Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It's the Jihad, Stupid!

Bruce Thornton, who writes at Victor Davis Hanson's site provides his thoughts on the hypocrisy of Islam, and the world's weakness in response to it here.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

True Notebooks

I just finished a wonderful book. It's entitled "True Notebooks" by Mark Salzman.
Salzman is what the industry calls a "B List Author". He's written some novels and non-fiction with moderate success, but he's not a best selling author. I've read all of his previous works and enjoyed most of them. What I like about him is his self-deprecating sense of humor, affability, and common sense.

True Notebooks is about his experience as a volunteer for a program which provides writing classes for violent teenage offenders at Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles. These teens are mostly murder convicts who often are gang members.

Now I have to say that I don't think much of gangbangers. Whenever I hear about them in the news I have to shake my head and just think "lock'em up and throw away the key." But this book has changed my attitude. Through their writing, these kids show vulnerability, anger, pain, sorrow, fear, remorse, and hope. One of the most striking things I noticed was that most of the sorrow and pain came from growing up in a broken home. Most of these boys do not have a father. Or their fathers abandoned or abused them. Most of them adore their mothers.

When Salzman, who is an accomplished cellist, brought his cello to play for the kids one afternoon, he anticipated jeers and mockery from them. After all, these kids like rap music. He announced a piece by Saint-Saens which reminded him of his mother. Half way through the work he looked up and saw all the boys sitting there in silence, with tears streaming down their faces. They made him play that piece three times because they were all thinking of their mothers.

Anyway, I won't give away more of the story, but I highly recommend it to anyone. There's a lot of profanity and some shocking discussion, but it's well worth reading because it reveals their humanity and their weaknesses. Here is an excerpt of an essay written by one of the boys:

Sometimes I am in the room with darkness, I could feel the light in my heart. No one could understand how light it is. The people just think I am a piece of s**t, but they never know I feel remorse. And I try to be a good person without my freedom, I lonely. I need help. Sometimes I wonder how can I get back my happiness without help?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I Love My Neighborhood

Especially on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon. There's not much traffic here and the roads are bumpy and uneven so you can't drive too fast, which is good.

It was the sounds I hear that make me reflect on how good it is to live here. I can hear the constant drone of bees as they flit around my thyme which is flowering. The warbling of robins join in with the humming of the bees. Occasionally a crow caws and then a murder of them begin a racket, which means that a raccoon is near their nest.

Across the lot I hear my neighbor's dog barking, which means a visitor is at the door. The barking stops suddenly when she sees who the visitor is. Someone she knows.

Up the street I hear two young children playing and occasionally squabbling. They sound healthy and happy and strong. Next door I hear my neighbor play piano. He is a classical musician. His windows are open and so are mine so wafts of Mozart drift in. It's lovely.

Friday, May 27, 2005

I have a co-worker who is a Buddhist. She is from Thailand, so she and her family are REAL Buddhists, not some Americans who have glommed onto some popular fashion, like so many where I live.

She has an aunt and a cousin who are visiting the States and they asked me if I would take them to Mass this Sunday. I was happy to oblige them but I felt a bit taken aback. I wondered if they wanted to go because they felt some need to worship (there are no Buddhist temples nearby) or was it out of tourist curiousity? It was the latter, actually.

The young girl, who is attending college in Thailand, asked me some questions. She said she was studying world religions in her social sciences class. I was astonished that she understood that Catholics believe that the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ. I know some college-age Catholics who don't realize that! She and her mother asked me questions about protocol at Mass as well. They wanted to be sure to dress properly and show respect. I felt a little ashamed at how often we Catholics don't share that desire. Sometimes when I go to Mass I see that many people dress as if they just came in from mowing the lawn. Baseball caps on backwards, baggy jeans, holey T-shirts... our attitude towards worship is so casual and mindless.

But external trappings aside, my great hope is that they might find a desire to our Lord on this feast day, Corpus Christi Sunday. From the the Gospel that day, John 6:51-58, are compelling words to eat and drink our Lord. I pray that that a spark might be lit inside them, bless their hearts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Wrong Kind of Judicial Blindness

From Maggie Gallagher:

"These are four guys [judges in Nebraska] who went to law school, and they don't have a clue what they are talking about when it comes to marriage. These four judges said what is to me the most amazingly ignorant thing. They said, 'Government creates marriage.' That is just the wrong model. Marriage is a social institution. It is much older than the government of the United States. To get some idea of how ignorant that is, what would you think of a judge -- a supposedly educated person -- who said that government created motherhood? You know, we have laws about parenting, but fundamentally this is something older and deeper than government."

