Some Thoughts On Theology

Over on Twitter, someone reposted the anti-Catholic rantings of a special type of evangelical. One who is convinced they know the full and real truth, are not hesitating to share it, and fully into judging others and the faith of others. Any disagreement gets the old “read the Bible” (you pagan bleep that is going to burn, burn, burn). It generally is useless to engage such ignorant bigotry, and just mute them. Why it is pointless is a bit long and complex for Twitter, so you get to suffer through it.

I hope that I am remembering all correctly, as some of the information goes back decades and the lightning strike sort of scrambled things a bit. For anyone new, I was hit by lightning, they think all my memories are still in there but the root directory is corrupted, and some things are jumbled up. I also need to note that I am not a theologian, just someone who has been interested in the origins and more of the Bible and scripture since a child. I would also note that I was born and raised a Methodist, left said church in high school after a preacher refused to visit my dying grandmother as she had no money to leave the church; joined the Episcopal Church; then wandered a bit spiritually; and am currently a lapsed Catholic for all that I try my best to maintain the faith. Part of the reason for the lapse is personal and none of anyone’s business (other than a priest), and part has to do with the current Pope. I’m actually working towards not being lapsed, but it is an ongoing process. I’ve done comparative religion studies in high school, when I earned the God and Country award, and in college. I’m a sinner who struggles every day to do right and live up to my faith.

Let’s start with the Bible. In fact, let’s go back quite a ways and look at the language of the Bible. Different parts were written at different times, but at the time of Christ everything had been put into Aramaic as it was the language of the learned in that region and time, and the New Testament was again written in Aramaic. From there, scripture was translated into Greek, which was the language of the learned in the larger world. Only later was it translated into Latin.

Now, based on conversations with someone who’s goal as a priest was to study those ancient writings and was learning both Greek and Aramaic, the fun part was translating the Greek. The Greek language, at least of that time, was contextual which means the words around the word you were translating determined what it meant. For example, one word could mean brother, step-brother, brother from another mother, band-of-brothers type brother, or I think one other type of relation. Get the context wrong, and you get a technically correct translation that isn’t accurate.

So, you have chances for error when translating from the original source into Aramaic. You have chances for error when translating from Aramaic into Greek. You have a boatload more chances translating from Greek into everything else, and even today you can get debate that devolves towards fist fight by those trying to do so today. Don’t laugh, read the real accounts of some of the early councils and the fact that several of the fathers of the Church did indeed get into fist fights over theological points. This was long before the schism between Catholicism and Orthodox, and well before Martin Luther came onto the scene.

Translating into English, no matter the source but Greek made for the most fun, was yet another chance for error. I seem to recall a tale of a deliberate error of translation to curry favor with King James when he had scholars produce what is now known as the King James bible. Hate to say it, but things like that can happen. Even updating the English text to current usage is potentially problematic. I still remember when a new modern version of the Bible came out (Living Bible?) that had some rather interesting updates. Think that’s the best way to put it. My personal take is the more modern and hip you go, the less likely it is to be accurate or even theologically sound.

Now, which version and in which language are your reading the Bible? I mean the Catholic Bible has the books still in it that Martin Luther threw out. Some sects of Christianity still include the Apocrypha that all mainstream Christianity leaves out. I will note that to better understand Catholic theology, you really need to read the books of the Bible that Martin Luther threw out. Within that, you still have a heap of different versions (NAB, New Standard, King James, etc.) and each has a slightly different take on things for all that the key point remains the same.

I should make clear that there are a number of new translations into various languages that are quite good. The key is, they all are translating from the Aramaic, and the scholars are cross-checking each other as they go. It’s a way to cut down on the mistakes, because we are human and mistakes are sort of what we do best.

So, when someone screams “Read the Bible” I know up front they are not a serious person and are not making a serious effort at discourse or conversion. Frankly, it’s a Christian version of virtue signalling. They are also missing several key points to Christianity in my opinion. Clearly they jumped over the whole place not limits on the Lord thy God, judge not, motes in eyes, and such. They seem to have missed that they are not God, and that God is not bound by their rules on what he can or can’t do, and how he can or can’t do things. They are being extremely legalistic, and are also denying Grace exists. Just as there is no Grace, no forgiveness in the SJW clique, there is no forgiveness or Grace in the this type of argument. There is no love in this approach either. It is not my place to judge others; however, it is a duty to help those struggling with love and compassion. It may seem that I am judging this person and those like them, but I see this more as a bit of tough love.

Because, the real key point they are missing is that we are all Christians, no matter what “flavor” of Christianity we choose. We disagree with each other on different points, but we all accept that Christ was born to die for our sins, and that his death on the cross purchased for us eternal life. I think it may have been Reverend Key, an outstanding Methodist preacher and theologian, who first pointed this out to myself and others. Then again, he was also (I think) the person who taught me about the Miracle of Transubstantiation, and how Catholics and others believe in it.

This argument also misses that God is Love, and that God is both omniscient and omnipotent. Which is a state we really can’t grasp all that well. So, we use scripture and the parables taught by Jesus, we use direct revelation (the Commandments), and the guidance God offers us everyday to get a very imperfect and limited grasp of both God and the rules by which we should live. It’s also why we have miracles, as God can and does take a very direct hand in our lives on occasion. I’m living proof of that as I should have died more than once in this life, including when I was hit by lightning a couple of years ago. There were several aspects of that which add up to a miracle, an every day miracle if you will, but still a miracle. So, no, God who sees all of time and space at once is not sitting on a throne watching and waiting to see any imperfection as a reason to cackle and smite — it’s people who do that.

