Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times (Vol. 7, No. 84)
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
January 1, 2017
New Year’s Day Edition ~ Feast of the Mother of God
~In a music video for a new Rolling Stones’ song (see http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rolling-stones-debut-new-music-video-starring-kristen-stewart/), actress Kristen Stewart illustrates everything that’s wrong about our secular culture. She must break several of the real 10 Commandments and several more from the liberal PC catechism. Not only does she drive recklessly, lick a sucker like she’s performing oral sex, and dance stripper-like suggestively, but her dance is done while smoking a cigarette next to a gas station pump. Where’s the EPA when you really need them? She has violated two of modern liberalism’s most sacred absolutes: no smoking and no endangering the environment. She’s also burning a lot of gas as she speeds aimlessly through the streets of LA. Although she’s just purchased a six-pack of beer, thankfully she’s never seen drinking it while driving. That doesn’t stop her from crashing through red lights on her joy ride. We do see her “flipping the bird” to us, the audience, watching the video. And all this time I had thought Stewart to be the model liberal lesbian. I’m sure that blue Mustang she drives in the video could be sold and the proceeds given to the poor.
~Today, one cannot assume that someone is truly Catholic simply because he or she regularly goes to Mass, is married and might have children and maybe even works for the Church. With the widespread acceptance of the LGBT agenda, there are Mass-attending Catholics who at the same time make no secret of the fact that they are gay, in a same-sex “marriage,” and raising children after having produced them through IVF and surrogacy.
~A Twitter headline from December 4, 2016: “Christmas is a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s nice to see that our secular culture’s finally discovered what the Catholic Church has been calling Advent for almost two millennia (The 4th century to be more precise).
~As I reflect more on my profession (and vocation) as a Catholic moral theologian, I’ve come to realize just how much it involves the accumulation and dissemination of information. To be more precise: it involves the study and communication of Christian religious and moral truth.
~You can sometimes argue with people over facts but rarely ever over their visions.
~Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues caused quite a stir some years ago. It’s back in the news as part of another controversy (see https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2016/12/07/the-vagina-monologues-are-silenced/). That got me thinking: Why, after all these years, hasn’t a man written The Penis Monologues? Or would that be considered sexist for some reason?
~Robert Tracinski, “Donald Trump Is Ideologically Gutting The Republican Party” (http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/donald-trump-is-ideologically-gutting-the-republican-party/ar-AAlltPm), in a piece that originally appeared in The Federalist, argues: “It would be a bit of an exaggeration to call this the [Republican] party’s official new economic ideology, because Trump is not a man who thinks or talks in a way that is abstract and general. But if we take his approach to economics and translate it into ideological terms, it has three pillars: populism (corporations have to “take care of our workers,” as judged by politicians looking to rally blue-collar votes); nationalism (imposing “consequences” and “retribution” for the flow of capital and goods across borders); and cronyism (the president’s personal role in negotiating deals and deciding which businesses are in or out of favor).” Whether you agree or disagree with Trump’s economic ideas and actions, I think this is correct and insightful.
~“With rifle and bibliography: General Mattis on professional reading” (see http://www.strifeblog.org/2013/05/07/with-rifle-and-bibliography-General-mattis-on-professional-reading/), gives us a fascinating look into the mind of Trump’s pick for Secretary of Defense. He’s not only a man of action, but a man of the mind. He shows that one can and should combine these two traits – doing and learning – no matter what one does for a living.
~Some people are so resistant to facts and logic that you need the intellectual equivalent of a bunker-busting bomb to penetrate their thick-headedness.
~The term “undocumented immigrant” sounds a bit too mean for some people. How about “document-challenged” instead?
~Former President George W. Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully several times refers to the innocence of animals in his article making, in the words of its subtitle, “The Moral Case for the Abolition of Cruelty to Animals” (see http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443161/animal-welfare-standards-animal-cruelty-abolition-morality-factory-farming-animal-use-industries). But to describe non-rational animals as innocent is a misuse of the term. Technically speaking, only rational creatures can be innocent because only rational creatures have and can be capable of exercising the faculty of free choice to do either moral evil or moral good.
~If people ask me if I’m an “activist,” I tell them yes…I walk over 5 miles a day.
~Obama’s supposed gravitas quickly vanishes if you just listen to what he actually says. He’s good at sounding like he’s being profound when in fact he isn’t. No politician has quite his “gift” for sounding like he’s saying something deep when it’s really something shallow.
