Sunday, December 20, 2009

OK, So Maybe It's Not All That Bad

My friend, Quin Hilyer, informs me that any bill coming out of conference committee could be filibustered in the Senate! So maybe hope will spring eternal!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why Ben Nelson Is a Liar: How to Sell Out the Unborn by Claiming to be Pro-Life

This morning, Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) announced that he was going to support the Senate Health Care reform bill. This bill, which no one outside of the Senate Democrat caucus has even seen, had been protested by Senator Nelson because it provided federal funding for abortion, something that has been prohibited because of the Hyde Amendment.

In his press conference, Senator Nelson announced that he could now support the bill because the pro-life position was being protect and that his state would receive a certain amount of Medicaid relief. So the Senator signs on to the bill because abortions will remain unfunded.

Well, not exactly.

The Senate version that will now pass in that chamber will almost certainly have provisions to prohibit abortion funding. After that, though, the fun really starts in Conference Committee.

When two bills are passed on a similar topic, one in the House and one in the Senate, the Constitution provides that they need to be reconciled into one bill by a Conference Committee of members of the House and Senate. These members come from the Committees that originated the legislation. The Conference Committee then produces a single piece of legislation that is voted on by a simple majority in each house without further amendment. The Conference Committee is not bound by any of the provisions in either of the two originating pieces of legislation and can add or subtract portions to the new bill.

Would it surprise anyone if a conference committee produced a bill that added back into it funding for abortions, along with a public option, along with death panels?

The bill would then go back to the House where it could be voted on without any further amendment. Then it's off to the Senate where Senator Nelson and others of his spineless ilk could bewail this new bill and vow that they could never vote for a bill that included such anti-life language. Then, he might just vote against it. By then it won't matter. All that will be needed is 51 votes in the U.S. Senate. Nelson can sputter and fume and vote against it, but the bill will pass with the readded abortion funding and be signed into law by the most pro-abort President in our history.

Now, do you really think that Senator Nelson is so naive that he lacks awareness of the procedures of Conference Committees and the powers that those committees have to change the bills? Do you really think that he is that ignorant, or is this posturing on his part to portray himself as a staunch pro-lifer to conservative Nebraskans in 2012 when he runs for reelection?

I'm betting on this: Senator Nelson is nothing othdr than a cynical politician who, while claiming to champion the right to life of the unborn, sells those very helpless little souls down the river for the filthy lucre of Washington largesse.

Great work, Senator. I hope that you can sleep tonight with an untroubled conscience.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yet Another Attack on the Family in the Offing

Mimi and I just returned from a magnificent vacation in Europe. We spent 10 days crusing the Mediterranean visiting Barcelona, Marseilles, Monte Carlo, Florence, Rome, Amalfi, Sicily, Malta, Santorini, and Athens. Our cruise on the Insignia of Oceania Cruises could not have been more enjoyable.

So, we're back!! And guess what? The world is pretty much just as we left it. Here's the latest political nominee who is outspoken in their radical desire to dismantle the traditional family.

This was just what I wanted to see after almost two weeks of rest and relaxation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We're All Out of our Freaking Minds Now!

Shortly after the election of President Obama, Newsweek published an issue with a red hand shaking a blue hand and the caption, "We're All Socialists Now." Newsweek has struck again, this time with an article entitled, "We're All Hindus Now." This article describes the slide in American religious thinking from Christian to something akin to Hindu. It's a sobering article and one that should be taken seriously by any serious Christian. No further comment is really necessary.

Here's the link:

Monday, August 3, 2009

More Reasons Why I Am an Anglican Catholic

Here are some YouTube videos on some of the bizarre liturgical adventures in the Roman Church. It should be noted that many of these same liturgical adventures can be found in most other churches as well. However, thank God, they are NOT in the Anglican Catholic Church!

Now here's one from the 2008 World Catholic Call to Action Conference. Catholic Call to Action was founded by liberals in the 1970's who were filled with hope that they could remake the church into a paragon of social justice. If there is a leftist cause, they have embraced it. This video (which I may have posted before) is from their closing Mass in 2008. To me, this is a perfect example of everything that can go wrong with a liturgy. Although it is tempting to only watch the video, listen to the words as well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two Great Articles on "Caritas in Veritate"

It is amazing to me that someone as brilliant as Pope Benedict XVI could produce an encyclical letter that was so incredibly uneven as Caritas in Veritate. This letter has managed to infuriate liberals and theological conservatives alike.

