Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some random thoughts

So no real premise to tie together any of my thoughts, so I will offer up some random thoughts.

First in the queue is the 43 or so lawsuits that have been filed to combat the HHS mandate.  That Notre Dame is suing should send up alarm bells in the Obama administration...but it won't.  I'm absolutely convinced that this administration is so clueless that much like the fact that the Healthcare Act is before the Supreme Court they had (and still have) no idea that this is creating a huge blowback.

This cluelessness is moderated somewhat by "the completely in the tank for Obama" press.  I figure that if Obama and his flunkies watch anything, it'd be these stations.

Next is this article (an oldie but a goodie) about the diversity of learning in a homeschooling environment.  as a product of homeschooling I can testify to some of what is written.  For me, the best thing homeschooling did for me was the ability to teach myself.  This included reading textbooks and self-teaching a variety of subjects (of varying success.  Math - Win.  Latin - Fail).

Also of note my friend JC Saunders writes about Scientistic Dogma.  Oh, and go read his blog.

Finally...the butler did it.  No seriously, the butler did it.  The investigation of leaked Vatican documents has led to the Pope's butler.  Headlines should be writing themselves here.

Anyway, that should keep you, I mean enlightened for Wednesday.  We will go back to our regular coherent* post Friday.

*Coherency is a general term meaning "all the words are sorta related to a single topic."  No guarantee of actual coherency is stated, implied or even thought about.  Especially during allergy season.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Out for Memorial Day

If you are reading this....knock it off and enjoy today.  Seriously.  What I write is not important enough for you to waste your day off reading it.  Go outside.

Happy Memorial Day!

The Management

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quick note

I have turned moderation back on not because of evil comments but I can't find a way to get notification about when a comment is posted.  Until I do I would like to know when someone comments on this blog.  Feel fee to comment provided that the comment matches the criteria in the sidebar.

The Management

Why be good?

This question seems to confuse a number of material atheists I've encountered during my online forays.  A more complete question would be, "What is the purpose of doing good?  Why not be evil?"  Most of the time I encounter one of three responses:

  1. Doing good helps society
  2. The atheist would feel bad doing evil
  3. The atheist responds with snark, as if doing evil is for some reason not even a consideration
For the first this simply kicks the question down the road.  Why help society, which is simply a rehash of the "doing good" question?  Doing good for goodness sake may sound admirable, but really doesn't make sense when one thinks about it.

I would be remiss if I did not mention at least one continuation of this first response.  Usually the response is that benefiting society in return benefits the individual.  It amounts to a mutual benefit relationship with society at large.  There is more to say about this response.  But in fairness I put it out there.

The second actually raises more questions than provides answers.  Why would one feel bad about doing "wrong?"  How do we know our feelings correspond to right and wrong?  One can feel bad about doing something good, and conversely feed good about doing something bad.  Other questions such as "why not embrace misery?" and "what about sociopaths, who have no trouble doing wrong or feeling about doing wrong?" show that simply feeling bad is insufficient for a compelling moral ethic.

The third one is usually an indication that the other person is not (at the moment) capable of rationally examining his moral viewpoint.  This is actually the most dangerous place for a mind to be.  It illustrates not only an arbitrary stance regarding moral principles but also an inability to see beyond one's own moral precepts.  In such a state, the mind is impervious to correction.  

What all of these responses illustrate though is that there is a considerable lack of a coherent and consistent moral philosophy for the materialist atheist.  But this only makes sense, as the materialist atheist holds that there really isn't anything special about the human person.  Which is why morality becomes little more than one's personal preferences.

This is not to say that atheist materialists are not moralists as well.  Anyone can read Richard Dawkins condemnations of Christianity (he would say religion, but there really is only one he attacks) to see that atheists are just as judgmental as the average Bible-Thumper.  But the thing is that there isn't anything behind the curtain of moral outrage.  The moral condemnations are based off of principles that have no real grounding beyond what the critic holds at a given moment.

In order to have a coherent moral philosophy we must have a proper understanding of the human person.  In a future post we will look at the Catholic viewpoint and how though the view of the moral person we arrive at a consistent and coherent moral outlook.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Totally forgot to post my article from IGNITUM TODAY!

