Sunday, May 15, 2022

Getting the Message

Last month, due to its political interference in Florida's state legislative process, The Walt Disney Company lost its 55-year-old preferential tax treatment in that state. This week we learned that Disney is dropping its anti-racism training requirement following public backlash and an internal leak of training documents to a journalist

Also this week, Netflix told its "woke" employees to find another job if they don't like the giant streaming service's content. Maybe I won't have to cancel my subscription, after all.

As Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College likes to say, "fundamental things are afoot." 

Other big corporations aren't making much noise at the moment--not about Disney, not about Netflix, not about much else. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nike, etc., are all uncharacteristically quiet on the diversity front. Do you think that maybe "big" corporations are getting the message that the American people are tired of being pushed around by all the "woke" nonsense?  I think that maybe they are.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Reading Incomprehension

Ever since the riots of 2020, I didn't believe the Lefties could get any more irrational and emotional. With the tsunami of Democrat hysterics following the leak of the Supreme Court's draft opinion about the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, it's obvious I was wrong.

It's been like watching the death throes of critical thinking playing out in real time. This one draft opinion, if it holds, will return abortion laws to the states--in accordance with the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Details, details. What it really means, according to the Left, is banning interracial marriage and the mass confiscation of birth control pills. And don't forget, "they" (those dastardly conservatives) are coming for gay people.

All of this societal carnage, cascading from one DRAFT document. Good grief, Lefties, calm down. Have an herbal tea. Take a break from screeching long enough to read the actual draft document that was so mistreated. If you can read, you can understand that the draft is completely limited to one single legal ruling--Roe v. Wade, only. 

The United States has been in turmoil over Roe v. Wade since the decision was issued, back when I was in college. That's because it is terrible law. In 1973, the abortion issue was already working its way through the states. New York legalized abortion in 1970--three years before Roe v. Wade. The 1973 ruling federalizing abortion was an arrogant usurpation by the Supreme Court of the voters' rights to determine the laws of their respective states. It is the quintessential example of "legislation from the bench," and that is the reason it has stuck in America's craw for nearly half a century. It's high time we coughed it out and got back to the rightful constitutional business of making our own state laws, thank you.

Therein lies the true problem. Self-determination and States' rights don't sit well with the totalitarian crowd. They should at least make an effort to give that pesky US Constitution and Bill of Rights a read-through. Like it or not, they are still the law of the land. If you do read them, you won't find the word "abortion" anywhere in the documents.  

Neither will you find the word "vaccine." There were many women, pregnant or trying to be, who lost their jobs because they refused the Covid vaccine. Where was Vice President Harris and her self-righteous outrage then? 

How dare they tell a woman what she can do and cannot do with her own body? How dare they?” thundered Kamala Harris at a Democratic fundraising event on Tuesday, ranting about the leaked draft. "How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms?”

Yes, Kamala. How dare they, indeed.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Standing on Sacred Sand

During the past couple of weeks, I've been traveling. I've seen a healthy swath of France along the Seine River, stretching from Paris to the Normandy beaches of D-Day. My expectations for this trip were low, considering it had been twice postponed due to Covid. I didn't expect such a wonderful experience.

From what I have seen, France is a beautiful country. Although I had never thought about visiting Paris, I found it is a vibrant, fascinating place that is also quite welcoming to its international guests. The cities and towns visited during the cruise north were unfailingly charming and picturesque. The French people are friendly, and almost all that I encountered spoke English impressively well. The trip was one lovely surprise after another.

My main goal was to see the D-Day battleground. It was a full day's trip to visit the Utah and Omaha beaches and the American cemetery, and we were fortunate to have sunny weather. Our tour guide was young, but he knew the history of World War II well. I learned a great deal about the days leading up to and following the June 6, 1944, invasion. But the most significant part of the tour was stepping onto the sand of Omaha Beach. I felt as though I should remove my shoes, as Moses did when he stood before the burning bush on "hallowed ground." There is a feel about the place, an aura in the windy air that can't be described, only experienced. If you've ever been to the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, you'll get the idea.

The tide was low when I stood on the beach, but not as low as it had been for our soldiers who had to storm through that valley of death. The tide needed to be low for them to reveal the deadly obstacles that the Nazis had placed in the water. But low tide just meant so much more beach ahead of them. Where such courage comes from, I cannot fathom.

Even now, the people of Normandy province are grateful to the Americans of D-Day. More than one guide spoke reverentially of France's liberation at Normandy; one guide repeatedly called it "a miracle." There are numerous monuments dotting the verdant countryside, all commemorating the American soldiers. In our troubled times here at home, it was heartwarming to see such appreciation for what our military forces accomplished in France near the end of the second World War.

With a prayer that I wasn't being disrespectful, I took a small seashell from the beach. It now sits on my kitchen shelf, by the sink. That's where I know I'll see it every day and remember to say "thank you" once again.

