them, and that means increasing production and markets, which means creating jobs) and ask them to do the same.

Until then, Mr. President, Mr. Reid, stop playing the class warfare card. Stop being so divisive. Start doing what is necessary to bring down the high unemployment rates your policies have caused so that the empty tax coffers will fill of their own accord.

Since that's not likely to be the case, listen to one of my favorite bands on the subject (although MO and I are poles apart on the subject ... still, it's a rockin' song).

Don't kid a kidder, kid

Understand this: When people say, "We need to put politics behind us" for XYZ reason, often what they really mean to say is that their opponents need to lay aside their principles, their governing philosophy.

Can no one see the insanity of such a proposition, regardless of which end of the political spectrum on which you reside? Or have I missed something? (If I have, please, I'm sincere, show me the error of my ways. I'm open to seeing where I've got it wrong.)

Example: Imagine saying to someone who utterly believes in extending the right to marry to same sex couples, "Put politics behind you. This battle is too divisive. Give up on your quest for what you call 'marriage equality.'"

Imagine how well that person would accept that.

Flip the coin. Picture saying to someone who was utterly opposed to so-called same sex marriage, "Put politics behind you. This battle is too divisive. Give up on your quest for upholding what you call 'the sanctity of marriage.' At least accept 'civil unions.'"

It wouldn't fly, would it?

This isn't to say politics should never involve compromise. Compromising on details is essential to getting anything done in a pluralistic, even sharply divided society.

If I, however, am exceedingly convinced because of a deeply held, almost a self-constitutional principle that, using another example, extending tax cuts are precisely the wrong thing in order to bring down a massive budget deficit, then it would be killing my soul in some small way to "compromise" in that fashion.

Conversely, if I am exceedingly convinced because of deeply held, almost self-constitutional principles that raising taxes is precisely the wrong thing in order to bring down that budget deficit, then no matter how much the other side rails about making the rich do their "fair" share (have you seen their current tax rates?), no matter how much they bloviate about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer (as if that's the wealthy's fault), no matter how much they ignore that a rising tide lifts all boats à la the economy under Reagan in the 1980s, I would be completely unworthy of any trust bestowed upon me as an elected official if I gave in on tax cuts.

One could use so many different examples ad nauseam, but I'll let it rest for once (you're welcome).

Don't tell us, in any event, that it's time to put politics beside us when really what you want is for us to cave on principle. As my mom used to say, "Don't kid a kidder, kid." Don't think we're such fools that we would buy such a proposition.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Religion reporters ... please be accurate

What is it about religion reporters for the major networks and news services? Gang (i.e., you reporters out there), I don't expect you to be objective or that your derision for and/or being utterly befuddled by the Catholic Church's moral stances won't leak through in your reporting. (After all, how can you understand another's position when you won't even engage it on their terms?) But to make facile and/or utterly incorrect assertions when you're supposed to report facts is just plain stupefying.

Case in point from REUTERS: "The 'culture of life' is a phrase covering the Church's opposition to abortion.

No! Well, yes and no. Yes, it contains the Church's opposition to the willful destruction of unborn life in the womb. But it is so much more. To the reporter: Was your deadline so tight that you couldn't have easily reworded this to make it more accurate?

Go ahead, say I'm getting worked up about nothing, but words are important. Heresies are built on words. Orwelian societies are built on words. We need more not less accuracy from our news reporters because, otherwise, how can we have a properly informed discussion about the issues and how can we make a correspondingly informed decision based on those discussions? And now more than ever, we need informed discussions and decisions. Yet our Fourth Estate is failing in their duty to us -- yes, their duty -- in this respect.

Catholics posing as Lenin's capitalists

Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the communist USSR (aka, the Soviet Union, aka, "the Empire of Evil"), famously said, "The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

At the risk of sounding hystrionic, I believe that is exactly what we American Catholics did on Tuesday, Election Day. Most of those who self-identify as Catholics once again gave our votes to a candidate -- indeed, candidates -- who fundamentally see in the Catholic Church society's primary bête noire, an eternal enemy to be harried and harassed until she and her offspring are at the very least long, far gone (Voltaire and Rousseau, it seems, never died).

In this respect, we have become the new "capitalists." For by willfully giving such people continued power, we also give them authority to do harm to our religion's teachings and, to the degree we remain faithful to the latter, ourselves.

As evidence, look how the POTUS (i.e., "President Of The United States") has pushed same sex marriage. See how he has championed abortion more than any other President. Observe his intransigence on the HHS mandate (see also here). And then consider what this has already meant and will mean to the religious liberty we hold so dear in this nation. (See here, here, and here. Even the Vatican is concerned.)

