Monday, June 29, 2015

Conspiracy Monday: What Caused the Peshtigo Fire?

Near Tobinsville, Mary protected them

Question: What was the worst fire--in terms of fatalities--in American history?

Answer: The Peshtigo Fire of 1871. Anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 human beings perished.

Ask your otherwise well-educated friends that question. I guarantee that most will not know the answer, and many of them will not even have heard of the answer.

Why is that? Well, among other things it occurred on October 8th, 1871, the same day as the most famous fire in American history, the Great Chicago Fire (estimated fatalities: 250). And it happened only a few hundred miles away.

Isn't that weird?

It gets weirder.

The Peshtigo Fire raged on both sides of Green Bay in North-East Wisconsin. So, the folk-wisdom is that it jumped the bay. But fires jump rivers. They don't jump bays. So now we have three of the worst fires in American history happening in close proximity but starting "independently".

And it gets even weirder.

On that same day occurred the Great Michigan Fire, burning in at least two independent sites. Almost as many died in that one as the Great Chicago Fire.

So, we now have at least five "independent" fires--many of the worst fires in American history--in the same general area in the same day.

This is why we call it "Conspiracy Monday".

Before proceeding, here's a little bit more about the Peshtigo Fire:

It ended up affecting a heavily forested area twice the size of Rhode Island. The worst hit location was the town of Peshtigo, but other communities were also impacted. It completely annihilated many of them. The reason for the range in fatality estimates is that entire villages were wiped out. All records were destroyed. And there weren't enough survivors in some areas to report on who may have died.

The firestorm overtook forest settlements without warning. Houses and other structures were hurled up, as in a cyclone. Many sought refuge in the Peshtigo river and drowned, or froze in the frigid (it's Northern Wisconsin) waters, or were nevertheless vanquished by burning debris.

Many survivors reported that they thought it was the end of the world.

Here's a fascinating Catholic side note:

The southern part of the Peshtigo Fire burned, among other things, around a chapel that was the site of the only officially confirmed Marian apparition in the United States. It had occurred twelve years earlier in 1859. Terrified residents sought refuge on the chapel grounds. Many brought their animals. When the disaster was over, all had survived. The chapel and its property had been untouched--though the fire had come up to and singed the fence--while outside it, the surrounding country had been reduced to smoking ash. Today, it's called the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. People make pilgrimages to it.

What caused these fires?

Well, other than in Chicago, the sites were logging areas. Small fires had been simmering throughout the summer. On that October day the temperature and wind conditions along the Great Lakes were extremely conducive to fires.

But still. Five of the worst fires ever on the same day?

Some think aliens did it. I'll ignore that one.

At the time, there were theories that the Great Chicago Fire was set by the Ku Klux Klan, or by disgruntled traveling salesmen. Cute. But I didn't know members of either group could move that fast.

Here's the best revisionist theory (at least on the surface):

All the fires were ignited by fragments of a meteor or a comet.

Not only does this have (on the surface) plausibility. It also accounts for numerous reports of the Great Chicago Fire "spreading" in ways that defy the typical trajectory of fires. Perhaps the city was hit by multiple fragments.

Sorry, Mrs. O'Leary's cow.

But there are two problems with this theory:

First, no one anywhere reported seeing a meteor or comet streaking across the sky. Nor were there any impact reports. None.

Second, meteors or comet fragments don't cause fires--or at least there is no evidence that they ever have. Among other things, comet fragments--if they make it through the atmosphere--would be made of ice, or at least freezing. Now, a large impact, say, of a rock a few hundred yards wide, might conceivably start the odd fire. But for an impact that huge, an odd fire would be the least of anyone's worries.

Based on the evidence, or lack of it, I reject the meteor or comet theory.

My money is on a confluence of extreme weather conditions, precisely conducive to the spread of fires.

But still. All on the same day?

What do you think?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Twitter Bans Anti-Gay Marriage Blogger

Better get a bucket. I'm going to vomit.

