Dec 22, 2008

What I'm Hearing these Days....

This great country is falling much harder than in the 1930's, and the signs come from neighbors, friends, relatives, and acquaintances--none of whom seem to believe in their hearts that government printing and spending more money will solve the problems this country is facing. Here is what I'm hearing these days.
  1. The auctioneer seemed curt when I called to asked what the 27-acre farm with a small house, big new barn, and other outbuildings sold for. His answer: $158,000, a clear drop from what was expected.
  2. The young family man told me this past Sunday evening he has lost his job. He was babysitting for his three little girls while his formerly stay-at-home wife now was working. If he can sell his home, he will look for a place to rent. A friend and I concluded his property will likely suffer foreclosure because he bought only three years ago, paid too much, and can't sell it for for anywhere near what he has invested in it.
  3. Most vacant houses in the neighborhood simply do not have 'for sale' signs and none has a 'sold' sign. Little green signs affixed by the city are attached to some abandoned houses; others simply have dark or boarded up windows and no tire tracks evident during our snowy weather. An exception is one small house with a large yard that has a hand-written sign in the window asking $29,900--probably half of what it would have sold for a couple of years ago.
  4. I've looked on the Internet to determine the number of foreclosed HUD properties in the two poorest counties of Greater Kansas City Area. Wyandotte County, Kansas lists only 25 HUD-foreclosed properties and Jackson County, Missouri lists only 105. [One MSNBC reporter this morning said the foreclosure process was backlogged so that the process to sell a property now takes a year to complete--and it's getting worse.]
  5. The older family up the street continues to have lots of cars parked in front as some of their adult children remain at home.
  6. One of our daughters asked another person about the recent move of a joint friend. Did they sell their former place? No, it was foreclosed on, and they are now renting a smaller house with some acreage.
  7. Several people plan bigger gardens in 2009 and two have bought cows.
  8. An acquaintance says he has bought a nicer house in a great deal, even though he knows he won't be able to sell his old residence for a while. He asked me if I knew someone honest and industrious who could rent it and maintain it at a much reduced rental price so the intrinsic value of his old house could be preserved.
  9. A Christmas letter from a cousin tells about her son who is employed in the bond market on Wall Street. She writes, "S... is so far hanging in there through the turmoil of Wall Street. His boss and several colleagues have recently been laid off....He believes that life as we know it could disappear if the economy isn't fixed soon. Scary! I'm not ready to move to the farm to raise my own chickens and grow my own veggies!"
Add to the above President Bush's recent comments:
...it is conceivable we will see a depression greater than the Great Depression… So I analyzed that and decided I didn't want to be the President during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression.”—President George W. Bush, speaking to the American Enterprise Institute, December 18th, 2008.
While the times may appear to be evil, I believe God is giving us more opportunities to please him than in formerly good times. Perhaps we'll see (like disfigured Namrata Nayak) that “They do not love Jesus....It was our enemies who made me courageous and committed.”

Moreover, bad times seem to assist weak souls to avoid hell: “As for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Dec 16, 2008

Anglican Use Catholic Mass in Kansas City

Kirk Kramer whom everybody knows (as I once proved when I asked a group of European pilgrims whether anyone knew Kirk] sent this message on the Anglican Use Mass in Kansas City. I was reminded of the Anglican Use Catholic parish, Our Lady of the Atonement, in north San Antonio, TX which impressed me very favorably a few years ago with their beautiful church. Their Anglican Use Solemn High Mass involves the use of incense, bells, a full procession, and Sacred Music from both the traditional Latin and English Catholic heritage.

A former Anglican pastor, now a married Catholic priest, also came into my thoughts after reading Kirk's email. Fr. Bob McElwee is well known for blessing motorcycles in southeast Kansas and for the words on his business card, "When I'm not riding, I'm guiding." Last March this pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Frontenac, KS invited a FSSP priest into his 'high liturgical' Kansas church for several days to explain and offer the old Latin Mass. Fr. McElwee is a rare priest who insures that his Adoration Chapel is open 24 hours a day to pray in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Here's Kirk's letter about the Anglican Use Mass in Kansas City.
Friends in Kansas City & environs:

A friend sent me a link to the website of the Kansas City, Missouri, diocesan newspaper a few days ago. On it I saw this notice:

http://catholickey.blogspot.com/2008/11/anglican-use-mass-this-weekend.html

After reading it I called the pastor at St Therese, Fr Davis, & had a good chinwag with him. He told me that he will celebrate Mass according to the Anglican Use every Sunday at 11:15.

Most Catholics know that Pope John Paul established the "Pastoral Provision" for married convert clergymen so that ex-Anglican & Episcopalian parsons who become Catholics can be dispensed from clerical celibacy & ordained priests. A less known part of the Pastoral Provision is the possibility of using a modified form of the Book of Common Prayer at Mass.

Next to the King James Bible, nothing has formed our rich & delicate language so deeply as the language of the Prayer Book. If that is what had been meant 40 years ago by "the vernacular" after Vatican II, many of the Church's current liturgical woes might have been avoided.

The music at Anglican Use parishes is from the 1940 hymn book & Anglican chant, and is consistently at a high standard.

A few years ago I nearly moved to Fort Worth to take a job in a library. The attraction of living there was a whole parish, St Mary the Virgin, devoted to the Anglican Use.

http://www.stmarythevirgin.org/

This note is just meant to make you aware of this development. I wish we had the chance to worship in this way on a regular basis. The nearest Anglican Use parish to Washington is in Scranton, which I have visited a few times.

http://www.stthomasmoresociety.org/

More information about the Anglican Use Society is available on their website:

http://anglicanuse.org/

Blessed Advent,

Kirk Kramer

Dec 12, 2008

My Aunt Tomato Lady

My Aunt T was the Tomato Lady. Forty years ago she would plant a couple of thousand tomato seeds in a hotbed, transfer them to other hot beds after they sprouted a few leaves, and then replant them in her large garden in early May. Some years Aunt T had over 1,500 tomato plants that produced basket after basket of tomatoes for each day during the harvest season from late June until October's first frost.

Aunt T lived in a small two-bedroom house built in the 1920s and she was far from wealthy. Her fresh, great-tasting tomatoes provided cash during poor (and sometimes slightly better) economic times. I recently asked Aunt T's daughter about my own memories of visiting Aunt T and seeing her work long and hard at raising tomatoes--while still doing all the church laundry (remember the nice long altar-rail cloth?).

The first step was for Uncle C to build hotbeds in the ground in which delicate plants would be planted and grown in cold weather. Wood edges of the hot bed supported a wooden frame with glass windows, so the hotbed acted as a ground level greenhouse. At night during cold weather, Aunt T covered each window frame with gunny sacks and then with straw to prevent infiltration of cold air. During warm daytime weather, the frame would be lifted on the downwind side to allow gentle ventilation of the hotbed. On even warmer days, the entire window frame would be removed to expose the tomato plants to the hot rays of the sun.

For many years, I remember Aunt T used the original method of heating her hotbeds--fresh horse manure added as the bottom layer of the hotbeds. [Aunt T was very excited when in the 1950's she was able to buy electrical heating coils as a replacement for the bottom manure layer.]

The process began by collecting and storing fresh manure in a pile, then mixing the pile a couple of times and adding water to encourage fermentation during the ten days preceding use of the hotbeds. The well-fermenting manure was added to the bottom of the hotbed as a two to three foot layer before adding good soil as the top layer (with added Perlite) in which to plant the tomatoes. For a lot more information on building hotbeds see here, although I remember my Aunt T's hotbeds as more level to the ground for easier covering when cold weather was encountered.

