May 13, 2019

My Prediction: the McCarrick File Resides Permanently in File 13

Still pondering the whole McCarrick thing and whether there's a responsibility for the Vatican to be transparent in explaining who enabled it.

Journalist John Allen wrote recently:
“It’s been more than five months since the Vatican promised a review of its [McCarrick] files, and nothing has been reported. One obvious question is why American bishops, either publicly or privately or both, aren’t being more vigorous in demanding that the Vatican deliver, since they’re the ones most exposed to pastoral blowback over the failure to do so.
One answer is this: Bishops everywhere, very much including the U.S., hesitate to do anything the boss and his team might perceive as disloyal. By now, being seen as siding with ViganĂ² is regarded by Francis allies as virtually a sin against the Holy Spirit, and unless a bishop has been living under a rock, he’s gotten the memo."
The refusal of Francis to allow the U.S. bishops to police their own really opened my eyes (back in November) and I think the lack of pushback from the U.S. bishops during that conference wasn't their finest hour.

Perhaps all of this even leads to Pope John Paul II.  The question I keep coming back to is perhaps a prudential one and thus without an easy answer: at what point is there “too much” transparency? Are there some church clergy “too big to fail”?  Is it true the only way to prevent something from happening again is understanding how it happened, or does that ignore the fact that institutions can change merely from immense pressure without airing every secret? It’s perhaps an act of mercy to save reputations, but if so where do you draw the line -- the Church has obviously had problems in the past saving reputations of priests by moving them around after cases of abuse.

The average parishioner is stuck between folks with agendas: journalists, to uncover the story heedless of consequences, and bishops/popes who want to bury the story, heedless of consequences.

I’m certainly not hopeful that Cbus Bishop Brennan will show fortitude on this issue given his newness to the office and his appointment by Francis.

A bishop or pope with lots of credibility is Pope Benedict, who recently put out a letter that is much along the lines of "wheat and tares" and makes no mention of the issue of transparency that I saw. He might feel crimped, of course, given his pledge of silence (though the letter itself is a breaking of silence).

I go back to a couple of things: one, is that perfidy in popes is “permitted”, certainly by God, in the sense that we understand there have been bad, immoral popes and don’t have a lot of control over it and that it doesn't change the status of the Church.  Therefore I should not be surprised that bishops, who are essentially unsupervised popes of their diocese, are similarly bad. The high view of the role of bishops in the Church tends to explain the lack of supervision and accountability they experience. So it is what it is. Hence the famous biblical analogy is the wheat and tares even within the hierarchy.

Secondly, McCarrick’s rise was partially due to his skill at fundraising, and one could look at it in the way Mother Teresa accepted donations from bad folks. You accept help from whatever source, regardless of the iniquity of that source. Of course where it differs with McCarrick was a source of bad behavior directly affecting the church in other ways, seminaries, etc. But then I go back to the point above about their "right to be evil" without molestation, just as tares are allowed to grow without molestation until the harvest.

Also there’s a truism that Americans tend to look at admin policies instead of spiritual solutions, the latter being the only truly effective measure.

May 04, 2019

We’ll Always Have ‘16

Continued my every-six-months hobby of tuning in via YouTube to 2016 election coverage. It’s ironic I get more pleasure from the election of someone I didn’t vote for than in any election previous.  I guess seeing the gods get stuffed is the stuff of legends. Akin to a Patriots-hater seeing Tom Brady lose.

This time I watched CNN. Wolf Blitzer robotically gave the numbers, constantly using the adjective “impressive”, as in “impressive lead in North Carolina”. He was touched when numbers changed rapidly, showing the enthusiasm of a small child observing a bouncing ball.

There were only two analysts, a blonde gal and Jake Tapper, and they seemed smart and sober and not crying in their beer. Not much opportunity for schadenfreude on my part. Tapper seemed unduly worried about the markets which in hindsight is hilarious given how the Dow has spiked since Trump took office.  His concern over the price of gold hasn’t aged well.  The moment du jour though was when Jake looked incredulously into the camera and said, “Donald Trump was right and all the pundits wrong about the polls and reaching disaffected voters.” This feels deja vu given how similarly Trump said “no collusion” while everyone in D.C. had Trump going to jail. The media likes to gamble all their chips on iffy propositions. But at least they’ll always have the inaugural crowd size (i.e. the really important stuff).

