This is a video for Darrell Waltrip’s full speech at the National Prayer Breakfast last week.
Pope Francis and I have something in common. He asks St Thomas More to pray for him every day and so do I.
He also listed “15 diseases of the Curia” in the same address to Vatican officials. Among the “diseases of the curia” are spiritual petrification, existential schizophrenia, spiritual Alzheimer’s, funeral face and gossip.
I think all of us suffer from the same diseases to some degree. They are spiritual diseases of our times, and of the fallen human.
Pope Francis has revealed that he prays to the English martyr St Thomas More every day.
In his annual end of year address to Vatican officials the Pope said that there is a prayer to the saint for good humour which he prays daily saying that a healthy dose of humour in our daily lives is very beneficial.
Pope Francis also outlined “15 diseases of the Curia” which included the diseases of mental and spiritual petrification; existential schizophrenia; spiritual Alzheimer’s and the disease of the “funeral face,” reports Vatican News.
The Pope said that “spiritual petrification” was when men “lose their internal peace, their vivacity and audacity, choosing to hide under papers and become procedural machines.
He also described “existential schizophrenia” as the disease of “those who live a double life” and endure a “spiritual emptiness” which cannot be filled with degrees or academic titles.
He explained to diplomats that “spiritual Alzheimers” was a “progressive decline of spiritual faculties” which “causes severe disadvantages to people”, making them live in a “state of absolute dependence” on their, often imagined, views.
The Pope also appealed to the officials not to give into gossip describing the sin as a form of “satanic assasination” of other people’s good name.
The I Aborted My Baby because He was a Boy story is almost too perfect.
By “perfect,” I mean that it reads like someone took every crazy accusation anyone ever leveled against man-hating feminists and characterized them in a blog post. Is this story a not-so-funny first-person prank? Did someone make up a tale about how they murdered their baby boy with abortion?
The bedeviling thing, to me at least, is that I’ve dealt with people just as crazy mean as the author of this post sounds. I’ve dealt with women who are this man-hating, and I’ve dealt with men who are this woman-hating and neither one had any qualms about sharing their viewpoint. That gives the post a certain cultural veracity.
None of the people I’ve dealt with took to the web to write blog posts about it. They either contacted me in anger about legislation I was trying to pass, wanted me to “help” them pass a hateful law, or, occasionally, wanted me to use my legislative powers to “get” somebody for them.
What that means in terms of the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy story is that I know it’s possible it’s the truth. I know this because I’ve met and listened to people who are this crazy, this evil and this self-righteous about their vile beliefs.
I went back to the Injustice Stories web site this morning and read through the posts that it lists. The blog is said to be a forum for individuals to post their own “injustice stories.” Thus, the various blog posts are purportedly written by different people.
I’m not a linguist, but it doesn’t seem to me that the writing style differs from one post to the next. It’s not difficult to tell my writing from Kathy Schiffer’s or that of the Anchoress. All three of us write differently from Deacon Greg. Our writing is a “voice” we use, and it is somewhat unique to each of us. It’s usually that way with people.
I’m not saying that the posts on Injustice Stories are all written by one person. I don’t know that. But I will say that they do not differ in voice or syntax enough to sound like more than one person is doing the writing.
So, the question is out there? Is the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy Story an attempt to prank the internet? Is it true, or is it confabulation?
I don’t know the answer to that.
Confabulation or fact, the story is possible. Sex-selected abortion is a horrible realty all around the world, including here in the United States. The world’s two largest nations by population — China and India — both have seriously lopsided male-female ratios due to sex-selected abortion. Men outnumber women in these countries by margins wide enough to unhinge the social order.
Live Action has released videos of Planned Parenthood counselors in locations all over the United States who are willing to help women obtain abortions simply because their unborn child is a girl. Half a world away, an Australian doctor had to fight to keep his medical license because he refused to either do or refer for a sex-selected abortion.
This is why the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy story is plausible. I don’t know if this particular blog post is a fact or a confabulation. I don’t even know the author’s last name. But I believe that baby boys have been aborted just because they were boys, and right here in the United States.
Why would anyone do that?
Because they can.
When you legalize killing a whole group of people for any reason whatsoever, they will be killed for every reason possible.
We live in a fallen world. We all bear the mark of Cain. Blood guilt is our heritage, born of unending war, violent crime, family violence, abortion and euthanasia.
