Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times (Vol. 8, No. 85)
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
February 1, 2017
~When I read stories about a Christian losing his or her faith (see this one: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-evangelical-scion-who-stopped-believing/ar-BBxJWVX), I often wonder (especially if they’re an Evangelical) whether they had sound philosophical formation. They may know the Bible, but they usually do not have a solid foundation in the philosophical proofs for God’s existence and other matters related to showing the inherent reasonableness of the faith.
~Speaking of losing the (Catholic) faith…The Japanese Catholic Shūsaku Endō’s (1923—1996) novel, Silence (published in 1966) and Martin Scorcese’s film adaption of it, have ignited or should we say reignited controversy (e.g., see among the many articles and reviews this one: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/12/the-troubling-legacy-of-shsaku-ends-silence; although Monica Migliorino Miller’s review is much more penetrating; see http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/silence-many-martyrs-little-redemption). Like all things today, everything is in flux for the post-modernists – even the notions of martyrdom and moral absolutes. “Don’t you fundamentalist Catholics realize that Jesus would want you to deny him out of love for others?,” the post-modernists question. Ah, yes, “love.” It takes away all sins; sadly, so do many Christians.
~Another minister bows to the LGBT community and says we should too (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/04/im-an-evangelical-minister-i-now-support-the-lgbt-community-and-the-church-should-too/). His reasons are all more or less pastoral and pragmatic and don’t get to the heart of the morality of same-sex acts, etc. On this issue, this approach is just “par for the course,” as they say.
~I have always enjoyed those end-of-year “Best Books” list. Here’s a good and lengthy one from the Catholic World Report: “The Best Books I Read in 2016” (See http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/5318/The_Best_Books_I_Read_in_2016.aspx#sdendnote25sym).
~Sometimes, small miracles happen in unexpected places: A The New Yorker article that is actually not only interesting reading, but for the most part, fair, it seems to me (see http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/09/intellectuals-for-trump).
~It’s usually a sound approach not to provoke people unnecessarily. One of the arguments for not speaking of Islam when in fact one is speaking of Islamic terrorism is we don’t want to further incite the radicals and offend the moderates, whose help from the latter we need. One flaw in this argument is that radical Islam has already declared war on us. They see themselves in a war against the “infidel” – whether we understand that to be the case or not. Given that reality, our reticence to use the word “Islam” is viewed by our enemies not as a sign of respect, but as sign of weakness on our part.
~When you stop and think about it, as I did recently, the fact that President Obama received an overwhelmingly large percentage of the minority vote – especially among blacks – is quite shocking no matter how you look at it: In 2008, “minorities went heavily into the Obama camp. Blacks, 96 percent Obama to 3 percent McCain; Latinos, 67 percent Obama to 30 percent McCain; and Asians, 63 percent Obama to 34 percent McCain.” (See http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/04/exit.polls/). In 2012, Obama “won 93 percent of African-Americans, 71 percent of Hispanics, and 73 percent of Asians.” (See http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/Decoder/2012/1107/Election-results-2012-Who-won-it-for-Obama-video). 96% and 93%: those numbers are staggering and shouldn’t be anywhere near that level of support even for a minority candidate such as Obama was. It borders on the 99% of the “vote” that tin-pot dictators receive from their “voters.”
~Political scientist Michael Barone says that Americans aren’t as mobile as we used to be (see http://m.townhall.com/columnists/michaelbarone/2016/12/30/americans-are-no-longer-on-the-move-n2264638). Barone doesn’t make this argument, but in addition to the economic arguments that he does make, some of this lack of mobility might have to do with the fact that technology has shrunk our world and country. One simply doesn’t always have to physically go to another place to, in some sense, be or even work in that place.