It certainly seemed like these two CNN’rs were far more awake and alert to what was happening than the crowd at ABC, who dined on denial a good deal longer.  They didn’t have as much air time but when they were on they were made insightful comments and took their loss manfully, which was kind of inspiring in its own way.  (Although I only made it till around the 9:30pm mark, so although by then they knew what was happening I didn’t see if despair came later.)

May 03, 2019

Proof GOP is More Bipartisan than Dems

We hear often from the hard right that Republican officeholders are squishy when it comes to principles compared to Democratic officeholders.

And based on non-partisan evidence...they're right.

Republicans are much more likely to work with Democrats than vice-versa. You can see that from the non-partisan work of the Lugar Center.  A whopping 9 of 10 of the most bipartisan senators are Republican, while 8 of 10 of the least bipartisan ones are Democrat:

The simplest and most likely explanation is that the media media protects and allows extremism in Ds more than with Rs.

Regardless, it takes a lot more courage to be a conservative in Washington than a liberal given the twin pressures of elite opinion and the grass roots progressive groups (who camp out in offices, harass senators in elevators, etc...).

April 28, 2019

How Can an Asian Possibly Even Relate to This Ad?

I'm always amused by how painstakingly circumspect advertising photos are these days. It's never accidental and I find it especially ridiculous because it's as if no human can identify with another human unless they're the same skin color, gender or non-gender, etc... It's anti-science for one thing, given how much we have in common DNA-wise.

In this case, a company recognition program called "Bravo" shows a team giving themselves high fives:

So let's do the math; insert tongue in cheek. We have five individuals:

40% women.
40% black, although guy on right is a tweener, maybe half-black, so 30%.
20% young white male hipster.
20% with some age on them. 

Reasonably well distributed, but if I were Hispanic or an Asian... (the latter is the last acceptable prejudice).  Heck maybe the guy on right is Hispanic and we can check that box off.

April 26, 2019

Comfy in Your Own Skin Metric

So it occurred to me that one of the characteristics of Trump, Obama, W. Bush, Reagan and Clinton was a supreme comfort in their own skin combined with some measure of charisma (W. Bush being the exception, but he was running against Albert Gore and John Kerry so he looked like Elvis).

I wondered how to view this admittedly subjective metric with regard to the 2020 race (and 2016).

In 2016, of all the GOP contenders, those truly comfortable with themselves combined with some measure of charisma were: Christie, Trump, and Huckabee.  Christie was fatally wounded by the bridge incident, and Huckabee never caught fire for whatever reason (some say that 2012 was "his moment", which he missed).  I liked Rand Paul but I suspect part of that was simply that I liked what he was saying, which is sort of why so many liked Trump. My father-in-law said exactly that, that Trump was saying what he wanted to hear and that's why he liked him.

There's a very thick overlay between liking what you hear and liking the person. I see that with many Catholic priests who, for me, can be very dry and charisma-lite, but because they are talking about things I wholeheartedly agree with (even if in a trite way), I like them, feel a kinship. 

So teleporting to 2020, my exposure to Democrat candidates is small given that what they say is generally nails-on-chalkboard. But based on the comfort in skin and charisma characteristics you could say that Biden and Bernie (and Buttigieg from what I hear) are extremely comfortable in their own skin.  For that reason they could be formidable candidates for Trump.  Biden and Bernie are Trump-like as far as bluntness, outrageous statements and insults, although the insults are more general than specific as in Trump's case.

My sense is that the easy candidates for Trump to defeat would include Booker, Warren, Beto and Gillibrand. I haven't seen much of Harris to even guess.

