Charlie's Blog: 2018


Father Jerk

And Nadab and Abiu, the sons of Aaron, taking their censers, put fire therein, and incense on it, offering before the Lord strange fire: which was not commanded them. And fire coming out from the Lord destroyed them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron: This is what the Lord hath spoken: I will be sanctified in them that approach to me, and I will be glorified in the sight of all the people. And when Aaron heard this, he held his peace. And Moses called Misael and Elisaphan, the sons of Oziel, the uncle of Aaron, and said to them: Go and take away your brethren from before the sanctuary, and carry them without the camp. And they went forthwith and took them as they lay, vested with linen tunicks, and cast them forth, as had been commanded them.

I have a little saying I tell myself. People don't listen to you until you stop talking to them. This saying comes from the numerous times when I have tried to talk to people about things. It may be something benign like a change in diet to something more serious like mortal sin. Part of me wants to say nothing and save myself the hassle. But this is not charitable. The other part of me wants to keep hammering on the people until the message penetrates their thick skulls. But this is not charitable either. So, I take a middle path where I tell someone what they need to hear. If they refuse to listen, I shake the dust from my clothes and move on. This is the prescription the Lord gave to His apostles, and you see it demonstrated in St. Paul who evangelized the Jews in an area first and moved on to the Gentiles. To this day, the Jews have the Law and the Prophets, but they reject the one who rose from the dead as foretold in Luke 16:31.

Some Jews do get the message and respond to that light. One of my favorites is St. Teresa Benedicta known more famously as Edith Stein who converted to Roman Catholicism, became a nun, and died in the Holocaust because even a Catholic Jew was still a Jew to the Nazis. But it's OK. She is a saint, and I ask for her prayers daily. But for the vast majority of Jews, Jesus is to be ignored. Christians are forbidden to mistreat Jews because of this. Charity is always the rule.

I find myself in that place where I must shake the dust from my clothes. The irony is that it concerns a priest. To be more exact, it is the priest in my parish. I have repeatedly tried to make headway with this guy in trying to get him to correct his ways. I am not alone in this. Parishioners in writing and in person have called him out repeatedly. In addition, letters have gone to the bishop about him. All of this is to no avail. Considering the fact that the Church is reluctant to even remove sexual abusers from priestly ministry, I know that nothing will happen to this priest who is merely bad at his job.

To protect his identity, I will refer to this priest by the name we use for him--Father Jerk. Trust me, he has earned this nickname. When Father Jerk was called out for being a jerk, his defense was to the point. We should be grateful that we don't have one of those child molesting priests. I am not making this up. Believe me, I am glad that we don't have one of those monster priests. But Father Jerk is cursed with the same arrogance as those pedophiles. He knows he is a bad priest, and he simply doesn't care.

Why would a man like this enter priestly ministry? Some men are called to the priesthood, and they answer the call. Others are called to the priesthood, and they do not answer the call. Then, there are those who answer the call they did not receive. This would be Father Jerk.

It is easy to figure out why Father Jerk became a priest. When he came to our parish, we knew something was up when he parked his presider's chair directly in front of the altar. I have been in many parishes, and I have never seen this done before. Apparently, it is canonically permissible as even the bishop has sat in that chair where it is parked in front of the altar. The reason no other priest does it anywhere else is because they are humble. Father Jerk is not humble. His reason for parking the chair in front of the altar is because he wants to be worshiped. He wants to be seen and adored. And this is the reason why he became a priest. His previous profession was in the hotel industry where he was not seen and adored.

Father Jerk claims that he was motivated to enter the priesthood after spending time with a cousin who was a devout Catholic. Today, that cousin shuns Father Jerk and has nothing to do with him. I know this because Father Jerk openly whines about it in his homilies which are 25% faith and doctrine and 75% autobiography. I know the reason for the estrangement. That cousin knows that Father Jerk was not called to the priesthood. For virtually every other Catholic family on earth, having a son in the priesthood is considered an awesome thing. But for the Jerk family, it is an embarrassment. This is because Father Jerk is an embarrassment.

All priests have their virtues and their flaws. Some priests have boring homilies. Others are old and frail and can barely say Mass. Others are heterodox in some of their beliefs. Still others are not the best managers of a parish. Even the great Padre Pio was not a good homilist. But these flaws are usually ameliorated by gifts in other areas. Father Jerk has no gifts. The one good thing I can say about him is that he is orthodox but barely.

We don't call it Mass anymore. We call it the Father Jerk Show. A typical Mass from Father Jerk may include a whiny homily about his own life, passive aggressive stabs at parishioners, a game show quiz, and show tunes. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. You don't know if you are in Catholic Church or just stumbled into a very bad Las Vegas lounge act. The whole spectacle is done for the sake of his own ego, and he takes the Novus Ordo to the absolute brink of irreverence. My wife and I have taken to attending the Spanish Mass because his Spanish is so poor that he actually has to humble himself a bit to get through it. We don't understand hardly a word of Spanish which spares us from cringing during his awful homilies.

In the confessional, Father Jerk is just as bad. You will go to confess your sins, and this jerk will talk you out of it. He doesn't offer absolution and spiritual direction. He just gives you excuses for doing wrong. This is because this is what he does in his own life. The result is the Ten Commandments become the Ten Suggestions in the world of Father Jerk. When I confess to him, it ends up in an argument as I explain to him what the Catholic Church teaches concerning faith and morals.

As for the management of the parish, Father Jerk is very bad. He increased the budget as giving has declined as people exit the parish to get the hell away from him. For those who remain, he harangues endlessly about the need to increase their giving. But if the giving increases, he blows it with increased spending. The former hotel manager can't manage the parish.

As for his work ethic, Father Jerk is incredibly lazy. Daily Mass is cancelled for an entire week on a regular basis. Parishioners would complain except they don't want to go to his Masses anyway. When a visiting priest comes, it is welcome relief from the Father Jerk Show. And Father Jerk is absent from the parish often because he hates our parish and our parishioners. Everyone cringes around him and his jokey demeanor. We encountered some parishioners from his old parish who raved about their new priest but were stone silent about Father Jerk as they gave us a look of pity.

Father Jerk has no friends. No one likes him. It is hard to love someone who is already in love with himself. So, Father Jerk whines about his loneliness in his homilies. Then, there are the dogs. Father Jerk came to our parish with three very smelly dogs. The rectory now reeks of the smell which would be OK except that he lets his dogs urinate and defecate all around the church as well. I have personally had to step around dog turds on my way into church. Father Jerk also allows the dogs to come into the sanctuary and even the sacristy. Finally, one day, one of those smelly mutts finally dies. Father Jerk loses his mind over this and still cries about it over a year later. He had the dog cremated and had the ashes of the deceased animal under his presider's chair at Mass. People have lost family members during this time and have shed less tears than Father Jerk has for his beloved dog. It would not surprise me if I learned that Father Jerk baptized those dogs and fed them consecrated hosts. The man has shed more tears over his dead dog than for any of his sheep.

This is not a man of God. This is just some egomaniac in a collar. As for his sexuality, I think he is a sodomite. I can't prove this because I would have to spy on him and his private life. I am simply not going to do this. But he displays the same level of narcissism I see among homosexuals. It would not surprise me if all his time away from the parish was for the sake of immoral activities. But like I said, I can't prove this, so I will not calumniate the man. I pray that he is chaste. God help him if he isn't. And if he is a homosexual, he should have never entered the priesthood. That estranged cousin may know this secret.

It is a sin to engage in detraction. Of course, Father Jerk has told me in the confessional that detraction isn't a sin. Hell, he didn't even know what detraction was until I told him. This is a man who graduated from seminary, yet I can't tell if he has even read the catechism. But I think it is also a sin to withhold information that people have a right to know. When it comes to priests and bishops, parishioners have a right to know if their shepherds are not holy and righteous. It is because of this reluctance to call them out that wolves and monsters have entered and taken over the priesthood leading to the present sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

The natural question people ask is this. Why not take this to the bishop? People already have. The bishop is not ignorant concerning Father Jerk. He has received letters from the parishioners concerning Father Jerk. When the bishop tried to move Father Jerk to another position away from us, Father Jerk told him he wasn't leaving. And there you have it. When the priest can tell his bishop what to do, that's all you need to know about the vocations crisis in the Catholic Church. In our diocese, many parishes are lucky to have a full time priest. In the case of Father Jerk, he was moved to our parish as an act of mercy for his former parish.

