10 Reasons Not to See Fifty Shades of Grey

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Ira Gelb https://www.flickr.com/photos/iragelb/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Ira Gelb https://www.flickr.com/photos/iragelb/

Fifty Shades of Grey did big box office yesterday. It pulled in $30.2 million. It is also, as the article I linked to shows, being regarded as something of a cultural event. I imagine today will be even bigger box office for the movie.

The fact that many of the viewers are women tells its own tale about the degradation of the female which has taken place in our world. There was a time when the feminist movement would have tarred Fifty Shades and women themselves would have been willing to march against it. It is the essence of failed feminism that, after decades of “advocating” for women’s rights, this is where we are.

In my opinion, that has everything to do with the fact that feminism replaced the just and prophetic cause of women’s rights with the fight for legal abortion. I feel so strongly about this that I’m writing a whole book about it.

If  you plan to give this movie a pass,  you need to congratulate yourself. You’re doing the right thing.

In case you need them, here are 10 reasons why.

1. Linking sex and violence is evil.

2. Depicting women as objects and degrading them for entertainment is evil.

3. Getting your jaw smashed is not liberating.

4. Men who abuse women shouldn’t be “rescued.” They should be put in jail.

5. Holding up the masochistic woman as a twisted ideal is the oldest misogynist game in the world.

6. There’s nothing romantic about excruciating pain.

7. Celebrating mental, emotional, spiritual sickness is not good for your own mind, heart, soul.

8. Blood, fecal matter, torture and abuse are not turns-ons … unless there’s something really wrong with you.

9. Your lifespan is finite. Why waste 125 minutes of it on this trash?

10. Your money is finite. Why waste a chunk of it on “art” that degrades the female half of the human race?

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The ‘Fifty Shades’ Controversy: Sicko Sex and Failed Feminism

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Ira Gelb https://www.flickr.com/photos/iragelb/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Ira Gelb https://www.flickr.com/photos/iragelb/

What is it with women who read Fifty Shades of Gay and who will go to the movie? You got me.

Fifty Shades sounds like the classic masochistic nonsense: Woman redeeming the bad man by allowing him to abuse her. This sort of claptrap has been used to keep women in abusive relationships for millennia. It’s right up there with the “she asked for it” defense of rape.

It is interesting that it’s Christians who are speaking out most strongly against this misogyny. The feminist response, such as it is, has been much weaker and more muted. For instance, this is the only response I found on NOW’s website. There was no comment about Fifty Shades on the National Women’s Political Caucus website.

This is the same old sick stuff that feminists once rightfully condemned with all their force. In my opinion, the popularity of Fifty Shades after decades of feminist work is a sign and a symbol of a failed movement.

One of the commenters in the video below says that linking sex and violence is evil. I absolutely agree. That fact that this sicko movie is the  big box Valentine’s Day release says a lot, and none of it good, about our culture.

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Staying Married: Listen to Your Wife; Talk to Your Husband

Note: This post was first published a couple of years ago.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dennis Skley https://www.flickr.com/photos/dskley/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Dennis Skley https://www.flickr.com/photos/dskley/

My husband forgot about the first Valentine’s Day after our marriage.

I didn’t get so much as a card.

That was what you might call a mistake on his part; one he has learned not to repeat.

The reason he’s learned this is because I told him. I didn’t go home from work that day (I was in the legislature at the time) and hit him with my purse. But I did tell him. And the next Valentine’s Day, I told him in advance.

Which leads me to half my point.

Women, if you want a happy marriage, do not assume that your husband understands what you want. Based on decades of happy marriage to the one and only love of my life, I can tell you that he does not.

He. Doesn’t. Have. A. Clue.

I grew up with an involved father-in-residence and then married another y chromosome type person and have lived out the rest of my life since then with him. This experience has led me to form a theory about the male brain.

It doesn’t think like ours.

From what I can tell, the male of the human species thinks that if he makes sure you go to sleep in a warm bed under a roof that doesn’t leak after eating three square meals and that every man around knows that insulting you will get him in a fight, well then, that’s love. And you should know it.