Julie at Connecticut Catholic Corner--a popular traditionalist Catholic blog--has been "locked out" of her Twitter account for the last twelve hours after tweeting that the pro-gay marriage celebratory behavior of Connecticut governor Dan Malloy made her "want to puke":
Your account has been locked 
Your account appears to have exhibited automated behavior that violates the Twitter Rules. To unlock your account, please click the button below and confirm you are the valid account owner. 
(There follows a button that says "Unlock my account".)
But so far, Twitter has not unlocked her account. And according to Julie, she has written three messages to Twitter without receiving a response.

She believes it was done on the request of Governor Malloy.

In many cases these things end up amounting "merely" to temporary harassment. The winner of the Draw Muhammad contest Bosch Fawstin was banned from Facebook for roughly the same period, due presumably to an initial critical mass of malicious complaints. But he was soon enough reinstated.

I hope this is what it in the end amounts to, though according to the latest comments from Julie, she is still locked out.

By the way, I was not aware of her blog before. But it's very useful and very faithful. And she's received a billion more hits than I have. It is hereby added to my (still fairly short) blog roll. I urge other Catholic bloggers to do the same.

It will serve the pukeworthy Governor right.

Iran Coerces Gays Into Having Sex-Change Operations, U.S. State Department Thinks That's Very Liberal Of Them

Everything will soon be all right* 

One of the semi-well-known quirks of official social philosophy and policy in modern Islamic Iran is that homosexuals and lesbians are thought of as people "trapped" in the wrong physical genders. Thus, the solution for gay people (and society) is for them to have sex-change surgery.

If you think about it, the philosophy might indicate a somewhat more "compassionate" or "liberal" stance on homosexuality than the Muslim norm. Homosexuality is not evil. It's simply a consequence of some kind of biological misidentification or mistake. And sure enough, in some measures, things are arguably less repressive for homosexuals in Iran than in some other Islamic countries. Perhaps that doesn't say much. But still.

On the other hand, there have long been reports that homosexuals in Iran have been pressured, coerced or forced into having sex-change treatments often including surgery. This is well-known among human-rights organizations, although a minority of activists appear to be sympathetic to the government's "supportive" measures.

Among other things, the government will give you loans and grants worth up to $3,690 to go through with it.

Well, it beats getting thrown off a building.

So, now I'm a homosexual man in a "woman's" body--the discount model ($3,690), I should add. Or maybe I wasn't even technically homosexual, just a bit feminine. It happens.

Why are they still laughing at me? Why am I still not accepted?

I think there's been some mistake. It's not exactly what I wanted. Can I get another $3,690 to go back, please?

Shut up and wear your burka. No one will be able to see you anyway.   

A 2014 BBC report summarizes the situation, making it clear, among other things that the pressure is both societal and governmental. 
It's not official government policy to force gay men or women to undergo gender reassignment but the pressure can be intense. In the 1980's the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa allowing gender reassignment surgery - apparently after being moved by a meeting with a woman who said she was trapped in a man's body. 
Shabnam - not her real name - who is a psychologist at a state-run clinic in Iran says some gay people now end up being pushed towards surgery. Doctors are told to tell gay men and women that they are "sick" and need treatment, she says. They usually refer them to clerics who tell them to strengthen their faith by saying their daily prayers properly. 
But medical treatments are also offered. And because the authorities "do not know the difference between identity and sexuality", as Shabnam puts it, doctors tell the patients they need to undergo gender reassignment. 
In many countries this procedure involves psychotherapy, hormone treatment and sometimes major life-changing operations - a complex process that takes many years. 
That's not always the case in Iran. 
"They show how easy it can be," Shabnam says. "They promise to give you legal documents and, even before the surgery, permission to walk in the street wearing whatever you like. They promise to give you a loan to pay for the surgery." 
Supporters of the government's policy argue that transgender Iranians are given help to lead fulfilling lives, and have more freedom than in many other countries. But the concern is that gender reassignment surgery is being offered to people who are not transgender, but homosexual, and may lack the information to know the difference. 
"I think a human rights violation is taking place," says Shabnam. "What makes me sad is that organisations that are supposed to have a humanitarian and therapeutic purpose can take the side of the government, instead of taking care of people." 
Psychologists suggested gender reassignment to Soheil, a gay Iranian 21-year-old. 
Then his family put him under immense pressure to go through with it. 
"My father came to visit me in Tehran with two relatives," he says. "They'd had a meeting to decide what to do about me... They told me: 'You need to either have your gender changed or we will kill you and will not let you live in this family.'" 
His family kept him at home in the port city of Bandar Abbas and watched him. The day before he was due to have the operation, he managed to escape with the help of some friends. They bought him a plane ticket and he flew to Turkey... 
Marie, aged 37, is now staying in Kayseri after leaving Iran five months ago. She grew up as a boy, Iman, but was confused about her sexuality and was declared by an Iranian doctor to be 98% female. 
"The doctor told me that with the surgery he could change the 2% male features in me to female features, but he could not change the 98% female features to be male," she says. 
After that, she thought she needed to change her gender. 
Hormone therapy seemed to bring positive changes. She grew breasts, and her body hair thinned. "It made me feel good," she says. "I felt beautiful. I felt more attractive to the kinds of partners I used to have." 
But then she had the operation - and came away feeling "physically damaged". 
She had a brief marriage to a man but it broke down, and any hope she had that life would be better as a woman was short-lived. 
"Before the surgery people who saw me would say, 'He's so girly, he's so feminine,'" Marie says. 
"After the operation whenever I wanted to feel like a woman, or behave like a woman, everybody would say, 'She looks like a man, she's manly.' It did not help reduce my problems. On the contrary, it increased my problems...
How widespread the practice is is difficult to know. Presumably, if you're homosexual but are discreet and have a bit of luck, you will be able to avoid the whole thing. The recent Daily Caller news item on the issue, states:
Since homosexuality can be punishable by death in Iran, known homosexual men tend to accept the government-subsidized surgery to become women, and vice versa.
The implication is that the practice is almost the norm (or the norm for "known" homosexuals). This seems incredible to me, but I really have no idea.

