Tuesday, September 22, 2015


This beautiful article from Christopher Check expresses eloquently so much of my own lamentations, for decades (he even uses the term "Endarkenment," which I've used for years, as well!).  If ANYONE is reading this. . . read this:


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Deranged Response to Value

 From Anthony Esolen's Destruction ad nihilem (at thecatholicthing.org):

[Carol Gilligan's] insane conclusion bears upon the cultural situation in which sane people in general and Christians in particular now find themselves. To look upon boys doing boyish and innocent things, and accomplishing something impressive, and to regard them with disdain or hatred, is a sign of mental and spiritual disease. It would be like seeing a mother rocking her child to sleep, and sniffing at the scene with contempt. It is what Dietrich von Hildebrand would say was a deranged response to value. 

You say that, Sir (the bit I've highlighted), as if nobody would dream of doing that.  And yet, they do that, too.  The "feminists" absolutely decided that motherhood was a contemptible occupation.  They would never say that out loud, but it was everywhere implied (and impressed upon us growing girls in the '70's and '80's), by the repeated messages that women needed more that "just that" to "be fulfilled," that making a home and nurturing children was somehow "beneath" the true dignity of a woman; that she deserved "more," that she was "worth more," etc.  As if there could be any more humanly ESSENTIAL, any more URGENTLY IMPORTANT, occupation for ANY HUMAN BEING, than raising up children and providing for their health and safety and preparation for life.  It is, as you say, insane, but that's what they were about, and the whole culture followed them right down that bizarre rabbit hole.

It is certainly true that women can make important, beautiful, enormously valuable contributions in every other field of human endeavour, as well.  And it's lovely that women have opportunities now to do so, far greater than they did at any time previous.  However, we must admit that a great multitude of babies quite literally were thrown out with the bathwater of workplace discrimination against women.  In addition to the million-plus per year actual babies that are discarded as medical waste, the metaphorical "baby" of the value of MOTHERHOOD was also discarded.  

We are now an entire culture who pays almost no attention at all to the image of a mother rocking her child to sleep, and--far worse--little or no attention to the image of a mother having someone murder her own child in her very womb.  Go figure.  Motherhood?  Forgetaboutit.   

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Worldview Review: "Self/less"

Shortest WR ever:

This beautifully told parable in the guise of a sci-fi action thriller is not recommended for the young'uns, but for adults and young adults with well-formed consciences (say, anyone capable of appreciating St. Augustine's Confessions), I'd have to say it's a must-see.

Side notes:

1)  It's a beautiful advertisement for New Orleans, and it's nice to see Hollywood notice that life does exist in the U.S. in places other than New York City and various California coastal cities.

2)  I'm always surprised to find that Ryan Reynolds can actually act.  His physical type is such that I always expect him to be merely a "face man"--and then he repeatedly reminds me that I am mistaken (not that I've seen much of his work, or would recommend any of his other films that I have seen, other than perhaps "Buried").  I've no idea if he could handle a stage performance, but a movie actor he certainly is.  Ben Kingsley and Victor Garber, as always, are a pleasure to watch work.  It would be nice to see more of Derek Luke; he has a great presence but we didn't get to see enough of him here.

3)  Ten "Venture Points" to anyone who, after seeing the movie, leaves in the comments here the same "moral of the story" that I had bounding through my head as I left the theater.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Special Forces Tasked With Covert Ops; The Role of the Citizen in the Resistance

[[High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of exorcism, known as exorcismo magno (the great exorcism).]]

I had no idea that this could be done for entire towns, regions, or nations, as opposed to only one individual at a time.   If these (quoted above) are sufficient reasons, then the U.S. is far overdue. Indeed, I hope it is already being done regularly, and we just are not being informed about it (see next comment, below).

[[ Comment Posted by C.S.:
This is an inspiring example of the faith of the bishops of Mexico. I’d like to see this done in our country. Probably the location should be kept secret to avoid disruptions but the date could be given out so that the faithful could support the effort by confession, fasting, and prayer.]]

No, the entire event, even the fact that it is being done, should be kept secret, for the physical and spiritual safety of the exorcists.  Our nation is in the grip of some truly terrifying "principalities and powers," and the "special forces" soldiers in the vanguard fighting this enemy need every advantage they can get, including the advantage of secrecy so that demonic forces cannot be (wittingly or unwittingly!) marshaled against them beforehand.  When I say "unwittingly," I refer to people who think, for example, that they are "atheists," but who would direct their hatred and contempt toward the event, which constitutes a spiritual assault, giving ammunition to the enemy even though they don't believe there is such a thing. 

