Charlie's Blog: 2017


Never Retire

To retire is to die.

A few years ago, I wrote about retirement. The gist of that article is that retirement is an economic impossibility for most people of a certain age because of bad stewardship and demographics. If your golden years rest on a ponzi scheme, you or someone else is going to be left holding a bag of nothing. For myself, I do not expect to ever be able to retire. This prospect does not disturb me because I don't believe in retirement. What does disturb me is my generation being saddled with the burden of paying for the expenses of those who do believe in retirement.

If it was up to me, I would turn out the geezers in the street. I know this makes me a cold hearted bastard, but I see it as a fitting and just end for a generation that indulged itself for its entire span. Unfortunately, I do not think the geriatric welfare class will get its comeuppance in this life. What they will get is derision and scorn as they wait to die.

This scorn and derision is already cranking up. Millennials are already expressing their anger over the dawning realization that their lives are much worse than the lives of their parents, and a generational theft is taking place as those kids are expected to pay for Social Security and Medicare with their jobs at Starbucks. This is the same generation that will not hesitate to vote in euthanasia like they have over in Europe. In socialism, killing becomes expedient especially when you consume more than you produce. I predict death panels for geriatrics, and these people will literally be stamped with expiration dates. I might be cold for wanting these people turned out into the streets, but I do want them to live even if it is a life of hardship. The rest of the world will simply reassure itself with the notion of dying in comfort.

I will move from the demographics and public policy issues to the personal. Regardless if you are rich, poor, or in between, you should never retire. Retirement is morally wrong. It is an evil thing and should never be tolerated except in cases of physical and mental incapacity. At that stage, death is close anyway. Modern medicine can extend this time a bit, but I think natural death is the way to go. My example of how to go out of this world is Saint Teresa of Calcutta who worked until her frailty and poor health finally stopped her, and she passed at age 87. She basically worked until the day she died.

I compare this saint to a man I know who is 75 and very vigorous and strong. And he should be vigorous and strong because he has been in retirement for 20 years. I like the fellow, but I see the extended vacation he is taking as a shameful thing. Unfortunately, his example is not rare but common. People can reasonably expect to live another 25-30 years past their retirement age. That is a long time. Many people don't even live to see 30. And what do these people do or accomplish during this extended lifespan of leisure? They do very little. They spend a lifetime working in order to become lazy worthless bums at the end of life. Then, they have the gall to lament the death of the work ethic in our society.

A person who is getting old needs to ask themselves one question. Is it better to burn out or rust out? Your answer to that question determines how you are going to spend your golden years. And your choice in this regard reflects what you think the purpose of life is and what you think awaits you beyond this life. For St. Teresa of Calcutta, she chose to burn out because she wanted Heaven. And she got there. But for so many others, there is nothing beyond the grave, so they choose to make a heaven out of this life as they rust out in retirement. The irony is that I see these rusty relics, and they don't seem so happy. So much for heaven on earth.

Now, the counterargument I hear is that your body and brain falls apart as you get older. Now, this is true for people with diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. I am not indifferent to this, and I think these people can be excused because their bodies really are failing. But this is a fact that is true at any age and not just old age. Yet, the woman with lupus at age 30 is expected to keep going while the fit man at 65 feels entitled to take it easy in life because he has "earned" it. I think this is a load of crap.

If your body works, you should use it regardless of your age. When your body fails, then you can hang it up. This is what it means to burn out. Your body fails before your work ethic and your virtue. But barring disease and/or severe injury, you should strive to keep working and doing until your body gives out. And there are old people who do just this.

Sister Madonna Buder is known as the "Iron Nun." She competes in ironman distance triathlons. She started running at age 48 on the advice of a priest. She is 87 years old. For those who don't know, an ironman triathlon is comprised of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle, and a 26.2 mile marathon. Completing such an event is impressive at any age but even more impressive when you are 80+ years old.

Now, why do I point to this extraordinary person? Merely to show what is possible at that age. I don't expect every grandmother to go out and become an Ironman triathlete. That would be unreasonable. But I don't think it is unreasonable to expect otherwise healthy but older people to continue working a job. The reality is that many old folks live in a state of premature death because they were told that this is what you do at that age. The result is that age becomes an excuse for inactivity and laziness.

Most of the things we attribute to aging are really the result of inactivity. When they say "use it or lose it," they aren't kidding. The problem isn't getting old but getting out of shape. I can tell you now that Sister Madonna would almost certainly beat me in the marathon because I can't even run a single mile at age 46. This is because she uses her body, and I don't.

I have met many older people who defy their age. There is the high school PE instructor who I met who is clearly north of 60 and has biceps like you wouldn't believe. That guy is fit. There is the 60+ cook who I know works at Olive Garden. She always has a smile, and she is the hardest worker in that place. At my own workplace, I know of a guy in his sixties who is a heart transplant recipient. He is one of our top employees putting twentysomethings to shame. I feel confident that these old folks could go another 10-15 years with no problem. But I suspect they will succumb to the siren song of retirement and let themselves go. This is a real shame.

We've all heard the story of the guy who worked hard, retired at 65, let himself go, and was dead a year later. I doubt this happens that often because there are plenty of old folks who do the same thing except they linger for another 30 years on the retirement dole while smoking cigarettes and chugging beer. But the truth in that story is that work keeps you fit while retirement makes your health and fitness go south. Consequently, I think working a 9 to 5 beyond 65 is not a curse but a blessing in disguise for these people.

I know I will never be able to afford to retire. I am good with money and live a frugal lifestyle. But I don't expect to have enough cash saved up or expect Social Security to be solvent enough to allow me 30+ years of leisure. I expect to work until I die. And I am OK with this. In fact, I think the idea is totally awesome. This is because I don't see work as a curse, and I think you will get plenty of sleep when you are dead. And there is Heaven.

At some point, even someone like Sister Madonna Buder will succumb to a body that is destined to fail. The same will happen to me and to you. We aren't immortal. But if you do it right, this time will be relatively short. The most beautiful stories I read are of people who finally "retired," left the job, and were buried two weeks later. They had enough time to get their affairs together and were no burden to their loved ones. I just don't think you can have a happy death when you choose to rust out. I've seen those deaths, too. And they were all bitter.

Don't ever retire. Choose the path of burning out instead of rusting out and let that flame burn as brightly and as long as it can. I think you will be blessed with a happy life and a happy death if you choose this path. And I think things will go better for you on the other side, too.


It Shouldn't Shock You--Keeping Your Cool in a Messed Up World

I'm Christian, indeed Roman Catholic, so I don't expect history to be anything but a long defeat with glimpses of final victory.

