Charlie's Blog: February 2016

2.28.2016

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 5


Do not enjoy yourself. Enjoy dances and theaters and joy-rides and champagne and oysters; enjoy jazz and cocktails and night-clubs if you can enjoy nothing better; enjoy bigamy and burglary and any crime in the calendar, in preference to the other alternative; but never learn to enjoy yourself.
G.K. CHESTERTON


Delaware North has to be one of the most evil and greedy companies to ever exist. Why do I make this bold pronouncement? This capitalist cancer has been so greedy as to trademark the names of iconic places in Yosemite National Park including the name of the park itself. It would be like a babysitter sitting your kid only to find out later that you have to change the kid's name because that sitter trademarked the kid's name. More here. Needless to say, there ought to be a law against this kind of thing. But the bigger point I want to make is this a perfect example of business and the free market divorced from human decency, values, and common sense. Free market fundamentalists need to take note.

2. CHRISTIE AND TRUMP

The Chris Christie endorsement of Donald Trump will be remembered as an awesome thing especially if Christie becomes Trump's running mate. Those two would be a double barreled shotgun blast to the Washington establishment. Is this an endorsement from me? Heck no. But I can see a Trump-Christie ticket happening.

It must also be noted that Christie really hates Marco Rubio. Rubio is a political darling which Christie has never been. The NYT reported a voice message from Rubio to Christie and talk of Christie's "future." Needless to say, Christie was highly ticked off with that. This pretty much sealed the deal for the Trump endorsement. That phone call will be remembered as one of Rubio's worst mistakes.

As for the rest of the GOP, they are desperate to squash Trump which can only result in him running third party if they are successful. This would mean a Clinton presidency. I suspect the GOP establishment would rather have Clinton instead of Trump. I am resigned to the inevitability of a Clinton presidency.

3. ODDS AND ENDS

--Those virtual reality headsets for the smartphones are ridiculous.

--I have failed to beat my Twitter addiction. You can't be a writer or a journalist and not be on Twitter.

--Obama didn't make it to Scalia's funeral because he could not have refrained from smiling the whole time. Evil man.

--I have never finished reading Lord of the Rings. I have started many times, but it is not a light read. Heavy books are best read in small daily doses over time.

--Trump University took money from people and gave them a lousy education in return. How is this different from every school in operation today?

--My home is divided between Trump and Cruz sort of like those Duck Dynasty guys.

--Trump must be an idiot if he thinks abortion is a small part of Planned Parenthood's business. A primary reason why he did not get my vote.

--Ignore your blue collar and middle class voters, and you will get Trumped. Doubt this lesson will be learned.

4. LINKS OF INTEREST





2.21.2016

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 4


I love sleep. I need sleep. We all do, of course. There are those people that don't need sleep. I think they're called "successful.”
JIM GAFFIGAN

1. SCALIA

News of the death of Justice Scalia was a real blow. It could not have come at a worse time. Naturally, Obama skipped Scalia's funeral. I believe that Obama will select a nominee who is the mirror opposite of Scalia. The GOP controlled Senate will roll over and approve that nominee. As for Roe v. Wade, it will remain in place for at least another 40+ years. You will not see an end to legal abortion in your lifetime.

Bear in mind that brains and learning, like muscle and physical skill, are articles of commerce. They are bought and sold. You can hire them by the year or by the hour. The only thing in the world not for sale is character.--ANTONIN SCALIA

2. SOUTH CAROLINA GOP PRIMARY

I voted for Ted Cruz. He is the closest thing to a true conservative that the GOP has running. But the Trump juggernaut keeps rolling. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush finally succumbed to reality and dropped out. Jeb never wanted to be president, and I feel bad for him because he let a lot of stupid people talk him into running. That was a real shame.

I believe Hillary Clinton will be the next POTUS. Bernie Sanders will rough her up a bit, but the Democrats want a lying bitch over an honest socialist. She will be the nominee barring a grand jury indictment and a perp walk. On the GOP side, Trump will continue to do his damage resulting in a loss for him or a brokered convention. Trump is a sore loser. so he will run third party which will shave off the 30% of GOP voters who like him. This will give it to Hillary in much the same way that Ross Perot gave it to Bill Clinton in the nineties.

Predictions like this are almost certain to be wrong since I would have predicted a Bush ticket this time a year ago. Things have a weird way of turning out. So, why make predictions? The answer is simple. It is defensive pessimism. I imagine the worst thing that can happen and predict it happening. The worst thing that could happen to this country would be to have Hillary Clinton become president. I hope I am wrong on this prediction.

3. iPHONE

The FBI wants Apple to hack an old iPhone, and Apple says no for the sake of privacy. A new one with a fingerprint scanner is easy because it can be opened with a cold dead hand. But those passcode locked phones are like Fort Knox. Should Apple cave in?

Apple is right about one thing. Once this iPhone gets hacked, they all get hacked. The stupidity of the government is that it doesn't realize that its own phones can be hacked with the same trick, and a foreign government like China is certain to do it. Basically, the USA wants Apple to open Pandora's Box. It reminds me of that EPA idiot from Ghostbusters who ended up unleashing hell on New York City when he made the guys shut down their "illegal" grid. The government should take John McAfee's offer to hack the phone for them. Otherwise, the iPhone will be rendered worthless to everyone including the US government.