Aunt T planted tiny tomato seeds in a single hotbed on a nice day in about the third week of February--dependent on what she read in the original Farmer's Almanac about the moon. The biggest problem with growing young tomato plants is that they become spindly and will "dampen off" and die because of fungi when the weather is cool and there is lots of moisture. Watering was done very sparingly while young tomato plants were growing. [I learned a long time ago that it was best to stunt young tomato plants by denying them water until they began to droop a little. Then the plants seemed to develop a more vigorous short stem to support further growth.]

Once the tiny plants had grown several leaves, they now were too closely spaced. Aunt T then transplanted the tiny tomato plants from the original hotbed to new hotbeds that had been prepared for more spacious plantings of young plants.

Aunt T was a big believer in "mira-gro." The final transplant to rows in her garden was done by first dipping the root in a solution of Miracle Gro and then planting it in the soil. A small amount of "mira-gro" was also added to the soil around the plant.

Even though the last frost date for Kansas City is about May 10, Aunt T would transplant tomatoes to her garden as soon as May 1, dependent on the immediate weather forecast. She would risk all her work to gain the financial advantage of being the first to bring homegrown tomatoes to the City Market.

Sometimes, she would err and the forecast was for frost after she had already planted the tomatoes. She always saved her old newspapers, and 6-layer newspaper tents had to be made to cover each vulnerable plant. [I remember helping Aunt T with this as a young girl, but I wasn't nearly as fast as my Aunt and Mother!]

Ripe tomatoes are cleaner, more round, and more evenly ripe if they are suspended in air. So Aunt T always trimmed off the small lower branches (NOT the bigger leaves) with her fingernail. By early June (after continuous cultivating and watering), the tomato plants had grown tall enough to stake and tie so that they would not fall over when loaded with heavy tomatoes.

If there was good weather, Aunt T would call her neighbor down the street by June 20-25 to take fresh tomatoes to the City Market. Her favorite tomato became the JetStar because it was early, had lots of flesh, was very productive, didn't crack, and was easy to sell because of its superior taste. [The current price of 1/4 oz (2,000 to 2,800 seeds) of JetStar tomato seeds is now $70.80.]

Aunt T and her oldest daughter who told me this story worked very, very hard to earn every penny from their hotbed-germinated and garden-grown tomatoes. I'll always be impressed with Aunt T's and M's work ethic. I wonder whether anyone with a similar work ethic will take M's offer to furnish a new Tomato Lady with two free window frames from Aunt T's old hotbeds (some windows need replacing). [If we have another great depression, ......?]

Postscript: When my Aunt T died (she would now be well over 100 years old), I would have thought her skin would have been badly affected by the sun exposure she received during her lifetime of gardening. Not so, her face was as clear and fresh as if her over 90 years of life had been spent in a convent. You see, Aunt T always used a wide brim straw hat! Good advice for the younger gardener.

Dec 3, 2008

Two Stations of the Cross and Zimbabwe

Before Mass this morning, I made the fourteen Stations of the Cross around the Church. Two stations seemed particularly appropriate--the tenth where Jesus is stripped of his garments, and the eleventh where Jesus is nailed to the cross.

The two stations made me think that many of our country's citizens may be stripped of most material possessions in the next few years. Many may be painfully nailed to a cross of financial difficulties as jobs, homes, and savings are lost.

Zimbabwe provides nightmares of how bad things can get when a government keeps printing more money. Current stories found in THE ZIMBABWE SITUATION abound about the effects of Zimbabwe's extra-super-dooper-hyperinflation:
  • All of the country's main public hospitals have closed and those that operate have little or no medicine and suffer a shortage of staff, whose monthly salaries do not cover even one day's bus fare to get to work.
  • Zimbabwe riot police on Wednesday broke up a peaceful march by health workers protesting against the collapse of the health infrastructure amid mounting signs that the situation is slipping out of the government’s control.
  • Doctors in Zimbabwe said as many as 1,000 people have died in the cholera epidemic caused by the breakdown of the country's water purification system.
  • Army discipline is breaking down and on Monday soldiers looted shops in the capital Harare and beat foreign currency dealers.
  • Authorities have turned off water taps in Harare because they ran out of purifying chemicals, so people are now digging shallow wells in open ground.
  • Zimbabwe police beat union members as they demonstrated against tight restrictions on cash withdrawals.
  • The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said it would now circulate new Z$10-million, Z$50-million and Z$100-million notes. The previously highest denomination was Z$1-million.
  • Unemployment is more than 80 percent.
  • Millions survive on nothing but what they are gathering in the wild. McDonald Lewanika of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition reports [in Wedza, a town only 60 miles from the capital, Harare] "You see people fighting with each other and even with wild animals like wart hogs just to take some food back to their children."
  • President Robert Mugabe's decided in June to suspend humanitarian aid during his one-man presidential runoff. His suspension of foreign aid remains in force.
  • Former President Carter, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Graca Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, tried to visit Zimbabwe a week and a half ago to report on the humanitarian situation. But they were denied visas by Mugabe's regime.
Zimbabwe (formerly called Rhodesia) was once one of Africa's most successful nations, but now has the world's highest inflation rate, last estimated at 231 million per cent per year, but thought to be much higher.

Nov 30, 2008

Vatican Solar Energy Calculations

Two German companies have donated and installed 2,400 solar panels (5,000 sq meters) on the roof of the Vatican Nervi Hall where the Pope holds his weekly Wednesday audiences with pilgrims. The new Vatican solar system cost $1.6M and will produce 300 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy a year.

But is solar power cost efficient? Is it truly green to manufacture photovoltaic cells? How much land would be needed and what would it cost to replace a typical power plant with a solar energy system?

To obtain the power rating of the Vatican solar installation, simply divide 300 MWh by the number of hours per year, e.g., (365 x 24) to obtain 0.034 MW--the power rating for the Vatican solar photovoltaic system.

To predict how many solar panels would be needed to get 1,000 MW [1 GW) of power, such as is produced by a small nuclear power plant like Wolf Creek in Kansas, solve the equation:
0.034 MW/2,400 panels = 1,000 MW/x panels.

Solving for x gives 70,588,235 panels needed to replace a single small power plant. Each installed solar panel at the Vatican costs $667, so the cost to replace a small power plant is 70,588,235 x $667 = $47,082,352,750.

The 70+ million solar panels needed to replace a single power plant will cover an area of 70,588,235 x 5,000 sq meters/2,400 panels = 147,058,823 sq meters. There are 4,047 sq meters in an acre, so dividing 147 million square meters by 4,047 sq meters gives 36,338 acres needed to replace a small power plant. At 640 acres per square mile, this represents 57 square miles of land needed to install over 70 million solar panels to replace ONE small power plant. [BTW, to replace a large power plant would require five times these values.]
"My solution to the energy crisis? Nuclear power. We already know how, it is less dirty than fossil fuel, power plants require only acres of land, not square miles and the US has all the uranium she needs inside her own borders. Forget trying to store the waste forever--settle for a century. We should also drill offshore for more domestic oil since nuclear plants can't be built overnight, and the American automobile fleet won't be all-electric for some years to come. And we can use wind and solar power where it makes sense.

"Oh, and since candidates for president can spend a hundred million dollars to get us to vote for them, maybe we can spend the same to undo the 30 years of anti-nuclear nonsense that brought us today's energy crisis in the first place." [Jeffery D. Kooistra in Alternative View, published in ANALOG: Science Fiction and Fact, January/February 2009.]