A win is a nice thing when it happens. It is even better when winning becomes a regular thing. But this usually happens in sports or chess. It doesn't happen often in life. Life is mostly a string of defeats for those who labor and fight for good. In the broad panorama of human history, barbarity and evil have been the norm with the relative civility and humanity of Western Civilization being a rare thing. Even then, Christendom has been surrounded by enemies from without and betrayed by enemies within.

All of these depressing facts point back to the ultimate fact. The world is a fallen place. The atheists would argue that the world never fell from anywhere but ascended from the beasts. Human beings are merely clever monkeys who are only slightly better than the less evolved primates. But if this were the case, why would we even care or lament the inhumanity we see so often? The reality is that we all have some concept of the good and the knowledge that we don't measure up to that good. This is the Fall.

We all know good and evil, and we have all chosen evil at some point in our lives. We can choose to do good, but this remains imperfect. The simple fact is that people let us down on a regular basis, and we let others and ourselves down as well. We live in a messed up world filled with messed up people including ourselves.

The answer seems to be a demand to cleanse the world of all that is messed up. The story of the Flood in Genesis is about this impulse and idea. If we could just remove the bad people from the world, it would stop being messed up. Yet, the story ends with Noah naked and drunk and mocked by his own son. The lesson is that the battleground of good versus evil is within the heart and soul of each human being. Reforming institutions or slaughtering the bad people will never change this.

Can the world be fixed? The answer is no. This is the dream of libertarians and Marxists. Utopia can never be. This is why conservatism though unpopular always wins in the end. Conservatism is reality, and the reality is that we live in a messed up world. The best we can achieve is a world that is a little less messed up.

God can fix the world, and He will. But that is in the future. For now, the world remains messed up. It remains this way because people must be saved from this world before its final destruction. All of our efforts in this life are preparation for this coming destruction and rebirth. We are to save our own souls and the souls of all the ones who will listen and obey. In short, our aim is not victory but endurance.

At some point in the inferno, you stop trying to save the structure, and you turn to trying to save yourself and your loved ones. We are at that point in the world. We have always been there. Eden is closed for business.

Yet, people are shocked when they read the news and discover a new terrorist attack, a new sex scandal, a corrupt politician, or some clergyman failing to live up to his professed vows. Why does this shock us? Why do we lose our cool in a world we know is already messed up?

Nothing in this world should ever shock us. One time, I was shocked when I was told that someone had stolen large sums of money. The shock came because I naively believed this person to have honesty and integrity. Looking back, I realize I had no basis whatsoever for this belief. The man was a liar to me and an adulterer. He merely added con artist and thief to his resume of sordidness. He wasn't a good man so much as I wanted to believe that he was a good man.

There is nothing wrong in wanting to believe that people are good. But there is a lack of prudence in this regard. We should want people to be good, but we should never believe that they are good. I want people to not be thieves, but I always lock up my belongings. Basically, you can never go wrong expecting the worst of people. It is depressing but sobering and sometimes delightful when people occasionally fail to live down to your low expectations of them.

Having the dark view of human nature is how you keep from being shocked and losing your cool in a messed up world. You are surrounded by sinners, and you are a sinner, too. This defensive pessimism is what keeps your heart from being broken and your faith from being shattered.

Optimism and faith are good things, but they are only good when they are placed in the right and proper things. People fail, but God never fails. God will come through in the end. God wins. Life is one long defeat. Then, there is victory won by Christ. Have faith in nothing but Jesus Christ. Cling to Him and endure. We can't win, but we can be on the winning side.

Life is not futile. At the end of each day, you should ask yourself if you still believe in God. People will let you down. You will let yourself down. But do you believe that God will let you down? As long as you still believe, you can put that day in the win column. And if you believe on your final day of life, you have triumphed. We can't save the world, but if we endure, we have the share in saving ourselves. You just want to come through to the other side. This final perseverance comes from God's grace working in you.

No one moves into a burning house. Yet, this is what people do when they try and make a home out of this world and a Heaven out of Hell. We are pouring water on the fire while these fools pump the gasoline. It is a lost cause except for the ones we bring out of the fire.

How do you keep your cool in a messed up world? Accept the fact that this world is fallen. Realize that people are corrupted by concupiscence and original sin. Believe God wins in the end. And trust that God's grace will enable you to persevere until that end. Then, avail yourself of that grace through prayer and the sacraments.


A Vitriolic Rant Against the Hideous Game of Golf

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

I hate golf. I want to get that out of the way at the outset in case I fail to make it obviously clear by the end of this rant. Golf is not a sport. It is a game which would be fine except that it is a game with a great deal of baggage. I mean this literally. They pay people to lug this baggage around the golf courses. But I am getting ahead of myself. I hate golf. I will tell you why.

I once heard a story about John F. Kennedy out playing golf one day. The reporters wanted to get some pictures of him on the course, but Jack wouldn't let them take the pictures. He knew the pictures would hit the magazines identifying him as a golfer. Since golf was the game of the rich and the elite, the picture would show that Kennedy was out of touch with the blue collar working class folks who were the backbone of the Democrat Party once upon a time. I know this story is hard to believe when the most recent Democrat to occupy the Oval Office had numerous photos taken of him on the golf course.

Obama was definitely out of touch, but I don't want to bash on Democrats exclusively since virtually every Republican president in my living memory has been a golfer. And every time these presidents have hit the links, it has been bad press and bad optics. They could have gone bowling, gone fishing, or even gone drinking in a night of unbridled debauchery and garnered less negative press than playing that stupid game of golf. So, why do they still do it? It beats me.

Golf is a game for rich guys. Nothing says that you've made it like being able to afford a pricey membership at some country club. In short, it is a vanity which makes it the game of men with huge egos. Unfortunately, those egos are as large as their golf scores because virtually every one of these egomaniacs absolutely stink at playing golf. But being good at the game isn't the point. What is the point of the game? Well, I really don't know. It is a pointless game especially when you stink at it, and you could skip the 18 holes and just get to the drinking at the clubhouse.

The privilege is just being able to play the game. There are real sports these men could play like basketball or softball. There are pleasant games like bowling which is fun or chess which is intellectually stimulating and challenging. There is even exercise like running, cycling, or lifting weights that get you in shape. I can think of 100 better things to do with your time than hitting a little white ball on the course and then chasing it in an electric scooter while wearing ridiculous clothes. So, why do they do it?