Do a search for "Catholic bishops should stay out of politics." Clearly the desire amongst so called liberals and progressives is to restrict the voice and influence of Catholics in the public square. (For those who have a problem with equating Catholic bishops and Catholics writ large, consider that between faithful, orthodox Catholics and the US bishops much less the Magisterium as a whole, there is no daylight, especially on the so-called "five non-negotiables.")

This cannot stand. It must be stopped. Our republic cannot afford a naked public square. Naked, however, it is quickly becoming and naked more it will grow over the next four years.

Please, pastors start preaching and teaching about these issues! Please, Catholics stop reflexively rejecting the Church's teachings on morality and religious liberty, because if the surveys and studies are accurate, most of us don't know the very basics of our faith, much less why the Church is so counter-cultural on the hot button topics of our day.

It wasn't long ago that to be a faithful Catholic in this world meant certain death. In many places, it still does. It was even true within this country over the last 175-plus years.

For example, under threat of execution, Catholic priests could not step foot within any of what are now the New England and mid-Atlantic states. The Whig (or Federalist) Party to which John Adams belonged went the way of the dodo bird in great part due to its lack of attachment to religious liberty.

One could correspondingly argue the only reason the Party of Jefferson and Jackson -- i.e., the Democrats -- lives today is because early on, it was our nation's greatest champion for religious freedom, not incidentally for Catholics (although for Baptists and Methodists, too).

Even after independence, America was often a dangerous place for Catholics. On August 5, 1855, for instance, anti-Catholics at Louisville, Ky., set fire to Catholic homes late one night. Those who ran from their homes to escape the flames were gunned down. Two men were lynched. That night, almost 100 people died.

Besides the aforementioned mayhem, religious riots such as those depicted in the powerful Martin Scorsese film The Streets of New York took place in 1834 Boston, 1844 Philadelphia, and on several occasions during the 19th century in New York City.

In the 1920s, a Catholic priest in Birmingham, Alabama, was gunned down on his front porch. The subsequent trial refused to convict his admitted murderer. (Consider that all of this is post the Bill of Rights' establishment of religious freedom.) For much of our history, real or de facto signs hung from businesses throughout our lands, "Help wanted: No Irish [i.e., Catholics] need apply."

Also, several Supreme Court decisions quoting Jefferson's "wall of separation between Church and State" were animated by anti-Catholic views such as those held by the late former KKK member and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Indeed, judicially derived statutes concerning religion have most often flared up at times of either high Catholic immigration or when the Church's hierarchy has been unusually vocal.

All of which is to say there was a time when discrimination and persecution were facts of life for American Catholics. That time could come again. Thus, let's stop being complacent with our votes just because we aren't yet Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Myanmar (Burma), or the like.

In other words, let's stop giving those who would figuratively or literally hang us the rope with which to hang us. Let's start standing up for our holy faith. Let's start standing up for ourselves.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm just sore.

For the last two days of the election, I walked a few precincts. If you have ever seen my gut, my divulging to you this was the first traditional exercise I'd really had in a long time won't come as a surprise. Yes, I've done gardening and wood cutting and weed pulling and such, and there has been the odd walk. The Saturday before, I took my first jog in roughly nine years. I'd walked precincts in 2008 to get out the vote and was hugely sore for a few days then, as well.

Mostly, however, I've been a slug, proved by the fact that I'm 10 belt sizes and nearly 100 pounds larger (roughly 45.4 kg.) than I was nearly 30 years ago. I hate what I see when I look at myself in profile in the mirror. Additional weight is not becoming on me.

Today, Thursday, I'm better rested (Election Night is always a very late to bed matter for me; to me, there are few things more entertaining at the end of a cycle than watching returns coming in; they don't do them outside of California the way they do them in the Golden State, however, so it's just not the same). However, I'm only marginally less sore.

I love, even revel in my soreness. It means I did some exercising!!! Yay. A chance to burn off that fat around my midriff, neck, shoulders, etc. I even love the cause of my soreness, walking those precincts for a good cause.

What I don't love is the outcome. I hate the outcome. Yesterday, all day, I was grumpy because of the outcome. Befuddled. Bewildered. Disoriented. In a haze. Frightened. Sad, even distraught.

I could go on, but you hopefully see the point. The only winning campaigns on which I've ever worked were a special legislative election back in 1995 and a more recent executive branch election. Other than that, every single race on which I've worked in the last 20 years has been a losing one (I did absolutely nothing electoral-wise besides vote in four intervening cycles, so those don't count). I can't begin to describe how terribly disappointing that is, to put in your heart and soul and so much work, so much time away from one's life and one's family ... for nothing. To hell with moral victories. Give me a W. Keep your Ls and feeling righteous in the face of defeat. True, I can hold my head high and say I've never compromised on principle when it counted. I pray I never will.