~NBA basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar argues that “‘The Bachelor’ Is Killing Romance in America” (see http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/amp/news/kareem-abdul-jabbar-bachelor-is-killing-romance-america-guest-column-960200). Here’s one of the paragraphs that caught my eye: “So, what’s so wrong with a little harmless entertainment of watching people scramble for ‘love’ like ravenous crabs on a washed up seal corpse? In the short term, nothing. Just good, clean fun. But the long-term effects of their choices – from the types of people selected to be on the show to the promotion of a subversive, childish concept of love – is like smoking or listening to Kenny G: it can have serious consequences.” I’m sorry, Kareem, but “good, clean fun” it ain’t – not even in the “short term.”
~Progress – and here I’m thinking primarily of moral and social progress – is often the story of “two steps forward and one step backwards.” We make progress on the racial front, for example, only to regress on the intact-family front.
~Ellen DeGeneres uninvited on her TV show gospel singer (and pastor) Kim Burrell after a video surfaced of her preaching a sermon that included her speaking of a “perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women.” (See http://deadline.com/2017/01/kim-burrell-ellen-show-canceled-following-burrell-anti-gay-sermon-1201878011/). What many were condemning as “hate speech,” however, is simply basic Christian teaching. For example, in St. Pauls’ Epistle to the Romans 1:26-27, we read: “Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.” Here the Apostle Paul preaches good, old natural law and biblical revelation. The fact that Burrell is both black and a woman weren’t enough to rank her above the LGBTQ agenda.
~Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) wants to replace but not repeal Obamacare. He argues that people won’t remember how they got healthcare/Obamacare, but they’ll sure remember who took it away (see http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/manchin-replace-but-don-t-repeal-obamacare-847253059929 at the 7:00 minute mark). Well, I think that when a healthcare plan is widely known as Obamacare, most people will know who gave it to them.
~With the death of bassist Greg Lake from cancer (see http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/greg-lake-emerson-lake-palmer-co-founder-dead-at-69-w454546), and the earlier death of keyboardist Keith Emerson from suicide (see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/keith-emerson-the-father-of-progressive-rock-was-the-jimi-hendri/), both in 2016, that leaves us now with only the P – drummer Carl Palmer – in ELP. That trinity of progressive musicians formed a good part of the soundtrack of my younger years.
~Early last month Oxford philosopher Derek Parfit died at age 74. He was quite the eccentric (see http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/09/05/how-to-be-good and http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/1/3/14148208/derek-parfit-rip-obit). Reading about the eccentricities of philosophers is a guilty pleasure of mine – probably because I have so many myself.
~The Democrats love, just love to scare voters; it’s simply in their DNA. They’re like that Geico commercial: It’s what they do. One loses track of the latest “outrage” they’re accusing Republicans or Trump of. With the Republicans poised to repeal and replace Obamacare, their latest slogan is the Republicans want to “Make America Sick Again.” (See http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/31/opinions/nancy-pelosi-republicans-health-care-plan-will-make-america-sick-again/). Cute, isn’t?
~Pope Francis’ close advisor, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., caused a stir with the following tweet: Theology is not #Mathematics. 2 + 2 in #Theology can make 5. Because it has to do with #God and real #life of #people…
— Antonio Spadaro (@antoniospadaro) January 5, 2017
Ignatius Press’ Carl Olson has offered an excellent reply to the tweet (see http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/5330/close_papal_confidant_2__2_in_theology_can_make_5.aspx). I simply want to make one additional side-point: Why do liberal-leaning priests and bishops constantly lecture conservative Catholics on how we just don’t “get” real life and real people? It’s partly more virtue-signaling from our supposed Catholic betters.
~There’s a favorable piece on Cardinal Tobin from a usual source (see http://www.americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/cardinal-tobin-steps-new-role-newark). When you’re a media favorite – whether in the Catholic or the secular press – chances are something’s wrong or at least not quite right.
~Film critic Armond White’s devastating critique of Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech (it was more like a screed) against Donald Trump is well worth the read (see http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443669/meryl-streep-golden-globes-speech-political-donald-trump-moralizing-hypocrisy). After I listened to her diatribe, it felt as if I had “streep throat.”