Status. That's it. You play golf to show that you made it. Granted, there are lots of blue collar guys who throw their clubs in the backs of their pickup trucks and head out to the driving range or the public golf course if the county workers and/or prison chain gang mowed the grass that week. But these blue collar golfers are pretenders hacking away with their Walmart golf clubs at substandard courses aspiring to make the PGA tour and achieve escape velocity out of the working class. The only good thing I can say about this pathetic waste of drinking time is that these blue collar guys are actually pretty good at playing golf unlike those rich guys. But I digress. . .

Golf is a rich man's game because it is expensive. And the reason it is expensive is because it is the only game in the world that requires a large amount of real estate. And that, Gentle Reader, is why you common working folk have to settle for bowling and horseshoes. Real estate is pricey, and it has to be maintained. This requires clubs that charge dues, and those dues have to be large enough to keep out the riff raff who are prone to riding across the manicured greens in the golf carts and tossing their empty beer cans and cigarette butts willy nilly. And this is reinforced with Byzantine dress code requirements that forbid things like cutoff jeans and flip flops but will permit virtually every other fashion disaster that people with bad taste can imagine.

Golf is the rich man's indulgence. Those rolling manicured meadows of green are the barrier between those who have made it in life and those doomed to a life of perpetual grind in the salt mines of daily labor. It is not enough to be wealthy and successful. One must also flaunt it. Used to be, this could be done with an expensive car and a Rolex watch. But any hoodrat drug dealer can buy those baubles. No, golf is the great signifier that you have arrived, and you did it without getting caught for illegal activities. I don't know if Richard Nixon lost any of his club memberships after Watergate. That would have to be a subject for another post and probably some other blog. But you get the point. Golf is the trophy wife of games.

Whenever I see or meet a man who is a golfer, my opinion of him is greatly diminished. This is before I have seen him in his loud golf pants. That spectacle takes him to an even lower place of disgust in my book merely a few rungs above serial killer, pedophile, and IRS agent. A man who golfs is a boor, a jerk, and a few other things with obscene names attached to them. Unfortunately, some men I like such as the late Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump played golf. When I meet a man I like who golfs, I regard him as a nice guy with a really bad habit like smoking or fingernail chewing. You try to look past the disgusting nature of the habit.

My hatred of golf is mostly rooted in socioeconomics. This is just a fancy way of me saying that I was born into a working class family, and I have remained in the working class. Some people will say that I am envious, but the truth is that I would never play golf even if I won the lottery or was filthy rich. By the same token, when I encounter a rich guy who hates golf and refuses to play, he notches up considerably in my estimation of him.

I don't think I am alone in my thoughts about golf. People who play golf on the regular express a great deal of frustration at their inability to make that little white ball do what they want. Perhaps golf is a way for powerful men to feel powerless again. I don't know. It mystifies me how anyone can find enjoyment in doing something so poorly which just reinforces my point that golf is more about status than performance.

Certain activities belong to certain types of people. I can't imagine a surfer who wasn't also a pothead. Similarly, video games will always be for kids and basement dwelling losers too sorry to get off their butts and get a job. Likewise, golf will always be to me a game for rich jerks to show off to the world that they are so rich that they can afford to blow good time, money, and real estate on a game they will never be good at. There are better things to do in life. Golf is not one of them.


Charlie's Thoughts on the Filial Correction

Scandal concerning faith and morals has been given to the Church and to the world by the publication of Amoris laetitia and by other acts through which Your Holiness has sufficiently made clear the scope and purpose of this document.

Four cardinals and sixty two clergy and laymen have called out Pope Francis on his errors and scandal both in private and public. The papal response has been silence. Debate now rages in various forums about what it all means. It also begs the most obvious question. Where do things go from here?

The only person who can end this scandal and confusion is Pope Francis. This is what it means when you sit in the Chair of Peter. You are the final judge and referee in the Roman Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals. If Pope Francis does not clean up the mess he made, it will be the job of his successor. And if that successor fails in that, this mess can live on indefinitely. Only the pope can clean it up. No one else can do this for him.

Is the pope in error? Absolutely. Does he know it? Without a doubt. Pope Francis knew this when he went down this road as it is unlikely that you can be a priest, a bishop, an archbishop, a cardinal, and the pontiff without knowing what the Magisterium teaches. The man can claim no ignorance on these matters. Now, with the scandal, the dubia, and the filial correction before him, he definitely knows. The fact that he refuses to respond also indicates that this man knows. And since he is the supreme pastor of the Roman Catholic Church, the responsibility on him is enormous. If teachers and clergy will be judged more severely than laity, the severity of judgment on a pontiff is the worst that can be.

I do not want to be in Pope Francis's shoes on Judgment Day. I feel sorry for him, and I pray that he repents of his errors before he dies. But I know that he won't. This is why I refer to him as Pope Judas. I mean this as no insult to the Vicar of Christ, but I have no way to communicate the seriousness of what he is doing and the consequences of what that will be. And I believe that Jesus allowed Judas Iscariot to be one of the Twelve as a warning to all their successors--the bishops and popes of the Roman Catholic Church--to flee from error and sin for the sake of their own souls.

If being called the Society of Judas or Pope Judas will upset and discomfort them, I will be happy. This is because it will make them pause and reflect on the state of their own souls in much the same way that Jesus referred to the Pharisees as "vipers." I would rather offend in my words than let poor souls slide into damnation by my silence. Both the Society of Jesus and Pope Francis operate as modern day Iscariots betraying our Lord with their words and deeds while pretending fidelity with their kisses.

Both the Dubia Cardinals and the 62 signatories of the Filial Correction do a good thing for our Holy Father. He may not recognize it as a good thing, but there is genuine charity in their efforts. Ultimately, they do not want souls to go to Hell. This includes the soul of Pope Francis. My prayer is that the eyes of Pope Francis will be opened. And, if they will not be opened, that they will be closed forever for the sake of the souls that may be led astray by his errors. 

In the meantime, we are at war with the world, the flesh, and the Devil but now a civil war has emerged within the Roman Catholic Church. On one side, we have the conservatives and traditionalists. On the other side, we have the modernists who Pope St. Pius X condemned so vociferously. Catholics need to decide what side they are on. There is no middle ground in this affair. This middle ground is where we have been when this conflict began, and it is what has allowed this modernist wound to fester into the stinking infection we witness today. The modernists wanted their pope, and they got him in Pope Francis. They have operated in secrecy all these years, but now they operate in the open for all to see. This may be disheartening to the faithful, but it shouldn't be. As the ancients said, pride goes before destruction. God is allowing these wolves to shed their sheepsuits, so that their sins may be glaring before all. A pope like Francis was necessary for this to happen.

