Category Archives: Current Events

We Are Watching A Movie We Already Know the Ending To

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Those of you who have followed my blog know that I have followed Charlie Johnston.   I think I’ve been balanced in my assessment of his message and the prophetic aspect of what he says.  I trust, but verify (as Ronald Reagan once said).   In other words, he seems legit to me, I’m willing to trust, but if what he says doesn’t pan out I am not going to make excuses for him.   But as we move along this year, I must say that all he has warned that is coming is looking like it is coming to pass.   So it’s not all a slam dunk, but we’re working our way into a good scoring opportunity.

I’m going to write this post under the assumption that Charlie is absolutely correct in what he says is coming:   that the next stable leader of this country will not come from the election process.     Some have taken this to mean that the elections won’t happen.   Charlie hasn’t said that – he has said that the election might happen, but on inauguration day we will not see Obama peaceably hand the reins over to Donald or Hillary.   To be honest, I think this may even be too restrictive.    I could see a scenario in which chaos is erupting around us and we attempt to continue the government in normalcy, but it is not stable and is short-lived.

In any case, this all seemed like crazy talk just a year ago.   If you would have polled Americans as to whether or not it is likely that on Obama’s last day our country may be in a precarious situation and there would be a serious question about the future of the structure of government itself, I am guess the poll numbers would have registered near zero.     If you polled Americans on that now, I’m sure that most would still answer that the government will survive, but the difference is they’d actually consider the question a relevant and valid one.    And a lot can happen in the next three months that might change the answer.

I am not guaranteeing that Charlie is correct.   I am not rooting for chaos.   What I am rooting for is that America wakes up and reverses its current course.    And all of us prefer that this happen the right way.   But sometimes we humans cannot see the direction we’re going, and if God wants to save us, He’ll have to do it in a way that really sucks for us, because it’s the last remaining option.  If you abuse your body with drugs, alcohol, diet, lack of exercise, and so on then some day you may need to take unpleasant and drastic corrective action.   That action will always be unpleasant, but can also give you a brand new shot at life.    You can then go forward having learned a serious lesson.   The same is true of an entire culture’s spiritual state.   If you pile abuse upon abuse, at some point unpleasant correction is necessary.    If God is merciful to us he will correct us.   But it will not be pleasant.

So, let’s look ahead assuming Charlie’s correct:   the next stable leader won’t come from the election process.   Between now and the end of 2017, things will get so bad that we will all lose hope.   By the end of 2017 the Rescue comes in a Marian way.

Crazy?   Maybe, maybe not.   But I’ve been working under the assumption that his accuracy is likely.    I’ve actually been feeling that way for a number of months now.     And I must say, once I developed that mindset I have watched the world around me through a different lens.   It’s almost remarkable to see everything happening that is happening.   I actually don’t think most of us are even able to process how out of control everything is.   We’ve accepted escalating wackiness as a new normal and we now shrug at things and pay little attention to things that used to be major news items of the day.   As all of life devolves, we just seem to accept it and try to live a life of normalcy to the extent possible.   Not that I have an issue with that – it’s a defense mechanism of sorts.   Keep hoeing the row that is yours to hoe.

So, suppose you go to a movie and someone told you the ending.   As you watch the movie, you are watching it with an eye towards what you know is coming, and you look for signs throughout that helps you understand how the story line is getting you to that conclusion.    You watch it differently than if you have no clue.    In the first case, you know what ultimately happens, you just don’t know how.   So you watch to tune yourself into the how.   In some ways, you likely pick up on things you otherwise would have missed or not thought that much of.   In the latter case, you are less engaged and you’re just taking it in and not particularly concerned with the ending.

Even if you are not a complete buyer on Charlie, keep his predictions in mind as you watch the world unfolding around us.   You just may see things in a different light.   And at the very least, if it does come to pass, then you’ll know he was right and 2017 will be a rough year.   But you’ll also know that there’s a Rescue coming.   And that’s good to know.

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Paul Ryan’s Conscience and Politics

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I’ve spent a lot of time on Politics here lately, for a blog called “Catholic Diatribes.”   In my opinion, everything in life can be, and indeed should be, viewed from a lens of faith.   It need not be the only lens, but it should be part of the equation.   In our world, but in particular the country of the United States, we are overly consumed with politics.

Politics can be very difficult to be viewed through a lens of faith.   And even when attempted, two people can come to startlingly different conclusions.   I won’t re-hash the debate about how a good Catholic can vote for Hillary, but I’ve discussed it before.   I never have, and will never understand, how a person of faith can ever support a pro-abortion candidate, among other problematic moral issues.