I finished the encyclical last night and found myself scratching my head at the inconsistencies, wondering if Benedict had relied more on a committee to construct this work than on his own thought.

I was going to write a piece on this and then found two great articles that summarize the problem quite well.

The first is by Catholic theologian George Weigel. Here's the link:

The second was sent to me by a parishioner. This is probably the most coherent critique of the encyclical and here is the link to it:

It strikes me as a great pity that Benedict, whose first two encyclicals on faith and hope were outstanding, would close out the triad with a dissapointing effort.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mesa Bravo: December 1, 1997 - July 10, 2009

Mesa Bravo, our "Big Boy", died peacefully this evening at home in Mimi's and my arms. He was 11 and a half years old.

Bravo was a grade A racer at three different tracks, Flagler, Derby Lane, and Jefferson County Kennel Club. He won 19 races and finished in the money over 60 times in his career.
He was retired in the fall of 2002 and brought to the Southeastern Greyhound Club Kennel in Acworth.

One Saturday, a friend of ours in the Greyhound Club told me that there was a fantastic boy greyhound at the kennel if I was interested. The next day, I drove up to Acworth after church to help out with kennel maintenance. I walked up to Bravo's run and was immediately face-to-face with a beautiful red/gold-brindle and white boy who weighed about 85 pounds and was tall enough to pet without stooping. I took him out to do his business while his kennel was cleaned and on returning I sat down in the big overstuffed chair. Bravo came up to me and put a paw by each hip and then buried his head in my chest. Bravo had found a home and I had found my "Big Boy."

His transition to the house had some amusing moments. He and Magic our first greyhound got into a territory marking contest that ended with a humiliated Magic wearing a diaper and Bravo in a belly-band.

Weeks after Bravo had acclimated to the house, I was lying in bed on a Saturday morning when Bravo jumped up and plopped down on the bed. He was soon asleep, with his eyes rolled back in his head and his breathing slow and steady. He had never been in a bed before. We stayed like this for about an hour and a half before I had to get up. A little while later, Mimi got in the bed and called to me, "Honey, did you spill a glass of water in the bed?" I had not. Bravo, however, had become so relaxed that he emptied his bladder all over Mimi's side of the bed. Greyhounds are not familiar with our creature comforts.

Mimi gave Bravo to me as my Christmas gift in 2002. Bravo was the most beautiful dog that I have ever seen. He was sweet, smart, and incredibly loyal, always willing to protect his family. In December of last year, Bravo was severely bitten by a pit-bull and his injury was made much worse because he spent most of his effort shielding me from the dog.

He developed bone cancer about two months ago, although it was finally diagnosed in early July. He remained reasonably comfortable to the end.

Mimi and I will shed many tears for Bravo, but the tears will be more than outweighed by the wonderful memories of this majestic, loyal, loving greyhound. We will see him in heaven.

The picture is of Bravo and daughter Melanie, taken when she was 12 and Bravo had just come into our home.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hi! Billy Mays here for...

Probably one of the best pitchmen in the business has died at age 50. The big guy in the blue shirt, with his dyed black hair and beard, and high-pitched voice would enter my living room on a regular basis, "Hi, Billy Mays here for Oxi-Clean!" Or any one of a number of products.

Billy's career in sales was made by being identifiable as your next door neighbor. Over the years he aged like the rest of us. His agent or his vanity could dye his hair, but nothing could hide the belly that protruded over his belt.

Whereas Ron Popeel always was an instant channel switcher for me, Billy Mays fascinated me. Whenever he was on selling something, my attention would be as riveted as a four-year-old watching SpongeBob Squarepants. When it was announced that he would co-hosting a reality-show called "Pitchmen", I was in seventh-heaven.

By the way, if you're trying to get stubborn wine stains out of altar linen, "Hi, Billy Mays here for Oxi-Clean." Just soak your linens in an Oxi-Clean solution for one-half hour and then wash them as normal. Your linens will look as fresh as they did when they came from Almy! Thanks Billy! I owe you one.

I don't know what Billy's faith was, but I'll bet that if he's in heaven, he's pitching angel-wing cleaner even as we speak.

William D. "Billy" Mays, Jr.