I am sparing Father Jerk's reputation by not putting his name on this while reserving the option to add it in an update in the future. Any of his current or former parishioners that read this will immediately recognize his true identity. Father Jerk knows he is a jerk, and he is unrepentant. He doesn't care. As for me, I am done wasting my breath and time on this clown. I pray for his repentance and conversion as I have done for the last three years. But I also pray that God takes this awful priest from us and gives us a true shepherd authentically called to the priesthood and cares for his flock. I also ask for your prayers as well. I don't need St. John Vianney. I just want a priest who isn't a jerk.



I was involved in a nasty truck accident at my day job and have been in the hospital for a couple of days. I am really banged up and sore. I need to take a break from the blog for awhile because my neck hurts too much to look at the screen of my computer for very long. Please pray for my full recovery because I need this body to do things and get work done. I will return to regular blogging when I recover. Thank you so much.--C.


Reflections on the Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

When I go to confession, my priest almost always gives me the Serenity Prayer as a penance. This probably has something to do with my confessions about anger. I first encountered the prayer through Alcoholics Anonymous. I do not belong to AA, but I am familiar with them from an article I wrote for the school newspaper back in high school. One of the things you learn about sobriety is that it isn't about managing drinking. It is about managing life. When an alcoholic can't handle life, he or she turns to drinking. When they get sober, their life skills aren't much better, and they become a "dry drunk." The road to recovery requires new life skills. This is where the Serenity Prayer comes into play.

The prayer reminds me of the words of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus who expressed something similar. Epictetus wrote,
 Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions—in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.
Epictetus provides the wisdom part of the Serenity Prayer. This quotation from him lets you know the difference between what you can change and what you cannot change. Sad to say, most things in life are beyond our power to change. And the things we can change such as our thinking, character, and behavior we do not endeavor to change.

I struggle with anger and laziness. As I reflect on the Serenity Prayer, I see that it holds the answer to those dilemmas. My anger comes from enduring things I am powerless to change. My laziness comes from not doing something about the things I can change. For instance, I can't change my job, but I can change jobs. The reason I don't change jobs is because they usually turn out to be the same with the same frustrations.

One of my famous sayings is this one. I can't make it better, but I can make it different. The gist of this is that some problems are just fundamental to existence. For instance, people might want to leave the snowbound north, so they move to Florida where they must endure hurricanes. It's not better, but it is different. You can't escape the weather. You just have to decide which misery you find more tolerable.

Another variation of this problem is when people want to move and relocate thinking that life is somehow better somewhere else. Then, when they get there, they find they are still miserable. This is because their misery is not outside of them but inside. As they say, wherever you go, there you are. I know people who have moved multiple times and changed jobs many times. But they don't change themselves.

Another aspect of the Serenity Prayer is a quotation from St. Augustine on prayer which says, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." Obviously, not everything depends on us. But by the same token, we should not surrender to fatalism either. We should strive to make things work. If we pray and work, we should leave the rest up to God. Ultimately, God is the one who brings it to completion.

The extremes here would be anxiety and indifference. Some people become anxious over things they can't change. Others become indifferent over the things they can change. Wisdom is the midpoint between those extremes.

In conclusion, I think it helps to read the entire prayer that Reinhold Niehbuhr composed.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.



The Schismatic

For Demas hath left me. . .

You can take it to the bank that if a high profile Catholic makes a high profile exit from the Roman Catholic Church,  Rod Dreher will have a blog post about it. Dreher will deny it, but he can't hide it. He takes glee and satisfaction in these defections from the One True Faith. This is because these schisms mirror and bolster his own schism from the Barque of Peter. Rod Dreher is a schismatic.

I like Rod Dreher. I read his work on the regular. Many of his opinions on religious and political matters are identical to my own. I cite him frequently, and I link to his work. I have no personal dislike for the man. In fact, we could sit down, have a cup of coffee, and find that we have very much in common. But this does not change the fact that he is a schismatic. As such, he is a dangerous fellow because he encourages others by his example to follow him in rebellion.

Let me make one thing clear. If you schism from the Roman Catholic Church, you will go to Hell. This is not my opinion. This is the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church. To defy this teaching, one must deny the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals. Rod Dreher denies this authority. He knows better. So, why did Dreher leave Catholicism for Orthodoxy?

The answer to that is obvious. Rod Dreher explains it,
I had two little boys at the time. I was tortured — the word isn’t too strong — by the certainty that if a priest had raped one of my sons, my bishop likely would have treated my wife and me as the enemy, and might even have helped my child’s rapist escape abroad. I knew that most of them saw the scandal as a public relations problem, and that even the best of them were too timid to clean out the Augean stables. I came to believe that all of them lied as a matter of course. Remember, I knew the truth about Cardinal McCarrick in 2002, and I had to read and listen to him go on and on with his lies. 
Conversion & Reconciling Narratives
Basically, Rod Dreher did not want to see his children molested and raped by Catholic priests and prelates. I totally understand this motivation. The simple fact is that the Roman Catholic Church has been overrun by decades by disgusting pedophiles and sodomites. These perverts need to be beaten, castrated, disemboweled, and burned alive for their crimes against God and humanity. I pray everyday that this happens to them. And if you think this is harsh, know that it is more merciful than the fires of Hell that will consume them for eternity. There aren't enough millstones for these bastards.

The problem with Rod Dreher is that it made him do what he should not have done. It made him schism. Here is what St. Jerome said about schism,
Between heresy and schism there is this difference, that heresy perverts dogma, while schism, by rebellion against the bishop, separates from the Church. Nevertheless there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church.
This sounds like Rod Dreher who admits that he turned off his brain and followed his heart out of the Church of Rome and into the arms of Eastern Orthodoxy. Apparently, that Filioque Clause stuff was a small hurdle for him.

The problem with leaving the Catholic Church to protect your kids is that it fails to acknowledge that this is a problem that exists in other places like little league sports, scouting, and the public schools. As Newsweek reported, pedophiles find their way into the Russian Orthodox Church, too. Will Rod Dreher leave Orthodoxy over this? Of course not.

The true reason Dreher left Catholicism is that the Catholic brand has been tarnished beyond repair. This is not Dreher's fault but the fault of clerics in the Catholic Church. It is a humiliation to be a Catholic especially a Catholic convert in this day and time. No such humiliation exists in Orthodoxy.

Rod Dreher is like a man who left his first wife, married a second wife, and still talks about his first wife and drives by her house each night to see what she is up to. Dreher's blog has a post daily if not more about the scandals in the Roman Catholic Church. I am glad that he posts these things. I put a link to them every time over at IA. But this would be like me writing about Calvin or atheism daily. If you're Orthodox, you should just let the Catholic stuff go and move on with your faith journey. But Dreher just can't do this.

The Roman Catholic Church is the true church. Dreher knows this and feels it in his being. His motivation for the posts about the scandals is to bolster the decision he made to schism from the Catholic Church. And when someone else schisms, that merits the same attention as the scandals. I never see him mention anything regarding Methodism which was the faith he belonged to prior to becoming Catholic.

What should Dreher do? The answer is obvious. He should return to the fold. He needs to get back in communion with Rome. He knows this in his heart and in his head. But to do this would require a humiliation this man is unwilling to bear. This pride will cost him his soul.

What should you do? You should profit from the good commentary Dreher has about the Roman Catholic Church and the filth and corruption found there. But you should not follow his example and become a schismatic. And you should pray and work to help rid the filth and corruption from Catholicism.