On to the United States response.

The U.S. State Department recently released it's Annual Human Rights survey, containing 16,000 words on Iran. As one would expect, there's a section on "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity." The first part references the assorted horribles that one would expect to find in any authoritarian Muslim country:
The law (of the Islamic State of Iran) criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity, which is punishable by death, flogging, or a lesser punishment.... Security forces harassed, arrested, and detained individuals they suspected of being gay....Thirteen interviewees claimed that security officers subjected them to torture or physical abuse in detention, including punches, kicks, baton strikes, sexual assault, or rape. Many reported that family members beat them at home but feared reporting those assaults to authorities because they might themselves be charged with a criminal act.
But the concluding paragraph of the section references sex-change surgery:
The law defines transgender persons as mentally ill, and the government provided transgender persons financial assistance in the form of grants of up to 4.5 million tomans ($1,660) and loans up to 5.5 million tomans ($2,030) to undergo gender-confirmation surgery. In addition, the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare requires health insurers to cover the cost of gender-confirmation surgery. Individuals who underwent gender-confirmation surgery may petition a court for new identity documents with corrected gender data, which the government reportedly provided efficiently and transparently. Human rights activists and NGOs reported that some LGBT persons were advised to undergo gender-confirmation surgery to avoid legal and social consequences due to their gender-identity ambiguity.
Now, on the surface, the above is not completely inconsistent with, say, that BBC report, and indeed it repeats some of the basic facts. But note the overall positive, or at least neutral tone, especially when contrasted with those punches, kicks and baton strikes of the first part. Notice the use of "advised to undergo" as opposed to "pressured", "coerced" or "forced". Also note the use of the phrase "gender-confirmation surgery" as opposed to the now generally accepted term, "gender-reassignment surgery."

Ask Marie about gender-confirmation.

Is face reassignment surgery available for John Kerry?

I'm sure there are a number of Iranians who would like to give it to him for free.

Obviously, the sex-change surgery for gays mania is not the worst thing about living in Iran (unless you're a known homosexual overly attached to your gender). Other minorities have their own problems. If you're a Muslim who converts to Christianity, you'll be strongly pressured to have your own "re-assignment" treatment. The State Department report alludes to this, or at least to cases of it, but it's contained within a long list of other instances of "Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life." And as expected there's no mention of the underlying Islamic view that apostasy from Islam should always be prevented or punished--with death, according to the usual sources.

But one gets the impression that if you're not a member of any kind of minority (counting women in that category), life can be almost normal.

Ignore the fact that your neighbor just underwent genital mutilation.