What's interesting is how when a party tries to win over the other side with folks who they think the other side might like, it mostly goes up in flames.  Like McCain, Romney, Kerry, Gore.  Gore was a Southern Democrat who didn't talk like Dukaksis. Kerry was seen as the calm alternative to the wild-eyed Howard Dean and was a military vet, which was "against type" given the liberal ethos.  Romney of course set up health care in MA and McCain bucked his party maverickly.

All of them failed.  Is Biden the "calm alternative" (to Sanders this time) like Kerry was - and thus a failure in the making - or is he completely different than Kerry since he's comfortable in his own skin and a friendly pol unlike the reserved New Englander Kerry?

A decent test is if a conservative can listen to someone from the other party and not be disgusted.  I could listen to Clinton in 1991 and not be repulsed (that came later).  I could listen to Obama similarly in 2007 (that came later).  Bernie passes this test now with me, so by this metric Sanders is the most electable 2020 candidate.  Perhaps in a perverse way the conservative's greatest friend may well be the DNC and the other Democratic elites who want anybody but Bernie.

April 24, 2019

Recent Reads

Watched television show documenting building cabins off grid, and I got a kind of small pleasure in seeing the wood beams wrapped in some sort of vapor layer, a thin layer of fabric that protects the wood from the elements.

It reminds me how satisfying it was to learn that the ancient Newgrange monument in Ireland, made of stone 4000+ years ago, has never had a leak.

I think my appreciation could be related to water flowing indoors, both downstairs in the basement and upstairs (twice, in separate incidents!) due to imperfections of the sunroom build, since corrected. Or maybe simply appreciating a hint of permanence in an impermanent world.

And I think of how the stone and windows of Notre Dame cathedral were apparently able to withstand that great fire.

So now I seem to get a perverse joy in defeating Mother Nature, to the extent we can.

Nice Peggy Noonan piece:
Finally, people sense Notre Dame is most powerful and central in its moments of suffering. “The Greek word for church is ecclesia people gathered together. On the night of the fire it was gathering people together,” literally, around the church and around the world. “Notre Dame is most potent gathering them in suffering.”
This reminded me of something someone said on social media after the spire fell: Maybe the old church burst into flames so we would look at it and really see what it is.
Interesting point, and certainly I’ve actually had far more interest in the cathedral now than before, going so far as to watch a documentary on amazon Prime Video.

What’s intriguing to me is how I wonder much we’d have remembered Jesus had he not been crucified. Certainly his crucifixion dominates the gospel accounts. Obviously had he not been risen Christianity also would not have taken off, but it’s as if you need both the suffering and the rising to have effected maximum attention from people.

Also read more about the fascinating artist Eric Gill. The guy had no scruples, no sexual morals, but was courageous, generous, and eccentric. And he was a pacifist/socialist who wanted the altar in the middle of church with everyone gathered around it like a meal. Seems a bit of a prophet given Vatican II and the general direction of the church, an errant direction one could persuasively argue.

He had a lingering illness at the end and was downcast but more importantly was said to have had a peaceful death, receiving viaticum and confession. “Sin boldly” he did. He seemed naive about evil and seemed to think there was no such thing as intrinsic evil and was taken aback and undermined by the shock of Nazi Germany. He was neglectful of the possibility of sexual sin, a priest asking him if he had somehow been protected from the Fall. (He had the good sense to put “Pray for me” on his tombstone.) Unlike modern libertines, he did seem to eschew masturbation and contraception.

“If naked bodies conceal a hell-hunger of lust, they can and do kindle a hunger for heaven.” -Gill

April 18, 2019

Retreat Notes

From a Palm Sunday weekend retreat from the Fr. Peter of twitter fame:
“I can be a good person without Christianity, so what’s the point? Rules just constrict me and limit my happiness.” A 19th century philosopher said, “The ‘yes’ to God is a ‘no’ to man.” Christopher Hitchens called religion a “police state”, like North Korea.

He admits life without limits is fun for awhile but then leads to despair. Modernity says people don’t have ends, no fixed goal...we create our own ends for ourselves. That’s the modern spirit. It’s controversial to see that people, things, animals, plants have ends (trees to flower in spring and leaf out for example). Sex is a good example - Fr. Peter said he can’t explain to someone what sex is for to a modern person because sex isn’t for anything in their eyes. The modern ethos is you can do anything you want until you prevent someone else from doing something. One problem is that when there’s conflict with someone’s else’s desire, strength wins.