Omaha Beach ~ Normandy, France

Saturday, April 16, 2022

All A-Twitter

In Psalm 121, the weary psalmist makes an anguished plea: "From where does my help come?"

In the present-day persecution of conservative thought and speech on "social media," potential help is coming from a most unexpected source. The innovative billionaire, Elon Musk, is making a grab for Twitter. His fearless and creative moves against the ruling class of Big Tech censors is causing hysteria among the left-wing elites who fancy themselves the rightful dictators of online discourse. Good! It's about time someone took on these bullies against freedom of speech.

The Twitter board of directors refused his offer--so much for fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. Even if nothing comes of his attempt, which I don't believe is anywhere near finished, Musk has fully exposed the phony purveyors of "moderated content"--which, of course, is a euphemism for censorship. The tech and media moguls are terrified of losing their iron grip over what information people can access. Why would they fear seeing differing viewpoints expressed online? Because their Marxist ideology is bankrupt. But to use a mob analogy (which is quite appropriate in this case), they will go to the mattresses to conceal the fact that their positions are indefensible.

It's often said that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Perhaps in our present-day prison of creeping leftist tyranny, Elon Musk is a Big Tech Moses of sorts. I quit Twitter after they suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. If Musk is successful in his bid to buy Twitter, I'll be among the multitudes lining up to reactivate my account.

First Amendment to the United States Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Four Last Things

I heard about the Four Last Things many years ago, and I must confess that I've thought about them quite often ever since.

Today being Good Friday, it's an appropriate time to discuss these end-of-life issues. The Four Last Things are as follows: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.

As to the first item, well, we're all aware of it. Every human being will die. Even Jesus Christ did. In a world of subjective "truth" and ever-shifting relativism, death is what one is compelled to identify as an objective fact.

From that point on, opinions diverge widely. Our modern secular world, even many religious philosophies, would disagree with the other three things. It's considered almost quaint, perhaps even foolish, in our modern world to believe we will be held accountable before God for our actions in this life. But Catholics believe that each of us will be answerable to God for our sins. Can you think of a more daunting scenario? This particular Catholic cannot.

Then there's the question of heaven and hell. In the Gospels, Jesus talks about hell more than any other person in the Bible. If you don't believe heaven and hell exist, you won't think or worry about them. But going back to objective fact--what if heaven and hell are real? What if each of us is going to spend eternity in one or the other state of being? I know where I want to be, but I have no assurance that I actually will make the cut. That's where faith comes in.

The Four Last Things, by Fr. Martin Von Cochem, addresses all these sobering topics in detail. It is not light reading; I wouldn't recommend it at bedtime. But it is an important book, underscoring the spirituality inherent in the universal experience of death and the inevitable realities that Catholics believe will follow.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

One Vicious Circle

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.

~ Judges 21:25

This year I've been following Fr. Mike Schmitz's daily podcast, "The Bible in a Year." I've always wanted to be more literate in the Old and New Testaments, the foundational documents not only of the major world religions of Judaism and Christianity but also of Western civilization. While it's still early in the year, so far "The Bible in a Year" has been quite an education.

This week we finished the Book of Judges. The last line of Judges is quite striking in that it describes the very situation America finds itself in today. "There was no king in Israel" made me think of the questions surrounding Joe Biden's ability to act as our president; "every man did what was right in his own eyes" appears to be the condition in which our culture is currently mired. It was chilling to hear words that are thousands of years old so accurately describing the here-and-now.

Since the beginning of the year, I've listened to horrific tales of war, cruelty, murder, torture, rape, mutilation, betrayal, and completely selfish, uncaring, immoral behavior. I'm not referring to stories in current news reports; the stories are straight out of the ancient pages of the Bible.

My certainty that human nature does not change is reinforced with every episode of The Bible in a Year. The difference between good and evil cannot be discerned by people who "do what is right in their own eyes." I see no evidence that history is automatically bending in the right direction. People build history. It is up to each individual to forge that righteous bend, as best we can in our own life and time. 

Friday, April 01, 2022

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Queenly Considerations

The current Hollywood slap-flap isn't worth my time to address, so let's skip across the pond for a story equally irrelevant to America's crushing problems. But I find Britain's Queen Elizabeth II much more worthy of attention.

Consider that this admirable model of grace and dignity is still doing her best to fulfill the duties of her day job--ever since the year 1952. Try to imagine getting up for work every day if you're 95 years old--and recently recovered from a bout with Covid-19. It's a mind-boggling accomplishment. But the news coverage is filled with endless accounts that the Queen is "canceling engagements," "suffering mobility issues," "using a walking stick," and tooling around the castle in a golf cart or wheelchair.

As my mother might have said, "What's it to you?" Not only is this woman 95 years old and still working, she's also been on her feet daily for 70 years. Don't you think she might be entitled to take a seat at this point? Isn't it a good idea to let her apply modern technology to hold her meetings on video? Doesn't it make sense for her to use a cane? Wouldn't you say it's logical for visitors to bring their display items to her instead of making her travel to crowded venues? My answer is "yes to all."

