Dec 27, 2006

Answers I'm Mostly Ashamed Of

Wolftracker has tagged me with questions initiated by The Curt Jester at the Catholic blog Splendor of Truth. Even though I very rarely participate in such things, I believe there are several good reasons to respond. First, Wolftracker asked me. Second, my answers will show a few of my many weaknesses, which is very good to undermine my pride. Third, the questions address the positive actions we should engage in as Catholics, and provide an excellent incentive to develop New Year's resolutions.

(1) Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus: There's a small prayerbook that fits in your shirt pocket which was published in 1931 by Fr. F.X. Lasance, Let Us Go to Jesus, and it has been reprinted by The Angelus Press. The prayerbook contains The Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that I learned at Thursday evening novenas in the '40s and '50s. The prayer remains contemporary and asks Jesus to "Be the King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them all into the light and kingdom of God. " BTW, if you, the reader, want a free copy of the little prayerbook, send your name and mailing address to

(2) Favorite Marian devotion or prayer: The Memorare is probably my favorite. It is certainly the prayer I hope to say at the end of my life. I've even heard it prayed by an actress on a TV police/fire drama when someone had suffered a terrible accident or crime. [That's why it is good for Catholics to become script writers—especially for you, K and E!]

(3) Do you wear a scapular or medal? I wear a 4-way medal in the form of a cross, a cruciform medal. Many years ago, I tried wearing the brown and green scapulars, but they always seemed to get dirty or tangled or the string would tear off. Guess I'm not a very good advertisement for cloth scapulars.

(4) Do you have holy water in your home? Yes, my husband keeps it refilled. Most of the time I pass by without using it. First New Year's Resolution—I will cross myself with holy water at least once a day.

(5) Do you offer up your sufferings? For many years I complained much about the state of the Church and individual churchmen whose actions drove people out of the church and into hell. Then about a year or two ago, I began to place my sufferings in the hands of Mary to distribute, with a request that she especially remember the souls of poor priests in purgatory. Even though many priests I knew were guilty of many serious sins, they did forgive my sins many times during the past 60+ years, and I owe them more than I can repay.

(6) Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays? I go to Mass on most First Fridays and First Saturdays, but no longer try to make the required number of sequences. My Mother took us children to the Nine First Fridays and the Five First Saturdays when I was growing up.

(7) Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? Yes.

How frequently: Less than I should. Second New Year's Resolution—I will pray to Our Lord in the exposed Blessed Sacrament each and every week.

(8) Are you a Saturday night Mass person or Sunday morning? A small book on the AntiChrist was written by the priest, P. Huchede, in 1884. Even though I read the book many, many years ago (it was reprinted by Tan Books in the 1970s), I remember Fr. Huchede saying that the Fathers of the Church believed that one of the signs of the coming of the AntiChrist would be the Mass returning to the Sabbath. Nevertheless, I have weakened a few times in my life (although not recently) and did attend Saturday evening Novus Ordo Masses.

(9) Do you say prayers at mealtime? Yes, most of the time. I remembered to pray with the sign of the cross before eating a delicious new (for me) Spicy Chicken Salad at Taco Bell today. Highly recommended—both the salad bowl and praying before eating, but not in that order.

(10) Favorite saints: Did you just ask my name? Also St. Michael the Archangel and St. Mary Magdalene.

(11) Do you know the Apostles Creed by heart: Yes, my husband and I recite it every night.

(12) Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day? If you’re asking about indulgenced prayers, not very often, regretfully. I do pray extemporaneously during the day when I see a special need or when I want to give God thanks for favors that come so generously.

(13) When you pass an accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the persons involved? If it looks serious, I do. Otherwise, I’m a fool and simply say he/she shouldn’t have been driving so fast or so carelessly. Third New Year’s resolution: I promise to pray for all accident victims that I see and not make rash judgements.

(14) What public sin do you find most difficult to manage from day to day? Bragging about how good I am, especially doing it indirectly with a touch of snobbery--the worst kind of pride.

Whom do I tag: Nobody. But I do recommend the questions to others to help them make New Year's resolutions that will assist them in becoming better Catholics.

Dec 26, 2006

The Future: GOOGLE

Ever since reading the novel 1984 (about 25 years before 1984 actually came), I've been waiting for Big Brother to appear in history. It seems clear that Big Brother is coming closer with ever-expanding and powerful computer networks. As early as 2003 Google-Watch nominated Google for its "Big Brother" award, citing nine serious concerns--especially regarding privacy. Since then Google has advanced in age, talents, and power, as evidenced by reviewing Google's current services.

David A. Vise of The Washington Post is not the only one who wants to know "What Lurks in Its [Google's] Soul?"
Google is compiling a genetic and biological database using the vast power of its search engines; scanning millions of books without traditional regard for copyright laws; tracing online searches to individual Internet users and storing them indefinitely; demanding cell phone numbers in exchange for free e-mail accounts (known as Gmail) as it begins to build the first global cell phone directory; saving Gmails forever on its own servers, making them a tempting target for law enforcement abuse; inserting ads for the first time in e-mails; making hundreds of thousands of cheap personal computers to serve as cogs in powerful global networks.
Earlier this year, The Economist asked an important question and gave an answer:
If Google is a religion, what is its God? It would have to be The Algorithm. Faith in the possibility of an omniscient and omnipotent algorithm appears to be what Messrs Page and Brin have in common. It's 'in their DNA'...
So what is The Algorithm? The basic algorithm was discussed first by Alan Turing, called the "father of Computer Science." Turing was an English mathematician who studied artificial intelligence to determine if a machine could someday achieve consciousness. He developed the "Turing Test" in which a person alternately interrogates a computer and a real person (through teletype machines). If the interrogator cannot tell which is the real person, then it can be concluded the computer has achieved the intelligence and consciousness of a human being. Turing committed suicide in 1954.

The Economist further noted that Google is assembling a massive global computing grid. "'Eventually', says Mr. Saffo, 'they're trying to build the machine that will pass the Turing test'—in other words, an artificial intelligence that can pass as a human in written conversations. Wisely or not, Google wants to be a new sort of deus ex machina."

Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998. So who are Larry Page and Sergey Brin? What are their beliefs? Do they have a religion? Larry Page is known to have been influenced by Nikola Tesla, a brilliant Serbian inventor with hundreds of superior patents, yet who died poor in the 1940s. Wikipedia's article notes: "Many of his [Tesla's] achievements have been used, with some controversy, to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories, and New Age occultism."

Earlier this year Page and Brin founded a not-for-profit foundation,, and appointed Dr. Larry Brilliant as Executive Director to administer Google's philanthropic activities. The mission and strategic goals of seem somewhat similar to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which is also funded by multi-billionaire Warren Buffet).

Dr. Larry Brilliant will decide the mission objectives of the Google charitable foundation and how to spend a great deal of money provided by Page and Brin to change the world. Wikipedia says Dr. Brilliant lived in India for ten years, first at a Himalayan ashram studying with Neem Karoli Baba (a Hindu sage) from whom he received the name Subramanyum. Later at his guru's insistance he began working as a diplomat for the United Nations to conquer smallpox.