If he comes home at night and doesn’t dally with other women, if he would rather cut his arm off than raise a hand to you, if he provides for, protects and cossets you, he thinks he’s done everything any woman with half a brain could possibly want. He’s finished. Done. Through. In his mind, he’s got that good husband stuff handled and now it’s time to get a brewski and plop down in front of the television for some football.

You, on the other hand, need to be told that he loves you. You think that all this protecting, providing, cosseting stuff is just a sort of baseline that any decent person would do. You don’t want a bag of groceries … or … well … you do want a bag of groceries, but you want something that feeds your heart as well as your stomach. You want affection. And you want a few complimentary words thrown in with the affection.

The trouble is, he’ll never know this if you don’t tell him. In fact, if your way of telling him is to go off and throw a hissy fit and cry and slam doors and answer “Nothing!” when he asks you what’s wrong, he’ll never figure it out. Nothing comes of that kind of behavior except a husband who is convinced he’s married someone who has mental problems, and a wife who honestly thinks her husband does not love her and that she’s probably unattractive to him to boot.

So, the first half of the point I’m making is, wives, talk to your husbands. Tell him what you want. I don’t mean yell at him and demand what you want. Just … tell him. Be specific. If you want him to take you out to dinner, say so. If you want a box of chocolates, say that. Do not make him try to figure it out. He won’t. Because he can’t. His brain doesn’t think like yours.

After you’ve told him, let it go until the next Valentine’s Day or whatever it is you were telling him about rolls around again. Then, gently, gently remind him. As the big day comes into view (be it your birthday, your anniversary, Valentine’s Day or whatever) start reminding him a few weeks out. You don’t have to make an issue of it. In fact, you shouldn’t make an issue of it. Just use your knowledge of him and your relationship to go about the business of reminding him in the gentlest way possible. If you don’t remind him, he won’t remember. Not, mind you, because he doesn’t love you, but because he’s a man, and their brains don’t think the same way ours do.

Which leads to the second half of my point.

Men, if you want a happy marriage, listen to your wife. When your wife tells you and reminds you, that means she’s handed you the ball and you need to run with it.

Do not quibble about this. Listen to your wife. Go forth and buy chocolates, or make dinner reservations or whatever. It does not matter that you just rotated the tires on her car and filled it up with gas. If she wants dinner and a movie, give her dinner and a movie. And for pete’s sake, tell her she’s pretty. Stand in front of your bathroom mirror with the door locked and practice if you have to, but say it.

Wives, talk to your husbands. Husbands, listen to your wives.

And while you’re at it, forgive one another for the subtle differences between the sexes that make this post necessary. There’s a reason God made us like this. When husbands and wives cooperate with one another this way, love between them grows. Our differences, which can drive us apart if we are stupid about them, can also meld us together for life.

Now, husbands and wives, start talking and listening. Your lives and your family will be the better for it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Are Wealthy US Foundations Paying to Suppress Religious Freedom?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy The Hague https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassythehague/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy The Hague https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassythehague/

Are wealthy US foundations paying to suppress religious freedom?

John Lomperis of the Institute for Religion and Democracy says that so far as the Ford Foundation and the Arcus Foundation are concerned, the answer may be yes.

From Catholic News Agency:

“The agenda of such groups in opposing basic conscience protections could hardly be more diametrically opposed to our nation’s great traditions of freedom of conscience and of religion,” Lomperis, who serves as United Methodist Director for the institute, told CNA Feb. 10.

He contended that the pattern of grants “serves a fundamentally totalitarian vision these foundations and their allied politicians have of ‘religious liberty.’” This vision is especially opposed to those who value traditional sexual morality and respect for unborn human life, he noted.

“Our society is now facing serious questions about to what extent Christians (as well as, to a lesser extent, followers of other faiths) will be allowed to have the same degree to live in accordance with our values without facing new and powerful coercions,” Lomperis said.

The Arcus Foundation’s website lists a 2014 grant of $100,000 to the American Civil Liberties Foundation supporting “communications strategies to convince conservative Americans that religious exemptions are ‘un-American.’” A two-year Arcus grant to the ACLU in 2013 gave $600,000 to support the ACLU’s Campaign to End the Use of Religion to Discriminate. Arcus Foundation tax forms describe this as a “multi-pronged” effort to combat “the growing trend of institutions and individuals claiming exemptions from anti-discrimination laws because of religious objections.”

