Posts Tagged 'Theology'

Bullets, Targets, And Salvation

Tam posted this and my twisted little brain got to thinking.  She talks about speed being THE factor in a “flat shooting” bullet.  Then there is a footnote about the Ballistic Coefficient.  But really, when you dig at it, the BC is just the measure of how well a bullet doesn’t let the atmosphere slow it down.  So it really is just the speed of the bullet.  But then again, if the bullet IS less prone to slow down, using the BC is important. 

That led my grey matter to Faith and Good Works.  Yes, I know.  I do make shrinks facepalm.  I mean, Faith without Good Works is dead, but Faith should, by its very nature produce Good Works.

So it’s all how you look at things.  If you take the point of view of the target* with a nice lead smudge on it’s surface, the bullet needed to go X fps from the point of origin at its point of aim to impact on the target’s surface.  So the target only cared (cares) about the total Speed (Big “S”-Speed).  In other words, a Speed (Big “S”) that was (is) in motion.

But from the shooter’s point of view, (s)he needs to know what to do to make that happen?  You need a bullet with a known flight path so you can say, “if I aim here, it will impact over here.”  You need to know both the speed (Little “s”-speed) that the bullet will be moving and the BC of your bullet.**  The speed (Little “s”) is simply a measure of potential at this point. 

“Faith” and “Faith and Good Works” work much the same way.  From the point of view of the target***, you needed to be moving at X Fps (Faith per second), to make it to the bull’s-eye.  From this side of the equation, Faith (Big “F”-Faith) is a moving idea, it’s alive.  It’s completed or completing.  It’s either missing the target or hitting it safely.

Shift the focus from the target to the shooter, I mean Christian… nah, I think shooter works.  Anyway, shift the focus and you look at the equation in static form, “What do I need to get there?” And in this case, you see Faith (Big “F”), much like Speed (Big “S”), needs to be broken down into its component parts of faith (we’ll call it little “f”-faith) and good works.  On this side, it’s not alive yet, we haven’t pulled the trigger. 

On our side of the equation, the human side that struggles with the HOWs, you need both faith (little “f”) and good works.  One enables the other like a bullet in flight.  Have a lousy BC (don’t do good works) and you will fall faster than a flat nosed .45-70.  Have a better BC and you will be “flatter shooting” and more able to deal with the vicissitudes of the life’s atmosphere.  This all assumes that you’ve pulled the trigger in the first place and have any faith.  All the fancy schmancy techno-wonder projectiles are worthless if they stay in the chamber safely incased in brass.

On God’s side of the equal sign, the side where everything happens all at once, He just sees Faith (Big “F”), and all the good works done without it don’t add up to anything.  Even the acts that are done with faith don’t really help us cause you should have been doing them anyway.  You want an extra cookie for doing what you were supposed to do?  

So, Lutherans and Catholics rejoice!  The centuries old feud can be put behind us****.  Ah, guns!  Is there nothing they can’t solve?

* Let’s say a steel plate at 100 yards
**if all other things are equal. Not going to get into burn rates, powder loads, windage, et cetera… all of which, BTW, shows just how tiresome the faith v. faith and good works argument can get when we should all just be going out for a beer and helping little old ladies across the street, but I digress.
*** in this case, the eternal NOW with clouds and harps instead of the hear-after with Uwe Boll screenings and Justin Bieber muzak playing in the hallways.
**** Ok, maybe there are other things to deal with, but wouldn’t you rather just go shoot some targets then have a beer? We can leave all that other stuff for when the alcohol kicks in.

Today’s Moral Quandary Brought To You By Breda And Lawdog

I ran across this and this on their sites.  Having recently attempted for the umpteenth time to read the first Harry Potter book and having glanced at the first Twilight book, I was stuck by the deep notion that if that crap can get readership, why the hell not try myself.  My book is now in Alpha form and I have a few volunteers to ridicule rip apart make fun of my dyslexia do the heavy lifting and first edits. 

Anyway… I dropped sections of my book into the Analyzer.

Here are the results.

For dialogue only, I rang up as Cory Doctorow.

For dialogue intermixed with action/descriptions, I seem to be running over Steven King.

For some um… how to put this… less than wholesome romance (But PG-13), I scored an H.P. Lovecraft.  Fitting given the scene.

For some demonic rantings, I made James Joyce roll over in his grave. 

For general romantic scenes (and I mean romantic interactions between two people, not Boom Chicka Wow Wow…) I came up so MPD that I can’t being to list the authors. 

But when I went out on a lark and had it analyze the book as a whole, I nearly deleted all my work and gave up my dream of having people enjoy my stories.  DAN FRACKIN’ BROWN!  The same name that came up in my general action sequences.