Who knows, it might have even been a man. 

*In the blog title photo (from Getty Images by way of the Daily Caller), the nurse on the left is actually a pre-treatment, man.

Friday, June 26, 2015

BREAKING: Muslim Terrorists Kill 27 In Attack On Two Tourist Hotels in Tunisia

The story is developing. It is unclear whether the situation has been resolved. From the Daily Express
Terrorists have attacked a hotel popular with UK tourists in the town of Sousse on the Tunisian coast with at least 27 dead in an Islamic State-inspired strike. 
Two gunman attacked a resort on the Mediterranean coast, with gun shots fired on the beach. 
Holidaymakers sunbathing on a nearby beach were mown down in a hail of gunfighter in the latest ISIS-linked terror spectacular. 
One of the gunmen's bodies lay at the scene with a Kalashnikov assault rifle after he was shot in an exchange of gunfire with police. 
Tunisian authorities confirmed foreigners were among the dead. 
The attack reportedly took place on the Imperial Marhaba hotel. 
Sousse is one of Tunisia's most popular beach resorts, drawing visitors from Europe and neighbouring North African countries. 
A British holidaymaker described hearing a large explosion followed by a chaotic scene with tourists running around the hotel. 
Another tourist, Susan Rickett, on holiday in Sousse, said there were reports that people had been shot while sunbathing on their sunbeds. 
She described how "everybody starting running in and screaming" after gunfire was heard on the beach. 
She added: "It sounded like a machine gun going off...there was an explosion a little later." 
It sounded like a machine gun going off. 
David Schofield who heard an explosion while sunbathing by the pool said: "We heard people saying there were guns on the beach and people were shooting on the beach. 
"I don't know what's going on. 
"I went to reception and they said the police have told us to get everyone inside. 
"About five minutes ago I saw some people running. There are some people on the roof but I think that's a representative from the hotel. 
"No one is injured that I can see." 
Some were left to barricade themselves inside their hotels using mattresses. 
Fellow Briton Gary Pine said he was on the beach and heard what "we thought was firecrackers going off" 100 yards away, followed by an explosion from the next hotel complex along. 
He said "there was a mass exodus off the beach" and his son said he had seen someone get shot on the beach. 
He said guests at his hotel were first told to lock themselves in their rooms, and later to gather in the lobby. 
The Foreign Office said it is aware of the reports and is looking into them. 
Elizabeth O'Brien, an Irish woman on holiday with her two sons in the resort, described how she grabbed her children and ran for their lives when they heard gunfire erupting from one of the hotels. 
"We were on the beach, my sons were in the sea and I just got out of the sea. 
"It was about 12 o'clock and I just looked up about 500 metres from me and I saw a (hot air) balloon collapse down, then rapid firing, then I saw two of the people who were going to go up in the balloon start to run towards me - because I thought it was fireworks. 
"So, I thought 'oh my God, it sounds like gunfire', so I just ran to the sea to my children and grabbed our things and as I was running towards the hotel, the waiters and the security on the beach started saying 'run, run run!' and we just ran to our room, which is like a little bungalow. 
"So we are actually trapped in our room."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Original Humanae Vitae Moment

For that moment he was our Rob Roy

Some optimists have argued that the concluding part of the Synod on the Family will be an opportunity for Pope Francis to have his "Humanae Vitae moment". That is, in the face of all the muddle and dissent regarding traditional Catholic teaching on the family from cardinals, bishops and other malcontents (assume for the moment that the Pope himself is responsible for none of this), Francis will clearly and definitively reject all of it.

I will bet anyone $100 right now that will not happen.

If you want to rumble with me for the cash, please remember the terms--clearly and definitively.

Who says you can't make money from blogging?

But I want to look now at the original "Humanae Vitae moment". Of course I mean reviewing the text of Humanae Vitae itself.

Let me first point out that Humanae Vitae is not without its critics among traditionalist Catholics. Some say that Pope Paul VI should have officially declared it infallible teaching. Others think it shouldn't have even endorsed "natural family planning". Many believe that the Pope didn't follow it up very aggressively (he allowed dissidents to have a free-pass in criticizing it). Others think that Paul VI made weak sauce in general and Humanae Vitae was too little and too late in an otherwise almost uniformly disastrous pontificate.