Dr. Brilliant's interview tells us a lot more, including:
I did things that I would never imagine that I could ever do, or would want to do, again. I was part of the American Civil Liberties Union when I was back in Detroit, and here I was in India breaking into people's homes in the middle of the night and forcibly vaccinating them, because they were spreading smallpox to the entire world and there were some places that had become such broadcasters of smallpox that thousands of people were dying because that community would not allow themselves to be vaccinated, even when the law said they had to be vaccinated or they had to go to jail, or they had to be forcibly vaccinated. So, there were a lot of ways that you had to use the whole nature of yourself in service to this amazing historic moment.
The entire interview should be read to see glimpses of how Google and its not-for-profit foundation will change the world. Google's corporate philosophy should also be reviewed, including "Google believes in instant gratification." Even though the motto of Google is "Do no evil," Lord Acton observed: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Dec 24, 2006

Computer Issues

This past week, the computer stopped working and smelled like burnt electronics. Three possibilities were considered--a failed power supply, a broken power-on switch, or a ruined motherboard. The power switch checked out okay, and the power supply seemed the next most likely cause of failure. A new power supply did not help, but I'm glad I replaced the small unit with a larger one. A new motherboard and processor have been ordered and I hope will resolve the problem. In the meantime, I'm trying to use a new notebook with only a touchpad. It works, and that's all I can say for it.

Dec 17, 2006

Was Jesus Married?

Mrs. M at the nursing home told me last week she believed Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had twins, a girl and a boy. Her explanation was that every man had urges and needed a woman, including Jesus (indicating even Jesus would have fallen from His sinless nature).

When I responded with Hebrews 4:15, Mrs. M responded that St. Paul was not an authoritative teacher in the Church. Mrs. M also said she believes she is descended from Jesus' seed and that genetically she has the blood of Jesus coursing through her veins because of John 12:24. Apparently, Mrs. M and others converse regularly about such heresies.

I've responded with the following letter (Mrs. M is vigorous in voicing her views but sometimes can't seem to clearly hear responses).
I’ve been thinking a lot about the three items we discussed:

1. Was Jesus married and did He have children?

2. Is St. Paul an authoritative voice in the Bible? (re: Hebrews 4:15)
3. What is meant by John 12:24?

The first question is answered very well in the enclosed article by Dr. Mark Roberts, a Presbyterian minister and blogger. His scholarship seems very close to that of Catholic scholars as well. There is very little, if anything, that I can add to Dr. Roberts’ article, except to discuss Hebrews 4:15 (which also brings up the authority of St. Paul) to show the sinless nature of Jesus--even though He was not free of temptation.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

St. Paul has always been considered as one of the two leaders of the early Church. The Acts of the Apostles makes that fact clear as do many other writings of the early Church Fathers. Even in today’s Protestant churches, all well-respected ministers acknowledge the authority of St. Paul. The only people who challenge St. Paul seem to be on the fringe of apostasy or are actually apostates--because they must reject Paul in order to justify their errors.

The third question relates to the meaning of John 12:24, which is being put into context by including surrounding words:

23Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Verse 23 says Jesus must die and be glorified because His “hour is come.” He says the seed needs to die to produce many seeds, and He adds that the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. This doesn't sound like seed impregnated into the womb of a woman! Rather, Jesus is telling his apostles that he is the seed who must die for other seeds to germinate and live—He is forecasting his own death on Calvary and the beginning of the Church with all its Saints.

With affection,

Dec 15, 2006

Apocalypto - Mel Gibson Interview

Kurt Loder of MTV has an interview with Mel Gibson that will be of interest to anyone who has seen the movie, Apocalypto.. It's best to turn off your computer sound and 'pause' the upper left video so you can concentrate on reading the interview.

Paramedic Experiences

I definitely recommend reading an interesting post by a young woman who writes the new blog, Salve Regina. She is a very attractive Canadian who describes her recent 24-hr experiences as a paramedic. It's a good Christmas story.

Weather and Dead Armadillos

If winter is like it was last year, it will be almost 10 degrees above normal. So far, our temperatures have been warmer than usual (50's and 60's for abnormal highs this week) and no really cold spells are anticipated in the near future. We really like to have it very cold in the winter for at least four or five days to kill pests, and that usually does happen.

I keep track of dead armadillos on the highway between Kansas City and Oklahoma. Dead armadillos keep appearing further north and now they seem to have made it north of Lamar, MO. These Central American critters love to travel!

I'm very fortunate to look out our rear window and see deer, squirrels, and many birds. At times, I've even seen a badger on the rocky hill. Usually we see does and fawns, but the apple tree attracted a 10-point buck a few weeks ago. He was definitely larger than the normal deer we see. My husband alternates between enjoying seeing beautiful deer and bemoaning the tiny deer ticks (and potential Lyme disease) that come with a deer population.

It's hard to believe that 30+ years ago there were no deer in our area and now there are so many. In Kansas and Missouri there are 20,000 vehicles accidents involving deer, many that injure and kill people. Deer accidents have happened twice to one of our children, with the second accident following the other within a few months. Major damage to the car on two occasions! The spouse of another child also has hit a deer and totaled the car. God continues to take good care of us, and in all three cases there were no serious injuries.

Our backyard trees and yard host a large number of birds, especially cardinals, bluejays, several different types of woodpeckers, and black and brown birds of various kinds. Even though it is mid-December, a robin was perched high in the tree outside our rear window this morning. Is this another sign of a mild winter?

Snakes have disappeared from our property and I haven't seen one in over 25 years--too many people, I guess. The ones I used to see lived in the strawberries (e.g., garter snakes, blue racers) and once we saw one in a tree (black snake). No poisonous copperheads or rattlesnakes were ever seen, and dangerous water moccasins are not supposed to live this far north--yet!

Dec 13, 2006

Phill Kline, The Kansas City Star, and Grocery Ads

My husband complained again about the editorial viewpoints of The Star, usually embedded liberally in the news they print. He said someone (guess who?) should write a letter to the editor of The Star complaining about the Star's treatment of Johnson County's new district attorney, a strong prolifer. Phill Kline, as the current Attorney General of Kansas, is investigating the shenanigans and crimes of abortion providers in Kansas and The Star recognizes and abhors him as a serious enemy of the abortion crowd.

I've decided that a letter to the editor of The Star would tell The Star that my husband was still buying and reading the paper. I mostly stopped reading it some years ago, except for the ads. I've found the best solution to buying the paper is simply to get news over the web, just like a lot of people who read this blog.

For those people who live in KC, the ad brochures carried by The Star are important. There are alternative sources to Weekly Specials because most stores now publish their ads on the web. Here's a list of weekly grocery ads that Kansas Citians may want to want to copy into a new folder under "Favorites", entitled "Grocery Ads":
  1. Hen House
  2. HyVee
  3. Aldi
  4. Price Chopper
  5. Save-a-Lot
  6. Dillon's
Don't forget that Sunday Saver with its weekly sales circulars allows you to enter your state name to link to a comprehensive list of web sites with ads for local grocery, electronic, building supplies, and box stores, and also includes many other weekly ads.

Dec 12, 2006

Does God Hate...? (Part II)

My original post of a couple of months ago on whether God hates the devil seems to be found by Google searches quite often, and I've wondered why. I concluded that God hates the devil with perfection, even though this conclusion initially seems contradictory for God to hate a being that he created. The reason God hates the devil is that the devil is a purely spiritual being gifted with free will and permanently chooses to reject God. Thus there is no reason for God's love which always seeks good things for, and union with, the beloved.

