Monday, May 26, 2008

On this Memorial Day I might as well express gratitude for American Freedom

Freedom, it is the gods' radiant spark,
And with blood we'll defend it on a lark,
So, let us glut ourselves with gooey globs of pornographic sex,
As we feed the military industrial complex.

[Readers of my old weblog will no doubt recognize this rather cynical and dark quatrain. And, yes, I do intend it to be cynical and dark. The American notion of freedom is simply decadent license and as such not worth dying for. Actually, our wars are not for freedom at all. We just say that because we want to be noble somehow, but we're really fighting for what Dwight D. Eisenhower (a Republican, mind you, not a tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, tie-dyed, Chomskyite, commie pinko pothead) notoriously called the Military Industrial Complex. Now, I know some self-satisfied, flag-waving fascists like to laugh at people who use this term, joking that these like to use an intimidating polysyllabic simply as a substitute for thought which they have evidently toked away. I will agree that "Military Industrial Complex" is a ridiculously clumsy term that invites parody, but Eisenhower was always known for his labored and cumbersome rhetoric. Neverthetheless, the term does mean something. It means nothing more than our reliance on our military might to prop up our militarized economy. We must kill lots of people so that Haliburton's stock will go up, for instance. Or we keep the world in a perpetual state of fear and strife so that there will be a market for one of our last remaining manufactures, stuff that maims, destroys, and kills. Baghdad has just agreed to buy three billion dollars worth of our death technology. Maybe that will rescue us from the very messy burst of the housing bubble. Yeah, of course, "Military Industrial Complex" is an ugly term; it describes an ugly thing. But, at least, the Memorial Day Ceremonies are quite lovely.--PSR]

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I thought I had lost this

[This is from my old weblog. I thought I had lost it, but now it is found. Amazing. I still have not found my old post on the evils of masturbation, the reason why facebook disappeared my entire weblog. Go fuck yourself, Mark Zuckerberg. On second thought, I should be honored. After all, censorship is an indication that what is censored is too dangerous to be seen. In this open society one may say whatever they want about religion because religion has been reduced to a matter of taste and therefore neutered, but attacking masturbation attacks the very foundation of our regime, gluttonous capitalism, and therefore cannot be tolerated. Besides, Mr. Zuckerberg, does not, I suspect, like to have his only meaningful relationship maligned, or perhaps I'm just flattering myself.--PSR]

P. 82 of the October 16, 2006 issue of The New Yorker. 

On that page in the third column, one reads the following:

When Murdoch visits Britian these days, he is shocked by what he sees. "It has become totally hedonistic," he said. "The churches were never much, but what was there has collapsed. You go anywhere in England, when it's not raining, and there's a cluster of people outside every pub, boozing. The increase in alcohol consumption is pretty alarming."

John Cassidy, the author of this New Yorker profile of Murdoch, does not, to be sure, let him get away with this glaring hypocrisy. In the very next paragraph, Mr. Cassidy wryly observes that "Murdoch didn't mention the fact that many British people go to pubs to watch soccer matches on Sky, his satellite provider." But the exposure of Murdoch's hypocrisy does not go beyond this bemused, dry wryness. After all, The New Yorker style is one of cultivated subtlety. Here is where style clashes with content for Murdoch's hypocrisy is as unsubtle as one of his notorious Page Three Girls, and a droll witticism just ain't gonna do it justice.

I humbly suggest that Mr. Cassidy should have remembered his stint as a Murdoch journalist and gone after him like the Murdoch tabloids went after the Royal Family. And this time really take the gloves off. He should have written something like this:

Murdoch's complaining about hedonism is precisely like Frederick March's expression of shock that gambling went on in Rick's café. No, no, not "precisely like". March in Casablanca only knew that it was going on and gambled himself. But he did not buy up lots and lots of newspapers, satellite services, and other omnipresent media outlets to advertise it in every way imaginable. The naked and lascivious girls of Page Three were the brainchild of this Calvinist disdainer of decadence, whose third wife at the age of thirty-seven is less then half his age. Murdoch owns part of DirecTV, and I bet you that he does not turn his nose up at all the revenue that the 24/7 pay-per-view hardcore porn channels of this service rake in. In fact, his own Fox News Channel airs ads for one such channel, Plaboy TV, in between Hannity's thuggish denunciations of Democratic debaucheries. And we have all seen the blatant selling of sex on the now Murdoch-owned MySpace. Murdoch advertises, peddles, and has gotten filthy rich from all kinds of hedonism, subtle, direct, graphic, and violent (read any tell-all book of an ex-Porn actress to find out how violent hardcore porn is).