Here's a neat segment of Billy ordering breakfast at McDonald's:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Summertime Reading

I have a busy day ahead of me, but I want to post some links to articles to help you reflect on issues of our time.

First, George Neumayr shares some thoughts on the societal implications of the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller:

Second, here's an article that parodies the difficulty of hiding from mainstream media and ties to it an unusual theme from Orwell's 1984:

Finally, here's Ken Connor's article, "Religious Liberty Stops at the Schoolhouse Door" from

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday after Corpus Christi (Trinity I)

The Holy Gospel is written in the 16th Chapter of Saint Luke, beginning at the 19th Verse.

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

If you study the Bible, you will quickly see that the Sacred Scriptures are filled with stories of triumph. There’s the triumph of the people of Israel in their exodus from Egypt. There’s the story of the resettling of the Promised Land after the Babylonian exile. And who can forget the great victory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as he rose from the dead, conquering sin and death and promising eternal life to those who believe on His Name. Yes, from the beginning to the end, from the Alpha to the Omega, the Bible is filled with stories of victory over adversity.

However, there is a dark side to the Scriptures. There are stories of great tragedy in the pages of the Bible. Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, losing their innocence and their direct relationship with God. Later, Esau sells his birthright to his brother Jacob for what amounts to a bowl of vegetable soup. Samson is seduced by a woman, losing his special place with the Lord as a Nazirite, only redeeming himself after he has been taken captive and blinded. Strapped between two pillars, he summons all of his strength and brings down the building upon his enemies. Yes, in addition to triumph, there is tragedy in the pages of the Bible.

Today’s Gospel reading, the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus falls into the tragedy category, I’m afraid. As we will see, the Rich Man is condemned to an eternity of torment, punished for ever in Hell. Even worse, his request to father Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them of their impending fate is rebuffed, with the horrible words, “If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” How did this man of wealth, this man of power, find himself in this terrible, terrible judgment?

The fate of the Rich Man is even more stunning when you realize that this is a man who had it all. The Bible tells us that he dressed in purple cloth and fine linen. Purple cloth and fine linen? Purple is the color of royalty, the color of kings. Purple cloth was extraordinarily expensive in part because the ingredients required to make the dye were rare and costly, and in part because only a few skilled craftsmen could blend the ingredients in a way that would make the dye into a deep and rich violet. Linen was another fabric that was often reserved to Kings and princes. Linen was then, as now, a pure fabric, one that wore easily on the skin, and one that absorbed the sweat that naturally came about in the heat of the ancient near east. Purple cloth and fine linen was the stuff of kings and in choosing these clothes, the Rich Man was arrogantly proclaiming himself to be the equal to royalty. The purple and linen spoke to the Rich Man’s desire to be seen as subservient to no one, answerable to no one, accountable to no one.

Indeed, in his arrogance and conceit the Bible tells us that the Rich Man would feast sumptuously every day. Now think about that. What would you say about a man who would travel with an entourage into Atlanta to Buckhead to spend hundreds of dollars every night at Bones or Ruth’s Chris? Would you wonder about his judgment? Would you wonder about his sense of propriety? But this man wouldn’t go to Buckhead to feast. No, he would gorge himself daily in his own home. Then, dressed as befits a King, he would come and go from his estate, passing through the gate of his property on his way to and from the city, where he would go to be seen in all of his glory.

And there, laying at the Rich Man’s gate, was the beggar Lazarus. Now, when the Bible says “laying at the Rich Man’s gate,” it means, in our terms, laying across the Rich Man’s driveway. In other words, it was impossible for the Rich Man to enter or leave his property without seeing Lazarus, in fact, without having to step over Lazarus. The Bible goes even further and says that Lazarus was so destitute and ill, that the dogs would come and lick his sores. Now, we’ve talked before about the dogs, remember? They weren’t licking Lazarus’ sores out of pity. No, they were trying to keep the wounds open and the flesh soft, so that when Lazarus finally died, the dogs would be able to feast in a way that Lazarus never could. What does Saint Luke tell us that Lazarus wanted? Nothing more than the crumbs that fell from the the Rich Man’s table. Not a full meal, just the scraps, just the stuff that we scrape of our plates into our dog’s bowls.

