Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Pleasing Attitude

Kirsten Anderson has an interesting article on Aleteia about the attitude towards Pope Francis of those who converted during Benedict's pontificate. Consider the dreadfully disgraceful Buzzfeed video, "I'm Christian but I'm not..."

Put these things together and you might begin to see why I am not enjoying Pope Francis' papacy.

First, be clear on what I am saying and what I am not saying. I did not say, I do not like / admire Pope Francis. I know he is a good, orthodox and saintly man. But one might yet believe that (as I do) and yet still consider his papacy unfortunate (as I do). And, I say here unfortunate, not un-providential (a subtler point which I will address at the end).

If there is one take-away from my previous post (whether I actually post it or not, I am unsure at this moment), it is that it is incumbent upon Christians to positively court negative feelings towards oneself as a sure and necessary block to pride / vanity. To court good opinion re. oneself is the material for sin, whether one's ultimate goal is praiseworthy or not. This is a real problem for professional lay evangelists - and another reason why they should be bankrolled by the Church and not have to rely on private enterprise. The Church should pay evangelists so they can convey the unpopular message, otherwise, they are asked to do the impossible: find donors for their unpopular message (ever wonder why John the Baptist had to eat locust and wild honey?)

In this day and age where we equate virtue with the production of welcome feelings, being a buzz-kill has never been more urgent for sanctity. Benedict was a buzz-kill because he never courted people's affections. Have you ever heard him speak? His tone is boring as heck. His subjects are solid, intellectual masterpieces, but far from exciting or 'sexy.'

People might respond to me, "Yeah, but you have to get people's attention if you ever have a hope of converting them."

Why, then, the converts written about by Kristen? Some got what Benedict was up to.

In life in general we can say that there are trends and there are authentic actions. Trends have a very short shelf-life. Authentic acts last a life time. It occurs to me that the type of people for whom trends appeal - highly emotionally charged, exciting events, often superficial ideas - cannot be relied on to carry the weight of the cross.

It is probably true that the closer the Gospel is made to appear to agree with the zeitgeist, the less it can elicit authentic conversion, authentic engagement. To actually deal with the Gospel we have to see how it conflicts with the presuppositions about morality with which we were raised. Remember, we were necessarily raised with a worldly mindset at least in part; not that of the Gospel. Jesus says, "go sell... have one shirt... take up your cross... the world will hate you..." - these are not bourgeois values. We have to bear in mind that houses and middle class existence are fine but it is not the way of perfection. Such things are for beginners, for the weak, for children.

Although Pope Francis does much to question this middle class type of life he seems to go out of his way to keep people happy about everything else. Be poor, but don't change your mind about anything you already believe. "Dogs, atheists, communists can - theoretically - all got to heaven," he tells us, "but make sure you live poorly."

"Feel compassion and live poorly, but don't do anything to cultivate your mind in the Gospel."

That would surely be an exaggeration, but I would say that that is how Pope Francis is received in the popular imagination.

If you would be perfect, go sell your air conditioner and give the money to the poor and then go back to your worldly life. Do not read the Gospel, the lives of the saints; read Marx, UpWorthy, HuffPo, and every other inimical source."

What has become the caricature of this 'pleasing mindset' is the German bishop. It's easy to see how others are influenced by worldliness (much less ourselves). It's easy to see how Liberal Protestantism, secularism, socialism, etc., have made these bishops into jokes with their insistence to please their apathetic people with their calls for communion for the divorced. But the fact is, when you offer them nothing that is sacred, that is hard, that is far-off, that is holy, in the original sense of the word, they will never care about what you want them to care about. The hard Gospel that was the only thing Polish bishops had to offer under communism was cherished. The easy Gospel of the post-communist era is ignored.

The Gospel is easy, commonplace, familiar, ignored.

I have always said that the way that I won Anne-Marie was through playing hard-to-get. Lots of guys fawned all over her. She didn't like any of them. Lately she told me that wearing your heart on your sleeve (my words not hers) makes a guy look insecure and needy, and what woman wants an insecure man? Women look to men who are strong, confident and able. Who can blame them?