For God is Grace and forgiveness, not picky legalistic gotchas. So much so, that he gave his only begotten son to die on the Cross for us.

I’m also reminded of something a priest said to my RCIA class. A wise or good priest will never tell you where they think the recently deceased is going, even if they have suspicions. For with even the worst sinner, we can’t know if God did reach out with a miracle to let them change their minds and accept Christ in that last second of life. Again, we are not God and he is not bound by our rules and understandings. Nor do I think that since I now have problems with remembering and saying a number of common prayers (stupid lightning) that such will send me to Sheol, aka Hell. Part of Love is Compassion, and not only do I think that God is far more compassionate than we realize, I think he is not going to hold our worldly infirmities against us.

I view the legalistic clique in much the way I regard prosperity gospel. Not highly. And, all of the above is why I think it is usually useless to engage those doing this type of virtue signal. Because it is about the virtue signal, and not conversion or theology.

As for some of the specific points that troubled the person on Twitter, I’d like to take a moment to address some of them. Especially as some of them were things that may have bothered me when I started the process to join the Church. Never mind that some of the ornate and such still can offend parts of my Methodist soul…

A lot of ignorance and bigotry focuses around Mary, the mother of Jesus. Those that hate her, or hate that she is highly regarded within the Catholic Church, appear to subscribe to what I call the Empty Vessel concept. In short, they see Mary as an empty vessel, a rent-a-womb if you will, who had no further role in Christianity than that. They deny her agency if you will. Instead of a 13-year-old girl who bravely agreed to carry the Son of God (think stoning and other things that could have happened to a pregnant female not yet married), and made a conscious informed choice to do so, they see her as an empty-headed piece of meat. As for future role, you might want to go back and re-read the Wedding. When she asks Jesus to perform the miracle of the wine, there is an exchange where he asks is she sure as she knows where it will lead. To the Cross. Depending on translation, her reply is along the lines of ‘it is time.’ She was there at the foot of the Cross as he suffered and died. Far from an empty vessel.

Bit of an aside, but relevant: The book of Luke is the only book that talks about the childhood of Jesus. There is reason to believe that the author interviewed Mary before her death. Reread that book, and think about the tales only a mother would tell. Puts a little different light on it.

Despite what many think, Catholics don’t worship Mary as God. One of the better explanations came from a priest who pointed out that a lot of it is like a child picking out the “good” parent when they’ve done something wrong. Keep in mind that for all his life, Jesus was a good Jewish boy who loved his mother and would do almost anything for her. As such, we turn to her for intercession, a form of ‘Mom, I screwed up and did something bad, would you help me with your Son’ type thing. We pray to God, but we also will ask Mary to help us do it right and get our request through. The theological points can get complex, but Mary, being born free of original sin and being the mother of Jesus, serves as an intermediary to humanity. Someone pointing the way to her Son. The Way, the Truth, and the Light.

It is much the same for the saints. Short form: all saints are in heaven, and we ask them to help us get our prayers right and to remind us of what they did so we can do the same. They provide an extra voice for our prayers if you will, and can act as an advocate for us before the Throne.

As for Jesus having brothers, you might want to go back up near the top and the discussion of Greek. You might also want to consider that Jesus may have had stepbrothers as Mary might not have been the first wife of Joseph, who was much older than her. Catholic theology holds that she was chaste throughout her life. There’s not a lot in scripture about Joseph, including his history or even when he died. Food for thought.

As a final note, if you are so inclined, please say a prayer for that person on Twitter and all like her. In fact, say it for all of us, that we all open our eyes to God and his love, and that we hear, see, and feel his guidance and love for us. That we have love and patience with one another, and lead others to Faith by our actions.

Final aside: I rarely pray for specific outcomes on anything, especially myself. I’ve found over the years that I’m far better off leaving outcomes to God, as those tend to be far better than what I would have prayed for. Things are always better if we leave them in God’s hands.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

A Letter To Some Friends

Yesterday’s post reminded me I needed to finish writing a letter to some friends. Some friends with hard decisions to make, that will effect themselves and others. Decisions where it helps to bounce things off another person, so that you can check your impression of what is going on as well as search for options. We can’t have that meal together to do that, so a letter seems the best way.

Let me just say, you are not wrong, you are not alone, and on many levels it is worse than you think.

In some ways, the point where this should have come up is in the rearview mirror. But, you always hope that something good will happen, changes will be made, and promises honored. The problem is, our so-called “expert” leadership class is anything but such. They have shown they have no honor and only crave gaining yet more power and control; and, their word is not worth the spit behind it.

This isn’t confined to the military or law enforcement/public safety, but also public health, politics, and education. It is your doctor who looked you in the eyes and lied to you at the government’s behest during COVID. It’s the teacher and administrators secretly encouraging children to sterilize themselves in pursuit of the current secular religion. For those that serve, your children, with the approval of our military leadership. Leadership that heard the phrase “baby killer” and thought it a good thing and noble, and so encourage the murder of the unborn via another sacrament of the secular religion, abortion.