There is a continuing debate (or war of wirds!) taking place between The Wanderer Newspaper (George A. Kendall, guest editor) and the New Oxford Review (Dale Vree, editor) on whether God hates the souls condemned to hell-- a somewhat different question than "Does God hate the devil? Kendall argues in the 7 Dec 2006 issue of The Wanderer that he remembers
"the nuns teaching me that God loves the souls in hell....It was not just the nuns who taught that God loves the souls in Hell, but our priests as well. It was one of those taken-for-granted things."
Earlier Kendall stated that God's retraction of love would render a soul into non-existence. He also commented in The Wanderer editorial of 7 Dec 2006 that:
...if, as soon as he is in the state of mortal sin, God begins to hate him, then he will never be given the grace of repentence, because God is not going to give grace to someone He hates.
[Here it appears that Kendall switches subjects and is discussing a changeable man who is still living. Once that man dies, he cannot change his life and so the grace of repentence is not applicable. The teaching of the Church is Mercy in this world; Justice in the Next.]

In response, Dale Vree's arguments are summarized in a letter by Thomas Fayette:
"...if a soul ceased to exist in Hell, that would be the act of love, not eternal punishment....Mortal sin separates us from God, removes us from His Kingdom, and puts us under the godship of Satan. Then we must conclude that God loves Satan or he wouldn't exist either. 'Vengeance is mine..., says the Lord' (Rom. 12:19). Are we supposed to believe that this [vengeance] is an act of love? The opinion that God loves the souls in Hell is simply that, an opinion, and not Catholic teaching as I am aware....If someone chooses to provoke God's anger by choosing to be a member of Satan's kingdom, and is cast into Hell, to what avail is God's love to his soul?
I am most intrigued by George A. Kendall's appearance as a guest editor of The Wanderer, which the New Oxford Review points out has a long policy of not criticizing living Popes. Back in 2002, Kendall seemed to have a slightly different point of view in his The Saint & Dragon web periodical.
Let our bishops and our Holy Father repent their gross negligence and begin taking up arms seriously against the evils which afflict the body of Christ, and we will not hesitate to join them and submit ourselves to them....I would also add that criticizing the Hierarchy or even the Pope is not criticizing the Magisterium....

As to the notion that the Pope should somehow be held blameless in all this, that is obvious nonsense. If the Pope knows what has been going on in his Church during his reign, then he has been grossly negligent in his duties. Otherwise, why hasn’t he rescinded the Novus Ordo liturgy and restored the Old Mass throughout the Church? Why hasn’t he excommunicated grossly heretical and positively evil bishops like Kenneth Untener? Why hasn’t he ordered a cleansing of the seminaries? And so on.

Dec 10, 2006

Bad Writing.... Interesting but Scary Ideas?

Chapter 1. The Beta Craft (March 12, 2097)

The 'terminal' was crowded with green and red. No one knew when the BetaCraft would land, so the passengers remained in separate small places of the large room, as if separation would prevent an attack. Each traveler held his goods in his hands to board the craft quickly when it arrived.

It was difficult enough to reach the 'terminal' located on the outskirts of Florence (now Al Karim City), and much more difficult to obtain passage west on the BetaCraft. Very few craft flew these days when many countries and towns were ruled by tribal alliances. People simply did not travel because they could not find reliable transportation.

The BetaCraft silently appeared in the field outside the building now called the ‘terminal.’ Only those ‘in the know’ had been warned beforehand to expect the craft and to provide security by wearing green and red.

One old lady sat on her bag near the window, as if scanning the sky through the dirty glass panes. She remembered a long time ago when terminals had a better appearance and craft were regularly scheduled. She mused that she had had to pay a dowry’s fortune to be able to leave this place—at least 200 times the price of a craft fare in the old days. But it would be worth it if she could be with her son once again.

Passengers were marked with a mottled gray stain on their palms. These ‘tickets’ were able to be 'read' only once, so hands were kept closed around their bags and other possessions. Even though it was said that the ticket stains would last for two days before disappearing in natural sunlight, there would be no shaking of hands.

The passengers were alerted to board the craft by noise from the opened terminal door. Outside a few workmen stood around the BetaCraft and appeared to have finished their work quickly. They stood looking as if expecting at least one of the passengers climbing the old ladder to fall. Yet even the old lady made it up the ladder, with her bag being carried by a young man behind her, and both stepped through the small door.

No one had cleaned the craft. The old lady thought it was a good thing she had visited the stall outside the terminal before boarding. Passengers were counted by a young fellow with a well-shaved head and face. No hair was the preferred style of the Western alliance, while Muslims preferred hair and beards.

When the doors shut, but before all the passengers were seated, the craft moved away from the terminal to make its quick exit upward. The old lady had just pulled the lever that tightened around her when a whoosh was heard and the BetaCraft was airborne. Within a few seconds, it was pulsing along on a course to the southwest.

This was not the first time the old lady had tried to leave the New Mohammedan Empire (NeME). She had once paid over 12,000 gards to a fisherman who said he was able to travel quietly, undersea, if necessary. He said it would be slow but she would be able to reach her far away destination. His boat was old but well serviced and he even showed her a 3-D demo of a descent into the water after three passengers had been loaded. Of course, the demo was faked and she believed the scam. No boat, no undersea travel, and ruefully, no more 12,000 gards.

Not until she had learned that a trip to the west was planned for a special person did she and her friends know about the BetaCraft. It wasn’t totally unheard of that a BetaCraft would land and pick someone up, but it usually meant more money than she could arrange. This time the craft would carry more than 50 passengers in addition to the special passenger, and the shared cost was more reasonable.

All of the 12 women passengers were Mary’s Angels, founded in 2029 to work medical cures for both Muslims and Christians alike. A Mary’s Angel was appreciated not only for the cures but for the quiet and supportive manner in which she did her work. Consequently, trials faced by other non-Muslims were to a large extent not encountered by the neomedical practictioners.

A Mary’s Angel gained her unique skills in a very old way, by being apprenticed to older Mary’s Angels before she gained her ‘halo’ after 12 years of study and practice. The small white metal oval on her coat lapel told everyone that the old lady was a Mary’s Angel, and she had cured many people in the past 40 years. The perfected combination of medical, mental, and spiritual control of illnesses worked well even when the best medications and devices were not able to be obtained.

Few of the passengers talked, except for one older man who spoke animatedly to a companion. At least, the old lady thought it was his companion. A group of younger men in the rear section of the BetaCraft, near the pilot deck, kept their eyes on ‘dangle screens’ suspended in front of their eyes. The small viewing portholes could not be observed by others, and could show scenes of remote friends, books, news events, and the land over which they traveled.

The trip was fast and the BetaCraft prepared for its arrival on the west coast of upper Mexico. Mountains rose out of the Pacific ocean to form the steep land and few available landing spots were apparent. The village bridge stretched across the river that led down from the mountains. The bridge unrolled to become the only straight street in view and stretched up the far hill.

Dingle screens were now in use by all the passengers and they saw people come out from their shacks and houses to observe the BetaCraft pass slowly over the river as if assessing the situation. Then it turned to land gently on the bridge and travel up the straight street to where many young men were standing waving white flags.

The men first off the plane did not answer to the yells of “Papa, Papa.” Next down the ladder was a slight figure with a long brown robe. The shouts became greater as the Pope arrived for a hoped for temporary residence in the Western Alliance. The old lady watched the Pope wave to the crowd, and she decided to stay on the craft and watch the events.

The men attending the Pope were urged by the welcoming party to quickly move to an old bus that stood on a side street. Suddenly a flamegun was shot from the opposite side of the river. The warning was not ignored by the Pope’s attendants, but by then the welcoming party had turned sour. The fight was over quickly as people emerged from open windows and shouted, “Allah, Allah, Allah has conquered again!”

The old lady on the plane observed the unwelcome scene and brought her lips close to the oval ring. She whispered, “He’s in the wrong hands; we’ve been betrayed again.”