A soul looks to a Church that is strong, confident and able. In never stooping to win anybody's affection, that is how Pope Benedict made Catholicism something to be respected. A Church that is constantly humiliating itself, fawning all over people, praising worldly things, that is the Church we seem to have today.

Pope Francis has never said anything unorthodox, it seems to me (lots of imprudent things, things easily misinterpreted), but he has acted - appeared to act - like the insecure guy who is led by his heart. He is Goethe's Werther. There is a reason why even a rabid atheist like Nietzsche respected the Christian saint. The Christian saint is always a man of iron.

Once the Gospel has been humiliated enough it will be ignored. Once it has been shown to be completely amenable to the modern life it will be rendered silent and irrelevant.

Tell us what we want to hear so we can stop listening.

To the contrary, Pope Benedict fulfilled the old story of the Desert Fathers: the older hermit sent the younger one out to berate the people buried in the graveyard. They said nothing in response. Then he sent him to praise them. They said nothing in response. Be thou likewise. Pope Benedict neither courted favor nor sought to be despised. It was not him, but Christ in him.

I feel that Pope Francis has allowed himself to be perceived as though he seeks the favour of worldly people. In doing so we are all disgraced. He has allowed the zeitgeist to be the standard against which the Gospel is weighed.

What would be wrong with him saying, no, I am not having mass in the vicinity of an image of Che Guevara. And, no I am not meeting the president of the US if you invite all those dissenters like the nuns on the bus etc.? What would be lost?

In Jesus' day no one doubted that the woman caught in adultery was a sinner. In ours we deny that there is such a thing as sin. That is the difference that Pope Francis needs to think about.


Now, the last point re. unfortunate but not improvident.

Everything bad can do God in God's hands. It is, however, wrong to suggest, then, that everything that happens in Rome is good.

It is a Sin to Apologize

It is a sin to lie, even a little bit.

Vanity is a sin.

Caring what others think about you is a sin.

Materialism, that is having undue concern for material things, is a sin.

Being cowardly is a sin.

∴ Most apologies you read about in the news are sins.


At present we are reading about an actress who is apologizing for having said she is thinking twice about becoming an American citizen. This week Matt Damon is apologizing for telling some black woman about racism or something (like black people have innate knowledge which he lacks). Before that, Ariana Grande apologized for licking donuts. Celebrities are often apologizing for saying something un-PC that got recorded. The popes are constantly apologizing for misdeeds of the past - the Canadian government too. Everyone apologizes to aboriginals.

It seems to me the great engines of the Axis' war effort, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi, never apologized. Speaking of Japan, they don't care to apologize for atrocities they committed in China. But to be consistent, neither does Japan like to receive apologies for Hiroshima, etc.

On a more mundane level, we have the ever-hilarious "I'm sorry you feel that way" - type of apology, which is one better left unsaid, it seems to me.

Also, the one kids tend to use, "No offense, but..."

I guess I don't quite get why someone would want an apology. As someone of Scottish descent, would an apology from the Queen for England's depredations mean something to me? Nope. As a Catholic would an apology from her for expropriating our monasteries, churches, universities, etc., mean something to me? Nope. Am I expecting an apology from the Italian government for Nero and Diocletian? Would I want one?

Apologies are moral and significant when they depict a change of mind: "I am sorry I broke your dish when I was fooling around," would have to mean: "I will attempt not to repeat this kind of carelessness again." We call this a firm purpose of amendment. But most often it means, "I am sorry I got caught," or "I regret that this is proving unpopular," or "I regret that this might jeopardize me professionally or financially."

Those aren't apologies and they should not be considered significant to any decent person.

But they are significant to many - especially and perhaps almost solely - to the media. But they are also ways of inflicting moral slights against ideological enemies. That's all fine and good - media wants something to talk about and ideologues want moral victories over their enemies. That makes sense. It's wrong, but it makes sense. But what about other people?