I will here make no comment on those criticisms.

Instead, let me quote a few choice excerpts from the concluding section of that 1968 encyclical (the emphases are my own):
18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical... 
...It could never be right for (the Church) to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man. 
In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization... 
19. ...The Church, in fact, cannot act differently toward men than did the Redeemer. 
20. The teaching of the Church regarding the proper regulation of birth is a promulgation of the law of God Himself... 
22. ...We would call their attention to the need to create an atmosphere favorable to the growth of chastity so that true liberty may prevail over license... 
Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men's baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture... 
23. (To Governments) And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations...We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God... 
27. (To Doctors and Nurses) Likewise we hold in the highest esteem those doctors and members of the nursing profession who, in the exercise of their calling, endeavor to fulfill the demands of their Christian vocation before any merely human interest...let them strive to win agreement and support for these policies among their professional colleagues. 
28. (To Priests) who are is your principal spell out clearly and completely the Church's teaching on marriage..."I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." 
30. (To Bishops) ...We implore you, to give a lead to your priests...and to devote yourselves with all zeal and without delay to safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfection. Consider this mission as one of your most urgent responsibilities...

The original Humanae Vitae moment was a Pope Pius X moment. It was a Pope Gregory the Great moment. It was a Christian Fathers against Arianism moment.

It was (apologies) a Jesus moment.

Was Pope Paul VI a vacillator?

Not that time.

Has Pope Francis, in encyclical, official statement, homily, off-the-cuff address, airplane interview or whatever of a whatever ever said anything remotely similar to anything in the above?


Seriously, ever?

Wait. Why is everyone withdrawing their bets?

Come back.

I have a family to feed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Please Procreate Responsibly

Were they responsible?

In Chicago, as Frank Sinatra pointed out, men dance with their wives.

Sometimes that leads to other things.

In the great movie Rob Roy, one of the Catholic Highlanders tells this joke at a celebration:
Q: Why are Calvinists against making love standing up? 
A: It might lead to dancing.
Last night I danced with my wife.

Is it always "procreation" or is it only procreation if you find out later that it was?

In any case, I didn't think about it. Even once. I don't think she did either.

I went to work without feeling guilty. As I remember, I bought a cup of coffee and a donut.

Do not misunderstand. In other contexts, we often consider the general issue quite thoughtfully. In last night's context, we didn't.

Is that responsible procreation?

Of course, I'm thinking about this against the background of the recently released Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod (on the Family). One of the Agenda Items is "responsible procreation."

I've read that in the early Medieval Church, sometimes it was thought necessary to confess if you had romantic feelings for, and acted on them with, your spouse. Unless of course you had no romantic feelings and were just doing your duty to populate the earth or whatever.

Now (it seems) you have to confess if you only had romantic feelings and were not dutifully thinking of the effects of acting on those feelings on, say, future carbon emissions.

We've come full circle, sort of.

Okay, so I've always wanted to say this:

Hands off my body.

Hands off my wife's body.

And hands off, well, you know.

We'll procreate however we damn well want.

Another item on the Synod agenda is "birth reduction."

I know. I did a double-take on that one too. No doubt there will be more to say about it later. But for now, this will merely have to do:

Hands off my (future) ten-seat van with the Pro-Life stickers... nasty heretical freaks.

By the way, I just learned that the label, "responsible procreation" has occasionally been used by defenders of "traditional marriage" against proponents of "gay marriage." With respect to my Christian brothers and sisters, I think that's bizarre.

Within a Catholic context, that's like using the slogan, "responsible drinking" to defend bars.

I know it depends on how you define the terms, but to me, life itself isn't even "responsible" per se. It isn't controllable. It isn't even manageable.

It's beautiful. It's unpredictable. It's joyful. It's, yes, anarchic. And it's infinitely valuable, whatever some sour post-modernist bishop might say.

And as I recall, some One once "saw that it was very good."