~A new Amazon Prime ad features a Catholic priest and an imam sharing a cup of tea (Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ouu6LGGIWsc). INFOWARS had a great response to the ad (See http://www.infowars.com/amazon-pushes-islamic-propaganda-in-new-priest-and-imam-commercial/). One of the characteristics of our cynical and self-proclaimed Doubting Age is the actual naiveté on display in so many high places, including the intellectuals and the clergy.
~Journalist Nat Hentoff died last month at the age of 91 (see http://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/07/nyregion/nat-hentoff-dead.html). He once described himself as a “Jewish atheist.” But he didn’t let his atheism get in the way of his pro-life writings. I first encountered his writings in the indispensable Human Life Review (see this special memorial edition here: http://www.humanlifereview.com/hentoff-memorial/). I didn’t always agree with his positions on certain issues, but I could never doubt his pro-life convictions. He did so much good for the cause of life. RIP.
~There’s no reason to doubt that Americans are suspicious of the mainstream media. And when you read stories like this (see https://www.catholics4trump.com/the-true-story-donald-trump-did-not-mock-a-reporters-disability/), there’s no need for any further reasons why that might be the case.
~We hear often today of the “imperialism” (or a similar term) of the market economy (See http://www.americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/readying-trump-catholic-leaders-express-worry-over-regulatory-rollbacks). Why do churchmen talk this way? Most Americans simply don’t speak this way about capitalism, however critical of it they may be at times. More and more often, we see even Catholic leaders substituting slogans – usually employing leftist language – for arguments.
~Occasionally, I wonder what my life would have been like with a nickname.
~Sometimes a (sudden) pain in one part of your body can make you forget that you have a (chronic) pain in another part of your body.
~I’m starting to grow weary of the otherwise good (pastoral) term “accompaniment.”
~Georgia Democrat Congressman, John Lewis, said that president-elect Trump is not a “legitimate president” (see http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/john-lewis-trump-won-t-be-legitimate-president-n706676; of course, Trump punched back on Twitter: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/14/politics/john-lewis-donald-trump/). But Lewis was largely shielded from criticism in the media because of his status as a “civil rights icon.” Does that mean then that no criticism of Lewis is allowed? The courage of Lewis (and others who marched with him) surely has won him a well-deserved level of moral authority on issues of race. But what he did 50 years ago, however good and noble, shouldn’t immunize him from legitimate criticism (when called for) today. On many issues, Lewis has forfeited that high moral ground over the last several decades – not only on the issue of abortion, but even on the issues of race and civil rights themselves. His political positions on those matters, I would argue, are far from the views of his friend Martin Luther King, Jr. and other early civil rights pioneers.
~It is nice hearing trains, but not so nice waiting for them.
~“Alternative facts,” says NBC’s Meet the Press‘ Chuck Todd, “are not facts; they’re falsehoods.” (See https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/22/kellyanne-conway-says-donald-trumps-team-has-alternate-facts-which-pretty-much-says-it-all/). CNN’s Jake Tapper chimed in with his mocking “I’m Wolf Blitzer…” routine (see http://thehill.com/homenews/media/315723-tapper-mocks-team-trump-on-alternative-facts). Okay, whatever. Now, I wonder if Tapper would have any problem at all with a man who said he was actually a woman. It’s so nice to finally see the liberals arguing in favor of “facts.” Of course, they’re the ones who get to determine what those facts are and mean. This is the same relativistic and deconstructionist crew that for decades has said there is no objective truth, only “narratives.” “Facts” are now just one more facet of reality that liberals claim to own and to be the custodians of. Only they allegedly have the wisdom to identify “facts” from fiction. And that fact has become stranger than fiction.
~The wild Women’s March on Washington was a sight to see and hear (see http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/womens-march-heads-washington-day-trumps-inauguration/story). Some of it made Woodstock downright look like the March for Life.
