Sunday, December 30, 2012

Liberty is More Than a Hobby

Breitbart has a thrilling story about the Christian couple who run Hobby Lobby, and their plans for civil disobedience in the face of Obama's unjust HHS Mandate.

At great financial risk to themselves and their company, the Green family will refuse to fund drugs that cause abortion, mandated as part of Obamacare.  This may ruin them and destroy their life's work, costing them a potential  $1.3 million per day in fines - but it is the right thing to do, indeed the heroic thing to do - whether you're a Christian or a member of any Faith - or even an atheist. 

Indeed, the first comment on the Bretibart site reads ...

I am an agnostic and I stand with the Green family. They are fighting for what they believe in, and they are fighting for all of our rights. I fully support them in this.
 
Fellow Christians - including Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox - fellow believers, including Muslims, Jews, and others - and brother atheists and agnostics - we must support Hobby Lobby fully and completely in this.

Beginning January 1, when this act of tyranny (the HHS Mandate) kicks in, and when Hobby Lobby pushes back, this is what we need to do.  Go to Hobby Lobby.  Buy stuff.  I don't even know what they sell.  I don't have any hobbies.  Our house doesn't even have a lobby.  But I will go there and buy stuff. 

For the Green Family are on the front lines of the New Martyrdom.  The article on them quotes St. Peter in the book of Acts ...

When the apostles were ordered [by the "court" of their day] not to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone, the Book of Acts records: “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.’”
 
... which is also the way Peter himself died, for standing up for the Lord - a glorious death.

My friends, let us make the support of Chick-Fil-A look puny by comparison.  Support Hobby Lobby. If they only sell pencils for people whose hobby is pencils, buy a pencil a week, a pencil a day. And then throw yourselves in front of their doors if Sonia Sotomayor forces them to pay for the killing of innocent children.

That's right.  If the courts rule for tyranny and not for liberty, we know the very least that we need to do.

If the Feds show up to confiscate Hobby Lobby's property to pay their multiple millions of dollars in fines, or if they show up to shut them down, physically resist.  If thousands of us placed ourselves before the doors of the nearest Hobby Lobby, the tyrant would lose.  Would the Feds fire on their own people?  Not if there were enough of us, and there are.

The Civil Rights battles are back.  We are not slaves.  We are a free people.  And we will not allow our president, our courts, or any bureaucrat to force us to betray our God, to betray our Faith, to betray the innocent among us and the morals we hold most dear.

This is not about "religious liberty" only.  It's about protecting innocent lives.  If Obama can force us to procure abortions for our employees, he can make us do anything he wants.

Resist.  The.  Tyrant.

We still have heroes and good Christians among us.  Support these people.

***

UPDATE: The date is January 5 to show your support.  See Standing with Hobby Lobby. 

And send the Greens a message of support here.

***

NEW UPDATE - Frank Weathers writes here on the latest set back for the HHS Mandate.

And more importantly, Frank Weathers writes here on the necessity of Civil Disobedience in this issue.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A False Concord

So a group called Patriotic Christian Quotes posts this chart on Facebook ...

 
 
And my comment on their Facebook post was this ...

The Scriptures have nothing to do with science, and this chart stretches the point. It is very dangerous for Christians to think that the Bible teaches the truth about physics or biology. It teaches a far deeper truth, and the more we confuse the issue, the harder it is for us to show that Faith and Reason go together. Take the first item on the chart, for example. Isaiah 40:22 in no way asserts that the earth is a sphere. The ancient Hebrews believed the earth was a round disk floating on water, with the sky pitched as a tent about it. They were wrong about geology, but right about God. This chart is well intentioned but very wrong headed.
 
And, naturally, I was more or less excoriated by others commenting after me. 

One lady said,

Science now is proving that what the bible says is true, and always has been. Can I get an Amen?!

... with a number of "amens" following.

***

The easiest way to understand how this all works is to keep this in mind: The Bible does not teach how the heavens go, but how to go to heaven.  Take Is. 40:22, the first instance on the chart, for example ...

He's the one who sits above the disk of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He's the one who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in.
 
Does the truth of this passage lie in its scientific value?  Is the earth a "disk" - i.e., flat but circular?  Is space a "curtain"?  Do we live under the sky as if the sky were a "tent"?   Certainly these are poetic truths, but not scientific ones. 

Such bizarre literalism leads the fundamentalists to insist upon six 24-hour days of creation, and to claim (as a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod pastor once told me) that the fossil record was "placed on earth by the devil to deceive us."