I’ve never read a Dan Brown novel, mainly because Mr. Brown seems to have a hard on for the Catholic Church so I tend to not give $$$ or time to people who dislike a fundamental part of me.  I don’t know if his stories are well written or not.  I know people find his work interesting, but they find Twilight and Harry Potter spend worthy too.  Would it be morally correct to seek to publish a book that could land me the moniker, “A Catholic Dan Brown?”  *Shiver*

My immortal soul is in danger.  Oh the woes of being a tortured artist. 🙂

A Story for Easter.

Hop on over to LAB’s place for an Easter Short Story.

While I’m Venting My Spleen.

The US Catholic Church… not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Church despite its claim of allegiance… gave such great moral direction on the healthcare debate.  It’s ok if the government unconstitutionally takes over healthcare.  It’s ok that the US become socialist.  It’s ok if working people are raped at the point of a gun by the IRS.  As long as we can tap-dance around abortion with some feel good language and have illegals treated like citizens, we don’t care if .gov exercises draconian control over every aspect of our members’ lives.  We don’t care that in every nation where socialism takes over, the morality of that nation takes a nosedive.  No.  As long as we don’t have to take a stand and illegals get the feast on the golden goose, we’re cool.

That’s what happens when you follow the “Spirit of Vatican II”.  That’s what happens when you let lay ministers hippies run the parishes and dioceses.  

the sad part is that as the USCCB becomes more liberal and useless, more people will fall away from the church.  and who will be left.  Faithful Catholics, all good citizens, whose birthright and economy they encouraged the government to give away.  They will be coming to us for more money.  I’m afraid Cesar will get there first, and he has guns, and not much will be left.   don’t think I won’t weigh your contribution to this disaster when I have to decide where the rest of my paycheck gets spent.

Let me make one thing clear.  I will not leave my church.  But I’m sick to death of the lot of you and I don’t give a tinker’s damn what you say anymore.  If it doesn’t come from Rome, I won’t listen.  period.

NOTE WELL:  any “down with Rome, whore of Babylon, the pope takes orders from da joos” nonsense will be shitcanned and will not see the light of day in comments.  I’m not anti catholic.  I’m angry with yet another American leadership institution that has lost its way and is crapping all over the people because they are too stupid to read history.

Christmas For Dummies.

So a few years ago (about a millennia and a half give or take), some really wise old priest decided it really sucked trying to honor Jesus’ birth right around the same time as he was murdered.  Granted the rising from the dead shtick did put a happier spin on the whole, “I killed my savior,” thing, but still… Dead God does not equal happy birthday. 

So this priest looked about and saw all these Pagans randying about having a merry old time and he though, “You know, why don’t we co-opt this holiday too.  I mean we get to kill 2 birds with one stone.  We get to give the locals a reason to celebrate with us and we get rid of the whole Debbie-Downer of ‘happy birthday now please get up on the cross’ (and depending on when the vernal equinox fell you might have ‘come down off the cross, we have some nice cake for you’). 

So Pagans became Christians and life went along for hundreds of years pretty much unchanged.  You had various permutations of the same theme but nothing really earth shattering.  Then the Christian world had several disciplines coalesce into one unstoppable force.  Psychology, Economics, Banking, and Industry, just to name a few, formed a new prophet called, “Marketing,”  and that prophet cried out in the desert and announced the birth of a new religion, “Consumerism!” 

Consumerism looked at the world and said, “Look at all the people celebrating Christmas!  Why, we need to co-opt that holiday and kill two birds with one stone.  We’ll put them further in debt by convincing them they deserve all these things we sell and we’ll drive out any sad vestiges of the old religion that makes them think stupid things like saving money and personal accountability!” 

So thus Consumerism spoke to his prophet, Marketing, and said, “Bring them to me.  Inflame their hearts with want and need so that I can fill the hole with my ephemeral trinkets. …At least until our products for next season are ready.”  And Marketing did his bidding.  And people fought for toys that would be in next year’s garage sale and spent the entire Christmas season miserable and angry. 

The angels turned to Jesus and cried, “Are you going to stand for this!”  To which Jesus replied, “Come on!  They nailed me to a cross, did you think it was going to be all down hill after that,” and he went back to watching kids playing.   

The angels stared in total puzzlement until Jesus said, “Look.  They’ll be back.  They can’t live in this ponzi fantasy forever.  Things will collapse and they’ll be back.  At least until someone else builds the next false god.  You really should be used to this by now.”