Murdoch complains now that the churches in England are empty? Eh? Did my eyes actually see such an absurdity? There is only one conclusion, then. Murdoch is the paragon of an ungrateful bastard. If the churches were filled and the congregants were as passionate about the Word of God as the pub-goers now are about their drink and the football matches aired from Murdoch's almighty Sky, then Murdoch would lose his addicts and become just another sleazy, unshaven, creepy beggar. It is the vast apostacy of nihilistic secularization that has built Murdoch's lurid and slobbering opulence, and Murdoch should giving nothing but thanks to it.

He has enough money. Nihilism has been very, very good to him, and the least he could do is erect a Ka'ba honoring the various gods of filth, replete with a sanctuary for yellow journalism, an altar for the topless Page Three Girls, and an arcade of the finest marble for the gangbangers. Such a project would no doubt only add to his wealth. He could sell pilgrimages to this pantheon of perversion, and I am sure that if the Page Three Girls are as plentiful as the booze is on Sunday Morning in the pubs, his unchurched addicts will come in droves, and Murdoch will have filled at least one place of worship.

Rupert Murdoch, you can go to hell.

Gay "Marriage" might break the back of the Israel Lobby

Arizona Senator Jonathan Kyl this morning on Rupert Murdoch's excuse for a Sunday Morning News Show repeated the shrilly trumpeted argument that Iranian President Ahmadinejad is an unappeasable Hitler because he ominously called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Well, no, he did not. President Ahmadinejad has been mistranslated and taken out of context by the true unappeasable Hitlers, the neo-con cabal which runs the United States. Ahmadinejad said actually that the force occupying Jerusalem should vanish from the pages of history. I agree that it should as well. I, who try to be a good Catholic, like to follow the Vatican (whenever I can), and the Vatican's official position is that Jerusalem should be under international administration. Therefore, the Vatican wants the force now occupying Jerusalem to vanish. Does this mean the Vatican is an unappeasable Hitler as well?

I might point out that even the neo-cons would want the present regime in Jerusalem to vanish into historical oblivion as well--if they really believed their cant about the global spread of liberal democracy, that is.

The neo-con rhetoric about the global juggernaut of freedom is ultimately based upon Hegel's concept of history. According to Hegel, the history of ideological strife is supposed to end when everyone recognizes one another as a worker in one big happy, middle-class democracy, thereby dissolving once and for all the master/slave dichotomy which had heretofore been the sole motor of world history. Of course, if the neo-cons really truly believed this, they would not be working feverishly to advance an economic system that enriches fat, lazy, wrecklessly speculating rentiers at the expense of the world's workers, but nevermind that. At the level of their rhetoric they are supposed to be committed to a political system not based upon any aristocracy, caste system, or confessional hierarchy but based soley upon the equality of all capable of working.

But Israel, the neo-con's god, is very much an aristocracy, caste system, and confessional hierarchy. It is openly and unapologetically a Jewish State, where non-Jews are constitutionally denied the same rights enjoyed by Jews. Equality before the law is supposed to be a sine qua non of the type of democracy the neo-cons profess to promote and champion. Yet, such a concept is simply foreign in the country they are wont to call the Beacon of Democracy in the Middle East. Your lot in Israel does not depend so much on your labor but upon your caste. A Russian Jew, for instance, will get a nice roomy house in the West Bank simply because he's a Jewish Immigrant. A Gazan Palastinian, however, must waste away in what is known everywhere except in Zionist occupied America as the World's Biggest Prison. And just as the poor peasants with howlingly empty bellies seethed as they watched the Aristocrats of the Ancien Regime feast on delicate pastries, the desperately parched Palestinians must watch as their privileged Jewish neighbors water their lawns and fill their swimming pools. This is a far cry from the Hegelian Democracy envisioned in neo-con propaganda. But the neo-cons are, of course, filthy liars.