4. POPE FRANCIS

There isn't day that goes by that Pope Francis doesn't utter something that scandalizes the faithful. it gets tiring, and I no longer defend him or his off the cuff pronouncements. I think this papacy is a train wreck.

I have learned two things from this pontificate so far. The first is to be a good example, and Pope Francis has shown remarkable wisdom in his small acts. What you do matters more than what you say. Conversely, Pope Francis has shown remarkable stupidity in his words. Sometimes, the wisest thing to say is nothing. The papal press conference on an airplane is virtually certain to be a near occasion for scandal, and Francis does not disappoint. If I was a papal advisor, my advice would be to just shut up.

5. CELEBRITY NARCISSISM

Francis seems to have tapped into the wider phenomenon of celebrity narcissism. Trump has the same issue. Then, there is Kanye West who has let his ego grow beyond the bounds of sanity. The ultimate outrage is Kanye asking people to donate to his personal debt relief fund. Whatever happened to humility?

Pride goeth before the fall, or so we have been told all of our lives. Fools reach their zenith of stupidity with their arrogance. Anyone can make a mistake, but it takes a special kind of foolishness to see that even your mistakes are things to boast about.

6. ODDS AND ENDS

--I said Rubio would not survive SC. I was wrong. Most predictions are wrong. It is best to not make predictions.

--Between candy and beer, I miss the beer the most during Lent. This is because fruit is as good as candy for a sweet tooth.

--Ben Carson should drop out. Kasich may hold on for Super Tuesday.

--I am still Twitterfree. The thing I miss most is the ability to share things I read. Sharing is caring. Maybe I need to realize most people don't care.

--Economics matters more than social issues to voters in this election. It is still the economy, stupid.

7. LINKS OF INTEREST








2.15.2016

Communication Breakdown


Let me explain something about guitar playing. Everyone's got their own character, and that's the thing that's amazed me about guitar playing since the day I first picked it up. Everyone's approach to what can come out of six strings is different from another person, but it's all valid.
JIMMY PAGE

I don't know where Jimmy Page rates in the pantheon of guitar gods. He is below Hendrix and Clapton but above Townshend. Of course, the Page quote above shows the absurdity of such rankings. Page was unique and highly musical. He blended blues, rock, country, folk, and eastern music into a stew that is uniquely his own. Then, there is that bow string he put to the guitar creating sounds unheard. What is the point? You don't have to be the best to make something valid. This is not to champion mediocrity but to show that everyone has something important to contribute. Status and talent take a backseat to the music which is what matters.

I take heart in this attitude of Page. I do not play guitar, but I do write. I am no Shakespeare, but I do write what I like. I am a big believer in the DIY ethic, and I think the reason more people don't do more things is because they fear rejection and failure. But it is OK to fail so long as you fail uniquely. Comparison is the enemy of courage, and people think they have to beat someone to be someone. I don't see it that way. You don't have to beat anyone. You just have to be yourself.

Antonin Scalia died, and I know that all the liberals and progressives are gloating because it happened under Obama who will certainly nominate a Marxist babykilling feminazi living Constitution type to the court. The GOP Senate will roll over on the nomination because Republicans are pretty much worthless today. If they weren't, Donald Trump wouldn't be riding so high in the polls. And it won't matter if they did block it because I am coming around to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. Yes, I am practicing defensive pessimism here. Why? Because one of the worst things has already happened which is the most conservative and best justice on the SCOTUS dying under the administration of the worst president in my living memory.

Abortion will be legal for at least 40 more years in this country. Gay polygamous marriage is the next frontier in the assault on holy matrimony. The Fed will go to negative interest rates and pay you to borrow money from them. Islamophobia will become a crime in this country punishable by hefty fines and prison. Meanwhile, Muslims will have free rein to rape our women and kill us. Say, it can't happen? They already fine the hell out of people for being "transphobic" and "homophobic." This country will find new levels of depravity and lunacy.

I weep for this country. It is in the toilet, and now, it needs someone to push the handle and flush us out of our misery. Meanwhile, we have a Pope who goes around the world lecturing governments and societies about fighting corruption while the Roman Catholic Church struggles to pay for the damage from the sex abuse crisis and tolerates a Vatican Bank that launders drug money. The Church is prepping to apologize to Lutherans and admit them to communion on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Revolution. Somehow, what really matters is that we drive smaller cars like the Fiat, so at least the planet will survive our species. I weep for the Church of Rome.

A lot of things bother me these days. Maybe they shouldn't, but they do. A wise person said, "What you cannot cure, you must endure." I cannot cure the world, so I endure it. I think it also helps to have multiple projects, so you can get a morale boost from small victories. You may not be able to change the world, but you can build that bookshelf for the study.

This small victory thing is part of what I call "blue collar bliss." It is when you experience flow and satisfaction from the most practical of projects. It usually happens in some project or trade where you get your hands dirty. You don't have to be blue collar to experience it. The woodworker in his shop derives every bit of the same satisfaction that Jony Ive derives from designing the new iPhone. In fact, the woodworker probably experiences more because it might be a year before Ive sees the finished product of his labor.

My brain is tapped out. I am only one cup of coffee into my day. Ten more to go! Actually, I am kidding on that. I try to keep it to seven. When your hand jitters so much that the coffee doesn't stay in the cup, that is a good time to tap the brakes on your caffeine consumption.

