Friday, December 26, 2008

The Meaning of Christmas

Tonight on the ten o'clock news there was a piece about these Protestants in Kansas City going around the area malls dressed as Jesus to remind people of the "reason for the season". Did they dress up in swaddling clothes and hop around in wooden cribs? No, they dressed up in white robes and donned crowns of thorn. That's Good Friday, you idiots!

One guy noted that there is a movement to take 'Christ' out of 'Christmas'. That's the reason for that godless abbreviation 'Xmas'. See what happens when you get rid of Classical Education? The 'X' in 'Xmas' is not the English Letter but the Greek 'chi', which just so happens to be the first letter in the Greek word for Christ, Christos.

Yeah, I know that these people are dismayed at the commercialization of Christmas. Fine, but if they knew their history, which they don't, they would realize that the commercialization of Christmas is just the inevitable result of the Protestant Reformation. The so-called reformers made war on all the religious feast days because they were hindering commerce. The people were going to Mass on those days to worship God and that kept them from buying stuff. Protestants tried to get rid of Christmas, too, but this particular feast proved just too popular. So, the next best thing was to make Christmas into one great big crass Capitalist Cacophony of Consumerism, and that's exactly what happened, of course. And Protestants are dismayed that their project to prostitute Western Christendom has been too successful? There's just no pleasing some people, I guess.

If these Prots in KC were so concerned about preserving the real meaning of Christmas, then they would stop being Prots, become Catholic, and attend Mass. 'Christmas', after all, means Christ's Mass. Moreover, if these Prots stopped being Prots, they would look past the word (Prots tend to be obsessed with the mere word) and contemplate what it actually means. Christmas is the celebration of God's entry into the world as a weak, utterly helpless, completely dependent and defenseless infant. And because He was so helpless, human beings had to take care of Him. His mother and Joseph had to feed Him, clothe Him, and protect Him. It would finally dawn on these Prots after they had digested all this that human deeds cannot be all like filthy rags to God. Did the infant God Incarnate not appreciate it when Mary breast-fed Him, kissed him, kept Him warm in her embrace? If He did not, then He was not truly human, and so much for the Doctrine of the Incarnation, and Christmas might as well be yet another excuse to have the kids' eyeballs fried by video games.

But the Prots don't want to acknowledge this. If they did, they would have to admit that their anthropology is wildly wrong, according to which, man is a piece of shit. He can only sin. Thus, none of his deeds can ever please God. That's why these Prots in KC go around the malls dressed up as the Jesus about to be crucified. They don't just want to remind people that Christmas is about Christ. They also want to show that we crowned Him with thorns, spat on Him, tortured Him, and killed Him because we as human beings are totally and utterly depraved. But Christmas is not about that at all, and thank God for that and thank God that Christ was not raised by Protestants. If Protestantism were right about the inescapable universal depravity of man, then Jesus would have been an abused child, and such a thought would hardly make for a Merry Christmas, eh?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

To all my facebook friends

I write this in the hope that this entry will be threaded through to my profile on facebook. For the last several days I have been unable to do anything on facebook. This because whenever I access facebook, the browser I use crashes on me. The browser I've been using is Firefox, and I have sent scads of notes to the Firefox techies, screaming for help--all to no avail. So, I tried switching back to my old browser, Safari. Facebook crashed that, too. I downloaded Opera tonight, hoping that would help. But, no, facebook crashed Opera faster than either Firefox or Safari ever did. My inability to access facebook is the reason why I failed to wish Lant Fogarty and Brian Stojak happy birthdays. So, Lant and Mr. Stojak, if you are reading this (and I hope you are), I did not forget you. I was not being rude. I just fell victim to a technological SNAFU, the effects of which probably will be permanent. Unless someone can tell me how to remedy this problem, I won't be able to access my facebook account again from my home computer, and that means I won't be on facebook to expose the specious arguments of that Episcopalian Jacobin, the other Mr. Mosley, or distract Professor Brown from his scholarly duties. If anyone wants to contact me or entangle me in an aporetic dialectic, s/he can leave a comment on my weblog, write me at my e-mail address, or, if the need of having some giant evil advertising network mediate internet companionship is just too great, visit my profile at MySpace and "befriend" me there.

It is curious that my problems accessing facebook started a few hours after I noted my disappointment that only shoes had been hurled at our Warmonger-in-Chief. Oh, well. Not being able to access facebook is annoying, but being renditioned to Gitmo would be more so. One must keep his perspective.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Blagojevich should say

"I was planning to donate the proceeds from the Senate Sale to Chrysler and GM."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pecca fortiter!

(The scene: a well-furnished living room and kitchen in a middle-class suburban house. The kitchen counter is the place where things get dramatic. A well-built man in his mid-forties with a handsomely cleft chin walks in dressed in clerics.  He has a very self-satisfied smile on his face. Let's call him Pastor Bob.)


Pastor Bob: Yoo hoo! Anyone home?


(A young female voice answers from somewhere upstairs: "I'll be done in a minute. I'm busy covering my naked underage body with whip cream. Please, help yourself to some milk and cookies on the kitchen counter.")


Pastor Bob: Okey dokey. Will do! (saunters over to counter. He's floating on air, until... Chris Hansen with a very stern look on his face appears behind the Kitchen Counter.)


Hansen: So, what's going on, Father?


Pastor Bob: Excuse me? I am no priest. I am a Lutheran Minister. You can call me Pastor Bob.


Hansen: Well, Pastor Bob, why don't you take a seat right over there. (points to a stool at the Counter)


Pastor Bob: So, you're Chris Hansen, right?


Hansen: Yes, so you've seen this show?


Pastor Bob: Hey, yeah. Big fan. So, I suppose that you're taping "Revenge of To Catch a Predator" right now, eh?


Hansen: You're a big fan? Why then would you try to seduce a thirteen-year-old girl online if you are such a fan of a show that tries to enforce the law against creeps like you. 


Pastor Bob: The law? Who needs the law when you have grace? Simul justus et peccator!


Hansen: But you are supposed to be a man of God, sir.  With all due respect, sir, you strike me as shameless, genuinely shameless. You come in here dressed in your clerics to deflower an innocent girl in the most depraved manner conceivable, and not once have you even turned your head down in shame.  No, you actually seem proud.


Pastor Bob: No, not proud. Just honest. Yes, I am a man of God, sir, but I am also a totally depraved sinner. I am, as Luther would say, a ripe piece of shit. Sorry 'bout that word, but you can bleep it out.


Chris Hansen: This just blows my mind. This is beyond comprehension. You are more concerned about a four-letter-word than the fact that you came here with the intent to commit statutory rape? Shouldn't a minister make some effort to set a moral example?


Pastor Bob: What? And give his flock the idea that we can earn our way to heaven. No, sir, that's a most blasphemous Pelaganiasm, and I will have none of that, sir. 


Hansen: Then shouldn't a pastor like yourself show that he is one of the elect by acting like one?


Pastor Bob: That's just Calvinist hypocrisy, sir. Look, sir, we all sin, and we all deserve the hottest spot of everlasting hellfire, but--


Hansen: Whoa, wait a minute, here! Are you telling me that all sin is as evil as your attempt to (pages through the transcript)...  You told our decoy this and I quote: "Then after rimming, I can show you how the reverse piledriver is done."  This is sick, twisted, and you are telling me that everyone is perverted as you are? This is just outrageous.


Pastor Bob: Yes, but God's Ways are not our ways, and that outrages man's pride. Every one of our deviations from God's Law is a perversion, sir. You lying to me just now is a perversion.


Hansen: Lying?


Pastor Bob: I was led to believe that I would have an enjoyable evening of really wild, rough sex with a young, svelte teenager. That was obviously a lie.


Hansen: Well, we lied to get sick individuals like you off the streets.


Pastor Bob: And because it's Sweeps Week. Sex sells, ya know, especially scandalous sex with (does air quotes) "men of God". You should be thanking me.


Hansen:   You are free to leave, Pastor Bob.


Pastor Bob: You just don't understand forensic justification.


Hansen: I said you are free to leave, sir!


Pastor Bob: See, we are declared righteous even though--


Hansen: Go, damn you, go!


(Pastor Bob exits, whereupon he is immediately pounced on by three police officers, who arrest him and read him his Miranda rights. As he is hauled off, he is heard yelling, "I may be a perverted piece of shit, but at least I am a snow-covered piece of shit!  Sola fide! Sola gratia! Sola scriptura!")

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I thought I lost this

Gee, I thought I had lost this. When I quit MySpace this past January, I joined its mighty rival, thinking it would be less morally repulsive. Well, when the powers that be erased my weblog because I dared to post a denunciation of onanism, I discovered that facebook is fascist, and fascism is, well, very morally repulsive. But I wasn't about to leave facebook, and so my moral purity--if I ever had any, that is--was out the window. So, I figured, not that I had lost all claim to sanctimony, I would rejoin MySpace, which, for all its culture-corroding decadence, at least allows me to inveigh against it, however hypocritically. Anyway, when the jackbooted cyber thugs at facebook voided my entire weblog, I thought I had lost the piece below. Well, it finally turned up in some hitherto forgotten corner of iMac's labrynthian memory, and I post it here just to give Mark Zuckerberg the middle finger. I will post it on my facebook site, as well, and see what happens.


[One of the most ridiculed teachings of the Catholic Church is her condemnation of masturbation as a very grave sin. Most of my friends simply refuse to take it seriously, preferring to guffaw at such exemplary bits of irreverent wit as, "Everytime you masturbate, God kills a kitten." Even many Catholic priests are embarrassed by the teaching. I can tell that most priests really don't like my confessing my sins of onanism. Some have even told me that if masturbation is a sin, it can only be venial. Yeah, telling a Catholic, especially one educated by Jesuits, that a certain sin is venial is de facto an invitation to sin boldly. I admit to my everlasting shame that masturbation is a besetting sin of mine, and it would be very convenient for me to join with the world and just dismiss this particular Church teaching as a bit of laughably exaggerated Puritanism. I cannot. I refuse to think of masturbation as anything less than a very grave sin that can very well send my soul to hell. Yet, I continue to do it. Fine, I am a rank hypocrite, but hypocrites, even though they are damnable wretches, at the very least acknowledge the truth, and the truth is that masturbation kills the soul.