 

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Are the Murders at Chapel Hill a Hate Crime?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word. https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word. https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Is the murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill a hate crime?

In some ways, that question is an oxymoron, because murder is always a hate crime. It doesn’t matter if we label the deed a “crime of passion” a “thrill murder” or the work of a serial killer, murder is always, at some level a crime of hatred.

Murder is also, always, at a slightly deeper point, an act of self-hatred by the murderer his or herself.

People kill other people by accident. But when they do it deliberately and with forethought, it is the worst single expression of hatred that they can put to action. At the same time, there is no way that anyone can take a human life without also killing a piece of their own humanity. That is one way in which murder is a self-hate crime.

But there is another, more direct, way in which it is a crime of self-hatred. Murderers kill other people to destroy something in that person that reflects a part of themselves, their past, or their rage. They kill a piece of themselves when they kill another person, and they do it in a direct and known-only-to-their-deeper-psyche clear-cut way.

Ted Bundy claimed that he was God when he saw the light of life go out in his victim’s eyes. He was nothing of the sort. He was just a man who was killing a hated part of himself every time he killed. Killing is easy. A child can do it. Children do do it.

What is difficult is life. Living together in love despite our differences is the real challenge to our courage. Cowards kill because killing is easy. Only people of courage and conviction reach across that which divides us and offer a hand.

Which brings us back to the killer in Chapel Hill. He has turned out to be an inconvenient hate killer. If he was an evangelical Christian, the story of his rage would be number one. The drums would be beating, pounding out the message that the hate-filled language of certain news outlets and a certain religion that it has become fashionable to bash and trash was the “cause” of his hatred.

But in this case, the killer is inconvenient in the extreme. He’s not an evangelical Christian. He’s an atheist. What’s more, he’s evidently a follower of the more radical and least civil expressions of the socio-political movements of aggressive/destructive atheism. By that I mean he’s “friended” such fine folks as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and other uncivil religion-bashing hate groups.

I want to pause here and make a simple point. Being an atheist is nothing. You don’t believe in God? Big whoop. That’s your business and nobody cares.

But the socio/political movement which has grown up around the hate tropes of such authors as the so-called Four Horsemen of Atheism is another thing altogether. That is an uncivil, dishonest Christian-bashing, religion-bashing hate movement that feeds its followers a constant line of slanders and personal attacks against those who have the temerity to hold other opinions and think other thoughts.

Did the killer of these three young people commit a hate crime in the legal sense? That is questionable, and will, I am sure, become political.

If the killer was an evangelical Christian, the big “yes” would already be out there in numerous media outlets. But this killer himself is all wrong. The group and the movement that he self-identifies with is the new trendy. And much of the media has itself engaged in Christian bashing and faith bashing.

If these murders are hate crimes, then they are among the enablers.

Which is not to say that anyone killed these three people except the man who pulled the trigger on the gun. He, and he alone is responsible for his actions. On the other hand, despite the fact the he and he alone pulled the trigger those who make money off slander and invective, are responsible for what they do, as well.

Were the murders of three innocent young people in Chapel Hill a hate crime? I think they were. I know they were.

Does this hate crime of murder fit the definition of hate crime under the law? Were these three young people murdered specifically because they were Muslim? Was their death a form of racial/religious execution?

I don’t know.

It certainly was a hate crime, as all murders are. The murderer was a sympathizer with groups that run on hatred. There is a blood red rope of hate that leads from the language and the bashing certain groups employ and the crazy mean brains that take it up.

Aggressive atheists are not alone in this, btw. Our public discourse is ugly to the max these days, and that ugliness comes from every point on the social and political compass.

Every day I delete comments that call other people names and seek to base arguments on personal attacks. If I let them through, they would drag this blog down to the hate-sewer in nothing flat. I also delete comments from people who are obviously — and I mean obviously — mental.

A lot of these people are crazy mean atheists, but certainly not all of them. I delete comments from crazy mean Catholics, crazy mean Muslims, crazy mean pagans, crazy mean right-wingnuts, crazy mean left-wing nuts. I even get comments from unaffiliated crazy means who just want to vent that they hate everybody.