2.13.2016

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 3


I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
GROUCHO MARX

1. FOOTBALL

Football is a great game to watch, but it is not a great game to play unless it is flag football. Injuries that would sideline an athlete in another sport are endured on the field week after week by players who don't play a sport so much as suffer massive abuse to their bodies. I'm not in support of a ban, but I definitely don't think parents should encourage their kids to play this sport. Football is like being in a car wreck each week. Play basketball or baseball instead.

2. TWITTER QUITTER

Rumors flew about Twitter changing to an algorithm for its timeline to make it Facebook Lite. Naturally, this resulted in a firestorm under the hashtag #RIPTwitter. Now, why would Twitter risk alienating its hardcore users with this move? That should be obvious. Twitter has yet to make one red cent from those users. It doesn't matter what they want if the company is going to go bankrupt. Meanwhile, Facebook makes money. Naturally, Twitter wants to become Facebook. The problem is that if Twitter users wanted Facebook, they would be on Facebook. What can I say? #RIPTwitter. This problem has no solution.

Readers of this blog know that I am a Twitter addict. Twitter replaced my Facebook addiction the same way some smokers start dipping smokeless tobacco which is probably worse. But at the least, you can dip indoors without anyone losing their minds. Similarly, Twitter allowed me to broadcast myself into a world that doesn't care. Anyway, the Twitterpocalypse has made me try once more to become a Twitter Quitter. Social media is the crack of the internet. JUST SAY NO!

3. CLASSICAL

When I listen to music these days, I am constantly disappointed. For instance, someone will publish a YouTube video of some song they heard and gish on about it. Intrigued, I hit PLAY and become underwhelmed at the banality if not downright awfulness of the tune. Most of the music is either derivative sounding like they are trying to be Simon & Garfunkel or innovative by sounding like noise in a machine shop. It doesn't matter if it is pop, rock, country, or hip hop. It is 95% bad with brief flickering moments of goodness.

When I turn to the world of classical, opera, and the original folk music of the world, I am always surprised and satisfied. Why is this? And when I listen to jazz, it is pretty good or just plain bad. Jazz seems to straddle the chasm between classical and pop. It demands a theory.

My theory is that the old music of Bach and Beethoven is the superior music. The reason jazz and early rock was decent was because it was informed by that music. Now, that we are late in the game. Today's artists are far removed from that classical world. Where McCartney and Lennon listened to Chopin, today's artists merely listen to McCartney and Lennon. It's like the copy of a bad Xerox.

I'm tired of bad music. Life is too short to listen to this crap.

4. NEW HAMPSHIRE

Donald Trump is better at winning than he is at losing. Iowa gave him humility. As for the hit job on Rubio from Christie, that was a murder-suicide. I am glad that the GOP ranks are thinning. i am hoping SC will convince Rubio to pack it in as well as Jeb Bush. I think Carson is running for VP or something. As it stands, I see the race as Trump vs. Cruz. Establishment Republicans are not going to win this one.

On the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders can celebrate his victory, but I don't think he will win another state except Vermont. The only thing I like about Sanders is that he brings attention to Wall Street shenanigans, but his socialism is idiotic. I love free stuff except that I know nothing is really free in life. Maggie Thatcher got it right when she said that socialism is great until you run out of other people's money. As for Hillary Clinton, she will pay lip service to that socialism, but the only government check she is interested in is the one she will get as POTUS. Both candidates would be a disaster for this country.


So, this company that has been making a considerable profit decides that what they are making now just isn't enough. So, they decide to stick it to their American workers by moving to Mexico. My only surprise is that those angry workers didn't lynch the guy giving the announcement.

Where do I begin? The move would be understandable if the company was losing money, but they aren't. We could say something about unions, but it is obvious the union had not hurt this company. We could say something about trade imbalances, tariffs, or what have you as if mercantilism is the answer to our woes. But none of that matters. The problem isn't unions, trade policy, or the business environment in the USA. The problem is that working class people have been tricked into thinking that a factory job or any job with any corporation is a good thing.

People can mutter about some non-existent social contract between companies and workers where if the worker does right by the company then the company will do right by them. But this is ridiculous. It is the inherent nature of all corporations to exploit everyone and everything for the sake of profit, and there is never enough profit. Granted, this unbridled greed will lead to the demise of these shortsighted outfits, but it doesn't change their inherent nature. Corporations are economic cancer.

Workers need to look to becoming self-sufficient once again. The promise that a good job with good wages was always an empty promise. The smart worker must always realize that there is zero security with a company. Companies are evil. They were founded upon a lie and all the labor laws and all the unions have done nothing to change the fundamental nature of companies except to bolster the lie. In the end, it just makes the bitter pill of truth that much more bitter.

6. SUE KLEBOLD

The mother of Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold came forward to reveal what I have always suspected during her 16 year silence. Dylan Klebold had good parents and a moral upbringing. Shocker, I know. It seems almost humorous to watch the left wing media try to explain evil as the product of root causes, economic injustice, and on and on. But these fools merely listen to the excuses that evildoers make for being evil. The reality is that there is no excuse for evil. Dylan Klebold never had an excuse for doing what he did. None of his victims deserved to be killed.