Then, Saint Luke tells us, both Lazarus and Rich Man die. Lazarus goes to heaven and the Rich Man is consigned to eternal torment. Why was sent to Hell? The Bible doesn’t tell us the nature of the judgment directly, but from the text we can immediately see a couple of reasons. First, the Rich Man never placed himself in right relationship to God. He presumed that he was the master of his own destiny and he arrogantly claimed for himself an authority that belonged only to God. Second, and closely related to the first, the Rich Man failed to recognize his neighbor Lazarus who laid in his driveway desperately hoping for the scraps that were fed to the dogs. Remember another passage, this one from Saint Matthew about the final judgment of the righteous and the unrighteous? Our Lord said to those unrighteous who stood at his left hand:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

And so it was that the Rich Man went to his torment, and Lazarus to his reward. The Rich Man consigned to a dominion where he would be forced into submission to demons and where his voracious appetites could never be satisfied. And Lazarus, given a peace and fullness that he had never known in this life.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this awful story, it is certainly not a pleasant or popular one. The lesson is this: Like it or not, agree with it or not, all of us will someday have to give account for our lives before Almighty God. All of us will have to answer and be judged for our deeds. What will that judgment find? Will it find us so wrapped up in our own pride, filled with the unbridled narcissism of the Rich Man? Or will that judgment find us humble before God, not claiming salvation as a thing that is our right, but praying that God will grant us the crumbs of mercy that fall from His table? Will our attitude be that of the Rich Man, who expected everything as his due? Or will our attitude be one of grateful thanksgiving for the gift of salvation that comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ?

On this Sunday, as every Sunday, we have the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to God. We have the opportunity to “acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, by thought, word and deed, against the Divine Majesty of Almighty God.” And then, as Christians have done from time immemorial, we can approach the Altar to share in that Great Thanksgiving of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We can share in that heavenly banquet, where Christ feeds us with His Flesh and Blood. And in this Thanksgiving, in this Eucharist, we may be made whole and understand our place before God. In that Thanksgiving, we may see ourselves, not as the Rich Man arrogantly claiming his own freedom and living without regard to his neighbor. No, in this Thanksgiving, this Eucharist, let us pray that we may see ourselves as we truly are, sinners under the mercy of a loving God, sinners who have been forgiven and set free by the Body and Blood of their Risen Lord. So may it be now and always, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For It's One, Two, Three Strikes You're Out...

One of the marks of Christianity, especially the Catholic kind, is it's respect for the dead. Recognizing that the human body has the capacity to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit, Christians have an appreciation of the value of God's handiwork, honoring the remains of the deceased because, like the soul, the body will rise again at the Last Day, renewed through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

One of the marks of our secular society is its hideous tendency to view the human body as a commodity. To the secular world, the body is a commodity that can be easily disposed of at will, at least at the beginning of the life cycle. At the end of the life-cycle, the secular materialist has to struggle with the question of meaning that they have avoided throughout life. What does one do to memorialize the human body which is, essentially, only a collection of material that accidentally came together in this form? The emptiness of materialism is found in its lack of respect for the human body, a body that was created in the image and likeness of God, and which finds its redemption in the very real, very physical Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must pray for the triumph of the Spirit of God over the spirit of the Age. We must pray that all men will be enlightened by the grace of God and will see the body as the Temple it was designed to be.

See this interesting article by Michael Medved that provoked the above thoughts:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dan Brown's Angels & Demons: More than a Novel, It's a Way of Life!

Ross Douthat has published an interesting column in today's New York Times. His column, entitled "Dan Brown's America", discusses the works of the popular novelist and how they tie into Mr. Brown's attempt to put forward a world-view that severely critiques traditional religion while at the same time expresses an appreciation for an individualized expression of faith that is all-inclusive.

Mr. Douthat writes:

"In the Brownian worldview, all religions — even Roman Catholicism — have the potential to be wonderful, so long as we can get over the idea that any one of them might be particularly true. It’s a message perfectly tailored for 21st-century America, where the most important religious trend is neither swelling unbelief nor rising fundamentalism, but the emergence of a generalized 'religiousness' detached from the claims of any specific faith tradition.

"The polls that show more Americans abandoning organized religion don’t suggest a dramatic uptick in atheism: They reveal the growth of do-it-yourself spirituality, with traditional religion’s dogmas and moral requirements shorn away. The same trend is at work within organized faiths as well, where both liberal and conservative believers often encounter a God who’s too busy validating their particular version of the American Dream to raise a peep about, say, how much money they’re making or how many times they’ve been married.