Monday, June 22, 2015

In the Low Countries, As the Church Withers, They're Starting to Kill Healthy People

File photo of a human being

From the Belgian DeMorgan and LifeSite News:
The June 19 DeMorgen article by Simone Maas explains (google translated): 
She has good friends, loves good coffee and theater. And she has felt that she wanted to die ever since childhood. Laura (24): “Life, that’s not for me.” This summer, euthanasia will end her life full of inner conflict, depression and self-destruction. 
I met the West Flemish Laura at the presentation of the book ‘Libera me’ euthanasia for psychological reasons. Writer Lieve Thienpont is one of the psychiatrists who gave Laura a positive opinion for euthanasia. 
Euthanasia for psychological reasons is done when a psychiatrist agrees that the psychological pain that a person is experiencing cannot be relieved in a way that the individual finds acceptable. 
That means, Laura may be treatable, but Laura has decided that the only acceptable “treatment” is death. 
Similar to the euthanasia deaths of Godelieva De Troyer (64), a healthy Belgian woman who was living with depression or Ann G (44) who asked for euthanasia for psychological pain after being sexually exploited by her psychiatrist, who was treating her for Anorexia, Laura has been approved for lethal injection, even though she is physically healthy and only 24-years-old.In March, the chairman of the federal euthanasia commission in Belgium admitted that 50 to 60 euthanasia deaths are done on psychiatric patients each year.
In Belgium and the Netherlands they're turning their empty churches into skateboard parks. And doctors earn royalties by recommending the murder of their patients.

While an evil cult grows in numbers and strength.

And in a cynical and tired world, the 266th pope just spoke out for the rights of micro-organisms.

Let's form a study group...for the blind.

Some wonder (are they right?) whether all of it will soon be swept away.

But amidst all of this, there is a woman. No one in particular, really. Troubled, like many of us.

She is more important than any animal.

Who will speak for Laura?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jesus was a Weapons Manufacturer

Don't trust that man!

This post was prompted by the recent claim of Pope Francis that people who manufacture weapons shouldn't call themselves Christians:
It makes me think of...people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause.
So, everyone knows that Jesus was a carpenter, though this fact is only stated or implied a few times in the Gospels. And there is virtually nothing about His life as a carpenter, just as there is virtually nothing about the "middle years" of Jesus' life. Interestingly, some of the apocryphal gospels do include material about His carpentry skills. For example, in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, we see a young Jesus miraculously stretching a beam of wood that Joseph had sawed too short. This is goofy. No wonder it wasn't included in the canon.

However, the Gospels do mention one physical item that Jesus made. It's the only physical item that the Gospels describe being made by Jesus. Non-miraculously, I should add.

What is it?

A table, a chair, a chest of drawers?


Wait for it...

It was a whip.
After making a whip out of cords, he drove all of them out of the Temple, including the sheep and the cattle. He scattered the coins of the moneychangers and knocked over their tables.
That's right, Jesus made a whip. And he then proceeded to use that self-made weapon in a one-man commando attack on the money changers.

If that's not pastoral care, what is?

Oh, but that doesn't count. Now, you're just playing gotcha games against the Pope.

No. I'm relating an interesting fact about the Gospels, while at the same time having a bit of fun against the background of yet another idiotic Francis statement.

Here's one that's a bit better known:

Jesus told his Apostles to buy swords.
Then he told them, "But now whoever has a wallet must take it along, and his traveling bag, too. And the one who has no sword must sell his coat and buy one.
Now, there's some controversy about why He said this. Many believe it was to fulfill a prophecy. The group needed to carry swords (but no more than two swords). He didn't mean for them to be used, or at least not used in violent combat.

I think this is probably true, but that's not the point. He did ask that they be purchased.

Who should they purchase them from? Evil sword makers?

Making weapons is okay as long as you're going to use them against moneychangers or in order to fulfill prophecies.

No one ever said that Christian ethics aren't complicated.

So now that we've all read the latest enviro-encyclical, did I ever tell you the one about Jesus shriveling the tree?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pope to Humanity: Go to Hell

Don't worry your pretty little head about it

I was going to write a lengthy and reasoned piece on the encyclical, titled (provisionally) "20 Things Wrong With Laudato Si." And I was going to include the following theological topic as one of those twenty things. But then it became clear to me that it would be inappropriate and unseemly to include the Pope's apparent denial of the existence of hell on the same list as his misunderstanding of carbon credits or his ignorance of public choice theory or whatever.

