July 30, 2018

The Money Quote on the Woeful Shepherds

A Dominican priest, Fr. Peter on Twitter hit the jackpot, inasmuch as how these bishops and cardinals have such super-clean consciences:
One of the sources of scandal in the Church is bad moral theology. Specifically bad fundamental moral theology.

It's not quite that they reject norms about sexuality, or that they don't see those norms as a part of God's plan for our flourishing and happiness. (Though that certainly is a part of it as well.)

It's that, for all intents and purposes, proportionalism and fundamental option theory are alive and well in our church--because that is how our current generation of leaders was trained to think. They don't really believe that certain actions are intrinsically evil from their object alone, apart from their intention.

This isn't just about sexual matters. It's also about truth in speech. Which is why lying and covering up are so common.

For instance, I once had a superior who quite directly told me that he could lie to me or about me with a clean conscience, because he had a good intention for doing so. He didn't feel the slightest compunction for the damage he did.

It never occurred to him that he had to follow Catholic moral doctrine when he was doing his job. Bad fundamental moral theology has corrupted the practical reason of too many church leaders.

And since leaders generally have a (sometimes unjustifiably) high view of themselves, and since they pick other leaders, they tend to select for these traits, thinking them to be good leadership qualities, and continuing the cycle.
Helps explain the inexplicable.

July 24, 2018

Quick Takes Shaken not Stirred (or: College Light and the Mer-gods)

A Dominican in Ohio (formerly downtown at St. Patrick's) quoted St Augustine (in Latin) on the recent news:
Why is the Church black but comely? She is black by nature, but comely by grace. Why is she black by nature? Because she must needs own: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." Ps. 1. 7. Why is she comely by? Sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Ending up buying a book containing columns of Cardinal McCarrick because it was free with amazon points. As if I’ll be able to figure anything out by it. The mystery of iniquity is definitionally mysterious.  Fr. Longenecker tweeted the truth that the biggest surprise is how McCarrick hasn’t admitted guilt and expressed public repentance. Kind of smoke of Satan-y. Also interesting to see Cardinal Farrell block his tweets and Bishop Tobin kill his Twitter account in response to story.

I’m not sure why it feels different with McCarrick other than I thought this whole issue was long past and yet McCarrick paid off people during only the past decade. Plus it rankles the sheer power he had - helping to choose a pope and influencing other papal electors.


Wondrously restorative baseball this morning. Just a couple innings (the first and ninth) of last night’s Reds. Got to listen to that tonic of broadcasters, Marty Brennaman. “Isn’t this game of baseball something?” after a Reds hitter slammed one deep, tying the game with two outs in bottom of ninth. And then a two-out rally to win - the game doesn’t get any better than that. I felt the way the late Charles Krauthammer always did before going to a baseball game - like a kid on holiday. As much as I “want” to follow other teams, mostly the Dodgers for their beautiful stadium (best in MLB according to many) and the Yanks for their astounding Aaron Judge, I keep coming home to the Reds, especially given we’ve got this generation’s Ted Williams (Joey Votto). Speaking of which, Votto was praising Williams last night and saying how Ted’s book “The Science of Hitting” was his baseball bible. He’s learned well.

Unfortunately Homer “home run” Bailey pitches tonight. Nails, meet chalk board.


Last night read more of the compelling myth-novel Circe. Finally a female novelist I can appreciate (besides O’Connor and Dinesen). I can see why it’s a best-seller for it has an otherworldly charm to it. Quotes:

They were a motley group: river-men with muscles like the trunks of trees, brine-soaked mer-gods with crabs hanging from their beards, stringy old-timers with seal meat in their teeth.

The land was drenched in boiling gouts of blood so potent that rare flowers sprang up where they fell.

The river-lords postured, faces dark with excitement. You cannot know how frightened gods are of pain. There is nothing more foreign to them, and so nothing they ache more deeply to see.

“My dear, [mortals] must always offer something, even if it is small, even if only wine poured at your spring, else they will forget to be grateful, after.”

He would bare his blue chest before them, strapped with god-muscles, and offer his hands, smooth as surf-rolled shells.

They took him to Nereus, old Titan god of the sea, who in turn introduced him to Poseidon, his new lord. Together they helped him shape his underwater palace, set with gold and wave-wrack treasures.