~God may forget (and forgive) all our sins, but the iCloud doesn’t – at least not our digital ones.
~The latest trendy term in the NFL is achieving “separation.” Whatever happened to a receiver simply “getting open”?
~The inspiration behind these “Miscellaneous Meanderings,” the great Thomas Sowell (with his occasional “Random Thoughts”), is calling it quits at age 86 after 39 years of writing his syndicated column (See his final column here: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443343/thomas-sowell-final-thoughts-learning-history-experience and his farewell column here: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443344/thomas-sowell-farewell-column-perspective-decades-research-writing). I will miss his singular voice. But at least we have his many dozens of books to mine for their wisdom.
~After Christmas Day, when I see Christmas trees already thrown out for garbage pick-up, I get what I call “the front lawn Christmas tree blues.” And it used to be the case that you could tell the Catholics from the Protestants that way, but not anymore.
~The pop singer Ariana Grande called out someone on Twitter for having sexually objectified her (see http://www.msn.com/en-us/music/celebrity/ariana-grande-opens-up-about-feeling-sick-and-objectified-after-fan-encounter-i-am-not-a-piece-of-meat/ar-BBxDyDr). But when someone pointed out to her that she too sexualizes herself in her music and videos, AG fell back on the “our bodies, our choices” shtick. It’s hard to reason with unreasonable people. They’re incapable of recognizing their own contradictions.
~The Kennedy Center Honors for 2016 saw fellow entertainers describing such awardees as singer-songwriter James Taylor and actor Al Pacino as “compassionate” and full of “humanity.” These words can mean almost anything today in our secular culture. In fact, when applied to Taylor and Pacino, they often mean support for liberal causes such as abortion and euthanasia. You can be full of humanity and be compassionate even though you support the practices of the culture of death.
~On December 29, 2016, President Obama placed new sanctions on Russia for their hacking (see http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/punishment-alleged-russian-hacking-expected-announced-today/story). Thought experiment: if the Russians had hacked the RNC and tried to sway the election in Hillary’s favor (as the Obama administration claims they did for Trump), would he issue sanctions? I think not.
~The late John Glenn, who died in early December at the age of 95 (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/08/us/john-glenn-dies.html), was a great astronaut but a very liberal senator from Ohio. He was, among other things, one of the most consistent pro-aborts in the Senate. As one author wrote, “he voted as if abortion was a good thing, a positive development in the maturation of the human race.” (See http://www.ncregister.com/blog/boneel/john-glenn-astronaut-and-senator-1921-2016). As proof of this, after 4 terms in the Senate (24 years), he had a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. A hero? Yes; but a flawed one.
~We hear a lot of talk about growing “income inequality” in our country. What we don’t hear often enough is one of its major causes: the “work rate” has been collapsing, as the American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt’s “America’s flight from work” demonstrates (see http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2016/11/03/flight-work-eberstadt/93273476/). But unlike the Depression-era joblessness, Eberstadt notes, this “flight from work” has largely been intentional: people willfully withdrawing from the work force. This “collapse of work” has been especially pronounced among men. We need to rehabilitate a culture of work in our country that a culture of welfare has weakened.
~The year 2016 will probably go down as the Year of Trump. But it could easily go down as the Year of Celebrity Deaths – bookended as it was by the deaths of many of the famous.
~In a year of fools, surely one of the biggest of 2016 was Secretary of State John Kerry. He might win that honor for his speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alone (See Andrew C. McCarthy, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443390/john-kerry-speech-israel-jewish-democratic-one-state-solution-islam; cf. https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/liveblog/511763/).
~It is often said that to be effective evangelizers today, we must preach Jesus Christ first, then the Catholic Church’s moral teachings. But it shouldn’t be an either/or but a both/and, especially when the culture keeps pushing hot button moral issues in the face of the Church.
~With technology, you’re connected to people but not really connected to people.
~“As Americans, we are a diverse population. We have embraced that diversity as what brings us together and truly makes us one nation.” Or so the Sunday Detroit Free Press argues (January 1, 2017, 1A). But it’s more often the case that it’s not because of our diversity that we are one, but in spite of it (Just look at many other countries). Diversity by its nature implies difference, not sameness or oneness. The problem is overcoming or at least reconciling our differences – moral, political, social, and so on.
~Happy New Year! May we experience less sin and more solidarity in our world in 2017 than we did in 2016.