And such tone deafness serves as a bad witness for Christians, who appear in the eyes of others as Neanderthals.  Indeed, during my atheist days, I thought the Christian Faith was predicated upon a sacrifice of reason, that reason and faith either never met, or when they did they flat out contradicted one another.  Which is exactly the opposite of the truth - Faith and Reason confirm one another, but you'd never know that from the chart above or from those who are pushing a false Concordism between science and scripture.

For what the Concordists don't see is that it's just as wrong-headed for Christians to make claims about scientific matters which the Faith does not touch upon as it is for scientists to pontificate about matters that are beyond their scope - such as metaphysics, meaning, and God.

It would, for instance, be wrong for a scientist peering in a microscope to claim that the germs he sees prove that the sky does not exist.  He's looking in the wrong direction, with the wrong tool - a tool that can tell him much about little things, but nothing about big things. 

In the same way, believing in God will not tell me how much money I have in my wallet.  I have to look and count to find that out.  I could claim that the "1260 days" mentioned in Revelation (Rev. 11:3-13 and elsewhere) means I've got $1260, and that "personal accounting proves the Bible is right!"  But the Bible also mentions "forty days and forty nights", and I know it's less than forty bucks down there.  A lot less.

At any rate, they are different operations of the mind, dealing with different things, different aspects of Reality, and to insist upon the Bible as a kind of proto-textbook on physics and biology is to use a mistaken literalism, which will inevitably (and rightly) alienate non-believers who take reason and logic seriously.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Blindness and Sin

Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized ... Acts 9:18

Paul, you see, was blind - not only for three days after encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, but in a sense, all of his pride-filled self-serving life, up to the moment the scales fell off and he was "buried with Christ in baptism," and "raised with Him through faith". (Col. 2:12)

On this subject, blog reader Joey Higgins comments on a recent post, regarding the apparent futility of arguing with someone who refuses to argue in good faith; the occasional pointlessness of pointing things out to the blind -

"Sometimes it takes a long time, but the arguments left sometimes sink in. Most times I think that if we are successful in convincing someone, we may never know.

I had an argument with a woman in the youth ministry about the way she was 'leading guys on' and she was angry at me for about 2 months before admitting I was at least a little correct. Most times, I don't think most would get even that.

I know that from my personal changes and maturation that it takes a lot to change someone's mind and a long time."
 
What Joey is talking about here is that Sin makes you Blind.

The greatest gift of the Holy Spirit day in and day out is simply to show us our sins.  Because we never really want to see them.  We tie ourselves in knots in order to quiet our consciences and turn a blind eye to the selfishness that typically propels us.

For example, when I was an atheist, my intellectual position had much more to do with a kind of general rebellion and anger at authority figures than at anything rational.  And even as a practising Catholic, any time I've given myself over to a favorite sin, I have found it so strikingly easy to gloss over my behavior - I was special, other people wouldn't understand, the good intentions outweighed the bad actions, etc.

Therefore we sacrifice reason to will, and we argue out of a secret alliance with our vested interests.  Indeed, certain vested interests must be at play when people defend (as they have on this blog in 2012 alone) underage sex, Christians gazing upon naked bodies, consequentialism, and so forth.  When people keep their eyes clamped shut on such self-evident issues, it's usually because they don't want the truth to spoil their fun.

And likewise, I could no more have been argued out of my atheism than an alcoholic can be argued out of the bottle.  Does a porn addict know that porn is wrong?  Certainly, at some level.  Will he ever admit it, even if presented with the most convincing intellectual and emotional arguments?   No, not until there is a change of heart.

What produces this change of heart, the first step in repentance, is a mystery.  It is undoubtedly God's grace, but how a sinner can close his heart for many years and then let a bit of truth seep in, let a bit of light in at a crack through the dark door, is not something we can predict.  Hitting rock bottom, being convinced of the damage your "precious" sin is causing, being stripped of your emotional garments and your barriers against God, being scourged at the pillar - all of these things can help.  So can arguments, but only as a kind of accompaniment to the drone of the conscience - which, like a persistent ringing in the ears, is tuned out.  The deaf have ears but they do not hear, the blind have eyes but they do not see.

And this applies, to a certain extent, to all of us - in so far as we cling to our sins.

For as long as we cherish sin, the light will shine in the darkness and the darkness will perceive it not. 

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. - John 3:19

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reformation and Deformation - Our Descent into Hell

[This is the first half of my latest article for the St. Austin Review.  To read the whole thing, subscribe to the magazine!]

Faustus is a divine; Mephistopheles is a devil.  They are talking in Faustus’ study.
 