We don’t pursue friendship or knowledge for its own sake because it’s not inherently worthy of pursuing, it’s just a choice I make. No reason for staying married if you don’t feel like it. No end, no reason to go I-71 south versus I-71 north because you’re not heading anywhere. The mindset is that nothing is inherently valuable about staying friends, staying married, raising kids, or serving others... Just distracting yourself till we die.

The problem is having no ends in the world starts with freedom, but ends in despair.

There’s a biblical diagnosis - biblical prophets made fun of Israelites who fashioned objects on the potter’s wheel and then knelt before them. Are we different? We make idols and worship the work of our own hands. What you worship is not bigger than you and can’t get you outside yourself. The odd thing about the ancient gods is that when people made up their own gods, they made cruel and ugly. They didn’t worship beautiful natural objects but instead crocodiles and snakes and these cruel gods asked for human sacrifices....

The classical (non-modern) view is that we discover what constitutes a good life. Modern view is we know it already via commercials. Christians have benefit of God informing us what is good for us. Limiting our options (religious/classical view of limitations and discipline) results in freeing you to purse excellence.

God isn’t into moral codes but to help us achieve our goal.

The purpose of God giving us directions and “limiting” our freedom is no different than complaining about how a GPS restricts us from using I-71 Northbound to get to Florida.

Having possessions doesn’t make you happy: you’ll either lose them or grow bored with them. And it’s not pleasure that makes you happy. An example he uses is he tells high school football players who don’t want to go through the practices and 2-a-days in the heat of August this question: what if I could have you sit in a quiet room and give you a pill that provides the exact sensible experience of winning a state championship. Would you take it? Most wouldn’t. It’s not earned. It’s not the same. Pleasure in and of itself is not enough.

Beauty and friendship are different. These are experiences worth having in and of’s a feeling of fullness, like “this is enough”, like when listening to a great piece of music, like time has stopped.

What humans do is know and love. That’s what makes us different from animals and is our end. We can grasp things in a deeper way and we can therefore love things at a deeper level. “The human end is enjoying truth, goodness and beauty and friendship in community.”. Our end is good and valuable in itself...Develop the capacities to attain that end.

God says I want to be your father and friend. Christ thought about each of us individually while on the cross with his infused knowledge.

The lens of whole Bible can be viewed under the term “justice” or “righteousness” - it’s same thing. Bible is God manifesting his justice, and justice in society, right order in creation.

Justice is giving someone their due. Right relationships. Action that you do to maintain a right relationship. Sets up equity between two parties. The logic of justice is in God’s mind. Living morally is simply living out who you are meant to be, in right relationship.

Levitical priests wrote or consolidated the book of Genesis as a preface to the Pentateuch during or just after the Babylonian exile in an effort to collect/consolidate in the same way that if your family suddenly becomes scattered you want to gather everything in scrapbooks and genealogies in order not to lose any of the history.

Deep theological significance in first eleven chapters of Genesis. Provides vision of what it’s really like to be a human. Shows what justice really looks like.

Flourishing come to resemble God, every bird, the sun, etc...Their characteristic activity gives praise to God.

Adam and Eve can know and love, it was their special gifts. God gives tree for Adam and Eve to exercise their obedience, their free will.

Original sin is not a sin but a deprivation of original justice. It’s not meant to mean “the first sin”. God doesn’t hold us responsible for their sin. We are not directly punished. Adam and Eve were simply unable to pass on to us what they lost (we are one human body under Adam). This isn’t unjust because supernatural life isn’t owned to us.

Original sin doesn’t make us bad but limits our capacity to live fully human life. Can’t do supernaturally good things, like love God as father and friend. We see this in our tendency to sin.

The beginning and end of Bible are remarkably similar. Paradise in beginning, a better paradise in end. Story of Bible is restoring justice. God started locally, with Abraham. Israelites were intended to show other nations how close their God is to them, and how wise their laws were.