However, I'd love to know what it's like to win and revel in the life affirming glow of victory. Just once, Lord. Is that too much to ask? To hug one's comrades with whom one has fought and struggled for weeks and months throughout early starting days and late ending nights, hug them out of congratulations, out of a shared sense of accomplishment, to bask in the realization that all the hard work was not for naught, that in the end, it paid off?

What about those others? you ask. In the aforementioned special, I felt pride in its outcome, but on election night, I was already working for a different campaign. I was alone, without those with whom I'd toiled.

In the aforementioned executive election, we thought we had won. One network and then others called the election for us. Then they all called it for the challenger. Then most will recall what happened after that for 30+ days. It doesn't really qualify, now does it? By the time victory was truly ours (and some will argue the fact to this day), the moment, the thrill of the night had worn off.

Pardon the crude analogy, but it would be like finally getting to the point of climax 15-30 minutes after your spouse had achieved theirs, gotten dressed, and left the room or even the house. Yes, it still brings with it the requisite physical sensations, but one would have to concede the whole experience is greatly diminished in some pretty typical and fundamental ways.

Tuesday night, however ... It was ... It was Charlie Brown going after the football held by Lucy yet again. Yet again, all that frantic work for no payoff.

And to lose to someone who's never accomplished a thing that real people have in their life and who is, by all indications and accounts, a closet leftist, who fundamentally believes in a different vision of our country than I do, and who truly scares me about the possibility of practicing my religion in peace in the coming decades or even years, who brings with them the personification/embodiment of all the things that went wrong on Election Day (witness two ballot measures in the east and two in the west), it makes it doubly hard.

I will ... not hope to but will ... build on the good work I began on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. And hopefully the 50% that rejected the thought of a second term for this leader will build on what I pray is their heightened political awareness. I pray they will create a stronger, more philosophically sound democratic system that will give our nation true, wholistic recovery, not just the kind sought by so many on the economic front.

But until that happens, for the time being, I'm just sore.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ancient lessons for the present day

Do yourself a favor, and read 2 Maccabees 6. It's great, great, exciting, powerful reading. Thought provoking, too.

Let me share with you some of the nuggets this one small chapter has:
Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to recognize that these punishments were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. In fact, not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately, is a sign of great kindness ... [For God] never withdraws His mercy from us. Though He disciplines us with calamities, He does not forsake us, His own people. (Emphasis added.)
Then it tells the story of Eleazar, who would not eat the swine the Greeks were trying to force all the Jews to eat contrary to the laws of God in effect at that time. The punishment for not obeying the Greeks was execution. Even so, Eleazar "[welcomed] death with honor rather than life with pollution [and so] went up to the rack of his accord."

When Eleazar's friends told him to take meat that was lawful and eat it instead of swine but to say, "It's swine that I'm eating," his response is classic:
Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion, and through my pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.
As he was being beaten and thus put to death, he nonetheless found the strength to get out the following last words:
It is clear to the Lord in His holy knowledge that, though I might have been saved from death, I am enduring terrible sufferings in my body under this beating, but in my soul I am glad to suffer these things because I fear Him."
Shades of St. Paul in Philippians 1:19-26!

The chapter closes thusly:
So in this way he died, leaving in his death an example of nobility and a memorial of courage, not only to the young but to the great body of his nation.
Wow. And so we remember this great man, Eleazar. Who remembers those who caved -- who understandably caved in "for the natural love of life" (2 Mac 6:20), but who crumbled under pressure, nonetheless? Who remembers the apostate, except those who were the most grievous in their apostasy?

We do not remember them. Some 2,100+ years later, however, we still know and remember Eleazar.

This is not to take pride in our being on the side of good and on the side of our holy religion. To date, it has been easy. It is getting harder in certain circumstances and in some places.

However, no one is going to arrest me today for catechizing my children, for going to Mass, for speaking for the true, good, and beautiful in the public square. Yet.

When they do, I hope ... I pray ... the Holy Spirit will give me the humility to know that any good I do will not be out of my own abilities but through the grace of the Holy Spirit won for me by my Brother, Jesus Christ, God the Son, whose sibling I am by God the Father's humbling adoption of me, an adoption won for me by Christ Jesus not because of any merit on my part, but as a freely given gift because He loves me.

In the history of Christianity, many boasted, "When it comes time, it will not be I who fail." Many times, those were the very people who did just that. They failed in their resolve. Like Lot's wife, they looked back. They did not trust in Our Lord to save them. They recommitted the sin of Adam. What a horrifying prospect. DearGod! Please save me from it! I am too weak and too likely to falter and fall. Protect me! Do not let that happen to me, I beg you.

St. Eleazar, if the premonitions of bad times to come prove accurate, pray for us that God will give us all that is necessary so that we will not fail, we will not falter, that we will not hesitate to follow your holy example. Amen.