It pisses me off that Israel has such a hold on our politics. The Israel Lobby has even gotten ahold of the candidate that brags about his refusal to be bribed by lobbies, Barack Hussein Obama. All this blather about his being the candidate of Hamas is just that. If he were really the Hamas candidate, I would frankly be tempted to vote for him (only slightly tempted, though). A Hamas guy in the Oval Office would really pressure Israeli into a genuine peace deal and thereby inject some sanity into our Middle East Policy. But Hamas is a terrorist organization! Yeah, like the term "conservative", "terrorist" is a relative term. One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, and if I were confined to a prison like Gaza, deprived of water and medical supplies, I would probably want to launch rockets at my jailers, too.

We've got to break this stranglehold the Israel Lobby has on us. It makes us abandon all thought and delivers us to such monstrous absurdities as the idea that a country that has yet to develop even one deliverable nuclear weapon is a Hitlerian menace to one of the largest nuclear powers in the world today or the notion that if our politicians even so much as talk to a political party that won the Palestinian popular vote in what Our Dear Leader would call "free and fair elections", a slippery slope will swiftly will lead to another Auschwitz. This is just silly, and it needs to stop, but we won't stop it by blaming some insidious Jewish conspiracy. The Jews do have much political power in this country, but that power would not be nearly so comprehensive as it now is if the Rapturite Evangelicals were not their useful idiots. Worshippers of Israel like that psychopath John Hagee.

If we could just makes these Evangelicals turn on Israel, then the Israel Lobby would be as effective as, say, the pro-life lobby. But how? Israel is the place where the rebuilt Temple is supposed to trigger Armaggedon and thereby the Third Coming (the Second Coming is the Rapture). So, the Evangelicals won't do anything that may spoil Jesus's welcoming party. Therefore, we must pamper Israel with millions of dollars in aid even though the Israelis are now comfortably middle class and then some. But what if we can convince the Evangelicals that Israel is an apostate land and that Christ would never enter a rebuilt Temple in a land that has flagrantly flouted His word?

Of course, killing, torturing, and tyrannizing the weak does not rise to the level of apostacy. The weak are Palestinians, and on the Evangelical reading of Holy Writ, the Israelis have been remiss only in not killing them all. Killing the Muslim Infidel is, after all, God's work. It has to be something that really makes Evangelicals sick, and mass genocide in the name of a Holy War or the Clash of Civilizations doesn't do that, but gay "marriage" just might.

If Israel were to allow gay "marriage", that just might get people like Hagee and his dittoheads to slap the flat of their hands against their foreheads and realize that depraved countries like Israel must be stopped lest the whole world get buggered. Well, Israeli Law does not allow gay "marriage" yet, but an Israeli Court has recently ruled that Israel must recognize gay "marriages".

So, here's my plan: We buy all the gay couples in Israel tickets to California, "marry" them, and then send them to the West Bank Settlements. Then the next time the Palestinians try to fight their oppressors, people like Hagee won't be helping the Israel Lobby to press congress for more military aid but will instead declare, "Just as the gay pride parade in New Orleans provoke the divine wrath of Katrina and the immorality of San Francisco asked for the incendiary anger of the forest fires, so too has Israel's lifestyle change given God no choice but to make His displeasure known through this Intifada!"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Marriage, Adultery, Fornication, Luther, and Hooters

I have a wicked ass headache which is preventing me from reading. And so I am very miserable. Because reading is about the only thing that makes me happy. Well, mass quantities of sexual intercourse with Kiera Knightley would make me happy (and would probably get rid of my headache as well), but fornication is a mortal sin, and even if Miss Knightley did show up and said, "Let me feel your throbbing manhood, you textbook example of a Roman War God you!" (which is as likely to happen as President Ralph Nader) and if I succumbed to that barely resistible temptation, I would more than likely be brooding under the enormity of Catholic guilt for the next, say, two decades. No thanks.