An Upsetting Sign

Nov 29, 2008

Huang Guangyu, Chinese Catholic Billionaire

"China's Sam Walton" disappeared on November 19, and the mystery deepened when even Xinhua, the state-owned news agency, could not get a comment from the police. It seems that Huang Guangyu's fate is being handled by the Ministry of Public Security which will consider charges that he manipulated share prices in companies with links to Gome, the company he founded. Shares of SD Jintai, a little-known pharmaceuticals group controlled by Huang's brother, Huang Junqin, soared more than 700 percent in 2007. The source also indicated that the reason for Huang's investigation is far more "complicated" than mere "stock price manipulation.

Mr. Huang Guanyu is a 39-year old billionaire who left school in his poor, mostly Catholic village at the age of 16. He now has a wife and two children who live in an apartment in an eastern suburb of Beijing. In late 2006, he and his brother were investigated by police for alleged financial irregularities involving the use of a loan to speculate in real estate, but he was released without charges.

I'm always interested in what is happening in communist China and was quite surprised to discover that Huang Guangyi is a Catholic. He commented to the Financial Times that he was "buoyed by stories from his Catholic parents about the Bible and about ancestors who had been traders throughout Asia." Huang is not a member of the Chinese Communst Party or any part of the Chinese political establishment and explained:
Even if I wanted to join the party, I do not think I would be qualified because I am a Catholic. My family has a long Catholic tradition which dates back generations."
Huang Guangyu was born in the small rice-growing village of Chaoshan in the Chaoyang District of Shantou, Guangdong on the southeast coast of China. Shantou (formerly Swatow) is a major port and the second-largest city in Guangdong Province. The city (about the size of Boston) is the location of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shantou/Swatow. The last Shantou Bishop, Charles Vogel, (Mission Etrangeres de Paris, MEP), died on April 13, 1958 and no further Bishops have been appointed under official and unofficial Communist repression.

The first Catholic missionaries in China, Matteo Ricci and Michael Ruggerius, worked for two years (1589-1591) near Shantou, in Ch'aochou. Shantou villagers have a long history of Catholicism, and some have migrated to establish new Catholic communities in Singapore and Hong Kong. In 1950 when the Communists took over, the Shantou diocese was home to 30,000 Catholics, 59 priests, and 30 parishes. Sixty-eight years later, virtually no information on Catholic statistics for Shantou can be found.

From articles on Huang over the past several years, he appears to be firmly Catholic in an atheistic country and surely has both religious and business enemies. I personally believe that Huang is a good example of Catholicism in China and has not stolen from or cheated anyone in his business dealings. But multiple newspaper accounts of his arrest (check Google News) are concerned that he is being unfairly persecuted and that his legal defense may be marginal. We'll see in the trial whether President Hu Jintao's promise of a new "rule of law" in China is actually accomplished.

December 30, 2008: It's the end of the year and Huang and his wife have been restricted from contacting anyone to discuss or publicly respond to charges. TOTAL SILENCE! Even an official Chinese website admits "Gome [Huang's company] told Xinhua the company had been unable to contact Huang." Does Huang's publicly-professed Christianity have anything to do with his arrest, imprisonment, and inability to respond to charges?

Going back two years to the LA Times profile of Huang, I was struck by the following:

"On the backs of Wang’s business cards and those of all Gome employees are Huang’s three cardinal rules:

Do not accept gifts from customers.
Do not take kickbacks.
Do not use your position for personal gain.

Printed at the very bottom is a hotline number for people to report employee misdeeds. Huang said the rules reflected his religious upbringing."


Nov 26, 2008

Cardinal Stafford: The New Ice Age

The insightful and bold Cardinal Stafford (formerly Archbishop of Denver now assigned to the Vatican where he heads the Apostolic Penitentiary) told U.S. Christians in intense and fiery language why we are in the fight of our spiritual and physical lives. Reporter John L. Allen, Jr. (who unfortunately works for the regrettable NCR) has two posts on the Cardinal's address (here and here). A portion of the Cardinal's address was posted to YouTube and attracted a great deal of (mostly negative) attention:
"Our exploration this weekend takes place in the context of Nov. 4, 2008. On that date, a cultural earthquake hit America. Senator Barak Obama was elected President of the United States. He appears to be a relaxed, smiling man. His rhetorical skills, as I mentioned, are very highly developed. He has a way of teasing crowds, and, from all reports, even individuals one-to-one.

Under all of that grace and charm, there is a tautness of will, a clenched jaw, a state of constant alertness to attack and resist any external influence that might threaten his independence. A ‘state of alertness,’ yes … that’s putting it mildly. Beneath each word he speaks, he carries on sapping operations against the enemy city.

His clenched jaw was seen at his talk before the Planned Parenthood supporters July 17, 2007. There he asserted, and I’m quoting somewhat out of context but not out of his meaning: ‘We are not only going to win this election, but also we are going to transform this nation. … The first thing I’d do as president is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. … I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. … I don’t want my daughters punished by a pregnancy. … On this issue, I will not yield.’

Note the way the president-elect wished to describe the killing of his unborn grandchild. His daughters must not be ‘punished,’ ‘punished,’ by pregnancy. His rhetoric is post-modernist, and marks an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic. Catholics weep over these words. We weep over the violence concealed behind the rhetoric of our young president-to-be. What should we do with our hot, angry tears of betrayal? First, our tears are agonistic. We must acknowledge that. For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden."
My own opinion is that the Vatican has very good intelligence on Obama's spiritual viewpoints and political goals and sees great danger for the Church. [See here for congratulations to "the first President with a completely nonreligious upbringing", as described by a well-known Humanist/Atheist.] Church leaders have decided to immediately confront Obama because they know who he is and what he would like to do about organized religion. I'm sure the Vatican intelligence service knows a lot more about Obama than we think. For example:
  • What kind of religious upbringing did Obama have from the ages of six to ten?
  • What were the spiritual viewpoints of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. [Obama says "The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics."
  • What was the background of "Frank", who successfully mentored Obama on adoption of beliefs in high school?
  • What were the details of Obama's trip to Pakistan for three weeks in 1981 when US citizens were banned from entering Pakistan except for official business? [See over 11 forum pages discussing this single question here.]
  • What do friends, co-workers, and others who have heard Obama's private viewpoints say about his spiritual life and goals?
  • In private conversations, has Obama positively or negatively viewed the Catholic Church led by the successor to St. Peter and protected by the Holy Spirit? His autobiography clearly states what he thought of the Muslim and Catholic faiths while a child:
    In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies. My mother wasn't overly concerned. 'Be respectful,' she'd say. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I would close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and 30 brown children, muttering words.
I'm guessing that the Vatican intelligence service has substantive answers to all the above questions (and many more), and may recognize Obama as a true enemy of Jesus Christ and his Church. Don't kid ourselves--we have true enemies who positively espouse human sacrifice of innocent lives that has always been associated with past ages of Satanic worship. Wikipedia has a good lesson on the history of child sacrifice.

That's the reason to include some additional comments from the final copy of Cardinal Stafford's address, as provided by John L Allen, Jr. [My emphases in bold].
President Thomas Jefferson’s celebrated 1802 letter to the committee of the Danbury Baptist Association assert[ed] “a wall of separation between Church and State” [and] introduced a latent and powerful virus which would eventually be used to diminish and then to wound mortally a theology of discourse in the public arena.