I do think there is a legitimate struggle with Catholic and other Christian voters who do not plan to vote for Hillary, but who also cannot move all the way to the idea of voting for Trump.    While I’ve argued here that no matter how much it may stink, we have no other reasonable option.    It might be different if there were a viable third party candidate who extols the virtue we all seek in our public servants from  a Christian worldview.    That candidate does not exist, at least not in any of the four top candidates who are picked up by the polls.    And if you aren’t even registering, the you realistically do not exist and casting a vote there is no different than a no-vote.

So, ignoring the Christians (I exhibited great restraint not putting quotes around that, but still couldn’t not mention that I had great restraint, so I guess it’s only a bit of restraint) who are voting Hillary, we have those who are voting Trump, not voting at all, or voting for a Third party candidate.    I’ve heard some people say they are voting Gary Johnson “just to send a message.”   Egad.   This is stupid if you are a social conservative.   Because the only message that says is that you want social issues removed as issues from the GOP platform.   People need to think a little bit about the message they are actually sending before they do it.

Things get trickier when you move to Catholic politicians who actually are Catholic.  Take Paul Ryan.    As a bit of an aside, one of the things that really bothers me is how personal everyone seems to take things that politicians say, do, and how they vote.    Paul Ryan is a good man.   He is a man of faith, and he is a man of character.   Now, he ticks me off sometimes because I think he tries to find a viable political solution while maintaining certain principles, and I think he’s doing what he thinks is right.   But I don’t always agree with him that he’s right.   In fact, there are many times I don’t agree with him.    But is he the kind of person I want in Congress?   Absolutely.

Paul Ryan is a man of legit faith, in my opinion.   We Christians should not demonize him over budgetary policy and tax policy.   We Christians should push back with issue-oriented arguments, but still muster respect for him.   As Speaker of the House, he has a lot of responsibility, and I trust that he does things that he believes are in the best interests of the country.   I don’t always agree that it actually is, and I am sick of compromise in many areas.    And I’l get angry with him from a logistical level.   But I don’t hate the man, and neither should anyone else.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has attempted to walk the tightrope between not supporting Trump while not unendorsing Trump.   I think if we look at this from the Christian perspective, we can be honest and understand the desire to do this.   Despite my continued call to vote for Trump, it is not because of anything particularly favorable towards the man.   It is entirely due to the worse alternative, and the fact that I must judge my choice at this point not on character but on a presumption that the probability he will do certain things I align with far outweighs the probability that the other will do anything at all that I align with.   And, in my opinion, a man like Paul Ryan should have the clarity of mind to say exactly that.    I understand not wanting to campaign with Trump.    But most certainly he is smart enough to find a way to make this situation work.

Politically speaking, it is my belief that his attempt to navigate this situation is, at best, not helpful to his cause (which is keeping the House Republican) and is at worst an unmitigated disaster.    There are very few people who are going to vote for down line GOP candidates because Paul Ryan has told people to distance themselves from Trump.   It’s just not a realistic expectation.    However, there is a great possibility that anyone who distances themselves from Trump will get a bunch of “kiss my you-know-what’s” from his ardent supporters and jeopardize their races.    Paul Ryan’s move here, which may have been both principled and a political strategy, is simply a horrible mistake and could prove costly.

If it’s costly, I suppose they’ll blame Trump.   It’s not as though Trump is helping matters and he could certainly handle this better.   But Ryan had to know going in that Trump doesn’t care who he chastises.   This may be an immature response, but it is not unexpected, which still places the ultimate culpability on Ryan for kicking the dog in the first place.

I empathize with Ryan.   I am sure it is difficult being asked to not only support verbally, but to also campaign with someone who you find distasteful.   It is a moral dilemma.    But there had to be a better way of navigating this.   That horse has left the barn, which is regrettable.

 

The Hypocrisy of Feigned Shock

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It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the problematic moral issues completely flooding the Presidential campaign.   And with each issue, there are multiple facets to what is being discussed.    It is not only about the shocking sin of the day, and who did it, it’s also about who’s casting the stones and who is “shocked and disturbed” by the new revelation of the day.

Today I’d like to address a different aspect of the lewd Trump/Bush tape from 2005 that was unveiled to the world last Friday.   You know, because we need to be fully informed on every piece of dirt on everyone.

While there is rightful disgust at the words of Trump on the recently released video, let’s also contemplate the fact that this information was known and purposefully held for maximum political benefit.  The self-righteous indignation from those complicit in NOT making this available a year or more ago is pathetic.  These people wanted Trump to win the Republican nod, not for good of country or process, but for their own gain.   If they truly believe he is dangerous and would bring harm as President, then they had a duty to inform well before a month before the election.