I blame my new laptop.   My wonderful, beautiful laptop.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

IGNITUM Wednesday

once again.  Check this space tomorrow for my article.

The Management

Monday, May 21, 2012


looks like Catholic America is suing the Obama Administration.

Internet Citations

One of the more irritating aspects of the internet is that it encourages laziness.  The particular symptom of this laziness which I'm about to go on a rant is the non-citation citation.  Or the linking without citation.

Normally when linking on a blog post, comment, or forum; citations are often important as the link may be to a general article of which only a specific section of said link is actually relevant to the discussion at hand.  The article may be interesting in and of itself, but also contains much information that specifically speaking is not pertinent to the discussion.

 I love internet debates as much as the next obsessive/compulsive arguer.  It's a wonder my wife hasn't divorced me yet for all the times I argue with her. I enjoy information exchange through contrast.

But I'm a busy guy.  I have things that I have to do and things I want to do.  Others are in the same camp.  The internet is a wonderful tool, but we still have to be sure that we respect the time of others.

For example, I recently participated in a discussion where the subject came up about homosexuality's supposed permanence.  Yet this was the link I was given.  A wall of text.  Now it MIGHT support the idea of homosexuality as a permanent condition, but who knows?  The link is so broad that it may or may not even touch the subject.  (And as a not so minor note, I trust Wikipedia for controversial topics about as far as I can throw my apartment complex).  The interlocutor might as well have linked here for all the good it does his argument.

Links are great, but do not an argument make.  Proper citation is what is needed.  Blockquote the relevant information from the article, with a link to the source.  It really isn't hard.

The citations are important for two reasons:

  1. It helps to support the actual argument
  2. It demonstrates that the linked source is actual relevant to the discussion

Citations show a control over content.  It presents a focused mind and the ability to provide relevant information to the discussion at hand.  This is especially important in internet discussions, as linking is so easy and information is so accessible.  But making sure that information is relevant and showing that the information is being processed properly is just as important.

So the next time you link an article, do the world a favor and quote some relevant portion.  Saves quite a bit of time and frustration.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Now that I have you attention (and shame on you :-), I have been following with some interest a discussion over at Startling The Day about women and bikinis (see parts 1, 2, 3, and 4).

I typically enjoy reading thoughtful articles written by Catholic women about attire issues.  It is a tricky topic and for me it provides insight into "what the other side is thinking."  Which helps in the whole "treating women as sisters in Christ" thing we've got going in the Church.  And we get to see how at times the label  "conservative" men is just another name for "controlling" men.

When my mother-in-law came to visit from Korea (to those who don't know, my wife is Korean) and we attended a Mass at the local student Catholic Center,  one of the female students lectored the second reading. I was told later that mother-in-law was scandalized.  Apparently the lector wore shorts or a short skirt, which wasn't all that short but enough for mother-in-law to react.  Her reasoning was this, "The priest lives a life of celibacy.  And women have a duty to help the priests by not wearing things that would cause temptation." (I paraphrase).

It is true that men are by nature notice women and physical features and are drawn to them quite powerfully.  It is also true that ultimately the reigning in of thoughts and these attractions are the responsibility of men.  A woman might walk down the street wearing nothing but a smile.  This does not absolve us men from our duty to protect our eyes and our souls.

Having said that, women can make this a lot harder on us men.  One particular annoying trend here in this campus town is for women to wear short shorts that have lettering across their, um, "backside".  I usually see the lettering on the street first and THEN what the lettering is attached to.  Ladies, men don't need a reason to look at your butt, and some of us are trying not to objectify you.  Please refrain from making that job harder.

Overall I'm glad that despite how hot the discussion can get it shows a care for us men on the part of our sisters. They care enough about what to wear and how that would affect us guys (only one of the factors, but still it's nice to see).   And it underscores an important point.  Everything that we do, say, wear, etc. should be for God's glory and the betterment of others and ourselves.  Regardless of the specifics of the topic, the intent is definitely a positive.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Consistency of the intellect

For the life of me I cannot understand the mindset of those who claim to be Catholic yet reject or sharply curtail Her teachings when it conflicts with modern vices.  Perhaps it is my more cerebral nature, but the intellectual consistency of the Church's teachings is one of the main reasons why I remain a Catholic.