What the faithful should be told is to be invited to add regular prayers for the support of exorcists to their daily prayers (I intend to!), as well as being invited to fast and perhaps make other offerings specifically for the support of exorcists--in general.  The less said about specific events, the better--certainly until AFTER the event is over, but even then, because spiritual acts are not time-bound, it is probably better not to reveal specifics of any operation like this, for the same reasons that highly sensitive operations in wartime are not announced beforehand OR afterwards, until many years after the war is over. 

Another thing the faithful must be told, now and repeatedly (it bears continual repeating, as wartime communications to general citizens during WWII demonstrate), is that we ARE, in fact, at war.  Of course, we always have been, but for Westerners living in what was until recently CHRISTENDOM, and particularly U.S. citizens, up until recently living in a nation explicitly founded on, and a culture deeply steeped in, a Christian worldview, that was all too easy to forget.  We have forgotten it, most of us, and we have become so ingrown into the creeping culture of mammon that we've failed to recognize how the thorns have grown up around us.  We're now waking up to the fact that we're caged in them, and there's a pitched battle forming all around us.  We need to slash our way out of those thorns, arm ourselves "with the whole armor of God," and get ready for the persecution Christ warned us would be our portion, but also that he told us would be our BLESSING. 

Our priests must remind us, at every opportunity, that we are at war, we live in occupied territory, we are the resistance--"not peace but a sword"--and help us to learn how to resist as Christians, not as belligerent, obnoxious Americans "fighting for MY rights," but as Christians fighting for the eternal souls of those we face--fighting "NOT against men, but against principalities and powers.”  We have no experience doing this, and far too many examples (we are constantly bombarded with images in our media) of people attacking EACH OTHER.  We must remember that the PEOPLE who APPEAR to be our opposition (e.g., those politicians you view as "the other side;" the activists you view as "against" your beliefs) are as desperately loved by our Savior as we are.  We "fight NOT against them," but against a real and present, but not as easily PERCEIVED, enemy.  We cannot attack them, much as we may feel ourselves attacked by them, and call ourselves Christians.  We need to truly "know our enemy," and we need to be equipped for resistance IN CHRIST--for it will avail us nothing if we win some kind of human battle against other PEOPLE, made in the image of God and for whom Christ died, like us; if we beat down our brother we may both be lost.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Worldview Review: "Terminator: Genisys"

Because of my soul-deep regard for Story, I am fervently philosophically opposed to the “reboot.”  Because of this, if I were not teaching a sci-fi-related course in the fall, I probably would not have seen this latest Terminator offering, having heard that it was that most deplorable thing, a "reboot" of a "franchise"--and that would have been a shame. 

As it happens, “Terminator Genisys” is not properly a “reboot” at all, but a continuation of the Terminator saga.  The sharp script with marvelous time-travel convolutions abides by all the rules of the Terminator world introduced in the first film, and respects (and even at times beautifully alludes to) the events of the previous films (certainly of the first two, both of which I’ve seen and studied so often for teaching my course that I nearly have them memorized).  The only thing “rebooted” about the film was the casting of the two young leads as different actors, of practical necessity, since the first film was made over 30 years ago.  In this regard they could hardly have done better for the Sarah Connor character; Emilia Clarke reminded me of the original’s Linda Hamilton throughout the film, not just her physiognomy but the crafting of the character.  While Arnold Schwarzenegger has obviously aged, the smart script even makes perfect sense of that, again strictly within the “reality rules” established in the very first film.  

From a worldview perspective, these “Terminator” films (certainly the first two and this most recent one) are quite interesting.  Yes, there’s a great deal of violence, but interestingly, unlike most sci-fi action adventures, which generally compete with each other for the record of most bloodshed and loss of life depicted in a two-hour timespan, these films are shot through with a very obvious regard for the value of human life.  In the second one, in particular, the young John Connor makes a big deal out of ordering his robot guardian not to kill anyone,
“because you just CAN’T!”  This regard for human life and reluctance to kill indiscriminately extends throughout this series and is reflected in a similar order to Sarah Connor’s guardian “Pops” in this recent film, as well as a clearly expressed distaste on the part of Kyle Reese to “kill” at all, even when those he is “killing” are only machines.  The filmmakers also seem to take pains to order the chaotic action sequences such that it is at least plausible that the hapless humans caught in the Terminator crossfire might escape the fate of “collateral damage.”  For example, in one chase sequence in "Genisys," a gas truck, driven by an uninvolved human driver, is wrecked to attempt to slow down the relentless human-killing Terminator pursuer.  I was surprised to see the Guardian target this vehicle—for the very reason that it is inconsistent with the usual Terminator “just can’t kill people” world rule—but, as the truck turns over, we see that the cab with the driver disconnects from the trailer full of gas, sliding out of view to our right as the trailer explodes off to our left, implying that the driver might have survived this incident.  Yes, it's subtle, but it's--something.