The best descriptor of what I’m hearing from those still in, but looking at getting out out of the military, can best be summed up as “Toxic Command Environment.” Physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment and assault, and lack of support are what I’m hearing is causing us to hemorrhage experienced and dedicated troops. All branches. And lack of support includes lack of food and more. It’s not just one base in Texas, it’s all over. The whole concept of Mission, Men, Me has been tossed out the airlock without a backwards glance.

You are not wrong to be thinking of taking your skills to Civvy Street. In fact, I would encourage it because your “leaders” do not respect you or your service, they have no consideration for you, and they will get you killed. Yes, I do know of a few bright spots, a few leaders who truly live up to the word and their obligations. Problem is, almost none of them are current GOFOs and because they are good and competent leaders are unlikely in the current environment to become a GOFO.

From law enforcement and public safety, I hear much the same. There are few in larger cities who feel the politicians and top brass have their backs. I can’t imagine having to go to work everyday knowing that if anything happens I’m going to be eagerly tossed under the bus by that so called leadership.

Some of you have already left the force in such cities, and taken jobs with smaller, better departments elsewhere. I’m glad you did, they are lucky to have you. That said, I think you’ve only put off the real decision for a few years. Hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid I may not be. I know some of you who have left LE/PS, either for totally new careers or in something related. I’m glad you made that choice as well, as your employers are also lucky to have you.

I could turn this into a wordy take down of all that is wrong with America and the world, but it’s Saturday and you have other things to do. So, let’s cut to the chase.

Unlawful Orders

A serious and somewhat controversial topic, but one we ALL need to think about as it is the key to what is going on above. What makes it an even more complex topic is that even if there is a law that says X is okay and good, it can still be illegal to obey an order to do X. Let’s say there’s a law on the books that says it is okay to euthanize the physically and mentally defective, those of inferior genetics, etc. Still doesn’t necessarily make it legal, not to mention that it’s wrong on other levels as well. Exploring the intricacies of legal versus illegal homicide is not why we are having this conversation however, fascinating though the topic can be.

We are having it because of a symptom of how far the rot has spread in society. There have always been sociopaths and others who would torture, rape, and kill for the fun of it. Because they could do it and get away with it. They were, for the most part, a minority. However, the current secular religion has been chipping away at the social compact for a few decades now. Lots of columns have already been written about the othering of anyone who disagrees in any way with the current thing of the secular religion. Yes, I do think it deliberate and yes I think it is being deliberately done to foment violence. I’ve also noticed that there has been a push towards obey-the-order as well. You must wear the mask. You must get the vax. You must go green. The list goes on, but it is conditioning pure and simple. Obey. Or else.

Those watching have seen the creep. Watching seven “police” officers physically attack an autistic juvenile (and that is exactly what that so-called arrest was IMO) is but the latest example. They are going to claim that they were only following orders. It may be a slight variation, but that is going to be their defense in any and all actions against them. Bad thing is, they will probably get away with it rather than being given the boot as they richly deserve. Thing is, there was a law that X was bad and should be treated harshly and they willfully obeyed without thought. Out of the seven, not one had any qualms about attacking that girl.

Thing is, you and I know that the laws or executive orders about X are coming here. It’s not just speech, but a whole range of topics. And, yes, it would not surprise me in the least to see them come for your old gas stove and take it from you at gunpoint. They are that stupid and that fanatical.

They are stupid and see you, me, and a lot of others as automatons who will obey any order they give, even if the law behind said order is not Constitutional. It’s the law, you will obey.

No, we won’t. That’s why ultimately we and the concepts of individual liberty and rights granted by God will win. We have the right and responsibility to say no. It’s why they are trying and will try to make horrendous examples of those who did not/do not obey. When it’s just a few, they can do that and may even get away with it. But, courage is contagious. It starts with one person saying no, but as more stand up to do so, the more that will join them. They can’t do the horrendous it when those who say no are legion. Efforts to control large populations through control of food, water, and power are not going to work the way they think it will. We are legion.

Recognize that illegal orders are not just something barked by someone wearing stars on their collar. They can and do come as executive orders, mandates, regulations, and the other weapons of the bureaucrats. Embrace the power of no. There will be repercussions, and we might even see a Waco, Utah, or Ruby Ridge writ large — unless enough people have the courage and integrity to disobey illegal orders. To say no.

To those staying in, God Bless and Keep you and yours. May he guide and shield you now and in the days ahead. Just remember that it’s not you don’t have to obey, it’s you must not obey an illegal order. Keep in mind that as a member of the military, or federal, state, or local LE/PS, you are legally and morally required to not follow the order. There are times you are even required to resist having others follow the order. Even if it means you don’t walk out.

Think, make your decisions, and prepare. If you come out, glad to have you on the civvy side. If you stay in, may you be spared certain decisions.

Thing is, I suspect we will be rebuilding a lot of things here in the next few years, one way or another. We can rebuild good and needed institutions. A few years back, a retired Army general talked to a small group of us frankly and forthrightly. The subject was the Army, and how it was a broken institution effectively destroyed in the aftermath of Vietnam. He talked about what it took to rebuild the Army and take it from the hellhole it was to an all-volunteer force that was so well trained that when war came green troops operated as if they were veterans. A force that could take on and successfully do almost any task.

