Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times
September 1, 2016
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
~Of course, Pope Francis doesn’t want to identify Islam as a violent religion (see http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-disagrees-with-identifying-islam-as-violent-19466/). Okay, fine. But I’m afraid his response to a reporter’s question showed naiveté. “‘I don’t like to speak about Islamic violence,’ the Pope said, taking into account that one sees violence every day in the newspapers, even at the hands of baptized Catholics. ‘There are violent Catholics!’ he said. ‘If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.’” This response does not, in my opinion, do justice to the threat posed by violent jihadi Islam. I don’t know of any organized Catholic group, who in the name of the religion, are carrying out terrorist acts of all kinds around the globe. So, Francis’ response trivializes what is plain for all who have eyes to see: we have a worldwide Islam problem precisely because Islam has a serious problem with violence (See also Dennis Prager, http://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2016/08/09/pope-francis-and-the-decline-of-the-west-n2203133).
~What does the LGBT movement want? That is the question that Kelsey Harkness addresses (see http://dailysignal.com/2016/07/31/a-look-inside-4-important-goals-of-the-lgbt-movement/). One item in particular caught my attention: “To defeat their opponents, LGBT groups plan to go state by state to strike down religious freedom measures and, instead, implement their own laws on sexual orientation and gender identity. They said they intend to do this until new federal law or court decisions negate that necessity.” In this context, LGBT activist Evan Wolfson was quoted as saying: “Religion is not the reason people are bigots. It’s the excuse.” This of course implies that there can be no principled reason why someone (e.g., a Christian) would oppose gay marriage or same-sex acts. The opposition must, just must come from bigotry – not Sacred Scripture, not Natural Law, not Tradition, not Magisterial teaching. Not to mention science.
~Shelby Lyon’s, “This year, it’s Zika, but what will the next epidemic be?” (Detroit Free Press, Sunday, July 31, 2016, 21A) is an informative piece. That isn’t always the case when it comes to health news; so one should recognize it and rejoice when one finds examples of it.
~The Khan-Trump controversy has many different angles one could approach the issue from. For one thing, as soon as they took the stage at the Democratic convention, they politicized their son’s death. They also let themselves be used by the Democratic Party to advance the candidacy of a corrupt and dishonest politician, one Hillary Clinton (See also William Kilpatrick, http://www.crisismagazine.com/2016/first-amendment-protect-warrior-religions).
~Darrin Camilleri is running for Michigan State Rep. (District 23) as a Democrat (My wife and I know Darrin and his family). An attack ad in the mail from a group called Better Michigan Coalition highlights the fact that he is “Only 23 Years Old.” That he is “Not Mature Enough.” Citizens are encouraged to call him and “Tell Him It’s Time To Grow Up.” Now, isn’t that an effective strategy to win over young voters to your side? Can you hear the sarcasm? Camilleri ended up winning the primary.
~The Pandering Pantsuit, otherwise known as Hillary Clinton, could run a clinic on pandering.
~Obama says Trump is “unfit to serve as president” (see http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/calling-trump-%E2%80%98unfit%E2%80%99-obama-urges-gop-to-abandon-him/ar-BBv9DFo). Gee, if Obama is saying that, the never-Trumpers may now have a real reason to vote for The Donald.
~I saw Bryan Ferry in concert on August 4th at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. My son and his wife went along with me. It was the third time since the early 80s that I had seen the soon-to-be 71-year-old former Roxy Music front man live (I also saw Roxy once). I kept saying to myself: “They just don’t make music like this anymore. When he goes, that’s the end of an era in progressive rock.” (Here’s the full show at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C. on July 23, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpByfpalhdU&list=PLv1Skiu3my1Iq5XNOodilBZuSfkh1-Cus).
~This Fall semester, in my 27th year of teaching at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, MI, I am teaching my first online course – on Catholic Social Teaching in our STL degree program on the New Evangelization for priests – which goes to show that maybe you can teach an “old dog new tricks.”
~On August 2, a guy on Facebook asked if anyone had noticed a bad smell in Allen Park (where we reside). My explanation: It’s either because it’s garbage day for some streets in Allen Park or it’s because it happens to be Election Day. I’m going with the latter.
~Vice-President (and Catholic) Joe Biden officiated a same-sex wedding of two White House staffers (see http://www.people.com/article/joe-biden-officiates-same-sex-wedding). Just when you thought you couldn’t lose any more respect for the man, Biden pulls this.
~So a couple abandons their 2-year-old to go play Pokémon Go (see http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/arizona-couple-abandons-toddler-play-pokemon-go-n621006). There’s no punchline. The only joke is the fact that these two morons are parents.
~Sometimes to really understand something, you need to see it: a picture, a chart, a graph, etc. Well, here’s a complicated subject – one that can induce a serious case of MEGO – rendered much easier to grasp in pictures: the federal budget (see http://federalbudgetinpictures.com/).
~Catholic journalist Phil Lawler comments on Bishop Daniel Flores’ claim (made in an interview) that mass deportation of undocumented (illegal) immigrants and abortion are morally equivalent and thus explains why Catholics should not vote for either political party (see http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/the-city-gates.cfm?id=1328). Bishop Flores, a fellow moral theologian and former colleague of mine at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, is clearly frustrated with our two presidential candidates and their respective parties, but the two issues are not of the same moral import. In abortion, the intention is a dead baby. With deportation, the intention need not be death, but simply removal from the country. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s morally right, just that it is not of the same moral import as abortion. A lot more could be said about this matter.