Legal abortion knocked over the carefully tended wall we had built between human life and our passions. It let the wolves of our own depravity into the fold. We defined a class of people as subhuman and declared open season on killing them.
So why should we be surprised when people avail themselves of this freedom to kill by doing exactly what we have given them the legal right to do: Kill for any reason that suits us.
Is the I Aborted My Baby because He was a Boy story fact or confabulation? If it’s fact, a precious baby boy has been horribly murdered. That matters quite a lot.
But in terms of social/political commentary in which individual lives get swept up and lost in talk of millions dying for decades, no, the veracity of the story does not matter. It does not matter because the laws which allow such things and the belief systems which excuse them are real.
Every abortion kills an innocent person who can not fight back, can not even speak for themselves. We can pretend they are not real, and if confronted by a million ultrasounds attesting to their reality, we can persist and refuse to back down in our claims that they are not human. If that fails, we can fall back on claims that, yes, they are human, but not human enough.
And that concept of not human enough is another slippery slope of illogic claiming to be the heart of rationality that leads even deeper into the abyss. If we can kill human beings because they are not human enough, the door swings wide for euthanasia and after that killing the poor and disabled, the “useless eaters” among us. Not human enough is such a subjective and frail reed of verbal positioning that it falls easily before the next new killing plan.
A large segment of our society has abandoned the notion of moral absolutes and seeks to replace it with verbal positioning. If they can concoct an argument that sounds convincing in their own ears, then whatever they are arguing for becomes their new morality. Ironic as it is, they then claim this newly-minted moral reality of theirs as a moral absolute.
When it comes to legalized killing, there is no bottom for these people. They sincerely believe that it is a moral imperative to allow the legal murder of any group of people that they can convince themselves should be killed. The great wall of the sanctity of human life was breached with legal abortion and that let the wolves in.
Now, they, like satan, prowl about, seeking whom they may destroy.
Ascension Press has released the beautiful video below to encourage young men to consider the priesthood. I am drawn to the raw honesty of these young men’s testimony. It also appeals to me that this is a video about vocation to the priesthood that focuses on God, instead of us.
Too much of our discussion about vocations focuses on attacks on the liturgy, women in the Church and other things that are supposed to make us more worthy of God. That leads to blaming, attacking and limiting one another. It creates self-righteousness and hurtful behavior that drives people away from Jesus rather than drawing them to Him.
Vocation to the priesthood really is about God and His call. We need to trust Him more and our prejudices and rages less.
Enjoy the video. It’s well worth the look.
President Obama’s tiresome predilection for offending Christians showed itself again at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. It seems that our prez will besmirch Christianity, even if he has to dredge up stuff from a thousand years ago and mis-characterize history to do it.
I’m going to put a video of the full text of his speech below. Parts of it are good. But, as usual when President Obama talks about religion, he can’t resist taking a swipe at Christianity.
This predilection he has for ham-handed attempts to be “fair” to all faiths by belittling and defaming Christianity seems ingrained in him. It harms his presidency, divides this nation and makes it tough to be a Jesus-loving Democrat.
After all this time and the great political price he and his party have paid, you would think he’d be smart enough to get out his pen and draw a line through these statements when his speech writers put them in. But he doesn’t. Maybe the reason is that he means it so much that he doesn’t care about the political consequences.
He’s so set on this that it makes me cringe when he says something complimentary about Pope Francis. I don’t feel that he’s complimenting the Holy Father. I feel that he’s patronizing him. When he talks about American freedom of religion, I cringe again. This president has directly attacked the First Amendment with his HHS Mandate. So, when he praises this country’s great freedom of religion, I feel that he’s patronizing the American people.
As for his comments about Christianity vis a vis ISIS, the Crusades happened hundreds of years ago, which hardly makes it pertinent to the rapes, beheadings and burnings alive that are happening today. Also, the Crusades were a defensive war in response to an invading army. Much of the Middle East was Christian before this “conversion” by the sword which resulted in the deaths and exile of whole populations of Christians.
Jim Crow was brought to ground by a great Christian leader, leading equally great Christians. These men spoke from the prophetic voice of the Gospels to animate a movement and convict a nation of the powerful message that we are, all of us, made in the image and likeness of God and deserve the same legal rights. The Civil Rights Movement was led by black pastors who had held the black community together and given it dignity for decades. Martin Luther King, Jr preached the Gospel to power, and that power changed history. It was Christianity that ended Jim Crow, just as it was Christian abolitionists who ended slavery.