We can do it again, across a number of good and needed institutions. Why? Because we are legion, and we have the courage and drive to say NO when needed. We have experience, we have knowledge, and with luck we have some wisdom. We are legion.

Until then, keep those that matter close and your things where you can find them in the dark. Embrace the power of NO as needed.

Stopping The Spread

This is the face of unbridled and unprincipled authoritarianism. A face that would have fit right in with the Stasi, Gestapo, KGB, or a dozen others. A face in it only for power and pettiness. This is the face of tyranny. This is the everyday face of utter evil. The problem is, it’s not alone.

The banality of evil comes from it becoming common. Once the toe is in the door, more comes in and evil will spread and grow. Almost always that toe is disguised as some measure of safety and protection. Doesn’t matter if it is the oxymoron of hate speech, or a lockdown to slow the spread, it is an assault on your body autonomy and independence. Every time it is a means of chipping away at freedom, be it speech, movement, self-defense, or other basic rights granted not by government but by God. These efforts always attempt to grow.

It is not a new thing, for those who follow history know the pattern well and have seen it in multiple forms, in multiple times, and in multiple places. Those who study humanity, particularly in the forms of psychology and theology, know that we are flawed creatures and that there have always been, and will always be, people who because of their own flaws and insecurities are driven to obtain power over others. In the worst cases, you wind up with a national leader and piles of dead, as the millions of dead killed by such in just the last century will attest. For the rest, those insecurities reinforce the feelings of powerlessness over themselves such that they are driven to find any form of power over others for compensation. From those ranks come the nasty clerk at the motor vehicles bureau, the overly officious HOA board member, the Karen screaming at a store employee over the person not wearing a mask right/standing only 5 feet 11 inches from others. Like something else, they are legion because most don’t don’t want to deal with the hassle of confrontation.

There is, however, a third class of tyrant that as they become more common pose the greatest danger to individual liberty and stable governance. Their own self-loathing causes them to despise others, and worse yet to treat them as others and not as human beings or a life to be respected. For some, it reaches the point of sociopathy, for others something almost as bad. This group tends to find jobs and careers in organizations that give formal power over others such as teaching, law enforcement, and administration to name a few. The easiest way to spot them is that they are the ones who will take an innocent question or comment as a challenge to their authority. The ones that do so spectacularly and in a way that becomes public — say a teacher beating a developmentally challenged student who didn’t lift a finger at any point, or made one eat his own vomit; the cop who goes to town on someone without provocation, or elevates a comment to a high crime; a politician who has security, LE, or just members of their team harass or even assault a reporter or constituent over a comment or for daring to ask a question; a school board abusing power to prevent the parents of students from talking at an open meeting; or, well, you get the picture — are actually the better ones for society. They identify themselves and make it easy to have them fired, reassigned, sued, voted out, etc. If you follow the news, you know that those examples are in fact reality.

The British officer above hit viral status yesterday for having multiple officers swarm and physically assault an autistic juvenile and throw her into the dungeon, as it were, with no contact with her parents as a means of physical and psychological torture all because the autistic juvenile made a comment about the officer looking like her lesbian grandmother and wondering if she was a lesbian too. Now, the officer and the police department maintain that a huge and vicious crime was committed by the AUTISTIC JUVENILE and that the arrest including the use of force was justified. Judge for yourself. Since it appears that there was a complete absence of malice, and that no rational human being could see those words as an attack, I see it as assault, torture, and intimidation under colour of authority. Yeah, did that spelling because they are Brits. Sir Robert Peel must be spinning in his grave at several hundred thousand RPM over what the police and law have become in England.

However sickening and infuriating those who do things that become public are, they also are not the ones who scare me. The ones who have it a bit more together, who cover their tracks are the real danger. They are the ones who work with that first group of tyrants to take things national. They are the ones who design the “laws” (and help get them expanded), the gulags/camps/etc, sign the death warrants, and use the public types for intimidation, brutality, and all the dirty work while keeping their own hands clean. Mostly. There are always a few who will sneak into the dungeons or camps to have a bit of sick fun, then ensure there are no records or witnesses. Most, however, try to stay above such things.

What can be done about any of the three types of tyrant?

First, allow me to recommend mockery. Evil can’t stand to be mocked or laughed at. Look at how hard so many bureaucrats and politicians worked to silence memes and mockery in recent years. Tells you everything you need to know about them. Mockery also sends a message from society that such behavior is not acceptable. It humiliates those so hit, and lets others watching know not to do such things. Enough mockery from enough people, and you can indeed bring about change. Memes and memetics matter. Also, even in closed societies, you can mock with a degree of anonymity and at least some safety. Be smart, be careful, and be brutal with the mockery.

Second, shun. Do not stand with any of the three groups of tyrants. Ostracize them. Make them not of your circle of friends, invite them not to social events, cut them out of your life. You and your life will be much better for it. Again, it gets a message across to the person(s) in question and to those around you both about what does and does not constitute acceptable behavior, morals, and ethics.