Secondly, this was clearly held until the Wikileaks drop, which is damning to Hillary on her dishonesty regarding private versus public beliefs and illegal coordination between her campaign and Super PACs.

And we all play along and allow the manipulation.   It’s all a game.   Hillary doesn’t care one iota about what’s best for the country, or you, or me.  She cares about Hillary.

And Trump is demeaning and obnoxious.  Agreed.  I’m still mad at my fellow Republicans for making him the guy I need to compare to Hillary (who is demonstrating how horrible of a candidate she is by not running away with this).  But enough of the hand-wringing sanctimonious BS.

We get the leaders we deserve.  And quite frankly,  we deserve it.

New Release: Election 2016 (Rated R)

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OK, in honor of the politics of 2016, I’ll start my entry today in a crass manner:  Anyone who has previously questioned whether or not our entire culture is a floater in the toilet has since just thrown up their hands and accepted it by now.

I find it difficult to believe anyone witnessing the debacle of today’s politics and the morally bankrupt candidates we’ve selected to run for the highest office in the land to be emblematic of anything other than a complete reduction of all standards to the basest of levels.

So, I won’t really get into the contents of the Trump Video from 2005, and whether or not he’s said other disturbing things during the off-TV moments of The Apprentice.   I mean, if we’re all being honest, does it actually really surprise anyone?   It’s shocking and disgusting, but is there really anyone out there that didn’t already know the guy we’re talking about wasn’t an f-bomb dropper and more than willing to engage in the crudest of what has now been labeled “locker room talk?”   (And, unfortunately having been a jock in my younger years, I can attest to the fact that he’s not wrong.   Yes, the words are about what is legally assault, which is horrible, and is still plenty of what you might hear in a locker room on any given day.   It’s not excusing it and it doesn’t speak well of anyone speaking that way, but it is reality.)

I won’t list the litany of counter-examples of Hillary being a completely disgusting human being in her own right, by dropping every curse word in the book at those charged to protect her, in talking about the American flag, in talking about mentally disabled children.   Again, if anyone is really honest does any of this really surprise us?   It’s always shocking to actually read and hear, but we long accepted that our two nominees are morally bankrupt human beings.

Mainly, the whole thing is just sad.   As a coworker of mine phrased it, “I think we all can agree that this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.”   He will vote Hillary.   I will vote Trump.   But on that statement, we have agreement.    And neither of us will vote for our selected candidates because we like them.    We just dislike the other one more.

I have written of my intent to vote Trump, and I have stated that, in my opinion, it is the clear moral choice to vote Trump.   I do not retract these words, I still feel strongly about that, and I will have no issue with voting Trump.    None of that means I like the man, and none of that means that I don’t wish I had another reasonable option.    The fact is, there is no viable alternative for me.   Even if I embraced the fantasy that voting for the next best viable option (Gary Johnson) I cannot do it anyway, because on the issues where I am hopeful that Trump will actually handle correctly Gary Johnson is as bad – if not worse – than Hillary.   Even the fourth best option, Jill Stein, is left of left on moral and cultural issues.    In order to find any person that remotely appeases my conscience I need to find someone that 99.99% of the population has not even heard of.   And that means it is an utterly wasted vote.   No, I need to settle on Trump.    I don’t think I even need to point out why it can never be Hillary, but briefly stated:  she’s every bit as morally bankrupt (and I even think more so) than Trump is.   And even if some disagree with me on that, it’s like arguing whether the mold on the side of the cheese is more edible than the mold on the top of the cheese.   So, we’ve long moved past the character issue as something us Christians can rely on.   I don’t say this glibly.   It really sucks to not be able to respect either candidate in any way.    But that’s the reality we’re in.     So, I simply need to find any light I can to separate the two of them.    And in the end, there was one question at the second debate that provides that separation.  When questioned on the Supreme Court Appointments, Clinton proudly said she would appoint justices that upheld Roe vs. Wade,  Marriage Equality, and a litany of other litmus tests.    She even claimed Trump would appoint justices that would not uphold these rulings (which she presented negatively).   Trump did not argue with her, and instead doubled down on appointing justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Now, many have claimed that Trump is liberal on social issues and is not a “real” pro-lifer.  And it’s true he doesn’t often openly address the issue if not asked about it.   He has responded in a pro-life manner when asked, and I agree that it’s a bit iffy just how committed to the cause he personally is.    But here’s the thing:   even if the impetus for appointing justices in the mold of Scalia are because of 2nd Amendment Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc.  then the byproduct of that is that those justices are FAR MORE likely to also favor freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and challenge Roe vs. Wade, among other things.    They will be FAR MORE willing to rule in favor of state’s rights than to allow federal government infringement when unnecessary.