Chapter 2. Papal Rehistory (March 12, 2097)

The voice was undeniably his mother, and Noah Perez Amini knew they must move rapidly. Skip the intial simulation task and move to the next procedure to upload the data on current events to the Gorge of Alladin, at least that’s what they called the quantum computer discovered in a vault in Moscow in 2089 and now protected from unauthorized access by physical, radiological, chemical, and biological barriers.

The Gorge of Alladin was programmed in 2032 using Shor’s quantum factoring algorithm. Even computers in 2097 had not significantly advanced over the 2032 model. Consequently, many copies had been made of the 2089 computer discovery. The old quantum computer remained in its protected original environment, because it served to back-up history. Since 2095, its purpose was to record current history in the 2032 memory of the computer. Thus, the record of future history was documented in 2032, even though a rehistory event later changed history.

Noah looked at his oval ring again and knew the Papal capture must be undone. First, back up the most recent three days of history for documentation purposes, and then let history repeat itself—but this time with a successful escape of the Pope from Al Karim City and the New Mohammedan Empire to the Western Allliance. The Pope needed a voice again.

Dec 7, 2006

Friendly Chicken Fire

The chicken house was part of a co-op farm that had been established a long time ago. In the past few years, the farm had lost a significant number of chickens to the foxes that lived nearby. Fox hunting had been outlawed because of an aversion of management to guns, and so the foxes began to increase in numbers and ate well on the tender flock.

The fence around the chicken house had formerly been a sturdy steel wire mesh that kept the chickens in a safe enclosure, but management had failed to repair the fence and it offered little protection against the foxes. Some of the caretakers claimed that it was now better because the chickens were happier and had more room to roam without the tight fence.

Some of the chickens also died of a strange disease that settled in the small chicken brains--especially those of the hens and pullets. This disease caused the girlie birds to flap their wings a lot and pretend they were roosters. Many did not see this as a problem, claiming that more roosters were desirable because the new 'roosters' did not lay eggs and so could be used for labor. However, fewer baby chicks were seen in the chicken yard.

It wasn't until the foxes had eaten many of the chickens that several chickens with larger brains (who were unaffected by the strange brain disease) met in a corner of the chicken house. Hennety Hen cried that all her babies had been eaten by the foxes. Other chickens were afraid because some of the foxes had seduced some of their friends. Robby Rooster complained that the chicken house now looked very poorly in comparison with the old days when he was a young rooster. He could remember the days when he and the other roosters sang their beautiful songs every morning, but the songs had changed because the crowing interfered with management sleeping late.

Some of the chickens believed they had to leave their dilapidating chicken house and reoccupy the oldest chicken barn which had been abandoned a couple of years before. One old rooster, a well-respected leader, led some of the chickens to the tall barn that had been sturdily constucted many years before. They quickly discovered it still had a tight fence around it; moreover, the granary was full of food. Because the old barn was far enough away from management, the songs of the roosters once again welcomed the morning sun as the chickens ate heartily from the granary.

Management was very unhappy with the outlaw chickens that had settled in the old chicken barn, but then they decided to offer the outlaw chickens a deed to the old property. When the deed was examined closely by some lawyer chickens, there were a few who claimed the deed was not what it appeared to be. So the outlaw chickens decided not to accept the deed. Still, the outlaw chickens thrived and began to discuss how their good fortune could be shared with their relatives in the poorly maintained chicken house.

New young roosters quickly took the lead in the sturdy old chicken barn. They practiced every day throwing sharp, rotating disks which sailed through the air to penetrate deeply into the flesh of their adversaries. During forays into fox territory, the "Wirds" proved to be a most effective weapon.

Red was the most energetic and hardworking rooster. Rudy was diligent and resourceful, and he also had had many successful fights with foxes using "Wirds." The only problem was that Red and Rudy were both roosters (and hens know how that is).

The two roosters had had a few minor tiffs but nothing was serious until the company of roosters in the sturdy chicken house decided to write a new song. Naturally, the two roosters had slightly different opinions on how the song should be written. The story gets a little complex, but Red from his post high on the barn beam became agitated and accidentally began to drop "Wirds" on Rudy. Red didn't really mean to injure Rudy, and Rudy attempted to deflect the "Wirds" but to no use.

Rudy was cut by flying "Wirds" and all the chickens thought it was a minor injury. Unfortunately, the injury was very real, and left significant wounds. He no longer felt well enough to fight the foxes with the strength he had had before.

The moral of this story is: Don't use flying "Wirds" on your friends. Friendly fire in Desert Storm killed 17 percent of our troops, while in Vietnam, fratricide killed 10 percent of our own people.

Dec 5, 2006

Kansas City Latin Masses

Kansas City is blessed by a relatively large number of traditional Latin Masses that can be attended every week. Here is the schedule of six Latin Masses offered every Sunday in Kansas City.
  1. St. Vincent's on the Missouri side is a Catholic community of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. They purchased the beautiful old church in 1979 from the diocese and quickly renovated it. With multiple priests on site because of Kansas City being the U.S. headquarters of the SSPX, St. Vincent's has two traditional Latin Masses on Sunday morning--a high Mass at 8:00 am and a low Mass at 10:30 am.
  2. Old St. Patrick Oratory is also on the Missouri side, has Bishop Robert W. Finn as its new pastor, and is staffed by a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The historic old church in downtown Kansas City, MO is now being renovated. In the meantime, the indult Latin Mass that began in about 1990 is being offered at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church every Sunday at 9:15 am.
  3. St. Philippine Duchesne is an indult Latin Mass community of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS that began in 1989. It is now harbored at Blessed Sacrament church in Kansas City, KS. The community is served by two priests from the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and has grown substantially in the past few years. Every Sunday, the low Mass is offered at 6:30 am and the high Mass is offered at 11:00 am.
  4. St. Philomena's is a small Catholic community that has existed since the early 1980 using rented space in Kansas City. In 1988, two Catholic ladies of the community asked a retired priest to offer the traditional Latin Mass. The priest continues to offer the old Latin Mass every Sunday morning at 8:30 am in south Kansas City.
The three largest traditional Latin Mass communities described above also have daily Mass, making Kansas City the likely center of traditional Latin Mass centers in the U.S. In addition, three other large Latin Mass communities are within a one- to three-hour driving time of Kansas City:
  • Maple Hill, KS (west of Topeka)--St. John Vianney Latin Mass Community now has a beautiful new chapel and school and a flourishing Catholic community.
  • St. Mary, KS (west of Topeka)--St. Mary's College and Academy is a very large apostolate of the SSPX that occupies the old Jesuit St. Mary College and Seminary, where many, many families have moved to establish a large traditional Catholic community.
  • Denton, NB (southwest of Lincoln)--Our Lady of Guadalupe is a large new seminary of the FSSP that is attracting a good number of traditional Catholic families to the Lincoln area.

Dec 4, 2006

Did Jesus Know Who He Was?

Mrs. M in the nursing home was her usual ebullient self. Today she showed me a book by Anne Rice, Christ the Lord Out of Egypt. I listened as Mrs. M said that some of her friends had told her to avoid reading the book, but she was obviously ignoring their advice. Mrs. M told me that Jesus didn't know who He was when He was a child--the major premise of the story. I believe this is a form of the heresy, Kenosis, which states Jesus gave up some divine attributes while on earth.

Anne Rice is said by Newsweek to be the "chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters." Yet she is also described as returning to the Catholic church of her youth in 1998, and has said "I promised that from now on I would write only for the Lord." The problem is, which church did she return to? To the non-changing traditional Church of all time, or to a changing church that reflects beliefs of the present generation?