Masturbation tells the soul that the sexual climax is for the sake of selfish gratification and, thus, replaces what is supposed to be the zenith of self-surrendering love with the nadir of a horny fix. Not only that, masturbation tells the soul that this fix is the zenith; the fix becomes the pearl for which the merchant will sell all he has simply to buy. A person who is addicted to onanism will not be a truly loving companion. He will be a disgusting lech who will not see love as a gift to accept but as an opportunity to exploit. Masturbation is the addictive lie that says that love is nothing more than egoism, and such a lie is wicked indeed.

Yes, the act of masturbation is not as evil as, say, murder, torture, etc. As a lie, it is not as wicked as, for instance, lying an entire nation into an unjust war in Iraq. Masturbation is, compared to those other atrocities, a very small thing, of course, but, as Aristotle once wrote, a small error can eventually grow to vast proportions. This is what I attempted to show in my weblog post from May 15, 2006, included below. After having written this post, I thought of this variant of that sniggering witticism above: "Everytime you masturbate, Satan enriches another exploiting pornographer." Masturbation is evil, and I do not want to do it anymore.--PSR]

Last night I saw the British Channel 4 report of the 2004 Darren James AIDS Scare that shut down the porn industry (only temporarily, unfortunately). It is a rather gruesome piece. Richard Sanders uses the Darren James disaster as an opportunity to investigate the more perverse aspects of the porn industry. Of course, all of the porn industry is a perversion and a grievous affront to God and man, but what is called "gonzo porn" is especially twisted. In "gonzo porn" all pretenses of romance and even eroticism give way to outright humiliation, cruelty, and torture. And women consent to this degrading pain because it is an easy way to get lots of money.

Apparently, all this is legal. True, occasionally a gonza producer gets snagged by an obscenity charge (which he in turn proudly and defiantly trumpets as a triumph), but obscenity these days apparently does not include depictions of women getting hammered in the rectum by two phalli. No, in America apparently our precious freedoms, for which the radical Muslims supposedly hate us, extends even to this disgusting vomit.

But that's just my own idiosyncratic aesthetic sensibility, which should not be allowed in any way to influence public law. Fine. Let's shut down the porn industry not because some like me believes it is moral rot that gives American Freedom a very putrid smell. Let's shut down the porn industry because as the Darren James fiasco shows beyond doubt or quibble, it is a clear and present danger to the public health. Darren James gave AIDS to at least three young women, and the extreme promiscuity of the typical porn "actor" can not only very easily (that's obvious) facilitate but also accelerate the spreading of AIDS and other vicious STDs. Surely, every one with a brain will agree that the production of mastubatory aids for dirty old men and fratboys is not worth the risk of spreading fatal diseases.

But, of course, outlawing the porn industry will only drive it underground, where it will be even less subject to monitoring than it now is and, will, hence, be even more dangerous to the Public Health. The porn industry will exist, outlawed or no, because fratboys and middle-aged perverts rule the market, and they don't have brains.

So, porn remains legal. Not only that, it is the expression of one of our freedoms that is now being defended in Iraq. Great. Well, I suppose if the gratified ejaculations of fratboys and middle-aged perverts is worth the spiritual and physical corruption of beautiful young women, then it might as well be worth mayhem and bloodshed as well. Onanism is hardly an innocuous activity. There is a reason why the Catholic Church has always declared it to be a very grave sin.

I must admit that I hate our "freedoms". I hate our "freedoms" because, well, because I have a brain, and I use it. Does this make me a terrorist?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is Allah of the Koran the God of the Bible?

Now, many Bible-thumping Protestants would answer this question with a thunderous no, and this is not surprising. Bible-thumping Protestants as a general rule do not have any theology apart from Biblical Revelation, and for most Bible-thumping Protestants (not all, of course) it is simply impossible that someone can know the true God by something other than the Bible.

Unfortunately, some Catholics agree with their separated Bible-thumping brethren on this matter. This is unfortunate because to say that Muslims worship a god different from the True God directly contradicts official Catholic teaching as articulated clearly in §841 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."


Now, this paragraph is controversial for reasons other than its declaration that the Muslims adore the True God. Not a few Protestants will say that this paragraph asserts that Muslims are saved as Muslims. It is not the purpose of this brief essay to explain why this is untrue. Suffice it to say that inclusion in the plan of salvation does not mean salvation. The plan of salvation included Judas, but I don't think anyone (except for the apocatastasists) would say he was saved.

It is the purpose of this essay to show why §841 is right to say that the Muslims acknowledge the True God. But before I show this, I must put up a few proleptic disclaimers. I am not saying that Islam is a true religion. It is not. It started out as a Christological heresy, and a Christological heresy it remains. I am not saying that the Koran is not hostile to the Christian faith. It is. I am not saying that Christians should not try to convert Muslims to the truth of the Word made Flesh, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God and the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. No, Christians should do everything we can to evangelize Muslims because Islam's denial of the true nature of Jesus of Nazareth is a lie, and lies are evil and must be done away with. Nevertheless, just because Islam promotes a most pernicious lie about our Lord and Saviour does not mean that everything about Islam is a lie.

Many who claim that Islam worships a different god make the following argument: Islam denies the Trinity. We know that the True God is the Trinity. Islam's god is not a trinity and, hence, cannot be the True God.

The Biblical Warrant that the proponents of this argument use is 1 John 2:23: "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." The Koran clearly, unequivocally, and repeatedly says that Allah has no son, and if that is not an outright denial of the son, what else could be? Ergo, if 1 John 2:23 means anything at all, it must mean that Islam hath not the Father, and since John 17:3 tells us that the Father is the only true God, there is no other conclusion to be had but that the sonless Allah cannot be the true God, must indeed be a false god.

Now, the argument, as forcefully tidy as it seems to be, has a big problem, that being Romans 10:1-4:

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.


Paul here is talking about the Jews who have rejected Christ and, hence, the Son. Yet, Paul assures us that these Jews have a zeal for God, the true God. Now, this contradicts the above interpretation of 1 John 2:23. Ergo, one interpretation must go, since we know that scripture does not contradict scripture. St. Paul is abundantly clear: The Jews, despite their rejection of Christ, still acknowledge the true God. Therefore, 1 John 2:23 cannot mean that rejection of the Son is rejection of the true God. We must look for another interpretation, one that comports with Romans 10:1-4, and the key to this harmonious interpretation is, I would suggest. John 14:6:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.


Rejection of the Son means only the inability to reach the Father, but that does not imply a denial that God is God. One need not be able to reach any given object to acknowledge its reality. I know that the moon which orbits around our earth is the true moon, but there is no way I can get there without becoming an astronaut, but, alas, in my youth I foolishly rejected astronaut studies. In fact, I denied them. And you know what they say, "Whosoever denieth astronaut studies, the same hath not the moon." So, I have not the moon, but I still acknowledge the true moon.

The tragedy of the Jews is that they know the true God and love Him but have denied the only means possible to reach the object of all their hopes, yearnings, and love. This is the true and profoundly sad meaning of 1 John 2:23, and it applies just as poignantly to the Muslims.

The argument that the denial of the trinity involves the denial of the true God, therefore, confuses theology with soteriology. The denial of the son blocks the path of salvation. It does not change one's knowledge into fiction. That would be absurd. St. Paul says in Romans 1:19-20 that true knowledge of God can be had through natural reason alone. It is clear that this knowledge cannot include knowledge that God is triune for that cannot be known through the unaided intellect. The Trinity can only be known through Biblical Revelation.

Those who deny that Allah is the true God may concede that natural knowledge of God is possible but hasten to add that this knowledge remains true so long as there is an excusable ignorance of divine revelation. Once one is told about the trinity, then he has no excuse. If he denies the trinity after being told the truth, then he is denying the true nature of the True God and is, therefore, denying God. But, again, this implies that the natural knowledge of God was really never true knowledge because it can be falsified by rejecting additional knowledge. This is like saying that a student's knowledge of arithmetic never really was true because he dismisses Number Theory as poppycock. Once you know something, you know it regardless of your eagerness or refusal to learn more. The Unknown God of the Athenians remains the True God of Creation, regardless whether or no the denizens of Athens went on to accept the trinity.

Islam, for all its evil heresies (and they are evil), acknowledges the God of creation. What other God can that be except the One True God whom Christians worship? If we say that Allah is a false God, then we say that the knowledge of God that Paul says nature gives us is false knowledge, and this implies, of course, that God's creation cannot be the source of real truth. Creation becomes an illusion, and the Christian faith becomes nothing other than a gnostic sect in which the only true knowers are those who understand the Bible according to their own idiosyncratic interpretations. Surely the God of the universe is more universal than this.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Letter to University City's Finest

[More than four years later I am still waiting for a response.--PSR]

June 21, 2004

To the Police Department of University City, Missouri:

Is it ever right to disobey the law? One of your officers Saturday morning (June 19, 2004) told me, "Never." Thereupon, I asked her whether or not the few Germans who defied the Law of Nazi Germany and sheltered Jews were right to do so. To my astonishment she said that she would never say it is right to disobey any law and proceeded to call re-inforcements. Are you that threatened by pointed questions? And why is it so damn hard for you to acknowledge that it is right to disobey the law when the law is evil as it most certainly was in Germany during the Nazi Regime? Anyway, when her re-inforcement came, I asked him the same question. He gave the same answer, whereupon I asked him if slaves were right to run away and thereby defy the law of the Southern States before the Civil War. He said that was in the past and that he was talking about right now and the future. But there are two problems with that clarification: 1) it shows an ignorance of my question for I asked, "is it EVER right to disobey the law," and, hence, the question does not have any time limits, and 2) the officer in his clarification ignores completely the question of evil laws, presumably thinking that this problem is forever in the past.