What kind of person says, "Wow, the pope just apologized for the sins of various Catholic educators in the past." The kind of person, I suppose, who does not understand that the pope has no intention of ending evangelization, the conversion of people to Catholicism - and that is how many take it. They think "sorry for the abuse of certain people in our Church" means "we would never try to evangelize natives again." It doesn't mean that.

What is really in someone's heart when they apologize? That's what matters. And if you knew what was in it, would you want their apology?

Hurt feelings is treated like an intrinsic evil. It is nothing of the sort. In fact, hurt feelings are necessary in psychological maturing. A baby is outraged when he is not treated as the only thing in the world that matters. To move from that natural outlook to one, say, represented by the Great Commandment, requires a whole host of hurts. I love the Madonna House motto, "I am third." It's salient in its simplicity. It's too bad that the world wants to reject it not just subjectively but also categorically.

I think that, when we go back to the case of the Japanese, we ought to begin to think of apologies with a certain degree of moral hesitancy. We should consider that there are two kinds: good ones and bad ones. Bad ones are ones that insult a person by imagining that they can be hurt by petty things. We should feel about them as a man would were he to be lifting something light and someone asked if he needed help with it.

To be apologized to is to say that you need someone else's positive regard. If we had more self-respect, we would take this as an insult. This is turning us into a society of babies.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Joy in the Salacious

One thing I quickly noticed after I became a Catholic (22-years ago) was how much certain Catholics enjoyed talking about "the horrible new trend of X" - usually involving young people. I would almost say that it is a universal sign of a serious Catholic.

Recently I started to wonder what this horror-fascination means psychologically. I first simply thought it was the kind of enjoyment one feels watching the wreckage of a car accident, the kind of enjoyment Augustine talked about with respect to the amphitheater, the kind I feel while watching The Walking Dead. The difference in my case is that The Walking Dead involves actors and fake blood and no one has been hurt or is getting hurt. Contrarily, I don't watch things where people actually get hurt. I don't enjoy those parts of America's Funniest Home Videos where people actually get hurt. I call this discrepancy empathy.

But moral outrage is something different than beholding and enjoying physical gruesomeness. One can feel moral superiority with the former, but not with the latter - unless, that is, one enjoys watching videos of fat people falling down, because, after all, "they shouldn't be so fat, anyway," or videos of brides being struck down by waves at their stupid, idealistic beach weddings, because, after all, "I mock their false happiness, because it's not mine."

But there is even more to it than enjoying that feeling of moral superiority. But that feeling is a part of it. There is an eschatalogical element at play. "See how bad things have gotten: the end must be nigh!"

Moral Horror Junkies (MHJ) also always seem to be eschatologists. Come to think of it, they are also the people for whom the miraculous is quite important. Why - what links all of these things together? They seem to be really interested in signs and wonders, the people to whom Jesus effectively says, pay attention to more pressing matters, like love of God and neighbour. I think they are people who are bored, listless, people whose faith needs a boost, people for whom quotidian Christian duties all on their own are trying. They might have a resentment problem too: do they resent not being able to do all the fun things sinners get to do and so want to imagine these people getting their comeuppance sitting in a pool of boiling oil in hell?

Is it a vindicated for them of the correctness of their religion, because, after all, people who follow Christianity don't do such things!? Yes, we all grant that - it's obvious and thus unremarkable. But I believe in Christianity, so you are trying to prove something to me that I don't need proven to me.

I mean, there is a lot we can say about this phenomenon. But the bottom line is this: I don't care about the latest trend of depravity among today's young people! Don' tell me about, and even more, for your own sake, stop enjoying telling me about it so much.

Aztec kids out on a Friday night at 15th century
Mexico's equivalent of MacDonald's.
Here's why I am uninterested in it: I have studied history. Thus, I agree with the Preacher: there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecc 1:9)

People have eaten people. In every land, in every culture. During the siege of Leningrad, during the Siege of Capua, at the Aztec pyramids. People will eat people again. In Toronto, perhaps.