So the seasons turn from one shopping excuse to another.  People try to show off what they haven’t got and kids tear from one present to the next like a glutton suffocating on any food in his reach.  The night falls and the people cry, “I’m so glad that’s over!  Thank GOD we have another year before we have to do that again!” 

But as their hind brain counts the costs and inescapable math mounts, their fears become harder and harder to ignore.  Next year may NOT come.  At least not this way.  And that part of the brain which made lighting fast the flash of claws or the thundering of a run for life itself gnaws and worries at the modern intellect.  Can another video game quell the pain?  Can bigger TV or a faster CPU keep me safe?  Can the right mix of pill make it all go away?

To any left who know that Christmas starts TODAY and not on Black Friday; Merry Christmas and God Bless. 

To all those who simply must have the season’s latest toy’s and think it’s finally over now and all you have to do is find a way to pay for it; good luck and I leave you with one thought.  When… Not if… When… When all the toys you preen with such vainglory over lose their luster….  When they stop blinking and boinging or going, what will be important about today? 

Look into the eyes of everyone you see.  Everyone!  And try to realize the only lesson you need ever know about the holidays.  Christmas, indeed any great time, isn’t about giving. It isn’t about receiving.  It’s about being.  Being who you are, where you are, with all who make you what you are.  Master that, and Citibank and Madison Ave. need never steal another precious moment again. 

… And to all, a good night.

Healthcare, Catholicism, and Social Justice.

I’m going to say this JUST ONCE!  You can not violate one deeply held tenant of your faith just because you aren’t violating another, more serious one.  We good on that?  We all understand?

So, allegedly, no abortions will be paid for in Pelosi Care.  Yeah right.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Which I won’t.  But let’s just pretend, for after all, this whole nightmare is just based on pretend scenarios, pretend economics, and pretend victims…  So let’s pretend that this round of Pelosi Care from the House will really stick and not end up “killing babies.”  Does that make it morally pure for Catholics seeking Social Justice (please say it with a lisp… that’s the only way to really gather the full impact of what most people mean by Social Justice today)?

No… Catholics (and other Christians) who act like as long as the “A” word is not used you can do anything for the “greater good” of “social justice” are deluding themselves with one moral obligation and ignoring others. 

First let’s look at simple slavery.  Making citizens slaves to the government for the promise of healthcare violates the sanctity of a person’s free will.  This is the main reason that John Paul II fought so hard against Communism.  While free will is not license, it can not be curbed to the point where individuals can only perform actions blessed and allowed by an overarching central government.  Universal Healthcare, with its finger in the pie of virtually every decision that people will make every day, takes away the freedom of an individual to be an individual. 

And don’t give me that this isn’t Universal Healthcare because you will still have private insurance plans.  Each one of those plans will have to be approved by the Kremlin… I mean a Government panel.  So you will NOT be able to engage in private transactions on the most personal of decisions.  I wonder if they regulated Porn this rigidly if that would get passed with a 5 vote margin?  Oh… wait.  No…  That’s a 1st amendment issue.  You picking your own healthcare is not.  Funny how that mythical and vaunted “Right to privacy” is missing from this bill.

Next let’s look at the principle of Subsidiarity.  The Church, possibly not individual priests and bishops, but the CHURCH has long held that decisions are best made as close to ground zero as possible.  Meaning while there is a need for decisions to be made at “the top”; most decisions and power should fall to the lowest level possible so that the greatest needs are met with the least amount of bureaucracy and over head.  You know… like The Constitution promotes.  Limited Federal Government, Expanded State powers, and, by extension, the States letting local authorities deal with the minutia.   Healthcare tramples all over Subsidiarity by letting a faceless bureaucracy tell each individual what is the best care for them.  

Death panels anyone?  Rationing healthcare is exactly what will happen and anyone who thinks otherwise probably thinks their bank account craps money every 2 weeks, they have $500 extra in their account cause the bank will cover that much overage, and they are making a wise financial move by buying an expensive enough car to spin the upside down loan amount of their old car into a new set of payments.  Healthcare will be rationed.  Individuals not deemed worthy enough either by age, economic value, social class, or financial obligation will have medical care withheld at some point because a closed system can not generate any new capital.  When the end of the money is reached and there are still patients… those patients will not get care.   Not exactly “Social Justice” even when pronounced with a lisp. 

In Vitro Fertilization.  Ok… those who are non Catholics or those who don’t have a large background in bio ethics won’t see the problem with this.  But let me break it down for you.  Some argue that this is “evil” because it’s not natural.  Well, neither is a pace maker, but it’s such a simple procedure now that there’s nothing wrong with it.  Those who argue the “not natural” aspect of In Vitro are missing the point.  IVF is bad because it 1) opens up the making of babies to Market Forces, and 2) guarantees the death of children.