Three sets of law in Old Testament

Natural law, judicial law, and ceremonial law. Only the first one is continued in our New Covenant times.

God re-teaches them natural law (Ten Commandments) that they should already know.

Judicial law, meant to manifest God’s holiness, was used to help Israel to fulfill their vocation. Laws like the jubilee (forgiveness of all debt every 50 years), and the periodical freeing of slaves, etc. Israel supposed to live in a special way.

Ceremonial laws were about worship...dietary laws and temple instructions ...Were supposed to give the people suitable rights to worship, God’s way of telling them not to sacrifice their kids but instead their lambs. Disciplines them to show them there is only one God, and to distinguish them from other nations so they don’t slip into other ways of living like pagans. And to prepare for Christ.

The Israelites intended the Temple to be a recreation of Eden. Supposed to be very beautiful, with opulence, a reference to creation. They were all to be united and in harmony, praying in temple. They were living the original vision of justice.

Part of the point of living without supernatural power is to make you long for a savior.

So judicial laws had role for that particular society, and ceremonial laws were meant to point to and foreshadow Christ...Only natural law is maintained because it’s still operative (Ten Commandments).

Jesus, in his person, radiated justness. Everything he did he restored justice. When Jesus eats with tax collectors, he is making a new Eden. Reshapes world to make it just. Healings bringing vision of justice of God.

Why the Cross 

It’s very unfortunate that a more Calvinistic and Protestant view of the Cross has been popular even with Catholic preachers. It’s called “penal substitution” and it’s not mainstream Catholicism. In it, God is pictured as wrathful towards humanity and take it out on Christ. The thought is that God the Father actually hated the Son while he was on cross because he represented sinful humanity.

The Catholic view is the death of Jesus on cross was threefold: satisfaction, sacrifice, and recapitulation.

Satisfaction means to satisfy by giving a gift of love to the offended person in a relationship greater than offense. It’s not math though, doesn’t have to be greater in earthly terms. It’s simply to demonstrate to someone that my lack of love isn’t the last word in the relationship. Jesus demonstrated a love and obedience greater than all the sins of the world. Since he was man, he was the offending party. Jesus is restoring right relationship with God via an intense act of love coming from human race. Jesus is man’s “yes” to God, as well God’s “yes” to man since he was both God and man. How he embraces us as God. It’s not the sufferings in themselves that were salvific but his love while they were going on. The suffering merely offered the opportunity. Suffering doesn’t save us but that WHILE that was happening Jesus loved. It was more powerful than all human’s “no’s”.

Sacrifice expresses his love by dedicating his whole body and blood to the service of God.

Recapitulation: Jesus recaps human life the right way. The second Adam lives human life the way Adam should have.

Judgement is merely saying what’s truth.. Cross shows the truth of the world, what the world does without God. It kills. The cross also reveals in Jesus, “this is what is possible with me.” In other words, it shows we can love to the extent Christ did.

We participate in that justice by being incorporated into Christ. By sacraments and uniting with Him in charity. We inherit the effects of God’s satisfaction. We are mystically re-crucified and raised with Christ in sacraments. Resurrection doesn’t reverse crucifixion but vindicates it.

Justification is the remission of sins and changes us on the inside and offers grace. We can’t earn this. There’s nothing you can do to prepare for it or earn it. No work you can do, after all, is worthy of the gift of supernatural life. Nor do we have the simple endurance to do good for long on our own.

His love is what makes us good, not he’ll love me when I’m good. It’s a pride/despair roller coaster if you don’t see it. Many get off the roller coaster by accepting moral mediocrity, saying God must not really care about that because he doesn’t want me on this roller coaster and so I’m just try to be an average guy.

Christianity isn’t about trying really hard to be good. It’s realizing how much you’re loved by God and letting God love you because God’s love is creative. God doesn’t love like we do: we see steak and whiskey and recognize the goodness in them and love them. God, however, loves us even when there’s nothing in us to love. Love, in God’s way not ours, is not a response to the goodness in things but instead His love creatively puts goodness in us. When God loves me new good is created in me. You get super powers with the Holy Spirit. You suddenly get wings meant to fly into the Heart of God and you desire yourself that nothing tie us down to earth that we may fly to Him. We beg him to cut the cords to the very things we think we depend on for our happiness.

