Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times (Vol. 8, No. 88)
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
May 1, 2017
Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
~Crossing moral lines is nothing new – in our day and age or in any age for that matter. But we seem to delight in it more so today than ever before. Pretty soon, we’re going to run out of lines to cross.
~Have you ever noticed that nasty people never seem to think that they’re nasty? It’s always only other people who are nasty.
~One of the great pleasures for me in life is to discover an author unexpectedly while reading the work of another author. Recently I was reading the philosopher Roger Scruton’s On Human Nature (Princeton University Press, 2017) and came upon his reference to the philosopher Aurel Kolnai (1900—1973), a Jewish convert to Catholicism, and his 1930 book Sexual Ethics. I have to read that book now.
~In a March 23, 2017 talk on immigration at The Catholic University of America (see http://communications.cua.edu/news/2017/03/archbishop-gomez-cua-on-tap.html), Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez made many good points, but he also spoke the familiar cliché about America: “We need to realize that we are a nation of immigrants.” That’s true of course. But today’s situation is so very different than the past’s – e.g., assimilation does not happen the way it used to happen and Islamic terrorism is now a great threat to the country – that that statement must be qualified many times over.
~Our secular culture has thrown out the traditional list of sins – pornography, fornication, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, etc. – and substituted new evils. And with these new evils came the need for a new vocabulary to describe them: homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and on and on.
~The matter of Muslim prayer rooms and organizations in Catholic schools has become an issue. I see that St. Edward High School (Lakewood, OH), from where I graduated in 1982, is one of the latest to have to clarify its new Muslim student group (see https://www.sehs.net/single-post/2017/04/07/A-Note-from-President-Jim-Kubacki). It’s one thing to study another religion (like Islam), but it’s quite another thing to provide opportunities (especially on a high school level) for that religion to preach its doctrine and way of life. I’m not saying that’s happening in this case, but it’s always a danger to be vigilant about.
~Well, the books we find on Amazon! I saw one titled The Ethical Slut and another titled More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory. As Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” would say, “Isn’t that special!”
~Twitter now speaks of the “so-called Islamic State.” Could you imagine them saying the “so-called Caitlin Jenner”?
~For me, “When mood and melody conjure up a certain magic / A song is ready for its lyric.”
~What do you think of Beauty and the Beast? Specifically, which one is better? The 1991 animated version or the new live-action version? Or maybe you didn’t like either version. John Podhoretz loved the original (see http://www.weeklystandard.com/money-for-nothing/article/2007451), Armond White did not (see http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445866/disney-beauty-beast-faithless-pc-propaganda). Both film critics, however, agree the reboot is bad. These two writers are two of my favorite critics and yet they disagree. Figure that one out.
~Virtue-signaling is actually one of the most annoying vices.
~While out walking in Allen Park, MI in early April, I passed two teens (I’d put them at about 17 yrs.-old) who were listening to early King Crimson (Greg Lake on lead vocals). I nearly fainted on the spot.
~After president Trump’s Tomahawk Missile strike on Syria, Jonah Goldberg confessed his bewilderment over the administration’s policy on this country: “I feel like I’m watching a Fellini movie without subtitles: I have no idea what’s going on.” (See https://townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/2017/04/12/new-sheriff-fires-a-warning-shot-in-syria-n2312041). It so happens that earlier that same month I had watched Fellini’s classic 1960 film, La dolce vita, and I can testify that Goldberg’s metaphor is spot on.
~Our family’s old next door neighbor in Cleveland, OH, was a famous inventor, Frank Kaehni (see https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=36476118). And so was his brother. It’s too bad I was a kid when we lived next door to the family. When you’re young, you don’t realize or appreciate genius even when it’s but a house away.
~Want to know Fr. James Martin S.J.’s take on the United Airlines brouhaha? (See http://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/04/11/united-airlines-debacle-isnt-about-customer-service-its-about-morality). Well, it turns out that capitalism is to blame. I’ve come to expect this sort of simplistic thinking from Martin.
~Mike Pence won’t eat dinner alone with a woman not his wife and the culture goes crazy (see https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/pence-wife-billy-graham-rule/521298/). Yet, if Muslim men require women to cover up, it’s simply business as usual.
~Again, James Martin, S.J. He writes (see http://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/03/29/father-james-martin-why-climate-change-moral-issue): “Let’s consider three reasons why caring for the environment is a moral issue and why policies that fail to protect our planet are not only against Catholic teaching but are also immoral.” Of course climate change is a moral issue. But Martin never points out that Catholic social teaching recognizes a distinction between principles and policy. One can debate the latter. But you’d never know that from reading his article.
~I wish we could do the following experiment (Kind of like a “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it still make a sound?” sort of thing…): If we ignore the Kardashians, will they disappear?
~The Episcopal Rev. Harry T. Cook’s 2017 Easter Sunday column in the Detroit Free Press offering an “alternative approach” to the Resurrection is one of those pieces where, under the guise of sophistication, the author ends up falling into some of the most unsophisticated – even ridiculous – positions (see http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/04/15/easter-alternative-approach-resurrection/100440404/). As a retired Episcopal priest and biblical scholar, Cook would surely be familiar with the Latin expression nihil sub sole novum (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:9). It would be hard to top Cook’s column in the “there is nothing new under the sun” category. For one thing, Cook interprets resurrection – which we will see he actually rejects according to its traditional understanding – in terms of a “return to consciousness of the dead…” No, actually, it’s a real resurrection of our bodies from the dead, as we profess in the Creed [I am working on a longer separate blog that responds to Cook’s other numerous errors].
~The “Love Trumps Hate” slogan makes me ask two questions: How is love defined here? And how is hate defined here? See, that’s the trouble with slogans; they really don’t tell you much, but still you think you’re being informed. It’s really all about making you feel good.
~I find it funny how secular liberals who are always sounding alarms about a theocracy have no compunction with quoting the Bible when it serves their (often secular left-wing) purposes, e.g., regarding poverty or immigration. But if we supposedly live in a country with the separation of church and state, as liberals are constantly reminding us, then appeals to the Bible shouldn’t be fair game for them, right?
~Did you know that during thunderstorms, the lightning flashes displayed on the iPhone’s weather app make it look like your screen is cracked? It’s pretty scary stuff.
~I have a love-hate relationship with technology. Increasingly, however, I find myself feeling more-and-more like the Unabomber without the bombs.
~Can we talk about the Left’s first 100 days since Trump’s been president? Not much to show for is there?
~Kids today grow up faster, but mature slower than they used to.
~I have always had a special fondness for the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (see http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=471). In addition to this May 1st feast, Joseph also has March 19th (honoring him as Husband of Mary). We named our first born child, Joseph. But I think my love for this feast day comes from the dignity with which the Church views all honest work.