Let’s just ignore point 1 for a moment since that is an application issue and not truly one directly related to the procedure itself.  In a perfect world, you could deal with that the way we deal with the death penalty.  Capital punishment, in and of itself, is not immoral.  But it can be applied immorally.  Let’s instead focus on point 2 which is how morally offensive the procedure actually is.

I can hear the objections.  How can giving a couple a baby be bad?  Well… under normal circumstances, it isn’t.  But let’s take a look at phases of the procedure.  First we collect eggs from the woman and sperm from the man.  The former is done with a lot of discomfort and the latter, while normally done in a way… um… “not consistent” with Catholic beliefs; it can, with certain steps, be done in accordance with teachings.  So we are ok there. 

Next, we have a “mixture” of the two specimens “outside” the womb.  Many ethicists will look at this as gravely wrong.  That anything that removes the creative/generative process from the intimate/unitive process is morally wrong.  And they are right.  But I’m probably going to lose 90% of the non-Catholic readers on that point, so I’m not even going to argue that one.  Let’s just reserve that argument as an uncertainty at best.  

If you are Catholic, however, (and that is whom I’m yelling at here) you can’t pass go.  You can’t collect $200.  If you claim to be Catholic, and an act is taught to be intrinsically evil.  You have to stop and not do or support it.  Period.  Full Stop.

So now we have some little human beings floating around in a petri dish.  We will take SOME, not all, but some (the genetically fit ones, Mein Fuhrer) and inject them into the womb to see what takes.  The humans that are not injected into the womb are then kept for experimentation or killed as surplus.  That’s right, but it’s OK because they don’t vote and don’t have little faces that can be put on late night commercials with Sally Struthers and the strange bearded guy.   

The ones that ended up getting injected may or may not attach (which is why you have to use so many) and if “too many” attach then the “extra humans” are subject to “reduction”*.  Meaning abortion.  So we are still paying for abortions when we pay for IVF.  And not only are we paying for abortions and killing of babies out of the womb, we are also paying for the enslavement of humans to medical experimentation. 

I realize it’s really easy to dismiss this because these humans are cells rather than fully expressive semi-bipedal diaper wearing poop machines.  But what else are they?  You can use any amount of sophistry you want to call them a bio mass or a proto human or any other number of double speak phrases.  But in the end, they are and will only be a human and left to natural means, they will not only be a human in cell form, but a human in voting form, as well. 

So we have this bill that Catholics clamoring for “(lisp) Social Justice (/lisp)” think is the bee’s knees because it formally says it will not pay for abortions.  It ignores economic realities, it denounces subsidiarity, it forced subservience to governmental monopoly, it violates the ethical distribution of medical services, and breaches the ethical boundaries of medial procedures all on OUR dime.   Please… Grow up and read something more than “The Catholic Worker” or other Liberation Theology inspired writings.

Now the fun part is that Catholic Bishops will be meeting in about a week or so.  This issue will (or at least better) be on the docket.  Many have said the Bishops have blessed this bill.  Many have said they have not.  Either way, if the Senate stalls; this could be an interesting opportunity for Bishops to get their two cents in.  As a Catholic, I’m very interested to see what happens.  I really don’t know what they will do, if anything. 

The Bishops have dropped the ball on a number of issues either through timidity or allowing their lay advisors to have too much say in policy making.  I would not be surprised to see them fall in love with the bill.  I would not be surprised to see them distance themselves.  I would not be surprised to see them say it’s a governmental issue and as long as the Big “A” is off the table and while they have “concerns” about other issues, they will leave it up the conscience of the voters.

What I will be surprised to see is a bold statement that says, “THIS IS NOT SOCIAL JUSTICE!”   And that is truly sad.  This is a time when the Bishops, or even just a few of them, could stand up and sound the clarion call to defeat this abomination.  The bill hangs by the weakest of threads and just one or two loud voices could send it back to the bowels of hell from whence it came.

I’m truly glad I’m not a Bishop in this day and age.  I really would not want to meet death with all that is required of me and have to tell Jesus, “Well, I didn’t want to make waves.  What would you have me do?”  I bet He gets really fed up with that one.

One more thing.  If I hear, “…well the current system…,” one more time; someone is getting a beat down.  You don’t replace your functioning, if not perfect, car with a lemon just because your current one has times when it fails to start or sometimes takes longer than it should to warm up.  You fix the current one.  The only ones who win if you replace it with a lemon out of some misplaced sense of desperation and false sense of urgency are the Seller and the Mechanic.  This is NOT “Social Justice!”  It’s plain stupidity.  When you have the authority and ability to stop it and do not, it’s malpractice.  And any who participate in it, from the willing voter to the silent leaders to the greedy politician, are guilty, in some way, for all the lives affected.   THAT is Social Justice, Comrade!

