Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times (Vol. 7, No. 82)
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
November 1, 2016
Feast of All Saints
~I find it funny how women will call their female friends “girlfriends,” but men will never speak of their male friends as “boyfriends.”
~In an advance for civilization, news comes from Ann Arbor that University of Michigan students can now choose the personal pronouns they want faculty and staff to call them: He, she or ze? It’s your choice. “The move is the result of a Pronoun Committee of staff and faculty…” (See http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/09/28/u-m-students-can-choose-personal-pronouns/91211850/). May I suggest a Sanity Committee?
~I debated with myself whether to address the first presidential debate in last month’s MMs. After watching the second two, I didn’t need to debate with myself anymore.
~In response to the scandal over Donald Trump’s “lewd” comments about women revealed on a hot mic 11 years ago, the Internet can’t help itself with references to “rape culture” and the importance of “consent”; but there’s no mention of virtue, chastity, and so on. We’ve reduced morality to buzzwords and an abstract discourse about process.
~Last month, October, was Respect Life Month – as it is every year. So it was refreshing to hear a homily preached on the issue. That’s something that has been rare in my experience – even though it shouldn’t be.
~I don’t build or fix things. But if you believe there is such a thing as religious and moral truth, then you could say that I help (often inadequately, if truth be told) build the Kingdom of God and do so along with a lot of other persons – including, but especially the Trinitarian Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
~Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. This has caused a controversy, with some saying he was a bad choice (see http://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/in-honouring-dylan-the-judges-have-made-a-category-error/18828) and others saying he was a good choice (see http://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/why-bob-dylan-is-a-nobel-choice/18829). It was the Fall of 1979, in Joe Serraglio’s sophomore English class, when I was first introduced to Dylan – the lyrics to his “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” – off his 1967 John Wesley Harding album. If one is to make an argument for one of Dylan’s song lyrics as poetry, this would be my personal favorite (You can read the lyrics here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bobdylan/idreamedisawstaugustine.html).
~The Congregation of Holy Cross founder, Father Basil Moreau (1799-1873), wrote, “Society has a greater need for people of values than it has for scholars.” But of course, these values and the people who hold them need to be intelligent. Stupid or uneducated people can do a lot of damage even when they have sound moral values.
~On the matter of voter guides, I see them as more unhelpful than helpful (see also https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2016/10/20/on-the-matter-of-catholic-voter-guides/), especially in this year of Trump vs. Clinton. More helpful is my colleague Janet E. Smith’s article: https://catholicvote.org/why-i-am-voting-for-trump-and-donating-too/.
~I don’t believe that there’s a Catholic economics or a Catholic politics, any more than there’s a Catholic chemistry or Catholic physics. But there is an economics and a politics and a science that should be informed by Catholic faith and morals.
~Stories such as this one – http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2016/10/12/catholic-gays/91971766/) – about a gay Catholic fired from his parish music director position after it was discovered that he was in a same-sex “marriage” – which appeal to the so-called “Francis effect” (e.g., Pope Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?”), make me wonder whether this and similar things should now be known as the “Francis Defect.”
~The same people who ranted and raved about the foolishness of trying to spread democracy – often through war – to people in countries and cultures that never knew democracy (namely Middle-Easterners), seem to have no problem trying to bring in to our own country as many people from those same nations.
~Conscience is not an infallible guide. Even though we need to follow it after we have formed it well, it can still be in error. Yet many people treat their own conscience as if it were an infallible guide – despite not having informed it by anything other than their own thoughts and feelings. Even the most faithful Catholic, however, would never view his own conscience as such an error-free faculty. Conscience is supposed to enable us to hear God’s voice echoing within us, not our own voice (cf. Gaudium et spes, no. 16, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html).
~Alexandra DeSanctis notes that on her show, Full Frontal, comedienne Samantha Bee mentions the case of Mindy, who was pregnant with a child who had “lethal birth defects,” presumably meaning that the defects would result in the child’s death upon birth. Mindy, DeSanctis argues, falsely asserts that her life was in danger because she was refused an abortion in a Catholic hospital. “They just put their rules and their ideology above my baby’s pain and suffering. I knew my baby. I was the only person in the world looking out for his best interest. I try not to think about the pain that he could’ve felt. He wouldn’t have felt anything if they would’ve just terminated the pregnancy when my water broke… (See http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441431/samantha-bee-catholic-hospitals-dishonest-attack-religious-conscience). Abortion, i.e., killing, as an act of love; or, in Mindy’s words, looking out for the baby’s “best interest.” This is both sad and scary. Praying…
~With all of the Halloween decorations on front lawns last month, it was hard to tell if the Clinton-Kaine campaign signs on one front lawn were political or simply part of the “Trick-or-Treat?”