So, since I am in no condition to read and am safe from the soul-endangering blandishments of Miss Knightley, I have nothing to do except attempt to make other people as miserable as I am. And this I will do this by baiting a MySpace "friend" of mine who is wont to channel "Saint" Luther when she needs to write a paper for some course in Protestant (hence, gnostic, hence, heretical) Theology.

First off, Luther was not a saint. What he devoted his life to was the destruction of Christian Unity. A saint should be one who unifies the people under the Faith, but Luther did the opposite: he divided the faith into lots and lots of quarreling sects. If he knew what he was doing, then he is now delighting Satan with his notorious flatulence. But I choose to be charitable and think that, perhaps, he did not know what he was doing, in which case he cannot be held culpable for the evil he visited upon Europe. Of course, that would make Luther a raving madman. But if someone really wants Luther to be a saint in heaven, then you have to hope the guy was looney tunes. Then again, such a lunatic won't help you write a paper. Well, he might help you write a paper for a professor who is a Lutheran lunatic herself because lunacy looks like sanity to the insane. So, okay, Luther can be a saint but only if he is a lunatic, and a lunatic will indeed help you write a paper for a lunatic professor. Ergo, my MySpace "friend" may well be doing a useful thing channeling Saint Luther for academic help. But how this all jibes with Luther's notion that the soul sleeps until the eschaton, I do not know.

Now when I say that Luther was lunatic, I am not being a Catholic Chauvinist. I used to be a Catholic Chauvinist, but then my fellow chauvinists--in this country, at least--went neo-con on me and told me that true Catholic Chauvinists vote for George W. Bush and revel in such things as imperialism, unfettered capitalism, and torture. My Catholic Chauvinism shriveled up in shame. When the Pope issues an encyclical denouncing the Bush Doctrine of Preventive War--and he just well might, Papa Ratzi is in many respects a Chomskyite--, then, perhaps, my Catholic pride will resume, but not until then.

Anyway, back to the main point: I say Luther is a looney not because of any sectarian triumphalism but because I have common sense. When Luther says scripture interprets scripture, for instance, what little thought I can muster under a migraine still screams, "Books, even holy books, don't read themselves, you stupid fuckwit. People do, and reading precedes interpreting." Or, when Luther came up with the brilliant plan of letting the princes take over the Church because he thought the princes were positive paragons of perfect virtue and the clerics hellbound rot. And then he stood idly by as the princes slaughtered the rebellious peasantry. And then he gave his blessings to the open bigamy of Phillip of Hesse. Luther was a true German: at the throat of those who don't have weapons and at the knees of those who do.

But at least Luther made it finally possible for Germans to read the Bible in their own language. Well, no. There were eighteen translations of the Bible into German before the great Luther. Besides, his translation sucks. Because "faith alone" is never mentioned in the Bible except James 2:24 where it is unequivocally rejected, Luther added "alleine" to Romans 3:28. And that "alleine" remains even in today's "bearbeitete" version of die Lutherbibel. I know. I have one, and Romans 3:28 is printed in boldface so that Luther's error appears with quite literal boldness. How very appropriate.

Another one of Luther's infamously boneheaded translations is "Ehebruch" for porneia in the so-called Exceptive Clause in Matthew 5:32. "Ehebruch" is the German word for adultery, and, therefore, adultery justifies putting asunder what God has joined. But porneia in koine Greek does not mean adultery. Moicheia does. Porneia covers a range of pre-marital sex from temple prostitution to just simple general fornication (what I would like to have lots of with Kiera Knightley, for instance). It does not refer to extra-marital sex, and Christ in Matthew's exceptive clause (which is absent in the other synoptic rendering of Christ's statement about the indissolubility of marriage) refers not to the grounds for divorce but to grounds for a declaration of nullity. A null marriage is nothing other than co-habitation and, hence, fornication.