It has led to the increasingly secularized states of the American union and their active hostility towards the Catholic Church. Some of these governments are threatening Roman Catholic adoption agencies because of their refusal to select same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents. They are forcing Catholic hospitals to accept medical procedures which are contrary to the dignity of the human person. They are insisting on hiring practices which will destroy the Catholic identity of health and social services under Catholic Church auspices. They have not refrained from coercing the individual conscience. Here the federal and state governments are enshrining the primacy of secular laws over against religious principles. These decisions are the legal and moral progeny of Jefferson’s insistence on debarring personal faith from the public forum. And this is only a beginning.

In 1973 alone the U. S. Supreme Courts’ pro-abortion decision was imposed upon the nation. Its scrupulous meanness has had catastrophic effects upon the identity, unity, and integrity of the American republic. It has undermined respect for human life. We have been horrified and uncomprehending witnesses for over two generations to America’s decline from “a mansion to a dirty house in a gutted world”...

The 1973 Court’s alteration has even more radically transformed the way we think about others, especially the least among us. Its inexcusable evasions about the dignity of human life, and their prolongation to the present, have condemned those of us who oppose it to disillusionment and bitter isolation. Both Republican and Democratic partisans have abused rhetoric on this issue. The President-elect is a skillful rhetorician. Civic life has been invaded with an anti-humanism so toxic that it is proving mortal to the body politic. Nothing has been left untouched by the court’s lethal wand. Social engineering and the price-systems have infected all Americans with a pervasive, technological mind-set. Economics, administration, sexuality, language and, above all, human life are being manipulated by complex strategies of power.

After 40 years of widespread contraceptive practice, the consequences appear now as the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.... The demonic four are the following: marital infidelity; disrespect for woman, governmental despotism in the regulation of births, and the human body manipulated and destroyed as a technological artifact.... These four shades are insinuating their deathworks upon whole nations and cultures...

Governments are dissolving religious and philosophical values and remaking them into the distortions of a dominant, cybernetic model...

In the United States President - elect Barack Obama and the Vice-President-elect Joseph Biden, a Catholic, campaigned on a severe anti-life platform....

...Sometimes it seems as if modern humanity is rushing headlong toward this goal of producing itself technologically. If humanity achieves this, it will have exploded itself... into thin air, into a region where the absolutely meaningless is valued as the one and only ‘meaning’...

The Church’s response to the technological/scientific hegemony just described has not involved any condemnation of technology or of science as such. Rather is based on her recognition of the present spiritual climate for what it is: A New Ice Age....We must turn south and even return to our origins, the desert. How? By recovering the structure of truth in its relation to goodness and beauty.
Address given by J. Francis Cardinal Stafford before the International Conference to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. Please see here and here for the original and completed versions of his address.

Nov 25, 2008

FSSP and ICKSP Latin Mass Priests

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) recently updated their numbers of priests, deacons, and seminarians. The statistics are quite impressive, considering that college graduates are required to be formed for seven more years before being ordained:
  • Total members: 347
  • Total Priests: 208
  • Total Deacons: 11
  • Non-deacon seminarians: 128
  • Deceased members: 4
  • Nationalities: 26
  • Average age of members: 37 years
Founded in 1988, FSSP members are now active on four continents, 17 countries, and 102 dioceses. The Fraternity has ordained an average of 13 new priests a year since 2000 to offer the old Latin Mass, the most reverent of Catholic liturgies. FSSP seminaries are located near Denton, Nebraska and at Wigratzbad, Germany.

In 1990, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) was formed to offer the old Latin Mass. The ICKSP has 35 houses in ten countries, 50 priests, and have trained more than 60 seminarians in 15 years. They have 13 apostolates in the U.S. staffed by ICKSP priests trained at their International Seminary near Florence, Italy.

Kansas City is fortunate to have both FSSP and ICKSP priests serving local Catholic communities. The websites of the two indult Latin Mass groups are found here and here. More information on the indult Latin Masses in Kansas City and St. Joseph is published here.

A third Latin Mass community in Kansas City is St. Vincent's Catholic Church which is staffed by priests of the irregular Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). St. Vincent's is described here and here. Rorate Coeli continues to publish the most recent news on the possible healing of the rift between the Vatican and the SSPX.

Nov 20, 2008

Advice from an Ex-Hobo

The Catholic Crescat blog writes succinctly:
... Quite frankly I am sick of hearing, reading and discussing the economy. Our nation has been exposed for the greedy materialistic and hedonistic giant that it is... "single issue" voting a socialist dictator into the white house because the economy is all those voters seemed to care about. Don't let them fool you with that tripe mantra 'yes we can' and their claims to have voted for the future based on his empty promises... they voted for their own self interests reflected in the economy. Period.

Chances are if you are reading this right now, you are not destitute and blogging from inside your cardboard box by the dumpster behind the KFC.

Consider yourself blessed.
Crescat's post reminds me of my Dad who died 30 years ago and who hopefully has been forgiven of all his sins (that to me seemed minor). Fortunately a very good priest met my convert father in the emergency room at the hospital on the day he died and gave him the Last Sacraments of Confession, Holy Communion, and Extreme Unction (Sacrament of the Sick).

When I was young and living at home, my Dad occasionally had to remind my Mother who, with several kids, worried about things such as lack of jobs, high prices, financial setbacks, and other bad happenings in our material lives. When Dad was out of work for long stretches (as long as six to seven months), Mother could be a real worrier.

In contrast, Dad was an ex-hobo of the Great Depression and rode in (or on) train boxcars, begged for food and jobs, and carried a canvas tarp and wool blanket with which to sleep on the ground. Dad would always reassure our worried Mother with these words:
We have good health, a warm place to sleep at night, and enough to eat. What else do we need?
.....Good words of my Dad to remember for a lifetime.

BTW, here are definitions of hobos, tramps, and bums:
A hobo is a person that travels to work.
A tramp is a person that travels and won't work.

A bum is a person that will neither travel or work.

Coin Laundries

How many of you visit a coin laundry? If Jesus loves the poor, then he loves coin laundries because that's where poor people wash and dry their clothes.

Do you ever leave good Catholic literature there? Poor people do not usually have the money to subscribe to magazines, but they will pick up and scan/read whatever magazines or newspapers are left lying around while they wait for the laundry machines to finish their work.

Remember that it is wrong to throw away valuable things. Don't discard good Catholic magazines and newspapers in the trash or in the recycling bin. Share your Catholic faith with others at coin laundries.

Nov 19, 2008

Rumors, Lies, and Fear

A good Catholic friend has the penchant for debunking emails and Internet ‘information.’ He’s quite good at it so our family relies on his good searches and common sense. Here’s a few examples of mass emailed errors plus abbreviated responses of the past few months (and no, he doesn’t rely on the prejudiced Snopes, factcheck, or about.com):
  • Master Limited Partnerships are great investments—My friend analyzed TNH, FGP, APL, RVEP, SPH, and ETP to show significant problems for MLPs in the markets.
  • During 1987 Congressional hearings, Col. Oliver North told Senator Gore said his home alarm system was installed because Obama bin Laden had personally threatened to kill him—Not true: Col. North himself issued a statement in 2001 that disputed the outrageously false yet widely distributed email.
  • Steve Fossett wanted to disappear and ‘took a hike’—A lot of speculation and not much fact about a secret mistress or secret bank accounts….out of character for him. The guy seemed to love the limelight. [Note: Fossett’s plane crashed and he died in the accident, but the plane and body were not discovered for a year]
  • Dell Computer is doing poorly against competition from Chinese computer manufacturers —Dell currently is doing quite well against much smaller Lenovo, and ACER is not Chinese, it is Taiwanese.
  • Precious metals and oil have to go up, and the dollar has to go down—Don’t sell or buy because of fear and panic. But if you’re thinking about these investments, today is certainly the best time in the past year to be thinking about it. However, it might still be a bit early. Fools and their money are soon parted.
  • Convert everything to gold—Rather, stay diversified, unless you can afford to take big risks (i.e. gamble). Have some of your assets in cash, some in stocks, some in real estate, even a little in gold and silver. Then, sell a little stock when everyone else is buying it, and buy a little stock when everyone else is selling it. Same with real estate, if your holdings permit you to do it.