~One of the reasons I have stayed off Facebook for over 4 months now, is on account of all of the stupid Catholic bloggers. I can handle militant atheists, but annoying Catholic bloggers? No. They are either liberal conservative Catholics or conservative liberal Catholics. Either way, they are annoying.
~I often see it this way when I hear chants like “No justice, no peace!” Peace must be rooted in justice, and justice must be grounded in truth, and truth must be tempered with mercy, and mercy must be centered in God’s love.
~After the toxicology report came back on Florida Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez – who was killed in a boating accident (the authorities aren’t sure if he was driving) – revealing that he was two times over the legal limit for alcohol and had cocaine in his system (see http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/29/us/miami-jose-fernandez-toxicology/index.html), typical reactions on Twitter were, as one guy tweeted: “Simply because Jose Fernandez had cocaine in his system should not change the way you see him. He was a good kid and genuine.” It makes you wonder: Just what does one have to do today to change the way someone “sees” you? Fernandez also leaves a pregnant girlfriend. But that fact, and the fact that he may have caused not only his own death but the deaths of two of his friends with him on the boat, somehow “should not change the way we see him.” It should not, so this argument goes, turn you into a bad kid, someone not genuine.
~What’s up with those Chevy Cruze TV commercials that say these are “Real people. Not actors”? What, actors aren’t real people? Well, on second thought, maybe they aren’t (See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/08/real-people-not-actors-chevrolet-olympics-ad-interview/495863/).
~The Detroit Free Press’ Gorgea Kovanis’ column, “So much for swearing: Why f#!% doesn’t mean s%!# anymore” (http://www.freep.com/story/life/shopping/georgea-kovanis/2016/10/29/swearing-words-millenials/92303000/), makes the observation that her use of the f-word and profanity in general does not have the same potency it once had. She argues that “there’s a reason for that. It’s a reason that indicates a significant cultural shift — a shift led by millennials that is redefining social mores, impacting the way we speak and, maybe, the way we think about others.” (She uses – unfortunately without defining – the terms “profanity,” “swear”/“swearing,” “cursing,” “bad words,” “taboo words,” and “offensive words” mostly interchangeably). She contends the following: “To millennials — the largest, most diverse and most influential generation ever — profanity, at least as the rest of us know it, isn’t considered especially profane anymore.” “Instead,” she claims, “the most taboo words, the ones that really shock, are racial, ethnic and gender-related slurs — words that previous generations often used without hesitation.” Today, however, “the connotation of those traditional profanities has changed; those old words don’t mean much…[M]ore of us are realizing that the truly offensive words are the words that attack people based on their skin color or religion or ethnicity or gender. The words whose only purpose is to harm and divide in the most personal way possible. And maybe this realization is a sign that we’re on the verge of truly accepting each other.” Well. Or, it could mean not moral progress but its further regression. We lose a sense of sin in one area and substitute a sense of it – one not always rooted in truth – in another area. What she doesn’t note is how profanity often makes sense only in its relation to God, i.e., to what is not God or to the profane or blasphemous. But in the secular world, those are largely empty concepts for people. And one more thing: Millennials as the “most influential generation ever”? Really?
~Major League Baseball has seen a significant drop in the percentage of black players over the last three decades (“It has dropped by over 60 percent since the high point in 1981.”). One scholar attributes that decrease to the growing lack of fathers in the home (See Kevin Stuart, “Is baseball a white man’s sport?” http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2016/10/27/baseball-white-mans-sport/92871554/). From religious practice to morals to baseball, fathers matter.
~The media never talk in terms of Democrat political candidates offering up “red meat” to their supporters/crowds. Only Republicans do that for their “base.”
~I’m afraid that many Catholics have long been duped into thinking that the Republicans are the pro-life party while the Democrats are the social justice party. The latter is the case only if you believe that social justice means more government “anti-poverty” programs.
~Tomorrow, November 2nd, is my 53rd birthday. If the Cleveland Indians have to go a game 7 in the World Series to beat the Chicago Cubs, that would be a wonderful birthday present. But I do hope they win it in 6 games. As these “Meanderings” were going to the “presses” in the early evening hours on November 1st, the Tribe was up 3-2, with the series back in Cleveland.
~Happy All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2)!