~The 44th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade brought the 44th annual March for Life to Washington again this year. The District of Columbia has seen its share of famous speeches: From MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963 (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0yP4aLyq1g) to the one delivered by Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) at the March for Life this year on January 27 (see http://thefederalist.com/2017/01/28/watch-mia-love-bring-people-to-tears-at-the-march-for-life/). But we have gone from those great and soaring speeches to the “I Have a Vagina” ones witnessed at the Woman’s March on Washington (e.g., see Ashley Judd, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNXMOxBbt6g).
~Some people have become so addicted to pain killers that they are harming their own pets and then taking the meds that the vets are prescribing for them (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/01/23/some-addicts-are-so-desperate-for-drugs-that-theyre-now-taking-medication-prescribed-to-pets/). This is the very definition of addiction, it seems; or maybe the word bondage describes it better.
~One often hears that someone is “empowered” by such and such an act or word or cause or whatever – e.g., a woman walking around half naked. It’s become the word that stops all arguments. “Well,” you say, “doesn’t a woman exploit herself by wearing clothes that reveal too much?” No, no, no! You can’t say that! She’s empowered by it! Oh, okay, end of argument; case closed! You win, I lose!
~With respect to Trump’s Executive Order suspending refugees for 4 months – it also does other things, among them, bans “nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least the next 90 days…” (For full text of the EO, see http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/text-of-trump-executive-order-nation-ban-refugees/index.html) – we also have to talk more about why we have such a refugee problem around the globe to begin with. It’s as if the causes don’t exist, only the problem.
~Kim Kardashian tweeted statistics allegedly showing the numbers of deaths caused by “Islamic jihadist immigrants” (2) versus other causes and persons/groups (see https://twitter.com/KimKardashian/status/825580660337283073/photo/1). She was among the many protesting –often wildly inaccurately – about the Trump administration’s so-called – wrongly – “Muslim ban” (see David French, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444370/donald-trump-refugee-executive-order-no-muslim-ban-separating-fact-hysteria; see also Andrew C. McCarthy, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444402/trump-muslim-ban-goal-ban-sharia-supremacists-not-all-muslims). It’s important to note, however, that we can’t simply discuss these deaths based on “statistics.” For example, what about all of the deaths avoided from foiled terrorist plots that you don’t hear about? (See http://dailysignal.com/2016/05/16/an-interactive-timeline-of-the-85-islamist-terror-plots-since-911/).
~Because secularists assume that their atheism and/or secularism always will be a fact of life for them – and because they do not fundamentally understand religion, e.g., having already privatized it – they simply are not equipped to grasp the threat posed by Islam – specifically, what Andrew C. McCarthy calls “sharia-supremacist” Muslims. In fact, they’re clueless.
~I believe that William Kilpatrick (see http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/know-nothing-catholics) has gotten the better of the U.S. Catholic Bishops (see http://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/01/30/responding-trumps-ban-top-catholic-bishops-pledge-solidarity-muslim) on Trump’s refugee ban. Kilpatrick has been warning of the threat posed by a religion – Islam – that denies religious freedom. Will the knowingly false claims about Islam as a “religion of peace” simpliciter come back to haunt the bishops if things turn ugly in the near future as a result of Islamic terrorism?
~A Nicholas Wade article in The New York Times, “This Prehistoric Human Ancestor Was All Mouth” (see https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/science/this-prehistoric-human-ancestor-was-all-mouth.html), notes that this creature had no anus. Well, then, it couldn’t have been as full of you-know-what as most humans are.
~President Trump has nominated federal judge Neil Gorsuch for a seat on the Supreme Court (see https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/us/politics/supreme-court-nominee-trump.html). This is a brilliant pick of a brilliant judge. Got to give Trump credit for honoring his promise to nominate a judge who takes seriously his role to judge and not legislate from the bench. This is a good way to start February, the last full month of winter.
~My elation at Gorsuch’s nomination on January 31 was mixed with sadness at the news on the same day of the death of the English progressive rock singer-bassist John Wetton of King Crimson, UK, and Asia fame (see http://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/music/john-wetton-asia-king-crimson-frontman-dies-67-n715366). RIP.