Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Who is supporting Donald Drumpf?

It can't be conservatives.  The latest in this bizarre primary from the CNN town hall meeting:

When asked what the three most important functions of the federal government are, he didn't say to legislate, judge, and execute the laws.  He did not say to protect the borders, enforce justice, and administer regulations on commerce between states and foreign nations.  He said the greatest is security (so far so good).  Then he added, "I would also say healthcare, education."  So according to Trump, the federal government has failed miserably in two-thirds of its functions for most of its history since healthcare and education have mainly been functions of state and local governments. 

He went on to say that abortion should be illegal and women punished for having abortions.  But what conservative organizations have been taking that position?  The conservative position has been that Roe should be overturned and the prerogative to legalize or illegalize abortions returned to the states.  Abortion providers in some states would then be subject to punishment if they broke the relevant laws.  (Trump later redacted his idiotic remark presumably after someone with a brain told him it was not the politically correct thing to say....)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Gaunilo's Perfect Island

Dinner question: What would be your perfect birthday?

Sam (7): Hotel at Disney with a pool. Free rides. (Avalee (10) concurs. Malea (12) is absent at dance.  James Leonidas is too young and Spartan to answer).

Johno (5): A make-anything-machine as a present. (Good choice. He'll go far in life).

Me: Unfortunately I have none. Impossible. For any great birthday, I can conceive of one better.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Students at Emory "University"

This is not an Onion story.  This is not made up.  Emory students have been traumatized by seeing the word "Trump" written in chalk on the sidewalks.  I kid you not.  

The students viewed the messages as intimidation, and they voiced "genuine concern and pain" as a result, Emory President Jim Wagner wrote Tuesday, one day after meeting with 40 to 50 student demonstrators.
Students at Monday's protest chanted, "You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!" 

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Son Bears It

From my brother who has lost his child:

Three years, ten months, and two days. The time that Maria was given on earth. A life cut short. So much left undone. So many dreams unfulfilled. Each day we are haunted by the anticipation of plans that will never be completed. She was saving money to buy a doll. Her coins rest silently and unused in her piggy bank. She was so excited to hold her new baby sister. Lucy was born one week to the day after Maria's death. I was cleaning up my garage a few days ago, putting away Christmas decorations, and cleaning up clutter. I had to store away the bike that I was teaching her to ride four days before her death. She never got past training wheels. There was a show on television last night. A father was walking his daughter down the aisle. He said she was beautiful and that he was so proud of her. I wept. Maria loved one dance outfit more than all of her other clothes, but it was hard for her to take off quickly and that causes problems for a little girl not long potty trained. She had a couple of accidents while wearing the outfit, so we took it away from her for a few weeks. She began to do much better going to the potty, and we promised her that she could wear her dance outfit again soon. We buried her in it the next week. So much left undone. So many dreams unfulfilled.
Thirty-seven years, five months, and fourteen days. That's my current mark. Oh, how much of that I have wasted? Far too many days spent on selfish pursuits. How many days remain to love my wife, to raise my four living daughters, to carry my cross? Whatever my final number, I'm sure some will say “a life cut short.” Are all lives cut short? Does everyone leave uncompleted plans and unfulfilled dreams?

Thirty-three years, they say he lived. His life too was cut short. So much seemingly left undone. A kingdom unestablished. Cowardly friends hiding from his suffering. A body scourged. A mission left incomplete. Can redemption really come to a life cut short?

Yet this is unendurable. And then one babbles -- "If only I could bear it, or the worst of it, or any of it, instead of her." But one can't tell how serious that bid is, for nothing is staked on it. If it suddenly became a real possibility, then, for the first time, we should discover how seriously we had meant it. But is it ever allowed?
It was allowed to One, we are told, and I find I can now believe again, that He has done vicariously whatever can be so done. He replies to our babble, "You cannot and you dare not. I could and dared." -C.S. Lews on the death of his wife

Funny Story About a Conservative Catholic Priest

Unlike a number of my posts, this will take a conversational tone.  All names have been edited so that the people involved will remain anonymous.

There’s a guy I’ve known quite for over a decade but only over the internet.  He used to be Nazarene—thus our original connection since I attended a Nazarene school as an undergraduate—but converted to Catholicism.  Moderate-Conservative, catholic, philosophy professor (less conservative than I on economics but not by a ton), E.M.  Anyhow, I began seeing all of these hilariously funny, and sometimes completely politically incorrect memes that this guy shared [more un-PC than even I WOULD SHARE!] on E.M.'s Facebook wall and "friended" him a while ago, Father L from NY.  E.M. messaged me today about something else and somehow this guy comes up, Father L, because in the 70’s he went to Franciscan U. of Steubenville near where I grew up.  Here’s what E.M. said about Father L:

Fr. L went to Franciscan as an undergrad.

Very funny guy--he said once he was there at the beginning of the charismatic renewal.  He said everyone there was either part of that movement or there to belong to a drinking fraternity--he then paused and said, "I belonged to two fraternities myself."

He was a prison chaplain for a while.

I asked Fr. L if he had ever dated---he said, “Oh yeah--in fact, I think I was engaged for about 20 minutes at a bar one time."

Fr. L grew up in NYC, I think Brooklyn or the Bronx.  His dad and a few of his uncles/brothers/cousins (I can't remember the combo) were cops.  He said he was kind of pushed toward the priesthood because he was the runt of the litter, even though he is 6'5 and about 270. He says most of the cops in his family were 6'6 or taller.

One time after Mass [where he was the priest], in the basement for donuts and coffee, this somewhat unstable guy who attended from time to time (now deceased) started going into a liberal political diatribe with some old ladies who were trying to avoid him.

Fr. L asked him to cool it.

