Marriage in Alabama

This is a good article at the Public Discourse, explaining the “judicial tyranny” of Judge Callie Granade, made possible by her exercise of fraud, lying by omission, ignoring the facts, and making up others. She will probably have to answer for none of it. There will be a follow-up article tomorrow, which is probably today by now.

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Sunday Thought, in passing

Listening to the Palm Sunday readings (from Matthew, I think), I was reminded of something I wrote in a long ago post, so long ago that I have no idea where to find it. Therein I wondered what it must have been like for Jesus when he stood with Pilate, looking out on the crowd that called for his blood, knowing that he was to be murdered by his own children. But thus to see with His eyes, and to feel with His heart, is a feat of the imagination nearly impossible to the human mind, and so I let it always drift away.

It came to me again last evening as the priest read the passage that tells of Jesus being brought before the High Priest Caiaphas, who rent his garment after hearing that “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

And later, when the Roman soldiers

had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

John’s account confirms all this, differing in only minor details:

The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
– Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
- And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
- Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?…Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.

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Mama Digg Down’s Brass Band

at the Green Mill, Valentine’s Day weekend 2015, in Chicago

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Sunday Prayer Request

A young man was assigned, along with the rest of the class, to tell me a story. On paper, of course. (He’s young compared to me, but appears to be about ten years older than most of his classmates.) The story he told was about the time he and another soldier were manning a checkpoint outside Fallujah. A car came barreling down the road toward them. The two soldiers raised their arms, a signal that the car should slow down and stop, but it did not. When it became clear that the occupants were determined to crash the checkpoint, the soldiers opened fire. The car, riddled with bullet holes, finally rolled to a stop. When my student and his comrade looked inside, they found two adults – a man and woman – and two children. All were dead and very shot up. Later investigation would show that the adults were parents to the children. Both the parents and the car had been rigged with explosives.

Most of my vets are very good students. Even when they can’t write very well, they attend regularly and punctually, participate, turn their work in on time, and tend to call me “sir,” which I like. They expect order, and have little patience with indiscipline. This one even barked one day at the whole class, that they ought to shut up and not all talk at once. (It’s true; I have to keep my boot on this bunch’s collective neck.) It was pretty funny because they all shut up.

There were other occasions on which he might have done the same, but on this day he was not dealing well with any kind of sensory overload. I have noticed something about him that seems high-strung. He appears to be listening intently, but after class has to ask me to repeat something. It turns out – as his story made clear – that he’s still dealing with the fact that he killed two children. In private conference, I asked if he has people to talk with about it. He said yes. But it doesn’t help? No. Surely you realize, I said, that whoever strapped those children into the car is responsible for their deaths. Right? Yes, he realizes that. But still, it happened.

So he can’t get past the existential fact of the matter. He’s a good guy, sincere, and wants to make sense of the world, but also among the walking wounded. He needs peace, which is always just out of reach.

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[Update: the previous attempt was to embed a Windows Media Player, which only succeeds for those who have the plugin. All Mac products (afaik) require it. So I'm trying html5 video with a flash fallback for older browsers. If your browser supports html5, you won't see the flash version. I recommend going full screen on this one.]

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Equality is a powerful argument

Two videos. In the first, Bill O’Reilly and two guests – a liberal and a conservative – discuss whether “our rights come from God.” They are prompted by an exchange between Judge Roy Moore and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. It is further evidence of why conservatives appear impotent on this issue. O’Reilly and the conservative Tantaros admit that the equality argument is a powerful one. It is so powerful that neither offers a counter to it.

Since they won’t say it, I will (for about the 5,000th time): not only is it not powerful, but downright stupid. In case you missed it, I said stupid. I have no rights that a homosexual man does not also have. He is equally as entitled as I to marry – a person of the opposite sex, that is. But he doesn’t want to do that. Therefore, he wants us to treat him not equally, but as a very super special poor little oppressed victim for whom we must invent an entirely new right – the right to marry a person of the same sex. This requires a redefinition of what a marriage is, to the degree that it is no longer recognizable. Further, it bears no kinship WHATSOEVER to discrimination on racial grounds. None. Zero. At all. I’m still waiting for prominent black leaders like Sharpton and Jackson to come before the cameras to scream about the injustice of the comparison.

This link should take you to the video.

In the other, Baronelle Stutzman, the Washington state florist who declined to perform her service for a male homosexual imitation wedding – claiming that it would dishonor Jesus Christ – talks to Shannon Bream on The Kelly File. The attorney general of Washington apparently tried to bribe Stutzman’s conscience but, says she, “you can’t buy my freedom.” No, but they can ruin you. And her situation is a harbinger of what is to come for all of us after the Supreme Court spreads this plague across the land later this year.

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“Muslims Predict Jesus Will Defeat ISIS…

Beginning in 2015.”