It is a sad shame that a guy like Rod would leave the Catholic Church. He is a man who has done the wrong thing for the right reasons. This happens. If the Roman Catholic Church was just another institution or church, I would have left by now. But it isn't just another institution or church. It is the one and only church of Jesus Christ. Everything else is a copy and a substitute. Leaving the Church is not an option even if it is full of the vilest men we know. God has allowed this to fall upon us. It is a test of our faith. I trust that God will deal with these bastards in His time.


Why Does God Not Answer My Prayers?

And in all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.

If you spend any time in prayer, the first thing you will learn is that God does not answer your prayers. You pray for someone to be healed of cancer. They die. You pray that someone else overcomes financial difficulties, but the bank forecloses on their home. You pray that a married couple deliver a healthy baby, but the baby is born with spina bifida. You pray that a relative converts before he dies. He dies unconverted in his sins. You pray for a job and remain unemployed. The simple fact is that you can believe in God. You can pray. Yet, you do not receive the answer to your prayer. The result is discouragement and a test of faith. Why pray to a God who doesn't keep His promises? Why pray to a God who seems indifferent to our needs? Why does God not answer my prayers?

If you seek for satisfying answers to these questions, you will find none. There is a satisfying answer to this problem, but precious few find it. This is because the answer is hidden. It is obscured by false answers, bad theology, and teachers who are not honest. These answers come from people misinformed in their faith or lacking in faith. Yet, when you find the satisfying answer, you will see that it was there all along. You simply lacked the understanding. I pray that you will find this understanding just as I found it.

The Atheist Answer

The atheist response to our question is straightforward. God does not answer your prayers because He does not exist. When you pray, you pray to emptiness. God doesn't care because He just isn't there. If you do get an answer, it is merely a lucky coincidence like praying for rain, and it just happens to rain. But for the real things we pray for like healing from Stage 4 cancer, those answers never come. This is because a non-existent God can't cure cancer.

The deist response to our question is similar to the atheist response except it is colder. God does exist, but He doesn't care. He created the world like a watch, wound it up, and walked away from it. If the watch breaks, it is up to you to fix it. Otherwise, your prayers are a waste of time. You are either praying to a God who doesn't exist or doesn't care. The final result amounts to the same thing.

The refutation to these lies is very easy to find. You merely have to look at your own prayer life to see the many times God did act in your life and do things both ordinary and spectacular. God answers many prayers to a level that you can't dismiss His existence. I can attest that God has done many things in my life and the lives of others. As a former atheist, I am now at a point in my life that I am no longer able to return to that atheism. God has done too many things in my life and shown me so much that I can't be an atheist anymore. It would be like closing my eyes and denying the existence of the sun.

The unbeliever's response to this is that you are deluding yourself. Your life is simply a series of random events for which God gets all of the credit for the good things and none of the blame for the bad things. If you look at the life of an atheist, you will see a similar pattern except the atheist's life is often sweeter and more blessed despite not believing in God. If God really did exist, then the Christian should be living the good life while the atheist suffers.

My response is that the sun still exists even while it is night. You may not see the sun in the darkness, but you can see the reflection of the sun's light from the moon. The Christian points to the light. The atheist points to the darkness. The light exists, but so does the darkness. The Christian says the dawn is coming. The atheist says no dawn is coming. When the moon is dark and does not shine, that is when we think the atheist may be right. But once you've seen the moon, you know it is there as well as the sun even if they are not always visible. Prayer is the same way. You will receive enough answers to prayers to know that you are not wasting your time. God exists, and He cares.

The Prospetarian Answer

The atheist may give the wrong answer to our problem, but at least he is honest in that wrong answer. The atheist believes he is delivering us from a destructive fairy tale. But there are those who would like to have us believe in fairy tales. These would be those lying false teachers that populate the airwaves and Protestant megachurches with the Gospel of Prosperity. I call them the Prospetarians, and they are worse than the atheists in their lies.

The Prospetarian answer to our problem is simple. God does answer prayer. But this is the prayer of faith. God will answer your prayer if you believe. That's what Matthew 21:22 is telling us. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. If you don't receive your request, you did not believe sufficiently. The fault is not with God. The fault is with you and your lack of faith. This means that your daughter that suffered from leukemia died because your prayers and your faith were half-ass. With all of the same comfort that Job's friends gave him, these Prospetarians deliver the bad news that it is all your fault. You are lacking in faith. The way to amend this lack of faith is to make a very large financial donation to their television ministry.

The refutation of the Prospetarian answer is very simple. No one had more faith than Jesus Christ. Christ is the Son of God. He performed miracles. He rose from the dead. Yet, here is His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane:
Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray.
And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad.
Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me.
And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 
Jesus prayed that the cup of suffering would pass from Him. Here we have the Son of God making a request to His Father. He asks for something. And He doesn't get it. Did Jesus lack faith? Should He have made a sizable financial contribution to the temple?

The Prospetarian will claim that this particular instance was an exception to the rule. Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross to atone for our sins, and it was the only way. Otherwise, God answers those prayers of faith. But St. Paul the Apostle writes this for our benefit:
And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.
For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me.
And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 
Certainly, St. Paul was a man of profound faith. This was a guy who had seen the risen Lord and had many visions and done stupendous works. Yet, he was given a thorn in the flesh which he prayed would be removed. That request was denied. Did he lack faith? I find that hard to believe.

From these two examples, we can safely draw this conclusion. You will pray for things in faith, and God will not give them to you. In fact, I will go even further and tell you that most of the things you ask for from God will not be granted to you in this life. Like Jesus and St. Paul, you are going to have to do without. And when God does answer these prayers, He often does so in a niggardly fashion while both the atheist and the prospetarian drive by shaking their heads and laughing at how bad you have it in life.

The temptation at this point is to hang it up. Why believe in a God who doesn't answer your prayers and fails to deliver on His promises? Why not come to the conclusion that neither the atheist nor the prospetarian will never offer? Why not say what no one dares to say? I will say it. God is a liar and a trickster and a con artist. He tells you one thing and does another. He puts enough bait in the trap to get you to believe in Him and then He knocks the crap out of you for the rest of your life because of that belief. In short, God portrays Himself as good, but He is actually evil. You should follow the Devil instead.

Do I actually believe this? Of course not. This is nauseating stuff. It is blasphemy. It's like when Job is told to curse God and die. But I must write it because people think it. These troubling thoughts are in their head even if they never put them into words and speak them or write them. These thoughts are darker than those of the atheist who merely denies the existence of God. These thoughts believe that God exists, and He is evil. But these thoughts come from Hell and belong to the Devil. They spring from misunderstanding and confusion. I will now clear this confusion from your mind and give you the satisfying answer you seek.

The Persistent Widow

Jesus gives us many instructions on prayer. He even gives us a prayer in the Our Father. The part about our daily bread can really stick in your throat as you contemplate the many Christians who prayed that prayer and still starved to death such as in the Irish Potato Famine. What do we do when our prayers go unanswered? Jesus gives the answer in the Parable of the Persistent Widow:
And he spoke also a parable to them, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint,
Saying: There was a judge in a certain city, who feared not God, nor regarded man.
And there was a certain widow in that city, and she came to him, saying: Avenge me of my adversary.
 And he would not for a long time. But afterwards he said within himself: Although I fear not God, nor regard man,
Yet because this widow is troublesome to me, I will avenge her, lest continually coming she weary me.
 And the Lord said: Hear what the unjust judge saith.
 And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night: and will he have patience in their regard?
I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?
This is a curious story to tell in regards to prayer. Basically, the unjust judge renders justice to the widow to get her off his back. Jesus tells a similar story in Luke 11 about the friend at night reluctant to help a neighbor but does it to also get him off his back. What is the point of these stories?

The gist of these stories is that the widow and the neighbor have more faith in their worldly and indifferent helpers than we have in the Lord who is not indifferent. The widow had no reason to believe that the judge wanted to do what was just, but she knew she could get justice if she never let up on him. Jesus tell us we should be the same way with God. But is God like the unjust judge who does the right thing to get us off his back? The obvious answer is no. A finite creature's demands are no match for an infinite God.