Things will get worse for the faithful. Before it is done, the faithful will not recognize their Church anymore. It will be an abomination of desolation. But we have been here before, so we should rejoice that we have been considered worthy to bear these trials for our Lord. God wins in the end, and He will be glorified in His ultimate victory. And it will be our great privilege to share in that victory. Do not be discouraged. God cannot fail. Pray for the Pope. Pray for the Church. Mother Mary, pray for us all.


Randy's Tire and Lube

A righteous man who walks in his integrity—
How blessed are his sons after him.

I have a friend who I think is a righteous man. He is not Catholic like me, but he lives his faith. I think God smiles on all righteous men no matter who they are. When I see a righteous evangelical Christian living his faith, I praise God, and I ask for His blessings on that man and his family. There are few good people in this fallen world, and they are refreshing to find. They shine like a light in this dark world.

My friend is the salt of the earth. I am forever indebted and grateful to my friend for all he has done for me and my wife. If I have a quibble with him, it would be with his discouragement in life. I was an atheist at the time when I had this conversation with him and possessed a much darker view of the world than he did. I told him that with his talents and integrity that he should start his own business. There were various ideas I tossed at him with an oil change place being one of the ideas because he had worked in that field before. His refusal of the idea was to the point.

"You can't make an honest living in that type of work," he said.

I disagreed with him despite the fact that I was an atheist and had encountered a great deal in my life by that point to make me agree with him. It seems that the righteous are at a competitive disadvantage to the unrighteous in this world when it comes to trying to make an honest living. The unrighteous cut corners, do bad by their workers, flout the law, and cheat their customers. My friend knew this because he had seen it so many times at the places where he worked. I've seen similar shadiness over the years. But he was wrong. A good man can do the right thing and operate with righteousness and integrity in this dark world and make a living and even prosper. I had too many empirical examples of these businesses such as Chick-fil-A which does the dumbest thing you can do in the fast food business--remain closed on Sundays. My argument was not so much a vindication of religion so much as a belief in the free market and the knowledge that there is always a demand for honest business. People want honest work done for them even if it may cost more than the crap work they could get from a shady undercutter. I don't know anyone who likes getting screwed over and getting ripped off, and this includes those who make their livings screwing over people and ripping them off.

I continued to argue with my friend that you can indeed make an honest living in the field of automotive service, and he continued to tell me about how dishonest people made it impossible to succeed. Then, I told him about Randy's Tire and Lube in Lugoff, SC. I've literally watched this business go from nothing to become a thriving local business. It is a family business, and they believe in the Lord. You can tell they are Christian because they are closed on Sundays and close early on Wednesdays to go to midweek prayer service. In these parts, the Wednesday prayer meeting is a big deal.

This business was recommend to me by word of mouth which is the best advertising money can't buy, and Randy and his crew have always delivered. I have always received honest and dependable service from them, and they have always done right by me. Yes, I could have gotten it cheaper from Jiffy Lube which I call "Iffy Lube." But you get what you pay for, and if you pay cheap, you pay twice. Getting ripped off by the shady people is never a moneysaver. Randy is the salt of the earth.

I've never heard anything bad about Randy, and if I did, I know the person making the claim is the dung of the earth. This is because Randy and his family are the salt of the earth. I don't know Randy personally, and he certainly hasn't cut me any deals or thrown me any money for this endorsement. I am simply grateful that such an honest business exists that I can recommend to my friends and family. And I do recommend them as often as I can.

My wife is from Florida, and she tells me all of her horror stories of getting ripped off by shady businesses down there when it comes to car repair and service. It angers me to hear these stories. Yet, she was very impressed and grateful for the honesty and service she got from Randy's when I took her car there. Like my friend, she didn't believe such businesses exist. But they do. And we all know that women are a favorite target of shady shops wanting to exploit their ignorance of all things automotive. Randy's is not like that. You can send your wife, your mother, your sister, or your daughter there, and they are not going to do unauthorized or unnecessary work or charge for work they never did. Like I said, SALT OF THE EARTH.

I highly recommend taking your car to Randy's Tire and Lube. They are worth every penny and more. And I am grateful to God that an honest and righteous man can indeed succeed doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing. It gives me hope in a world that can seem very hopeless at times. May God continue to bless this man, his family, and his wonderful business.


Hot and Cool

Our patience will achieve more than our force.

I have not written in quite awhile. I am having a personal crisis. Everything is fine in my life, but my thinking is troubled. When my thinking is troubled, I stop writing. Writing is an extension of my thinking, and I have been having trouble resolving an internal conflict. This conflict does not involve politics or religion but strategy. Strategy is important. People who know me will hear me mention strategy often. The strategy that is at the heart of my internal conflict is about being hot versus being cool. I will now elaborate.

What is the difference between the right and the alt-right? I could point to some policy differences between people who are true conservatives versus people who are alt-right. But I realize that these policy differences aren't the really divisive issues. What divides conservatives and alt right people is style.

To give an example, there is one alt right activist who pushes really hard for Trump, and he decries those on the Right who are not as forceful or energetic in their efforts as "cucks" and "cuckservatives." These are insults tossed around very frequently among the alt right. Yet, the irony is that this same individual is a supporter of a universal basic income and lives off a large divorce settlement he got from his very successful wife who made way more money than he did. That should cause you to pause for a moment and reflect.

Alt right people are not really conservatives. When you poke at them a bit, you find that they are downright liberal and progressive in their thinking. For instance, Steve Bannon is the intellectual guru for the alt right, yet he does not support free trade and even thinks we should raise taxes on the rich. Similarly, Donald Trump would gladly sign an Obamacare Lite bill that doesn't actually repeal Obamacare, and the guy totally loves and approves of gay marriage. In fact, I know of no alt right person who has the intellectual consistency or the moral convictions of true conservatives like Ted Cruz or Mark Levin. Politically, these alt right people aren't much different than Democrats from an earlier time like the 1990's. Then, you have alt right gay superstars like Milo and Paul Joseph Watson. How did these guys ever find themselves on the right?

The alt right is simply loud and brash. What they lack in the brain department they fill in with the mouth department. They scream and fight really hard for dubious convictions. Then, there are the white supremacist neo-Nazi types who have jumped on the alt right bandwagon. Yes, folks, it is a real mess. The alt right are like the rowdy cousins of a normally respectable family. They are family, and they are an embarrassment.

Donald Trump is the alt right candidate. My initial support was for Ted Cruz, but Trump got the nomination. My alternatives were Hillary or some third party loser. So, I voted for Trump with low expectations which he has exceeded spectacularly. I do not regret him becoming President. I do regret that he became the GOP nominee for President. I am reminded of this regret every time he decides to do some late night tweeting.

