Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times (Vol. 8, No. 94)
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
November 1, 2017
Feast of All Saints
~The NFL anthem protests remind me of a classmate who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in Ms. Karen Matoh’s 5th grade class at St. Mark’s elementary school back in 1974-1975. Unlike this student, these grown men should know better.
~After the terrorist attack in Calgary, PM Justin Trudeau issued a statement that was all too typical for him, full of the usual words and phrases Western leaders employ after these attacks: it is a “tragedy”; his “thoughts” [but not his prayers?] are with the victims; a “senseless act of violence”; an “example of…hate”; “violent extremism”; “Canada’s strength comes from our diversity”; and a “tragic event” (see https://www.spencerfernando.com/2017/10/01/read-trudeau-releases-statement-edmonton-terror-attack-says-canadas-strength-comes-diversity/). In brief, his statement was utterly predictable and empty. Radical Islam wasn’t mentioned once – even though the Islamic State flag was found in the perpetrator’s vehicle.
~The atheism of the “New Atheists” is really the same old atheism but only meaner and more aggressive.
~Hugh Hefner obviously played a large role in the Sexual Revolution (see this video of him talking with William F. Buckley on Firing Line: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/451936/hugh-hefner-talks-sex-morality-and-journalism-william-f-buckley-jr). While his death has provided the occasion to reflect on his pernicious legacy, it also reminds us how much further our culture has pushed the boundaries with respect to sex. Many have celebrated him in death as they did in life, but many have also rightly condemned him (e.g., see http://www.nationalreview.com/article/451955/hugh-hefner-playboy-legacy-despair and https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/opinion/hugh-hefner.html). It was disappointing, however, to find this milder critique written by a conservative (see http://thefederalist.com/2017/09/28/hugh-hefners-legacy-is-about-more-than-sex/#.Wc0UdQ73Ngo.twitter).
~Hefner’s “New Morality” (see the Firing Line interview above) is now quite old; in fact, it’s quite stale.
~Sometimes perfection seems more like imperfection.
~When the brother of the man who carried out the Las Vegas shooting massacre said he was not a member of any political or religious organizations (see https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=eric+paddock%2ceric+paddock&&view=detail&mid=99EDE77CB78134BF656899EDE77CB78134BF6568&&FORM=VDRVRV), and simply loved to gamble, I thought to myself: that a man with no beliefs is a man for whom nothing is sacred or sinful (See also https://townhall.com/columnists/patbuchanan/2017/10/06/the-dead-soul-of-stephen-paddock-n2391258).
~As I read a George F. Will column (see http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/will100717.php3) on Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan, with Will’s line about the “50th anniversary of the 1967 riots (43 killed, 342 injured)…” I couldn’t help but note that the Las Vegas shooter – all by himself – killed (the number is 59) and injured (the number is 527) more people in less than 15 minutes (see http://www.ajc.com/news/national/the-deadly-las-vegas-massacre-the-numbers-how-many-killed-injured-and-more/aFVWCLNOjBcjx0TUApdkKL/) than the Detroit riot (involving many thousands) did over 5 days (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Detroit_riot).
~In an article about a conference on Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia (and one favorable to it) held at Boston College (see https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/conference-revisits-amoris-laetitia), Thomas Reese, S.J., writes: “The critics [of AL] are a small minority in the church. In the past, they could complain to Rome, where they would get a sympathetic hearing. Now they are the dissidents out of step with the pope…Like other dissidents, they should be politely listened to and invited to dialogue, but they should not be allowed to determine the direction of the church.” Gee, it’s funny, but I don’t remember Fr. Reese saying the same thing about his favored liberal dissidents during the pre-Francis era.
~Speaking of Amoris, here’s a good interview with Father Thomas Crean, O.P., one of the first signers of the “Filial Correction” (see https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/amoris-laetitia-is-ambiguous-not-a-thomistic-document-filial-correction-sig). It’s particularly good on St. Thomas Aquinas’ moral teaching and how AL departs from it.
~“How should a Catholic respond to mass shootings? (See https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/how-should-a-catholic-respond-to-mass-shootings-73988). With guns? All joking aside, we of course need much prayer, more awareness of suspicious behavior, more mental health treatment, and probably more guns in the right hands and less guns in the wrong hands. Of course, identifying the latter category of persons is the tough part.
~“Trump Administration Says Nuns Don’t Have to Buy Birth Control” (see https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/05/31/trump-administration-reversing-obamacares-birth-control-mandate/102346078/. Well, hallelujah! It’s about time this offense to religious liberty was done away with. The whole mandate was a complete waste of time and money.
~Cardinal Blasé Cupich and other Catholic liberals are all about “dialogue” (e.g., see https://www.chicagocatholic.com/chicagoland/-/article/2017/10/03/dialogue-is-integral-to-the-church-cardinal-cupich-says). They are members of the “Phil Donahue School of Theology,” where you “dialogue to death” every issue until your opponent gives in from sheer exhaustion.
~The expression “thoughts and prayers” – usually offered on behalf of victims of some tragedy or another – has recently come under fierce criticism when offered for victims of gun violence (as we saw after Las Vegas). Gun control supporters post their scorn (especially at politicians) on social media: “Forget your prayers and do something, like pass stricter gun laws!” Well, actually, for most of us, praying is the most (and often the only) effective action we can take.