If there is no other issue that separates them, this is still a clear moral choice.   Perhaps not with respect to the person, but with respect to how that person will govern.

As I have stated elsewhere, “I know with certainty the evil the one will do.   I hope with uncertainty the good that the other will do.   And to me, that makes it an obvious choice.”

Really, I can’t say it enough:  This election sucks.

If Charlie Johnson is correct about things to come, the whole thing actually doesn’t even matter.   But I still feel called to fight and care anyway.   Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but I think it behooves us all to fight the fight until there is no more fight to win or lose, either way.

Us Catholics – and all Christians – seem to be in a bit of a tight spot be being forced to support a guy who has said the things he’s said.   I don’t think we need to feel that way if we keep our wits about us.   There really can be nobody of any repute that can call us hypocritical of voting for Trump.   Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous.   I think the balancing act we need to work out is making it clear why we “support” him, and also making it clear why we’re not necessarily thrilled with it.   There is no reason to defend his wrongdoings, and yet we can also support his election based on everything I wrote about here.  Also, it’s important to note that regardless of what happens, we ultimately must accept that God’s plan is playing itself out.   God’s plan may seem either obvious or utterly ridiculous, but we really have nobody to blame but ourselves for Him doing what He needs to do.   Had we stood up against the cultural rot we’re soaking in long ago, we wouldn’t have the choice between these two candidates, who are not just flawed but grossly so.

One wonders, though…  if THIS is the Year of Mercy, what in the world is in store for us when the year ends on November 20?    Egad.

Responding to Actors Speaking Politics

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This has nothing to do with Catholic anything.   I just thought this was not only hilarious, but pretty much says it all as far as my opinion on all those holier-than-thou entertainers who decide they need to help inform us unthinking underlings on politics.   Or, really, anything.

It’s worth the view, even if you’re not a Trump fan.   (Which, to be honest, I’m getting sick of people saying as an obligatory addendum to nearly everything.)

My Debate Wish List

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I guess it would be too much to ask that either Trump or Clinton lead off the debate with a Rosary.   Or a salute to Our Lady of Guadalupe.   So, I guess I’ll need to keep my wish list to things more temporally satisfying.

Before I even start, I’ll tip my hand.   I cannot in any case ever, ever, ever see myself voting for Hillary Clinton.   Never ever.   Ever.   There is zero common ground I have with her on issues of morality, but then extending beyond that we have no common ground on any of the other temporal matters at hand, either.   I find her entirely and utterly despicable.   Or, to use her word, deplorable.   I won’t say she’s unredeemable (another of her words, which is not actually a word) because God can do anything, and in fact Christ redeemed us all if only we accept that redemption.    But she labeled a number of Americans with that word as well, which further speaks to her character.

Having tipped my hand, I suppose I need to do what everyone else feels compelled to do, and to make it clear that I don’t really like Trump either.    I find it somewhat fascinating that people always feel the need to be apologetic and squeamish about supporting a candidate.   I am neither apologetic, nor am I squeamish.  I have a choice to make here, and I’ll make it, and I won’t apologize for it.   If I am perturbed by anyone, it’s the other voters who ultimately gave me this choice.    I did not vote for Trump in the Primary, and he was never my favorite or even close to it.

But I can’t change that, so I can either throw a tantrum and not vote, under the delusion that he’s as bad as Hillary, or I can vote third party under the delusion that either of those nutjobs are any better (OK, I suppose that wasn’t charitable.   This is a Catholic blog and I suppose I should be more careful.   On the other hand, I’m not supposed to lie, so I’m in a conundrum.   So I’ll keep the comment and you can feel free to judge me.).  Or I can suck it up and be an adult and recognize that I have only one choice to make.   And since I’m forced to choose between these two, I choose one and will not apologize in any way for it.    It doesn’t mean I’ll defend him on everything, it means that I think he’s imperfect but still a lot better than the alternative.

And so, there it is.   Full disclosure on my feelings.