I am offended by President Obama’s mis-use of history to convict today’s Christians of the crimes of ISIS, Boko Haram, al Queda, and others. But I am not surprised.
The woman in question is Lana.
Lana wrote a post for a blog called Injustice Stories. I don’t know if Injustice Stories is a series of confabulations or not, but even if it is, it’s still horrifying. In one blog post she related how she murdered her baby boy with abortion just because he was a boy. As chilling as that is, the post is worse.
It’s a long explanation about how this woman killed her own child because she saw it as some sort of execution in the name of women’s rights. This was no “I thought it was a blob of tissue” abortion. It was a deliberate, considered murder of an innocent child because she “couldn’t bring another monster” into the world.
Her feeling is that a baby boy is a monster because all male human beings are monsters.
I don’t know what to say about this woman. I have no idea if it was horrific events that made her this way or if she’s just using her totally bogus version of feminism to glorify her own psychopathy.
I do know that, based on her own words, she murdered her baby. As I said, this was not a confusion. She was not in a terrible plight. She simply killed her baby because he was a boy and he would grow up to be a man and she hates men. She ends “if the curse returns, I will do exactly the same thing again.”
In a follow-up post she reacts to the things people have said in response to her story. “Do people really exist who want to see me dead because of what I chose to do with my own body,” she asks. “Those are the minds of mentally disturbed individuals.”
Lt Muath al-Kasabeh, the Jordanian pilot ISIS burned alive, did not die in vain.
Jordan has responded to this infamy with vows to “wipe out” ISIS and they appear to be willing to put firepower into the endeavor.
Here are Jordan’s military objectives against ISIS:
1. Target top leadership, with al-Baghdadi at the helm.
2. Stop illegal revenues which ISIS has been getting from fuel.
3. Weaken and destroy training centers and logistical centers.
These are sound military objectives.
From CBN News:
“We are determined to fight IS until we achieve the goal of this war, which is wiping out the IS completely,” al-Jabour said, adding that this is the beginning not the end of their campaign to defeat ISIS. There’s some speculation that Jordan is planning a limited ground campaign. Meanwhile, Britain’s Prince Charles visited King Abdullah at the start of a six-day Mideast tour. The prince told the BBC the plight of Middle East Christians was an agonizing situation. King Abdullah faces a daunting challenge. He needs to mobilize and maintain his country’s fight against ISIS while realizing that a significant minority of his citizens sympathize with the Islamic State. The king will be looking for the military and moral support from the U.S. and other coalition partners as he fights for the future of his kingdom.
I love the piano.
I mean, I really love the piano.
The fact that I’ve taken it up late in life and have no ambitions about it — and I mean absolutely no ambitions about it — is part of the reason why I love it.
My elderly mother is constantly telling me how much she regrets that she and my father didn’t give me piano lessons when I was a child. “You could have been someone really great, a concert pianist,” she tells me.
Her short term memory is gone, so she repeats this refrain often. Each time she says it, I tell her that I have no regrets about the fact that I’m taking up piano now, and not earlier.
I love it.
It makes me happy.
And if there’s one small thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that the best time to be happy is always — you guessed it — Now.
My newfound love of the piano is without a doubt the reason why I downloaded, Play It Again, an Amateur Against the Impossible onto my Kindle. It’s the first-person story of British journalist Alan Rusbridger’s attempt to learn Chopin’s Ballade No 1 in G Minor.
The Ballade, as Mr Rusbridger calls it, is something of a Mount Everest among pianists. Playing it is usually considered the province of the best of the best, the professionals, and not the amateurs among us.
While Mr Rusbridger is an accomplished and enthusiastic musician, he is not by any stretch a professional pianist. His day job is at the British newspaper, The Guardian, where he’s the editor. That’s a big job at any time, but the year that he chose to take on the Ballade was also the year of Wikileaks and the story about a powerful British newspaper bugging cell phones to get stories. These stories were both broken by The Guardian, and neither of them was received easily by the world at large.