Third, publicize. In closed societies, like England, you are going to have to be careful about what and how you do as one of the first things tyrants do is make it illegal to share news. When you can’t make it illegal, you can set up groups of bureaucrats (“experts”) to illegally censor content in social media. *Cough* My recommendation is to learn what you can about VPNs, proxies, and how to remove as many fingerprints as you can even in open societies for the safety of you and your loved ones. For non-electronic, keep in mind that printers and copiers still mark each sheet with a code to identify which printer/copier did the work. Typewriters have their own weaknesses too. That said, there are work arounds — find them. Meanwhile, spread the news any way and every way you can. Evil, like a cockroach, does not like a light shined on it. SHINE THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT YOU CAN!

Fourth, Courts and Elections. In closed societies, such is limited or eliminated. In those still pretending to be open, or that truly are open, make use of the courts and elections. On the latter, be sure the candidate is what and who they say they are and isn’t going to pull a Shreve. Start local, because until your area of operations is secure, trying for the top isn’t going to get too far. Even if you have a success with it, you are still having to fight the layers of bureaucracy, tyranny, and authoritarianism between you and the top. Much better to remove as much of that as you can, and it also makes it far more likely will get those national wins. Courts are iffy, especially with our descent into a two-tier system, but can result in some surprising wins. One can only pray that those wins will be enforced. Besides, it is a good way to implement Robert Heinlein’s instructions on the need to step on certain toes.

The final option is, of course, revolution. On many levels, it truly is a Final Option. The calls for revolution and violence in the U.S. I’m seeing online seem to come almost completely from the Feds and/or those idiots who are ignorant of how vanishingly rare a successful revolution — such as the American Revolution — are in this world. I’m willing to bet that the latter group has never studied, or seen in person, what happens in most revolutions and the devastation that even a “successful” revolution can produce. Also, they have not seen who is up against the wall second, if not first, in any revolution. Nor do they get that vigilante justice against any of the three groups is indeed the start of a revolution, and you better have your ducks in a row before encouraging such. A revolution via the ballot box is almost always preferable to a revolution via the ammo box. Are there times and valid reasons for violence and revolution? Yes, there are times when such are fully justified. Mayhaps we will explore them a bit here soon. For now, just keep in mind that violence and revolution should always be the last resort.

Where are we now? In the case of the officer above and her department, things seem to be well into the mockery and publicity phase. While some seemed to miss the point, several campaigns on social media were gleefully calling her a lesbian or asking if she was one. Another was linking her to #lesbiannana in various forms. For anyone who missed the point, it’s not about if she is or isn’t a lesbian. Frankly, nobody cares except apparently her, and Officer Cartman was enraged that someone didn’t respect her au-thor-a-tay. What it is about is asking the question that got the autistic juvenile assaulted, and in the process mocking the hell out of her and a group of Stasi wannabes pretending to be policemen. Personal opinion, none of those involved in this is fit to wear a badge or uniform ever again. Meantime, while mocking and hoping for some small measure of justice for the victim, it’s being seen and felt by police and such around the world. It is reinforcing that this is not acceptable behavior, and if seen will have negative consequences.

It’s a message the FBI hasn’t figured out yet. The execution in Utah was meant to intimidate. Instead it has opened the eyes of additional members of the public to the corruption in the DOJ and elsewhere, and enraged a good bit of the public rather than intimidating them. Mockery underway as the media got the journo-list message of how what little coverage was to be played. For something other than the corporate media spin, check this out from Brad Torgersen and scroll around as he has some other good thoughts to share.

The banality of evil is that it is common, and often in forms not confronted. This allows larger and worse evil to flourish. That needs to change. If you want to stop the spread of evil, and the growing scourge of authoritarianism and tyranny, rather than direct confrontation, publicize them and relentlessly mock, ridicule, shame, and shun.

UPDATE 1441 HRS 11AUG23: Seems the “police” department in question is feeling some heat. No charges for the flippin autistic juvenile they abused, but also no indications of any justice for her or her family (also assaulted) either. The department does come across, to me at least, as really hoping this fades out public view quickly. Usual political weasel words on reviewing and making changes if and as needed, which usually means a lot of talk and smoke in an effort to make this go away. Don’t let them succeed.

UPDATE 1632HRS11AUG23: If this is true, it would explain a lot about the overreaction. Also about the circle of wagons around a member of a protected class. All the more reason to name and shame. It also fits the authoritarian/tyranny profile to a T. You might be surprised at how many of that class have sexual issues on top of other issues.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Beginning To Figure Out

Why my efforts to move keep getting thwarted. There’s a long version, and a more condensed I will try for this morning. In short, I think I was looking to move at least in part for the wrong reasons.

In part, I was looking for an alone place, a place to finish up various projects then see what life had in store for me. To put off things like the shoulders for a while longer. The old lone wolf off happily in his remote lair.

Fact is, I both can’t put off some of it any longer, and I need to be around people. I need the interaction (at least to some extent as it is easy for my introverted self to get overwhelmed), I need help on occasion, and I need to be able to help.

I’ve been getting smacked on the nose and muzzle a bit about accepting help here recently, and about the need to be around people. And a couple of reminders that I still have a few things to offer as well. So, it’s less about the where and more about the why and the who. Which means looking at things with a fresh eye, and maybe revising some of the conditions at the starting point.

Last year was all about testing and recovery, and ensuring the Big C wasn’t trying to put in an appearance. Going to have to stay vigilant on that, but maybe this year is about taking care of all I can (on several levels) so the move can be at the right time for the right reasons. We shall see.


Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Merry Christmas!

May your day be Blessed, and filled with light, love, and laughter. May the warmth of the light and love that surround us all fill you, those around you, and your day.

To my friends, acquaintances, and readers who follow an older faith: Chag urim sameach!

To those who struggle this time of year, particularly this day: you are not alone. Please reach out at need, and know that there are others who share and understand. It can be the roughest time of year, but you are not alone.

May peace and love be upon you all, and if you have family cherish that time for it is not given to all.

Merry Christmas!

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which began as a celebration of life, abundance, and thanks. I’ve long tried to stop each year and give thanks for all that is good in my life. That can include things that may not seem a blessing, but often in those mysterious ways turn out to be so. So, I give thanks to God and thanks to those here who have impacted my life.

First and foremost, I am thankful to still be here. A year ago last June, lightning entered my life and started a most interesting journey for me. A year ago last October I had open heart surgery so they could take care of three different issues that had cropped up. The strike itself was a series of small miracles that made the difference between my getting up and going to work not realizing I had been hit, and my landlord finding my body instead. The last year plus has seen a number of medical and other challenges, and we seem to be holding on fairly well.

While it is hard, I try to be thankful for my memory issues. Right now, my short-term memory is, ah, limited. There are portions of my long-term memory that I can’t access. I’m told that this too shall pass, and while it can be frustrating (or worse) it also reminds me to be thankful for what I have, and that in about three years my brain should have healed and most of these issues will then pass. Until then, I’m thankful that there was no major physical damage (fractures and the like) to the brain, that it will heal, and that I have methods of coping that help a lot. I may still have to put my morning pills in a bowl, count, and verify to be sure I take them all; but, I can do that and pretty much everything else on my own.

I find it very hard to be thankful for the hearing loss. In addition to general loss in both ears, and an increase in tinnitus, I lost all the upper frequency hearing in one ear, and the nerves are dead so no getting it back via tech. Things sound strange, different, or missing. That said, it does force me to slow down and actually listen on occasion, which in this world can be a good thing. It also makes me appreciate what I still can hear even more. For that, I am thankful.

I am thankful for the open heart surgery, as it seems to have worked well and from which I have bounced back amazingly well given all. Still working on endurance and more, but it is a blessing to be able to get out and walk and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. And to meet a number of the neighborhood dogs. That’s really fun to do.

I am thankful for my regular medical team, and for the team at RHI who have helped me develop some of the methods of coping that allow me to function well (most of the time). For all that I sometimes do resent having to live off lists and such, I’m also thankful I have that option and that it works as well as it does as much as it does.

I am thankful for all who have offered support and encouragement through the fundraiser. I never expected that I would get hit by lightning, much less that it would lead to a year-plus of medical and other challenges or that I would be out of work so long. The prayers, encouragement, and financial support are amazing and why I am still going. With the medical on an even keel for now, though it took much longer than planned/desired, working hard to get moved out to the Southwest. Thank you all!

I am thankful for you, my readers. There is overlap between this group and the fundraising group, but you too have offered prayers, encouragement, and financial gifts. Some of you have offered tech support and other information as this blog has changed hosts and otherwise started on the path of being a well-read blog once again. Again, thank you all!

Finally, I am thankful for my friends. As with all such dramatic changes in life, one finds out who one’s friends truly are in times like these. I have met friends I didn’t realize I had, and I’ve seen true friends stand out like wheat from chaff. I have seen kindness unbounded from strangers, and have reconnected with friends from the past. For it all, I give thanks and say to you, thank you all.

There are many more blessings in my life, but for now I share these with you and encourage you to take the time this Thanksgiving to list the blessings (even in disguise) in your life and give thanks. It is right and proper to do so. Equally, it is a good reminder of all that is good in our lives in these interesting times.

The times are not good, but in the face of it people still do good things. Have Faith, as even when things are dark and tight, there is good and help in this world. Also, remember that together we can do more than alone, and we need to stand with our brothers and sisters during this great challenge.

Be not despondent, be not afraid. Instead, give thanks and do what what you can so that all of us can move forward together.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Faith In Accountability And Responsibility

Over on Twitter, Bree A Dail, a journalist who among other duties is the Vatican Correspondent for The Epoch Times, posed an interesting question as part of a discussion:

If a journalist (or media outlet) identifying as Catholic Media publishes or supports publications rejecting/denying the Bishop of Rome, or Church Teachings, should they be exposed, publicly reprimanded and censured by Bishops and/or the Holy See?

Within the context provided, I would (and did) answer yes to her poll. My explanation of why I voted as I did led to a nice discussion with her, and among other things she pointed out to me this story from a Catholic media outlet saying that Francis is not the Pope. In fact, they refuse to call him Pope or Francis.

Some quick background before we dive in on this. I was raised Methodist and joined the Episcopal Church in late high school. Eventually I found my way to the Catholic Church. When I joined, I did so in one of those conservative churches so beloved of Pope Francis (/sarc), one which until brought to heel performed the Latin Mass every Sunday. In fact, when I joined the early Mass was Anglican, the reasonable Mass was the Sung Mass, and the later/mid-day Mass was the Latin Mass. The difference between the Sung and Latin Mass? About an hour.