 
FAUSTUS. First I will question with thee about hell.
     Tell me, where is the place that men call hell?
 
     MEPHISTOPHELES. Under the heavens.
 
     FAUSTUS. Ay, so are all things else; but whereabouts?
 
     MEPHIST. Within the bowels of these elements,
     Where we are tortur'd and remain for ever:
     Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib'd
     In one self-place; but where we are is hell,
     And where hell is, there must we ever be:
     And, to be short, when all the world dissolves,
     And every creature shall be purified,
     All places shall be hell that are not heaven.
 
     FAUSTUS. I think hell's a fable.
 
     MEPHIST. Ay, think so still, till experience change thy mind.
 
     FAUSTUS. Why, dost thou think that Faustus shall be damn'd?
 
     MEPHIST. Ay, of necessity, for here's the scroll
     In which thou hast given thy soul to Lucifer.
 
     FAUSTUS. Ay, and body too; and what of that?
     Think'st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine
     That, after this life, there is any pain?
     No, these are trifles and mere old wives' tales.
 
     MEPHIST. But I am an instance to prove the contrary,
     For I tell thee I am damn'd and now in hell.
 
     FAUSTUS. Nay, and this be hell, I'll willingly be damn'd:
     What! sleeping, eating, walking, and disputing!
 
-         Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus

 *******************************************************************************

 
‘And that is why...the Blessed will say, "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven”, and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly. … There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.’
 
-         C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

 
*******************************************************************************
 
 
“You think you can talk to dead people?  You think you can talk to Mom, or she can talk to you?  She’s dead.  You know what happens when you’re dead?  You’re dead.  That’s what happens.  You’re gone.  If you don’t believe me, watch the Discovery Channel.  They prove this stuff.  I’m not an atheist, and I’m not an agnostic either, but I know that this life is all there is and when you’re dead, you’re dead.”
 
-         Uncle David, the O’Brien Family Christmas Eve Dinner, 2012.

 

 

"Oh," said Syme with a beaming smile, "we are all Catholics now."

-          G. K. Chesterton, The Man who was Thursday

********************************************************************************

Actually, we’re all Protestants now.

For the Reformation, which began as a sincere effort to correct abuses within the Church, ended up falling into the pattern described above by Marlowe and Lewis – the lasting effects of which are shown by Uncle David.  For everything that we do is either a movement toward God or away from Him, toward Reality or toward Unreality (hell).

And now we breathe the Protestant spirit in and out, especially here in the United States, where Individualism and Rebellion are prized character traits.   And we find ourselves, to our surprise, largely in hell.

Our Catholic churches are Protestant-looking; and even our Devout Catholics are Protestant-acting.  I can’t tell you the number of tussles I’ve had with “Devout Catholics” who may be pro-life and Rosary-loving, but who are very proud of their disagreement with the Church on issues that they’ve figured out better than Rome – say, the benefits of torture or lying or the pressing obligation to ignore the poor.  And of course the not-so-devout Catholics, the liberals, are openly in Protest and proud of it, whether on contraception, abortion, women’s ordination, or what have you.

For the Protestant Revolt unleashed a spirit of the age, a 500-year-old spirit of the age, that at its core is a turning away from God and His heaven and an enthusiastic celebration of Man and his hell.  It did not begin with that impulse, but it picked up that impulse quite quickly – with the raping of the monasteries, the suppression of the Faith, and the murder of loyal priests as the first fruits.

And bad as those first fruits were, the last ones are worse.

[... TO BE CONTINUED in the next issue of the StAR.]

Mind Games at Christmas

The following is my appearance on Mind Games on KFNS Radio, St. Louis.

We talk a bit about the Psychology of Performance, and then I exhibit my own warped psychology by becoming every guest at the Mind Games Christmas Party.

It plays in four segments, with each segment automatically leading to the next.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Poet Speaks in Pleasantries

Good morning, neighbor, Mrs. Jones.
How nice to see you, yes I did
And thank you and I certainly will.
Good afternoon, sir, and I say
Thank you have a nice nice day
And 'evening to you, Mr. Man
Anonymous person, Mrs. Man.

And do you weep from unseen wounds?
Do you hear a hidden whisper,
Do you follow, with mournful soul
Something further, out beyond,
A Man Who bleeds for us and still
His voice is oh so very still
But can you hear it?  Can you still?

On we go perfunctory
Perfunctor-functor-functory
Off we go now,
Off we go.