Mr Rusbridger had to be determined to find 20 minutes each morning for piano practice. While that night be enough time for a child to learn this week’s lesson, it is not in the universe of the amount of time a pianist needs to devote to master something like the Ballade.
He took lessons from three extraordinary teachers and interviewed experts in related fields during the course of his journey with the Ballade. He also engaged in lots of social music playing with friends.
After a year and a half, he successfully performed the Ballade for a group of friends, which, for him, was mission accomplished.
The important thing for me is that he never, at any time, worked toward a professional performance. He had a goal, but the journey was just as important as the final outcome.
This is what piano is to me. It’s about the music, yes, but in a personal, entirely selfish way. Of all the things I do, the piano stands alone among as the one thing that I do entirely for myself. I am an amateur and I have a determination to never be anything else.
The joy of it all is that it’s not about being a professional musician. It’s not about being a musician at all. It is, simply, about the pleasure, the incredible, totally absorbing and absolutely healing to the depths, pleasure of me and the piano and the music that is in both of us.
I identified with this book on many levels. Mr Rusbridger works in a public profession that is competitive to the point of combativeness. His tools are words that change people’s lives. He is constantly on call, always under the gun, never really “off” from his job.
Ask any elected official and they’ll tell you that this sounds a lot like what they do.
I always wanted to play the piano, but I never did. It was a vague longing with no direction. It might have stayed like that except a friend from my church told me she had a friend who wanted “to get rid of” a piano. I jumped at the chance to get it, and the rest is a love story.
It turns out that the piano and I were star-crossed lovers, or at least we were on my part. I sit down at the piano and the world falls away. When I first touched those keys, it was if a long-slumbering part of my brain woke up, kicked it’s heels and started doing fist pumps.
Mr Rusbridger talks a lot about his problems remembering the score. I have a somewhat analogous disability. I cannot, for the life of me remember notes. After I’ve plunked through a new piece of music the first time, and I look back at it the next day, I remember the sound. I hear the note when I look at it on paper.
I’ve had a hard time describing this to my teacher, but here’s what it’s like. I look at a note on the page for D, and instead of thinking D, I hear the note itself. It’s weird and it makes what people call method books almost painful to me.
I pulled myself out of the method books and into real music within a couple of months. I’ve been working on one advanced piece of music for almost 8 months now, slowly learning my way through it. First, the fingering, then the hands, then, ever so slowly, the hands together, and then, finally, the pedals. The whole time, I’m searching for the music in the notes, the story it’s telling me.
It’s a slow process, but it is so much fun. Let me repeat that: It. Is. Fun.
If you take a good piece of music apart, you will see quite quickly how it moves from one key to the next, how the chords come apart and combine, how the sounds repeat but do it differently, how they build and then fall, how it speaks. That’s the fun of it; finding the story in the music, the voice in it that uses these sounds to create a world of its own.
Mr Rusbridger studied music as a child, went through the (to me) mechanical process of graded learning. He’s modest about his abilities, but it is just modesty. I gather from reading the book that he is actually a very good amateur pianist. Which is to say that he may actually be a better pianist than the homogenized and rather dead predictability of much professional pianism I’ve heard in recordings.
We are veering toward a computer-like perfection in classical music, which is to say, we are taking the life out of it. Mr Rusbridger discusses this in some depth in his book. He theorizes that it’s the power of our recording studios to eliminate the flaws in performance that leads to this.
We are doing to music what Photoshop is doing to the human form: Replacing it with a plasticized shape that is a caricature of the beautifully flawed reality of life.
Real music, played by real people has flaws. But it also has voice and power and tells stories that reach into people and bring their deep inner selves to the surface. People love music. They love to listen to it, to dance to it, to just let it wash over them and lift them up and away.
The value of amateurs such as Mr Rusbridger, and, yes, even me, is that we keep music alive. We lift it out of the recording studio and the sterility of computer programs that eliminate flaws and place it squarely back into the human.
Mr Rusbridger makes an excellent case for this, and I will take it one step further. Without amateurs, music dies. This is true partly because the audiences for professionals is made up of amateurs. It is also true because the flaws, fun and good times of amateur playing is where the life of music lives. Music is of the human soul, not the human-made equipment that wipes performances clean of flaws and packages them to sell.
My family was a musical family. I never thought about this, took it for granted, until I got my hands on that first piano. We would get together and after a big meal with fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, homemade ice cream and watermelon, everyone would get out their fiddles and guitars.