April 17, 2019

Rare Leftist Podcaster Who Gets Mueller Nonsense

As a guilty pleasure, I like to listen to podcast of young socialists Matt and Liz Bruenig.  Helps to know how the other half thinks. And they recently had a keen exchange on Mueller and Hillary that amazingly on target despite their party affiliation:
Matt: “I did find it unlikely that they’d find some smoking gun where [Trump] sat down and did anything…Does Trump even send emails? Was there some meeting no one knows about with Putin?  That seems unlikely.  Separately, what it is they supposedly colluded on was a joke. ‘Oh yes they colluded to make fake Instagram accounts.’  Oh man…the Republic is really on its knees now. What if you found that he did call up Putin and said, ‘Can you make an Instagram account that tries to persuade black people not to vote?'  What does that amount to? It was trivial.
And then of course the online people who are really interested in it, they just look like Benghazi nut cases and so clearly unhinged.  It launched at least a dozen grifter careers."

Liz: “You also got stuff like ‘Have Yourself a Mueller Little Christmas-“

Matt: “Oh there were multiple Mueller Christmas carols.  It was so cringe-y…”

Liz: “SNL had ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’…After the election SNL had Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton singing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Alleluia’.”

Matt: I thought that bit was really hilarious until someone was like, ‘no that’s not a joke’.”

Liz: “Yeah she was crying at the end, her eyes were kind of shining, ‘I told the truth’…”

Matt: I thought it was hilarious because it’s exactly how Hillary Clinton feels about herself because she’s such an egomanical…”

Liz: “So delusional.”

Matt: “And it’s like this victim posture.”

Liz: “Yeah how dare the American people fail her.”

Matt: “One of the most powerful human beings in the whole world-”

Liz: “God will be like, ‘You got to be Secretary of State, and a senator…”

Matt: “And she’s like, ‘I tried my best, I’m so weak’, but no. You should’ve crushed him. You had twice as much money as him and the whole media in your pocket and you still lost...The whole Mueller virus spread across the country. For example they had one poll question, ‘Do you think that Russian in collusion with Trump tampered with the vote tallies.’ 66% of Democrats said yes, that Russia actually changed the vote totals!  So there’s literally a wild-assed overheated conspiracy that has spread throughout the Democratic body.”

March 31, 2019

Latin Liturgy and my Love-Hate Relationship with Symbols

One minor motion at the Latin liturgy today transported me and lifted me, as it were.  Sometimes an action says a thousand words and there’s a beautiful economy in that effortless grace. 

The motion was during the Consecration when an altar server lifted the robe of the priest up just as the priest was lifting the chalice. I interpreted this symbol as showing that the priest, as Jesus, was lifting not just the bread and wine but himself. The priest, in persona Christi, seemed to be ascending to Heaven with the gift of His body and blood and there was great reassurance in the acceptableness of that sacrifice. 

I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with symbols. My practical side manifested itself in a strong affection for saying what you what to say plainly, don’t hide behind a symbol. If Melville meant the white whale to mean God, then he should’ve been transparent and said so.  

The irony is that I’m a word-lover, a logophile, and words are symbols.  And I’ve always been fond of math and statistics, again symbols.  But this anti-symbol manifesto showed itself early in a craving for non-fiction and poetry, the latter for the words and not the symbols or “plot”. 

A Dominican priest recently mentioned that the genius of the book of Genesis is that you can tell a child the story of Adam and Eve and then get something from it, while at the same time professors in universities spill mountains of ink to this day on the meaning.  

He said the genre is symbolic truth, which is not well understood today: “Which is more accurate, symbol truth or historical truth?” And then answered his question with another, “which is more accurate, 2+2=4 or ‘it was German aggression that started World War 1”?  “Yes, 2 + 2 = 4 are symbols and more accurate than the historical statement.”