I would say more, if I could,
But we are chums, acquaintances,
Our love is ordered, fit and proper,
Customary, place the stopper.
Shut your mouth and move along.
Please don't sing your mournful song.

Over at the corner parish,
Where Our Lord did die and perish,
They need some money, on the spot!
They need to pave their parking lot.
The folks don't know that guy named Jesus,
But Father's sermon will appease us,
Funerals for those who die,
And lots to eat at the fish fry.

On we go now, move along!
Longing long, a mournful song.

The Poet in Passing

"Sometimes the love and the longing are great songs that fill the hollow spaces of the night, and the mournful echo is too much for me," he said as he shuffled on, into the dark. 

I don't know what he loves.  I don't know why he loves.  And yet in his drunken disheveled manner, he has a quiet dignity, and his love - unrequited by most - stands firm.  He is a fool, a sinner, and a wastrel.

Don't ever lend him money, and whatever you do, never NEVER let him sleep on your couch for "just one night".  It took us months to get him to leave.

But occasionally - especially at night - his eyes carry a quiet gravity, a solid dignity that endures. 

He is a joke in so many ways (and his poetry is not so good) - but he has done one thing, rightly or wrongly.  He has loved.

And the poet moves on.

He picks up his guitar, and he strides, somehow with dignity, into the night.  A rag tag, foolish figure, walking with unruffled dignity, into the night.

What It's Like Dealing with Actors and Actresses


[NOTE - these are actual emails concerning a show the actress in question had agreed to perform on New Year's Eve, five days from today, for actual money.  It's really rather humorous.  This is what I deal with in my business.]

----------------------- Original Message-----------------------
From: NAME OF ACTRESS <[name withheld]@gmail.com>
Cc:
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2012 09:55:19 -0800
Subject:

Hi

Its [NAME OF ACTRESS]. Just got a message from your wife. Im emailing on my gmail account because you dont seem to be getting emails from my yahoo account. I emailed you back in nov saying i couldnt do the show. Then i got an email from you sending the script and asking if I was still doing the show I wrote you back and said that I had sent you an email back in November saying I couldn't.

Now I have got a call from your wife asking if I was doing the show.

My concern is you aren't getting my email so I'm writing you again to say there are several reasons why I cannot do the show. I hope you find someone.

thanks
NAME OF ACTRESS

[NAME OF ACTRESS]@gmail.com

***

Dear NAME OF ACTRESS,

It is odd that you are the only person telling me that you've sent me emails which we have not received.

If what you say is true, then Upstage Productions needs to get on top of this right away!!!  There may be people emailing us asking for info on our shows - emails that apparently are vanishing into cyber space.  Please re-send (from your current gmail address) - with headers - the emails you sent in November and last week.  I have received nothing from you since the one below that you sent from your Yahoo account ... 






----------------------- Original Message-----------------------



Subject : Re: Your Info
Date : Mon, 5 Nov 2012 12:45:00 -0600
Linked to : NAME OF ACTRESS
From :  NAME OF ACTRESS@yahoo.com
To : kevin@upstageproductions.com   



My address (for payroll) is
[ADDRESS OF ACTRESS]
NAME OF ACTRESS
Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android








***

 

Since then we've received nothing from you, though oddly we received quite a few things before that from the very Yahoo address you claim is not getting through to us now.

I find this quite alarming, and I really want to get it fixed right away.

Of course, there is the chance that you are simply lying to me and that you never emailed us at all; that now you're simply copping an attitude and acting like it's our fault; and that you're ignoring the odd fact that if indeed you had been emailing me and I had seemingly been ignoring your emails, that the thing any professional actress would have done at that point would have been to pick up the phone and call us. 
 
That is why I look forward to receiving the mysterious missing emails - with headers, which our IT guy will need to see to determine the major technical glitch on our end that is no doubt causing this.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

And please accept my apologies for not receiving the emails you never sent.

Kevin



Kevin O'Brien

Upstage Productions

314-842-5300 / 1-888-WHO-DN-IT

www.upstageproductions.com





 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What I Really Want for Christmas

What I really want for Christmas is to tick everybody off.

  • I'm starting on Facebook, where I'm baiting a Devout Catholic who can't stand the thought that certain Catholic celebrities, media stars, or personal prelatures are actually subject to criticism.  A few months ago, I would have patiently tried to explain everything to him, and if he didn't get it, I would have blamed my own lack of patience and my own lack of ability to communicate.  But I've learned that people like this just don't listen, and it's simply more fun to tick him off.  And it's the Holidays, after all, so let's have at it!  I mean, really, what's Christmas without a good fist fight?