One benefit of joining in a more conservative Church was that the RCIA program, which educates on Catholic theology and practices, was rigorous (and fun). We had some theological debates and discussions, and more importantly got into some of the historical debates and discussions that resulted in current Catholic doctrine. The course I took was such that other Churches sometimes sent their students, or even those who were of the Faith, to participate and learn. Some of it was warts and all, as there have been Saints fist fighting and Popes who were “rotters.” Thing is, at the end, you had no doubt about where the Church stood, why they did so, and what the options and expectations for you involved.

In fact, we spent pretty much an entire session one evening discussing things like the denial of the Sacrament to those who supported abortion or other issues that run counter to the laws outlined in the Catechism of the Church. On any number of issues like that, if you did not agree with the Church’s position, you should not join. If you did join, and found yourself in disagreement with the Church on doctrine decided later, you should not accept the Sacrament.

Technically, I am a lapsed Catholic. For personal reasons and because I find myself in disagreement with a number of things decreed by Pope Francis, I chose to not take the Sacrament and to even step away from the Church. It is the right, moral, and honorable thing to do IMO and is in keeping with the Catechism. My Faith remains, and remains strong. My faith in Man and the Institutions of Man remains about the same, just short of non-existent.

Until Bree pointed out that article and some other things, I was unaware that any Catholic media was denying that Francis is the Pope, much less questioning the authority of the Bishop of Rome and the Magisterium. Been focused on a few other things the last year or two, and while I knew I was far from alone in my thoughts in regards Pope Francis I did not realize that things had gotten this far.

For good or ill, Francis sits on the Throne of St. Peter and is the Pope and Bishop of Rome. Period. Full Stop.

The thing that struck me in some things I’ve been reading since this came up, the argument being made is that Francis has abandoned doctrine, process, and more and therefore isn’t Pope. It is a novel approach, though not terribly grounded in Church law IMO. I’m rather surprised that none of those denying his authority have done it (at least that I’ve read) on the basis of his being an anti-Pope.

For those of you who’ve never played Pope-A-Day Bingo, there have been times when there were two (in once case I think possibly three) Popes. This happened when politics ruled the day and there were competing factions French, Italian, and otherwise. The verdict of history (written by those who lived much later most often) was that one was the “real” Pope and the other was an “anti-Pope” or false Pope. An intellectual case can be made that Benedict was either forced out or that his being allowed to renounce the Crown of St. Peter was improper/illegal (under Church law), and that therefore the elevation of Bergoglio was improper/illegal. Whatever the verdict of any future history, the fact remains that Bergoglio was elevated and is serving as Pope Francis.

Now, back to Bree’s query above. Based on the laws of the Church as outlined in the Catechism, the process should be for the appropriate Bishop to remonstrate with them in private, and if that is not satisfactory, remonstrate in public and take further steps as needed. Those steps could be to deny the Sacrament or even up to excommunication.

I am uncomfortable with forcing resignations or removals from the publications. Again, while it has been done in the past, even the recent past, it is far too easy to weaponize against simple, even if profound, disagreement. It is also in many respects a secular response to a spiritual matter.

However, given the manifest unwillingness of the vast majority of Church leadership to do so with a number of people on several subjects (Pelosi and Biden are not the only ones just on abortion, and let’s not even get into matters sexual), I do not see this being addressed anytime soon. Which also tends to push things towards what might be a rather draconian response when and if it comes. It doesn’t help that far too many in leadership see disagreement not only as an assault upon them as an individual, but also as an attack on the office which they hold, and that therefore to disagree with them in any way, shape, or form as an attack on the Faith as a whole as well. Simple disagreement is not being Satanic.

Which leads to another poll Bree conducted as part of the thread:

Should journalists who identify as Catholic Media be held to a standard of ethics, to include Oaths of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church?

This is where things get interesting for me. Oaths are powerful and sacred things, even when they deal with the purely secular. I’ve sworn a couple in my life that have no expiration that include the cost of my life. I tend to approach them a bit differently from some for very good reasons.

While the idea of Catholic Media taking an oath similar to what some Catholic academics do seems like a good idea, I have some strong reservations about it. Much depends on what is sworn, and how. Given how so much of the leadership of the Church is thin-skinned on criticism (to be polite) my concern is that any oath to obey, support, or other the Magisterium or the authority of the Bishop of Rome could (and sadly I suspect would) be twisted such that any disagreement, or any report they don’t like, is a violation of the oath.

I do think that media claiming to be Catholic media needs to be held to a higher standard on matters of the Faith and the doctrines of the Church. Then again, I think all media needs to be held to some minimum standards on honesty, accuracy, and other matters. I agree with Bree that we need to hold journalists to at least the standards we would hold a child doing a book report. Preferably more. When I left journalism many moons ago, I was delighted to discover that public relations not only had a much stronger code of ethics, but that unlike journalism they actually enforced it. At least they did at that time, no idea about today. Modern journalism talks (a lot), but does not walk the walk.

Catholic Media needs to walk the walk. If they are to claim that they are a Catholic organization/publication/whatever, then they need to be held at least to the standards expected of any member of the Faith. Disagreement and discussion are allowed in the Faith within certain constraints. It is how the Church grows and expands the understanding of God’s Word. To that end, those that stray need to be dealt with by the spiritual methods as outlined in the Catechism, not by secular means.