Early on I didn’t like symbols in part because of the Wizard of Oz.  The troupe go to all this trouble to find the wizard, and he turns out to be a humbug, ordinary person underneath all the glitz and glitter. 

But Christianity turns that completely upside down.  We find that beneath the bread and wine, as humbug as those are, there is Christ himself.  We find that within our humdrum neighbor and within our humdrum selves, there is Christ himself.  Whereas the Wizard of Oz the symbol turns out to be a disappointing reality, with God the symbol turns out to be the reality, and to be a reality merely too rich for us to comprehend. 

So symbols hide things and reveal things.  As a kid having a safe made by my grandfather was a thing of wonderment because it could conceal secrets. Similarly I loved the faux library doors that led to much greater libraries inside, like the Holy of Holies within the Temple. 

St. John Paul II quoted the book of Proverbs on the joy of seeking: 
There is thus no reason for competition of any kind between reason and faith: each contains the other, and each has its own scope for action. Again the Book of Proverbs points in this direction when it exclaims: “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out” (Prov 25:2). In their respective worlds, God and the human being are set within a unique relationship. In God there lies the origin of all things, in him is found the fullness of the mystery, and in this his glory consists; to men and women there falls the task of exploring truth with their reason, and in this their nobility consists. The Psalmist adds one final piece to this mosaic when he says in prayer: “How deep to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I try to count them, they are more than the sand. If I come to the end, I am still with you” (139:17-18). The desire for knowledge is so great and it works in such a way that the human heart, despite its experience of insurmountable limitation, yearns for the infinite riches which lie beyond, knowing that there is to be found the satisfying answer to every question as yet unanswered.

March 30, 2019


I’ve always liked lines, demarcations, borders,  no trespassing zones, so now I want to go back and find the line crossed where things became untenable politically, when the polarization permanent-iscized. Certainly the election of Trump was the signal event at which there was no going back. November of 2016 might’ve marked the rubicon crossing. 

But ultimately I think the real killer was the period 1996-2003. Those momentous 7 years contained a one-two-three punch: Clinton got impeached by the House on the unlikeliest of unlikely events, namely physical proof of his lying under oath. Then Bush won in 2000 on the slimmest of margins via "hanging chads" in Florida. (Anecdotally, the 2000 election certainly radicalized Democrats at my workplace like Rick B. in a way I’d not seen before.) Bush didn’t have a chance to begin with given the election chaos, but then doubled down and threw gas on the fire by getting into an unnecessary war in Iraq on faulty pretenses (the phantom WMDs). I don’t think the republic ever recovered from the way Bush won and how he governed. It was "total war" at that point on the Dem side. 

 The Republicans,conciliatorily, offered meek and mild candidates in the form of a maverick and the Mormon, McCain and Romney, but Obama rammed Obamacare down our throats and crucified social conservatives. Republicans retaliated with the total war approach of Trump. Democrats retailiated withe collusion hoax...,

March 21, 2019

Bible Quote

"Of all the images which have been used to describe the English Bible, that which calls it a 'cathedral book' seems one of the most apt. It conveys the idea of a structure, great and ancient, the offspring of many minds which have in many ages striven to produce a home, a shrine, worthy to contain and honor that which was to them the best and the noblest of all possible visions. One thinks of the multiplicity of effort which has gone into the making of such a church as Canterbury. The building has been laid out on a venerated site and on ancient foundations; as it has progressed, these foundations have been discovered to be inadequate; new ideas of beauty have dawned on the builder…But in spite of changes and accretions and refurbishing, the aim of the whole abides. Men are to gather under its roof to worship the God who has led them from a dim light up to that bright one which radiates from the presence of his Son.

Like one of our old cathedrals, then, is our English Bible. Side by side with what is of supreme beauty, it shows us sometimes what is to us merely curious; but in neither case – of the cathedral or the Bible – are we at liberty to treat the curious thing with an unkind contempt, for we have found it in the house of God. That which was dear and holy to the mind of Origen or Augustine deserves to be gently handled by us who, believe it, are very likely less clever, and quite certainly less good than they." - M.R. James