The most amazing thing to me about Her teachings is how one doctrine flows into another.  The interwoven nature of the doctrines and how one truth points to another.  The nature of Her teachings are connected, making a whole that is inseparable from others.

Conversely, the rejection of a particular doctrine has a variety of results that impact other doctrines.  To reject one of the Church's stances on a moral issue has reverberations throughout the body of Her teachings, and more often than not calls into question several doctrines in order to maintain the original error.  Thus, when one opposes one doctrine, he opposes many even if it was not his intention.

Perhaps the most obvious problem is when Catholics attempt to square support for "gay marriage" with the teaching of the Church.  This position damages the notion of everything from the Church's understanding of the human being to the interaction between morality and law.

Now in theory it is possible for someone to come up with an entirely consistent moral philosophy that is consistent.  If given enough time I suppose one could dream up a litany of doctrines tested for publication that is both consistent and interwoven.

But in my own experience one of two things often happens when this strategy is employed:

  1. The principles that one espouses are inconsistent.
  2. The principles are not lived out to their logical conclusion.
For the first item, it is actually really hard to dream up a consistent morality that holds up in comparison.  One can look at other "man-made" philosophies and see there is either inconsistencies or a "back-door" principle that bails out the philosophy (usually an ad-hoc rationalization).

The second one though is far more common in our current day and age.  The issue really is that modern man professes a particular moral creed, but cheats and lives his life as if he believed something else.  This is different from "weakness" in that while weakness entails a failure to live up to one's creed, this inconsistency due to a lack of reflection on the implications of the creed.  

This to me is another reason that there is a Divine spark in the teachings of the Church.  The elegance of Her teachings and the gentle but firm consistency leads us to an understanding of the human being that is unrivaled in experience, depth and dignity.  All the more pity when we try to deny a doctrine and cause a great deal of harm.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Confusing passion with importance

The death penalty debate does not interest me.  Unlike other issues, I have a difficult time mustering any energy for the issue beyond linking the Church's teaching on the subject (which I'm too lazy to do, hence my point).

Intellectually I recognize what is at stake (human lives) and as such understand the importance of the topic.  From a logical standpoint, the death penalty is more important than say, what tax hikes are coming down the pike.

Passion is a good thing.  It is what motivates us to do what we do regarding such topics.  Were it not for those who are passionate about death penalty reform, we would not be aware of the horrible abuse that exists in our current judicial system with regard to capital punishment.

The danger of passion lies in the conflation of our passion for an issue with the importance of an issue.  That I may not feel passionate about the death penalty does not make it less important.  Likewise, that I may be passionate about the subject of abortion does not automatically mean that abortion is the singular issue in political debate.

What we see in our modern political discourse (if one can call it that without straining credulity) is that we see this conflation of passion and importance as a matter of routine.  The issue that one is passionate about is the one that matters.  If I don't feel it, it isn't important.

In its worst form this leads to an undermining of actual truth, which is constructed in a hierarchy.  There are truths and issues more important than others. The right to life, for example, is the first fundamental right by which all other rights rise or fall.

We must be careful that passion does not blind us to this reality.  We cannot hope to further the cause of our particular passion at the expense of truth.  This is especially true of fundamental truths that underlie the issue we are passionate about.  The cause of charity for the poor is undermined when the right to life is not respected and protected for example.

Ultimately this points to the notion of a moral philosophy.  In order to further a cause, the moral philosophy that lies underneath that cause must be developed and consistently followed.  And until we rediscover a consistent moral ethic, our attempts to further the cause on issues with only hurt do damage to others and roadblock our own issues.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Here we go again

So the latest flareup in the blogsphere came after North Carolina voted to keep marriage sane, and the subsequent political calculation of Obama to join the losing side by coming out in support of legalizing fiction.

Mark Shea notes that this is to no one's surprise, as anyone who pays attentions know that Obama is foursquare on the left side of social issues.  Mark also notes the irony of the critics, who do their part to destroy marriage in their own corner of the world.  Stacy remarks of her developing thoughts on gay marriage going the other way.

