Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marriage Bullies

Right.  All of us opposed to same-sex marriage are bigots and homophobes, just like Barack Obama was before he "evolved."  There's no commentary needed for this article which articulates a much-needed message for those on both sides of the same-sex marriage aisle. 

A Shepherd Among His Sheep for World Youth Day

Pope Francis is in the silver Fiat, Rio de Janeiro
This article about Pope Francis 's entrance into Brazil for World Youth Day is pleasant to read and highlights so nicely the essence of Pope Francis's papacy as he moves freely through crowds of people seeming to have little regard for his own safety and most regard for connecting with his flock.
Pope Francis simply chooses to continue his way of doing things as he’s always had when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. And this simple act is drawing the attention of millions as evidenced yesterday when the papal motorcade came to a standstill as the Pope’s car was surrounded by faithful wishing to greet him.Even more surprising, the Pope didn’t hide; on the contrary, he kept his window open, greeting people as if nothing. The Pope’s security detail, however, broke a sweat.It may seem irresponsible for some, or even careless that a man of the Pope’s stature be allowed to be swarmed like that but it truly is a testament to the bravery of Francis. It takes only one disgruntled or mentally unstable person to mix in with the crowd and endanger his life, yet he doesn’t shy away. He opens his window and extends his hand. He wants to be a part of their lives, he wants to comfort them; a shepherd 'who smells like his sheep.'
What a lesson for some of our secular leaders, seemingly completely divorced from even the knowledge of what courage is, who display nothing of the humility due their office nor any of the enthusiasm for connecting to the people who've placed them there.  Our own anti-gun Mayor Bloomberg travels with an armed security detail and doesn't take kindly to the suggestion that he's a hypocrite (not to mention a coward).  Barack Obama made sure to sign into law coverage for himself and his family guaranteeing lifetime--lifetime!--Secret Service protection.  Celebrities spend millions on security for themselves. And then there's the Rosie O'Donnell brouhaha of several years ago in which Rosie denounces guns--for everyone but her bodyguard. 

It would do us all good to read more about the true leadership that Pope Francis demonstrates daily to the world, but, alas, the mainstream media is slow to understand.  Hmmm, perhaps I spoke too soon.  There is this coverage from MSN.  It's not a bad article either, until about the fourth paragraph from the bottom where the writers tell us that despite the million or so expected for World Youth Day, most of Brazil's Catholics have turned to evangelical religions.  Not untrue perhaps but not the point either.  Besides, maybe Francis's humble, exemplary leadership and his love for the Church will bring all those Brazilian Catholics back into the sheepfold.

Monday, July 15, 2013

NYC Schools Distribute Plan B

Here's another example of New York leading the country in progressivism as our governor proudly trumpets we do so well here in the Empire State. 

About 50 schools in The Big Apple are dispensing Plan B to students, no parental approval necessary unless a parent is fortunate enough to receive an opt-out notice from the school as given to the parent by their child.  The article is a mish-mash of sketchy background information and quotes by teen-age girls who have no idea what they're talking about.

This article,  a slightly more balanced coverage of the issue,  calls the distribution of Plan B Bloomberg's "stealth war" on teenage pregnancy.  It's actually more like Bloomberg's stealth war on young, uninformed females from lower socio-economic backgrounds.  What does it matter to the mayor if 16 year old girls from the Bronx are sexually active and then ingest high levels of hormones to prevent their 'unwanted pregnancy?'  At least he doesn't have to get either his heart or hands dirty by actually caring about the girls and what they're doing.  Give 'em a pill and call it a day.   I've already written about this as stealth population control here. 

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

It is a mouthful. There's a whole book on the subject by sociologist Christian Smith and co-author called Soul Searching:  The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.  It examines the religious life and leanings of teenagers through conversations and interviews, but I think this readable article  which contains a lot of pithy information must be a pretty good stand-in for the book.

Mr.Smith describes this 'religion' (which he's careful to point out is not a religion any one teenager would every claim as his own, but is rather Smith's term for what he uncovered) as having five characteristics.   To paraphrase:  1) there is a God who created the world and watches over it,  2) God wants people to be good, 3)  the goal of life is to be happy, 4) God isn't involved in one's life and isn't usually called upon unless there's a problem, and  5) good people go to heaven when they die.
As Smith himself points out by the end of the article, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD for purposes of this blog) can be said to describe not only the spiritual lives of American teenagers but the spiritual lives of any number of adult Americans who have
passed on their particular brand of sketchy Judeo-Christianity to the next generation.  "The religion and spirituality of most teenagers actually strike us as very powerfully reflecting the contours, priorities, expectations and structures of the larger adult world into which adolescents are being socialized."
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is a little bit like a new word that enters a language.  For a time the word hangs on to its history and everyone knows where it came from so to speak.  (So for us ancient types, we know that the word 'xerox' evolved as a verb meaning 'to copy by machine' because there was a company Xerox that invented the machine.)  But after a time,  the word's history becomes only so much baggage and falls away.  The word becomes just another word to its new generation of users.  Its original meaning may even change completely and end up as an archaism studied only by fuddy-duddies interested in ancient history. 

The MTD faithful know a little bit about the history of their 'word.' They know there's a Bible, sort of.  They know there's an all-powerful God, kind of,  and they know there's something good about being good, for some reason.   But the whys and wherefores of their new religion are  history, only so much baggage that has fallen away, no longer of interest for its new generation of users.  Words coming and going and changing meaning along the way is one thing.  Language has to behave that way to serve the needs of its speakers who use it as a tool.  Moral teaching isn't supposed to behave that way.  It's foundational, true at once and for all time and it changes its users who use it as a guide and model.

Though perhaps unbeknownst  to the Therapeutic Deists, the Judeo-Christian bedrock is still there underneath all their feel-good add-ons.  As Smith writes,  "It [Moralistic Therapeutic Deism] cannot sustain its own integral, independent life.  Rather it must attach itself like an incubus to established historical religious traditions, feeding on their doctrines and sensibilities, and expanding by mutating their theological substance to resemble its own distinctive image. "

If the MTDers were to take a look at the source of their mutated religion, they might see how much  more sense the real thing makes and how much more they might gain by believing in the whole truth rather than the bowdlerized fairy tale version.


Alice Von Hildebrand

A good article by this Catholic philosopher.  I've come across her name frequently but have never taken the time to read anything by her.