Sexual depravity. What do you expect? The Romans. Nero. Caligula. Every society ever. Young people who have hit puberty often do sexual things, things that you and I would not approve of. Shocking!

I also don't want to hear about the latest trend among young people (involving the internet) because even though I have a low, that is to say, an Augustinian view of human nature, I know that these latest trend people like to talk about are not trends at all, but the constructs of the media and outraged soccer moms. Sexting. Yes, it happens. But it's not your problem. Your children are your problem. People do not raise their children well and so things like this happen. But you know what? It's not sweeping the nation, because I was a child once and I was too shy to do any thing like this ever and I know I am not alone in this! To a large extent children are still the same as they were thirty years ago: most have some moral and/or psychological restraint. Most would not be in pornographic movies for this simple reason. They have not all turned into the Children of the Corn, the kids from the Village of the Damned, Lord of the Flies or that episode of Star Trek, humorously depicted here:

The fear of the younger generation is, I suppose, a part of what fueled the myth of Saturn devouring his children, which seems to me to be the flip-side of the Oedipus Complex. Therefore, it might be quite natural to fear what the world is coming to, but it's also important for Christians not to fear that evil is more powerful than good, that the Gospel and the Holy Spirit given to the Church is not able to counter these bad trends. The fact is, there are good kids out there (I own a number of them myself) and you have to bear that fact in mind in all your prognosticating. Kids need direction, and that is all that is wrong with the younger generation: WE ARE NOT GIVING IT TO THEM. In other words, it is not they who are bad, it is we!

Please pray for this younger generation. In Renfrew County they are starting another year of school today. And stop your profitless fear-mongering. It does not dispense you from the hard work of raising them. And God's blessing upon my children's teachers. You are going to need it.

(And, I am okay with having alienating all of my friends with this post. Because you are all hereby indemnified. So read some history and take a chill pill, for "behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt 28:20))

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Measure out the Measure that's Measured

It just occurred to me that one good way to fight the social war is to pull things like this on others:

The Denver airport authority is considering not allowing Chick-Fil-A into the airport because its CEO is for "traditional marriage."

Other than the total nonsense that this promotes - name a company or organization where you share all of the values of everyone of its members, or even just one - other than that nonsense, what does it have to do with business? Can you even tell that that company is against homosexual marriage? Do they hang rainbow flags with lines through them in their windows? Do they have signs that say "No fags need apply" anywhere?

The fact is, stores are free to hang rainbow flags, but stores are not free to hang rainbow flags with lines through them.

Be that as it may, in the special case of a public building, such as an airport, I can understand not having things like that around. Understandably, there should be different laws respecting private and public property. Private property, even stores that are private property, I say let them do as they like - you don't have to shop there, after all, and the more people that don't want to shop there, the worst it is for the business. A rainbow flag in the window makes me not want to shop there, just like a manikin in a bikini. I am not saying I won't go in in either case, but I am less inclined to do so. Porn, contraception, swastikas, skulls, and even, yes, Confederacy Flags make me less inclined.

Do I know what the CEOs of my various products - such as the HP I am typing this on - stand for? Do I care? The fact is, I take it for granted that I would not want the CEO of HP babysitting my kids, teaching them catechism, or being their soccer coach. I take it for granted. What kind of world do we live in that we expect CEOs to share our values if we are going to let them share the public sphere, that is to say, be a person in the legal sense?

Or, do we think we are going to change their minds about these issues? Keep in mind, these are adults, highly successful and usually highly intelligent adults, who did not build up business empires or rise to the height they have by being weak-willed.

Or, do we think we are making an example of them? Keep in mind, people look poorly on others who are made to tow the line. When Clinton and Obama "changed their minds" or "came to the light" about same-sex "marriage," "that their thinking on it evolved," no one increased their respect for them.