A few months ago, the Pope gave an interview where he allegedly denied the existence of hell in favor of annihilationism. This was dismissed (or ignored) by the usual suspects as unverified or hearsay, etc. However, a few days ago the Pope implicitly denied the existence of hell in a papal encyclical. Not only that, but he seemed to, this time, move beyond annihilationism to universalism.

A few traditionalist commentators pointed this out (here and here, among other places), but on the main the issue has not been discussed by many. I find this odd. Or perhaps it's not. The Pope's un-Catholic theology is a bit like Bill Clinton's women problem. It's so obvious and so pervasive that most people eventually end up wanting to ignore it. It's old news. Move on.

Yeah. But he's the Pope. It matters.

Here are the relevant passages, not from some second-hand interview with Eugenio Scalfari, but from an actual, official, coat-of-arms-stamped papal encyclical:
83. The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things [there follows a footnote to Tielhard de Chardin, whose teaching and books were proscribed by the Church]...all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator. 
243. At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God (cf. 1 Cor 13:12), and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us will share in unending plenitude. Even now we are journeying towards the sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven. Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.
Does Francis deny hell in these passages? Not quite. It's still just possible to read, say, the second passage as consistent with the Thomist scheme of exitus reditus--all things come from God and all things shall return to him--though for Aquinas, all "returning" does not mean that all will be saved. So, to make it consistent according to the encyclical, all of us are moving or "journeying" towards God. All of us are called to lead the animals to Him. But then the referent shifts and "we" now only refers to some of us, as in some of us "will share in unending plenitude." Then the referent of "we" moves back to all of us as in "we (all of us) are journeying towards the sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven." It is our common home, though not all of us will get there. Thus, the referent now moves back to some of us. The passage doesn't explicitly say that all of us will experience eternal life. It merely says, "Eternal life will be a shared experience." Thus, we read it as some of us will experience eternal life. "Each creature"--not each creature, as in every creature that exists but each creature, as in every creature that is in fact saved--will be "resplendently transfigured, (and) will take its rightful place." "Those poor men and women" does not refer to all poor men and women, but only to some of us poor men and women--the poor men and women who in fact end up being saved.

Of course that is not how anyone will read the passage.

Rather, the implication is unmistakable. We're all (according to Laudato Si) going towards God and heaven--leading the animals. And yes, that means every animal--not only our terriers, but rats and gnats and micro-organisms, etc. And we're all going to get there.

This is not Catholic teaching. And it is not Catholic teaching because it is not the teaching of Christ, from whom all Catholic teaching ultimately stems from, of course. Wherever the animals may be going (bless them), human beings are not all going to heaven. Some of us are going to hell. If all of us end up "face to face" with God, some of us will see His face for only a moment before we hear, "I do not know you," and we are cast down. Forever.

I don't like it either but it's true.

Or if we are Catholics, we believe it's true.

Is the Pope Catholic?

It's the Pope's job to get this message out. Not merely because it is true, but infinitely more importantly so that everyone is aware of it. Being aware if it is the first step to making sure that we each have the best chance of avoiding that most horrible of fates. If we aren't aware of it, there's a much greater chance we will go there.

Or so says the Catholic Church.

It's the Pope's job. It's his most important job. Sure a Pope can and should speak of other things. Pope Benedict XV tried to end World War I. That was laudable. Much more than laudable.

But no Pope, NO pope, has, prior to Francis, denied the premises of the Christian theory of salvation.

This Pope just did so. He did so only a few days ago.

I'm not here concerned with whether or not that's heretical or whether or not he's a heretic. He's one man, and he's responsible for his actions. Though, even so we should pray for him (at the least).

Rather, here I'm worried about those other 6,999,999,999 persons. Shouldn't I be? Shouldn't any Catholic be at long last? Doesn't the encyclical itself say that we should be?

The Pope wants to save humanity from carbon emissions. He doesn't (according to his words) want to save it from hell. Of course, he wouldn't put it that way. Rather, he doesn't believe in hell. Or if he does, he doesn't want to tell anyone about it.

The practical effect of that is the same.

Pope to humanity: Go to hell.

Ode to Megalodon: The Best Piece So Far On the Encyclical

From the article. There are also some other funny pictures and videos.