Nov 17, 2008

When the Cow Went Dry

Whenever our cow periodically went dry back in the 40's, we no longer had milk for us kids. Necessarily, we began to drink store-bought milk in glass jugs until after the next calf was born. The store-bought milk was pasteurized, but not homogenized, so the cream floated to the top of the glass jars. The cream could either be stirred into the milk for drinking or poured off for use in coffee, cooking, or to make butter.

When homogenization was introduced (~1950), many people were upset. They suspected some of the more valuable cream was being removed by the dairy, because now it was impossible to tell how much cream was in the milk.

Only a couple of times did my parents need to buy essential milk on a Sunday. First of all, Mother always used weekdays to do all her shopping. Second, no stores were open on Sunday, except for gas stations, a few of which also sold milk and bread.

I've wondered this week about what God has thought of the past 70 years of our country's laws, morals, family life, etc. My conclusion is that God was most grievously offended beginning in the late 1940's and 1950's when "Keeping the Lord's Day" was abandoned. Until that time, 'Sunday closing laws' of the states restricted Sunday shopping except for necessary items.

Most Sunday closing laws (termed 'blue laws') were repealed or were ignored by the end of the 50's. Some argued that 'blue laws' were unconstitutional, and most Sunday closing laws were repealed or were ignored by the beginning of the 60's. The Supreme Court, in the case of McGOWAN v. MARYLAND, eventually decided in 1961 that
"The present purpose and effect of most of our Sunday Closing Laws is to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens; and the fact that this day is Sunday, a day of particular significance for the dominant Christian sects, does not bar the State from achieving its secular goals."
As can be seen in the above statement, the Supreme Court had decided to ignore the religious foundations of our government and only rely on the "secular goals" of the State. Moreover, it was too late to reverse the established practice of people who found it convenient to shop on Sunday. In the late 1940s, there was only one A&P grocery story that opened for business on Sunday. Unfortunately, it attracted a lot of customers, and many other stores followed.

It didn't take long for a massive change in religious practice to occur so that the majority of U.S. citizens violated the Third Commandment. If they didn't violate it by working, they violated it by buying unnecessary goods and causing others to have to work on Sunday.

In 2000, Hobby Lobby decided to close all its stores on Sunday and remains almost the sole national chain that respects the Lord's Day. Even Aldi Foods, which formerly was closed on Sunday, recently opened its doors for business on the Lord's Day.

Nov 15, 2008

The Miners, the Makers, and the Moochers

A long time ago in a wide valley surrounded by high mountains there lived three families. The Miners lived in the mountains and traded iron, copper, and oil with its neighbors. The Makers were an industrious family who lived near the river, took the Miners’ raw materials and converted them into manufactured goods.

The old Moocher family were farmers, manufacturers, and tradesmen who made raw materials into manufactured goods which they successfully sold to their own and other families. Because of the honesty and integrity of the old Moocher family, goods were usually paid for in the interchange currency of the time—green wooden nickels.

Wooden nickels were made by all three families, and were colored gold (Makers), red (Miners), and green (Moochers). The colored nickels had been exchanged for many years on an approximate one-for-one basis. But things changed.

The Makers had borrowed tools from the old Moocher Family, and learned to cheaply manufacture many goods. The Miners determined their best market was no longer the Moochers, and so began to trade extensively with the Makers. The Moochers also began to buy many more inexpensive goods from the Makers, rather than manufacture them, and became heavily in debt to the Makers. The Moochers were also very wasteful, throwing many things away and buying new merchandise.

Even though the Makers had accumulated a barn full of wooden nickels, they continued to trade with the Moochers because the Makers’ large family needed the work. Their concern increased when they learned that the Moochers and their cousins had cut down three more trees to make many more green wooden nickels. The Miners saw what was happening and also decided to cut down trees and make many more red wooden nickels.

As seen from the perspective of the Miners: I was cheated by the arrogant and greedy Moochers, so I asked higher prices for my raw goods. But then they didn't buy as much, so I approached the Makers to sell them more metals and oil. The Makers said they didn’t sell as much as before to the Moochers, so they couldn't buy as much from us as they used to. We sold much less than before, made more wooden nickels, and ended up in worse debt than before. The Makers now tell our family what they want us to do.

As seen from the perspective of the Makers: Our stockpile of green wooden nickels was worth only half as much as before. We were cheated by the Moochers, but we now have good factories and have begun to make more nice things for our own family. We've raised our prices when we sell our goods to the Moocher and Miner families. The Miners know they need us more than they need the Moochers, so we can count on them in case of future trouble with the Moochers.

As seen from the perspective of the Moochers: We tried to restore trade to normal conditions. Our tree-cutter and nickel-maker worked many long hours because we believed depression was worse than inflation. We now know that stagflation is much worse. We despair of a quick resolution to our severe problems and are at each others throats--blaming each other. Our family's new leader promises us he will change things, but some of us believe we are jumping from the frying pan into the fire. May God help us.

Nov 14, 2008

Climate Change in Kansas

A two-column lead headline in the Kansas City Star newspaper proclaims "Climate change brings Kansans dire prediction." The Climate and Energy Project started by Salina KS-based The Land Institute issued a press release on Climate Change in Kansas, with predictions that western Kansas will be reduced to a desert and the entire state will get warmer and drier with dramatic consequences.

When catastrophic events are predicted, I look for the origin, background information on associated political issues, and finally scientific evidence. My motto is "the more you look, the more it smells." [For example, NASA's Institute for Space Studies (GISS) announced that last month was the hottest October on record. WRONG! Global warming skeptics analyzed the data and found that the surreal scientific blunder was caused when scores of October temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were carried over from September and August! ]

The Land Institute was founded and is headed by Wes Jackson, whose friendships include Jane Fonda (see photo) and Wendell Berry "with whom [Wiki says]Jackson has shared a longtime friendship and correspondence." Wes Jackson has other interesting friends too, such as James Howard Kunstler and David Korten, who have spoken to yearly Prairie Festivals sponsored in Salina, KS by The Land Institute.

The Land Institute and its head, Wes Jackson, deserve a comprehensive post in themselves. The Smithsonian Magazine lauds Jackson:
Farming, in Jackson's view, is humanity's original sin. This fall from grace occurred around 10,000 years ago, when people first started gathering and planting the seeds of annual grasses, such as wild wheat and barley. "That was probably the first moment when we began to erode the ecological capital of the soil," he says. "It's when humans first started withdrawing the earth's nonrenewable resources." As he sees it, fossil-fuel dependency, environmental pollution, overpopulation and global warming are all extensions of the path humans took when they first started tilling the soil.
Direct quotes from Wes Jackson are published in a leftist journal interview here:
It's clear that war and racism, poverty, sexism, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, are all connected. And when we hit a brick wall, it turns out that brick wall is capitalism. We're going to have to face that. But people want to believe it is possible to design around capitalism, through regulation and progressive legislation. But that won't work, and we need some consciousness-raising on that.