Let me recommend once more in this light the movie I mentioned a while ago on Facebook - Child 44. That movie was about a child serial killer in communist Russia. One think remarkable about it is its portrayal of the communist bureaucrats as spineless people who just do and say what's expected of them - because otherwise they can be demoted, killed or shipped off to Siberia, etc. Is this the kind of world we are making, where we inflict this party line consciousness on people?

Ever been in a workplace? This is the rule of life.

Ever been in a school yard? Same thing.

The wrath of the internet people, the twitter people, etc., who ruin people's lives is human, all too human. We'd like to think we are better than the Inquisition, but we are not: black people killing police officers because they have been taught an exaggerated picture of institutional racism, hockey fans who destroy city blocks when the team loses, people who lose their jobs because they gave $100 to a political cause that others did not agree with. We are no different: we would have strung up heretics then, and we string up conservatives now. Socrates is always outnumbered.

And my thought? Give back what is given. Every time someone threatens to throw menstrual blood on you, as did Rosie O'Donnell, promise like retaliation.

Or, when someone denies you service, etc., because of your Christian beliefs, deny them service for the opposite reason. If not permitting a store to open because the CEO has Christian beliefs, that seems to me a precedent for the same kind of treatment.

If a group support spray painting people who wear fur, you have free licence to spray paint members of that group any time you like. (Make sure they are wearing their best sandals and sunglasses when you do.)

If you throw condoms in my church, I will do something disgusting to your home.

Well, that's not very Christian, is it?

Yes, it is. Jesus' teachings of non-resistance to evil are on a personal level. If the state refuses to protect a group then one may take the law into one's own hands. If menstrual fluid is poured on me I can chose to turn the other cheek. I don't have to do that to defend the rights of others. I am obliged to defend justice, the rights of the weak. I can chose to forgo that right in my own case, as Jesus counsels us, if we would be perfect. It would not be perfect of me to fail to defend the weak; it would be far from that, it would be unjust and cowardly.

Justice is a great pedagogue. To fail to pay back is to fail to teach and that is a spiritual work of mercy. Sometimes I do not want to punish my kids. I do it anyway. If parents have failed to teach these anarchists and hippies to respect others, and the government with not, then it is my job, my right, my obligation.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Down that Road

One might have wondered why I am not blogging much these days. This will only be my second post in August. Busy, I guess. But writing (that is not financial remunerated) is inspiration-based and no one controls inspiration.

I want to talk about the road from spiritual to material values. One of the reviews for the Fall issue of the Catholic Review of Books concerns nuns. It's a book written from a worldly perspective, and while it's easy enough to discountenance it because of that, the kind of thinking that it presents is a kind that can easily affect more careful Catholics. The book was about nuns who were SJW (social justice warriors, an abbreviation I was recently taught).

Think about it for a second. Nuns being appraised by what they do to make the world a better place. Okay, so far so good, but let's see where this can go.

Obviously, the key word is 'better.' Does providing contraception and abortion for poor people make the world better? Of course not.

But what about providing healthy lunches for poor school kids?

What about forbidding unhealthy food at schools?

What about educating poor families about good nutrition?

What about making these courses mandatory?

Alright, we can split hairs about this kind of thing, but you can see where I am going here.

It's the old Feuerbach catch, for lack of a better word. BTW, Charles Taylor talks about this catch-22 in his A Secular Age. What I mean is the accusation that Christianity, because it is other-worldly, diverts people from making the world a better place. We can respond in one of two ways, each of which runs into problems: (a) no, it doesn't; it is oriented to making the world a better place, or (b) that's true, Christianity is about what's really important: going to heaven and therefore doesn't care about the world.

In this day and age option (a) tends to predominate in our discourse. We point to the Church's charitable works in Africa, etc., its role in ending slavery, opposing Nazism, Communism, expanding science, education, etc.

The consequences of this are fairly obvious, though sometimes not so obvious.

The way that liberal Protestantism has killed itself by slowly turning itself into a social justice organization that nobody cares about anymore, is a rather obvious example.