If you haven’t seen the previous films and are considering whether you’d like to, you should note that in the first film, we do get an obligatory 1980’s sex scene between unmarried adults, but it must be said that the fact that these two people have sex actually is essential to the story (spoiler alert:  the future’s inspiring leader of the human resistance, John Connor, who sent Kyle Reese back to protect his mother Sarah Connor, turns out to be the fruit of this one night they spend together).  At least we maintain the “human life is of ultimate value” worldview in the fact that Sarah Connor doesn’t decide to have the future savior of humankind aborted.  It’s also worth noting that the first “Terminator” movie was not just made quite a long time ago, but was fairly low-budget even for that day, so adjust your expectations accordingly with respect to special effects, etc.  It is still a compelling story, and an interesting study in heroic devotion on the part of the Kyle Reese character, and in fortitude and courage, and the growth of character through adversity, on the part of the Sarah Connor character.

The second film, “Terminator II:  Judgment Day” is a far better film in general than the first (although you do profit somewhat by having seen the first), and is far too busy with all the action involved in saving the young John Connor and his mother from the next generation Terminator, and then attempting to save the world from Skynet, to bother with gratuitous sex.  It manages to give us images of patience, determination, fortitude, self-discipline, and familial loyalty in the midst of the inevitable chaos.  It also has a lovely depiction of a scientist as a caring, brilliant, African-American family man of integrity and courage, played beautifully by Joe Morton, which is worth the price of admission, right there. 

I found the intervening films (3 and 4) generally forgettable, and can recommend with a clear conscience simply skipping from the second ("Terminator II: Judgment Day," which, in my view, remains by far the best of the series) to this most recent, "Terminator: Genisys."  The only thing you might wonder about is a reference in this most recent film to the destruction of a site in Denver (which happened in one of the previous films).  It was a major Skynet hub; they blew it up; all good.  Moving on.

I wouldn’t in good conscience recommend any of these films for kids, but for adults or young adults with well-formed consciences who like action/adventure and enjoy speculative fiction with at least a little food for thought regarding the nature of humanity and our relationship with the machines to which we increasingly hand over our daily lives, this series is worth a look.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Worldview Review: "Inside Out"

Nick Olszyk loves "Inside Out;" see his review here:

Cinematic Treasure in the Mind's Eye (Catholic World Report)

From a worldview perspective, though, it made me terribly sad; the girl's entire personality--her healthful being in the world--is built on "hockey," "goofiness," "friends," and her tiny family, which apparently consists only of her highly distracted and anger-controlled father and her mother whose dominant characteristic is apparently sadness.  No siblings, no grandparents, no aunts, uncles, no godparents, nobody else to provide support or take up slack in stressful times. Of course any and all of these things her life is built upon can crumble, as aptly demonstrated in the film, where all these worldly things are just floating, held up by nothing, and connected to her by only the thinnest of tethers. With just a bit of perfectly ordinary worldly stress, they all fall apart and collapse, and only by the skin of her teeth does she reconnect with her parents and escape the real-life fate of so many children who have no foundation firmer than the things of this world to build their lives upon. 

Throughout the entire film, I just kept wondering: Where is her connection with her Creator, with her Savior? "Unless God builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. . . " The house of her interior life is built upon things that will age, decay, and disappear. Oh, I forgot "honesty island," but apparently that only takes one dishonest act to crumble and disappear, so. . . where is the rock to build upon? At least we do have a depiction of an actual natural family: mother, father, child. . . and a message that at least tells kids you ought to try to stick with them. . . if they'll stick with you, which is certainly not a given these days. . . <sigh>  Like I said, it just made me sad.   :C

No, there's nothing outright obscene in the film (which surprisingly is increasingly rare, even in kids' films, these days!).  And yes, you can certainly use this film, as Olszyk suggests, to talk with kids about the dangers of attempting to deny our unpleasant emotions, and about constructively working through our unpleasant emotions through talking with trusted and caring adults.  Let me more strongly suggest, though, that if you watch this with your family, you use it as a "teachable moment" with respect to building your life on eternal foundations that can never crumble; on, indeed, the Rock of Ages.   