We need to be saying, "Listen folks, capitalism is inherently destructive." How do we get from where we are to where we need to be, keeping in mind that we can't just try to tame that son of a bitch. We have got to get rid of capitalism.

We've been to Washington, and we've hit the brick walls. So, we're avoiding the brick walls. Instead, we are supporting 19 graduate students from around the country. They will go back to their universities, and we hope the institute's intellectual "virus" will infect these major universities and eventually overcome their institutional "immune systems."

I've been putting forward the hypothesis that since the Stone Age there has not been a single technological product or process, including the domestication of crops and livestock, that hasn't come at the cost of drawing down the capital stock of the planet. I call that the "utterly dismal hypothesis." I'm advancing it not because it's necessarily right, but to suggest that life forms have got it as good as it gets.
A 10-page summary issued by the Land Institute appears to be the basis for the Star's front page article of November 13, 2008 on "Climate change brings Kansans dire prediction." Here are some obvious problems with the summary:
  1. No references are given [See a few references in orange below that should have appeared.]
  2. The Land Institute summary is not peer-reviewed (scientific articles that want to be taken seriously are always referred to critics for comments. Unless the critical remarks are successfully addressed by the authors, reputable journals will not publish a paper.
  3. The summary is only that, and does not identify a full article written by Feddema et al. under funding by The Land Institute
  4. The summary emphasizes a political agenda on what society should do in response to climate change
REFERENCES REGARDING GLOBAL WARMING AND PRECIPITATION:
Richard Allan and Brian Soden, as newly reported by ScienceMag.org, compared precipitation amounts with temperature and found a direct correlation using satellite observations and model simulations. The two scientists observed "a distinct link between rainfall extremes and temperature, with heavy rain events increasing during warm periods and decreasing during cold periods."

The U.S. EPA has just issued its National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change that states that most extreme weather events will increase flood risk and high-flow water velocity, which will increase erosion. Warmer temperatures lead to higher levels of atmospheric water content.

A 2007 paper published in the Geophysical Research Letters provides real-world evidence of the self-regulating nature of he earth's atmosphere. Researchers analyzed six years of data from four instruments aboard three NASA and NOAA satellites to show that warming the tropical atmosphere allows more infrared heat to escape to outer space. "To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce [climate model-based] estimates of future warming by 75 percent," said key author Roy Spencer.

After Dr. Spencer published his well-documented scientific paper in a highly regarded scientific journal, he was blacklisted. Read more about "scientific blacklisting" with regard to global warming


I initially wanted to look at the mathematical models (computer representations) used by the Land Institute to predict these doomsday scenarios for Kansas, but the authors didn't produce any new model or data. Rather, they used GCM data prepared by three scientists from NCAR. GCMs (Global Climate Model, formerly General Circulation Model) are the basis for predictions of climate change.

If one wants to understand the complexity and uncertainty of GCMs, please google "'uncertainty analysis' GCM" or "'sensitivity analysis' GCM." What will be found are good scientific discussions of the great difficulties in accurately predicting climate change, especially regional precipitation.

GCMs are highly influenced by the data put into the model, including numbers that must accurately represent:
  • greenhouse gas emission quantities
  • the carbon cycle--equations
  • ocean mixing of greenhouse gases and sink quantities
  • aerosol forcing--equations
  • solar luminosity and surface albedo
  • cloud cover
  • etc.
The above factors (and many more critical data) used by GCMs are often intercorrelated (some with variable time delays), and are also correlated with temperature, region, etc. This complexity leads to a CASCADE OF UNCERTAINTY for GCM model outputs, especially when considering the uncertainties of the many different mathematical algorithms used by GCMs.

A brief abstract of a recent scientific paper discusses the use of world-wide GCMs to predict regional precipitation by "downscaling" to a regional or local situation. After reading the authors' research (and they do know their science), please tell me whether you have a lot of confidence in their work--I don't. Notice how the good authors themselves carefully qualify their assumptions and results.
General circulation models (GCMs), the climate models often used in assessing the impact of climate change, operate on a coarse scale and thus the simulation results obtained from GCMs are not particularly useful in a comparatively smaller river basin scale hydrology. The article presents a methodology of statistical downscaling based on sparse Bayesian learning and Relevance Vector Machine (RVM) to model streamflow at river basin scale for monsoon period (June, July, August, September) using GCM simulated climatic variables. NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data have been used for training the model to establish a statistical relationship between streamflow and climatic variables. The relationship thus obtained is used to project the future streamflow from GCM simulations. The statistical methodology involves principal component analysis, fuzzy clustering and RVM. Different kernel functions are used for comparison purpose. The model is applied to Mahanadi river basin in India. The results obtained using RVM are compared with those of state-of-the-art Support Vector Machine (SVM) to present the advantages of RVMs over SVMs. A decreasing trend is observed for monsoon streamflow of Mahanadi due to high surface warming in future, with the CCSR/NIES GCM and B2 scenario.
A similar scientific paper published here similarly deals with regional forecasts of precipitation as modified by modeled climate change. The methodologies are different, and they end their slide presentation with the gargantuan caveat that the scientific "results are highly sensitive to the output of one GCM."[Plus other parameters, I might add.]

More than over 31,000 scientists (including almost 10,000 Ph.D.s) dispute climate warming due to anthropological causes. I've discussed the issue and evidence in two previous posts, here and here.

Nov 12, 2008

Catholic Bishops and Obama

American Catholic Bishops have decided that Obama's election is an opportunity to demonstrate that they are really serious about the right to life. The Chicago Tribune describes the results of the Bishops' meeting in Baltimore early this week:
In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America's Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn.

About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion.

"This is not a matter of political compromise or a matter of finding some way of common ground," said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio. "It's a matter of absolutes."
The Bishops of the past 40 years have appeared to me to be mostly cowards, imbeciles, or outright traitors. Only a very few showed significant signs of heroism, intelligence, and great faith--all the the marks of a good shepherd.

I am delighted to follow our new shepherds who have the strength to proclaim and fight for the Truth. Lead the Way! Take out your Light and expose it on the lampstand! (Matt 5: 13-16)

Nov 8, 2008

Ten Responses to Catholic Obamites

My previous post described a letter written by a Catholic friend who defended her vote for Obama. The Church with its priests and members must diligently respond to the arguments written in her email. Here are ten suggestions for pastors who encounter such errors.
  1. Teach about the devil--don't ever ignore him because he is very real and can be very close.
  2. Clearly identify and refute the theological errors, including syncretism and indifferentism, that lead Catholics to deny their faith, either partially or in whole
  3. Recognize that "partial Catholics" are no longer Catholic and so must be reconverted; moreover, many have become "China eggs" that will never hatch. It's always easier for non-Christians to become new, staunch, and fervent Catholics because they have never rejected the grace of Jesus Christ and his teachings
  4. Insist, by example if necessary, that Catholics act militantly in response to Christ's commission to live and promote the truths of the Catholic Church.
  5. Explain that both contraception and abortion are part of the devil's plan to destroy humanity--physically, morally, economically, etc., and eternally.
  6. Note that human sacrifice of innocent lives has always been associated with past ages of Satanic worship. Give a 'Wiki' lesson on the history of child sacrifice to false gods
  7. Forcefully teach that God will not be mocked by arguments that appeal to economics, the environment, etc. to justify voting for human sacrifice
  8. Identify and promote Saints who fought in the past against similar heresies and evil practices
  9. Recruit key individuals to respond to religious, political, and moral evils with their prayers, good works, and direct Catholic action.
  10. Challenge Catholics to become MORE CHRISTIAN than Democrat, Republican, or any other identification.