But Catholics who talk about Catholic teaching promoting healthy families, the best pedagogy, good economics policies can be effecting the same thing. Is it good because it is godly, or is it good because of how it improves social life, economic conditions, education? Of course, it is not a case of either/or in itself, but in the minds of actual people it can be.

The temptation to explain spiritual values materially is always there. It's good apologetics, but I would argue that it's not good spirituality for the more advanced. Maybe this is an effective test of one's spiritual state: how do you understand your faith - as good because of its material benefits (i.e. it makes the world a better place), or as good because it brings us to heaven, brings us closer to God, etc.?

A friend once gave a talk to a group of Catholic educators and told them that our educating should be directly at the service of the pro-life cause. Sounds about right? I strongly disagree with him.

This was Karl Marx's essential point in The German Ideology, where he excoriated philosophers who removed their thinking from the practical matter of wealth distribution. I am paraphrasing, but think I am right here.

This sort of thinking became attractive to us when Kant (and Locke) tried to justify religion "Within the Bounds of Reason Alone." And we do this whenever we say things like "prayer is good for your health, blood pressure," etc. Of course it is, but that's not why we do it. Good things are often healthy things, but health is not why we do them. They are healthy because they were given by the same God who made our bodies to be healthy in such a way.

You will notice that John Paul II never defined education in this way in Fides et Ratio, not B XVI in his numerous writings on the subject. They talked about wonder at the reality of the whole world, the meaning of the whole and of every part. They never said, subject your thinking to the material betterment of the world exclusively. And why did they not?

Because it's a self-defeating proposition: how do you make the world better when you haven't wondered about the word 'better,' because you haven't wondered about everything, because you haven't wondered about God, goodness, life itself? You have rushed to a certain definite end and have failed to truly understand anything. You want to do God's work but don't care about what God said about it in the book He wrote called "The World."

This is why Plato puts true philosophers first and why Aquinas and Bonaventure said theology was the highest science. Not economics and not politics.

The mass does not justify itself as somehow making the world a better place, nor does the priesthood, prayer, religious life, marital fidelity...

Obedience is obedience, and as a side-effect it is healthy for you, good for families, economies, world peace, etc. Confusion about this may be part of the confusing surrounding Laudato Si.

Happy Feast of St. Augustine, ya'll!

BTW, the difference St. Augustine made lay in enriching the inner lives of the Christians who read his works, not by introducing new agricultural techniques, making peace between Germanic tribes and the Romans, not by inventing penicillin. None of these are bad things, but they aren't why Christians should be Christians.

So many times a God-fearing young person will begin by getting into medicine because they want to love their neighbour in an effective manner, and before you know it, they are pushing contraception, abortion and euthanasia. Why? Because effectiveness began to trump everything. Quantity diminished quality. It happens all the time: good apostolates are turned into institutions of efficiency. Mother Theresa never let this happen to her order. More does not mean better; often is means worse. And this is what happens when we turn to material thinking. The state is far more efficient than the individual, than the Church, and so people think more and more about the government and its all-embracing prerogatives, not for bad reasons, but for misguided good reasons.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Crazy Women

Most of my friends live within 6 or 7 kms of me. Some of these are ladies. Wonderful, funderful ladies. Luckily for me, I like their husbands too, their wonderful, funderful husbands. I have long taught that men and women can't be friends. I still maintain that. Of course, they can't be friends in the same way women can be friends with women, men with men... Nevertheless, within the limits of healthiness, they can be friends, and it is really cool.

One thing cool about having a woman for a friend is how it helps with chastity. Yes, helps with it. It helps because as you get to know a woman you quickly come to realize that THEY ARE ALL MENTAL. All. And this is good, because if you are ever tempted to think that the grass is greener on the other side, you quickly learn that, no, the grass is just as crazy over there.

Okay, I'm not the best at metaphors, but, this is all very important to someone like me who never had a sister. I did not know that there were no women like this:

That's Natasha Rostov, the heroine of War and Peace, who was my late-teenage fantasy ideal woman - obviously Tolstoy's as well. Now, I don't wish to disparage Tolstoy's character-crafting ability, but Natasha, for all her faults, was far too innocent, sweet, romantic, idealistic and pure to be real... At least that was how I could see her then.