As much as I find myself having to write about the subject I feel the same as I've stated before, you can't ban a non-existent being.  Legalizing same-sex marriage is like putting unicorns on the endangered species list.  Just because it shows up in a law book doesn't make it real.

What is most intriguing to me is despite the constant onslaught of the media, when put to a popular vote, same-sex fantasy gets the beat down.  The only places it has been made legal have been due to heavy handed exercises of raw political power.  Whatever the polls say, the votes tell a much different story.

This to me is due to the fact that the pro-gay-fantasy camp has been too successful in demonizing the sane marriage definition.  By going this route, they have effectively made sure that those who hold such views concerned about losing employment, public humiliation, etc.

But this strategy has had two drawbacks.  The first is that it reveals that the intellectual argument for same-sex fantasy is vapid and shallow.  Having to resort to such cheap rhetorical tactics, it creates an illusion of public perception on the issue that doesn't meet the reality on the ground.  This is evidenced by the continuous thumping that the gay marriage advocates receive when the question is put to a popular vote.

Second, it creates an atmosphere of terror that suffocates any rational conversation.  When one side demonizes the other, it is almost impossible to gain any ground on an issue.  And because everyone is too afraid to voice their opinion, the polls say one thing but the votes, under cover of anonymity, paint a very different picture.

But this is not to say that gay marriage isn't in the future.  What it is to say is that our Ruling Class will force it on us rather than put it to the people.  This was how it was accomplished in New York for example.  My point is that it will not happen due to rational debate.  Gay marriage will come at the point of a gun.

Sancta Maria, Ora pro nobis

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Elizabeth Scalia

sums up my feelings precisely about Obama's coming out party.

If you have to say it

It's a known fact that there are some qualities that others, in a certain sense, must attribute to us.  To put it another way; there are certain qualities that if someone says they possess a certain quality, most likely they actually do not possess said quality.

Let us take an obvious example: humility.  A person who claims that they are humble most likely do not possess the quality of being humble.  A truly humble person is concerned with reigning in their pride, not preoccupied with letting everyone know they are humble.  Humility is a quality of a paradox, the last person to know that they are humble is the person possessing the quality.

There are far more qualities like this.  The Anchoress writes about "coolness,"  another quality such that the question "Am I cool?" is self answering.  The quality speaks for itself, and requires no comment.  Observers can admire it, but to question if one possesses the quality is to show that one does not (and for the record, I have no pretensions of my own coolness).

Note that this paradox is not limited to qualities of an individual.  There are qualities of corporate bodies, such as business or communities, where such qualities are best left unstated.  A business where the employees are "empowered" is one where the employees are "empowered" to do whatever they are told.  A self proclaimed "faith-based" Catholic parish is the last place you will find mention of the Divinity of Christ.

In the realm of ideas I've come to discover that "rational" is one such quality that exhibits this paradox.  An idea is either rational or it is not.  It must be received by the minds of others, churned and tested.  For someone to claim that their idea is rational is to call the question.

This is ultimately yet another reason why I do not take the New Atheist movement seriously.  The rather hilarious and self-consciously named "Reason Rally" is but another sign that the New Atheist movement has a huge gap between the reasonableness of their arguments and their perception of such.  Much has been made of  their arguments (and I use that term charitably), but events such as this are a warning that reason is the last thing that will happen at such a rally.

To have to bolster one's opinion by saying that "my argument is more reasonable" is to beg the question.  It is both an attempt to take the high ground while disparaging the other.  An actual discussion cannot happen under such circumstances, because the attitude itself precludes the possibility of a true exchange.

So the next time you hear a New Atheist beat their chest about how rational they are, remember that it is like the nerd with the glasses in high school.  He wants you to know that he is cool.  And like claiming that you are cool, attempts to claim superior rationality are more often than not self-refuting.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Out for the week

A tragedy in the family has wracked us emotionally since last Thursday.  I ask that you pray for us as we go thorough a difficult time.  Regular posting will resume next week.

Colin Gormley