The guy refused and then starting saying, "No one here cares about the Holy saints!  They only care about Fox News and St. Bill O'Reilly!"

Fr. L said, "That's not true--we also commemorate St. Sean Hannity [who I [E.M.] actually don't like, but whatever]."

Then the guy kept going off and Fr. L walked up to him, purple in the face, and screamed,  “I said, 'Enough!!!!'  You will not come in and terrorize my sheep this way!"

When the guy started to back up, Fr. L said, "I HAVE COMMANDED YOU--SHUT UP OR LEAVE THIS HOLY CHURCH!"

Then the guy stomped off, and Fr. L turned back to a young couple with a now terrified child in their arms, to whom he had been talking originally, and said very calmly, "Now, where were we?"

Then he saw the mortified child and said, "What’s the matter, little one, haven't you ever heard mommy and daddy yell before?"  To which they said, "Well, not quite like that."

My wife was there and was very impressed, though.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Obama Guevara

[Photo here]

“The Negro is indolent and spends his money on frivolities and drink, the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent…The Negro has maintained his racial purity by his well known habit of avoiding baths."  ~Che Guevara, Motorcycle Diaries. 

I'm actually old enough to remember when U.S. presidents actively opposed communism rather than posing in front of murderous communist thugs which won't pose a problem with their base.  How much do you want to bet that "Black Lives Matter" doesn't protest over this at all

A Book I Just Read

Very well written and researched

Few political figures of the twentieth century have aroused as much passion, controversy, and curiosity as Leon Trotsky. Trotsky was that rare combination of the man of ideas and the man of action. His role in history—his epic rise and fall, his fiery persona, his violent end in Mexico in August 1940—holds a fascination that transcends the history of the Russian Revolution. Based on extensive firsthand research, this groundbreaking biography examines Trotsky's remarkable life from the perspective of his last exile in Mexico.
Bertrand M. Patenaude masterfully interweaves the story of Trotsky's final years in Mexico with flashbacks to pivotal episodes in his career as a young Marxist, revolutionary hero, Red Army chief, Bolshevik leader, outcast from Stalin's USSR, and ultimately heretic of the Kremlin, targeted for assassination by its secret police. He vividly recounts the contentious Dewey Commission hearings and the passionate debates among liberals and Communists in the United States and Europe over the Moscow Trials and the charges made against Trotsky.
Drawing on Trotsky's private correspondence and diaries, as well as the testimonies of his American bodyguards and secretaries, Patenaude sheds new light on Trotsky's tumultuous friendship with painter Diego Rivera; his affair with Rivera's wife, Frida Kahlo; and his torment as his family and comrades became victims of the Great Terror. Patenaude also turns to KGB files to document Stalin's efforts to eliminate the man he considered his nemesis—including a failed commando raid on Trotsky's home three months before his death.
Gripping and tragic, Trotsky brilliantly illuminates the fateful and dramatic life of one of history's most captivating and important figures.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Benefit of Making Enemies

"Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes."  ~Antisthenes

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Remembering Maria

It's been a rough couple weeks since the death of my niece, Maria Borland, but not nearly the hell for me that it has been for my brother, Tristan, and his wife, Jill.  I always looked forward to seeing Maria, partly because I had the distinct honor of having her Barbie named after me, "Uncle Tully."  She loved men--men with beards, and especially her daddy and a farmer named Chaz (a man's man and apparently a princess's man as well).  She was ornery and a bit of a loner; my kind of person.  She was also loving and one of a kind.  She will forever be missed.

Choosing Suffering
There are sufferings that are unwelcome and that we must resist, root out, and seek to supplant.  But there are other sufferings that, though unwelcome, we must seek to embrace.  These sufferings are not good; no suffering is good in itself.  They are not enjoyable or easy to carry (let alone understand).  These are not sufferings to be sought out; they visit in the ordinary course of living.  And these sufferings are always intrusive and life-altering, sometimes expected and sometimes not.

Why would anyone choose to suffer when there are avenues of escape, when one can choose an easier path?  Why would one choose to welcome and to receive the events that cause such deep pain?  Wouldn't it be better to seek to remove them until all that is left is light?

We can avoid suffering by refusing to love well.  We can avoid suffering by failing to care for those who need our love.  We can avoid suffering--at least for a time--by isolating and refusing the path of dependence.  But the irony of avoiding this suffering is that it leaves one without love, without others to care for, without those who provide one with the opportunity to love and be loved.  Choosing to suffer in these times is a sign, an indication of something deeper, something good, something worth pursuing, something worth upholding, someone worth valuing. 

We suffer because we choose to love.  We suffer because the ones we love need our care.  We suffer because of our dependence upon others.  And we must choose this suffering.  Much of life is an attempt to distinguish between those sufferings that we ought to try to weed out of the soil of our lives and those sufferings that are seeds that might bear fruit.  By seeking to eradicate suffering, to eliminate those who suffer, to bury that which makes us dependent, we find ourselves withering.  Only one choice bears fruit.  ~Aaron Cobb, Loving Samuel, pp. 23-4.

Friday, March 4, 2016

On Demands for Equality

"Demands for equality have a very different meaning in our lives than do demands for respect.  Someone who insists that he be treated equally is calculating his demands on the basis of what other people have rather than on the basis of what will accord with the realities of his own condition and will most suitably provide for his own interests and needs.  In his desire for equality, there is no affirmation by a person of himself.  On the contrary, a concern for simply being equal to others leads people to define their goals in terms that are set by considerations other than the specific requirement of their own distinctive nature and of their own circumstances.  It tends to distract them from recognizing their most authentic ambitions, which are those that derive from the character of their own lives, and not those that are imposed on them by the conditions in which others happen to live."     ~Harry Frankfurt, On Inequality (Princeton U. Press, 2015), pp. 88-9.