So, for a man who had no sisters, it was easy for me to believe that there was a Natasha out there for me. But there is a certain one-dimensionality involved in this. If Natasha were real, she would be just as nuts as my wonderful women friends - you know who you are! Natasha would have bad-breath sometimes. She would fart. Sometimes she would have a disgusting boogie hanging out of her nose. And even worse:

  • she would be insecure, 
  • she would be mad at you for suggesting that she was not as trim as she might be (you made no such suggestion), 
  • she would be mad at you for criticizing her parenting (you did not), 
  • she would be mad at you for disagreeing with her about Pope Francis, church music or whether men should ever wear baby harnesses or not (they should not), 
  • she would resent you for suggesting that her gluten allergy is all in her head (it is). 

But just as in marriage, a real relationship comes about only after accepting the other for all her pluses and minuses. I wish I had a sister. It is my biggest regret from my childhood. But, having two awesome brothers and two wonderful parents, this kind of sounds like a big douse of ingratitude. It is.

I like my girlfriends. And, for some reason I do not fully understand, they like me: since I am obnoxious and very insensitive in some ways, very non-PC. And yet, I am hilarious and caring. They take me for what I am. And... da da daaaaa.... I take them for what they are: messes. I am not going to become a woman for their sake, and I do not expect them to become men for my sake. One great thing about being married and having daughters is you realize that women are kind of cool for being the messes they are.

I am almost finished my first Graham Greene novel, The Heart of the Matter. It is okay. One of the things that the author seems to want to get across is that women are all the same: that is to say, how they are with you is because you are who you are. I will be able to say for sure if this is actually the author's message when I finish the book. But the point is, we meet others with what we are, and they are what they are and so our friendships are products of all of this.

I grew up with a bad case of romanticism. So far I have not met any other man like I was. If I ever do, I will share my thoughts with him about Natasha's boogers. My girlfriends are actually my friends because they know how annoying I am and yet still deign to talk to me. I know how hurtful I can be at times. And they are my friends because they know I won't change to accommodate them. There is only one woman I have a duty to please and that is more than enough of a job for...

One of the reason why I wrote this, is that I see guys who are so insecure these days that they become like girls for sake of their girlfriends and wives. That is not necessary. If you have to change yourself for your friends, they are not accepting you for who you are. Men should be gross and burly.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

It Does Affect Me?

I have written a lot recently about the false sense of community Catholics unconsciously adopt from the secular world, and it adopts from us too. First of all, there is no community in the Medieval or Greek sense of the word in North America, at least not one represented by the state. CBC attempts to prove there is one so they can be it, so does the Canadian Government, etc. But they are not and nothing unites us as a community. We simply share space and believe we must therefore be a community.

But I've talked about that. What I want to talk about today is kind of the flip-side of that: how I have an interest in other people's lives because I cannot get away from them. No, that doesn't make a community. It makes nothing more than a negative relationship. The question is, can I be a libertarian, really? I say I am one by default because I don't want people I do not respect to affect my life. One friend of mine always says, in effect, that it's all stupid because there is no Catholic state, therefore everything's a mess and there's no use to talk about any of this.

If I am going to adopt a libertarian position then I have to leave people alone too. Is that possible? Is it possible to let the public school system do its thing as long as they leave the Separate Board alone? They don't leave the Separate Board alone, so that's a mute point. But what if they actually did? I am starting to think that not even that is possible. What if the Separate Board decides that September 18th is 'Naked Day,' and all their kids walk to school naked and spend the day at school naked? Well, that affects me because I would see them go to school, so would my kids, and even if we didn't, what kind of country will that produce? If I want to be immune from their influence I would then have to leave the country, or at least Ontario. Of course, it's easy to see that 'gay marriage' affects much more than just the couple undertaking it - and that's the point. And while it might seem unfair for me to take a position on something that does not directly involve me: it does indeed affect me in many, many ways. But what the right degree? If I don't like bikinis, do I have a right to commit political mayhem to get them banned? Banned from everywhere, banned from libraries, banned from grocery stores...?