In the novel by Rice, a 7-year old Jesus is returning from exile in Egypt to the Holy Land. The boy Jesus is a miracle-maker who doesn't know who He is or where He gets His power to turn clay birds into living ones or to raise a playmate from the dead. When Mary and Joseph don't seem to know the answers, the story says He searches for His identity in legends, rumors, and dreams.

Was the boy Jesus aware of His identity? Did he need to search for Himself in the past and the present (but not the future)? Did the boy Jesus know what His role in salvation history would be? Rice seems to have gotten all those answers wrong.

The Church teaches that Jesus grew in human knowledge, but did not grow in Divine knowledge because the Divine is always complete and perfect. Moreover, Jesus is fully man and fully God. He has a human nature and a Divine nature--as defined in the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Divine nature of Jesus always knew He was God and possessed the Beatific Vision.

Unorthodox Christians sometimes state that Jesus "grew in awareness" or "gradually figured out" who He was, culminating in his 33rd year (Mt 16:21-23, Lk 9:21-22, and Mk 8:31-33) when Jesus finally knew His future. He told His disciples He must go to Jerusalem, suffer much, be put to death, and rise again on the third day.

If Jesus finally knew the future when he was 33 years old, then when did he develop this skill? Is it a human skill or a Divine power? If seeing the future is a Divine power, then his human nature and Divine nature worked together. The correct doctrine is the Hypostatic Union, that Jesus is both fully God and fully man (Col. 2:9) and did not give up any divine attributes while as a man on earth.

If Jesus didn't have the power to see the future at the age of 7 years (as implied in the story), then the ability to see the future was a skill to be learned and developed. Let's take the skill argument to its logical conclusion. If Jesus began to see the future little by little, then the skill required practice or growth to become better. That sounds like crude theology and has no basis in the writings of the New Testament or the early Church Fathers.

Logically Jesus would have had to know His entire future from the beginning and this supports the Church's teaching on infused knowledge. Moreover, Jesus would have known the will of God the Father all through Jesus' life.

Interestingly, Anne Rice conjectures that the 7-year old Jesus could raise a classmate from the dead and turn clay birds into living ones. However, she fails to note that if He had this power, it's reasonable to assume He also had the power to see the future. If Jesus knew His own future, then He knew who He was because His future contained His identity. Moreover, His knowledge of the future was Divinely complete because seeing the future is not a skill to be developed. Seeing the future is an all-present, all complete Divine power, not a human skill.

Dec 3, 2006

The Replacement of Bishop Leibrecht

For more than 21 years, Bishop John Leibrecht has been the leader of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, an area that covers the southern third of Missouri. This area is strongly fundamentalist Protestant, and I've seen many business signs in Joplin, Branson, and other small towns unabashedly proclaiming their allegiance to Christianity.

In the middle of this conservative Protestant environment, Bishop Leibrecht has followed a generally liberal path in ruling his diocese, to the extent that this writer personally knows several individuals who have 'flown the coop.' The Wanderer Newspaper in 2001 complained that even though many Catholics had petitioned for the indult Latin Mass in Springfield, MO, Bishop Leibrecht was "intransigent [in his] refusal to permit the indult Mass."

My friends wonder why a replacement has not yet been announced by Rome even though Bishop Leibrecht submitted his resignation almost a year and a half ago when he turned 75 years of age.

When a Bishop dies or resigns, the process of succession begins with a consultation carried out by the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi. He normally takes advice from bishops, some of the clergy and others--whomever he may choose to consult on the next Bishop. This highly confidential process is secret.

At the end of the consultation, Archbishop Sambi recommends three names to the Congregation of Bishops in Rome. The Cardinal Prefect then gives the Congregation's recommendations to the Holy Father, who decides who the next bishop will be. The bishop-elect is asked if he accepts and if he says yes, an announcement is made.

How long does it take for consultation, decision and appointment? From as little as four months to a year or more. However, I suspect Bishop Leibrecht has many friends in the upper echelons of the USCCB who do not want to see him replaced with a less liberal leader. Methinks there is a real fight going on with regard to Bishop Leibrecht's successor. So he remains an active Bishop, even though his resignation was submitted in August 2005.

Most importantly, Bishop Leibrecht is currently the Chairman of the Board for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. CARA is a key organization in the study of homosexual perversion in the Catholic Church.

In 2003, the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) launched a study of parish and diocesan ministries to gays. NACDLGM is a network of diocesan, parish, and campus-based ministries with lesbian and gay communities and their families. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University assisted with the study and prepared a report for NACDLGM.

The CARA report studied parish ministries to homosexuals, including how
Ministry leaders have worked hard to increase awareness of gay and lesbian issues among the parish community as whole. One way has been the annual celebration of Solidarity Sunday on the first weekend of October. Beginning in 1998, GLM members have passed out rainbow ribbons and prayer cards before and after each weekend Mass. Announcements are made on preceding weekends, reminding the community that Solidarity Sunday is a time to pray for an end to violence and discrimination, especially against those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

Over the years, more and more parishioners have chosen to wear the rainbow ribbon. Some liturgical ministers wear the rainbow ribbon year-round at Mass to show support for those who have suffered discrimination.
There's lots more on NACDLGM and CARA, but you get the idea.

Dec 1, 2006

Recent Christian Science Fiction

I've been perusing web sites that discuss Christian and specifically Catholic science fiction. One of the most informative ones is Infinite Space, Infinite God that provides an overview of recent Catholic science fiction and related websites. The site advertises "a new anthology of fifteen stories about how the future Catholic Church uses--or fails to use--its faith, wisdom and imagination to grow with the changes of the future."

One of the 15 stories is reprinted on the site--These Three-- written by a homeschooling Mom and a spaceflight operations Dad (seriously!). [I just wish the main author Mom understood that 'real time' telescopic observations in space are not quite 'real time.'] The story begins on a spaceship with sisters of the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue.
Sister Magdalena ... was a sensible, practical woman, one of the first recruits to the order, which had been founded by the late Gillian Hawkins, who had gone to space to care for her husband and remained there after his death. She, too, had been a practical woman. Though a nurse by trade, she'd learned shuttle piloting, basic engineering, and business. She saw the exorbitant prices professional search and rescue units commanded and knew if she offered the same services for "air, equipment, and the love of God," her Order could undercut the competition and carve a place for Catholic religious in outer space.
The Claw of the Conciliator is written by Elliot, a Canadian Anglican, who specializes in Christian S-F. I very much appreciated his two comments on a recent post of mine. Elliot is the one who can tell you who wrote what and when, and he knows the history of Christian S-F probably better than anyone.

Nov 29, 2006

Faked News

Bloggers who read a news story and question it are the best bloggers of all--especially when they act as detectives and search for supporting evidence and ancillary facts. Googling names of key people is usually a great way to start checking what is really going on.

Flopping Aces has done a superb investigation to show how Islamists are using the web to fake news items. Don't miss his Getting the News from the Enemy posts regarding Capt. Jamil Hussein, the burning of mosques, and six torched Sunnis. Michelle Malkin has also been involved in the disentangling of the plot. Here are the results of her poll.

Private Marriage for Elderly?

I once wrote a post on Religious vs. Civil Marriage that included a story of an elderly widower who was living with a widow without being married because they would lose their benefits if they married. The question of whether a secret marriage is permitted in such cases is addressed by Fr. Brian T. Mullady, O.P. in the November issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, a reputable priests' magazine now published by Ignatius Press and edited by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.