* or you have them all, get a hit show on TLC, have the public believe you are spineless wuss by not standing up to your wife, then prove you are a spineless wuss to all by leaving her for jail bait.  But the AMA has not approved this procedure.

HELP! I FELL INTO THE INTERW3BZ!

The downward spiral started here.   Then the looking glass took me here.  I thought I’d found purchase here and could get out (the linked video is a hoot).  But then I found this and knew I needed help. 

HALP!!!

Of Total Rat Bastards And Emergency Funds. …And Other Randomations

I’m just now getting back to the entry I had worked on Sunday that my Treo decided to nomnom and turn into digital confetti.  So if you will permit… Imagine the wavy lines and blurring screen…

Imagine the audio getting softer…

Fade to Sunday…

I’m sitting here in my car tapping away on my Treo’s thumb pad trying to get my thoughts in order.  It’s not often I get moved to action that involves dipping into our emergency fund.  You see, I was out of work for a number of months several years ago and that left an indelible mark on me.  Not one that has been always helpful.  I hate to spend money and I loath the thought of my bank account dwindling.  …Which is why the house hunting is taking so much out of me.  My wife is going to have to get the cashier’s check for the down payment and never let me see it or we are never going to close on a house.

So after a full morning and a ton of driving this afternoon, the darling Mrs. has popped into her Comic book shop and left me to ruminate on the day.  I guess I should start at the beginning.

My alarm went off and somewhere between that and end of the Entrance Hymn to Mass I woke up.  Fortunately, I slept-walked through a successful breakfast prep (including getting coffee to the Mrs.), breakfast, shower, and enrobing (complete with deodorant) without slipping or chopping something off.  We are now in the 10th or 15th verse of the Hymn but I know it’s the last one because the organist has switched to the “Rain down holy hell from the pipes” setting. 

Mass continues.  I have a few choked up moments as I remember my mother being given her final mass there before going to grave site.  It’s hard at times, but, “time heals,” so they say.  Waiting for that.

Anyway.  Mass is near its end (or officially over for those who leave right after Communion as if God was a fast food restaurant.  McDeity’s? Salvation in the Box?.) and Fr. Wayne, before dismissing the crowd with the traditional, “The Mass has ended; go in peace.”  To which all too many make the response, “Tanks be to God,” sound like, “Finally!”  Before that dismissal, he gives some final announcements. 

Announcement one was for prayers and remembrance of Hurricane Ike that was a year ago.  He thanked the parish for turning out and helping him and others in need with seemingly inconsequential things like ice that are a God send in a power outage.  He thanked the parish for showing up the day after we poked our heads out of the foxholes. There was no power and, therefore, no A/C.  But people still came and still dressed like civilized human beings.  Some still in suits. 

More memories of my mom flood back into me.  My sister had power and we all stayed with her those weeks.  It was the last time I spent any real time with my mom.  If I’d have known… More choking back the tears.

I was not a member of the parish at that point.  But for all Church buildings not designed back in the good old days Pre-Vatican II when Blueprints didn’t come with default A/C ducting and people didn’t destroy sacred spaces for sport, the experience is much the same in a power outage.  In the old churches you just open the windows and fan yourself hoping that nature and thermal air flow will do something.  In new churches, the only way to open a window is with a special key (A.K.A. a brink) so you sit and stew in your own juices and that of everyone else.

Now let me explain something about Fr. Wayne.  He came to this parish and took it from firmly in the red to nicely in the black.  This is NOT an affluent parish.  You can’t just twist a few arms and get a new jumbo-tron for the nose bleed section like some mega-churches.  What he’s done for the parish is just simple accounting mixed with saying, “No, we can’t afford that yet,” when it’s needed.  Not someone who you are likely to find in D.C. at the moment. 

Aside from his not insignificant financial acumen, he has the gift of helping people allow the spirit to direct their hearts. …and their wallets.  All without fire and brimstone threats of a 900 foot Jesus.  He simply lays out the facts and asks that you do what you can.  There is never any pressure. 

So it’s probably no coincidence that that announcement preceded this one.  Fr. Wayne said that members of his old parish were outside selling raffle tickets.  They are a small parish that barely collects $2000 a week.  Now I would be S**tting in high cotton if I made two grand a week.  But imagine running a whole parish, maintaining its property, serving its needy, and somewhere in all that, paying its employees and feeding the priest.  But that’s not where it all ends. 