God answers all of our prayers. No prayer goes unanswered. The issue comes down to timing which Jesus alludes to at the end of the parable. When Jesus returns in the Second Coming, will He find faith on the earth? That question is the answer to our question. All prayers are answered in the final answer at the end of time when Jesus has His final triumph.

When a couple prays for their dying infant, they do not pray for eternal life for that infant. They pray that he will mature to adulthood and die at some later time. When that prayer is not answered, they are devastated. It hurts to lose a child, but all children will be lost at some time. Even Lazarus when he was raised from his tomb was only postponed the inevitability of returning to the very tomb that he escaped.

Because death is inevitable, we will all reach a point where our prayers to God for our loved ones or for ourselves will go unanswered. Then, they will be answered finally and forever in the resurrection. And this is why Jesus urges us to continue and persist in our faith until the very end. Our prayers will be answered. Our problem is that we would like them to be answered on this side of the grave while ignoring the other side of the grave. This is because our priorities and sensibilities are all messed up.

God's Economy

God's values and our values are not aligned. God wants to save us from Hell, turn us into saints, and give us eternal bless in Heaven. We want nice houses, new cars, and fancy clothes. St. James alludes to this in his epistle:
From whence are wars and contentions among you? Are they not hence, from your concupiscences, which war in your members?
You covet, and have not: you kill, and envy, and can not obtain. You contend and war, and you have not, because you ask not.
You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss: that you may consume it on your concupiscences.
Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God. 
St. James nails it when he writes, "You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss." What does this mean? It should be obvious. People ask for the wrong things in prayer, and God in His mercy and wisdom does not answer these prayers. The entire epistle of James makes this point. Here is what James writes in the first chapter of the epistle:
My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations;
Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.
But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind.
Therefore let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is inconstant in all his ways.
But let the brother of low condition glory in his exaltation:
And the rich, in his being low; because as the flower of the grass shall he pass away. 
For the sun rose with a burning heat, and parched the grass, and the flower thereof fell off, and the beauty of the shape thereof perished: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive a crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.
What is James saying here? It's very simple. Your life is in the toilet because God wanted it there. God does not answer your prayers because He wants you to suffer. Not only does God want you to suffer, He wants you to be grateful for this suffering. In fact, you should prefer it to the easy life of the fortunate and prosperous who are destined for Hell. Yet, we are commanded to ask for things. God gives abundantly. But we should revel in our poverty and adversity. How do we make sense of this nonsense?!

God does give abundantly. This abundance is wisdom. But do we ever ask for this? Are we like King Solomon who could have anything he desired but asked instead for the wisdom to rule his people? The sad answer is no. For God, the good things are wisdom, fortitude, temperance, justice, faith, hope, and charity. For us, the good things are Rolex, Armani, Louis Vuitton, BMW, and a vacation home in the Hamptons. As I said, God's values and our values are not aligned, and the fault is with us.

If you ask God for a spiritual good, He will almost always grant that immediately and gratuitously. If He delays in this, it is to perfect us like when He denied spiritual consolation from Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Sometimes, God allows dark nights of the soul to those who are advanced in their holiness and sanctity. These trials always produce good fruit in the life of the saint.

We want material goods from God. We don't want spiritual goods from God. What good father gives stones to his children when they ask for bread? Yet, what does a good father do when his children ask for stones instead of bread? This is what happens when we ask amiss in our prayers. We want material goodies to feed our concupiscence.

If you are poor in material goods and rich in spiritual goods, you are blessed by God. If you are rich in material goods but are poor in spiritual goods, you are on the sure path to damnation. Prosperity is bad. Adversity is good. If you can wrap your brain around this wisdom, you will flee the doublemindedness that James condemns in his epistle.

The Adversity Gospel

Bishop Richard Challoner revised the Douay-Rheims translation of the English Bible to make it more readable to a modern audience. It was the 1730s after all. In Deuteronomy 28, Challoner included these notes:
[2] "All these blessings": In the Old Testament, God promised temporal blessings to the keepers of his law, heaven not being opened as yet; and that gross and sensual people being more moved with present and sensible things. But in the New Testament the goods that are promised us are spiritual and eternal; and temporal evils are turned into blessings.
[15] "All these curses": Thus God dealt with the transgressors of his law in the Old Testament: but now he often suffers sinners to prosper in this world, rewarding them for some little good they have done, and reserving their punishment for the other world.
These notes contain the kernel of the Adversity Gospel which is in direct opposition to the Prosperity Gospel of the Prospetarians. In the Old Testament, God poured out material blessings on His people, Israel. He rescued them miraculously from their bondage in Egypt. He parted the Red Sea for them and fought their battles for them. And how did they repay God for all His goodness? They fashioned a golden calf and worshiped it in a sex orgy. This is the sort of thing that happens when you ask for material goods but not spiritual goods like wisdom. You become a complete idiot.

The affair with the golden calf would be repeated many times throughout the Old Testament. All Israel had to do was remain faithful to the Almighty who had been so good to them. They just couldn't do it. So, God punished them with calamities and trials. It was in those calamities and trials that faith would return to the Israelites and the Jews. Those Old Testament people were better off under a perpetual state of suffering and travail than under prosperity because it was in the prosperous and happy times that the nation would go whoring after idols.