P.S. to Olszyk's P.S.:  That "Lava" short didn't make me sad, it made me ill.  It's built upon a cute (although queasily slightly ethnic-joke-y) pun, but all it does is to once again prop up the cultural lie that love equals feelings, and that marriage is based upon the same.  Hurrah for the Government Registry of Friends with the Most Feels!  It's the last thing we need to show our kids now.  Two thumbs down; for that matter, all twenty fingers and toes down.  Yuck!  What DO we need to show our kids?  The Irrefutable Argument.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Irrefutable Argument

In response to:

Marriage Has Been Redefined: Now What?  by Trent Horn

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s definition of marriage in Obergefell:
Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there. It offers the hope of companionship and understanding and assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other.

Wow.  This is the most appalling reason to marry I’ve ever seen; and I’ve seen some bad ones.  We get married so we don’t feel abandoned in the world—so SOMEBODY will be there for us?  This is not a reason to get married, it’s a reason to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and meet some people and form friendships!  Are we so horrifically disconnected now that the only way we can see not ending up as a “lonely person” who “calls out only to find no one there” is by marrying someone, so they supposedly have to be there to “care for” us?  What a thoroughly sick culture we live in, where the only way we can be “assured” that we are cared for and not left utterly ALONE is if we can make somebody marry us.  All the worse, since marriage isn’t permanent now, so even if they DO marry me, I STILL could be “calling out only to find no one there,” whenever he gets tired of being “there” for me and decides to go be “there” for somebody else.  God help us.

Kennedy writes in Obergefell:
[T]he right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals. The intimate association protected by this right was central to Griswold v. Connecticut, which held the Constitution protects the right of married couples to use contraception.

How can an intelligent, highly-educated person presumably skilled in argumentation NOT SEE that defining marriage exclusively according to its “importance to the committed individuals” CANNOT “support a two-person union,” period?  If that is what is central to what is a marriage, then ANY NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS may decide to be so “committed,” may they not?  And how can we deny THEM this “fundamental” right?  Polygamy—of any number and combination of males/females/”others” cannot be disallowed by this radical redefinition of marriage.  For that matter, on what basis are we to deny the “right” of the fellow in Canada who petitioned the government to recognize his relationship with his DOGS as a marriage?  The fact that they are two different species?  Don’t be so judgey and speciesistic!  If it makes them happy, what right have we to exclude them from “sharing the love” (dear reader, please pronounce that last word in your head as Luuuuuuuuv).   

Trent’s suggestion to engage those who believe in this supposed notion of “marriage equality” is this:
We can ask them, “If you believe in marriage (however you may define it), would you join me in opposing laws that allow divorce for any reason? Will you uphold the sexually exclusive nature of marriage and condemn the rhetoric of people like Dan Savage who support “monogamish” relationships that allow for consensual infidelity? Will you stand with me in recognizing the harm caused by the millions of fathers who walk out on the children they have helped procreate? Will you fight for a child’s right to a relationship with the mother and father who brought him into existence?”

Okeydokey.  You want marriage, let’s talk MARRIAGE.

They will have to explain why society is better if it treats marriage licenses like municipally regulated dating certificates.

We already need this explained, even before there was any talk of same-sex “marriage.”  I guess we need to demand such an explanation, loudly.  Not, in this case, from the same-sex “marriage” crowd, but from the no-fault divorce crowd. 

Therefore, we must double down on fighting for marriage’s permanence and sexual exclusivity, both in our arguments in the public square and in choosing to value permanence, sexual exclusivity, and openness to life in the privacy of our own homes.

I will be very interested to see if and how this works in the public square.  Especially since the permanence and sexual exclusivity only make sense when you are talking about heterosexual marriages, because those relationships procreate children.  The permanence and sexual exclusivity are there to protect those children and attempt to provide the optimal conditions for raising them (i.e., in a stable home with their mother and father).  When you are addressing people who already think marriage is some kind of “government registry of friends with the most ‘feels’, ” I expect most of them would simply say, “yeah, you know, I hadn’t really thought much about that—I guess there’s no real reason why marriage SHOULD be permanent or exclusive.”  

On Catholic.com, in the comments section for this article, I asked Trent how he would respond to that, and I do hope he answers, because from watching him do “on the street” debating on the abortion issue, I know him to be a truly gifted debater.  But in the meantime, also from the comments, here is one absolutely excellent answer:

#2  James Matise
We as Christians are simply going to have to show the world what marriages really are. That means I have to remain in a permanent, procreative, exclusive union even if there are times when I don't want to. It means I can't excuse fornication or no fault divorce or open marriages, or contraceptive marriages, or act as if any of those things are okay and still claim to be holding a rational position. And it means I can't back down and I can't be hateful even if I get angry because my character is under attack. It's going to take courage and compassion.

Peter Kreeft (among others) has said that the one irrefutable argument for the truth of Christianity is the life of a saint.  Go, Saint James Matise and family!