It seems last night, some Total Rat Bastards backed up a pickup truck and took both AC units from the church.  NICE!  Fr. Wayne asks us to not pass the raffle table by and to please leave a dollar or by a ticket if we can. 

I kid you not, I was actually about to have a mental meltdown when I heard this.  I looked over to my wife who was having a tear-in-eye moment.  HOW DARE SOMEONE!  TO A CHURCH!  FILTHY SONS-A-… 

“Ok Dante… this is getting you nowhere.  What can YOU do to help?”

“Me?”

“Yes.  YOU!  You want to complain about people, but what can YOU do to make it better?”

“Um…”

“Don’t you, ‘UM,’ Me, you!  What are you going to do?  Not, “what should…,” or, “what can…,”;  “WHAT ARE…!”

I hate my internal dialogue.

So my Wife and I hunker down to say our final pray after mass.  After, I look at her and say, “How much?”

“Whatever you say, you’re the head of the house.”  How she said that without a trace of iron or sarcasm, I have no idea.

I quoted a number and she didn’t blanch.  She simply said, “We won’t miss it. Not in the long run. Heck, you can drop that on Ammo without even trying.” 

She wrote the check and handed it over at the table.  We bought one book of tickets as well.  Beside us was a little old lady.  And when I say old, she’s probably the type that tips a waitress a quarter and thinks that’s a substantial amount.  And for her on a fixed income, it’s probably just as substantial as it was back in the day.  She is plunking down small change for a $2 ticket.  With shaky hands and unsure steps she tries to fill out the stub.  My wife steps into fill it out for her.  The “Widow’s Mite” moves me again.  I’m giving out of my largess; she’s giving out of her heart. 

Now I say all of this, not to sound like some kind of Saint.  Believe me, I’m as far from that as the east is from the west.  I write this for a few reasons.  One, pray for the TRB’s that took the A/C units.  They will need it.  Maybe if enough weight is piled on their conscience, they will stop stealing and get an honest living. 

Two, pray for the Church. It will need some help funding the A/C units.

Three, if you are so moved, make a donation.  I would suggest calling fist to see what they want on the checks:
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
310 McKinney
Sweeny, TX  77480-2899  
Phone: (979) 548-2020

Four, if you live in the area, pop on over to their Bazaar.  It’s at a different address:
http://olphsja.org/events/index.htm
Sunday, October 5, 2008
at the Knights of Columbus Hall
2 miles North of Brazoria on Highway 36

Five, please say a prayer that the elderly lady wins the raffle.  I’m sure she could use some new furniture or other gift checks that are the prizes.

Six, if you get some unexpected time with a loved one, use it like you will never see them again.  You may not.

Finally, I wish to tout the concept of an Emergency fund.  You can find out more about it from people like Dave Ramsey or Philip Lenahan.  But the concept is simple.  If you scrimp and save up some cash (about a grand) and don’t touch it…  It’s for emergencies.  Not a new Xbox or mattress.  Emergencies!  You need out of jail.  You need a new muffler.  Your AC needs repair and is August-Hot outside.  …and it’s not already in the budget.  That’s what this money is for. 

If that money wasn’t in the bank, I would never have been able to just drop a case of .223 worth for the effort.  And yes… I consider needs like that an emergency.  I really do.  At least I’m able too because I have that fund as well and a “rainy day fund” (also found at those sites)

Anyway… if you save that money up and put it aside, then you are able to poke Murphy in the eye should he try to pee in your helmet.  It keeps you from going into credit card debt for every damn little thing that comes along.   And since you have no revolving debt, you can make up the money you just spent on the emergency with some judicious budgeting.

I think I touched on everything.  Now I’m going to go see what’s taking the Mrs. so long. 

TTFN. 

Screen starts to shimmer and lose focus.

Sounds begins to get muffled

Fade to present.

Well… there you have it.  Best I could do to reconstruct the post from wetware backups.  I hope it moves you to some act of kindness for others or yourself (hit those financial websites and call Mom and Dad).

Teddy Kennedy Dies. I Wish I Could Summon The Snark.

It’s now time for all the fawning stories and revisionist history that the Kennedy clan seems to be able to afford in this life.  I’m sure there will be a grand love-in about how wonderful he was.  The Cathedral will be packed and few in the media or pulpit will say one word about Mary Jo and the millions of dead babies he’s left in his wake.

I never like to say things like, “I hope they rot in hell.”  I say it out of anger and frustration at times, but I feel bad about it.  Really, I do.  I always hope for “Death Bed” conversions of people or pray that someone was so whack-a-doodle that they may not be culpable for their actions on this side of the All a Worm Can Eat Buffett.  If, in Teddy’s case, by some miracle he began to breath his last, looked up, saw the mistakes of his life, and called on a merciful Lord to forgive him in perfect contrition, he’ll be sweeping up the floors and turning off the lights in purgatory long after the rest of humanity is dancing in the green grass and mystical happiness of Heaven. 