I don't have an issue with the substance of this President, but his style is a disgrace to himself and to the presidency. I am no fan of Joe or Mika, but I do believe that getting into the muck with these two is pretty stupid. Yet, Trump had to do it. He couldn't let it go. It was flame on for the Donald.

The guy who got this sort of thing exactly right was Barack Obama. I despised the man for all the stood for and promoted while he was President. The man was and is an Alinskyite Marxist in my book. But in his style, he was utterly conservative. His cool demeanor was very effective and even beguiling. When Trump kept bashing on Obama, Obama never took the bait. He gave Trump the rope and let the man hang himself on his own words. Then, he quietly released his birth certificate which made Trump look like a complete fool. Now, that birth certificate may be a forgery. I don't know. But Donald Trump's fire was no match for Barack Obama's ice. In terms of strategy, Trump was outdone.

Coolness comes from patience. Patience comes from two things. The first is the knowledge that you are right. The second is the belief that you will win in the long run. Now, Barack Obama has neither of these two things, but he is insanely good at faking it. He is not a conservative so much as a really good poker player.

The alt right lacks patience which is why they burn hot. They don't have the knowledge that they are right nor a belief in long term victory. These things come from the Christian faith which the majority of alt right people lack. They are fundamentally pagan in their outlook. The result is their fire and aggression comes from an inherent insecurity. It is the same sort of thing on the Left, and the alt right has adopted many of the same tactics as the Left.

For myself, I must confess that the alt right has had an effect on me. I have allowed myself to burn hot where I was cool before. Twitter has become a near occasion of sin for me, so I have deactivated my account. As for Gab, it is overwhelmed by racist and antisemitic posts and has become the social media cesspool of the alt right. Social media feeds anger, and my anger has swelled mightily over the past month or so. This is what has brought me to my present crisis.

If you are a conservative, it behooves you to choose the Path of Cool and remain on the Path of Cool. This means living by the confidence that you are right, and that right will win in the end. This is because God wins in the end. As such, you should be civil and calm. But this does not mean that you should be silent. When the shouting in the room finally dies down, your calm words will be the only ones people will remember. Be sure to speak them.

For myself, the shouting is done on social media. Upon leaving Twitter, I wondered if my blog should also go down the rubbish bin. But this would be going down the Path of Silence. This is where Burke's other dictum comes into play which states that evil triumphs when good men do nothing. Being silent is a form of doing nothing.

I tend to go to extremes, so I have been pulled between the poles of the inferno of anger and the ice of silence. The midpoint between these extremes is a principled conservatism that stands up for something but does not degrade itself into conspiracy theories and insults. My hero in this regard is Ted Cruz. That guy is a real fighter who doesn't back down. A lot of people hate him, but they respect him. You don't see that guy slamming people in the middle of the night on Twitter. Cruz knows that conservatism is not just political but also demands a certain level of civility and decorum. Mike Pence is another conservative who gets it right. He would be an awesome president.

When you burn hot, there are two sins you are going to fall into. The first is calumny. This is where you say or write things that are untrue and damaging to others. This is known popularly as "conspiracy theories" and "fake news." This happens when people either fabricate things or simply don't wait for all the facts to come in. Timeliness takes precedence over truth. Getting it out first matters more than getting it right. Unfortunately, Twitter makes this an even bigger problem.

The second sin is detraction. This is where you tear people down with insults or highlighting things that may be true but are not communicated for good. This is something I am guilty of doing especially on Twitter. Twitter is simply a battleground for cheap shots. Meaningful discourse can't happen in 140 characters. The rule is to never insult people. Of course, calling Obama a Marxist might be insulting but necessary. But is it necessary to mock the man's wife? 

As a conservative and as a Christian, I resolve to get on and remain on the Path of Cool. It is a harder path for certain. But it is the sure path.


Wheat and Weeds

Another parable he proposed to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seeds in his field.

But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.

And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle.

And the servants of the goodman of the house coming said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it cockle?

And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up?

And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it.
Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.

I have officially been Roman Catholic for four years. I entered the Church at the same time that Francis became pope. That is the way my life has been for as long as I have known it. Something good happens to me while I am also delivered a frustration. When I became Catholic, a material heretic took the chair of St. Peter, and I knew it. Then, my priest died shortly after my entrance into the Church.

What do I think of the Roman Catholic Church at this stage of the journey? I must admit that I am not so impressed anymore. I had a low opinion of the Church as a Protestant and as a Calvinist. I definitely had a low opinion of the Church as an atheist. Now that I am in the Church and have seen it from the inside, my low opinion is actually lower now.

Why did I ever join up for this? The answer to that is simple. The Roman Catholic Church is the one true church containing the deposit of the One True Faith. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He is the Son of God, and that He actually rose from the dead. And I believe that He instituted one church. Obedience to Christ means becoming Catholic and remaining Catholic. This is not an issue for negotiation or debate. Once you know that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church, you have a duty and an obligation to get into it and stay in it. Should you refuse to do these things, you will go to Hell.

That is some scary stuff, but there it is. Don't let anyone say that I sugarcoat things because I don't. The Roman Catholic Church is God's instrument of salvation in the world. If you spurn this institution, you will be judged for rejecting Christ. You cannot love Christ and not love His Church or be disobedient to His vicar.

The Martin Luthers of today, our Protestant brothers and sisters separated from the Church by massive ignorance perpetrated and passed down by lying ministers of Satan, point out that the Roman Catholic Church is rife with scandal and corruption. How can I disagree with these observations? It is based in fact. I could chalk it up to bias in the media but even faithful Catholic media report these things which you will find tweeted and retweeted on my Twitter account. From the Pope on down, there are many who distort doctrine, deny doctrine, mishandle funds, scandalize the faithful, and even engage in gross sexual sins and encourage others in this debauchery. Granted, there are those who preserve the faith in both word and deed, but they are the minority in this day and age. This begs another question. Why remain in this?

Conservative writer Rod Dreher was faced with this dilemma after converting to the Roman Catholic Church in 1993. While covering the sex abuse scandal, he became so disillusioned because of the filth that he uncovered that he checked out and became Eastern Orthodox. This is understandable considering that the man has kids. It isn't justifiable, but I do understand. But the problem with the Eastern Orthodox is that they aren't free of the filth either. The sad reality is that sexual abuse of minors is a widespread problem and is present in virtually every institution including scouts, public schools, little league sports, and on and on. This isn't to excuse the wrongdoing in the Catholic Church. But as I say so often, when the Church is bad, it is merely as bad as the rest of the world.