Obama and the Catholic Vote

Since November 4, I've wondered how Barack Obama could have gotten so many votes from Catholics. It is clear that the President-elect is totally committed to a woman's right to abortion--even if it means that the baby is born alive. He also believes his own two daughters, if they became pregnant, should not be "punished" with unwanted pregnancies. [ For details, see Obama's address before Planned Parenthood--Obama video or transcript of his 30 minute speech.

As was pointed out by Catholic culturist, Phil Lawler, "in the past few weeks, different American bishops have issued radically different statements on the moral responsibilities of Catholic voters." Lawler's article notes that between 53 and 54% of American Catholic voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama, while 54% of Protestants voted for McCain who has consistently voted pro-life in the U.S. Senate. Lawler adds:

In 7 [of the 50] states, Catholics make up more than 30% of the population. Obama captured all 7 of those states on Election Day. In 8 states, Catholics account for less than 5% of the population. Seven of those states swung for McCain, and the 8th, North Carolina, is still listed as "too close to call"....
Phil Lawler then asks, "re those states [that voted for Obama] hotbeds of liberalism despite the heavy Catholic presence, or because of it?"

Here are some other observations of Lawler:
Dozens of American bishops issued strong public statements reminding their people of their moral obligation to vote in defense of human life. Those statements varied in candor and in quality, but their overall impact was remarkable. The 2008 campaign produced a seismic change in the attitude of the American hierarchy; the bishops as a group were far more outspoken, far more explicit, than in any previous election.

Lawler continues:

Among Catholic voters who attend Mass weekly, McCain won majority support: 54- 45%. Among those who do not attend weekly Mass, the margin for Obama was an overwhelming 61- 37%. Thus Obama drew his support from inactive Catholics. And unfortunately, most American Catholics are inactive.

This year, at last, the American bishops were clear and forthright in their teaching. Yet on Election Day it became evident that millions of American Catholics weren't listening.

The political scene in Massachusetts is dominated not by Catholics but by ex-Catholics, thoroughly hostile to the teachings of the Church. Are Catholics in other states following the same trend? ...Regrettably, I see the same forces that corrupted Catholicism in my native state now active all across the nation.

I believe Lawler is correct, except that a 45% vote for Obama among regular Mass-goers is intolerable.

Yet where Catholic truths are firmly taught and accepted, the people did not vote for Obama. If an angel were to have stood on the head of pens in Kansas City voting booths, they would testify that virtually all traditional Catholics who attend the old Latin Mass voted against Obama.

One lady that I know well attends the local Novus Ordo (English language) parish and voted for Obama. She argued (please remember that normally she does not misspell so many words) in the following email:

Please do not send me any political stuff, I am sick of this whole campaign. Some of you don't, but after receiving a lot of things on line, this is my opinion, which I feel I have a right to state, after reading all the e-mails.

I know Obama is pro abortion, but there are bigger things to take care of like our young guys at War who are losing their lives and what their families have gone through. Aren't their lives ilmportant too.

I know the Priests, ect. are indirectly telling us to vote for McCain, which I resent very much. The economy is a mess, what about the people who are losing their jobs and homes, isn't their lives important too. What about our enviorment, are we going to let our familes inherit this earth full of polution, their lives are important too.

On taxes, no matter who gets in we will all pay taxes. Healthcare is a big priority, aren't the people without any insurance important too.

On the abortion issue I am against it. However I ask myself why there are so many with all the different birth control stuff out there. We have all signed petitions at our churchs against abortion over the years, but what actually has been accomplished. Maybe parents aren't doing their jobs, they can't always rely on the schools or churches to do it.

I look at both candidates and I see one family man who is married once and one that has been married three times. I see a wife that is a smart intelligent woman who is an attorney and then I see a bleached blonde who races cars in her spare time.

The candidates for vice president, one is a mature man who lost his wife and has more experience than anyone and I believe he is remarried, although I am not sure of the later. Then I see the other candidate and think of the gal that was in the movie "Fargo", who I would be very afraid to have as a president.

My friends, there is a lot of things at stake here and more to consider than the one issue of abortion, although I am against abortion, we are voting for the person who is for the poor and working class who will probably end up paying the burden of the taxes again.
The 70-ish lady who wrote the above has probably sent me at least 15 emails on Jesus. She also goes to Saturday evening Mass regularly at the local Catholic Church. She has only two children, one teenage grandchild, and clearly believes (as shown above), that contraception should be the solution to abortion. She seems to believe that church petitions should have stopped abortion.

The woman argues that the war, economy, health care, pollution, etc. are of combined greater importance than abortion. She also believes that the evils espoused by one candidate are acceptable because of the moral weaknesses of the opposing candidate.

How should Catholic sermons/homilies/newspapers/blogs respond to this lady's arguments? My next post will address responses of the Church and its Catholics.

Nov 5, 2008

Old St. Patrick's is Almost Finished!

In the midst of election news, I have delayed reporting on Old St. Patrick's Oratory! This renovated Catholic Church in downtown Kansas City Missouri is a wonderful combination of new and old--exactly what the CATHOLIC CHURCH IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE!

The church building took almost three years of renovation work before it was suitable again for the worship of God through the old Latin liturgy. Bishop Finn offered the dedication Mass on October 26, 2008 and reconsecrated the church because it had been unused for many years. All Masses and liturgical ceremonies have now been moved from Our Lady of Sorrows church, where the old Latin Mass has been offered since 1990, to the beautiful new/old Oratory.

For more information, see here. Better yet, obtain the complete insert in the current Catholic Key by getting a paper copy. Great stuff!

Proposition 8 Wins in California

The second most important election result in the nation occurred in California where Proposition 8 won on November 4, 2008 to deal a huge blow to the gay rights movement. The painful loss (to homosexuals) marked the first time that voters rejected same-sex marriage in a state where it was already legal (because of imperial court decisions).

Over $75 million dollars was spent on this vital vote to stop California from redefining marriage and recognizing same-sex couplings. Opponents of the measure included the rich pro-homosexual community that out-fundraised conservative proponents of Proposition 8 by more than 5-to-1.

The fight to pass Proposition 8 was led by ProtectMarriage.com with a 4-member Executive Board that included: campaign chairman Ron Prentice; Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference; Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com.

The Mormons were given credit by NPR as contributing nearly half the money to support Proposition 8 and more data on their personal contributions are given here. The good Catholic Knights of Columbus are on record as donating $1M. Catholic Bishops in California endorsed the measure through the California Catholic Conference by strongly encouraging members of the faith "to provide both the financial support and the volunteer efforts needed for the passage of Proposition 8."

An interesting story of this victory for traditional marriage is told from the perspective of a disappointed opponent of Proposition 8:
This is not a misprint: As California's Proposition 8 to ban safe-sex marriage headed for defeat, the Associated Press commissioned a poll rooted in age groups. Senior citizens were slightly in favor of permitting gay marriage among consenting adults, but the age 30-and-younger group was strongly opposed.

No, we don't have it backwards. This is a case where older people are the most sympathetic and tolerant toward personal freedoms and individual rights, than are people in the up-and-coming generation. Isn't the reverse supposed to be typically true?

Furthermore, this ballot initiative is an amendment to the California State Constitution. Based on the attitudes of California's 30-and-younger population, it seems that Proposition 8 will remain embedded for generations to come.

What ever happened to free thinking among younger folks? How does this California anti-gay outlook manifest itself in comparison to the passion for "change" that was embodied in Barack Obama's campaign, which historically drew millions of young adults into political and social action for the first time?