People want to blame someone like Sue Klebold as if she had done something wrong to have her son turned into a murderer. But this denies that even crappy parents don't teach their kids to do evil, and Sue Klebold was not a crappy parent. Her tragedy could be any parent's tragedy. This is because people have free will, and some people use their free will to choose evil instead of good.

Sue Klebold suffers because the person the public wants to punish killed himself in the mayhem he created. Dylan Klebold escaped the justice of man, but no one escapes the justice of God. If anything beyond Dylan Klebold can be blamed with Klebold, it would be the nihilistic worldview espoused in the culture that teaches that God does not exist, and the only moral law is to do whatever you wish. 

As for Sue Klebold, we need to give that woman a break. The only thing she could have done to prevent that tragedy would have been to blow her son's brains out before he went to school that morning. Only in hindsight does such a ridiculous notion seem reasonable.


Donald Trump read this poem at a rally. It is basically about the Muslims migrating into Europe causing mayhem and turning that continent into hell. I think it is awesome, so I post it here.

On her way to work one morning, down the path along side the lake.
A tender-hearted woman saw a poor, half-frozen snake.
His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew.
"Oh well," she cried, "I'll take you in and I'll take care of you."
"Take me in, oh tender woman.
Take me in, for heaven's sake.
Take me in, oh tender woman," sighed the vicious snake.

She wrapped him all cozy in a curvature of silk.
And then laid him by her fireside with some honey and some milk.
Now she hurried home from work that night and soon as she arrived,
She found that pretty snake she'd taken in and revived.
"Take me in, oh tender woman.
Take me in, for heaven's sake.
Take me in, oh tender woman," sighed the vicious snake.

Now she clutched him to her bosom.
"You're so beautiful," she cried.
"But if I hadn't brought you in by now you would have died."
She stroked his pretty skin again and then she kissed and held him tight.
Instead of saying, "thank you," that snake gave her a vicious bite.

"I saved you," cried that woman
"And you've bit me even, why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm going to die"
"Oh shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin
"You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."

This is another version of the classic tale of the frog and the scorpion. The reality is that Muslims are snakes, and you should never trust a Muslim. Islam is not a race. It is a religion, and it teaches murder and rape as being good things. You can't be a good Muslim anymore than you can be a good Nazi, a good rapist, or a good murderer.

As for Trump, he is not my first choice for President, but he is definitely my second. We will see if he becomes my first in November.

8. RECESSION

Are we in a recession? Your answer to that question depends on which numbers you believe. The permabears believe we are in a recession. The Fed and the permabulls believe otherwise. What I do know is that the Fed and the optimists have a track record of being full of crap. But if being optimistic makes Yellen keep raising those interest rates, I am for it. Bubbles need to bust.

9. ODDS AND ENDS

--Transformers 6? A sixth reason to not watch movies.

--Rubio won't survive SC. The state will eat him alive. Prepare to be vetted, bloodied, dirtied, and shamed.

--The easiest way to end Muslim immigration is to turn off the welfare spigot in Europe.

--Kasich may become the establishment candidate with Rubio and Bush out. Nobody wants an establishment candidate. They want change.

--Fox News has to be right wing to make up for the left wing slant of Fox Television.

--Black voters stick with Clinton because to vote for someone else would require them to think independently which isn't allowed in our democracy unless you're white.

--Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. When Obama leaves office, even the Democrats will vote to repeal and replace.

--It is hard to lecture the world about its evils when the world has already pointed out your evils which are considerable. Clean up your own house. Be holy.

--Lent always increases my cravings for candy and beer.

--There is no such thing as efficient government. The only government Bernie Sanders would cut would be law enforcement and defense.

--Not voting for Clinton will probably keep you out of Hell. Voting for Clinton will send us all to Hell. VOTE REPUBLICAN.

--You can't get arrested for rape in Sweden unless you are Julian Assange.

2.10.2016

A Life of Contrition and Penance


Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight. . .
PSALM 51:4

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the beginning of Lent which is the pentiential season leading up to Easter. The ashes smeared on the foreheads of believers are acts of contrition and penance. If one thing strikes me hard this time around, it is the acknowledgement that I should always be contrite and pentitent and not just during Lent.

I am a sinner. I will be one until the day I die. I pray every day that when my death comes that it finds me in a state of grace. The one thing I keep in my mind is that there is a Hell, and I deserve to go there. And unlike certain presumptuous Protestants, I know that I can still go to Hell. There is no "once saved, always saved" in Roman Catholicism.

If I can sum up the Catholic experience, it would be like this. It is a perpetual life of contrition and penance. From prayers to acts of mercy to the examination of conscience to the confessional, the life of a Catholic Christian is lived in such a way to make up and make reparation for the many offenses against our Lord. Contrition is simply owning your sins. Penance is simply trying to live in such a way to show that you are sorry for those sins.

God is merciful and forgiving. But His forgiveness is not cheap. Salvation is not merely being let off the hook. It is to make satisfaction for sin and to also be rescued from sin. This comes from the gift of God's grace. The evangelical Protestant asks, "Are you saved?" My only answer is to say, "Not yet." I hope to be saved. Salvation is a process and not a single act.