Now many half-wits operate from the maxim that because there is nothing inherently wrong with X then X is always good. Because Zulu women go topless, there is nothing inherently wrong with it, therefore it can happen anywhere regardless. That type of rationale explains the trajectory of the whole sexual revolution. Animals are not monogamous, therefore there is nothing inherently wrong with monogamy. Their reasoning stops short with cannibalism, although not, apparently, in the minds of Planned Parenthood. Homosexuality does not do any direct damage, therefore it is fine. How one can quantify direct damage to include smoking and not sodomy is beyond me, of course.

I am not a big fan of rules. I like to do things my way. I am not a herd animal. Trends offend me. That's me, and I've always been that way - hence my t-shirts at mass tirade. Sleeveless shirts at mass gravely offend me.

But how ought one go about recommending fair conduct?

1. By compromise: I won't wear shorts, if you don't go sleeveless?

2. By far-reaching regulations: no one has anything uncovered ever?

3. By no regulations: I wear whatever I want, you wear whatever you want?

Is barn-raising actually a political metaphor?
Obviously, all of these are doomed to fail eventually. Reaching a satisfactory state of affairs is never going to happen. The Amish (2) sort of present an image of having solved the problem with the second type of solution. The 'French Riviera' (3) solution seems to make people happy there.

How do we know who's solution is better? Is there more AIDS, more happiness, more X, Y and Z with the Amish or at the French Riviera? Does it even matter?

I think a really good example of (1) is Madonna House. I am always amazed how well their inter-sexed scenario seems to work. They have rules, but I would not say that they are especially far-reaching as to put them in the Amish category (although some might beg to differ). Of course, in the case of Madonna House, it's not the rules that make it; it's the community's commitment to prayer and to following the Gospel. The rules are secondary and yet logical extensions of the primary reason.

It's hard to get a real read on this. Gay people get such a great sales-pitch from the MSM and Hollywood. Yet is it the case that all non-Christian living leads to AIDS and catastrophe? It depends what you mean by catastrophe. Abortion is catastrophe and it is essential to maintaining the status quo. Divorce is too. Then again, war is catastrophic, and I think one would be hard-pressed to say that nations can exist without it.

Where did Plato go wrong when he set out to plan the ideal state in the Republic and the Laws? I think when he set out to plan the ideal state. Does not Paul tell us quite simply that laws cannot do this, only grace can? Although most students of Plato would agree that Plato's plan in the Republic was not quite as I have set it out here, yet I think that all his provisos aside that are attached to his particular kind of idealism, he still could not think of something much better in politics than a state run with the best laws. Can we think of something better than this? Well, the Church, the City of God... however much those two articulations actually coincide. There is yet one essential wisdom in the Church political view: there is no right formula to be found here on earth.

Now, with this is mind, what should we do about bikinis, gay marriage and schools? Always aim for the closest approximation of the Gospel no matter whether it's our place to do so or not? I call this 'pulling a St. Charles Borromeo.' He tried to regulate every aspect of civic life to reflect Gospel values. He brings us closer to the Amish, but is Catholic Amish qualitatively that much better than Amish Amish?

Is the answer that obvious and have I been so disarmed by secular propaganda by my belief that something closer to libertarianism is fairer given our multicultural context?

One thing is clear, of course: everything affects me. When a bore wants to rev his truck up on a quiet Barry's Bay summer's evening, I am affected. When someone wants to get a divorce and raise his kids in my neighborhood relatively unattended, that affects me. When he chooses to swear around his kids in the privacy of his own home, that affects me. When he tells his kids that homework is unimportant, that affects me...

The argument that 'to each his own' and that 'privacy in the bedroom blah blah blah' requires revisiting.