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

A Sunday Thought

For all I try to take Sunday’s off, oddly appropriate I’m having to think this morning about the best way to deal with someone who meant well, but has done harm. With the best of intentions, potentially a lot of harm.

The struggle is in how to make this a teachable moment, for all involved. We are commanded to Love and forgive, even when such is hard. Reminded of good lesson from now sadly former priest who pointed out God commands us to love, not like. 🙂

For we can indeed love, without being required to like a person or their actions. In fact, there is a good argument that we must not like that which is evil and does harm, even as we love that person. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

There are days, and situations, where that is hard. Then again, that is part of the test, and the opportunity to heal and grow. It may not be possible to bring others along on the journey, but one should find a way to make the offer to come along. Just, one needs to be sure that if they refuse it does not keep you from moving forward.

  • EDIT: Want to add the following I added on Twitter: And before I sound too noble and philosophical, the catalyst for these thoughts are one of many reasons why, if I wasn’t addicted to my creature comforts, I would be sorely tempted to go walkabout for a couple of years and then return to see if any sanity had returned to the world.


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

War Of The Memes

No, I’m not talking all of the brilliant/good/okay/incrediblyfuckingstupid memes about Russia and the Ukraine seen on social media. While they do play a role to some extent, what they are is an expression of some of the deeper societal beliefs, language, philosophy, and how those all tie together.

Kamil Galeev is back with a rather lengthy bit of homework for you. He gets deep into the weeds on memes and memetics, and the evolution of same in different countries, with a focus on Russia and the Ukraine. It is an excellent read from an academic perspective, and from that of anyone who truly wants to understand what is going on and — more importantly — why it is going on. If you are trying to understand the Gramscian damage done to the U.S. and the West, this is some good “foundation” material to read.

To simplify, the Putin and a good bit of the elite see this as a war of liberation. It is their belief that the majority of Ukrainians long to be good Russians and adhere to the Russian (Slav) traditions. They not only believe this of the Ukraine, but a wide swath of former (and not former) territories. That is part of the heart of the plan that is Russkiy Mir.

They have been astounded at the resistance, because they believed that most of the population would rise up on their behalf. Given the information bubble at the top, it’s not surprising that in some cases there may still be some belief that it is just a fraction that is driving the rest to resist. Rather, they see that group plus NATO as trying to thwart the crusade of liberation. I have no doubt that Vladimir really does think he’s winning.

While it can be seen as delusional, or just a product of the information bubble, it is more than that. It ties into mores and memes, and the belief that obstacles to “restoring” the majority of the Ukrainian population to their rightful status as Russians will be overcome.

As we head towards May 9, keep in mind that the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and even the new Russian Federation have done many things on the basis of historical occasions rather than what the real world dictates. Never mind that they could just settle in and take however long it takes to re-assimilate the Ukraine. They won’t. This is tied into symbolism, mysticism, religion, and more. The danger to the Ukraine and the world is only going to increase as the clock ticks down.

For, if it becomes clear that the majority of the Ukraine has no desire to become Russian, well, that just shows that they are evil, sub-human, and not deserving of life. In fact, because they are evil and Nazi, they deserve death. Read what the Russian “elite” are saying on this topic right now, because that’s exactly what they are saying. It’s what they have been saying for decades, if not centuries.

This is not a people or leadership who believe a mistake has been made, and desire a way to negotiate an end to things. They see this as a holy war of liberation, and if those being liberated don’t want to be liberated, then they are clearly on the side of evil and need to be eradicated to free the rest. Those that help them resist are evil too.

The Russians know a thing or two about proxy wars. They see this as a proxy war with NATO, and seem to be moving towards seeing it as an open war with NATO. This is why I don’t (yet) support Trent Telenko’s idea of using PMCs for training, as that pushes the “rules” of proxy wars. Then again, anything that stands in their way is an act of war and causes Vladimir to rattle the briefcase ominously while making threats. It is also why a no-fly-zone and other open actions will take this instantly from proxy war to full war.

Can the Russians take large amounts of territory in the Donbas and the South? Yes, though there are limits. Can they hold it? No. No more than they can hold the Ukraine should they somehow take it. Their ability to take territory is open to question for any number of reasons, and Trent Telenko points out something that is going to have huge implications on the Russian home front sooner rather than later. Which makes me even more concerned about May 9.

As a complete aside, the homework that started this features Pushkin rather heavily and with good cause. That said, I find amusing his status today given that the Czar had him killed via the duel. Fairly typical Russian melodrama (Oh, those Russians!). When I visited Pushkin’s home where he died after the somewhat botched duel, it was quite the shrine for Russophiles, Slavophiles and other Pushkinophiles. The way they preserved things large and small had me wondering (after seeing the wastebasket of Pushkin) if they were going to trot out the chamber pot of Pushkin with the contents bronzed in much the same way parents bronzed baby shoes for a while. Pretty much everything else had been preserved, after all…

To go back to topic, today’s homework shows why the invasion was not a mistake (from Vladimir’s point of view) and why absent a clear and unambiguous victory from one side or another, there will be no negotiated peace anytime soon. It also serves as a warning for May 9, and why we need to keep a sharp eye on things.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add


Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief


If you like what you are reading, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.