So, if the Roman Catholic Church has so much filth and corruption, what makes it special relative to all of the other filthy and corrupt institutions in the world? This is a question I asked myself before my conversion, and I had to admit one thing. There were no Protestant saints. There certainly were no atheist saints. All of the saints I knew about were in the Catholic Church. There are two things I know. No one can be saint without God's help and grace. And there are no saints outside of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Eastern Orthodox may quibble with me on this matter, but I will simply point to the emperor Constantine who was no saint. He did not lead a venerable life and spurned baptism until he was on his deathbed. His "canonization" is more of a popularity vote than an actual fact. The Roman Catholic Church never canonized the man. As such, any saint not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church is not a saint to me.

Saints aren't perfect, but their lives are so radically different from the world as to make them very special to me. In his novel, The Plague, Albert Camus asks, "Can an atheist be a saint?" My answer is that atheists can be saints only in fiction. They have never existed in fact and never will. This was a conclusion I drew as an atheist.

The saint that I drew the most inspiration from was Maximilian Kolbe. His story moved me profoundly because he lived in relatively modern times. Other saints have lived so long ago that their stories have become mixed with legends and myths. But Kolbe was the bona fide real deal. And his final act of charity to save a condemned man by taking his place puts him on the same level as the great saints and martyrs of old in my book. Yet, he is virtually unknown outside of the Catholic Church. What an awesome human being. Everyone should aspire to be a Kolbe.

It is saints like Kolbe that make the Catholic Church special to me. There are heroes, but a saint is more than just a hero. The hero seeks glory. The saint seeks a crown to cast at the Savior's feet. That is a profoundly different thing.

So, there you have it. The Roman Catholic Church is a mix of otherworldly saints, lots of faithful people who seek to become saints, and some of the lowest scum who would bring shame on a prison full of convicts. Basically, the Church is a mixture of wheat and weeds.

Our Lord told us this in Matthew 13. Whenever Jesus uses the phrase "kingdom of heaven," He is referring to the Roman Catholic Church. He is not talking about Heaven itself as He discusses how the enemy, the Devil, has sown weeds into the field. Heaven is free of such weeds, so the kingdom of heaven and Heaven itself are not synonymous. Nor is He talking about the world because the world is certainly not the kingdom of heaven. It is the Catholic Church which is the kingdom of Christ on earth.

In His parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus tells us that the wheat was planted, but the weeds were the work of an enemy who came and planted his evil seed. We can see that this is what happened with the Catholic Church virtually as soon as it was established as even the Apostles themselves had to struggle and battle with heretics at the outset like the Judaizers and the Gnostics. These heresies would flourish alongside orthodoxy all the way to the present day. Some of the lowest points for the Church were the virtual domination of the Arian heresy that came later, the Cathars, the Protestant Revolt, and the modernism of today. All of these weeds are the work of Satan.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't read about some scandal involving a priest or a bishop. Their actions are criminal in an extreme way that would make a mafioso blush. Additionally, many prelates and priests exhibit no belief in the Real Presence and actively push and promote heresy in a multitude of ways. Now, we have a pope who seems to be firmly on the side of the modernists.

All of the scandal and heresy in the Church begs a question. The question isn't why is the Church so corrupt. The real question is why corrupt people would want to be in the Church. Think about it. If you were gay and an atheist, why would you ever become a priest? Why would you ever take vows to join a religious order? And if you despised the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, why be Catholic when there are literally thousands of Protestant denominations and sects to suit you? This behavior would be like the Democrats deciding they didn't care about winning elections and that the better way to go would be to become Republicans to tear the party down from the inside. That is insanity and virtually no Democrat does this. But this is what has happened and still happens with the Roman Catholic Church.

The heretics, liars, thieves, and perverts inside the Roman Catholic Church arrive there and remain there under satanic inspiration. They are literally agents of the Devil himself. They do the work and bidding of Lucifer. They are the Devil's weeds in the wheatfield of the Lord, and their mission is to corrupt and subvert the mission of the Church.

The servants in the parable ask a pertinent question. Should we go and root out these weeds? The good man tells them no. For the sake of the wheat, the weeds must be allowed to grow. This is because you cannot tell the difference between one and the other. It is only when the wheat yields its grain that we can tell the wheat from the weeds. This is because the Church is made up of sinners. I am one of those sinners believing at one time in things that I now oppose. I was a Protestant, a Calvinist, an atheist, and on and on. And, then, God opened my eyes, and I repented. It is for the sake of people like me that God tolerates the evil in the world and in the Church.

In conclusion, the only thing I can tell you is to be the wheat. This means embracing the One True Faith, holding firmly to the Magisterium, and working on becoming a saint through the sacraments, devotions, prayer, examination of conscience, and works of mercy. The parable concludes with the harvesting of the wheat into the barn and the binding of the weeds to be burned. The barn is Heaven. The fire is Hell. The evildoers in the Church and all those who work for the Devil will receive their reward. They will be tormented in everlasting damnation forever. Be the wheat.


Life Is Suffering

For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.

I write this on Good Friday of 2017, and it is my reflection not only on the passion of Christ but the nature of life itself. I have been on both sides of it. I was a Christian who lost his faith and embraced atheism. Then through the intercession of our Lady and my wife, I came back from that living death to the new life I live now as a Roman Catholic. In my journey, one thing remained with me. It was and remains the Unchanging Fact. Life is suffering.

All of the world's schemes, philosophies, and all the rest are vain attempts to escape the Unchanging Fact. There are those who have gotten the raw deal in life. Perhaps they were born in poverty or were cursed with some crippling or disfiguring disease. They never got the breaks in life. Life broke them instead. These are the poor in spirit.

The rich in spirit are those who got the breaks in life. They were born into wealth and comfort. They went on to success, fame, and the rest. Then, they discovered how disappointing and empty life can be. So, they destroyed themselves in loveless relationships, alcohol, drugs, and the rest. Then, there are those who look perfect on the outside, but their home lives are a wreck. I've lived long enough to conclude that comfort is the shortest path to madness. If you doubt this, witness all those celebrity meltdowns.

Material affluence often leads to spiritual bankruptcy, and there are those who are poor who would love to run the risk of that spiritual bankruptcy. They commit the sin of envy not realizing what they covet. As James 4:3 puts it, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." God will never answer a prayer to be made spiritually bankrupt.

As I meditated during the Stations of the Cross today, I thought about a lesser message of the cross. The greater message is obviously about the Atonement and Christ's love and reconciliation. But the lesser message has to do with Christ's admonition to take up our own cross and follow Him. Why should we do this? Why should we also embark on our own personal via dolorosa? The answer is twofold.