Of course, if you understand the Bible as teaching that adultery justifies divorce, you must also accept the Biblical definition of adultery, which includes looking at Playboy with bulging eyes (and other anatomical parts). In other words, coveting is adultery, and the infallible Luther said that no one can control his coveting. Therefore, every married person commits adultery. Therefore, no marriage can last. And since the vast majority of men covet about once every, say, five minutes (that's a very conservative estimate, gelinde gesagt), most marriages can't last beyond the wedding night. Thus, a Lutheran can understand Christ statement's about marriage only as Our Lord's Blessing of the Sigheh or what we know in the vernacular as the One Night Stand.

Hey, wait a minute. I kind of like this. I can go up to a chic, propose marriage, promise that I will stay with her until my eye wanders, have a really enjoyable, er, wedding night, and then the next night go to another singles bar and get, er, hitched up again. Fine, I am becoming Lutheran. This pecca fortiter thing does have its conveniences, eh?

Of course, I'll have to get my eyes back in the habit of wandering. For the past few months I have been going to Hooters to practice custodia oculorum by reading really dull books on Spinozan philosophy or economics, and actually I find the books more interesting than, er, the scenery there. Ah Middle Age!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Oil Bubble

This testimony by Tyson Slocum before a Congressional Committee this past Tuesday is very long and may not hold the attention of my younger subscribers, distracted as they may be by their still roiling adolescent hormones. Ah, youth! But it is a very useful, informative piece and articulates most learnedly why the Oil Companies are ruthless, evil, lying fat bastards. I suspect most of the people reading this already have intuited as much, but it is very important to support gut intuition with cogent argument if only to have a comeback for some idolater of Milton Friedman when he tells you with self-satisfied smugness that you obviously do not know the basics of the most rudimentary workings of the free market.

Yes, well Freedman's notion of freedom was "without rules" as in anarchy, and any good Catholic philosopher (this category excludes obviously Richard John Neuhaus, George Weigel, and Michael Novak) knows that anarchy does not bring with it true freedom, but only the brutal dominance of the strong over the weak. And this is more or less the upshot of Mr. Slocum's testimony above. The deregulation of the oil business has allowed the big companies to wipe out the small ones, and now they are basically bottlenecking the supply of gas to drive the prices up. If the lovers of Adam Smith want a truly competitive market, then they have to quit singing paeans to the Invisible Hand--which is hardly invisible and more like a great, big brawling fist--and realize that true competition requires rules.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A rant about a silly facebook group

[I hate to admit it, but, yes, I have a profile on facebook, which is much more fascist than the Murdoch-owned MySpace has ever been. Case in point, I was for a while blogging on a facebook weblog. After I had posted an essay on the grave evils of onanism, my entire weblog disappeared or, to use the appropriate fascist voice, was disappeared. Mark Zuckerberg (or however you spell that dweeb's name) doesn't like it when one of his subjects dumps on his favorite hobby. Anyway, yes, I am still on it because it is the only way I can keep in contact with the Wash. U. Crowd. Because I have alot of Wash. U. friends on facebook, I get to see a bit of what the Wash. U. studentry is up to. So far I have not seen any facebook group calling for the burning down of the ROTC Building. The radical contingent at Wash. U. nowadays seems to extend only to protesting the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Phyllis Schlafly. How banal. Anyway, I thought about joining this group to rant about how silly it is, but I had better things to do such as scanning Bush's speeches for grammatical errors. But then one of my facebook a "friends", a certain Jerome Bauer, posted this group to his newsfeed, allowing me to comment on it. I could not resist that temptation. Nota bene: Chief among Ms. Schlafly's sins that has provoked this group's furor is a remark that spousal rape is impossible because the act of marriage is consent to sex anywhere at anytime with one's partner.--PSR]

Oh, goody, I get to comment on this group without having to join it. Thanks, Dr. Bauer. Okay, my comment: No, I don't think Washington University should honor Ms. Schlafly, not because she is anti-feminist, but because she is an idiot. That said, I must say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I agree with her on matters such as abortion and gay "marriage". I do not agree with her comment on spousal rape. But, again, not because it does not square with some feminist ideology but because it does not square with Catholic Teaching, and Schlafly is supposed to be Catholic. Although, she seems to be more Republican than Catholic. During the Republican Primary she seemed more concerned with permanent taxcuts for the rich than with electing a truly anti-abortion candidate, making the singularly Republican Error in thinking that taxing the rich is the only intrinsic evil.