This floors me. What is the limit of judicial arrogance? None, apparently. Or are these people THAT blind? I know that Justice is supposed to be blind, hence the symbol of the blindfolded woman holding the scales. But this kind of blindness? It's some sort of blinkered mindset which cannot see the past before the 20th century.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Mighty Thinker

Gilbert Keith Chesterton's astonishing ability to analyze and synthesize thoughts until they coalesce into something profound and true always amazes me. I am excerpting paragraphs from one of his masterpieces, "Orthodoxy":

"The modern world is full of old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from one another and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity is often untruthful."

How true that is! On one hand we have the those who advocate the murder of unborn babies for stem cell research in the name of progress. On the other hand we have bleeding hearts who will permit the abominations of tyrants like Saddam Hussein and Hitler, in the name of peace.

"In front of me, as I close this page, is a pile of modern books that I have been turning over for the purpose - a pile of ingenuity, a pile of futility. By the accident of my present detachment, I can see the inevitable smash of the philosophies of Schopenhauer and Tolstoy, Nietzsche and Shaw, as clearly as an inevitable railway smash could be seen from a balloon. They are all on the road to the emptiness of the asylum. For madness may be defined as using mental activity so as to reach mental helplessness; and they have nearly reached it. He who thinks he is made of glass, thinks to the destruction of thought; for glass cannot think. So he who wills to reject nothing, wills the destruction of will; for will is not only the choice of something, but the rejection of almost everything. And as I turn and tumble over the clever, wonderful, tiresome, and useless modern books the title of one of them rivets my eye. It is called "Jeanne d'Arc", by Anatole France. I have only glanced at it, but a glance was enough to remind me of Renan's "Vie de Jesus". It has the same strange method of the reverent sceptic. It discredits supernatural stories that have some foundation, simply by telling natural stories that have no foundation. Because we cannot believe in what a saint did, we are to pretend that we know exactly what he felt. But I do not mention either book in order to criticize it, but because the accidental combination of the names called up two startling images of sanity which blasted all books before me. Joan of Arc was not stuck at crossroads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that was even tolerable in either of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things, especially in plain pity, the actualities of the earth, the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing.

Here he displays how this simple, devout, humble shepherdess outdid two "great" men of the modern age. Two men who are diametrically opposed to each other in ideology.

"It was impossible that the thought should not cross my mind that she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost. And with that thought came a larger one, and the colossal figure of her Master had also crossed the theatre of my thoughts. The same modern difficulty which darkened the subject matter of Anatole France also darkened that of Ernest Renan. Renan also divided his hero's pity from his hero's pugnacity. Renan even represented the righteous anger at Jerusalem as a mere nervous breakdown after the idyllic expectations of Galilee. As if there were any inconsistency between having a love for humanity and having a hatred for inhumanity! Altruists, with thin, weak voices, denounce Christ as an egoist. Egoists (with even thinner and weaker voices) denounce Him as an altruist. In our present atmosphere such cavils are comprehensible enough. The love of a hero is more terrible than the hatred of a tyrant. The hatred of a hero is more generous than the love of a philanthropist. There is a huge and heroic sanity which moderns can only collect in fragments. There is a giant of whom we see only the lopped arms and legs walking about. They have torn the soul of Christ into silly strips, labeled egoism and altruism, and they are equally puzzled by His insane magnificence and His insane meekness. They have parted His garments among them, and for His vesture they have cast lots; though the coat was without seam woven from top throughout."

It's unfortunate that the average person has never heard of Chesterton, and will probably never explore his works. He is a jewel in the mitred crown of Christian thought.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Don't Care Anymore

So what if we offend the Muslims? Doesn't matter what we do, they'll continue to berate, terrorize and murder the infidels.

Frankly, even if a Koran had been flushed down the toilet (and they must have some super plumbing at Gitmo) I don't see the brouhaha. I've seen a crucifix in a urinal. I've seen Our Lady of Guadalupe surrounded by elephant dung. I've seen the Bible made into toilet paper.

Does that mean I should go out and start rioting? Cut off people's heads? Dismember the culprits?

Maybe we Christians are too soft. Maybe we should start riots. Maybe when another stupid piece of trash called "art" which blasphemes our faith is displayed we should cause an uproar in front of the art gallery. Maybe we should get mad instead of wringing our hands and bemoaning how insensitive we are.

I don't know. I'm getting to a point where I don't care if Muslims are insulted. That may be a good thing. Or it may be bad. I felt tempted to buy a Koran and dump it in a toilet filled with excrement and take a photo of it and publish it on the web. That way they'd have a REAL thing to get upset about. But I know it was just my irascible nature tempting me.