Visited Jazz & Rains fest this past deluge!


Read a review of a new documentary by Frederick Wiseman called Ex Libris, about the NY Public Library. The subject matter is crack-cocaine (even the title) so I looked where I could stream it, preferably for free. And low and behold via the website and app Kanopy I can view any of Wiseman’s previous documentaries for free using my Columbus library card. (Ex Libris won’t be available till the fall, after PBS airing.) I came immediately across a documentary about a Benedictine monastery titled Essene and that looks again like crack-cocaine. And one on horse racing. Always pleasing to discover a free source of infotainment. Ain’t that ‘net something.


The transom in the sunroom allows some night sky viewing and so I’ve been noticing a particularly bright star in the southern sky. I looked it up using an app: Arcturus, the fourth brightest star and far brighter than our sun.

Despite it something I’ve never noticed before or could identify, it’s been a major player for human eons. In Ancient Rome it signaled superstitious portents, for Polynesian sailors it guided them to Hawaii. In the book of Job it’s mentioned when God says to Job:

“Can thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or can thou guide Arcturus with his sons?”
The name comes from Greek myth based on its position so close to “the Bear”, or Ursa Major, the Big Dipper:

The traditional name Arcturus derives from Ancient Greek and means "Guardian of the Bear". ..it is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation next to Ursa Major, the Greater Bear.

One astronomical tradition has it based on the myth that Zeus transformed a boy into a constellation containing the star, and his mother into Ursa Major, this the boy guards his mother.
The light I see from it is about 37 years old given the distance it’s traveled, so the light was generated during my first semester of my first year at college.

July 17, 2018

SCOTUS Podcasts

Listened to SCOTUS podcast “First Mondays” hosted by two left-of-center folks. Sure, I listened partially for schadenfreude purposes.  I don't feel like the conservative cause has many hurrahs left and this could be the last one so I want to make ample use of it.  (The Republican primary goers decided to go out with a bang with Trump: "Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space." I hope I'm wrong but it feels like a short-term strategy, so I'm enjoying it while I can.)

It’s interesting that finally - after the election of Trump and the arrival of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh - some on the Left are actually asking themselves if the continued existence of Roe was worth getting Trump as president, and whether it has been smart to pin all of the left-wing-activist hopes on the shoulders of the nine robed elders. God bless America, I never thought I'd hear that concerning the "sacrament of abortion". 

Ultimately, it's probably less an admission of anything but as Jonah Goldberg often says, it’s that folks will use whatever means is most amenable to their consolidation of power, and thus the Court was a feasible target when there was no conservative legal infrastructure. Now that that's changed, they’re going to look elsewhere.

But what I really loved in the exchange below was an admission that leftish judges are about power, that they have no philosophy other than “Do what thou will” (and one of the hosts unwittingly and ludicrously implied that very thing by saying the Left should hijack the originalist language of the Right and assert that Roe is an originalist position).

Anyhow, the jury is still out on Kavanaugh. He's pretty swampy and gave Roberts the ammo to save Obamacare. But he's better than Kennedy and Barrett would've been a tough confirmation. From the podcast:
DE: This is a real victory for the conservative legal movement. It’s not just a victory for one person, this is something that took more than a generation to build… And that’s right. You look in the early ‘70s and Pres Nixon gets to make a bunch of appointments and a lot of them were disappointing to conservatives… The solution to that is to build a legal/cultural/social movement, the Federalist society and various movements, that advances a larger vision of the law, and to create a new way of thinking about the law, a new professional identity for conservative lawyers.

IS: You know it’s quite an achievement, it really is. The success was not guaranteed. It’s genuinely impressive.