Apparently, the female officer, who is black, heard my example of slaves' disobeying the law by running away from their masters. That got her very angry. She told me that I was insane for asking these "racial questions" and threatened to send me to Metro Psych. When I tried to tell her that my questions had to do with the postive law and justice and not with race, she simply threatened me with mace and told me to leave U. City or else I would be hauled off to Metro Psych. So, I continued walking down Delmar which I was doing anyway.

This just confirmed for me that you officers are nothing but stupid thugs. And anyone who can't admit that people who defied German Law to protect fellow human beings or slaves who defied American Law by escaping unmerited and cruel bondage were absolutely right to do so has clearly made the Law of Men into some kind of a god. It is frightening that you cops actually think like this. Very frightening. Are you surprised that you are often called fascists? You certainly think like them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

C. I. Scofield and the New Law

C. I. Scofield is the guy most responsible for the spread of the Rapture Heresy in this country. In 1909 Scofield came out with his reference Bible, which was the Left Behind phenomenon of that time. So many fundamentalists and evangelicals used that Bible so often that they forgot when the Bible stopped and Scofield's notes began. I still cannot understand and probably never will understand why Protestants need to have Bible with study notes, anyway. Do not Protestants believe that scripture interprets itself? If that is the case, then the Bible already has its own study notes, and Protestants do not need the notes supplied by an R.C. Sproul or a Hank Hanegraff. They certainly could have done without the notes of C.I. Scofield, which started Protestants believing that Ezechiel prophesied Cold War Geopolitics of the late Twentieth Century and have really fucked up our Policy towards the Middle East. As readers of this weblog know, I am opposed to both abortion and contraception. Therefore, I can only wish that Scofield's parents had contracted a Josephite Marriage. Below is an old essay I wrote on just one of Scofield's very perverse notes:

C. I. Scofield has this note to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:


"Having announced the kingdom of heaven as "at hand," the King, in Mt. v.-vii., declares the principles of the kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount has a twofold application: (1) Literally to the kingdom. In this sense it gives the divine constitution for the righteous government of the earth. Whenever the kingdom of heaven is established on earth it will be according to that constitution which may be regarded as an explanation of the word "righteousness" as used by the prophets in describing the kingdom (e.g. Isa. xi. 4,5;xxxii.1; Dan. ix. 4). In this sense the Sermon on the Mount is pure law, and transfers the offence from the overt act to the motive (Mt. v.21,22,27,28). Here lies the deeper reason why the Jews rejected the kingdom. They had reduced "righteousness" to mere ceremonialism, and the Old Testament idea of the kingdom to a mere affair of outward splendour and power. They were never rebuked for expecting a visible and powerful kingdom, but the words of the prophets should have prepared them to expect also that only the poor in spirit and the meek could share in it (e.g. Isa xi. 4). The seventy-second Psalm, which was universally received by them as a description of the kingdom, was full of this. For these reasons the Sermon on the Mount in its primary implication gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the Church [emphasis mine]. These are found in the Epistles. Under the law of the kingdom, for example, no one may hope for forgiveness who has not first forgiven (Mt vi. 12, 14, 15). Under grace the Christian is exhorted to forgive because he is already forgiven (Eph. iv. 30-32). [The King James Study Bible, Reference Edition Edited by C. I. Scofield, pp. 999-1000]"


The dispensationalist version of the Gospel goes like this. Christ came to offer the Earthly Kingdom of a Millennial Reign to the Jews, but the Jews rejected Him. So, Christ turned to the Gentiles and inaugurated what dispensationalists call the "Church Age". That's the age we are in now. It is not the Kingdom. The Kingdom for dispensationalists can be ONLY the Millennial Reign by Christ on earth. No, the "Church Age" is actually a parenthesis in prophetic history, and it will end when Christ secretly raptures the Church (understood, of course, in the Protestant sense as the assembly of all believers--only those who believe in salvation sola fide, obviously). After the rapture prophetic history starts again, we have the final tribulation, Armageddon, and, then, finally, the Millennial Reign.

So, the whole Christian Faith thing was really only Christ's Plan B, an afterthought, actually. No, the big plan was and remains the Millennial Kingdom. Therefore, Christ's longest and most detailed sermon cannot be understood as being intended for Christians. No, it has to be Christ's detailed instructions for the Final Jewish Kingdom.

Scofield's actual argument for this is very revealing. He basically argues that this sermon cannot be binding on Christians because it has the character of pure law. All good Christians have known since Luther that the Gospel has freed Christians from the law.

But then what the deuce do you do with Christ's announcement of the New Law in the Sermon of the Mount? Well, Luther's answer was just to focus on Paul, or, rather, on his interpretation of Paul. That worked somewhat, but it was kinda hard to ignore the Sermon on the Mount. Well, it was also kinda hard to ignore Christ's vision of the last judgment (Matthew 25:31-46) in which the lambs go to heaven because of what they did and the goats go to hell because of what they failed to do. Clearly, Christ's own words clearly meant that the law and good works were still very important, despite what Luther thought Paul said.

The dispensationalist system enters the scene and finally makes the New Testament safe for Lutheran Soteriology. Yes, Christ thought the law was very, very important, but when he was talking about the law, he was specifically talking about His Thousand Year Reign on earth which the Jews rejected. Because the Jews rejected the Kingdom, we're still in the Church Age until the Rapture, and, therefore, the Beatitudes, though really beautiful suggestions, are not binding on us.

The same applies to Matthew 25:31-46. Christ was here referring to those gentiles who will give aid to the righteous Jews during the final tribulation and after the rapture, i.e. after the "Church Age". Therefore, it is not binding for today's Christian. To be sure, the Christian may receive it as a beautiful suggestion but, nevertheless, can rest assured that his failure to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and comfort the afflicted won't jeopardize his salvation. In the "Church Age" Lutheran Soteriology applies: he is saved by faith and by faith alone.

In sum, the dispensationalist scheme by placing the application of key New Testament passages beyond the Protestant Age renders them harmless to Protestant Theology. Clever, ain't it? If Christ contradicts the doctrine of sola fide just say he was not talking to us but to Jews. The only price you have to pay is a foreign policy that actually encourages tribulation-triggering instability in the Middle East. For when it is clear that the world will go down into a final conflagration of war, mass famine, disease, etc., Christ will have no choice but to rapture His church and restart the prophetic clock.

Well, there is also this small snag. Scofield tells us that the blueprint for the "Church" is found in the Epistles. Well, these include, of course, the Epistle of James. Whereas the Protestants can pretty well read almost every other epistle with Lutheran specs, James has always caused them to avert their eyes completely. The bright light that James sheds on the continued importance of the law and good works is too glaring for even the darkest of Protestant shades. One would think that Scofield or some other dispensationalist would transfer the entire epistle to the post-trib age, but neither Scofield nor any other dispensationalist I know of does this. I guess that means that even in the "Church Age" "a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." Damn. The Dispensationalist doesn't completely get rid of Catholic Soteriology, and yet we still have to endure an utterly insane Middle East policy. What a gip, man!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nietzsche, Morality, and Eternity

[I re-post this for the benefit of certain nihilists with whom I have been corresponding of late.--PSR]

The following essay is addressed to a woman and was in response to one of her posts on her weblog. The post was about Nietzsche's theory of morality. The woman claimed that Nietzsche asserted that all morality is a result of group think. I refuted this claim and wrote other things as well. It may be of some interest to my readers, or not.

Okay, zur Sache, as the Krauts say. First off, it is wrong to claim that Nietzsche proposed that morality is always the product of group think, if by "group" you mean the unwashed, knuckle-scraping masses of the "herd". For Nietzsche there are two categories of morality, the one of "good and bad" and the other of "good and evil". The former is the morality of the strong and is by Nietzsche's lights the healthy, life-affirming morality. The latter is the morality of the weak, which is according to Nietzsche based not upon love, as its proponents claim, but upon vindictive resentment against the strong. This is what Nietzsche calls "slave morality" and that is what would be according to him the morality of the "herd" and not the former morality of the aristocratic lords or simply the strong.

Now, it is crucial to understand that Nietzsche's critique of morality is not a critique of morality as such. In fact, he regards morality or values as indispensable for any thriving culture. A culture that has no values will fall victim to decadence and nihilism. Nihilism is the idea that nothing in life is of value. If nothing in life is of value, then suicide is the only reasonable answer. What is true on an individual level is also true on the cultural: A culture that falls victim to nihilism will have no reason to sustain itself and will die out. Nietzsche's entire project was to come up with a new set of values that would counter the nihilism he saw threatening to snuff out his beloved European culture.

Nietzsche argued vehemently that the Christian faith was directly responsible for this grave nihilistic threat. To understand why he thought so, we must understand his analysis of slave morality. Slave morality is a reaction of the weak against the strong. The weak are weak precisely because they can't retaliate against the strong when the strong rape and pillage them. So, the weak literally make a virtue out of their pathetic lot and declare that they don't strike back not because they can't but because they are the ones who are truly good and moral, and the raping and pillaging aristocratic lords are not just bad; they are evil.

But the strong will get their comeuppance. Just not in this life. In the next life, and in that life they will be consigned to the lowest depth of sulphurous hell, and the weak will see this gruesome spectacle and rejoice because the revenge which they could not accomplish in this life will be achieved spectacularly in the next. Thus, Nietszche regards all the Christian claims about love to be bogus. All Christian morality is predicated upon a final eschatological payback for the noble blond beast. This is a morality not of love but revenge.