I have hope that God will finish the work He has begun in me. He is my only hope because I know what I am without God. May God forgive me for all that I have done.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

2.09.2016

The Mystery of Evil


Jesus wept.
JOHN 11:35 NASB

What makes a person become an atheist? The atheist may offer various arguments from science and philosophy, and they can all be answered. When you finally clear away these arguments, you will see a bit of emotion come into the conversation, and the atheist will lay out it to you. How can a benevolent and omnipotent God allow all this human evil and suffering? At this point in the conversation, the Christian falls silent. The Christian cannot give an answer because there is no answer. Neither the Bible nor the Church can provide a satisfactory answer for this dilemma. The atheist is left with the options of denying God's benevolence or His omnipotence but opts instead for the least offensive conclusion. God simply doesn't exist. Evil and suffering exist because the universe is indifferent, and things just happen. All things happen by chance, and the random event of your existence will end with some other random event like an airplane crash or ebola.

The story of Lazarus in the Bible is the New Testament response to the problem of evil and suffering. In the Old Testament, you look to the Book of Job, but the New Testament gives us Lazarus. The gist of the story is like this. Jesus loved Lazarus very much, but he let Lazarus die of an illness that He could have cured. When He arrives at the tomb of Lazarus, Lazarus had been dead for many days. Now, Jesus allowed this event to transpire to instill greater faith in those who would be there. The purpose of all miracles is to give faith and assurance to the faithful. It is to help them carry on. So, the evil of the death of Lazarus was permitted, so that this greater thing could happen. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus breaks down in emotion. He weeps for His friend and all those who loved him. Then, He raises Lazarus from the dead.


The story matters because it tells us definitively that God is both omnipotent and benevolent. Jesus can raise people from the dead, and He does care that people die. But even this miracle is small comfort when we consider that Lazarus would return to that tomb again. In the whole scheme of things, this miracle is just a band-aid. The ultimate resurrection at the end of time is when the cure comes. In the meantime, we endure and persevere.

Jesus would go on to do something even more extraordinary. He would suffer the same fate as Lazarus and raise Himself from the dead. The Lazarus event served as a precursor to that ultimate tragedy and miracle. Still, the disciples lost faith. They ran hoping to escape the fate that they would all embrace heartily in the future.

The challenge of evil and suffering is to retain faith when the temptation is to despair. I am someone who gave into that temptation in my life. I believed in God, and I lost my faith when I found the body of my friend who had committed suicide. I had been studying to become a Presbyterian minister when that tragic event blindsided me leaving me stunned and bewildered. I withdrew from seminary and those plans to become a clergyman. I couldn't believe anymore in a God who would allow such a thing to happen. In hindsight, I can see more clearly now that God was sparing me from the awful fate of being a Calvinist heretic. Had that event not happened, I would not be a Roman Catholic today. But my journey took me through a dark valley of atheism.


I wasn't like the other atheists who spend endless hours debating God's existence on internet messageboards and comboxes. This was because I was more atheist than they were. These atheists struggle with the knowledge that they are wrong, so they try so hard not to convince others but to convince themselves. I would laugh at them because I knew things they did not. I had tasted the horror. I had looked into the abyss. I was utterly faithless. Believing in God hurt so bad that atheism was relief from the agony and pain of trying to have faith in a God who had let me down. If God existed, He was the God of stillborn children, the Holocaust, and bodies mangled in various ways from war and disaster. God was the God of dead roommates who killed themselves because they could no longer stomach the awfulness of existence.

Most atheists are hot atheists. They are passionate about their atheism because they have their doubts about their atheism. But I was a cold atheist. I was an atheist without doubt. God did not exist, and my one comfort in life was that when things become too bad I could escape into non-existence. I hung by a fingernail over an abyss of nihilism, and I look back knowing that I was very close to falling into Hell. To this day, I can dip into that agony at will and bring back those dark emotions and the despair I felt. None of it is gone. I suspect that God allows us to suffer. so that we will have these dark gifts. In much the same way that Jesus could show the wounds of His crucifixion in His body, we carry these wounds in our soul. I do not understand this mystery. What I do understand is that I am in a better place today as a consequence of my suffering than I was in my twenties before any of those tragic events had ever happened to me. I have no desire to return to my days of naivet√© when I knew everything. I am grateful for the suffering that I endured. What I have now is worth more than all that I lost.

My suffering has not ended. To live is to suffer. But I have faith now. What made me regain faith when I had lost it? Part of it was learning new things denied to me as an ignorant Protestant. But realizing that the Catholic Church was the right church was a moot point to an atheist who did not believe in God. I simply did not believe. I remember sitting in a chair and contemplating all that I had learned and seeing where I had been in error. I could not believe in any of it. But I wanted to believe, and it was at that moment the scales fell from my eyes. The lights came back on. I became alive again. I was Lazarus stumbling out of that tomb.

My argument with atheists is a simple one. I don't debate whether it is true or not. I believe it is true, but this misses the point. Faith is not an issue of having the correct facts. So, the question I ask is the same one I asked myself. Do you want it to be true? That really cuts to the heart of it. Would you want God to be real? For me, I always wanted God to be real, but the brute facts of life made this impossible. For most atheists, the answer is that they don't want God to be real at all. It is one thing to curse the sun. It is another thing to gouge out one's eyes because the light from that sun is so bright.