In the column Questions Answered, a priest asks Fr. Mullady about a couple who asked if they could be married privately in the Church, but not bother about getting a marriage license from the State. The questioning priest said he told the couple that he could not marry them under those circumstances because marriage is a public event, not private.

Fr. Mullady concurs with the priest in his decision not to privately marry the couple so that they can avoid the establishment of civil effects. He describes several problems with a private (or almost secret) marriage. A summary of Fr. Mullady's comments follow.

Marriage is acknowledged by the Church to be an act with both religious and civil consequences, and a secret marriage can occur only in very rare instances when civil law is contrary to the natural law. A private marriage that is not registered with the State does not recognize the institution of marriage as the bulwark of the civil order and ignores the State's duty to protect and encourage stable marriages. Canon Law recognizes the normal jurisdiction of the State as contributing to the civil order and marriage. If the Church does not recognize the State's jurisdiction, the State can doubt whether the Church really wishes to give to Caesar the things which are his.

Furthermore, a private marriage undermines public perception of marriage and gives bad example when couples are seen to live together. Fr. Mullady concludes that "pastors [must] respect the requirements of the public registration of marriages by the civil law."

Remember that Fr. Mullady's answers were published in the same priests' magazine as the prior article by David R. Carlin that discussed whether religious marriages should be separated from civil marriages.

Nov 28, 2006

Rehistory--Why Not?

The proposed story of The Sugar Ant Particle introduces the idea of Rehistory. This post addresses why cutting and revising the string of time in a sci-fi story is not an acceptable idea.

Genesis proclaims God created man in His own image—man has been given free will. Man’s free will means he is allowed to write history in his lifetime by his good, bad, and morally indifferent choices. ‘Forward history’ is written by man making choices (e.g., man selects a spouse, gets a job, is virtuous, commits sin). Man assists in writing history in time, a dimension that is one of God’s creations.

'Forward history' is governed by cause and effect (God may intervene through a miracle; then He is the direct cause). Man lives in the sequential timeframe of ‘before, now, and after.’ For example, man did not eat in the past day, man now eats to satisfy his hunger, and man will be satiated for a time. Of course, hunger is not deterministic and a man can choose not to eat, and thus effect a different timeline of events.

If man can affect ‘forward history,’ can man also affect ‘backward history,’ such as by revising a physical environment in the past? Let's assume the answer is 'yes' so that we can see potential dead ends--irrational or erroneous conclusions. The figure below shows forward and backward histories as two time paths.

Figure 1. Rehistory Events and Paths

The top part of Figure 1 contains the original events that end when a rehistory event is generated. At this point, the original events (within the blue box) are deleted. All environments and people and activities no longer exist after the timepoint when rehistory begins to take effect. Time restarts with no memory of the original events—which never happened!

It isn’t as if events in the top blue box are changed. Both virtuous and sinful actions never occurred. Christ’s birth and redemptive act never occurred. Yet, as the author of time, God could still insert the Incarnation of His Son. This instance shows that rehistory means that God would be at the service of man who would control time and history, to which God must adjust. This is obviously a grievously defective conclusion.

The principle of cause and effect also is affected because rehistory is a cause that is out of order—it exists in the future rather than the past. Common understanding is that a cause must precede an effect, so a potential contradiction appears.

A former Jesuit priest once described God as holding the string of time in his hands. The string of history has a beginning and an end. God is outside of time and so he can ‘touch’ the string of time at any time and any point in the universe. He knows the beginning and he knows the end. That is why God is “I Am.” Is man prohibited from ‘touching’ the string of time? If man attempts to touch the string, does he also claim to be “I Am”?

Can man influence the string? Yes, he controls history by his actions. But can man cut the string, discard sections, and manufacture a new string? Is time able to be manipulated as man manipulates objects in space? If man controls the string of time, does that make man a competitor to God? Is time a dimension that is necessarily the province of God only? Is rehistory, because of violating cause and effect, a contradiction and a lie?

Is the Rehistory story of The Sugar Ant Particle potentially very interesting? Perhaps, but unless the above discussion precedes the story to show the philosophical difficulties, the story should probably not be written.

The Sugar Ant Particle

Some months ago I wrote an 8-part summary of “The Great Catholic Retreat.”
In this potential sci-fi story, a priest of the year 2100 writes a history book describing historical events of the Catholic Church in the 20th and 21st centuries. The Church history shows that the severe losses experienced in the Catholic Church during the latter half of the 20th century led to the inability of Christian civilization to oppose the advance of Islam. I concluded the story couldn't stand on its own, but would need to be embedded in a larger story.

In the proposed larger story, a particle accelerator is used in 2018 to attempt to answer two scientific questions on (1) the missing spin of the quarks, and (2) the absence of free quarks. A young scientist notes during the pre-collision process that tiny sugar ants have gotten into the 3-story tall particle detector system.

He watches a line of sugar ants move slowly across the detector surface when one ant suddenly moves sideways as if moved by a unseen force. A minute or two later, a second and a third ant are also observed to move sideways, in the same direction and distance as the first ant.

The physicist is working under a countdown scenario and is asked if his detectors are ready to proceed with the experiment. The physicist quickly uses a compressed air jet to clean the detector surfaces and the particle collision experiment begins. Three collisions occur at approximate one minute intervals. The expected spin is too low and represents only 30 percent of the expected energy/mass.

The physicist hypothesizes the missing particle spin could be found about ten minutes BEFORE the experiment. He concludes the missing spin is associated with a new particle that appears before the experiment is conducted, is very large, and decays within milliseconds. After verification experiments with salt crystals (instead of ants), the “before” particle is named the “Sugar Ant Particle."

The young physicist and his team are awarded the Nobel prize for physics in 2028. Further tests and development of a new mathematical model and corroborative experiments show that the emitted location and particle force can be controlled.

The priest-author of the “Great Catholic Retreat” argues in 2100 to an academic audience that if Anatole Bugnini had not been in charge of the NO Mass following Vatican II, that the Church would have been spared a significant decline. Moreover, avoiding a decline would have enabled the Church to have countered the great expansion of Islam in the 21st century.

Rehistory is based on use of the Sugar Ant particle to change a physical phenomenon or environment in the past. The goal of rehistory is to change a prior event (1) with minimum effort, (2) to obtain maximum desired result, and (3) to limit any unwanted effects.

In chaos theory, changing something big with something small is called the lever effect or the Butterfly effect, where a butterfly wing flapping in a Chinese field can create air currents that grow and produce storms in the U.S. Once a butterfly flaps its wing, Arturian-Markovian statistics can be used to project successive happenings.

The priest-historian agrees to serve as a senior consultant for a rehistory event to prevent the Great Catholic Retreat of the late 20th century. Based on the sugar ant particle phenomenon, he presses forward to use rehistory to reveal Bugnini as a Mason at a much earlier date--before he damages the old Latin Mass.

Almost ten years go into the planning for the rehistory event, because the effort requires a complex Rehistory Impact Study (RIS, similar to an Environmental Impact Study). The rules include:

1. No injury can be done to persons (as simulated in the RIS)
2. Simulations must ‘prove’ rehistory will affect only target situation
3. A preferred way of dealing with miscreants is to ‘promote’ them out of the way
4. Simulation must show easy reversibility at a later time
5. Form of government cannot be changed
6. Form of religion cannot be changed

The ten-year planning effort is intense, but is plagued with unexpected difficulties as the project leader deals with:
1. Feasibility analysis
2. Simulations
3. Iterations
4. Final Plan

The Senior project engineer for rehistory is Shekel (actually Sheik Al, a secret Muslim) whose own idea of rehistory is to revise a small event before 1492 and so prevent Isabella and Ferdinand from winning the last battle of the Christians against the Moors. Shekel hides his intent by arguing that the best rehistory event would be to change something in an earlier time period so that the western hemisphere would have a long history of Catholic militancy to counter Islam.