~Sound religion not only satisfies human needs, but it also protects us, e.g., from bad behavior – our own and others’ – and its effects [I’ll be writing more on this theme at a later time].
~Well, you knew it was the next “civil rights” battle, right?: I speak of “Genetic Sexual Attraction,” i.e., incest (see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3725551/Mother-36-son-19-fell-love-met-year-gave-adoption-baby-say-willing-risk-JAIL-defend-love.html). Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
~We live in an “Age of Slogans,” not an age of thinking. Now, I think I’m starting to sound like the economist Thomas Sowell [More on this too is forthcoming].
~When you hear a politician say, “Let me be clear,” you know you’re in for a snow job.
~There’s a lot wrong with this story from CNA about the riots in Milwaukee http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/racism-poverty-education-a-closer-look-at-the-tensions-in-milwaukee-80447/). The usual “root causes” of racism, poverty, and inequality, are trotted out. The Archbishop condemns the violence, but says the anger over the killing of the fleeing black man is “understandable” (The article fails to note that he was armed with a gun). If you’re looking for a word on personal responsibility, you won’t find it reading this article (In fairness, this previous piece on CNA was much better: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/transform-your-hearts-milwaukees-archbishop-addresses-riots-52543/).
~I see that November 2 – the Feast of All Souls, which also happens to be my birthday – is “World Right to Die Day” (see http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/save-the-date-november-2-is-world-right-to-die-day/11963). The Grim Reaper, otherwise known as Death, does a nice job of guaranteeing that that “right” is universal, thank you. Let’s leave the deadly business to him, not physicians.
~As Good Morning America’s co-anchor Amy Roback found out quickly, you can say “people of color” (when referring to blacks, African-Americans) but not “colored people.” It used to be okay, but it’s now considered a racial slur. Next year, it will be just the opposite.
~Islam very well may act as a stimulus to the rediscovery of a dynamic Catholic faith – even if Catholics have to go kicking and screaming at first. But if Catholics don’t “out-religion” the Muslims, the Muslims will “out-religion” them out of existence.
~Could some of our Catholic tradition/ritual – at least in its defective forms – be one factor that blocks an evangelical fervor on the part of Catholics?
~How about advertising the Catholic faith/message? Yes, you heard me right. Let’s change the secular culture – and even our fellow lukewarm Catholics – by coopting one of the culture’s most powerful mediums.
~We hear about “visionary” thinkers and leaders in so many areas: technology, business, the arts, and so on. I believe we are in need of “visionaries” of the Catholic faith. Not only the kind of visionaries who see apparitions, but those who see future trends, movements, and ideas before they happen.
~We all have heard the expression, “He’s like a sponge.” Well, each Catholic is called to be the sponge that quenched Christ’s thirst on the Cross – then and now.
~You can’t watch the evening news today without hearing the word “outrage” used a half dozen times. Everybody’s outraged about one thing or another – whether it’s your business or not. By using this word so often, however, the media generate controversy and yes, outrage.
~The Chicago Bulls’ Dwyane Wade’s 32-year-old cousin was shot and killed last month by two brothers out early on parole. She was caught in the crossfire and was not the intended target; truly a victim. My heart goes out to Wade and his family. This was a despicable act. But one of his tweets missed the mark: “My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough.” (See http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nba/2-chicago-men-charged-in-shooting-of-nba-star-wades-cousin/ar-AAibBYl?li=BBgET5V&ocid=spartanntp). No, not “gun violence,” but two murderers. Gun violence is not like a mysterious plague that comes and takes your family members away. It’s a conscious choice that bad people make to kill people – with guns or with knives or with bombs. That’s how they become bad people: by making morally bad decisions. In fairness to Wade, however, this is how everyone talks now. That’s what’s truly senseless…and sad.
~Blacks and Republicans: No, not three words that shouldn’t be in the same sentence together, but actually three words that should be a natural fit. Blacks are of conservative views even though they vote for Democrats. But it shouldn’t be that way nor does it have to be that way if Republicans wised up and offered a coherent and compelling message to them – not as Democrats do (treat blacks as victims, etc.), but as Republicans should do – if they really believe in their party’s founding principles.
~I like this line: Today, teachers don’t just give students knowledge, but teach them how to acquire knowledge, Gregory Dhuyvetter said, a transformation educators should learn to embrace. Dhuyvetter, superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Orange, Calif., spoke at the University of Detroit Mercy for the Archdiocese of Detroit’s third annual K-12 Teacher and Administrators Conference (See http://www.themichigancatholic.org/2016/08/slaying-dragons-education/). In my graduate courses that use technology a bit more than usual, I have found this to be the case.
~The Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson asks, “What If It’s All In The Shooters’ Heads?” (The online version is titled, “Mass shootings: What if the problem is all in the perpetrators’ heads?” http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/brian-dickerson/2016/08/20/mass-shootings-biology/88632580/). Well, what if it’s not an either or? That is, what if it’s not, either it’s in their brains or in their wills? What if it’s a bit of both: free will and physical forces?
~Catholics actually know more than they think they know, but not as much as they should really know.
~Fall arrives in a few weeks, and I for one will be happy. This summer has been not only hot, but extremely humid. Bring on the cool air!