War is over, if you want it; or we can give peace a chance right in your big fat kisser.  You can quote me on that.

  • Next, I plan on really getting on my kids' nerves.  That part is easy and will take very little time.  My son is 20 and my daughter is 17.  I get on their nerves by being in the same room with them.

  • Finally, tomorrow night will see Christmas Eve dinner with the Obama Catholics meeting the Limbaugh Protestants around the same table.  I genuinely hope the evening ends with both sides mad at me - and my wife in tears vowing never to speak to me again.

  • As to my wife, Karen, well, she's always ticked off at me anyway, so she doesn't count.

  • Finally, what's Christmas without infuriating someone on this blog?  I don't know how to do it.  Should I defend the Catechism?  Criticize sexual predators?  Stick up for the poor?  All of these things have caused firestorms in the past, so I don't know which one to choose over Christmas.

At any rate, it's a simple Holiday wish, and I'll do my best to see that it gets fulfilled!

Merry Christmas to you all.

(You may lodge formal letters of complain in the comboxes below.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Left Meets Right at Christmas Dinner


Anthony Esolen has written another brilliant piece for Crisis in his continuing series on the connection between Social Justice and the Family.

The main point, taken mostly from Pope Leo XIII and his encyclicals, is simple.

The Family is the basic unit of society.  Marriage was raised by Jesus Christ to a Sacrament, transforming it from mere private contract to a lifelong mutual gift of love, so that the Family emulates the Trinity and puts men and women in right relation to God, to one another and to society in general; society being modeled upon the Family and this mutual gift of the one to the other in Christian love.

But when the Family is torn asunder by divorce, pornography, adultery, "gay marriage" and the like, society as a whole, modeled upon, based upon, and growing out of the Family, suffers.

Esolen writes ...

What, by contrast, might we expect from an anti-society of self-will and divorce? ... When Christian marriage is deprecated, man sinks “into the slavery of [his] vicious nature and vile passions,” and nothing, says Leo, “has such power to lay waste families and destroy the mainstay of kingdoms as the corruption of morals.” 
 
Why would we believe, Esolen asks, that men trained to be selfish and self-serving when it comes to the foundation of social relations, the Family - why would we believe men from such origins - origins where spouses may be of any sex and may walk away from love at any given moment to fulfil their own private ends - why would we believe such men would suddenly become "good citizens" participating in the political life of the society at large?  Why would they engage in social intercourse with their fellow man for any reason other than rapacity and lust, which we see evidenced either in the limitless greed of our Masters, or in the degradation, laziness, and abusiveness of their Slaves, those they have raised up in the Proletarian Mentality?

Every sin against marriage is a sin against the very possibility of any kind of society at all. 
 
Esolen concludes.

And I echo him here, though I am far from a perfect husband myself, and one who has often sinned against marriage (just ask my wife, who could fill a whole blog with my various sins, failures and shortcomings - our wives are very good at keeping tabs on that). 

So Anthony Esolen continues to point out the bridge that should be built between the Social Justice activists of the left and the pro-family but often Justice-hating Randians on the right.  He shows us how to make sense out of Social Justice, how to reform our politics, and how to put economics back in its proper place as servant of man and not as master of him.  He shows us the social foundation of all these things.  He shows us the secret.

And that secret is the Family.

It's not sexy, it's not cool, it's not sleek and exciting.  

It's all that lot who will be with you in your house for Christmas - Grandma who talks too loud; Uncle Bud who's a boor and a bore; Aunt Krystal who's a New Age Vegan; Nephew Tommy who's a phone-texting idiot.

For all of them are part of something deep and mysterious, a glimpse of which we get on a quiet Christmas Eve when the animals and the shepherds gather around a mother and a father and a baby, from which moment the Greatest Adventure in the World begins, and from which all else springs.

***

Below are pictures of my family.  Well, my imaginary family.  Since my own family and I don't get along, I, Norman Bates-like, dress up as all of them, invite myself to Christmas dinner, and aruge amongst myself.  It is great fun.


Grandma, Who Talks Too Loud
 (angry at something, about to strike)
Uncle Bud, a Boor and a Bore,
but well-dressed


Aunt Krystal, New Age Vegan,
stupid but sweet.




Tommy, Phone-Texting Idiot,
(who has no redeeming qualities)

 
The Holy Family
at Christmas
... from whom all families have their shape and form and model - and through whom all  modern society can be reshaped






Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why Do Nice Girls Like Bad Boys?

If you watch Judge Judy like I do, religiously (which is not to say for religious reasons, but with a kind of devotion), you will notice what I often have noticed in life.