The first part of the answer is the fact that you are on the path of suffering regardless of what you do. I rejected faith in Christ because I lived under the delusion that perhaps life had something to offer. After a decade of this, I realized that it didn't. You can either suffer with Christ or suffer without Christ. Christ endeavors to disabuse us of the notion that life has much to offer.

The second part of the answer is that by choosing Christ you are choosing life. This is that abundant life Christ spoke about. This should not be confused with the heretical gospel of the prospetarians who believe that Jesus suffered and died, so you could get a Mercedes-Benz. This is that abundant life where you become dead to the world but alive in Christ as St. Paul references again and again. I call this mindset "holy indifference."

I have suffered much in this life, yet I don't consider myself to have suffered as much as the saints, martyrs, the apostles, and Christ Himself. Yet, my own experience confirms what they teach. Life has nothing to offer us. Life does not satisfy. Life is suffering.

The best life has to offer is a momentary delusion and the amnesia about our own fates. We act as if death will happen to others but not to us. In the meantime, we suffer. What compounds the suffering is that it is meaningless. But with Christ, it has meaning.

This is the heroic virtue of Jesus Christ. He took His own poverty, His own suffering, and His very death and turned it into a gift to God the Father on behalf of us. And we also are given the opportunity to turn our own miserable lives into a similar offering. In that embrace of our own sufferings and crosses, we find meaning, purpose, and life. You can die for nothing, or you can die for something. No matter what, we all die.

I have often wondered why God allowed me to go through all the things I did, but I see the blessing in it all now. God was bankrupting me in order to offer me the true riches He had to offer. As a Protestant and a Calvinist, I accepted suffering, but I saw no value in it. It was pointless and stupid.  Then, I fell away into atheism which was also suffering that was pointless and stupid. Then, I encountered Catholicism, and I was told that my suffering could have value and purpose. For some reason, that resonated with me.

I don't always get answers to my prayers. Like Paul, I am left with my thorns. But I know that these thorns are for my ultimate good. I am grateful for my suffering, and I see the gifts in my afflictions. It is a poor father who provides a comfortable life to his children causing them to become spoiled and soft. They only love their father for what he gives them and not for who he is.

God is no sugar daddy. With Christ's work on the cross, the penalty for sin has been removed, and the path to salvation has been opened. Yet, we are still left with suffering. God expects us to share in both the glory of Christ and also the suffering of Christ. He could suspend this order of things in an instant, but He does not.

Anyone could embrace a savior that takes away the pain. It is another thing to embrace a savior who expects us to suffer and offer that suffering up. People don't want the suffering Messiah. I think this is why Judas Iscariot did what he did. He signed up for the glorious Messiah that would defeat the Romans and bring glory to Judea in conquest and prosperity. This was the notion in the minds of the other apostles as well. They didn't get it.

People want a Messiah who will transform them and their lives and the meaning of life itself. Jesus actually delivers on all these counts. Yet, we are so blind and stupid that we just don't see it. People just want the Mercedes-Benz. They don't want the birthright. They want the bowl of lentils.

To appreciate what Christ has to offer, I think it helps to be driven to the absolute edge of suicide and despair. You have to become utterly sick of this world and this life. In the blackness of that sickness and emptiness, Christ can shine a light, and you can see it. It is easy to turn your back on that darkness and leave it behind.

I have Christ in my life. This is what matters to me. I don't have a Plan B for this life. I had one before, and God let me take it. And I found that it was not for me. There is only Christ. Nothing else than Christ will ever satisfy me. Nothing else can make me happy.

Life will always be suffering. That can be endured. What cannot be endured is suffering without meaning. Christ gives meaning to my suffering and to my life. I offer that life to Him. Without Him, I would have no life. And when I lose this life, I hope it will be given back to me in the Resurrection.


Strange Light From the East

You see pictures of Buddha and he’s sitting, reclining, at peace. The Hindus have their twelve-armed elephant god, who also seems so content but not powerless. But leave it to Christians to have a dead and bloody man nailed to a cross.

It is hard to date the beginning of the modern love affair with Eastern spirituality. You can see the seeds of it in Maugham's The Razor's Edge and Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums. But the event that really pushed the East into mainstream consciousness was the trip the Beatles took to India to spend time with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. That event made Eastern spirituality cool for the generation of hippies who had grown exhausted of doing drugs and fornicating and wanted something more. Eastern religion offered a new path to Enlightenment and expanded consciousness to these wayward souls.

The India trip turned out to be mostly a fiasco for the Beatles. The guru was less than pleased with the Beatles' penchant for drugs and alcohol while the Beatles and especially John Lennon became a bit disillusioned by Maharishi's desire to bang out Mia Farrow and take a 25% cut of the royalties of their next album as a tithe. This was odd behavior for a man who claimed to be celibate and above material concerns.

I find the episode laughable. The simple fact is that the Western world has always had a path to salvation and fulfillment in the Christian religion and a reliable guide in Jesus Christ. Why reject what works in favor of what doesn't work? Why did the Beatles and all those doped up hippies tap into Transcendental Meditation? Why do people today still look to gurus like Deepak Chopra or the Dalai Lamai or Zen Buddhist practitioners to feed their starving souls?

People reject Christianity for Eastern religion for a simple and stupid reason. Eastern religion offers spirituality without morality. That's it. Unlike Christianity, you can practice Zen, TM, or yoga and still fornicate. In addition, you can feel compassion for others without actually having to do something compassionate like feed them from the ample resources of your Swiss bank account. This is why Eastern religion is so popular among Hollywood celebrities who are given to wealth, hedonism, and self-indulgence. Eastern religion is religion without guilt.

Christianity is too painful and demanding. It requires that you pray to God instead of engaging in the spiritual masturbation known as meditation. Christianity requires that you examine your conscience and acknowledge your sinfulness. It requires that you seek forgiveness and make amends through real works of mercy as opposed to "feeling compassion."

John Lennon may have been shocked to discover that his guru was nothing more than a moneygrubbing charlatan out to make a buck and drain his seminal vesicles into the nubile bodies of young hippy chicks. The reality is that Lennon could have found this by just looking in a mirror. It is hard to sit in judgment of a man guilty of the same sins as yourself.

Atheists like Sam Harris are also getting into the Eastern game with praise and instructions for meditation.The aim of these atheists is no different than it was for those pot smoking fornicating hippies. They seek a spirituality divorced from morality and guilt. They would simply add superstition to the mix. Religion among those who reject religion amounts to something like exercise for the mind. They talk about the benefits of meditation such as stress reduction and. . .er, stress reduction. I'm not sure what benefits there can be for atheists beyond that. With no belief in the supernatural, atheists meditating for elevated consciousness or nirvana is a bit stupid. As for the benefits of meditation, most of the research I have encountered suggests that you would be better off taking a nap during that time period.