"These are Dan Brown’s kind of readers. Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, he serves up a Jesus who’s a thoroughly modern sort of messiah — sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in the Galilean suburbs, and no delusions about his own divinity.

"But the success of this message — which also shows up in the work of Brown’s many thriller-writing imitators — can’t be separated from its dishonesty. The “secret” history of Christendom that unspools in “The Da Vinci Code” is false from start to finish. The lost gospels are real enough, but they neither confirm the portrait of Christ that Brown is peddling — they’re far, far weirder than that — nor provide a persuasive alternative to the New Testament account. The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — jealous, demanding, apocalyptic — may not be congenial to contemporary sensibilities, but he’s the only historically-plausible Jesus there is."

The problem with Mr. Brown's view of religion is that it strives mightily to develop a system in which the believer can achieve union with God by conforming himself to this world. While that might be desirable from a human perspective, it is antithetical to true life in Jesus Christ. Saint Paul said it well in Romans 12:2: "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Here's the link to the article:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Five Operas I'd Take to a Desert Island

I'm so tired of current events that I had to write something completely different.

Here's the question: Suppose you were to be stranded on a desert island. Further suppose that said desert island has electricity and a stereo system. What five opera recordings would you take with you? (If you don't like opera, you'll have to find your own island.)

Here are my five:

1. Puccini. La Boheme. Anna Moffo, Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Erich Leinsdorf conducting. Yes, it's old and has neither Pavarotti or Domingo, but it's still a beautiful performance and it was the first opera recording that I ever owned.

2. Wagner. The Ring of the Nibelungen. The Georg Solti recordings. Don't lecture me about the Ring being four operas, because it's really only one story and this is my favorite recording. The late Anna Russell said, "The Ring is the only grand opera that comes in the large, economy sized package."

3. Verdi. Rigoletto. Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherill Milnes, Richard Bonynge conducting. Verdi's finest opera sung magnificently.

4. Donizetti. L'Elisir d'Amore. Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Richard Bonynge conducting. Sutherland sounds a little old for Adina, but she has such a wonderful tone. Nemorino is the role that Pavarotti was born to sing.

5. Gounod. Faust. Mirella Freni, Placido Domingo, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Thomas Allen, Georges Pretre conducting. One of my favorite operas and this one is well casted, well played and well sung.

Oops. Just saw the news. I'm off to the island!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Magician's New Trick

The Magician announced his budget today. Fiscal responsibility is the Magician's new "abracadabra." When he pronounces "Fiscal responsibility," the United States federal budget proclaims a deficit of $1,750,000,000,000! What a trick!

The Magician says that he wants to help restore the economy. As any Harry Potter fan can tell you, this is backwards spell. The Magician doesn't want to restore the economy. He wants to destroy the economy and replace it with the one he wants. Cool slight of hand, no?

The Magician is announcing faith-based initiatives. But beware! The Magician wants to insert federal money into church programs and then, when the churches are on the federal dole, "Abracadabra," the Magician will tell them who they can hire, what they can teach, and who can receive the services of the church.

All hail the Magician! His deceptions are without end!

Here's the link to an article:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Watch the Magician

Anyone who has ever stood in awe of a magician understands that the key to a successful trick is to distract the audience's attention from what is really going on. This works with all sorts of illusions. Every now and then, a truly spectacular magician comes to the forefront and puts on a show to end all shows.

Christians, pay attention to the Magician, please. While we are debating about the "Stimulus bill" have you noticed the number of radical pro-aborts that the Magician is making appear in key positions in our government? Has anyone noticed that while the Magician has us looking to the Stimulus bill, portions of it would forbid the use of public land for any sectarian purpose (read church's renting school auditoriums on Sunday, etc.)? Has anyone noticed that the house will vote on a bill that would allow Americans to travel to Cuba (encouraging a terroristic, atheistic regime)? Did anyone notice that the Magician has said he's all for religion, but not a religion that divides? That he favors a religion that helps with the great social issues of the day?

Many Christians love the Magician and they wanted to see the Magician's show. What none of them realized is that the greatest trick that the Magician will try to pull off is a disappearing act for Christian faith as we have always understood it. Now you see it, now you don't.