But this I do know. Islam is not a religion of peace. It's a heresy. And any religion which teaches that it's okay to blow up innocent people along with yourself and that you are going to be rewarded with carnal pleasures ain't from God. It's from the Enemy himself.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Western Civilization's Debt to the Catholic Church

Excellent article by author Thomas Woods on the contributions of the Roman Cathlolic Church to Western Civilization. The footnote lists his new book "How the Cathlolic Church Built Western Civilization."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


It's been over 10 days now since Ebay wrote that vague form letter stating that it will "broaden" its policies to ban the sale of the Holy Eucharist.

Nothing has happened. No announcement was made, nor any additions to their banned items list. They have made a myriad of other unrelated announcements, but have NOT fulfilled their word.

In other words, we were duped, folks.

I have written to Ebay's North American President, Bill Cobb at billcobb@ebay.com and asked him for an explanation and WHEN will they fulfill their promise. I urge you all to do the same. We MUST keep the pressure on them folks.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Canine Culture of Life?

In this story we see a dog with better maternal instincts than some humans. Makes me feel ashamed when I think of where we are with regards to our respect for life.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven by Ridley Scott ain't worth a Diddly Squat

I haven't seen it. But I've read enough reviews to know I don't want to bother.

This is revisionism at its revoltingly worst.

According to Scott's vision:

The Christians were the ones who started the violence.
All Muslims pray with faith.
Christians don't pray; they wrestle with their agnosticism. (Yup, like there was such a word back then).
Muslims in the Holy Land lived in peace.
All Christians were blood thirsty barbarians who relished killing the "infidels".

And the bull**** goes on and on.

Actually, it wasn't the reviews which initially turned me off. It was the interviews with the director and the actors which alerted me to the fact that this was going to be a self-loathing, revisionist, bigoted, anti-Christian piece of ****.

Don't waste your money on it. Go see "Downfall" instead. At least it's truthful.

Ridley Scott, I hereby dub thee "Sir Diddly Squat".

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Good News from Ebay

I received this letter in response to my query about listing the Eucharist as a banned item:


Thank you for writing to eBay with your concerns.The Eucharist post will be on the announcement board.Thanks again for writing, and thank you for being part of the eBay community.

Community Watch Team

After I see that announcement and the listing of the Eucharist as a banned item on Ebay I will renew my membership.

Thanks be to God and not our strength for it.

Why I am still Boycotting Ebay

Yes, I signed the petition in protest of Ebay's policy which permitted the sale of the Eucharist. I sent them letters. I called them. I have cancelled my Ebay and Paypal accounts (Paypal is a affiliate of Ebay).

Then I got the following letter:


Thank you for your email regarding the sale of the Holy Eucharist by oneof our community members. We are sorry to hear that you want to close your account due to this issue. We respect and appreciate your comments regarding this sensitive matter.As you may know, eBay does not sell items itself. Rather, we are a global marketplace for sellers and buyers who transact directly with oneanother. Each day eBay's sellers list 5 million items on the site, andthose sellers decide what items they want to list. eBay did not possess, list or approve the sale of the Eucharist. The buyer and seller completed the Eucharist transaction on April 11th, before eBay even became aware of the listing. As a marketplace, we strive to respect the diverse perspectives of our sellers. We also work hard to promote an open environment for trade. That said, eBay has policies in place to remove listings for illegal items as well as highly offensive listings that promote hate or intolerance. We understand that the listing of the Eucharist was highly upsetting to Catholic members of the eBay community and Catholics globally. Once this completed sale was brought to our attention, we consulted with a number of our users, including members of the Catholic Church, concerning what course we should take in the future should a similar listing appear on our site. We also consulted with members of other religions about items that might also be highly sacred and inappropriatefor sale. As a result of this dialogue, we have concluded that sales ofthe Eucharist, and similar highly sacred items, are not appropriate on eBay. We have, therefore, broadened our policies and will remove those types of listings should they appear on the site in the future. As always, we welcome and appreciate the assistance of the community in upholding the rules of our site. Should you see another Eucharist listed on our site, we encourage you to notify us so we can take appropriate action. Further, we encourage you to directly communicate with the seller. Members are often unaware that a particular item is offensive to others. A respectful e-mail to the seller is often all that is needed for the seller to voluntarily remove the item. We believe this modification strikes the appropriate balance between respect for our community's values and our goal of providing an open marketplace offering practically anything on earth. Again, we sincerely appreciate your concern and thank you for communicating your views with us. Your input has helped us frame a policy that will enable us to better serve our diverse community of users around the world." However, if still you want to close your account then please be aware that closing an account is a serious step. This account will be blocked,the contact information will be concealed, and the member profile will no longer be available. It is also important to realize that, once an account is closed, the email address associated with this account cannotbe used to open a new eBay account. You can read more information about canceling an account at the following web address: http://pages.ebay.com/help/basics/closedAccount.html If you have a selling account, you should check your balance and pay anyamount due in full or request and receive a refund if one is due. You can reach your Account Status page by following the steps below:1. Click the "My eBay" link at the top of any eBay page. You may be asked to log in.2. From your My eBay page, click "Seller Account" link located under the"My Account" heading.3. On the Account page, click the "View Account Status" link in the "My eBay Seller Account" box.Please be aware that closing an account does not relieve you of your obligation to pay a balance due. eBay will attempt to collect any unpaidbalance through all available legal means, i.e., professional collectionservices, attorneys, and credit reporting agencies.If you definitely want to cancel your eBay membership, reply to this email and restate your request. Please also let us know why you want to close your account. Once we receive your reply, we will review your email and begin the account closure process.IMPORTANT NOTE:Your request to cancel an account will not be processed unless you replyto this email and clearly restate your request.I wish that you continue to be valuable member of eBay community. Thank you for choosing eBay.