The point is that for every single one of these crazy means, somebody out there on the internet is feeding them. The hate-sewers run deep and swift our society. They’ve become big money and a source of political power. When hate-filled invective and crazy mean collide, it can be dangerous.

It can lead to murder.

I can’t tell other bloggers/writers/politicians how to conduct their public discourse. I can’t edit all the books and vet all the movies and television documentaries that push hate.

But what I can do, I will do. And what I can do is keep this blog above that sewer.

I invite those of you who have had enough of these rageful killings to join me.

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History of the Crusades: First Siege of Constantinople 674-678

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/02/muslim-conquest-of-christian-syria-palestine-633-638/#ixzz3RdfAEqIp

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The Bad, Bad Law, IRS, Congress and Stealing from Grandma

Photosource: Flickr Creative Commons by Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

Photosource: Flickr Creative Commons by Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

If you give the IRS the legal power to seize money without cause, they’re going to take that legal power and use it to abuse everyday folks.

It’s kind of like one of Newton’s Laws of Motion. It just works that way.

It seems that back when Congress was in one of its rare bill-passing moods, this time in a holy zeal to wage “war on drugs,” it turned diarrheic and passed any stupid law that came into its collective head. Among these was a law that gives the IRS the power to seize monies of private citizens without preamble or proof of wrongdoing, without, in fact, suspicion of wrong-doing.

Here’s how it works. Suppose, say, you sold 3 prime acres of the old family homestead. Suppose you got the not-so-princely sum of fifty thousand dollars for the land.

Rather than deposit all of the money in one savings account, suppose you opened a second savings account and deposited 7 thousand you were setting aside to pay taxes on the sale. Then, you put another 5 thousand in an account set up to pay for the funeral of an elderly relative when the time comes. The rest of the money you put in your main savings account.

By doing this innocent, and even intelligent, bit of allocating of your own money, you would have committed a federal crime called “structuring.” Because you had “structured” your money to suit your needs, the IRS could seize it without warning.

The IRS does not have to prove that you had criminal intent for the money. It does not even have to believe that you had criminal intent for it. Your money could be seized and you could be prosecuted without having done anything wrong at all, simply for allocating your money to suit yourself like, say, a free American.

The law that allows this was passed with the supposed purpose of catching bad guys, specifically bad guys who are funding terrorists and laundering drug money and such. As will all bad laws, I would imagine that anyone who questioned its utterly stupid verbiage was accused of being “soft” on crime. This kind of emotional and political blackmail, writ as it is across the internet and in cable news talk-a-thons, can scare lawmakers into voting for bad laws.

When the force pushing for the law is none other than the IRS with their vast terror-tactic powers and the president of the United States, who is off on a legacy-building crusade, voting against even a law as obviously horrid as this one gets dicey. Political demagoguery and political cowardice are how grandma loses her life-savings to government forfeiture and ends up defending herself in federal court against charges that she has violated this nebulous and entirely unjust law.

The IRS has been seizing private monies with this law for a long time. According to Yahoo News, they seized $242 million in 2500 cases between 2005 and 2012. Fully one third of these seizures “were nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000.” Half of these were returned after owners challenged the IRS action.

That’s sounds sorta good. It means that half of these people were able to defend themselves. But think for a moment what defending yourself against the IRS entails.

Think of the anguish, the fear, the expense, the protracted and ugly battles and accusatory conversations, the search for an attorney who specializes in this stuff, the legal fees. Think about that and tell me that even the people who got their money back didn’t suffer a kind of legal purgatory because of this bad, bad law.

Consider also that not every innocent person whose money was flat-out stolen from them under this law was able to get it back. It takes determination and cash to fight these things. It takes willpower and nerves of steel. It takes a lot more fight than, say, an elderly person who had been depositing their spouse’s life insurance in separate accounts, divided up for the kids, would be able to muster.

The IRS has run into a bit of criticism because of the fact that it’s using the legal power that Congress gave it in the way the law clearly says that it can. As a result, the IRS is saying that it will stop being such a bad boy agency in this regard. They promise that they are going to stop seizing money that comes from legal sources. And we’re supposed to believe them and trust them and call it square.