But these Christian values did produce a thriving culture for even though it was at bottom a religion of resentment against the powerful, it at the very least had a conception of a mighty jealous God that gave the Christian Age a purpose and a sense of meaning. But the Christian Faith had within itself the seeds of its own destruction: its insistence that liberation comes through truth, which, of course, meant that Christians had a moral obligation to uncover the truth. This obligation to the truth produced modern science, and modern science in turn showed the truth to be this: that the Christian Faith is a silly myth and that there is no God. God is dead.

But even though modern science had unmasked the Christian Faith as just another hollow ideology, Christian values still formed the basis of the modern West, and this is where the nihilistic crisis kicks in. Society in the modern west is based upon values which are in turned based upon something that modern science has shown to be simply nothing. Hence, the modern west values nothing. The only thing to do is to scrap the Christian Faith entirely and start afresh with a new set of values, one that will place the ultimate value on life in this world instead of life in some non-existent next. This is the project that Nietzsche terms Die Umwertung aller Werte, the transvaluation of all values.

Okay, fine, but this transvaluation cannot be effected simply by an attack on the Christian Faith. It cannot even be effected by replacing the Christian Faith with some new philosophy of life. What must be done first and foremost is a radical uprooting of everything Christian, but this is much harder than at first impression. One cannot just merely get rid of the creed, the Bible, various pious devotions etc., one must go to the heart of the matter, and for Nietzsche the heart of the matter is actually not so much the Christian faith but the very idea that this world can be understood only by another world in the beyond, and this could be the Christian Heaven or the Platonic Realm of Forms. As long as this world is understood as a mere anticipation of or an imperfect participation in some eternal otherworldly realm, then this world is subordinate to nothingness and is, hence, robbed of its value. Nietzsche's war on the Christian Faith is ultimately a war against the Platonic tradition of metaphysics. Not only that, his war is against the very notion of understanding our world in the light of eternity.

Philosophers throughout the centuries have taken recourse to some notion of eternity because without it it is impossible to formulate general truths. If something is true, then it must be true always and everywhere. But if we look around ourselves, there is nothing that is eternal. Everything we experience with our five senses is particular and is subject to change, decay, and death, and yet our minds still formulate general truth claims about the world. If the Nietzschean project will work at all, it must rid us of this nasty ingrained habit of implicitly comparing this world of change to some unreal world of eternity. As long as we have this comparison, however implicit, we devalue the world in which we live and will hence fall victim to nihilism. To really affirm the only life we have, we must, therefore, radically alter our thought. We can no longer think about eternal Being in whatever form but about ever-changing Becoming. Only such a radical transformation of thinking will rid the world of this nihilistic claptrap about eternal Being and yield a truly life-affirming philosophy of Becoming.

But Nietzsche himself could not dispense with eternity. Simply because he had to make general formulations of truth himself. To rid the mind of all concepts of eternity is to rob the mind of coherence and, therewith, the ability to affirm anything at all, much less the glorious rapings and pillaging of the noble Blond Beast. Nietzsche could have suggested that we all get lobotomies so that we can forget we are intelligent human beings and act like noble brutes, but he did not. He prized knowledge and philosophy too much to castrate himself intellectually. So, he came up with another solution: if eternity cannot be rid of, then let's rob it from the gods and bring it down to earth. Let's make eternity part of our very lives. And presto! We have the doctrine of the eternal recurrence of the same!

This doctrine teaches that you must will everything that happens in your life to recur in exactly the same manner throughout all of eternity. By doing so, you are using eternity no longer to judge the world as inferior and thereby to condemn it but to affirm and celebrate it. Pretty neat solution, actually. Nietzsche could not rid man of his need for eternity and so he subordinates it to the service of affirming this life and in doing so finally gets his revenge on Plato. Whereas Plato enslaved this world to eternity, Nietzsche has put eternity under the yoke of man's life-affirming will. Or has he?

Nietzsche's doctrine of the eternal recurrence of the same robs man of the ability to say no. He must affirm everything in his life even atrocities such as murder, rape, preventive war, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and the like. So what, Nietzche might respond, this life is all there is und Nichts außerdem!. If you are going to truly value it, you cannot make comparisons between it and a world that does not exist. The only standard of life is this life, and you might as well say yes to it eternally because that is the only thing that will satisfy this ineradicable eternity craving man has.

Fine, but this ineradicable craving for eternity is in man precisely because he is unable to will the eternal recurrence of the same for everything. If he actually had the ability to make eternity bend to his will, then he certainly would not will an eternity of each and every happening of his earthly life. Even the Blond Beast would want at least an eternity of his best pillagings and not those in which the other lords caught him, tied him to a tree, covered him with honey, and then let big ants loose on him. Man wants, if not the good, then at least the pleasant, and that is why he will always say no to the being covered with honey and ants. No man is able psychologically to say yes everything in his life because not everything in his life is pleasant. If we could discipline ourselves to say an eternal yes to everything that happens to us, then we would lose entirely are motivation to seek the pleasurable and avoid the pain. This is hardly an affirmation of life. This is a numbing of ourselves to the point where we would be as insensitive and as dumb and as inhuman as rocks.

But there is an even more fundamental objection to this teaching. Man simply cannot will eternity, and any one who acts like he does is considered insane (including Nietzsche--cf. his notorious "I'd rather be a Basel Professor than God" letter to Burckhardt). Nietzsche merely shows with this stupid idea that not only can he not dispense with eternity, he also cannot dispense with the power of God for obviously God is the only being powerful enough to will anything for all of eternity. Just as Kant killed off God in his first critique only to need Him to make his moral theory work, Nietzsche kills off God to rescue us from otherworldly nihilism only to need His power to make sense of an atheistic chaos. Nietzsche's whole project merely serves to confirm Dostoevski's famous dictum: "If there is no God, I am God." Of course, such a statement is absurd, and that's the point. Without God we are doomed to absurdity, and no amount of wanna-be superhuman will can extricate us from it.

Now in answer to your question put to your readers, I say that Nietzsche has not shown that our morality is simply a result of self-interest and the evolutionary urge to survive. Nietzsche himself says that one morality, the morality that he attacks as a slave morality, the morality that has prevailed in the west for the last two millennia, is not merely the result of self-interest and a Darwinian struggle for life. No, it is also the result of an intelligent being's inability to think without a notion of eternity. Brute animals don't need eternity to eat, sleep, copulate, and excrete, but man does more than brute animals. He reasons, and as long as he reasons, eternity will haunt him and force him to wonder why. Nietzsche tried his best to destroy this wonder. He failed, and this wonder prevails, and we continue to wonder why we think about eternity and from whence these thoughts come. Our temporal science cannot exhaust such questions for that would be as absurd as a stream draining an ocean. Modern science can only explain itself in the light of eternity and not vice versa. The wonder will never be extinguished, and this means that faith will never be as well.

Jeffrey by Paul Rudnick or why I am considered a homophobe

More than a decade ago, in the spring of 1996, I had a very bit part in a production of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey at the Metcalf Student Experimental Theatre on the vast SIU-E campus. Jeffrey is a rather irreverent (and actually very witty) play about one gay man's dating problems during the late 'Eighties when the AIDS epidemic hit the New York City gay scene especially hard. It is by Catholic standards morally offensive, and my bit part was hardly innocent. I played the protagonist's father, and in a dream sequence I try with my wife to get our son to engage us in phone sex. Actually, my delivery was pretty good. I got a lot of big laughs, but that just made my sin all the blacker. I did eventually confess my participation in this play as a sin and have vowed never to be in such a morally compromising play again, however overpowering my lust for the stage may be. I like any actor love the stage and have been willing to do almost anything (okay, fine, that "almost" is disingenuous) to show off on stage. Actors are whores.

Because I had such a small role, during hell week and the nights of the performance, I spent most of my time in the green room with the other bit parts and cameos. I forgot how precisely I whiled away the time there. I didn't get along with the rest of the cast that well. They thought me a rather stiff snob, and they gave me every reason to want to be a stiff snob. For instance, they all poo-pooed William Shakespeare, one of them going so far as to say that people say they like Shakespeare merely to be thought educated. There is no way that anyone can like Shakespeare. Well, there is no way that an SIU-E rube can appreciate Shakespeare, I very much wanted to say but did not. I kept it to myself and tried to console myself with happy memories of Derek Jacobi's Hamlet.

But I did have a revelation while working on this production. One particular line near the end of the play puzzled me. One of the final scenes in the play takes place in Central Park during the Gay Pride Parade. The scene opens with an epitome of an Italian Mama somewhat imperiously trying to find her way in all the confusing dinof the festivities. She is very loud and garrulous and, as all mothers are, effusive in her pride for her son.

In what is supposed to be half a laughline and half a statement ofthe play's true agendum, she boldly asserts, "I'm so proud of my preoperative transsexual lesbian son!" A preoperative transsexual lesbian is a man about to undergo a sex change so that he (she--whatever) can live a life of a lesbian.

A short time later in that same scene the son tells a television reporter that he and his group are "going to ride on a flatbed truck, for all the world to see!" to which the Mother adds this puzzling explanation: "Because we are proud of who and what we are!" So, I asked the actress who played the Italian Mama what I thought to be the obvious question: "How the deuce can you be proud of what you are when you are about to undergo very serious surgery for the sake of changing what you are?" This mother's son obviously was not proud of what he was. Otherwise, he would not be about to avail himself of modern surgery to escape his male body.

The actress made dagger eyes at me. She did make a response, and I am sorry to report that I have since forgotten what she said, but if my memory serves, she made it clear to me that she found the very question offensive. I remember shortly thereafter recounting this exchange to a good friend of mine who has allowed me to describe her to others as "bisexual witch". She told me that she would find the question offensive as well. By the way, this same woman would jealously defend the academic freedom of Princeton's Peter Singer to say that a pig has more worth than a newborn infant, but it's impolite to dare challenge GLBT propaganda. Go figure. (I put this slap at my good friend in here on the off chance that she will read this. I still consider her a very dear friend, but on this she needs to be called out on the carpet).