Why do I believe that?  As a Catholic, I cut no slack to people who profess the same faith as I do yet refuse to assent to its teachings.  I have friends who are Wiccans and have more respect for their philosophy, even thought I disagree with everything it stands for, than I do for a Catholic who openly thumbs his nose at Dogma and Doctrine like Teddy did.  A wealthy leader who’s turns his back on his Church’s teachings for his own political goals seems to come under the scrutiny of, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much.”* And to me that adds up to a betrayal of God and his people that cries to heavens for justice. 

Today, Teddy stood before his God, whether he believed in him or not, and there was no press secretary, no lawyer, no neck brace of sympathy, no DNC, no State Run Media there to defend his actions.  Just he and God face to face.  How sad that a person given so much power and who professed to be a man of faith will be called to account with nary a shred of defense in his favor.  What will be his reaction when God shows him the gentle faces of the children he helped murder.  What will be his reaction when he’s shown Mary Jo’s face?  What will be the reaction to all the pain and suffering he’s caused and to all the people who he’s helped tempt to sin?  Their sins are not fully his, but his mentoring has led to their acceptance of the millstone. 

Now imagine yourself in Teddy’s shoes.  Close your eyes.  Drink deeply of the pain and suffering that YOU are being accused of; especially Catholics who profess on Sunday what they profane on Monday.  What will YOU feel like when God asks, “Why?” 

I can’t remember who this paraphrase is from, but it goes something like, “Think on the end of your life and you will never sin.”  Perhaps that will be the one good legacy of Teddy’s.  Maybe he will be a wake call for Catholics (indeed all of any faith) who casually check off their religion on forms but don’t care enough to live it in real life.  Maybe they will think about the end and say to themselves, “Oh Hell!  I don’t want to be Kennedyed.”  I know it makes me want to re-examine things. 

Good luck Teddy.  You will need it.  I would normally say God Bless, but I’m not sure you would want me to.  Oh what the heck, it can’t hurt.  God Bless and may He have mercy on your soul.  Although I fear, in this case, He won’t. 

*Luke 12: 48 (NAB)

Sin 101: Infinite Mercy. Or… Does God Like Macaroni Art?

Believe it or not, one of the few things I’m qualified to do is speak on the topic of sin.  Oh yes.  From both sides of the subject, much to my shame and my confessors poor ears. 

Despite the best efforts of my Mother, Priests, and Philosophy and Theology profs, I had my twenties.  I’d like to say I flirted with Moral Relativism, but sadly, I frenched it and had a poisonous love affair.  Thankfully I also didn’t listen to other wisdom like, “Never date anyone crazier than you.”  I say, “Thankfully.” because it was that disaster that made me wake up and realize that Moral Relativism is really only about trying to… ahem… “to know” others in a way that is not appropriate to your state in life. 

So once sufficiently burned by the dark embers of License without maturity, I realized that all those fancy words and LONG books might not just be useful theory, but practical tools for hammering out a life.  With much hope, I turned back to my many, many, years of schooling.

I mention all this not to come across as some worldly reprobate turned saint (for I assure you my exploits were tame by comparison to just about any modern sitcom), but to say, “I have a clue.  I’ve been there.  I’ve looked evil in the face and saw an unsettling resemblance to my life.  Or at least in the direction it was heading”

So with that and my “book learnin’”, I feel quite confident of talking about sin and what to do with it.

Most of us who haven’t sold our souls to other gods or beaten our guilt to a bloody pulp know that feeling when we’ve done something “bad”.  I’m not going to get into specifics, but we’ve all felt that, at least, twinge of regret.  Some of us have that regret heaped on in job lots after we realize that the shiny perfection that will make our lives complete is really just another “Golden Dancer”. 

When that happens, there can be a sweet lie that creeps into our minds.  It takes on one of two tunes.  It has the same notes, just one is played in blues and the other in rock. 

Tune one says, “well… you’ve gone and done it.  Might as well do some more ‘cause you done showed yourself not worth crap.  Hell!  You DESERVE this.  So go on.  Once more, with feeling.” 

Tune two is, “Oh crud.  I’m just so much filth.  I can’t believe I did that.  No god could forgive this.  What’s the point of trying to even let go of this.”

To combat this lie, I give you my Macaroni Art Theory of resolving sin. 