The Prospetarians would like to go back to the deal God had going in the Old Testament. They like the idea of being faithful to God in order to get things. They don't see the golden calves they are lusting after in their desire for material things. But God does not operate by this Old Testament economy anymore. By the time you get to the Book of Maccabees, you see the economy of the New Testament taking over. Suffering was no longer going to be the exception. It was going to be the rule. Here is 2 Maccabees 7 in its entirety:
The glorious martyrdom of the seven brethren and their mother.
[1] It came to pass also, that seven brethren, together with their mother, were apprehended, and compelled by the king to eat swine's flesh against the law, for which end they were tormented with whips and scourges. [2] But one of them, who was the eldest, said thus: What wouldst thou ask, or learn of us? we are ready to die rather than to transgress the laws of God, received from our fathers. [3] Then the king being angry commanded fryingpans, and brazen caldrons to be made hot: which forthwith being heated, [4] He commanded to cut out the tongue of him that had spoken first: and the skin of his head being drawn off, to chop off also the extremities of his hands and feet, the rest of his brethren, and his mother, looking on. [5] And when he was now maimed in all parts, he commanded him, being yet alive, to be brought to the fire, and to be fried in the fryingpan: and while he was suffering therein long torments, the rest, together with the mother, exhorted one another to die manfully,
[6] Saying: The Lord God will look upon the truth, and will take pleasure in us, as Moses declared in the profession of the canticle: And In his servants he will take pleasure. [7] So when the first was dead after this manner, they brought the next to make him a, mocking stock: and when they had pulled off the skin of his head with the hair, they asked him if he would eat, before he were punished throughout the whole body in every limb. [8] But he answered in his own language, and said: I will not do it. Wherefore he also in the next place, received the torments of the first: [9] And when he was at the last gasp, he said thus: Thou indeed, O most wicked man, destroyest us out of this present life: but the King of the world will raise us up, who die for his laws, in the resurrection of eternal life. [10] After him the third was made a mocking stock, and when he was required, he quickly put forth his tongue, and courageously stretched out his hands:
[11] And said with confidence: These I have from heaven, but for the laws of God I now despise them: because I hope to receive them again from him. [12] So that the king, and they that were with him, wondered at the young man's courage, because he esteemed the torments as nothing. [13] And after he was thus dead, they tormented the fourth in the like manner. [14] And when he was now ready to die, he spoke thus: It is better, being put to death by men, to look for hope from God, to be raised up again by him: for, as to thee thou shalt have no resurrection unto life. [15] And when they had brought the fifth, they tormented him. But he looking upon the king,
[16] Said: Whereas thou hast power among men, though thou art corruptible, thou dost what thou wilt: but think not that our nation is forsaken by God. [17] But stay patiently a while, and thou shalt see his great power, in what manner he will torment thee and thy seed. [18] After him they brought the sixth, and he being ready to die, spoke thus: Be not deceived without cause: for we suffer these things for ourselves, having sinned against our God, and things worthy of admiration are done to us: [19] But do not think that thou shalt escape unpunished, for that thou attempted to fight against God. [20] Now the mother was to be admired above measure, and worthy to be remembered by good men, who beheld seven sons slain in the space of one day, and bore it with a good courage, for the hope that she had in God:
[21] And she bravely exhorted every one of them in her own language, being filled with wisdom: and joining a man's heart to a woman's thought, [22] She said to them: I know not how you were formed in my womb: for I neither gave you breath, nor soul, nor life, neither did I frame the limbs of every one of you. [23] But the Creator of the world, that formed the nativity of man, and that found out the origin of all, he will restore to you again in his mercy, both breath and life, as now you despise yourselves for the sake of his laws. [24] Now Antiochus, thinking himself despised, and withal despising the voice of the upbraider, when the youngest was yet alive, did not only exhort him by words, but also assured him with an oath, that he would make him a rich and a happy man, and, if he would turn from the laws of his fathers, would take him for a friend, and furnish him with things necessary. [25] But when the young man was not moved with these things, the king called the mother, and counselled her to deal with the young man to save his life.
[26] And when he had exhorted her with many words, she promised that she would counsel her son. [27] So bending herself towards him, mocking the cruel tyrant, she said in her own language: My son, have pity upon me, that bore thee nine months in my womb, and gave thee suck three years, and nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this age. [28] I beseech thee, my son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them: and consider that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also: [29] So thou shalt not fear this tormentor, but being made a worthy partner with thy brethren, receive death, that in that mercy I may receive thee again with thy brethren. [30] While she was yet speaking these words, the young man said: For whom do you stay? I will not obey the commandment of the king, but the commandment of the law, which was given us by Moses.
[31] But thou that hast been the author of all mischief against the Hebrews, shalt not escape the hand of God. [32] For we suffer thus for our sins. [33] And though the Lord our God is angry with us a little while for our chastisement and correction: yet he will be reconciled again to his servants. [34] But thou, O wicked and of all men most flagitious, be not lifted up without cause with vain hopes, whilst thou art raging against his servants. [35] For thou hast not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty God, who beholdeth all things.
[36] For my brethren, having now undergone a short pain, are under the covenant of eternal life: but thou by the judgment of God shalt receive just punishment for thy pride. [37] But I, like my brethren, offer up my life and my body for the laws of our fathers: calling upon God to be speedily merciful to our nation, and that thou by torments and stripes mayst confess that he alone is God. [38] But in me and in my brethren the wrath of the Almighty, which hath justly been brought upon all our nation, shall cease. [39] Then the king being incensed with anger, raged against him more cruelly than all the rest, taking it grievously that he was mocked. [40] So this man also died undefiled, wholly trusting in the Lord.
[41] And last of all after the sons the mother also was consumed. [42] But now there is enough said of the sacrifices, and of the excessive cruelties.
Because of the heretic Martin Luther, Protestants are denied knowledge of this story cut from their Bibles. This is a shame because it would put to ridicule the Gospel of Prosperity and victorious Christian living. This tale is exceptional in the Old Testament, but it would become the rule in the New Testament and for Christians who suffered torture and martyrdom under Roman emperors. This suffering continues even to the present day as Christians experience martyrdom in our times.

The saints and martyrs have their values straight. Their priorities are aligned with God's priorities. They operate perfectly under God's economy. They prefer death and Heaven to the emptiness of this life. As for those who enjoy the good things in this life, God allows them as a mercy because these people are certainly on the road to Hell. All of the good things they enjoy in this life will be bitter memories for them in the fires of Hell. Their prosperity is actually a curse. The adversity of the saints is a blessing.

How to Pray

God will answer all your prayers. He knows what is best for you. But His answers to those prayers will be in accord with His economy and His values. This means allowing some or even most of our prayers to go unanswered for the present time. The key is to keep praying like that persistent widow. Persistence in prayer is a trial, but you will receive in the end more than you requested.

When you pray, you should seek and ask for the spiritual goods in abundance. Ask for wisdom. Ask for charity and humility. Ask to be made a saint. Put these things first in your prayer requests because they are the gold we never seek. God always delivers on the spiritual blessings.

On the material side of the ledger, ask for the things that you need. God will provide, and He will do so in a niggardly way. This is because poverty is a blessing. Adversity is good for the soul. But to keep soul and body together, God will not let you starve until it is time for you to exit this vale of tears.

Be grateful to God for all the things He gives you including pain, trials, and adversity. You will find that suffering is a sweet blessing, and you will prefer that blessing. Saints thrive under harsh conditions. And like Job, you will learn to trust God in your afflictions.

When you do ask for a temporal thing, ask for the accompanying spiritual blessing. For instance, you may ask for healing from cancer, but you should also ask for strength in enduring the trial of cancer. You will find like St. Paul that God's grace truly is sufficient.

The most important thing you can request from God is to be made a saint and to make it to Heaven. If you pray for this, you will absolutely receive it. This is what God wants for you, and this is what you should want for yourself. And if God does not grant your other requests, know that it was for the sake of this ultimate aim of saving your soul. If not for his thorn in the flesh, St. Paul may have ended up in Hell. Those thorns have a way of humbling us, and St. Paul had a lot to be proud about. Proud people do not go to Heaven.


The atheist will scoff at this answer to this problem and declare it a cop out. You can measure a material answer to prayer. You can't measure a spiritual good. If God were real, He would cure that cancer. Strength in adversity is so much hogwash. But I have never met an atheist who was a saint. As for material goods, they have done little to alleviate the misery of these atheists who look to suicide in hope of relief and escape from this empty world. As for the Prospetarians, their invincible faith which they claim makes them rich can endure no real trial which is why you don't see televangelists and megachurch pastors being martyred for the faith. They are cursed heretics who will reap a bitter harvest on Judgment Day.

We need to be persistent in our prayers because those prayers are what will carry us through. Saints are unbreakable people in a broken world. God is going to fix the world. You can count on that. But first, He has to fix you. And this is why you suffer for the present time and sometimes do not receive the things you request. Just hold on until the end. Do not lose your faith. God will reward you heavily for your fidelity to Him. My prayer is that you will pray for the spiritual goods and seek them in preference to the temporal goods.


Agnostic on Race

You don't have to teach people how to be human. You have to teach them how to stop being inhuman.

Is it racist to speak the truth? That question wins a lot of debates for me. This is because the person on the other side of that question is caught in an inescapable trap. If he says no, then he is faced with unpleasant realities that he would rather not acknowledge. If he says yes, he confesses that he is ignoring these realities and wants you to ignore them, too. But in saying yes, he is inadvertently testifying to the truth. Reality is not very flattering to the black race.

Despite a civil rights movement and efforts on both the Left and the Right, the African-American population is tops in every social pathology that exists. They have the lowest test scores in school. They have the highest rates of incarceration. They have the highest rates of crime and homicide. Many of them are born illegitimate not knowing who their fathers are. Their STD transmission rate is high. We can go on and on with these statistics. These are facts that the Left chooses to ignore. I ask once again. Is it racist to speak the truth?

For the white supremacist and the bigot, these facts are cause for glee. It is justification for the belief that the black race is inherently inferior. Somehow, this makes the white race superior. The only problem is that these people exhibit none of this superiority in their own lives. Rednecks and white trash have similar rates of pathology as any that you will find in any urban black ghetto.

Speaking from personal experience, if I had to keep a scorecard on things, the black people I have known have been far better and nicer to me than the white people I have known. If I had to be a racist, it would be against my own race. So many times, it was the white people in my life that have done me wrong, and it was the black people in my life that showed me the most understanding and compassion.