The reason why my question would offend those who think everything with the GLBT world is kosher is that it assumes that nature is a component of our whatness. The proponents of the GLBT world like other liberals want freedom from nature. If you want to defy nature by having sterile sex deliberately for gratification, go right ahead, that is your right because we have been liberated from the prison of nature. If you feel like you are a woman even though you have a membrum viri, then by all means cut it off because nature is just an accidental accesory. Nature has no part in determining what you are. Modern gnosis now gives you the power to determine what you are in the confines of your own mind. You become your own Demiurge.

This then was my revelation. The GLBT movement is premised upon a gnostic hostility to nature. The reaction that I received from my question was all I needed to recognize yet another form of the dreary old gnostic hatred of God's creation.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cherche la femme!

Recently, as some of my readers may know, a young woman chastised me for voting at all. Voting, she said, simply legitimated an absurdity we pretend to call a meaningful democracy. Well, I fell in love instantaneously (she looks really good in a bikini as well as being politically astute) and swore that I would be true to my new one and only true love by doing what the Sunni zealots in Iraq did and abstain from the polls. Well, my sense of civic duty got the better of me. You can take the boy out of civics class, but, apparently, you can't take the civics class out of the boy. Grade school indoctrination is indelible like a tattoo. So, I voted and now my only true love will spurn me as yet another gullible fool of the Military Industrial Wall Street Complex. Woe is me!

And my fellow archconservative Catholics will scream at me because I voted for an infanticidal maniac. No, I did not vote for Mr. Obama. He's actually not an infanticidal maniac. That's just his secular decadent infidel cover according to the principle of Taqiyya. He's really a filthy Arab, hellbent upon subjugating this good Christian nation to the horrors of dhimmitude, but to do so he must first impose Sharia Law, which will not just kick abortion back to the states but will outlaw it outright, and this is what all good Christians are obligated to desire. So, good Christians who really think Obama is a closet radical Muslim must vote for him.

No, I voted for Cynthia McKinney. Only because another very beautiful young woman likes her. Okay, well, Noam Chomsky did vote for her as well, and I can't deny his influence, of course. But I did what I did primarily to score some brownie points with this very alluring female. Look, the presidential election in Illinois was called as soon as Obama announced his candidacy way back in 2007. Calvinist pre-destination may not apply to salvation, but it sure does to the Illinois electoral votes. So, I made a cynical calculation: if my vote does not matter in the big scheme of things, then I might as well use my vote to impress some chic, eh?

Of course, if McKinney had even a snowball's chance in hell of winning, I would not have voted for her. Simply because she is an infanticidal maniac like Mr. Obama. But both of the viable candidates are sick demented fucks who advocate outright murder. McCain gets his jollies singing paeans to preventive war, a neo-con euphemism for cold-blooded murder and Obama thinks its fine and dandy to let born babies completely outside the womb die. If I have to vote for a monster, then, well, the least I can do is vote for one who simply cannot win.

Of course, the woman whose bewitching blandishments beckoned me to cast my vote for this infanticidal maniac and thereby cast my soul into hell wants McKinney to win. Her vote is quixotic, mine is cynical, and she will read this, be offended by my cynicism, and I will not even gain that one thing that I hoped my vote would get. No, my vote will get me nothing but scorn, outrage, and, if I don't confess it soon, everlasting fire and brimstone; trying to impress a woman, however alluring she may be, is unfortunately not a valid proportional reason for voting for an infanticidal maniac. So, my vote was simply an absurd naught. But, then again, so is the notion of American Democracy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

491 years ago today

[From the First Book of Heinrich Heine's Zur Geschichte der Religion und Philosophie in Deutschland, translated by me]

But even more than the Devil's mind Martin Luther mistook the mind of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Because of my strict impartiality, I must now take up the cudgel for both, as I did for the devil, against the all too eager man.

Indeed, if one were to ask me in conscience, I would have to admit that the Pope, Leo X, was actually far more reasonable than Luther, and that the latter simply did not grasp the ultimate raison d'etre of the Catholic Church. For Luther did not understand that the idea of Christianity, the annihilation of sensuality, contradicts human nature so much that it could never be carried out in its entirety. He had not understood that Catholicism was like, as it were, a Concordat between God and the Devil, i.e. between Spiritualism and Materialism, in which the primacy of spiritualism was acknowledged in theory, but materialism was given a status in which it could in praxis exercise all its annulled rights. Whence came a clever system of concessions, which the Church concocted to the benefit of sensuality, but always in ways that denounced every act of sensuality and preserved the disdainful usurpation of spiritualism.

You may give a hearing to the delicate inclinations of your heart and embrace a beautiful girl, but you must confess that it was a scandalous sin, and for this sin you must do penance. That this penance could be effected by money was as beneficial for humanity as it was useful for the Church. The Church permitted the payment of, so to speak, resistance money for every fleshly pleasure, and soon there developed a tax for all sorts of sins. There were even holy peddlers, who, in the name of the Roman Church, hawked a letter of indulgence for any of the taxed sins.

One such peddler was that Tetzel against whom Luther first rose. Our historians are of the opinion that this protest against the indulgence trade was an insignificant event, and that it was only Roman pigheadedness that drove Luther, who at the outset railed only against an abuse of the Church, to attack the entire ecclesiastical authority at her highest pinnacle. But this is simply erroneous. The indulgence trade was no abuse, it was a consequence of the entire Church system. As Luther attacked the former, he attacked the Church Herself, and She had to condemn him as a heretic.

Leo X, the refined Florentine, the student of Poliziano, the friend of Raphael, the Greek philosopher with the threefold crown, which the conclave bestowed upon him perhaps because he suffered from an illness that in no way comes from Christian abstinence and was back then still very dangerous.... Leo von Medici, how he must have smiled at this poor, chaste simpleton of a monk, who believed the Gospel was the charter of Christianity, and this charter must be the Truth! Leo probably did not even notice what Luther wanted. He was at the time much too busy with the construction of St. Peter's Basilica, the cost of which was financed with the indulgence money, so that the sins did actually and truly give the money that built this church.

Hence, the Basilica became a monument, as it were, to sensual lust, as did those pyramids that were built by an Egyptian prostitute with money she earned from her trade. Perhaps one could better make the claim for this house of God than for the Cathedral at Cologne that it was built by the devil. This triumph of Spiritualism, namely that Materialism itself must build for its enemy its most beautiful temple, that for the heap of concessions one makes with the flesh one acquires the means to glorify the Spirit, this is not understood in the German North.

For here, far more than under the burning Italian Sky, it was possible to practice a Christianity which made the least concessions possible to sensuality. We Northerners have a colder blood, and we require not so many letters of indulgence for fleshly sins as our paternally concerned Leo had sent us. The climate makes it easier for us to practice the Christian virtues, and on October 31, 1516, as Luther nailed his theses against indulgences on the doors of the Augustine Church, the town moat of Wittenburg had probably already frozen over. One could go ice-skating, which is a cold amusement and, therefore, not a sin.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I have to vote for Barack Obama

Obama claims he is a Christian and an American. Well, that's a lie. He is a Muslim, and a very radical one, too, the very kind that provoked Bush into the Global War on Terror. After all, Obama's middle-name is Hussein, which we all know is Arabic for, "I will impose Sharia Law once elected." So, this means that if Obama is elected president, women will be forced to wear birkas, the federal age of consent will go down to at least 13, adulterers and practicing homosexuals will be publicly stoned, Osama bin Laden will be appointed Secretary of Jihad, and our foreign policy will be aimed at the establishment of a global Caliphate. And so, we will withdraw our troops from Iraq and use them to invade and conquer those Infidels in Europe, Russia, and, of course, Israel.

Unfortunately, this means that as a devout Catholic, I must vote for him. Because he will impose Sharia Law, that means abortion in this country will be outlawed. And for a devout Catholic like me, abortion is pretty much the only issue that I am allowed to consider when casting my vote. Yes, Obama will wage holy wars on behalf of radical Islam. So, what? War is not intrinsically evil. It is, as Bishops like Burke and Meyers and neo-con Catholics like Weigel have reminded us, purely a matter of prudence for state leaders to decide. Hoi polloi like you and me are not in a position to judge all the complicated factors that go into the decision to bomb the shit out of another country. Besides reasonable people can disagree over the justice of going to war for oil and Haliburton's stock portfolio. So, if reasonable people can disagree over that, it's fair to say that reasonable people can disagree over the merits of global Jihad. But reasonable people can't disagree over abortion at all. If you think it is right to legalize baby murder, then you are insane, of course, unless, that is, you are explaining away the bombing of hospitals as usual wartime collateral damage. Therefore, I have to vote for Obama and his imposition of Sharia Law.

But, I can hear people saying to me, "You're being very silly. Even if Obama is anti-abortion, and that is hard to believe, given his full-throated endorsement of Roe and outright infanticide, McCain is explicitly anti-abortion and he won't impose Sharia Law." Well, yes, McCain says he is anti-abortion and all, but all he'll do if elected is, perhaps, appoint judges to the bench who might vote to overturn Roe--if, that is, a state challenges it--, and even then abortion will not be outlawed. It will then be a choice for the states. Obama, radical Muslim that he certainly is, will not be satisfied to leave such a pressing issue to a maze of contingencies. Once in office he will have the infidels on the Court beheaded and use the Army to impose Sharia Law in every single state. He will be able to justify this extraordinary use of executive power by invoking Dick Cheney's groundbreaking interpretation of the Constitution. Abortion will be outlawed in a matter of days. So, if Obama truly is the closet radical Muslim that everyone thinks he is, then he is the true anti-abortion candidate, and McCain is really a pro-choice weenie. Therefore, Catholics must, if they are to avoid the pains of perpetual perdition, vote for Obama.