You can imagine the rest of the story....

Now for why the story won't be written, please see the next post.

The Universal Indult

While Rorate Coeli remains the primary source of information, a new Catholic forum, Universal Indult, also shares news and discussions on the 'freeing' of the old Latin Mass. The most comprehensive post, The Road to Restoration, is written by Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro and is reprinted from the November 2006 issue of the Latin Mass Society's publication, Mass of Ages. Msgr. Barreiro summarizes events of the last year to show the direction that Pope Benedict XVI is taking.

Nov 27, 2006

Why the Pope is in Turkey

One of my children and Mrs. M from the nursing home both have asked me why the Pope is traveling to Turkey, considering the physical danger of his travels. I've already described one possible reason in a previous post.

The official reasons for the Papal visit are described in the Vatican communication on the Significance of Benedict XVI's Trip to Turkey: (1) a pastoral journey; (2) an ecumenical journey; and (3) a journey under the banner of interreligious dialogue. The basis for interreligious dialogue with Moslems is stated to be the Declaration Nostra Aetate (In Our Time) issued by the second Vatican Council. Here is what Nostra Aetate says about followers of Islam:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

Nostra Aetate is not one of my favorite documents, although I agree that the Pope and Moslems should "work sincerely for mutual understanding." It is easy for Westerners to learn about Islam through the Web or the Koran--just google 'Islam' or go to a bookstore or library. Unfortunately, computers, libraries, and bookstores with Bibles or Christian writings are not freely available to Moslems in Arab lands. Reciprocity of information sharing simply doesn't exist and is not likely to happen.

"Who Killed Christ?" and Benedict XVI

A TV presentation within the past couple of years asked the question, "Who Killed Christ?" They showed the evidence against Judas, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Roman soldiers, and Caiphas and the ancient Jews, all of whom were involved in the death of Christ. The final answer of The Discovery Channel was that Jesus willed and was responsible for His own death.

Jesus is the High Priest who laid down His life to make the pleasing sacrifice to God the Father. While Jesus had the authority and power to prevent His passion, He voluntarily suffered death to make sacrifice for our sins and save all of us from hell. Truthfully, all sinners are responsible for the killing of Jesus Christ. That answer is supported by the New Testament, especially John 3:16-17, and John 10:17-18.
For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not His Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by Him.

Therefore doth the Father love Me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from Me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
I've begun to wonder if Benedict XVI may have decided to expose himself to a potential assassination by Muslims to voluntarily imitate Christ's redemptive sacrifice. The Pope's willingness to sacrifice his life for peace in the face of intense hatred would likely make clear to some Muslims and a lot of non-Muslims the awesome charity of our religion in contrast to the evil nature of Islamism.

If such a terrible act of violence occurs, it would make Christians clearly come to grips with marauding Islamism. Moreover, a Pope martyr/saint has not been seen for many, many centuries and would fertilize the seedbed of the Church with his blood. Benedict XVI may believe this is necessary.

Nov 26, 2006

Little Changes in History

A lot of changes have occurred in my lifetime of almost 70 years. The big changes in religion, politics and law, and 'lifestyles' have been noted many times over. But it's the little undocumented changes that are also very important and show how much our society has changed (declined?) in the past 50 to 70 years.

MUSIC--When I was in grade school, the music on the noon radio was live cowboy music, mostly played with fiddles, a bass, and a horizontal steel guitar. The music was quite popular at the time. My favorite radio program was The Lone Ranger with its William Tell Overture as the accompanying music. My favorite movie star was the singing cowboy, Roy Rogers. I really liked to listen to the Sons of the Pioneers. I loved the colorful cartoons, especially the ones where the little yellow Tweety Bird says, "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy-Tat!"

While in college in the late 50's and early 60's, I purchased a small blue-green radio for about $30 earned from a summer job. Virtually all of the FM stations I received on that radio played exclusively classical or semi-classical music and with very few advertisements. Almost all the girls in my hall loved classical music, although they also crowded around the TV to hear Perry Como sing. [Over the years, the number of FM stations in KC has increased dramatically, but not one now plays classical or semi-classical music.]

BABIES--One of my freshman classmates in college was a very good student. I wondered why she did not return for her sophomore year and was told by another girl she had gotten married over the summer because of becoming pregnant. This was typical of the situation at that time.

Until my third or fourth child, changing a diaper meant changing a cloth diaper. A really dirty diaper was one that you washed out in the toilet stool before placing it in a covered bucket for later washing in a ringer-roller washing machine.

TOYS--The toys that my children played with were much more interesting and fun than toys of today. One particular toy for small children that was taken off the market, presumably due to safety reasons, was a wood block with an entry hole in the top on one side and an exit hole on the other side near the bottom. Dowels were placed in the entry hole and the child used a hammer to pound the round pieces of wood through the interior wood channel so they came out the exit hole.

SCHOOLS AND NUNS--When I attended early Catholic grade school, the tuition was $1 per month. Tuition for my first year of Catholic high school was $40 per year and my Dad thought that was high. In both cases, the nuns worked hard and received little monetary pay. By about 1950, one young nun had ~60 children in a first or second-grade class--and she kept order, too!

I remember my aunt driving the teaching nuns to the grocery store and other places they had to go on a weekly basis. The sisters never had a car and relied on parishioners to furnish them transportation. Parishioners also contributed food from their gardens to the nuns. Doctors who treated the nuns did so on a pro bono basis.

The nuns sold candy to the students every Friday afternoon and a nice sized candy bar cost 5 cents. Students were prohibited from buying more than two pieces of candy, if I remember. The selling of candy was a money raising effort for the school.

Once a month, mothers fixed breakfast for the students after the First Friday Mass because everyone had to fast from all food and water from midnight on. To make sure students avoided drinking water before First Friday Mass, the nuns covered the school drinking fountains with paper bags.

CLOTHES--Everyone dressed up if they went to church or to town for shopping. Women and men wore hats or the women wore scarves. Only leather shoes were believed suitable for dressing up. The first tennis shoes were said to be unhealthy for children's feet. X-ray machines in a few shoe stores were used to show how well shoes fit on a foot, although they were discontinued by the time WWII ended.

KITCHENS--There was no plastic wrap or aluminum foil when I was young. The kitchen was a plastic-less world. Wax paper was used to cover food. Milk was not homogenized and the cream came to the top of the glass bottles The cream could be poured off to put in coffee or make whipping cream or butter.

When oleomargarine was introduced, the dairy industry forced the margarine producers to make it white. Only the buyer could color the margarine by mixing in a packet of yellow dye. Eventually consumers complained to state legislators and the law was changed so that yellow margarine could be sold.

A primary activity in the summer kitchen was canning. I remember helping my mother can 80+ jars of strawberry preserves one year. She also canned lots of tomato juice and some pears.

Two Church Letters on Homosexuality

Cardinal Sean O'Malley has a blog where his letter on homosexuality issued November 23 was published. Here are portions from his letter.
The Church’s efforts to defend the institution of marriage has been interpreted by some as an indication of the Church’s hostility toward homosexual persons....

Right from the beginning of this controversy [sic] I have called on all Catholics to rally behind the cause of marriage....

The Church’s position is not based on an animus against people with a homosexual orientation. Each and every member of the Church is called to holiness regardless of their sexual orientation. The Church has often warned against defining people by their sexual orientation in a way that diminishes their humanity....