These poll results are puzzling, but the Baltimore Sun --- which conducted the survey for the Associated Press --- is among the most respected and professional news operations in the nation.
The gay rights movement and same-sex marriage were also dealt a severe blow in Florida and Arizona where majority votes now protect the traditional definition of marriage.

Nov 4, 2008

The Antichrist

An older Catholic book, The Antichrist, was written by Jesuit Fr. Vincent P. Miceli and published over 25 years ago (1981) . The "Preaching of the Antichrist" by Luca Signorelli (1499-1504) was used on the front cover.

Even though a scholarly volume, the book went through at least five reprintings, including the copy that I have which was issued in 1987. The flyleaf comments seem contemporary with respect to the discussion on Obama's religious background and beliefs.
Fr. Vincent P. Miceli attempts to relate the prophecy of the Antichrist to the major disaster of our times--the nightmare, admitted by all now, of the world-wide collapse of Christianity. Has St. Paul's prophecy concerning the coming of the "general apostasy," as prelude to the lawles one's arrival, been fulfilled in our generation? Has the fall of the three major messianic utopias--the American dream, the Socialist welfare fantasy, the Marxist revolutionary paradise--produced the sufficiently Godless, disillusioned, diseased womb of society from which 'the lord of this world' will be born?

Oct 28, 2008

Traveling with Obama Lawyer

Recently I met and traveled with a lawyer who was a leader of the local Obama campaign. The next several hours were a tough time for me--traveling with an opponent of most of what I believe in. [BTW, only fools believe real enemies do not exist.]

The morning started with R. boasting that he had gotten out of the stock market near its high point. (I wondered how he knew???) Then this former federal prosecutor announced he was recruiting attorneys to an Obama team to insure vote fraud would not be committed in the election. I mused, "When have Republicans been guilty of organized and significant vote fraud?" My own experience over the past 50 years is that serious vote fraud has always and notoriously been associated with members of the Democratic Party--not the Republican Party.

If vote fraud occurs in the 2008 general election, past history indicates it will likely be associated with Democrats. Why do I say this? Because vote fraud can only be inhibited by requiring proof of one's identity in the presence of alert and fair election workers. Yet the Democratic Party platform of 2008 states, "We oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote." Phyllis Schlafly adds:
The Democrats have hysterically fought against voter ID laws in Congress, in state legislatures, and in the courts, taking what they thought was their best case, the Indiana law, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They lost there because they ran into liberal Justice John Paul Stevens who, hailing from Chicago, was acquainted with many "flagrant examples" of election fraud going back to Mayor Richard Daley's shenanigans that swung Illinois to John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Vote fraud in the presidential election of 1960 was the first significant one I learned about. So much voter fraud in Chicago and Texas were witnessed by reporters that the Chicago Tribune stated "the election of November 8 was characterized by such gross and palpable fraud as to justify the conclusion that [Nixon] was deprived of victory." (As quoted by the Washington Post.)

The second time I became acquainted with election fraud on a major scale occurred when I read about Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson's election to the U.S. Senate from Texas in 1948. Two-time Pulitzer prize winner Robert Caro documented in Means of Ascent that Johnson's Democrats rigged the election in Jim Wells County and other counties in South Texas, as well as stuffing false ballots in Bexar County. Because LBJ won his 1948 election by fraud, he later became Vice-President and then President of the U.S. in 1963 after Kennedy was assassinated.

The third major instance of vote fraud occurred in California when Rep. Bob Dornan lost his 1996 election to Democrat Loretta Sanchez in an upset, by the narrow margin of 984 votes. An investigation by the House of Representatives found that at least 547 non-citizens had voted in the election. Suspicions were great that far more non-citizens actually voted in the election, which resulted in the great loss of a solid Catholic pro-life representative to the U.S. Congress.

I seriously doubt that Obama lawyer R. is concerned about preventing vote fraud by Republicans. One of my friends asked, "Is R. really organizing a Kansas City "Truth Squad"?" to target those who challenge Barack Obama? What happens to free speech and fair elections when government prosecutors and sheriffs are members of these so-called partisan "Truth Squads"?

Make sure you cast your ballot on November 4. I beg you not to squander your valuable vote on a third party candidate at this time. Please pray that the enemies of Christ and His Church be divided and conquered:
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and all the instruments of His Holy Passion that Thou may put division in the camp of Thine enemies, for as Thy beloved Son has said, "a kingdom divided against itself shall fail".

Oct 26, 2008

Apple Time

The trees are loaded with tasty small crab apples, and I picked a few to suck out the tart, sweet juice. "Why didn't you ask to pick them last year, too?" was the response of the manager when I requested permission to pick a bucket of the fruit for canning crab apple jelly.

A recipe for crab apple jelly was easily found. The easiest part was picking the tiny apples that looked like bunches of beautiful red and yellow cherries hanging from the bent branches. In no time at all, I had picked a full bucket. Once the apples were cleaned and cut up, they were added to a large pot for boiling with water to remove the juice and pectin.

Fortunately, I didn't have to use cheese cloth to extract the juice from the cooked apple pulp and water. Rather, I used Mother's old aluminum strainer with very small holes that she used to use to remove seeds from the tomato juice she was canning.

No pressing was done of the cooked crab apple mixure to insure a clear, non-cloudy jelly. Two days later I added sugar and began to boil away for over 1/2 hour to make over 4 pints of jelly. A little red food coloring made the jelly in the jars even prettier.

P.S. I've now made pectin from the crab apples. Rather than making crab apple jelly as above, I made strawberry preserves today using the juice/pectin from crab apples. There is a much better way to slice up the crab apples for cooking to get the juice and pectin.

Put the crab apples in a sealed gallon poly bag and take a hammer and smash each crabapple in the see-through bag. This method is much more efficient than using a knife. Smashing took me only 15 min while using a knife took me 1 hr 20 min. I didn't take off the apple stems or the hairy end of the apple before cooking the apples with added water. It didn't seem to make much difference than before when I sliced a thin piece off each end of each small crab apple. Here's a picture of the strawberry preserves cooking with the crab apple pectin. Ten and a half pints resulted.

Zo Right!

Zo is a black Christian Republican pro-lifer AND comedian whose video machine guns fire bullets of common sense and morality at liberal targets, including abortion, Obama, and other critical moral issues.

See Zo's other videos on his website, Black and Right.

Oct 20, 2008

Pillow-less through the Election

Do you like to sleep with your pillow? I certainly do. But I've decided to be pillow-less through election day on Tuesday, November 4. The kids at St. John's Middle School in Beloit, KS have initiated a Crucial Pillow Fight:
Sleep without your pillow till the election! Redemptive suffering (Col. 1:24) is worth every toss and every turn during the night. Email us at pillowfight4life@yahoo.com to notify us of your commitment to the cause! We currently have over 450 pillow-less warriors...we need the pillow off your bed!
My mother was able to keep a straight back through her nineties by always sleeping on her back without a pillow. Even though I've tried to imitate her, I've always regressed. This time I will pursue the sacrifice with a much more rigorous attitude because of the exceedingly grave consequences of the coming election.

I've discovered that St. John's Catholic school system is unique among Catholic schools in the country. Most large cities have shut down their Catholic schools, but Beloit with only 4,000 population supports Catholic education from kindergarten through high school. Here's the website of their parish.

Another aside: Did you know that nuns in cloistered convents sleep only on their backs without pillows? At least that's what one Carmelite community told me.