So, Wash. U. should stand on feminist principles and withdraw this honor for Ms. Schlafly? You gotta be kidding me! If Wash. U. stood on feminist principles, it would get rid of fratrow which is in the business of plying bright young ladies with that ontological darkness known as Keystone Beer for the sake of transforming them into jaded sluts. If Wash U. had any feminist principles at all, it would have at the very least censured Student Life for advertising a sex toy lecture sponsored by the Pornography Industry, a racket that earns its filthy lucre, of course, by blatant and frequently violent exploitation of women. Wash. U. could have also not allowed this event to take place on university property. And if this group had any sense whatsoever, it would realize that fratboys and the pornography industry have done far more harm to the feminist cause and to women than an idiotic faux pax of an octonagerian virago ever could.

Finally, the very idea that Wash. U. is concerned about any principles at all, let alone feminist ones, is risible. If it were, it would not be, for instance, taking money from Monsanto, the company that wants to patent and then poison the world's food supply. All Wash. U. cares about is prestige, and today prestige is defined as celebrity. That's why the commencement speakers of recent years have not been scholars, as one would expect at an institution which claims devotion to scholarship, but celebrities such as Tim Russert last year and Chris Matthews this year. Phyllis Schlafly is a celebrity, and for Wash. U., that's all that matters.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Father Martin Hagan, 1919-2008

It saddens me profoundly that I missed his funeral mass yesterday at the College Church in St. Louis. I hope that he was carried out to resounding choruses of "NICKEL". Fr. Hagan managed the Rec Room in the basement of my High School, which happens to be the largest pool hall in the state of Missouri. Only a thoroughly Jesuit Institution, as St. Louis University High School was and may still yet be, would corrupt its young charges with billiards. Fr. Hagan's famous rule stipulated that anyone who shot a ball off a table and onto the very loud cement floor had to atone for this sin with a nickel. As loud as the drop of a billiard ball was, adolescent shrieks of nickel Schadenfreude always drowned it out. It is better for teenage boys to get their yahs-yahs out through venial jeers than in other far more sinful ways, and I suspect that this was as much Fr. Hagan's rationale as his wish for easy income for the Rec Room discretionary fund. Catholicism at its best provides both for our material needs and our souls. This is, after all, the logic of the Incarnation. Also, Fr. Hagan was insistent that the wages of sin be low, even token, so as to demonstrate the gentle quality of mercy. The acknowledgement--plus the nickel, of course--was enough, and if after a few years of the accumulation of token atonements, you have enough for a new pool table, so much the better.

Fr. Hagan was a bit of a subversive in that he did not believe in heavy penalties. In fact, he went out of his way to protect us from the ever vindictive assistant principle in a notoriously tacky manner. Various days of the year were designated tie days. All of us were supposed to come to school wearing a tie. The obvious intention, of course, was for all of us to look like well-dressed, presentable preppy republicans, but that's not what the rule said. All it required of us was the wearing of a tie on any shirt with a collar. So, if you did not wear a tie, then you got a demerit towards detention. But if you wore a tie, any tie, however loud or gaudy or wrinkled or stained with catsup and on any shirt from an Oxford button-down to a K-Mart Blue Light Special tennis shirt, you were in compliance. Well, some of us would come to school on a tie day not even having met this minimum standard, thereby risking an imminent demerit. But we didn't have to sweat. We could always go down to the Rec Room where Fr. Hagan had a vast assortment of ties, all very ugly. They must have been donated by past members of the English Department. Fr. Hagan saved us from the disciplinarians, demonstrated the absurdity of legal positivism thereby, and gave the English Language another term for a sartorial faux pas, the Hagan Tie.