My story now begs an argument. Haven't you simply stepped back into the world of illusions? Aren't you the one who has deliberately blinded himself to the realities of this awful life? If I had become a Protestant again, the answer to that question would be yes. But I didn't. I know ignorance, and I know horror. And being Catholic causes me more suffering in this life instead of less. If it is an illusion, it is not a comfortable illusion. It is a painful one. I am well acquainted with suffering. I see evil on a daily basis. I wonder why God allows abortion in this country when the faithful have prayed for four decades for it to stop. I see children born with microcephaly and wonder how God can allow such tragedy. I see my brothers and sisters in the faith raped and beheaded by ISIS and wonder when justice will come.

I have no answer to the problem of evil. I am with Flannery O'Connor when she said that evil is not a problem to be solved so much as a mystery to be endured. I have faith, and I endure this mystery. I know that there is a Resurrection and a Judgment Day. There is a Heaven, and there is a Hell. It will all work out in the end. Only one question remains. Will all that we have suffered and endured be worth it in the end? As somone who has already suffered, I can say that it will be. Whatever is lost in this life will be worth what we are to gain in the next life.

2.07.2016

Burnt Fingers


I reflected on other victims I had met and how they were raped right on the altars of their own churches. Some of them were altar boys, and they were abused before or after mass. An altar boy walked right in front of us as we sat there. I began to shake, sweat, and become very uneasy. I felt frozen in my seat.
CHARLES L. BAILEY, JR.

I am pessimistic about changing things for the better. I doubt my vote makes a difference in the whole scheme of things. I doubt that the opinions I express on my blog make any larger impact. I have spent ten years in my current job, and we still have the same problems now that we did at the beginning of those ten years. We can offer lots of reasons for this lack of change or improvement. Perhaps it is institutional, and the policies and red tape you have to fight to get things done. But this merely puts the onus on a system instead of on the people within that system. Institutions aren't evil. People are evil.

The Roman Catholic Church is no different in this regard than any other institution or organization. At its worst, the Church is just like the world. But at its best, it is the only place where you can find genuine saints. I wonder about my place in the Church as just a layperson, and I contemplate trying to make things better. I don't even try to work within the Church beyond volunteering with the Knights of Columbus. The reason for this is my suspicion that all my efforts are just a waste of time.

I know I can't change things in the Church to make it better. If I doubted this, I had my pessimism confirmed through a box of matches. At the parish I attend, the votive candles are lit from a box of kitchen matches. The problem with the matches is that they are short, and they burn your fingers long before the candles ever get lit. It is simultaneously sad and comical to watch people try and light these candles. I have burnt my own fingers many times and even accidentally set the used match sticks on fire in the small disposal receptacle with the sand in it. My parish is the only parish where I have encountered this problem because every other parish uses long candle lighter sticks.

I wrote an email to the priest and to the parish council telling them about the problem. I even ordered the long candle ligher sticks from Amazon and had them sent to the Church. To this day, those ridiculous kitchen matches are still there. My personal answer to the problem is to bring my own candle lighter. Invariably, I end up lighting candles for other people, too. People even come up to me in the pew after Mass and ask to borrow it.

In the whole scheme of things, the Kitchen Match Fiasco is a small matter. There are much bigger fish to fry than this minnow. But its smallness is what vexes me because if I can't make any difference on such a small thing, what hope do I have in changing the big things? I can only conclude that there is no hope.

Change does happen, but it happens in spite of human efforts not because of them. Within the Roman Catholic Church, there are holy prelates, priests, and religious faithfully living out the faith. Alongside these saintly people are devils who prey on children, squander the charitable donations of the faithful on lavish lifestyles and gay lovers, and undermine the Magisterium subtly and overtly at every turn. Part of me wants to go on some crusade to clean out this filth from the Church. Then, I pause and consider those kitchen matches. Whether it is right or wrong for a layperson to try and take out this garbage is a moot point. Such an effort will be doomed to failure. The Catholic Church has always been this way.

Only God alone has the power to make things better. I know because it is God alone who has made me better. I add my efforts to what God does, but I can't claim credit for anything. After decades of trying to change myself, I realize my only hope is in God. Likewise, the problem in the Catholic Church is not a failure of the right programs or systems but a lack of faith among those who should be faithful.

My answer to the big problems is essentially my answer to this little problem of the kitchen matches. I bring my candle lighter. I help those who ask. I waste no time on trying to fix the problem. I just fix the problem myself. As they say, be the change you want to see in the world. Sometimes the greatest acts of courage and defiance are doing the small things in fidelity to our Lord and Savior. So, I do the small things, and I will leave the windmills to Don Quixote. I may be wrong in this viewpoint, but it is where I am today. I will see where I am tomorrow.

2.06.2016

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 2


I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.
WOODY ALLEN

1. THE INTERNET OF THINGS

We are constantly inundated with new and improved products except they aren't actually new or improved. They are mostly just hype. For instance, Ivory soap still does the job it has always done. It needs no improvement. So, with that mindset, we are hit with the "Internet of Things' which pushes the idea that your refrigerator or your toaster will be new and improved if it was connected to the internet. This is not the Internet of Things but the Internet of BS. Many things need no improvement. The whole purpose of the IoT is to make your old products obsolete and to make your new products obsolete with an OS upgrade. Where did they get the idea for this stupidity? You are probably holding it in your hand. The smartphone took the perfectly useful flip phone and made it "obsolete." Now, smartphones become obsolete every two years with OS upgrades that make the old phones run slower. The brilliant minds behind this farce want to extend it to other things like your stove and your vacuum cleaner. Meanwhile, old but perfectly useful products go to fill our landfills. It is enough to make one a Luddite.