First, let’s take a look at you.  Yes.  Go ahead.  Get a metaphorical mirror and look at yourself.  You’ve got some talents.  Maybe some looks.  Some achievements, perhaps?  Money?  Maybe even fame?  Or maybe you don’t.  Maybe you look in that mirror and see nothing but muck.  No matter.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  All the success, and fame, and achievements, and talents, and good things that happen in a life… flush them down the toilet.  Yes… I mean that.  For the purposes of sin, flush. 

Why?  Well… If you succeed using a talent that God gave you, to who does that success rightfully belong?  You?  Sort of.  But in the end, it belongs to the One that gave you the talent and the opportunity.  That’s not to take away from those who succeed.  You have to put effort.  You have to put in the hard work.  But, honestly, how many award winners do you know that get the statue/medal/trophy say, “I didn’t all by myself.”  No.  they pull out slip of paper and thank just about everyone who had anything to do with the success.

So even if you don’t admit that God rightfully has claim to your success, you, at least, have to say He has a part in it.  So when you say, “Hey, God, look what I won.”  What are you doing?  At the very least, giving Him back the share He put into it.  That’s good, right and proper but, in a sense, at least were forgivness of sin is concerned, so nu?

But your sin.  That’s all you.  He had nothing to do with that.  He didn’t make you <insert least faltering moment here>.  So when you give your sins back to God, you are giving him the one thing he can’t get anywhere else. 

But why would you give The Heavenly Father, The King of Kings, and The Ghost with the Most your sin.  That’s like giving pre scratched lotto tickets to a beggar.  It seems, at the very least, bad form.  Not so fast. 

Think of a father.  Not your father if he was a schmuck.  Picture that ideal father from a Norman Rockwell painting.  Someone who cares.  Someone who loves you.  Picture him with some really fine artwork on the wall.  I’m not talking posters or knock offs, I’m talking the real deal.  Botticelli, Burn-Jones, Leighton…

Now you, say 5ish in age, have just come home from school.  Dad is sitting there, smoking a pipe.  You burst in and hand dear ol’ Da’ a raggy piece of construction paper with dried macaroni glued to it.  It’s in the, approximate, shape of a face.  You hand the “masterpiece” to Dad and tell him, “It’s a picture of you.  It’s not really very good.  And some of the macaroni fell off.  Sorry.” 

Any dad worth his pipe is gonna melt and proclaim it the best thing EVER.  And, truthfully, in his heart, it is.  It makes the great masters weep with envy simply because YOU made it.  It’s not the best.  It’s not even good for food anymore.  But it’s work rivaling the likes of Michelangelo.  

Why?  Simply because you thought enough to care.  Because you gave a rats backside in the midst of being yourself, he’s on cloud 9.  Ok… maybe someone told you to make the artwork.  Maybe it was part of class.  That doesn’t’ change the fact that it’s here, now, and making its way to the fridge.  It’s not the artwork that’s going on the fridge; it’s the memory of you caring enough to give it to him.  

So now picture God.   Picture you walking to the Heavenly study. “Um.  Dad.  I… um… have this mess to give you.  I… um… went outside the lines.  You can see that.  I’ll really try not to do that again, but… um… it’s really all I have to give you.  So… can you take it from me?  Sorry.”  The difference being that God doesn’t take IT to the ice box.  He puts something up there, but it really IS the memory of you handing him the mess, not the mess itself.  He proudly displays the moment you trusted Him enough with something that, truly, no one else could give Him.  The mess, at least between you and God, is now burnt up in the fire of the moment of your trust.  What rises from the ashes is forgiveness.

That is the true power of Sin.  Not in the destruction it can, and does, sow when left to fester.   Its power is in the simple hug from a Father that takes it and says, “It’s good enough for me.  For right now.  Now go run along and play.”  It’s the knowledge He has that someday, that macaroni art could be a Nobel Prize, or a MVP trophy, or even just the sight of watching you get a piece of macaroni art from your child and seeing your heart melt.

So the next time you feel unworthy of God’s mercy, just remember, you are.  We all are.  But that’s ok.  He doesn’t expect you the earn it.  He doesn’t want the Sistine Chapel; just the artwork we can make right now.  And like any good father, He’s happy to clear away some coupons on the fridge to celebrate it.


Dante…

Conservative, educated, understands history, distrusts government, distrusts politicians, dislikes pop-culture, and carries a firearm. In short, I'm what The Framers of The Constitution were counting on and everything your government wants you to fear most.

The only thing I don’t have to complain about is some GI taking up space in my living room. I’ll let you know about the Civil Courts if someone ever owes more than $20 to me. ---If you didn’t get that one; sue your Civics or US History Teacher.


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