In Why I’m Disregarding Laudato Si and You Should Too, Chris Jackson of The Remnant just nails it. His article is comprehensive, true (unfortunately) and devastating. And it's original, which is obviously getting to be more and more difficult with this subject.

It's also very very funny.

I just lost it when he started talking about extinct sharks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Hound is BANNED from the Google+ Roman Catholics Group!

Save the Mahound!

It is the biggest (though, in my post-banning opinion, not the best) Catholic Group on Google+.

So before anyone goes all conspiracy, it wasn't Google, it was the Moderators of the Roman Catholics group. And they didn't ban Mahound's Paradise per se. They banned its humble author, me.

I can't say it was a surprise. I made fun of Patheos, but one of the Moderators is (as he says prominently on his icon) a very Patheos-ish Patheos blogger. I was critical (to say the least) of Pope Francis, and they methodically deleted each one of those posts from the group--though, not before a few commenters would typically bomb in to my posts and accuse me of hating the Catholic Church, or not actually being a Catholic, etc. I was scathing of morons, but one of the Moderators is a...

Well, you get the idea.

Actually, what finally set it off was I that I implicitly equated the Moderators with Nazis. I still don't understand why anyone would get upset at that.

Also, they have no sense of humor.

I was called a spammer--which, if you define "spamming" as posting more than one blog link per two-week period, or sometimes posting to Roman Catholics along with one or two other Catholic groups--is technically correct, though, as far as I can tell, many of the other regular contributors do the same thing. But those other guys post links to their own self-help Catholic websites or yet another gay-marriage bashing story. I was posting original parody stories, such as the one about the heretical frat boy lawsuit crazy priest actually being a "woman" (that one travelled far, let me tell you), or fairly straight (for me) write-ups of interviews with the Pope or his allies that tended (it wasn't my fault, man) to be embarrassing.

Deleted. Deleted. Deleted.

It's just not done. You see. You're not a sedevacantist, are you?

No. I don't even know how to pronounce the word.

After "banning" me , and publicly calling me a spammer, spouter of nonsense, crazy person addicted to disproportion (me?), etc., the Owner of the site "circled" me a few minutes later. I asked him why (adding a few choice adjectives). He said it was so that we could form a "relationship" such that "after things cooled off" he "might be persuaded" to unban me. Then he called me a proto-heretic. The last part of my response rhymed with "toff". The first part rhymed with "suck."

A Catholic friend told me he thought Roman Catholics was sort of weird and New Age. I trust him, but I never saw that. Rather, they seemed to me to be merely snotty. We don't (nose held in air) serve Traditionalists.

That's okay, Skippy, I don't eat them.

But I hate snotty people. They either never let me into their clubs. Or, if I do get in (usually under false pretenses), they're always looking for reasons to kick me out.

Let me be serious for a moment. a few months ago I would have been mortified at this. Now I honestly couldn't care less. Though, I will admit that some of the things the Owner said publicly and privately got under my skin. But, at this stage of the game, I would doubt that more than 1% of the hits and readers of Mahound's Paradise came from that Group. And many of those would write obnoxious comments on my blog, like, "You know the author of this post is not really a Catholic, don't you?"

So, in recent weeks posting in the group was more out of defiance.

Yeah, I know, like that was really mature.

But let me be more serious for a moment. These people make Catholicism into a Dear Leader cult for brain dead strivers. They want to form a study group to read the new encyclical in Latin (because anything else would fall prey to the misinterpretations of the media), yet they are too stupid to know that Latin has ceased to be used by the Vatican in many cases, let alone being any kind of "official" standard. And they have ceased to be able to recognize drivel--or evil--for what it is.

They are Pharisees if ever the term had any meaning. Relax. Don't worry, be happy. The media blah blah blah. Gays blah blah blah. Traditionalists blah blah double-fucking venomous blah, and so on and so forth, etc. etc. The "Gates of Hell will not prevail" but millions will go to hell because their Pope is more interested in bragging than in saving souls.

And they're more interested in forming a study group.

Well, in you-know-where there are plenty of study groups. Indeed, contra Dante, I'm sure the whole place is one big study group--studying Laudato Si. Forever and ever.

In Latin.