To the left, in the role of the plaintiff, stands a beautiful and intelligent young woman aged 18-22.

To the right, being sued, stands her guy, a hulking, despondent, sloppy, unemployed jerk.

"I gave him $5,000, Judge Judy, while we were dating, and he promised to pay me back," says the young lady.

"She didn't borrow me no money," replies the brute, "She give it to me.  She give it to me because she liked me.  But I should have went out with somebody else."

He is an idiot, a barbarian, a piece of slime.  She is young and sweet and bright-eyed.  He can not count to ten.  She could have any man she wanted.

But he's a bad boy.  He's dangerous.  He's risky. 

He's not clean like the wimp down the street who holds down a job and has a future and is nice to people.  Chivalry and courtesy are not the issue here.  And even sexual prowess is not the issue here, for there's no way a guy as self-centered as the defendant cares if his woman is happy in bed.  Especially when he's drunk or high, which is most of the time.

So why are good girls turned on by bad boys?

Well, it's the same reason the wimp down the street is a secret admirer of Nietzsche.  It's the same reason Charles Manson is someone disaffected teens look up to.  It's the same reason the Phoenicians sacrificed children to Moloch.

That last is from Chesterton, who writes ...
 
Why do men entertain this queer idea that what is sordid must always overthrow what is magnanimous; that there is some dim connection between brains and brutality, or that it does not matter if a man is dull so long as he is also mean? Why do they vaguely think of all chivalry as  sentiment and all sentiment as weakness?
 
In other words, why do good girls go for bad boys?

Chesterton's answer is shocking ...

 They do it because they are, like all men, primarily inspired by religion.  
 
What???  This is a religious sentiment?  Chesterton elaborates ...

For them, as for all men, the first fact is their notion of the nature of things; their idea about what world they are living in. And it is their faith that the only ultimate thing is fear and therefore that the very heart of the world is evil.

This is why Chesterton (earlier in The Everlasting Man) says that pagans will play around with their panoply of goof-ball multiple gods, who are chasing each other around the groves, doing silly and obnoxious things, but when pagan men want to get something serious done, they usually turn to the darker forces, because "the devil keeps his appointments". 

***



Chesterton, as usual, is deeply right in a stunning way. 

Look around you.

The pagans of our day believe that Fear is the ultimate thing and therefore the "very heart of the world is evil", which means that our lives, if successful, must be about power and domination over others. 

This is true in spades for our rebellious and pierced teens, who think they are turning against Mom and Dad by living with Mom and Dad in the basement, not getting a job, and complaining on the internet that God is dead and we need to live as selfishly as we can, that to live any other way is foolish (as they borrow money from their girlfriends, who are heartbroken when they don't pay it back and sue them on Judge Judy). 

Ironically, this is no rebellion at all, but only an affirmation of all that Mommy and Daddy have secretly stood for in their plush suburban houses all along.

They believe that death is stronger than life, and therefore dead things must be stronger than living things
 
 notes Chesterton; or, as in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, there are fathers who love their cars more than their sons.

Our religion of the day is one that worships power and sensory indulgence; for the Ultimate Thing is not a God of Love, but a dark force that scares us and that we can emulate only by harming others.

The Carthaginians fed their children to Moloch, burning them alive.  We feed ours to Planned Parenthood, aborting them alive. 

Either way, in the New Paganism, as in the old, dead things trump living things; fear is more real than love or honor; and, as with Carthage, we slowly become what we worship. 

We slowly start eating our own, as our Dark Lord slowly and patiently eats us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Death Blow to the HHS Mandate.

See the Catholic World Report article here

The fact that the administration, under questioning by the court, "promised" never to enforce the HHS Mandate on certain colleges, indicates that the mandate cannot stand up to any serious legal challenge.  They folded in "cross examination", as it were.  That indicates that, legally speaking, the Mandate will never stand.

If this is being reported correctly, it's a major victory, a death blow, to HHS.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Croaking Hope

A Reflection on Job 19

We cover our lives with a kind of gauze, a film or cushion that keeps us from the Abyss.  Even our churches are air conditioned, with electronically enhanced pop music instead of chant or even hymns.  Even the bloody sacrifice at the altar is hidden somehow amid the boredom.