Nobody could read music. They just played. The standard line when someone asked “Do you know …” was “Hum it.” If you could hum it, they could play it. First one, then the other would take it up, and they’d be off.
That’s the ultimate amateurism; one step removed from playing a bottle and keeping time on a washboard with a spoon. It was also, I realize now, beautiful.
Not the music so much, although if I remember correctly, it wasn’t all that bad. The beauty was in the family, the love, the life of it. Music is a human invention.
Music is emotion, language, math, symbolism, and our driving need for beauty all rolled up into a profound self-expression. It links us, one to another on a profound and visceral level.
Without music, would people die? Would we become like neglected children who fail to thrive? Would our eyes hollow out into deep pits of despair and our bodies grow frail and and wraithlike if we lost our ability to sing?
I think we would. I really think we would.
Because music is not about perfection or performance or making money. Music is, and always has been, our soul’s voice with wings.
I’ve been looking at videos of Brian Williams. The thing that jumps out at me is that he has been more of a personality than a journalist for quite a while.
There’s something vaguely trashy about the anchor of a network news show performing as he does in these videos. However, it goes a long way toward explaining his I Caught a Fish THAT BIG story about coming under fire in Iraq. That story was part of the Brian Williams act, the Brian Williams persona.
All this is in keeping with the way “news” has been trending for a long time. On cable news channels, they don’t so much report the news as they talk about it.
Each of the cable channels brings in “experts” of one sort or the other to dice up some itty bitty story or an itty bitty aspect of a large story that they’ve decided to focus on. Invariably, this chosen aspect they are going to dissect with talk, talk, talk is something that they can massage to put forth the slant, the bias, of that particular network. The “experts” viewpoints reflect the cable “news” channel’s bias, as well.
On network news, there’s a bit more reporting, but they have been overtaken by the star power of their anchors. The whole idea of a journalist being a “star” is antithetical to journalism. When the guy reading the news becomes bigger than the news he’s reading, we get a messy, viewpoint-driven version of events that veers haplessly toward propaganda and flat-out lying.
What I’m saying is that “news” as it’s being served up to the American people on television is one part trashy entertainment, complete with verbal pushing and shoving, one part star bias, one part network bias and a smidge of actual reporting.
That’s why news channels report, report, report non-news about one story: It’s cheaper to produce and easier to do than actual journalism.
The problem we are experiencing with our free press, at least on television, is that it’s not a free press. In fact, it’s not a press at all. It’s a corporate-owned propaganda machine that is being used to drive public opinion in order to control rather than inform the populace.
Brian Williams, star anchor and teller of tall tales, is just a symptom of the overall lack of credibility and journalistic chops in our money-driven television news empires. He’s just a good looking guy who reads the news.
I’d rather have homely folks who report the news without becoming the news themselves.
Brian Williams’ apology.
Brian Williams, describing the helicopter story in 2003, before it became the I Caught a Fish THIS BIG story.
Brian Willaims, telling the full I Caught a Fish THIS BIG story on Letterman.
Brian Williams’ newscast in which tells his I Caught a Fish THIS BIG on NBC news. The self-promotion in this is shameless.
Brian Williams, talking about the importance of the news.
Stars and Stripes debunked the I Caught a Fish THIS BIG story. There is a video with the reporter who debunked the story here.
From Stars and Stripes:
Williams and his camera crew were actually aboard a Chinook in a formation that was about an hour behind the three helicopters that came under fire, according to crew member interviews.
That Chinook took no fire and landed later beside the damaged helicopter due to an impending sandstorm from the Iraqi desert, according to Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Miller, who was the flight engineer on the aircraft that carried the journalists.
“No, we never came under direct enemy fire to the aircraft,” he said Wednesday.
The helicopters, along with the NBC crew, remained on the ground at a forward operating base west of Baghdad for two or three days, where they were surrounded by an Army unit with Bradley fighting vehicles and Abrams M-1 tanks.
Miller said he never saw any direct fire on the position from Iraqi forces.
The claim rankled Miller as well as soldiers aboard the formation of 159th Aviation Regiment Chinooks that were flying far ahead and did come under attack during the March 24, 2003, mission.
One of the helicopters was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades — one did not detonate but passed through the airframe and rotor blades — as well as small arms fire.