If we went on a purely statistical basis, Asian-Americans would be the superior race in the USA. They have the lowest levels of crime, the highest test scores, and the strongest families today. A very close second would be Jewish-Americans. Is there something in their DNA that makes them superior?

I don't believe that a person's race or their skin color makes them good or bad. If someone asks me if I am a racist, I tell them I am an agnostic on the subject. This is because I can pick great and awful people from every race on the planet. In the case of Asian-Americans, I have had two friends who were Asian, and they were awful people.

I think the issue is not race. I think the issue is culture. Some people are raised well. Others are raised poorly. The key thing I discovered about black people who have it together is that they are very religious. The key thing I discovered about white trash is that they are devoid of religion in their lives. Essentially, you are the product of what you believe and value. A guy raised on hip-hop is going to be a bad guy even if he is white. And a guy raised on Christian music is going to be pretty good even if he is black.

But on the general level, you might not be a racist, but it behooves white people to not drive through black ghettos especially at night. Likewise, a Confederate flag should be a sign to everyone white or black that the flyer of that flag is most likely an inbred violent fool high on crystal meth. These are prejudicial judgments, but they would be correct. They may also save you from violent encounters and even save your life.

If I had to make a division in the world, it would be between the decent and the indecent, the righteous and the unrighteous. If you could draw a red line between these two groups, you would find that this line cuta across every race and class that exists in America and in the world. But this line is not visible. It is invisible. You can't know someone until you actually know them. This unknown is what makes things so difficult. People want to know people without actually knowing them. This is when you get bigotry and racism.

I don't trust people that I don't know. They might be the salt or the dung of the earth. But until I know, I give no one the benefit of the doubt. This is the application of that racial agnosticism. And this is what distinguishes me from those practicing the foolishness of political correctness. This would be the belief that you are either racist or voluntarily naive. Basically, you should put your life at risk at the hands of thug gangstas until they murder you because self-preservation might offend these people.

There have been well-dressed and charming murderers. Ted Bundy and H.H. Holmes are two fine examples of this. Likewise, people who have gruesome images can turn out to be quite innocent. I remember feeling a bit of fear growing up about the rapper Ice Cube who looked fearsome at the beginning of his career and has been rehabilitated considerably into a nice man. But, as a general rule, if the nice looking people can kill you, the mean looking people will certainly kill you.

To conclude, I must tell a story about a guy I used to work with delivering pizzas. This guy really hated black people. He hated the way they dressed, talked, and acted. He would use the N-word repeatedly in his denigration of these people. And he refused to deliver pizzas to their homes. The irony is that this racist was black. I am not making this up. It would crack us up to no end to hear this guy go on and on. He was a black guy separated from black culture being raised in the lily white Pacific Northwest. His first encounters with other black people happened as a teenager when he moved with his family to the South. Raised different culturally but divorced from any trace of white guilt, this black man had an unusual candor that was mind blowing. He wasn't religious or a black conservative. He was actually a skater punk. But knowing this guy rocked my world. Once you see a single unicorn, you can't say they don't exist. He was a unicorn.

The simple fact is that everyone has free will, and this includes the free will to defy your culture and upbringing. I was raised to be a racist, and I rejected it. Likewise, some black people were raised to become thugs, and they rejected that. And some people were raised in good Christian homes but chose to embrace evil. What I can say without qualification is that all of humanity tends towards evil, and it is the minority who chooses to pursue and embrace the good. I am going to assume your wickedness for the sake of my own safety. And if you assume I am a racist for this, I understand that, too. Trust has to be earned. I will endeavor to earn your trust. Do me a favor and endeavor to earn my trust.


Why I Remain Catholic

But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

These are hard times to be a Roman Catholic. In the past, persecution drove Catholics away and strengthened others. In other times past, tolerance and comfort made Catholics a bit complacent. Temptation triumphed where persecution did not. But these are unusual times. Remaining Catholic is like remaining faithful to a wife that is a wanton whore. If it was difficult to remain faithful to a good wife, what are we to do when that wife has turned bad and gone to whoring? That's a rough dilemma.

God is always faithful. Unfortunately, prelates and priests are not. We should always cling to Christ. But Protestants and Orthodox will argue that the Roman Catholic Church is not the only church. We can cling to Christ and simply move to another church like some evangelical going church shopping. But the temptation to schism is a siren song calling us to take one small step away from the One True Faith. I've already been a Protestant. No thanks.

The atheist makes the claim that the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church is all the evidence you need to decide that all religion is a fairy tale. The problem is that I don't see any atheist saints. None of them stand in any moral superiority to anyone I know. Granted, some atheists don't rape children. But we can say that about every group of people including Roman Catholic priests. The atheist sings the siren song of apostasy. I've already been an atheist. No thanks.

I can't be a Protestant again. I can't be an atheist again. What else is there? This is why I remain Catholic.

There is no other religion or philosophy in this world that attracts me. I know because I have explored them all. I have been there, and I have done that. I could give a well argued apologetic for becoming Catholic and remaining Catholic, and I probably will. But from a personal perspective, I remain Catholic because I don't have any options. If I thought there was something better, I would go for it. But there isn't. I am a Catholic, and I will always be a Catholic.

The Roman Catholic Church will survive its current self-inflicted wound. I expect the healing to happen long after I have departed this life. But when that day comes, I will die a Catholic.


Thoughts From the Straight Edge

Ok, fine, you take drugs, you drink, whatever. But obviously I have the edge on you because I’m sober. I’m in control of what I’m doing.

Mac Miller is dead. He died on September 7th. The cause of death is a suspected overdose. As of this writing, the official cause of death has not been determined or announced. What is known is that Mac Miller used drugs especially the drug codeine found in the concoction known as "Lean" and "Purple Drank." Miller was 26 years old.

I am not a fan of Mac Miller's music. I'm a middle aged man who listens to classical music now. I have heard some of Miller's tunes, and I believe he was gifted in music. He had many fans. Yet, all this is wasted and flushed down the toilet because Miller liked to get messed up on substances. This isn't a generational thing as we have lost Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tom Petty to substance abuse. Here's a newsflash, Gentle Reader. Drugs will kill you. If they don't kill you, they will certainly ruin your health and your life.

This anti-drug message was delivered to me constantly in the 80s. This was the era of Nancy Reagan and Just Say No. They mocked that woman for that message, but it is as relevant today as it was back then. The 80s was an anti-drug decade. This was because of two things. Ronald Reagan got elected, and John Belushi died. That message found a foothold in my young mind and remained there. I have never used drugs in my life. I haven't even taken a puff from a joint. Drugs have never been my thing.

The 80s were unusual with the anti-drug message. Even MTV heavily censored any mention of drugs in their videos. The 70s were saturated in drugs, and drugs made a big comeback in the 90s especially with heroin that would claim the lives of other musicians like Mac Miller. Others would struggle to overcome addictions to smack. But that anti-drug message never came back. A new Nancy Reagan has not emerged to carry the anti-drug banner. This has left the 80s sandwiched between two eras of drug excess.

No one likes to get preached at, but I think the Reagans had a very positive impact on this issue. As Edmund Burke put it, "Statecraft is soulcraft." Government and its leaders have a hand in promoting behavior through policy but also through the bully pulpit. This nation could use some scolding today as people drop dead from opioid abuse.

What is the straight edge? The term comes from a movement in punk rock that got going in the 80s. It derives its name from a Minor Threat song called "Straight Edge" which became an anthem for a movement that had been growing as a sort of backlash to the drug and drink saturated 1970s. This was not fueled by a Puritan impulse but by people who were survivors and fed up seeing their heroes go down from substance abuse in death or just plain mediocrity. Two rockers not associated with the straight edge--Gene Simmons and Ted Nugent-- have a similar mindset as the straight edge. Being around druggies and drunks will make you one of them or make you despise them. I despise them.