But what I most remember about dear Fr. Hagan was his intellectual passion to the point of intellectual bullying. I will never ever forget that day in freshmen theology class when he nearly browbeat us to give him arguments against his vehement attacks against theism. The next day, I should hasten to note, he did apologize for unloading on us as he most certainly did. He realized that we were not ready for the dangerous intricacies of the God-debate, and we weren't. The arguments that he gave for the existence of God were, to be honest, not convincing. He could only sketch for us a vague amalgamation of the cosmological and contingency arguments, which, if memory serves, sounded like current Intelligent Design Crap, and he did not even try to answer his argument from evil that he thundered at us the day before. I don't suspect that he was what many a Jesuit has been caricatured to be, a kind of Straussian closet atheist. Closet atheists are not as forthright as he was. Fr. Hagan merely wanted to impress upon us that we cannot rely upon the complacent, unquestioning piety that the nuns had inculcated in us. Growing up Catholic meant having to think, however painful that may be.

There is one Hagan argument that has stuck with me to this day, and that is his argument against abortion. Fr. Hagan as usual went to the very nub of the debate, the question of whether or no the embryo is a person. Fr. Hagan's point of departure was the same as Obama's, agnosticism. We do not know whether the embryo is a person, but it is possible that it is. And as long as there is a possibility of personhood, abortion is as wrong as it would be to drop a hand grenade out a window because you do not know if there are people outside. Fr. Hagan had no use for the viability argument, saying with memorably acid dismissiveness that if it is permissible to kill a human being because he is weak and dependent on one end of life then we can kill the weak and dependent at the other end, and it is very well known that the Netherlands now understands this horrid absurdity as reason.

I attended only one Mass that Fr. Hagan celebrated. That was a special mass that concluded my Freshman Year. True to his aversion to punishment, he pleaded with us not to tease next year's freshmen as we were teased. SLUH has an odious tradition of freshmen being called "FRED". We were all eager to become sophomores so that we could do unto others as it was done unto us much like second graders relish the opportunity to lord their advanced status over the lowly first grade peons. Of course, he knew very well that such taunts were at most silly venialities of silly vain youth, but the motives behind them were all ugly, soul-eroding revenge, and the person who can't manage well small matters can't be trusted to manage great ones. He was trying to melt this vindictive impulse before it snowballed to an imprisoning obsession. Few of us heeded him. Once we became wise fools, we called our underlings "FRED" with sanguine glee. I know I did. The rush of superiority was too tempting. I wish now I heeded the wise Fr. Hagan. I did not, and I now am bitter for it.

I miss you already, Fr. Hagan. May flights of angels carry you to your eternal rest.

Fr. Hagan, pray for me.

Father Marty Hagan R.I.P.

He was my theology teacher my freshman year in High School. He impressed upon us that theology is not a field of sentimental mush but a rigorous discipline. In fact, he got angry at us callow 13 and 14 year olds if we took recourse to any sentiment at all to defend our faith. One day he dropped our naive little jaws when he asserted that there is too much suffering and evil in the world for there to exist a God and demanded relentlessly that we give him a convincing counterargument. Every one of our meager attempts he swatted, and I at least left the class bitter and worried. He did not relish exposing us to ruthless atheistic arguments as a cheap way of showing the superiority of his Jesuit intellect. He was not a jesuitical Jesuit. He was a Classic Jesuit, a member of the Shock Troops, and he was hard on us because he was preparing us for spiritual battle, where warm and fuzzy feelings just do not cut it.

Fr. Hagan died on Monday. I found out about his death only a half hour ago and discovered to my great sorrow that I had already missed his funeral. He was the teacher that first impressed upon not just the necessity of argumentative rigor, but also the passionate urgency thereof. Arguments matter because the human being lives for meaning, and, therefore, it follows that it is of the utmost vital importance to get this meaning right. And if you have to shock the pious sensibilities of pink-cheeked altar boys to do so, so be it. Education is rough. But it would not be worth it if it weren't. Thanks, Fr. Hagan, and I am really sorry that I missed the opportunity to say good-bye to you. Resquiescat in pace.