That’s the title of an article at Huffpo written by a Muslim with the interesting Islamic name of Dr. David Liepert. It’s full of reassurances that real Muslims know how “crazy-stupid” ISIS is, that they too love Jesus and await his coming again. (They’re also waiting on the Mahdi, but I couldn’t quite figure out what one of those is). As a result he says some crazy-stupid things like:

Even though Muslims and Christians disagree about what he is, with Christians claiming he’s God and Muslims declaring he’s not, everybody agrees about what sort of a person he was, is and will be: a man who fulfilled the Jewish Covenant and taught benevolent compassion to his followers, his example remaining a source of hope and inspiration to all humankind for the rest of time.

B.S. Except for the Jewish Covenant stuff, he might be talking about the Buddha or Gandhi. If you don’t believe in his divinity, you can’t even come close to knowing “what sort of person he was.”

It turns out that Dr. Liepert and Jesus (“peace be upon him”) have a past:

Bottom line, I have served God and loved Jesus my entire life, and I followed Jesus into Islam when I realized I became a worse man by worshipping Him and a better man by following him.

Some people just can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

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Sunday Gratitude: for friends when you can find them

Had the good fortune this weekend to meet the pseudonymous, trenchantly enigmatic, lethal combox warrior, scourge of usurers, corruptor of every consequentialist conscience, and enemy of everything evil under the sun, the Catholic blogger known as ZippyCatholic. His company is convivial, or he could not have gotten along with me. It also helps that he likes many of the right things, such as good European pilsners and homemade pizza. We tipped a few, had a good dinner, and discussed the Fate of the Nation and of all mankind, concluding that both would be in good hands if we were in charge. Just as importantly, he brought along his beautiful daughter (who clearly adores him), musically talented (she played our piano for hours) and lover of all things artistic. We took her to an art store and made sure she left with something useful. A good kid with a big, open heart. She gives me hope for the future. May the Lord bless her and keep her, show his face to shine upon her, and be gracious unto her all her days.

Prosit, my friend. And soon, I hope.

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Go Coptic

I finally took a look at the “Rules for Fasting and Abstinence” handed out by my parish church. It contains the “Current Discipline” and the “Traditional (1962) Discipline.” I think I can guess which my pastor prefers. In 1962, “Full abstinence was required on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays during the year, and the vigil of Christmas. Partial abstinence was required on all days of Lent, Wednesdays and Saturdays of the Ember weeks, and all vigils (except Christmas).”

“Fasting was required on Ash Wednesday, the three following days, all days of Lent, Ember days, and vigils.” Today, fasting is required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On Holy Saturday it is recommended but not required. Furthermore, “Abstinence obligations applied to those age 7 and older.” Now, the age is 14. Thus was I caught between thinking that the older discipline was better in the rigor of its demands, and being thankful that I didn’t become Catholic until 20 years later.

Then I get an email from a Catholic friend who was feeling sorry for himself that he couldn’t have his usual night-time snack, a chocolate covered protein bar. He had sacrificed it to the Lenten suffering. The next day, one of his co-workers who is a Coptic Christian told my friend about his (theirs, the Copts’) fasting regimen: “No meat, no dairy during the whole of lent, ONLY one full meal EVERY day, fasting began last Monday (prior to Ash Wednesday), and they are required to go to the church every day and pray, and to pray about 300 times individually per day.”

After that, my friend felt less sorry for himself. He still belongs to the Western Roman Rite, though. I told him that all that time without pizza would probably kill me. Thus, the counsel in the post’s title is offered to the reader, not the writer, of it.

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What is a moderate Muslim?

I keep hearing on the news that moderate Muslims need to “stand up and denounce” the radical branch of that religion (you know, the false branch, the rotten one that needs cutting off). They need to “rise up and,” well, do something. In American political parlance, when we describe, for example, a Republican politician as “moderate” on abortion, what we mean is that he is in favor of killing babies in the womb in some situations but not all.

So what is a “moderate” Muslim moderate about? What is he moderating? Is he in favor of terrorism some of the time but not all? Does he walk a fine line between a fanatical bloodlust and the brotherhood of man? Between the passionate piety of the devout and the indifferentism of the couch potato? Would the moderate Muslim, in a Muslim majority society, embrace equality of citizenship for all? That is, would a Christian be allowed to vote, hold any job for which he’s qualified, permitted complete freedom of worship? Jews? Does the moderate Muslim love Jews? Does he wish to live in comity with them? Are they as much children of God as he? What about other Muslims? Can they convert to Christianity with the moderate Muslim’s blessing, or at least without his laying down a fatwa?

These are honest questions, asked because I don’t know the answers. If I said of a man, “He’s a decent fellow, and very pleasant company, because so moderate in his Christianity,” would this make sense to anyone? Does it mean that he goes to church once a week instead of every day, avoids absolute prohibitions in moral matters, never disturbs the affability of a social gathering, or the political public square, with his intrusive religious convictions?

If Islam is truly a religion of peace, it seems to me we ought to hear from the true peacemakers, the ones who hold close to their hearts the reminder to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’ After all, they shall be called the Children of God.

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