I hate drugs. I am also not fond of people who use drugs. This includes marijuana. As far as possible, I remove people from my life who are druggies. They don't stay in my life. To achieve this, it helps to learn and practice The Most Valuable Life Skill. You should never use drugs or have people in your life who are messed up on drugs. Sad to say, I had to learn a few hard lessons for this message to take hold.

I am not pleased that marijuana has become acceptable to so many people. Marijuana is a drug that you can abuse to great excess and still remain alive. The problem with marijuana is that it makes you stupid. I have known potheads who spent the entire day baked. One of them almost killed a woman at my work back in the 90s with a truck trailer. Whatever buzz he had that night, it vanished when he almost killed that woman. She is alive today because I happened to be in the right place at the right moment. My clarity of mind at that moment counteracted the cloud of his mind. Without that clarity, that woman would have died.

This is the part of the straight edge people overlook. It's obvious to focus on the casualties from drug abuse, but no one pays much attention to the mental toll it takes. This is your brain on drugs as it fries in the pan. You don't have to die from drugs to make them bad. You can still be a casualty of them and still remain alive. This is what happened to Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd who literally fried his brain on LSD. He was still drawing breath, but his mind was gone never to be recovered.

The remaining members of the Floyd would go on with survivor's guilt that would inspire some of the best albums rock has ever produced. Syd was considered a genius, and his extreme use of acid is credited with much of that genius. But that just isn't the truth. Post-Syd Barrett Floyd is much better, and that music is not the product of drug abuse but an incredible focus from four musicians at the top of their games. The real truth about Pink Floyd is that Syd's fry out became a warning to them to not become acid casualties themselves. For the most part, Pink Floyd has eschewed drugs even if their fans have not.

This clarity of mind is what Ian Mackaye was getting at in his Minor Threat song. The clear mind is superior to the messed up mind. You don't need drugs for creativity. You just need incredible focus. You can't achieve this if your brain is fried on substances.

This brings us to alcohol. I have been totally against drugs my entire life. Alcohol is a different story. I have enjoyed many beers and whiskeys in my time. I have been at every stage of inebriation that exists. I cannot and do not recommend it. The question remains. Do I condemn it?

My hang up with alcohol centers on the issue of Puritanism. Even Puritans drank. The only abstainers are Baptists, Mormons, Muslims, and teetotallers. Jesus Christ drank wine and turned water into wine. One of the elements of the Eucharist is wine. Monks make beer and wine. Alcohol in moderation is a pleasant thing. Yet, the immoderate use of alcohol has wrecked a lot of lives.

Nothing is evil in itself. It is how we use it that matters. With drugs, they can have medical benefits. Studies have already determined salutary benefits from cannabis. But virtually everyone who smokes ganja does so for its recreational benefits. As for opioids, they do wonders for pain before they kill you.

Wine and beer have some health benefits, but I eschewed beer after discovering its role in my gout flare ups. I had backed off being a teetotaller, but gout put me there again. I have never been an alcoholic, but I believe that I could very easily become one. This is because alcohol is relaxing. It feels good to take the edge off the day with a cold beer or three. But three becomes four, and you know the rest of the story. You wake up with your car wrapped around a telephone pole.

St. John the Baptist was a teetotaller. The people of his day thought he was nuts, but he received no condemnation from Jesus. He did not drink alcohol. Ever. This was part of being a Nazirite. But this was a special thing. Not everyone must take this vow for holiness. Jesus didn't. This dichotomy cuts to the heart of Puritanism.

It is OK to do things like not eat meat or smoke or drink alcohol. It is not OK to insist that others must do the same. This is because what is prudent is not necessarily moral. For instance, I think people should become vegan for the sake of their health. But I don't think eating bacon is a sin. Likewise, I think listening to classical music is better, but I'm not going to go burning rap albums.

Some things are wrong. Other things are just stupid. Getting plastered on strong drink is just stupid. Not drinking is smart. Prudence or wisdom is one of the virtues. If we are prudent, we will learn to make the distinction between what is moral and what is prudent.

Drinking and drug abuse make you stupid. That is the essence of the straight edge philosophy. They can also make you dead. But it is enough to choose not to be stupid. And that is ultimately why people want to get messed up. They want to assault their brains. They want to be voluntary imbeciles for a time or for life. They want to be stupid.

I am into being smart. There are only two drugs that make you smarter. These would be caffeine and nicotine. But since tobacco is harmful and isn't smart, this leaves caffeine. Consequently, I drink a lot of coffee. Coffee does not cloud the mind. It clears the mind.

This clarity of mind is why I am into quitting social media, deep work, reading, and writing. Your mind is like a blade which you can sharpen with focus or dull with substances. This is why "straight edge" is a great term. Your mind should be as sharp as a straight razor.

I don't know what Mac Miller's official cause of death will be. There is just one thing I know about the guy. He was incredibly stupid. It didn't have to be this way, but he chose to get stupid on drugs. We can lament the waste of talent, but Miller is the one who wasted it. Don't be a Mac Miller. Choose to be alcohol and drug free. Choose to be smart instead of stupid.


Blue Collar Fashion Guide

Clothes make the man.

Do clothes make the man? I think so. Clothing reflects who you are internally. Now, people can wear something that doesn't match that internal reality. This would be the drag queen. But, generally speaking, you can tell a great deal about a man by the way he dresses. Your impression of a man sagging his pants past his underwear will be far different than the impression you have of a man in a tailored three piece suit. Both of those are extreme examples, and they are extreme styles to avoid. This is the blue collar fashion guide to help you out on this.

No one will ever accuse me of stepping out of the pages of GQ magazine. I am not into men's fashions, and I am not a clothes horse. I am actually quite clueless about fashion and dressing nice. But I started to get a clue years ago that I needed to do something about the way I dress. This is because I dressed very poorly. I was mismatched with my wife who dresses like a grown up. When you turn 40, you should already know how to dress like a grown up, but I didn't get the memo on this. I dressed like virtually everyone else I knew. This would be what I now call "douchewear." I dressed like a douchebag. It was embarrassing.

I decided I needed a wardrobe change, and images of men in seersucker suits, white hats, and pocket squares filled my brain. I contemplated the bow tie and things like that. Obviously, this is better than wearing basketball shorts and flip flops, but it is too much. So, I went into my memory bank to remember the last man who I remember dressed as a grown up. This was my grandfather. He was a blue collar man. My great uncle dressed the same way. My father was a boomer, and it was the Baby Boom generation that began the sartorial slide for later generations. Using my grandfather and great uncle as templates, I put together a blue collar man's fashion sense, and I have stuck with it. I ask myself a basic question. Would my grandfather have worn this? This is how this guide came to be.


It is hard to believe that Mark Zuckerberg is the billionaire CEO of a gigantic company. This is because the Facebook founder dresses like a douchebag. Zuck took the inspiration for this from Steve Jobs's famous uniform of a mock turtleneck and a pair of blue jeans. There is freedom in not having to decide what you are going to wear that day. Blue collar guys already know this freedom. They already wear a uniform. They just decide between what it is clean and what is dirty.

Zuckerberg should dress like the guys at IBM dressed. This was a suit and a tie. The IBM dress code was famous, and it became a target for rebellion from guys like Steve Jobs who hated IBM. But Steve Jobs was a douchebag. He was a man devoid of respect for anyone or anything. The only time he put on a tie was when he had to. As he became richer and more successful, this became less and less frequent. The man had no respect. Zuckerberg has a similar lack of respect.

The advantage of douchewear is that it allows you to be comfortable. This comfort thing has been taken to such an extreme now that people wear their sleepwear outside and can barely be bothered to put on proper shoes preferring flip flops. This is atrocious. The typical douche outfit will be a T-shirt, a pair of cargo shorts, and some flip flops. A variation will be baggy basketball shorts or sweatpants. These things are perfectly fine for lounging around the home or sleeping, but they should never be worn in public.


If douchebags are perpetually underdressed, you have peacocks who are perpetually overdressed. The epitome of this style was the author Tom Wolfe who took the style of his native Richmond, Virginia, and brought it to the world. Basically, he wore ice cream colored suits, but he also wore all sorts of outfits of different colors. Double breasted coats, hats, and vests were regular staples in this man's wardrobe. Today, this peacockery is carried on by guys like Roger Stone, TV evangelists, and pimps. 