Mark R.eBay Customer Support Representative

Now that sounds all well and good. I know many Catholics perceive this to be a victory. But for some reason it still made me unsure. The letter does not explicitly state that they will add the Eucharist to the Banned Items List. I have been checking for that "policy change" and for some kind of Announcement on Ebay every day now since I received this letter on Monday, May 2. There has been no announcement nor any change in their policy section regarding this. Nor have they listed the Eucharist on their banned items list as they have done for Native American spiritual items.

I don't think I'm nitpicking, nor do I want to rain on anyone's parade. But I don't consider this a victory until Ebay FORMALLY makes this change so that EVERYONE is aware of it. We Catholics should expect Ebay to treat the sale of the Eucharist as grievous a matter as they did the Native American issue. Nothing less than that will satisfy me.

I wrote to Ebay immediately after receiving this letter asking them if they will make the changes in their Policy so everyone will know it. I have yet to receive a reply.

I ask that all concerned Catholics continue to boycott Ebay until they resolve this issue in an above board manner. The Holy Eucharist deserves it.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

What is it going to Take?

It's one thing after another. The worst is when I hear about some horrific crime committed against a child. Just now FOX News has a photo of a young pre-adolescent girl asking if anyone knows who she is. Apparently there are photos of her circulating on the web which depict horrible sexual crimes victimizing her. Some sick and demented pedophiles have her and the police are trying to find her. Some representative from an organization which tries to rescue children in these situations said that they have 50,000 children who need to be rescued from the hands of pedophile pornographers. It is staggering.

Jessica Lunsford. Carlie Brucia. Sarah Lunde. And the list goes on and on. So many children, boys and girls, have been assaulted and murdered by sex offenders and criminals who should have been in jail. Why are these judges allowing them to roam the streets? In most other jobs, if you screw up enough that it costs people's lives, you'd probably end up losing your job. Why are some of these judges, who are lenient with sex offenders, permitted to keep their seat on the bench? When are they going to be held accountable for their poor judgment? And that's what it is. A judge is supposed to have good judgment. Too many of them seem to lack that facility.

I don't care if the jails are too full. Build more jails. Put the sex offenders on a remote island or something and keep them away from society. The recitivism rate for them is astounding. They are not capable of rehabilitation, therefore they must be kept out of circulation.

Some people foolishly think that this has been going on since time immemorial. We only hear about it so much because of electronic media. False. This is an epidemic. This type of crime has grown like a cancer in Western society and has reached epidemic proportions never before seen in history.

I blame pornography and abortion. Both denigrate the value of sex and children. Now with the privacy of computers and electronic visual aids pedophiles and sex offenders can indulge themselves. They are encouraged and united with these tools... and, to borrow a phrase by Churchill, "...made more sinister and more protracted by the lights of perverted science..."

I blame secularism. When there is no more spirituality in society's life then all that remains is physical pleasure. With no God to set standards of conduct there is no morality to curb the appetites or desires. When there is no eternal Truth then man becomes sick and twisted inside, relying only upon his "relativism" to guide him.

Dostoevesky was right. He meant something sinister when he said "When God is dead, all things are possible."