2. OBAMA MOSQUE VISIT

I used to laugh at all those claims about Obama being a Muslim. Hearing the man speak in a mosque has now convinced me that the man is a closet Muslim. Obama talks about religious freedom even though he violates religious freedom on a regular basis especially when it involves Catholics. So, to hear this guy decry the "abuse" of Muslims in this country is a stretch. Here's the deal. Islam is not a religion of peace. Granted, not all Muslims are murderers and rapists, but it is obvious that Mohammed was a murderer and a rapist. Islam teaches murder and rape. It is a religion of evil. Yet, to call it what it is risks being called evil. It boggles the mind. In this speech at a mosque with known ties to terrorist organizations, Obama called us to "tolerance" for a religion that has no tolerance for anything except Islam. I fully expect Obama to convert when he leaves office.

3. IOWA

Ted Cruz wins. Trump whines about the win. The Establishment tries to put Rubio in the seat reserved for Jeb Bush. Meanwhile, Huckabee, Paul, and Santorum drop out. On the Democrat side, Hillary's people basically stole the victory from Bernie Sanders. My take? It's just Iowa. See you again in 2020.

4. ERROR 53

You gotta love Apple. So, the latest fiasco with the iPhone is that an OS upgrade and a third party repair job will turn your junk phone into absolute junk by shutting it down. It makes me love my flip phone even more. I do not always use a smartphone, but when I do, I choose Android. Stay smart, my friends.

5. BLACKBERRY

I have been watching John Chen try desperately to turn Blackberry around as a smartphone maker. Here's the problem. Nobody wants to buy a phone from a company that hints that it is going to abandon the handset business leaving you with an unsupported device. I always wonder why the market gravitates to single standards like VHS over Beta. The answer is clear. No one wants to be stuck with the Blackberry PlayBook that BB abandoned as soon as it hit the market. Loyalty is a two way street, and customers will not pledge loyalty to an outfit with one foot out the exit. Chen should quit with smartphones and see if anyone cares about BB as a software enterprise.

6. ROD DREHER

Rod Dreher is a writer over at The American Conservative who I enjoy a great deal and find very thought provoking. He is famous for the "Benedict Option" which I am contemplating these days. Dreher is a conservative, a fellow Southerner, and a devout Orthodox Christian. He used to be Catholic. Let's admit it. He still is Catholic because he writes so much about the Catholic Church. Dreher is not so much Orthodox as he is a Catholic expatriate. It's like a guy who ruined his affair because he kept calling his mistress by his wife's name. I understand that it is hard to be Catholic when you have crap like the sex abuse crisis and a cabal of sodomite priests. But the Catholic Church is the one Jesus founded. Accept no imitation. Once you know this, you have to get in it and stay in it.

Heartbreaker


People talking all around about the way you left me flat
I don't care what the people say, I know where their jive is at
One thing I do have on my mind, if you can clarify please do
It's the way you call me by another guy's name
LED ZEPPELIN, Heartbreaker

People ask me if I see the glass as half empty or as half full. I always tell them I see the glass as half full of crap. That answer effectively sums up what defensive pessimism is all about. It is dark but humorous, and there has to be some glimmer of hope for you to get a laugh out of life's circumstances. The fact is that a Christian is a short term pessimist but a long term optimist. Life is bad. People sin. You will die. But God exists. He loves you. Death is not the end.

Pessimism also comes with a paradox. For some reason, anticipating the worst that can happen makes you better prepared for it. And if it doesn't come, it makes the surprise that much sweeter. It is the optimist who meets with perpetual disappointment in life as life can never meet those sunny expectations. The Fall really did occur. Human beings are, in fact, corrupted by original sin and concupiscence.

Pessimism is not the same as despair. This was the sin of Judas. Pessimism makes you abandon faith in the world and yourself. Despair makes you abandon faith in God. I am guilty of this sin because I abandoned my faith as a Protestant and as a Calvinist to become an atheist. Yet, in my pit of despair, God was there. God comes through when you expect Him least. He will surprise you.


People always ask me for advice, and I tell them the only thing I know that works. Turn to God. People will try every other way but God. I know because that is what I did. But there is no substitute for God. This is not a fashionable answer. It is not a popular answer. It is not a sophisticated answer. To talk about God today is to be seen as a bit of a rube.

Progressives are the dumbest people I know. I have never been a left winger or a liberal in my entire life. These are the people who look at simple religious folk and sneer. There is a reason for that, and it is the same reason I became a libertarian when I became an atheist. Politics is an extension of your religion. The progressive is someone without religion. If the progressivesdoes have a religion, it has been gutted and neutered like Hillary Clinton's Methodism.


The religion of the progressive is the same religion of the libertarian. This is the Church of Reason as offered by the Enlightenment. This is Thomas Paine territory. Now, Paine is seen as a founding father of this country because of his writings especially Common Sense that spurred the colonies to revolt against England. Paine would go on to support the disastrous French Revolution, and he ridiculed the Christian religion. He was also a fierce opponent of Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism. Paine was essentially the father of progressivism.