All of this spirituality without religion is like scratching an itch that you deny having. The simple fact is that the soul hungers for God and cannot find satisfaction apart from prayer and worship. There is no substitute for Christianity. If anything can be said about these fools in a positive way, they acknowledge that Christianity is a package deal. You can't have a Christianity without morality, the supernatural, guilt, and obedience. Modernist heretics and cafeteria Catholics may try to modify the package to make it a better sell, but it amounts to selling a car without an engine.

Eastern religion is garbage. It does not satisfy. It promises that you can have your spiritual cake and eat it, too. But it can never deliver on these promises. Only Jesus Christ can satisfy the human soul. If you want this satisfaction, you need to toss your yoga mat and your Buddha statue and pick up your cross. You need to get on your knees and pray. You need to come home to the Roman Catholic Church and receive the sacraments. You need to repent of your sins and make a firm purpose of amendment to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin. You need to read the Bible and pray the rosary. You need to develop a love for Jesus in the Eucharist. These things will feed your soul, and you will be satisfied. Jesus will fill you. As for the Buddha, he only offers emptiness and the contemplation of that emptiness. You know better than to waste your life on this garbage.


A Response to Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble on Blogging

It sounds harsh but most of our opinions don’t really matter. The only thing that matters is truth and action, and that is not the same as opinion.

At the outset, I need to say that I am a fan of Sister Theresa, and it is a rare article that falls from her pen that doesn't get a retweet from me. She is always thought provoking. This particular article is no exception. In fact, it has provoked more thoughts than the norm. I can't even say if I agree or disagree with her. What I can say is that it has made me reflect a bit on blogging especially in the context of blogging on faith and morals.

The easiest criticism to make is that it sounds hypocritical for a Catholic blogger to be calling out the Catholic blogosphere. But that criticism rests on the assumption that all Catholic blogs are the same. There is a wide divergence between Mark Shea and Rorate Caeli. Yet, the one thing they share in common is a willingness to traffic in controversy. I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that Sister Theresa is writing about those blogs that are more about creating heat than shedding light.

What is the difference between heat and light? Heat is where people share opinions and gossip. Light is where people share truth about faith and morals. The problem here today is that we have a lot of heat created by Pope Francis with Amoris Laetitia over an issue of faith and morals. Orthopraxy flows from orthodoxy. It does not flow from heterodoxy.

When prelates and priests counsel people to take the body and blood of our Lord unworthily as a consequence of living in an objective state of adultery, they lead people into serious error that could possibly damn their souls. This is truth, and it is controversial. This begs the question. When the popes, prelates, and priests teach and encourage error, who should call them out?

Catholic bloggers call out the sins of politicians and the world all the time. Whether it is abortion or indifference to the poor or that transgender lunacy, Catholic bloggers voice their opinions on these matters on a constant basis. Should they shut their mouths and just be holy by not getting an abortion or attending a gay wedding? Or, should they voice their opinions on these matters like Chesterton and Belloc before them? And, are they merely opinions?

I can agree that speaking without wisdom is foolishness. These fools abound, and they are tiring. We know these people as Protestants. Conversely, wisdom that is silent is cowardice. For a long time, disgusting priests have sexually abused children while bishops covered up for them and lay Catholics remained silent on it. Finally, the secular world spoke up in glee at the scandal and the shame that the Roman Catholic Church carries to this day. Should we remain silent on such things as this?

As a blogger and as a Catholic, I find myself following a very simple rule. When you know what you are talking about, speak up. When you don't know what you are talking about, shut up. Since knowing the difference can be difficult, you should err on the side of silence. Truth does not spoil like milk, so you can be patient in sharing it. But you still have to share it.

I disagree with Sister Theresa. The Church certainly needs our holiness, but it also needs our opinion. In my opinion, I think child molesting priests are a disgrace. In my opinion, a Vatican bank that launders drug money for organized crime is a disgrace. In my opinion, a Pope who preaches mercy while kneecapping those who stand for orthodoxy is a disgrace. It matters not if I am silent, speak my opinion, or these things come from the mouth of Satan. They remain what they are--a disgrace.

The Mafia have a name for it. It is the Code of Omerta. You keep your mouth shut. You do not interfere. Evil flourishes in this silence. Or, as Edmund Burke put it, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Silence in the face of evil is to do nothing.

How many evil things could have been prevented or defeated if people had spoken up? I tell you now that St. Thomas More's head would have remained on his neck and England would be Catholic today if more than two men had spoken up. Likewise, the scandals in our Church would not be what they are if more people had voiced their opinion or told what they knew.

It is a terrible thing to spread falsehoods and lies. But it is worse to hold back the truth from those who have a right to it. The truth cannot harm you. To hold back the truth from those who need it is a sin of omission. Whether it was prophets of the Old Testament or the apostles of the New Testament, the consequences of holding back the truth were severe. As St. Paul put it, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel." He knew what those prophets of old were told. If you are silent, there will be condemnation.

Catholics who blog and tweet the truth do a service to the Body of Christ. This includes a blogger like Sister Theresa. Blogging is no substitute for personal holiness, but it is not incompatible with holiness either. We should certainly remove the logs from our own eyes, but we are still under the duty to remove the specks from the eyes of others. Certainly, there are those bloggers who do a disservice, but we do not damn all newspapers because of the libels published in the supermarket gossip rags.

I think Sister Theresa suffers from the internal conflict that plagues all sincere Catholic bloggers. Am I being truthful? Am I being charitable? This is certainly a good thing since we don't want those logs in our own eyes. But this endless internal conflict leads to timidity and lack of confidence. We doubt ourselves into passivity, and we let the children burn to death in the house fire because we are afraid we might screw up the rescue attempt. I tell you now that neither St. Paul nor St, Catherine ever gave it a thought. Their love for the other made them forget that they were sinners. Love is what pulls the logs from our eyes and the eyes of others.

Sister Theresa strikes me as someone of sanctity and great love. As a religious, she does not enjoy the freedom that laypeople like myself have at our disposal. I do not labor under the vows she has made. The Church needs the religious to perform their roles and do their jobs. Likewise, the Church also needs the laity to respond to the universal call to holiness but to also use their freedom to call out priests and religious when they err and stray. This is one of the blessings of Vatican II. Despite the charges of the critics, that council exposed the disease and provided the cure. The cure is an empowered laity answering the call to holiness. The lay faithful are now the ones promoting and defending orthodoxy. There is an irony there I will save for another essay. As for this one, I don't see the sin in telling people to change their ways.