What’s missing in this is the responsibility of our elected lawmakers in Congress to either repeal or amend this law. I know, it sounds like science fiction to expect our lawmakers to stop positioning themselves to either (1) take back the power if they are the Ds or (2) add the White House to the power they’ve got if they are the Rs, and do their jobs.

I know that’s not going to happen. Running for the next election is all they do in Congress. Governing this great country and representing the interests of We the People is not what they are about.

They aren’t going to change that just because the government is abusing the people they are supposed to represent due to a bad law that they passed themselves. That would be responsible. It’s the kind of thing that an actual public servant might do.

This is the United States Congress we’re talking about. They don’t do nothin’ but run for the next election and serve the special interests who pay for their campaigns.

This bad law won’t change so long as We the People continue to be bamboozled into thinking that either of the two political parties is the answer to our woes. So long as they can engage us in their ridiculous pie-throwing contests and keep us mesmerized with blind party loyalty, they’re going to continue with their bad governance and dereliction of duty.

So what we have is an agency saying that it’s going to change how it enforces a bad, bad law in order to stop a bit of bad, bad publicity. Meanwhile the people we’ve elected to write the laws are ignoring the problem and behaving as if lawmaking, actual lawmaking and law-fixing, has nothing whatsoever to do with them.

What’s wrong with this picture?

From Yahoo News:

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa widow is charged with a crime and had nearly $19,000 seized from her bank after depositing her late husband’s legally earned money in a way that evaded federal reporting requirements.

Janet Malone, 68, of Dubuque, is facing civil and criminal proceedings under a law intended to help investigators track large sums of cash tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorism. But some members of Congress and libertarian groups have complained that the IRS and federal prosecutors are unfairly using it against ordinary people who deposit lawfully obtained money in increments below $10,000.

At issue is a law requiring banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 cash to the federal government. Anyone who breaks deposits into increments below that level to avoid the requirement is committing a crime known as “structuring” — whether their money is legal or not.

The IRS has increasingly used civil forfeiture proceedings to seize money from individuals and small businesses suspected of structuring violations, according to a review by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group. The agency seized $242 million in 2,500 cases from 2005 to 2012 — a third of which arose from nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000. Nearly half was returned after owners challenged the action, often a year later.

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History of the Crusades: Muslim Conquest of Christian Syria-Palestine 633-638

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

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Darrell Waltrip’s Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast

This is a video for Darrell Waltrip’s full speech at the National Prayer Breakfast last week.

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Pope Francis and Me: Praying to St Thomas More

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

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.

From Chronica:

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.

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Is the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy Story a Confabulation?

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

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.

 

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Ascension Press: Following Jesus to the Priesthood

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by VISION Vocation Guide https://www.flickr.com/photos/visionvocationguide/

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.

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President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Speech: Offensive, but Not Surprising.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

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.

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Pope Francis Calls Human Trafficking a Shameful Wound Unworthy of Human Society.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

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Woman Brags that She Aborted Her Baby Because He was a Boy

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Britt-knee https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsuchick142/

Beautiful, precious, baby boy. Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Britt-knee https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsuchick142/

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.”

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Jordan Goes to War for Real

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Klaus Nahr https://www.flickr.com/photos/klausnahr/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Klaus Nahr https://www.flickr.com/photos/klausnahr/

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.

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Book Review: Climbing Piano’s Mount Everest

Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, The Guardian

Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, The Guardian

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.

Now.

It makes me happy.

Now.

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.

 

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Is Brian Williams a Star or a Journalist?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Peabody Awards https://www.flickr.com/photos/peabodyawards/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Peabody Awards https://www.flickr.com/photos/peabodyawards/

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.

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Brian Williams, describing the helicopter story in 2003, before it became the I Caught a Fish THIS BIG story.

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Brian Willaims, telling the full I Caught a Fish THIS BIG story on Letterman.

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Brian Williams’ newscast in which tells his I Caught a Fish THIS BIG on NBC news. The self-promotion in this is shameless.

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Brian Williams, talking about the importance of the news.

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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.

 

 

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