But God agrees to let Satan at Job out of a kind of mercy, "black grace" instead of "white grace".  Job is a good man to begin with, but it's only when everything has been stripped from him, when he is robbed of his family, his friends, his riches and his health - when he sits scraping his open sores and wailing, tormented by "miserable comforters", superficial friends saying superficial things - that the incredible theophany occurs.  Or set aside for a moment this theophany - this appearance of God to Job, to all of suffering humanity - and look only at a moment of croaking hope, of Job astonishingly crowing forth, his voice hoarse and broken, a kind of Hope that is shocking and even disturbing to us, in its utter reality.

But before you read that stunning declaration of Hope that seems to come from nowhere (Job 19:25 ff), you must first read the verses that immediately precede it, verses in which Job recaps his suffering and God's role in it  ...

  ... know that God has wronged me
and drawn his net around me.
7 “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honor
and removed the crown from my head.
10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;
he uproots my hope like a tree.
11 His anger burns against me;
he counts me among his enemies.
12 His troops advance in force;
they build a siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.
13 He has alienated my family from me;
my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
14 My relatives have gone away;
my closest friends have forgotten me.
15 My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner;
they look on me as on a stranger.
16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer,
though I beg him with my own mouth.
17 My breath is offensive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
18 Even the little boys scorn me;
when I appear, they ridicule me.
19 All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.
20 I am nothing but skin and bones;
I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.
21 Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,
for the hand of God has struck me.
22 Why do you pursue me as God does?
Will you never get enough of my flesh?
23 Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
 
This is the backdrop to the Hope - the incredible backdrop, for how can Hope come out of this? 

Job is a living station of the cross - his life is an illustration of "Jesus is Stripped of His Garments".  He has lost everything that comforts a man, everything that shields a man from the Awe, indeed from the Awful.  He is at the threshold of Reality - the Reality that we are to squeamish to look at.



And out of this moment, in the midst of this pain and upon the edge of life and death, the Suffering Servant exclaims, in a moment of Croaking Hope ...

25 I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
 
 At this most painful place Job sees Christ, sees the Resurrection of the Body, sees the longing for God that still lives in his broken and miserable heart.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Trio of Triolets

For if you follow your vocation
As priest or husband (it's a toss up),
Up will fly your jubilation -
For if you follow your vocation
You will bend and take your cross up,
Every day, and that's your calling:
For if you follow your vocation
You just may find it dull, appalling.

***

Today I pray my tenth novena,
I love to pray it very slowly
To Rome I'll die in the arena!
Today I pray my tenth novena.
Than thou I have become more holy
I'll show my faith off, here and now!
Today I pray my tenth novena,
And I am holier than thou.

***

Make every little thing be just
Exactly right and not askew
I don't like messes, so I must
Make every little thing be just
The way I want it; that means you.
Lord, he's not perfect, nor is she.
Make every little thing be just,
But just make sure it just ain't me


The Biggest Threat

The single biggest threat to "serious Christians" or "Devout Catholics" is this.

We really think our "walk with Christ" makes us better than all those other folk who are not walking with Christ, but who are simply wandering about and bumping into things.

Take for example, two women.

One is very religious and makes frequent devotions and is certain that she is never in the wrong - because, well for one thing she's so darned and deliberately Good. 

Another has fallen from the faith - and from other things - promiscuous, a bit of a mess on the inside, has been around the block once or twice and is probably even now somewhere in the alley trying to find her way home.

You'll find when the Trial comes, that the first can not be trusted.  But the second will die for you. 

And, really, for Him.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Juggling Midgets

[The following first appeared in my murder mystery newsletter in October of 2000.  It is entirely true.]

Here at Upstage Productions, we often get unusual calls for unusual entertainment.  Most of the time, we respond with as much professionalism as we can muster, in the hopes of closing the sale. 
 
However, when a group of frat boys want a juggling midget, all bets are off. 

The following is an actual transcript (from memory) of a conversation I had recently with a young eager Washington University student, who had called Upstage Productions, and left a message requesting a juggling midget (I am not making this up) to perform at a Friday night frat party. 
 
Of course we don't offer juggling midgets, but I thought I'd have some fun. 
 
I called the frat boy back, and the conversation went as follows ...

***
 
KEVIN:  (using my midget voice)  Yeah, you lookin’ for a midget?

STUDENT:  Yes we are.

KEVIN:  Well, I’m a midget.  Actually, I’m a little person.  We don’t call ourselves midgets.  But I guess I’m a midget.  Hell, I ain’t no dwarf.  I wish I was a dwarf!  I aspire to be a dwarf.  But I’m a midget.  What do you want?

STUDENT:  We’re having a party on Friday, and we need someone to liven it up.  Do you know any tricks?