When you become an atheist, you want to remake the world. For the libertarian, it is enough to be free and to earn your own living doing your own thing. For the progressive, hard work is something to be avoided, so they wish to live at the expense of others which is why the liberal parts company with the libertarian. The libertarian may let you get that abortion, but the progressive is not satisfied until someone else is paying for it. The libertarian embraces Adam Smith while the progressive dances with Karl Marx.

The conservative is different altogether because the conservative is fundamentally a Christian. The conservative rejects the Enligthenment. There is a reason that Burke and Paine did not get along. Burke was a Christian. Paine was not. This explains their differing political philosophies. Yet, Burke could support the American Revolution while condemning the French Revolution. The answer is obvious. The American Revolution was about the freedom to do what was right. The French Revolution was about the freedom to do wrong. The Americans wanted to enjoy their homes without being turned out by British soldiers who decided their house was preferrable to camping in the woods. The French wanted to build a utopia of reason with the severed heads of their elites.

True freedom is the freedom to do the good. This is why conservatives and libertarians can find common ground. Progressives despise this freedom to do good. This is how you get laws promoting gay marriage, but a Christian baker must pay a hundred thousand dollar fine for not baking a cake for such a farce. 'Tis liberty for me but not for thee!


The reason progressives can go after Christian bakers in this vengeful and hateful way is the same reason European progressives can embrace Muslims even though Muslims find gay marriage a disgrace and actually KILL gay people. They share a common enemy which is the Christian religion. Now, progressives can't deride Christianity explicitly, so they call it something else like "bigotry" and "homophobia." So, Christian bakers are fined out of business while Muslims are welcomed to come and rape women and slaughter innocents while living on welfare.

Are progressives incredibly stupid? Yes, they are. There has never been a time in my life when I did not see these people as ridiculous. I like reading the Old Testament, and I am amazed at how each generation in Israel seems to forget God and embrace the paganism of the neighbors. This is the paganism that embraced things like temple prostitution and child sacrifice. This passage sums it up:

Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had spoken and as the Lord had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.

Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers. When the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk in it as their fathers did, or not.” So the Lord allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua. 
JUDGES 2;11-23 NASB

This story is repeated again and again in the OT. The Israelites reject the Lord and whore after idols. God punishes them by letting the idolaters rape the hell out of them. Subjugated and humiliated, the people repent and turn back to the Lord. God restores them. Then, they repeat the process again. They never got it. We can scoff except you are witnessing the same thing today. Europe has rejected Christianity and now is literally being overrun and raped by a Muslim horde. The USA is following the same path. But I am digressing.

Politics and religion are a package deal.  Both deal with the moral realm, and one's religion or lack of religion determines one's politics. For the Catholic, the problem is trying to decide which party or candidate to support since all of them have good and bad points. I can honestly say that virtually every Catholic politician on both Left and Right is a disgrace to his or her faith. Whether it is Nancy Pelosi calling abortion "sacred ground" or Paul Ryan expressing his lust for Ayn Rand's writings, most Catholic politicians are as despicable as any other. Their Catholicism serves merely to make hypocrites out of these scoundrels.



To be a true Catholic is to be a conservative. I have to qualify that a bit and say a "paleoconservative" because much of what is called conservatism today is actually just fascism. These fascists are more about guns and guts than God. God is merely on our side in the worldview of these morons who never actually read the Bible, pray, or go to church. The Bible even has a passage about these types of fools. It comes from the first book of Samuel.

Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek. The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.”  So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts who sits above the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

As the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded.  When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Take courage and be men, O Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; therefore, be men and fight.”

So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. 
1 SAMUEL 4:1-11 NASB

In this passage, the Israelites figure out that they need God, but God is merely a means to the end of defeating those Philistines. Nevermind that they were hypocrites who made a mockery of God with their own lives. God will not be mocked, so he allows the Philistines to defeat the Israelites. The lesson? It is not God, guns, and guts that made this country great. It was God alone. Without God, all the guns and guts are a big glob of hubris headed for a fall.

This hubris is faux conservatism or "neoconservatism." Today, this is Fox News. The answer to all problems is not prayer or fasting but kicking ass. I encounter these people all the time, and they would never call themselves atheist. But they have no use for religion. Many of these people are military and ex-military who cheat on their wives and smoke dope. They are a disgrace. They don't love God. God is just a word for a bumper sticker on their truck with the stainless steel testicles hanging from the rear.


I don't think Ted Nugent and Russell Kirk are of the same mind. To be a paleoconservative is to hearken back to a time when conservatism was an intellectual force. Now, the kids who ate the lead paint chips are the ones calling the shots in the right wing world. It is sad. These people are not godly but an abomination.

Who are the true conservatives? They are faithful Catholics, orthodox Jews, and evangelical Christians. Despite having differing religions, they all love God and see the Judeo-Christian ethic as the rule for Western Civilization. Basically, they put their religion before their politics. Does it make a difference? Absolutely.

The progressive and the conservative both believe in reason, but the conservative knows that reason comes from God. This would be Aquinas and natural law. For the progressive, reason is their god alone, so this is how you end up with the nonsense of gay marriage and imprisoning people for "intolerance." This is how choice trumps life and liberty trumps order.

Anyway, this is enough ranting for today. The brain screams for caffeine.