And, yes, Obama has styled himself to be an infanticidal whacko. But he's still in the closet, remember? He won't come out until his Inauguration, i.e. after he has had his transition team replace Blackwater mercs with ones from Al Qaeda. Until then he has to be an extremist on abortion to get the godless feminists on his side. That's part of his cover. Obama thought that if he pandered to all those secular femanazis, no one would ever mistake him for one of UBL's henchmen.

Well, he was wrong. I see through you, Mr. Obama, and so have many other people. I am terrified of a global jihad. I don't like women in birkas. And although I think adultery and sodomy are sins, punishing those sins by public stonings strikes me as way harsh. But, as we've seen, war is merely a prudential matter. Sartorial concerns are trivial, of course, and adulterers and practicing homosexuals are in fact vile sinners. Unborn babies are innocent, and the Muslim Barack Obama wants to protect them. Radical Islam has its defects, true, but on the one issue that my Church allows me to consider when I cast my vote, Radical Islam gets it right. Therefore, if I do not want to go to hell, if my Catholic Conscience will ever let me sleep at night, I have no choice but to vote for Barack Obama.

I must say, though, I kinda like the prospect of lowering the age of consent. But, of course, I mayn't let my perversions enter into my political calculations, either.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

an aphorism

The skeptic always ends up justifying the status quo simply because he says he cannot know anything else. Thus, the skeptic is the paradigmatic conservative.

Friday, October 17, 2008

W. und Selbstbefriedigung

Picking out the glaring idiocies in Bush's speeches is very easy. When he pounded the podium and defiantly announced that we would not let foreigners interfere with the internal affairs of Iraq, for instance. It's simple, but it is also as pointless as masturbation. The satisfaction vanishes as quickly at it, er, came, and then you feel as empty as before. That was, by the way, exactly how I felt after watching Oliver Stone's W., a film that told me what I already knew, namely that Our Dear Leader is a subliterate fratboy, whose grunting, banal cluelessness would insult the intellect of a Neanderthal. The film will spark no revolt, no armed rebellion, only, perhaps, a self-indulgent chuckle and a fleeting sense of superiority, which will vanish upon the sobering recognition that feeling superior to such a stupid stump is hardly meritorious and, worse, that we the American people elected such a vacuous fuckwit. One can buy hardcore porn for just four bucks more than the price of a movie ticket, and that would have provided more honest entertainment--relatively speaking, of course. Fortunately for me, someone paid for my viewing of Oliver Stone's atrociously cheap thrill.

That said, I can't resist pointing out the latest obvious idiocy of Our Dear Leader. I haven't been laid in sixteen years. Masturbation is a mortal sin. So, I admit it: I need cheap thrills. And besides, a certain Lutheran pastor loves to consign me to hell because I am dishonoring the powers that be. Whenever some loony Protestant heretic consigns me to hell, I know I am doing something right.

So, here is the latest feculence of the Leader of the Free World. He spewed this out this morning:
The government's involvement is limited in scope. The government will not exercise control over any private firm. Federal officers will not have a seat around your local bank's boardroom table. The shares owned by the government will have voting rights that can be used only to protect the taxpayers' investment, not to direct the firm's operations.
So, the government will let the firms do whatever the hell they want, like, say, I don't know, leveraging out the wazoo so they can invest in securities backed by mortgages on crackhouses, but the government will protect the taxpayers' investment anyway. That's like a father paying for his teenager's driver's insurance and telling the teenager that he can drive however he likes.

Europeans like to ridicule us as stupid. Do you wonder why?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ralph Nader makes an obvious Chomskyite point about the bogus Bill Ayers sideshow

Second, on the Bill Ayers thing, who is a lapsed small-time saboteur with the Weather Underground many years ago, what should have been said was the big-time terrorists, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, these are clinically verifiable mass terrorists who have killed innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in their criminal wars of aggression. These are criminal wars of aggression. These are war crimes. These are war criminals. They have killed over a million Iraqi civilians as a result of that criminal invasion. That’s where the discussion should have focused on. The big-time terrorists, the state terrorists in the White House who have violated our Constitution, our statutes and our international treaties, and have been condemned even by the American Bar Association for a continual violence of our—violation of our Constitution.
--Ralph Nader on Democracy Now!, October 16, 2008


God, I would love to vote for Nader. Unfortunately, he supports legal abortion. Damn!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sarah Palin is a fascist

In response to jeering protesters at a campaign rally, Mrs. Palin scolded her loud detractors, saying that she hoped that they had enough honor to thank the soldiers in Iraq for having given them the right to protest. Last time I checked our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, it says that our Creator gives us our rights, not men with guns. If Palin is correct and Jefferson wrong and men with guns are indeed the source of one's rights, then does this mean that there was no right to protest in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia? After all, men with guns in those regimes regarded what we see as rights as crimes of high treason. Do guns determine what is right and what is wrong? Mrs. Palin thinks so. Conclusion: Sarah Palin is a fascist.

(Why is this post getting so many hits all of a sudden?--4/14/2016)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Frankie Schaeffer weighs in on the matter of proportionality and backs Obama

[I usually do not post unoriginal stuff to my weblog, but this is important. Frankie Schaeffer, son of the indefatigable anti-abortion activist and well-known Evangelical Francis Schaeffer, is backing the infanticidal maniac Barack Obama. As you will, I hope, read, he did not come to this decision lightly. He still thinks legal abortion is evil but thinks that electing wingnuts horny for Armageddon is even more evil. Yeah, well I am glad to hear someone repeating what I have been barking about for some time now. That said, I cannot vote for Obama. Obama's stance on abortion truly disgusts me. I just can't understand why the Democratic Party, the party that is professedly for the "little guy", pledges to protect the "right" to treat the littlest of them all as disposable garbage. Mr. Schaeffer's pro-life stance has become obviously compromised. Just as pro-life supporters of Bush compromised their commitment to the sanctity of human life by making sophistic apologies for the murderous doctrine of preventive war, Mr. Schaeffer has shamefully compromised his credibility on life by now indulging what I call the "economic argument to salve the consciences of pro-choice Christian heretics". The argument goes like this: Make the economy more amenable for poor people so they can afford to have children instead of having to kill them. The argument gets the notion of economic justice precisely backasswards. One fights for economic justice because life is sacred, but the Christian supporters of Kerry were arguing that the latter depends on the former. In other words, human life is sacred only if it is affordable. This was the argument Catholic dissidents used to justify their votes for Kerry in 2004. It stunk then, it stinks now. Catholic dissidents are usually the type who will say "Capitalism sucks", and yet those were the very same people who were saying in effect that economics should determine human worth. The whole fucking point of saying "Capitalism sucks" is to resist the idea that money should determine human worth. Catholic dissidents are not only heretical; they are profoundly stupid. I will be damned if I vote for McCain. I will be damned if I vote for Obama. I want a viable third party. Oh, one more thing: Frankie Schaeffer is no longer an Evangelical. He converted to Eastern Orthodoxy some years ago and, as far as I know, still is Eastern Orthodox.--PSR]

October 13, 2008
Schaefferweb
Former McCain Supporter Accuses the Senator of “Deliberately Feeding the Most Unhinged Elements of Our Society the Red Meat of Hate”


Frank Schaeffer, bestselling author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. He is the son of the late evangelist Francis Schaeffer and considered himself a lifelong Republican. He voted for John McCain in 2000, and McCain even endorsed one of Schaeffer’s earlier books on military service. On Friday, Schaeffer published ‘An Open Letter to John McCain’ in the Baltimore Sun.


AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the McCain campaign’s strategy of repeatedly invoking Senator Obama’s connection to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, now a professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago. It seems to very clearly have a serious effect of riling up crowds of McCain and Palin supporters, to a point that Senator McCain was booed at his own rally Friday when he attempted to defend his rival against character attacks.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I want to be president of the United States, and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you, I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared as president of the United States.

AUDIENCE: [booing]

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Now, I just—now, I just—now, look, I—if I didn’t think I wouldn’t be one heck of a lot better president, I wouldn’t be running, OK? And that’s the point.


AMY GOODMAN: The Republican presidential nominee was speaking to a crowd near Minneapolis Friday. His attempt to defend Senator Obama was met with jeers.

At a Palin rally earlier in the week, Governor Palin referred to Senator Obama as a man connected to “a former domestic terrorist.” She said she was “fearful” of his vision of America.

GOV. SARAH PALIN: I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America, as the greatest source for good in this world. I’m afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.


AMY GOODMAN: While Governor Palin was speaking about Obama, an audience member, it’s believed, yelled out, “Kill him!” It’s unclear if Palin heard the remark, but she didn’t respond.

Obama was eight years old when, forty years ago, Bill Ayers was a member of the militant antiwar group, the Weather Underground. Today, Bill Ayers is a tenured professor and leading expert on education reform at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

At another moment last week during the presidential debate, McCain referred to Obama as “that one.”

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me.


AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest, joining us from Boston, is Frank Schaeffer, the bestselling author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. He’s the son of the late evangelist Francis Schaeffer, considered himself a lifelong Republican. He voted for John McCain in 2000. McCain even endorsed one of Schaeffer’s earlier books on military service. But on Friday, Frank Schaeffer published an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun excoriating McCain for “feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate.” The op-ed is entitled "An Open Letter to John McCain.” Frank Schaeffer joins us now from Boston.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s very good to have you with us. Can you—do you, by chance, have the letter in front of you?

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yes, I do. I have it right here. What would you like to hear?

AMY GOODMAN: Could you read it to us?

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Sure. This is the op-ed.

“John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as ‘not one of us,’ I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

“At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, ‘Kill him!’ At one of your rallies, someone called out, ‘Terrorist!’ Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee—an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.