So, with that, here is my wish list:

  1. In Trump’s opening remarks, he paints the backdrop for the entire debate.   That while Clinton spent the last week resting and rehearsing every detail and every scenario, and turning herself into a robotic and programmed policy wonk who is incapable of authenticity, he spent the last week traveling around and meeting with every day Americans.    That he didn’t rehearse at all, except to talk about some things that might come up in the debate.   That he didn’t have stand-in Hillary practice.   So, in the next 90 minutes, the American people are going to hear my real, unrehearsed, authentic thoughts.   It may not be finely tuned and rehearsed, and he may not have decided to memorize and encyclopedia’s worth of details on every issue under the sun.   As President, he will have trusted advisers to provide all the details, while his job is to stay big picture and provide direction.     And so on.    Basically, he needs to set the entire debate up in his favor so that every time she throws out statistics and facts and policy, he can engage where comfortable but always have a default response of “you did a nice job of memorizing in the last week there.”    This will use her strength against her and sow doubt.    He doesn’t need to beat her on facts and figures if he can create a sense that whenever she goes there it’s just not authentic and not what the voters care about.     He may or may not win that argument with the high-brow intellectuals, but he will win it with typical Americans who have proven that they simply don’t care about all these details.   They are no watching the debate to find out who knows more about the issues.   They just aren’t.   That is a bit sad, but true.    It caused me angst during the Republican debates.    Trump clearly doesn’t know as much about policy as many others on stage.   And yet, he won the nomination.    Trump just needs to find a way to equalize that advantage so that he keeps people unimpressed by the know-how, and makes it about stature and personality.
  2. I want to see a 5-minute coughing fit from Hillary about 45 minutes in.    Maybe prompting Trump to offer her a glass of water.    I am not wishing for a major medical event, let me be clear.   I just want coughing.   It would provide entertainment value, it would be incredibly embarrassing for her, and quite frankly I think something as goofy as that with 100 million people watching would simply be her death knell.   Politically speaking.    I suppose this isn’t particularly charitable of me either.
  3. I want to see Trump wear a tie-pin that clearly says “Les Deplorables.”
  4. I want to hear Hillary Clinton say the words “radical Islamic terrorism.

To be perfectly honest, I think we’re just living in sad times where, as a friend of mine said, this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.    I think I’m well past the point of hopefulness that the process, at least this year, actually is redeemable.

So, I can choose to stew in bitter disgust, or I can at least try to enjoy it.   Admittedly, it’s kind of like enjoying the view of the ocean while on the deck of the Titanic.

 

Charlotte’s Web

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If one pays attention to the world about, it is often apparent that there is a strange dichotomy in place, nearly side by side.   It’s that old traditional saw about the battles between good and evil, it’s the wheat and the weeds, etc.    Sometimes, it’s the crucifixion and resurrection – something good somehow coming from something bad.

Charlotte has suddenly been thrust into the darkness of civil unrest following another police shooting.    It matters not that the police officer was black, all that matters is that the victim was black.   It seems we are now in a state where chaos will be triggered no matter what the circumstances.   Here is the image of Charlotte America now sees:

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To be clear, I do not know what happened.   I don’t know if the shooting was justified or unjustified.   I don’t know if the victim was truly a victim because no gun was involved, or if he was in fact a criminal who threatened the officer with a gun, reaping what he sowed.   What I do know is that I don’t know, and what I do know is that few, if any at all, of the protesters know at this point, either.   The police department is being criticized today for not releasing the video of the incident.   I don’t know enough about it to judge it myself, but I am nearly certain that we have reached a level of discord that the video could clearly show an man pointing a gun directly at police and there would still be people ignoring it, so that they can use this unfortunate circumstance to do harm to others.

And yet, I read another article today about Charlotte’s boom in seminarians.

Here are a couple excerpts from the article.

“For the first time in its 44-year history, the Diocese of Charlotte has 24 men in formation in three seminaries. A contributing factor to the record number of seminarians this year has been the establishment of a minor seminary in Charlotte, St. Joseph’s College Seminary.”

“Under the steady and orthodox leadership of Bishop Peter Jugis the diocese has fostered a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Just this past weekend Charlotte hosted its 12th Eucharistic Congress.  15,000 people participated this year, many arriving early Saturday to join in the annual Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Charlotte.”

Now, the article I linked to tends to think it’s all about Traditionalism.  That’s OK.   I don’t disregard the fact that those who prefer a Traditional Liturgy will tend to be more orthodox.   I do think it’s a mistake to equate orthodoxy with Traditionalism.   I consider myself entirely orthodox when it comes to submitting to the magesterial teachings of the Church, while considering certain elements of worship as preferences.   I think we fight too much about things that are preferences.   But I digress.

The reason I point out the article is as a juxtaposition of the anger and hatred on display right now.   In the heart of it is the following picture of Charlotte:

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I’m often reminded of the stories of hope during World War II, even among those in concentration camps or those threatened with that possibility.    The images above and those stories serve as a reminder to us that we are a world in constant opposition.   God wants us, and  the Devil wants to take us away from God.   Evil manifests itself in countless ways.   But no matter how much darkness there seems to be, and no matter where you are and what is happening, God has pockets of light.   A little light can break through a lot of darkness.

The men above are the men who can help heal Charlotte.