~“Pope Francis: Death penalty is contrary to the Gospel” (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-death-penalty-is-contrary-to-the-gospel-81181; see also https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/popes-death-penalty-views-might-mean-a-new-approach-28512 and E. Christian Brugger’s two-part article in support of the Pope’s position: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2017/10/20341/ and http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2017/10/20344/). Both Francis and the philosopher Feser (in his co-authored book, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment), have stirred the pot on the matter of the moral liceity of the death penalty, with Ed Feser defending its moral goodness. This papacy is not the best one to be carrying out this discussion, in my opinion.
~“What life is like now for formerly conjoined twin sisters after separation surgery” (see http://abcnews.go.com/Health/life-now-conjoined-twin-sisters-separation-surgery/story?id=50085696). After you read these sorts of accounts, you see that operations like this one are among the reasons you can be grateful for modern medicine.
~I have watched about a third of Ken Burns’ fascinating PBS documentary, The Vietnam War. Vietnam vet, Bing West has written a powerful critical review of it (see http://www.hoover.org/research/vietnam-war-documentary-doom-and-despair; see also these fine reviews: http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-bad-war/article/2010065 and http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/30521-Review-Of-Ken-Burns-Vietnam-PBS-Series.html). I must say that I agree with those reviewers who are critical of it, despite its incredible emotional power. In its telling, the anti-war movement is the hero.
~Fr. Andrew Pinsent, a priest-scientist, in a short essay, asks: “Fatima at 100: Can a scientist take the Miracle of the Sun seriously?” (See http://catholicherald.co.uk/issues/may-12th-2017/fatima-at-100-can-a-scientist-take-the-miracle-of-the-sun-seriously/). He answers emphatically, yes: “A scientific perspective does not rule out miracles. We must remain open to exploring the unexplained.” This is particularly important wisdom here from someone with his feet in the worlds of both science and religion. Of course, the “unexplained” does have an explanation of sorts: God.
~One of the fascinating things about Academia.edu is how it informs you when someone has downloaded one of your papers and tells you from what city and country he/she is from. In the last month alone, I have had people from Karachi, Pakistan; Staten Island, NY; Denver, CO; and St. Paul, MN, among other places view papers of mine.
~The poet Richard Wilbur has died at age 96 (see https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/obituaries/richard-wilbur-poet-laureate-and-pulitzer-winner-dies-at-96.html). I didn’t know that Wilbur was still living. Alas, he has passed away now and with his death it seems all of the great poets are now finally gone.
~The very word Fall (as in the season) reminds me of loss, i.e., of the original Fall.
~A story by reporter David Wright on ABC News, “Vietnam vet receives nation’s highest honor” (see http://abcnews.go.com/us), does not mention Pres. Trump’s name once in the story. How do you do a story on a Medal of Honor recipient and not say the president’s name even once?
~Is Humane vitae’s teaching in jeopardy? (See http://m.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/gregorian-university-hosts-series-of-talks-to-take-new-look-at-humanae#.WeuhHGhSxph). Well, maybe not HV’s central moral norm, but it could very well be “contextualized” and “nuanced” pastorally to the point where its moral norm is all but rendered null.
~Food labels were a way to inform consumers, but now they often simply confuse.
~“Chicken breast,” it would seem, is a form of sexual harassment, no? I suggest we use a more gender-neutral term such as “chicken chest.”
~Speaking of sex, have you seen the recent TV commercial for Bank of America (#FriendsAgain: Tickets to The Wrestling Match) [See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2bX3ZBpIkQ], where the two brothers joke about masturbation? (They don’t actually mention the word, but that’s sure as heck what their talking about). Here’s how BofA describe it on their webpage: “When one man discovers his brother’s box of memorabilia from their childhood, he realizes his brother has yet to pay him back for a wrestling ticket. Still miffed about the debt, the man threatens to read an embarrassing diary entry out loud if his brother doesn’t pay up. Bank of America encourages people to settle up and be friends again by sending money with the Bank of America Mobile Banking App.” Right…And you couldn’t have used some other embarrassing moment to get that point across?
~All of this “cultural appropriation” stuff is getting ridiculous. Wouldn’t it be “cultural appropriation” then for a white man (or woman) to date a black woman? Enough already!
~Halloween is a good time to talk about the soul. And that’s exactly what Bruce Buff & Robert Spitzer, S.J. do in this article (see http://amp.nationalreview.com/article/453188/halloween-souls-make-humans-exceptional).
~ A new biography of the American poet, Robert Lowell (1917—1977), a Catholic who struggled with bipolar disorder throughout his life, has appeared. And from the review I read (see https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/10/25/poet-robert-lowells-graced-damaged-life), it’s very much worth a read.
~A June 30, 2017 essay in Vogue, “The Lighter Side of Sylvia Plath” (see https://www.vogue.com/article/sylvia-plath-national-portrait-gallery-one-life/amp), speaks of how the poet, who committed suicide in 1963, had a “fun” or “lighter side.” Who knew?
~The Thomas International Center has a wonderful interview with political scientist Hadley Arkes (see http://ticenter.tv/video/hadley-p-arkes/). Arkes, a convert from Judaism, is not only brilliant, but he’s funny and a great story-teller…And a true pro-life hero.
~The Catholic Church’s teaching on sex is this: No sex before marriage, no sex outside of marriage, and no sex after marriage (okay, that last part is a joke).
~In an article titled, “8 Unspoken Ways Life Is Different For Men And Women, According To Science” (see http://www.healthyway.com/content/unspoken-ways-life-is-different-for-men-and-women-according-to-science), we read that women need, on average, 20 minutes more sleep each night than men…Probably from having to put up with us men during the day.
~Happy All Saints Day!