The tradition of peacockery goes back centuries to guys like the English fops who tended towards effeminacy and finery in their attire. The problem is that this sort of thing will get you booted out of IBM as quickly as the douchewear. This is because it is ridiculous.

The thing peacocks and douchebags both have in common is their focus on their self. One cares for comfort while the other cares about vanity. But they both have no regard and no respect for others. They lack modesty and decorum.

If you are a white collar worker, I recommend that you read up on the classic IBM dress code and duplicate that style. The 1960s would be a good era and typical of what IBM workers wore. Unfortunately, IBM has let their dress code slide in a move to be more "modern." This is a real shame. I have to tell the IBM people that they lost out to Apple not because Steve Jobs wore those turtlenecks.

I don't work in an office. I work a blue collar job where uniforms are provided. I don't have to think about it. But I do think about what I wear when I am not on the job. I am not wearing a suit to the grocery store, but I am not a douchebag either. So, I dress like a grown up blue collar guy. Here's my guide to dressing this way.


This is how to dress most of the time when not on the job or a job interview.


You should not wear flip flops, sandals, or athletic shoes. These things either make you out to be a lazy slob or a kid. It's OK for kids to wear sneakers. It's OK for grown men to wear athletic shoes if they are out for a run or working out at the gym. Sandals are fine for the beach. But when in public, I recommend wearing grown up shoes. This would be a pair of work boots or a pair of leather shoes either brown or black.


You should never wear shorts except for exercise or the beach. Always wear long pants. These pants can be denim, canvas, polyester, or khaki. I recommend the Dickies 874 pants in blue. They match well with things and hide dirt. Carhartts are also great pants. You can also wear farmer's overalls.


T-shirts are undershirts. Somehow, the notion that they are underwear has been forgotten. But they sometimes need to be worn as outerwear when the job demands it like washing a car or a sink full of dishes. Because of this, I do not recommend wearing white T-shirts. White T-shirts scream underwear. Black or navy blue are to be preferred. Plus, no one will see your nipples if the shirt gets wet. Also, these T-shirts should be devoid of writing. These would be concert T-shirts or things saying "I'm with stupid." Shirts with writing on them are juvenile.


An overshirt is a button down collared shirt you wear over a T-shirt. It can be long sleeved or short sleeved. It can be cotton, denim, polyester, or flannel. It can even be a recycled uniform shirt from a job you or someone else had. Pick the shirt you feel comfortable with and matches the season and climate in your area. What the shirt can't be is a polo shirt. That's something preppies and golfers wear. Blue collar men wear shirts with collars and buttons.

Coat and layers

When it gets cold, you need a coat and some layers to keep the chill off. Blue collar coats like the chore coat are awesome for this. What isn't awesome are pink and blue fleece jackets or camel hair coats or leather biker jackets or sports team jackets.

As for layers, the hoodie is an acceptable item as long as you follow the same rules with T-shirts and avoid writing and graphics on them as much as possible. I also like a black fleece jacket as a layer. I wear a cheap one that goes easily under my Carhartt sandstone jacket. I don't know if my grandfather would have worn fleece, but it is a good material.

I'm not a fan of sweaters. I've never liked them, and they don't fare well in blue collar work environments. They tend to snag, absorb grease, and catch on fire. I'll leave the sweaters to the guys working on the fishing boats.


Hats are inherently goofy. Wear a ten gallon cowboy hat anywhere outside of Texas, and people will snicker. Hats should be worn for their utilitarian purposes instead of as fashion statements. Hats serve two purposes. They keep the sun off your melon in the warm months, and they keep your brain from freezing in the cold months. Most of the time, you can get away with wearing a ball cap. It can be a dad hat or a trucker's hat or a camo hunter's hat or a hat from your favorite ball team. It doesn't matter. Where you lost advertising space on your T-shirt and coat, you get it back on the hat. A baseball cap without writing or a patch on it looks kind of bare.

When the temperature drops, you will want to switch to a beanie style hat to keep your head warm. Under no circumstances can you wear a hat with the fuzzy ball on the top.

I'm not sure how or why the fuzzy ball got on the tops of these hats. They are vestigial and serve no utilitarian purpose except to allow you to look like a douchebag in winter.

For extended time in the sun, you want to spend money on a large brimmed hat. I recommend a straw hat for breathability. A boonie style hat is also good.

The key to wearing hats is to know they are worn outdoors and taken off indoors. The cap faces forward except for those times when you need 360 degree field of vision for something like operating a forklift.


Real men don't wear bracelets unless it is one of those medic alert bracelets. The same goes for earrings, pinkie rings, and other jewelry. You are allowed three items. The first is a wedding band. The second is a modest wristwatch. The third is a necklace with a crucifix or medal on it tucked discreetly beneath the shirt. That's it. Anything more will take you down the road of douchebaggery.


This is for those times when you need to wear a tie. This would be church, a job interview, a wedding, or a funeral. Blue collar guys hate these times, but they get through them wearing a poorly fitted suit and an old tie.


Just wear a pair of black shoes with black socks. Wear the plainest shoes you can find. Shine them up but not so much.

Funeral suit

Go to Men's Wearhouse or JCPenney and get a black suit and a black necktie. When somebody dies, this will be the suit you wear to the funeral. You can wear the same suit when you go meet the Pope. You can change the color of the tie to wear to a wedding or a job interview. The rest of the time it stays in a garment bag in the closet.


Go to the thrift store and buy gray and black dress slacks with a flat front. Avoid pleated fronts. Gray and black pants match virtually any sport coat you will find.


Thrift stores have an abundance of sport coats and suit jackets. You want to go with blacks, blues, browns, and grays. Avoid plaid coats, white coats, or fruity colors. These will pair fine with those black and gray slacks you bought. You can get a decent set of threads at the thrift store for less than $20.


White shirts all the way. Colored and patterned shirts are a challenge to match to your pants and jacket and tie.


Thrift stores have a collection of ties, and you should buy thrift store ties. You want to purchase the most boring ties you can find. Don't worry if they are too wide or too narrow. Blue collar guys never get this right. And never wear a bow tie except in the unusual circumstance of having to wear a rented tuxedo in a wedding.


The only hat that works with a coat and tie is a flat cap. They are also known as cabbie hats and newsboy caps. They have been the hats of choice for the working class for centuries. You can also get away with wearing a beanie style hat if is really cold.


If it is really cold where you live, you want to get an overcoat that is either black or gray preferably from the thrift store.


A cold weather scarf is also good to go with a hat and overcoat. Don't waste your money on pocket squares or tie tacks and clips. These things are extraneous. Wear a black belt to match those black shoes.

If you do abnormal wear right, you should look like a guy who never wears a suit. The goal is not to look sharp and fashionable. You just want to show respect. Anything beyond this leads to looking like a peacock.

And that's it for the Blue Collar Fashion Guide. If it seems underwhelming, it should be. Some people will claim this is a variation of normcore. The epitome of that style was the attire of the characters on Seinfeld who did not dress like blue collar workers at all. There are those who say this is hipster fashion overlooking the fact that hipsters stole their fashion ideas from the blue collar workers. One day, those hipsters will move on, but the blue collar guys will still dress the same. Others will say that I am telling people how to dress like Steve Bannon which would be dressing very badly. There is a lot of truth to that. The main thing is to dress like a grown up which is a concept that has disappeared in a time where we have taken casual wear too far. I just know that my grandfather and people of his generation got it right. There are other good ways to dress. There is the frumpy college professor. There is Fred Rogers from Mister Roger's Neighborhood. You don't have to look like a plumber or an auto mechanic. This is just the way I choose to look because it reflects accurately who I am. And I can say that I was very pleased when a nice lady from daily Mass looked at my shirt and asked me where I worked because she needed the oil changed on her car.