KEVIN:  Let’s see.  Do I know any tricks?  I know a couple.  You know that trick where you come up to a baby and you say, “Who’s got your nose?  Where’s your nose?” and you hold your thumb up and say, “There’s your nose?”  You know that trick?

STUDENT:  Yeah.

KEVIN:  Well, I do that one.

STUDENT:  (pause) Well, could you just walk around and serve some drinks?

KEVIN:  I don’t know.  What time is the party?

STUDENT:  It’s a happy hour party.  It starts at four.

KEVIN:  No, I can’t do four.  They come to pick us up on the bus at four.

STUDENT:  Who’s “they”?

KEVIN:  The folks who pick us up from the home.

STUDENT:  The “home”?

KEVIN:  The midget home.  Didn’t you know there was a midget home?  Well, it’s the Little Persons Home, really. 

STUDENT:  Well, if we could get a whole bus load of midgets, that would be great!

KEVIN:  Listen, I’ll have to think about this and get back to you.

(I hang up, deciding I've had enough fun.  But the student calls back later, pushing the issue.)

 ***

KEVIN:  (answering phone, using my own voice) Upstage Productions.

STUDENT:  Yeah, someone from your company called us earlier and said he was a midget.

KEVIN:  Oh, that was our intern, Bruce.  We try to keep him off the phones.  I’m sorry about that.

STUDENT:  Well, he was supposed to let us know if he could entertain at our party.

KEVIN:  Look, he’s not exactly a midget.

STUDENT:  What do you mean?

KEVIN:  He’s 5’ 5”.

STUDENT:  He’s 5’5”???  We’ve got people here who are five-five!

KEVIN:  Then I guess you really don’t need Bruce, then, do you?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Want What I Want When I Want It

This is the religion of today.  This is every one of us.  This is also the brilliant actress Noel Wells.



But on a more serious note, this is us.

Why defend Christopher West when he's obviously wrong and wrong in a sick and dangerous way?  Because I-Want-What-I-Want-When-I-Want-It.

Why argue with me for suggesting that 15-year-olds should not be having sex?    Because I-Want-What-I-Want-When-I-Want-It.

Why lie when it's convenient to, and twist the Catechism to support us in doing so?   Because I-Want-What-I-Want-When-I-Want-It.

Why ignore the Reality of Christ and make the great Unreality of our dreams our God?  Because I-Want-What-I-Want-When-I-Want-It.

Argue all you wish, whether with atheists or stubborn Catholics or liberals or neo-cons, it won't do any good.  Most people do not argue in good faith.  Most people do not live in good faith.  Most people simply Want-What-They-Want-When-They-Want-It, and to hell with you if you stand in their way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Upcoming Television Appearances

As Joseph Pearce mentions here, his television special Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: A Catholic Worldview will air within the next few days on EWTN.
Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11:00 pm Eastern.
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4:00 pm Eastern.
In this special, Joseph Pearce describes how The Lord of the Rings is indeed, as Tolkien himself described it, "a fundamentally Catholic work".

I get the honor of playing J. R. R. Tolkien himself in this special, and Theater of the Word actor Al Marsh plays C. S. Lewis. 

Here's a clip from the special that shows Tolkien's influence on Lewis ...



In addition, actress Maria Romine informs me that I'll be on EWTN a few other times during the Holiday Season.

Maria writes ...

According to my EWTN newsletter The Surprise will air December 17 at 4am and 2pm, December 21 at 1pm, December 23 at 10pm and December 28 at 1pm.

A Morning Star Christmas will air December 19 at 2am, December 22 at 11pm and December 23 at 1:30pm.

All times are in Eastern Time.
 
Here's a clip from A Morning Star Christmas featuring Frank Zito and me ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Recent Adventures

With Joseph Pearce (left) and Deacon John Wainscott.

At the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch with Joseph Pearce (center) and Sean Dailey, editor-in-chief of Gilbert Magazine (right)

Riding up the space-capsule sized elevator to the top of the arch.

Top row: Me, Deacon Scotty.  Bottom Row: Daughter Kerry, my father Thomas O'Brien, Joseph Pearce, Sean Dailey

Sean Dailey, Joseph Pearce, Kevin O'Brien with "Scotty" behind us at an ad hoc meeting of the Chester-Belloc Drinking and Debating Society.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Super Secret Success Story

Tonight with an EWTN Rock Star who shall remain nameless at an Undisclosed Location drinking substances I can not mention, discussing books I am not at liberty to name - we proved that the revolution will work. 

I can say only one word more - Grunky.

More as the story develops.

Stanford Nutting Says ...



Thanks to Richard Aleman.