“Shame!

“John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.

“You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.

“John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that [surround] the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are [a bitterly divided country] on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.

“Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.

“John McCain, you’re walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out ‘Terrorist’ or ‘Kill him,’ history will hold you responsible for all that follows.

“John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.

“Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people—forever.

“We will hold you responsible.”

So that was the piece, and it got quite a response, actually. I’ve been swamped with email, and encouragingly, most of it—most of it favorable.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Frank Schaeffer, you supported John McCain in 2000, as you write.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yeah. I mean, you mentioned my book Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. And really, people who have read that book will know that I come from an evangelical family that was really evangelical royalty in the ’70s and ’80s. My father was a frequent guest in the Reagan, Bush and also even the Ford White House—Bush, first, that is. And my background, therefore, was very unthinkingly Republican. We were always just associated with these folks. And so, in 2000, I was actually on a number of evangelical and right-wing stations, like with Ollie North, for instance, on his radio station, pleading the cause of John McCain, who I thought would be a much better candidate than George W. Bush.

But really, over the years, distancing myself from that evangelical background, as I talk about in the book, I’ve come to a place where I really see what Max Blumenthal was talking about in the earlier part of your show, and that is, you know, speaking of the secessionists in Alaska, the evangelical right-wing subculture in this country, particularly the Assemblies of God, by the way, that Sarah Palin comes from, have really already ceded from our union, in the sense of the fact that they have, you know, between home schooling and their own schools, their own publishing, their own radio, their own TV, many times very fundamentally anti-American, waiting for the Apocalypse, waiting for Jesus to take everybody away in the Rapture, weirdly Christian Zionist and at the same time assuming that the Jews will all be killed in Armageddon, when Jesus comes back, as part of their Rapture enterprise.

You know, just to put it frankly, the evangelical movement that I grew up in as a child used to be a fairly respectable and respectable—respectful group of people. They regarded themselves as Americans and part of the system. And now, I really think it’s been taken over by a group of people that have to be described fairly as just wing nuts. And if you read Crazy for God, you’re going to find, through my own journey, coming out of the ’50s and ’60s, that I watched all this change. I mean, you know, I preached from Jerry Falwell’s pulpit. He sent a jet up to get me once. You know, I know Pat Robertson and Dr. Dobson and all these people personally. And the fact of the matter is, the movement has gone off the rails.

And the dangerous thing about Sarah Palin is, is that there’s a very direct line from her to the kind of extremism that would literally destroy this country. So, you know, when you look at what eight years of George Bush has done to our economy, on one side, when you look at the war we’re in in Iraq—and, by the way, my son was in the Marine Corps and fought twice in Afghanistan, took one mission to Iraq, one to the Horn of Africa, so I speak as someone whose son actually was out there getting shot at because of these policies. When you look at all this, as I talk about in the book, what you see is that we really are at a crossroads here.

This election is not just an election. This election is a mirror that is being held up to the United States, saying you can choose what sort of country you want to be. Do you want to be with the Sarah Palin wing nuts who are bearing high-powered rifles in their gardens for the time when the United Nations sends Black Hawk helicopter-type missions against America? You know, do you want to assume that Jesus will be coming back to rapture everybody, so you hope there’s an atheist co-pilot in every plane? I know this sounds laughable, but there are tens of millions of Americans who are buying into this crap. Or do you want to be a member of the United States of America—Republican, Democrat, left, right, center, but part of the American family? Or have you already ceded from our union?

So, basically, I think what this election is about and what my book is certainly about is, besides the politics, besides whether we have Barack Obama or John McCain as our president, is also another kind of a choice, and that is, are we going to give the right-wing evangelical/fundamentalist wing nuts of all stripes, of the Sarah Palin types, a voice in literally destroying this democracy? Do you want another eight years like the eight years that have passed, double, triple, and go from there?

So, you know, my problem with McCain now is that by nominating Sarah Palin and, as I talked about in this editorial, by opening the floodgates of hate because of his ambition to win, basically doing whatever it takes to do that, he’s clearly choosing to try to empower the America that will destroy the real America. When I say “the real America,” I mean people who are proud of their country. So we’ve come to a very weird place. We have Sarah Palin, who talks about Barack Obama not liking his country enough. Her husband and her are associated with secessionists, so we have someone who wants to run for vice president who doesn’t even want the union to hang together, who would have fought on the other side in the Civil War, as it were, when it comes to the States, you know, going up against Barack Obama, who I personally think would make a terrific president. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Franks Schaeffer, I want to just—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —come in here on that—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —because it’s very significant, your endorsement of Barack Obama, considering where you come from and your own beliefs.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, your father was a famous evangelical preacher—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —a person who gave sermons around the world. Really, you convinced him to take up the anti-abortion line—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: —to make it central to his philosophy and your own.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: So, here you are, anti-choice, pro-life, and pro-Obama, Senator Obama, who is fiercely pro-choice.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Right, right. And you know what? It’s an imperfect world, but I would rather have a president that I disagree with on the issue of choice who’s fit to be president than an old man who has just shown such a lack of judgment as to literally connect himself to the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe. It isn’t just someone you disagree with politically. That’s one point.

And I’d say something else about the choice issue. I am pro-life. I haven’t changed in that regard. If people read my book, Crazy for God, they’ll see that I’ve gone left, if you want to put it that way, in many, many areas, but not that one. But I actually believe that if your interest is not ideology and ideological purity, but rather abortion itself, i.e. you want more or less abortions, that the medical and social programs that Barack Obama is talking about for our country, in terms of care of women and children and families, improvement in education and possibilities for all Americans, actually will result in less abortions. So my interest in the abortion issue is that I think abortion is a tragedy. My interest is not the politics of it, as in always appearing to vote for the person who has the correct ideology.

And so, I think there’s a choice for Americans interested in this issue who are like me, pro-life, and that is, do you want to choose ideological purity attached to a party that will so destroy our economy and all the social programs that there will be more abortions, i.e. as there have been through the Republican-controlled years, when they’ve been talking about this issue for thirty years and done nothing about it for actually helping women and children, or would you rather have a president like Barack Obama, who you disagree with on this one ideological point, in terms of what you might call the theology of the issue, but whose program would practically result in a more conducive environment for families to prosper, for people to have children, for kids to go to school, for women to be taken care of? And I would rather vote for a person who’s going to do the job rather than just have the correct ideology.

AMY GOODMAN: Frank Schaeffer, also on this point of terror and terrorists, you make a very interesting point. I read your—was reading your book throughout yesterday and last night, and about—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Thank you. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: —about your dad and about being invited to the White House by President Reagan—

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —by President Bush, Sr., by President Ford, and you talked about him calling for the violent overthrow of the United States, yet still being invited to the White House.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yeah. I mean, the hypocrisy is total. Again, it goes back to what Max Blumenthal was saying. And, by the way, I totally commend him. I hope everybody goes to his website and looks at this. This is a huge and underreported story he was talking about, and he is getting to the nub of it. So, well done, Max Blumenthal.

But people who read Crazy for God will come to see that what I decided was happening was that the people who were talking from the right were actually—about patriotism and wrapping themselves in the flag were actually, in a weird way, profoundly anti-American. They wanted disaster. The worse the country got, the closer it was to Christ coming back, the more you needed Christians to tell you to accept Jesus as your savior. You know, they needed—they needed an apocalyptic frame of mind.

AMY GOODMAN: We have eight seconds.

FRANK SCHAEFFER: Yeah. So, essentially, yeah, I would just say, you know, my point is, there was a hypocrisy, because the anti-Americanism was very much in the right while the right was talking about and pointing the finger at the left.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Frank Schaeffer, I want to thank you very much for being with us, a film director, former evangelical Christian. Latest book, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. He has written "An Open Letter to John McCain".

Nuns on the Run

Homeland Security has declared two Catholic nuns to be terrorists. Now I can sleep at night knowing that my knuckles are a little bit safer from those hags' rulers. It's about time someone did something about those vicious viragoes! I can't even write my name without having agonizing flashbacks to my grade school days when those sadistic scolds gave me premature arthritis because my "s" looked too risqué. Oh, the horrors!! Thank you, Homeland Security, for protecting me from those pure incarnations of ruthless evil! You are making the world safe for bad penmanship!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Francis Fukuyama, call your office

The Oracle, Ayn Rand's Talmudist, Alan Greenspan hath spoken:
The crisis will mean a return to the ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism. Many of us thought that struggle was over with the collapse of the command economies, but this is not the case.
So, history has resumed, Frank. Bummer, now you have to write another afterword.

Then again, I may be crowing too soon. After all, Bush now has the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team at the ready to quell any resurgence of the, er, Hegelian Dialectic and thereby make sure that the End of History remains so.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A quick note on the politics of Abortion

The anti-choice argument against Obama is crystal clear, of course. Obama would, if elected, appoint Supreme Court justices who would uphold Roe, and that's the exact opposite of what the anti-choice crowd wants. Okay, so one who wants abortion outlawed should vote for McCain, right? Well, er, not so fast...

As I have written before in this space, the Republicans do not want Roe overturned. Once Roe is no longer on the table, then abortion becomes a state issue, and the Republicans will no longer be able to keep the Conservative Christian Voting Bloc hostage. To be sure, the current Republican Regime has obtained an important victory for the anti-choice cause, the upholding of the partial birth abortion ban. But look at the decision that upheld it. Who wrote it? None other than the guy who wrote the majority opinion in Casey, the decision that allowed restrictions on abortion while upholding the "central holding" of Roe. None of the other justices of the majority wrote concurring opinions, not Alito, not Roberts, not Thomas, not even Scalia. Those pro-life justices let the pro-Roe Anthony Kennedy speak for them. The message of the court was clear: we will go this far restricting abortion but no further.