We do not want Catholics who have a homosexual orientation to feel unwelcomed in the Catholic Church. We remind them that they are bound to us by their baptism and are called to live a life of holiness. Many homosexual persons in our Church lead holy lives and make an outstanding contribution to the life of the Church by their service, generosity and the sharing of their spiritual gifts....

We must strive to eradicate prejudices against people with a homosexual orientation. At the same time the Church must minister to all people by challenging them to obey God’s commands, the roadmap for a meaningful human life that allows us to draw near to God and to one another.
The full communication by Cardinal O'Malley is published here, and you will notice a glaring omission--not one word is said about homosexual priests in the Catholic Church in Boston.

Contrast Cardinal O'Malley's letter with one published by Pope Pius V on August 30, 1568 "Against any cleric whosoever, secular or regular, who are guilty of a heinous crime."
A ghastly crime, by which the joined (papal) states were polluted enflamed by God’s fearful judgment, flares up our bitter sorrow, and gravely moves our soul so that we lend now our attentions to repress it as much as possible.

1. It was properly denoted by the Lateran Council, that whatsoever Cleric will have been discovered to suffer from that incontinence which is against nature, on account of which the wrath of God falls upon the sons of disobedience (cf. Vulg. Eph. 5,6), is to be ejected from the ranks of the clergy and be reduced to do penance in a monastery.

2. But lest the contagion of such a scourge, from the hope of impunity which is the greatest lure of sinning, more confidently grows in power, We determine that clerics guilty of this execrable crime are to be quite gravely punished, so that whoever does not abhor the ruination of the soul, the avenging secular sword of civil laws will certainly deter.

3. And thus because We have made a decree in this matter at the beginning of Our Pontificate, now in a fuller and stronger way intending it to be followed strictly, every and all priests, whoever they are, and other secular clerics, and regular clerics of any grade and dignity, busy at such a detestable monstrosity, We deprive of every clerical privilege, every office, dignity, and ecclesiastical benefice by authority of the present legal instrument. So it is enacted that once they are degraded by the Ecclesiastical Judge, they be handed over immediately to the secular arm, which will exact upon them the same (death) penalty, which is ascertained to have been constituted by legitimate sanctions against laymen who have slid down into this ruin. Nothing to the contrary withstanding, etc.

Did you notice the differences between of the two letters?

Nov 24, 2006

The King of the Internet

History always repeats itself and so we should expect new kings to arise in the future. A long time ago, I heard that when society begins to topple from its sins, a man on a white horse will appear. The new king will be an incarnation of Mao, Mohammed, or Charlemagne--take your choice.

How will the king take power and who will be the king? The first question is dependent on a third question--will the web survive the toppling of society? My guess is the web won't be destroyed because it is crucial to the success of all parties to the battles. Both devils and Saints want to touch others to condemn or save souls. Rather, I believe a peacetime web may be controlled rather than destroyed, with general consortiums of web villages achieving supremacy to control most of the other web villages.

Web villages bind people together because of similar religions, backgrounds, and political and social views. A village can cross bedrooms and oceans to provide homes for people of like mind. Village citizens are characterized by:
  1. Little or no reading of local newspapers or watching of live TV
  2. Frequent connection with other villagers through the web, email, and cell phone
  3. Exposure to immense amounts of information that support the views of a particular web village
  4. Sharing common experiences so that personal allegiance to the village matures
  5. Activation of militants on projects designed to reach specific goals.
R.J. Stove writes in the Remnant News, "Should We Blog." Frankly, even though the world of the Internet has many temptations to sin, it is the framework that must be used if new Charlemagnes can come to the forefront of history. "Should We Work?" may be an alternative title for Stove's article, and if we are not yet dead, the answer has to be positive.

In the past, a one-to-many news system has meant the distribution of information from a few central locations to many people through the TV, magazines, and newspapers. In contrast, the internet is a many-to-many world, where everyone can be considered his own program director or editor. Moreover, new voices both listen and talk with their peers to form alliances and even generate more information, usually on an ad hoc basis to pursue a common goal.

The Internet democracy now consists of:
  • Almost 60 million blogs
  • Almost 130 million MySpace pages
  • Over 70 million YouTube videos watched each day.
Yet most information is acknowledged to be wrong or worthless, and some even poses considerable danger. For example, the web can show you how to kill people (both en masse and secretly) and also how to commit suicide. Additionally, the web is full of important facts mixed with biased commentary--making all information not equal.

Special Internet tools are needed to allow people to use the web to rebuild Christian civilization. Internet filters are of much greater importance to the building of a Christian presence on the internet than is commonly discussed. Directories of Christian information and Catholic blogs are also very important. The establishment and growth of Christian web villages (e.g., blogrolls, leagues) are most critical, because the web shows a polluted people that must be converted using some of the same techniques that were used to proselytize them for evil.

Some of the techniques will involve "Hive" software (think bees that make honey and swarm to protect the hive) to enable the rapid working together of many people in a village. I suspect that even an iPod may be a necessary 'gun' of militant Catholics in the future, mounted on a belt, worn as a watch, or held in a pocket to promote and defend their faith whenever necessary. [If the current pace of computer storage capacity continues, by 2015, an iPod is estimated to hold everything ever printed or broadcast in the history of the world, in any language or medium. ] "Hive" software will be needed to use this information effectively and efficiently, as required by specific militant Christians who have volunteered to serve in special team roles.

Even more, I believe "Hive" software is needed to use the democracy of the Internet to tap the intelligence of the crowd. No, I'm not talking about deciding on religious doctrine, but how best to employ group intelligence that has been demonstrated by many experiments to better judge questions of fact than individual persons. As individuals contribute to such a process, they also buy into subsequent actions. "Hive" programs will allow contributions of proposed procedures/tasks to accomplish a specific goal, then to achieve agreement on the goal, and then to manage subsequent activities that must be performed. A superhive web environment will be needed to deal with many like-minded villages in different environments.

An illustration of where this tool could have been used is the recent Missouri Stem Cell Initiative. Opposition to the cloning amendment was not well developed on the web, partly because relatively few Christian bloggers or MySpacers were identified in Missouri and most worked not at all or were alone rather than in concert with each other. With the right tools, 200 active bloggers could have motivated more interest and activities on a daily basis. Moreover, 200 people would have contributed their own ideas on what efforts would achieve the most success. Many more than two hundred Christian blogs in Missouri is reasonable within the near future because of very high growth rates in web connectivity, knowledge, and blogging.

Is this really possible? Yes, it is happening in Estonia which seems to have a lot of internet-savvy citizens. The government of Estonia has set up a website called 'Today I Decide'. Some of the policies and actions suggested by citizens have now been implemented by the government. Others are generating a lot of heat in political discussions.

Are there bad things that will likely happen? Yes, certain persons may become renegades to challenge the village raison d’être. Other maverick villagers may try to expand their own universe of beliefs or achieve a personal agenda. In both cases, identified troublemakers should be removed from the village through voting or by a village leader. Web tools such as "Hive" software should insure non-friendly input is restricted in making village decisions.

Christian villages on the web will motivate Catholics and Protestants to take the fight to the enemy and rebuild the Church. While Christian unity in the one, true Catholic Church remains a far-away dream, a subset of that unity is now possible on issues related to life, secularism, and Islam. Villages are not local churches and so should encourage membership to any friend of Christianity.

Can good Catholic Internet villages restore the Church and eventually the world? I'm betting it has already started and needs more prayer, intelligence, development, and action. Eventually, Jesus Christ must be placed in his proper place as King of the Internet.