Yesterday, amid much melodramatic speculation, Queen Elizabeth attended the memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip, in Westminster Abbey. She walked in on her own steam, using the storied walking stick and holding her son Prince Andrew's arm. This caused much consternation in public opinion and the media, considering Andrew's recent disgrace. I think he's a disgusting sleazeball, and the Queen was right to strip him of his honors and bar him from public life.

But think about it; Elizabeth is still doing her job. In selecting Andrew to escort her, she was protecting the monarchy and being a mother at the same time. Their sheltered entry at the side of the cathedral shielded them both from widespread scrutiny and prevented any unpleasantness that might have marred the special occasion. 

Elizabeth is a queen, not an immortal. Time will run its course for her as for us all. Meanwhile, she is still one smart, dedicated, hard-working cookie. She seems like someone I'd love to have a cup of tea with. If she can carry on and be comfortable at the same time, I say that's brilliant. Here's to canes and golf carts. God save the Queen.

Queen Elizabeth II ~ March 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Once More, With Feeling

Pope Francis is going to consecrate Russia and Ukraine "to the Immaculate Heart of Mary" tomorrow. Because this development hearkens back to the 1917 apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, it has caused quite a stir in circles both religious and secular.

The 1917 Fatima apparitions are confirmed as legitimate by the Roman Catholic Church. However, Catholics are not required to believe in them. It is a matter of individual choice whether to accept the miracles of Fatima or not.

Having said that, I must affirm my personal fascination with the Fatima story. Ever since my mother bought me a children's book about "Our Lady of Fatima" when I was in elementary school, the miracles--and especially "the secrets," or prophecies--of Fatima have held my deep and enduring interest.

If "by their fruits you shall know them," is the standard of measure, then Our Lady's 1917 prophecies are performing quite well. For example, she told the three children that two of them would be taken to heaven "soon." Both Jacinta and Francisco died in the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920. Lucia was to "stay a while longer," which she definitely did. She became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at age 98.

Mary predicted a worse war would follow The Great War, and it would be announced by a "strange light" in the sky. The aurora borealis danced across all night skies of Europe and North America in January 1938; Hitler marched on Austria two months later. The rest, history students will know.

Mary also predicted that Russia would "spread her errors throughout the entire world." Considering that the communism instituted by Russia into a totalitarian system of government has engulfed China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and is gaining an ever-surer toehold in the United States, I'd check that box.

There are Fatima "warriors" who are full-on conspiracy theorists over many aspects of the story, but I don't subscribe to such speculation. I just find the whole Fatima story so interesting and, in view of current events, still very timely. Especially with the consecration coming up tomorrow, it's also frustrating. Here's why.

Lucia continued to receive visits from Mary. In 1929, Our Lady asked for a simple thing to prevent the onslaught of "Russia's errors." She asked that the pope, together with all the bishops of the world, consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Lucia relayed the request. Seems simple enough, right?

It's been done five times, never according to instructions. Tomorrow will be the sixth try.

Twice in 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated "the whole world," once with and once without the bishops. Again in 1952, Pius XII consecrated "the peoples of Russia" to Mary's Immaculate Heart--again, without the bishops. In 1964, Pope Paul VI renewed the 1942 consecration--without the bishops. In 1984, John Paul II consecrated "Russia and the whole world." At least he included all the bishops, but "the whole world" was not part of Mary's request.

Do you get my frustration? Now Francis is going to consecrate "Russia and Ukraine." As my mother might have said at this point, "Mother of God!"

I'm sure they mean well, but none of these popes can follow the script. When it comes to the mystery of Fatima, it would seem that popes don't take heavenly direction very well. 

Well, even if he's ad-libbing, tomorrow's consecration by Pope Francis certainly can't hurt. We should all say a prayer for world peace tomorrow. That might even help. Heaven knows.

Fatima is streaming on Netflix

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Unending Story

As the world watches the brave people of Ukraine fight for their lives and country, we should remember that we are seeing a replay of dark history throughout the centuries. There is always a tyrant ready to rob a neighboring country of its peace and autonomy. There is always death and destruction as the innocent fight against invading evil.

Today is St. Patrick's Day. This is a celebratory day for the Irish, a people who have seen more than their share of bitter battles to hold of their country. The Men of the West is one song that commemorates the 1798 Irish rebellion against the British rule that had been imposed on Ireland. The song makes me think of the courageous Ukrainian fighting men today who are so valiantly standing for freedom in the fight to protect their homeland against Russian tyranny.

In honor of the Ukrainian freedom fighters, The Men of the West audio is linked here. Click here to read the lyrics. Throughout human history, the bloody struggle for freedom is endless. It's the Ukrainian people who are currently caught in its brutal clutches.