But let's say McCain is not a cynic on abortion, as even some Christian Conservatives think he is. He gets elected, Justice Stevens or Ginsburg finally drops, McCain sends in an anti-choice replacement, and the court finally has an anti-Roe majority. Roe still will not be overturned. A state has to challenge it first. An individual can't because he has no standing. Roe affects the laws of the states, and so only states have standing to challenge it. So, what state will do so? It looked like South Dakota would, but then it chickened out. Well, if not even South Dakota is brave enough to challenge Roe , it looks like Roe will be safe even if a McCain presidency tries to get an anti-Roe majority on the court. And that is a huge "if". Sad, but true.

Of course, there is always this possibility: McCain gets elected, Stevens drops, McCain appoints a judge who hates Roe with a livid vengeance, and Louisiana decides that it is Catholic and challenges Roe. But before her lawyers can even file motions, McCain triggers thermonuclear war with Russia, Sarah Palin is raptured, and the rest of us, Louisiana's lawyers included, are blown to oblivion.

Monday, September 29, 2008

An interesting Quote from 2005

...a global financial crisis in part provoked by its own reckless economic policies would permit the U.S. government to finally rid itself of any obligation whatsoever to provide for the welfare of its citizens except for the ratcheting up of that military and police power that might be needed to quell social unrest and compel global discipline. Saner voices within the capitalist class, having listened carefully to the warnings of the likes of Paul Volker that there is a high probability of a serious financial crisis in the next five years, may prevail. But this will mean rolling back some of the privileges and power that have over the last thirty years been accumulating in the upper echelons of the capitalist class. Previous phases of capitalist history--one thinks of 1873 or the 1920s--when a similarly stark choice arose, do not augur well. The upper classes, insisting on the sacrosanct nature of their property rights, preferred to crash the system rather than surrender any of their privileges and power. In so doing they were not oblivious of their own interest, for if they position themselves aright they can, like good bankruptcy lawyers, profit from a collapse while the rest of us are caught most horribly in the deluge. A few of them may get caught and end up jumping out of Wall Street windows, but that is not the norm. The only fear they have is of political movements that threaten them with expropriation and revolutionary violence.

--David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, pp. 152-3

Quick obvious thoughts on Sarah Palin

Well, of course, Sarah Palin is a ridiculous, scatterbrained ditz. So much so, in fact, that the now much-discussed SNL parody of Couric's Palin interview used Palin's actual words. But this will not hurt McCain's candidacy. If anything, it will help it. For two reasons:

1) McCain needs to distance himself from Bush somehow. He cannot do so with regard to foreign policy, of course. The doctrine of preventive war seems to be his DNA. He cannot do so with regard to the economy simply because he's clueless. But he can pick a complete idiot for his running mate, someone no one would mistake for some crafty, secretive cloak-and-dagger Svengali. McCain has promised that his VP won't plot a fascist coup d'etat in the wings. She's just too stupid.

2) Picking a stupid running mate has been a Republican tradition since at least Spiro Agnew. A country club party must throw some kind of sop to the idea of democratic egalitarianism, after all. If this idiot can become president, well, so can my kid who is now flunking Kindergarten. All this ridicule of Palin's run-on sentences and her outright ignorance will just serve to win the vote of the resentful dunces. Thanks to our public school system, this voting bloc is nothing to sneeze at.

Oh, by the way, Darrell Hammond's McCain was bad. It wasn't McCain. It was Dana Carvey's George H. W. Bush.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

File this under DUH!

Sorry, I have to correct a really glaring error. In a past entry I wrote:
All that is new with Bush is the shamelessly blatant assertion that we have the right to invade any country we damn well please, and it is precisely the utter shamelessness with which this "right" is asserted that is new. Past administrations were somewhat more decorous.
Well, that is wrong. Past adminstrations were not more decorous about asserting this Hitlerian right--not even somewhat. One need only think of Reagan with Grenada or Poppy Bush with Panama or McKinley with Spain or Polk with Mexico . Therefore, there is nothing new at all with the foreign policy doctrine of Bush der Zweite. The so-called Bush Doctrine is nothing other than traditional American foreign policy. This is obvious, and I should have known as much. Boy, do I feel stupid and scatter-brained. Can I be John McCain's running mate now?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Post for Mr. H. about the Catholic Conception of Confession

[A Protestant has asked me to explain why Catholics seek absolution from a priest. I don't feel like writing anything new. Hence, this recycled post.--PSR]

A few years ago I met an old friend from my undergraduate days. This man is one of the sweetest, even saintliest people I know, and he is an evangelical Protestant. At Washington U. I was a very loud and very cheeky atheist, and my blasphemous cheekiness caught the attention of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship which tried its darndest to get me to abandon my atheism and accept Christ as my personal saviour. Well, the Fellowship failed, and Deo gratias for that. Otherwise I fear that I would now be a Bush-supporting happy clappy evangelical. If that ever happens to me, I would hope that someone would have the presence of mind to give me an overdose of morphine.

Anyway, this very sweet man was part of the team that tried to convert me. When we met a few years ago, he was very glad to know that I had returned to the Catholic Faith, and I, truth be told, was somewhat disappointed that he was still a Protestant. He did tell me that he was an avid viewer of EWTN, and I pretty much left it at that. I figured that if he was watching Mother Angelica, he didn't need my sales pitch, which can really be overbearing and, hence, alienating. I keep forgetting the essential maxim of apologetics: win an argument, lose a convert.

But we did continue to discuss religion. He had a veritable horror story to tell me.

Ten years ago he told me that he had done something just awful. Really awful. It filled him with existential dread. In fact, the magnitude of his sin was so great that he thought he had done the sin, the sin against the Holy Ghost. As every reader of the Bible knows--and he was an avid reader of the Bible--this is the only unforgivable sin. My friend spent the next decade utterly convinced that he was doomed to an eternity in hell.

Yet, he soldiered on with his faith not because he had any benefit from it but because of his duty to the truth. God bless this man. But the thoughts of hell obviously were taking their toll. He was not only empty but ravaged to the point where he just could not bear any longer this inescapable damnation, and so he decided finally one day just to say that God had forgiven him. That made him feel better. Yes, this was very much a Protestant way out, deciding for yourself what is forgivable and what is not, but it is better than the alternative, suicide, which, by the way, is the unforgivable sin.

I have since been told that this horror story is a very common phenomenon in evangelical Protestantism, and actually there happens to be a very good reason why it is common. Sola scriptura, the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith. This doctrine simply begs the question of interpretation. How do you know that your interpretation is the one that God wants? The evangelical answer to this is simply that you are filled with the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost makes sure that you read the scripture properly. Okay, fine. How do you know you are filled with the Holy Ghost. You just feel it. You have this great sense of freedom. You feel accepted. You feel loved. You want to sing 7-11 songs all day and just do the will of Christ in sunny gratitude for His awesome sacrifice on the cross.

Okay, but what happens if this feeling goes away? What happens when you just don't feel like doing yet another verse of "Our God is an awesome God"? What happens in a moment of weakness you actually sin and suddenly feel like an ungrateful schmuck who has spat upon the crucified Christ? You pick up your Bible and flip to Romans 5 and try to remind yourself of God's mindboggling love with verse 8: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." That verse used to make you feel so happy, but for some reason it fills you this time with gall. Why? And then Mark 3:39 and Luke 12:10 bang off the walls of your mind as rudely as the Grim Reaper's knock. Your sin was not just any sin, it was the eternal sin, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and that explains why Romans 5:8 offers you no solace anymore. You have spoken against the Holy Ghost, and in consequence the Holy Ghost has left you. You are now irrevocably hellbound.

But wait a minute! Your sin may have been terrible, but you know others who've done the same thing, In fact, you know people who've mentioned the very same sins in their testimonies. Surely they are saved and are righteous and Godly people. But why does your stomach still feel like it's about to rupture? Because it's not the sin, it's how you did it. You did it with malice, deliberation, and glee. You didn't care about the Spirit inside you. In fact, you now remember you may have said to hell with the Spirit as you committed your despicable sin with wild abandon. Well, did you? You must have because you no longer can read your Bible with the same exhilaration, with the same joy. You can no longer feel the indwelling of the Spirit. That can only mean that, yes, you have blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. You are going to hell.

This reasoning is the inevitable result of the evangelical's concept of sola scriptura. If the Bible and the feeling of the Spirit inside you are all you have to guide your faith, then if you don't feel indwelt, you're just screwed. The Bible never defines what exactly blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is and is, hence, vulnerable to all sorts of interpretations. Now, when you feel indwelt, you obviously think you're in good with the Holy Ghost and so obviously you'll not pay attention to Christ's warnings about the eternal sin. It's only when you feel forsaken by the Spirit, that those passages become a concern, and how are you to interpret them rightly? You need the Spirit to do that, but He's gone, and your mind is warped with sin. A very vicious circle has ensnared you.

I'd imagine that a lot of people would say at this point, "Well, screw this!," and relapse to their previous buzzes, be it drink, drugs, meaningless sex, or New Age Cults. But then there are people like my friend who was in it for more than the spiritual buzz. He wanted truth, and, again, may God bless him, but the solipsism inherent in his evangelical Protestantism made his individual conscience into a ruthless, merciless Holy Inquisition that damned him even beyond Maranatha. I repeat, he could have killed himself, and thank God he did not. He managed to escape his own mind, but it took a decade of torture to do it.

This is just one reason why the Catholic Church insists that we confess our sins to a priest. Sin makes us, of course, less like Christ and, therefore, less merciful, and the greater the guilt, the less merciful we will be with ourselves. It's absurd to expect that in such a state we can see God's forgiveness clearly. No, we need to hear the words of forgiveness from outside of our warped minds. And that's why Christ was not only merciful but supremely wise to institute the sacrament of confession. Nothing brings more peace this side of the eschaton than to hear a human voice actually say "I forgive you."