DE: And it made me really think that the Left has to counter this, and what the Left has been offering really hasn’t been a great product. The Left doesn’t have a theory, never articulated a particularly clear theory of what judges should be doing and what their method of interpretation is…Ultimately the thing that is most important is having the power in getting to make the appointments to the Court, but on the margins I think it would be helpful for someone to articulate a clear vision…

IS: The problem is on the one hand [the Federalist Society] you’ve got this nice crisp set of ways of thinking about the law, that are, like, very structured and formal and pretty easy to do for the first time, and on the other hand you have a kind of “do what thou wilt” all-things-considered ecumenicism on the Left, which is just not intellectually attractive and is also hard to work with.
I wonder if there's a parallel to Catholicism versus Protestantism, that with Catholicism you have a structured way of thinking about the nature of authority, that is easier to do compared to the ecumenicism of "do what thou wilt" Protestantism, the latter not particularly intellectually attractive. As De Tocqueville wrote:
Religious powers not radiating from a common centre are naturally repugnant to [the minds of men living in democratic ages]...One of the most ordinary weaknesses of the human intellect is to seek to reconcile contrary principles, and to purchase peace at the expense of logic. Thus there have ever been, and will ever be, men who, after having submitted some portion of their religious belief to the principle of authority, will seek to exempt several other parts of their faith from its influence, and to keep their minds floating at random between liberty and obedience.
I think folks like Anthony Kennedy and Notorious RBG have long ago purchased peace at the expense of logic.

July 16, 2018

Annual Cellphone Photo Essay: German Village Edition

Headed out on Friday towards pastures green: the annual Columbus German Village bike ride. Only there for 90 minutes but it was a rich and lovely experience, variegated and sunlit from Heaven. Low humidity, 80s, and bluest of skies.

I landsharked the car and tooled through the beguilingly Euro streets. Along the way I stopped at a bakery on the southern edge (South ward street?), across from a bar with a rainbow flag and two well-dressed middle-aged women in drag smoking cigarettes. Under the bakery lights I saw a heavenly chocolate creation and purchased it for $3; it turned out to be a refrigerated King Don sans wrapping; it was labeled as such but I didn’t believe a bakery would simply repurpose a manufactured good.

I chanced my way to a dicey neighborhood with hoodlums lurking about, arguing and looking like drugs were close at hand.

I headed down the cobblestone streets still marked with the scratches of the heavy Wagner beer wagons, which carried their precious cargo to St. Mary’s pastor (among others) in the early1900s.

I traveled to the great Schiller Park, read about its history and the inspirational Schillerian quotes engraved. How short a life he lived! 40-some odd years but he had a lasting impact. I’m a bit surprised in 1891 he was honored above all other Germans in history by the thriving Village.
His 11-ft statue was unveiled, patriotically, on July 4th and bands and fireworks ensued for the 10,000 present. The letters ADN came to mind: “all dead now”, as Mom would say.

Everything was flourishing profoundly here in lush mid-July, the flowers blooming, the plants verdant from the zenith of sun and spring rains.

From the manicured lawns of the landed gentry class:

To gone-to-seed plantations:

From antlered decorations and barn-like villas:



To the other side o' the tracks:



I like how despite the fading of the pastor's sign, there's another sign pointing to it ("One Way") and then you see two letters of the street - "JE", as in "Jesus"! Pointing to the one way,truth and light despite our falling-down Church!


July 12, 2018

Sweet Summer

Creek bed reading

Dragonfly in the wild

Grandson in the wild

July 11, 2018

FB Nonsense

A friend of mine on FB is a big fan of political memes and so I figured I'd waste my time and refute the last eight he posted, which is sort of like banging my head against the wall for all its effectiveness but here goes, with my replies:

I'll take the bait:

1) Who wants a special prosecutor looking at everything they’ve done for the past 50 years?
2) See number 1; given an unlimited budget, lawyers gonna law. They run the country.
3) Mueller's team cares about is crucifying Trump, so they’re going to plead guilty to save their asses.

No, I've seen no empirical evidence of this whatsoever.

Of course it's "allowed". It's a free country and that even applies to the president. If people don't like it they can vote him out.

Sigh. Presidents don't "create jobs". Companies and business cycles do. Natural business cycles explain most of what people foolishly ascribe to presidents. Thus Obama was gifted with an economy in ruins and it rebounded as economies do.

Every president in modern times has been hated by the opposite party, so this is banal. Reagan was hated, W. Bush was Hitler, Clinton was hated, Trump is hated.

Ok, that one's fine.

Yawn. Anyone can make wild assertions. Prove it in a court of law Albert D.

"You can't lie on TV?" Big if true!