Friday, December 18, 2009

Whenever I see one of those My karma ran over your dogma bumper stickers, I always picture a little toy car running over the back of a St Bernard. If I could photo-shop, I would have one myself.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I wish I'd said this:

Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.

but it was Joseph Ratzinger. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 198]

Monday, October 19, 2009

The much maligned parasite

We scorn the lowly parasite and we make it a great insult to call our brethren by that name, yet we kill to survive, all of us. That is to say we presume upon the very lives of our benefactors in plant and animal kingdoms. Meanwhile, our friend the cuddly parasite merely presumes upon the hospitality of its host. Or perhaps it is better to kill than to sap. Is it?

Friday, October 16, 2009

What this world needs is more sadness.

Fortunately, there appears to be a new retail outlet in the shopping center (we call "The Mall") of the suburban acreage on which I domicile. I would surmise it to be a provider of any type of exquisite mental anguish from the slightest hint of nostalgia down to the deepest existential sorrow. It's called Dolorama, although, come to think of it, I may have that spelling wrong.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thesis: There is no good news that is not Heavenly.

The word "cancer" is actually quite beautiful. We most of us can recall some time in our lives when a respected figure of authority has challenged us to perform a new and difficult task with, "can you you do it?" and the jubilant confidence with which we replied, "yes, I cancer!" Similarly the word "tumor" invokes memories of, in our salad days, sitting in the bistros and cafes just off campus discussing philosophy with friend and mentor Dr.-----, between times raising a hand and a pair of digits calling out, 'tumor! Waitress, please, tumor!"

You want a really ugly word? “Neoplasm”–it encapsulates everything that is ill about novelty in this life.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

More on my letter.

After the press printed it we had a little fun in the comment box at the paper. I cut and paste it here just to remember the good times. I've only reversed the order because I prefer oldest to newest and changed names to protect our precious Internet anonymity.

Posted by: W.E. Sep 30 8:02 AM

cricket’s sermon begs for response. Every sentence cobbled into this pontification is devoid of truth or logic and stands as a testament to why so many atheists simply shake their heads and say nothing. Firstly, the book review in question cites the fact that around 40% of Americans believe that the earth was created, magically, less than 10,000 years ago. I hardly consider 120 million people in an educationally advanced nation to be a 'straw windmill'. Secondly, the tired argument that the support for scientific fact is somehow the same as 'steadfast faith' is contradictory to the point of silliness. Science is faithless. Scientists carefully research and confirm before supporting a theory and, if that theory should later be proven wrong, they acknowledge, learn and move on. And why disparage Fundamentalists? At least these 'bible thumpers' have the courage to stand behind their beliefs instead of ignoring or paraphrasing those parts of the holy books that are inconveniently ridiculous or inhumanly cruel. 'Signs of a creator'? Give me a break. There is a hundred times more proof in the existence of invisible quarks than there is for any 'god'. And, finally, I must dispute cricket' musical analogy. It is the atheist who hears the amazing symphony of life and the universe. The melodic and off-key. The harmonies and dis-chords. The theists hear one conductor with the same sheet of music... afraid to turn the page.

Posted by: J.C. Sep 30 10:07 AM

Allow me to second W.E's cogent remarks cricket recycles the tired canard that evolution is all a process of chance, but anyone with an elementary knowledge of Darwin's writings knows this is untrue. Here's what Richard Dawkins says in a recent interview in Maclean's: "If it [evolution] was all a theory of chance ... you would be right to disbelieve it. People will say, 'You're never going to convince me that something as complicated as an eye could come about by sheer chance.' And the answer is that natural selection is the very opposite of sheer chance. Natural selection is a non-random process."

So, please cricket, do a little more reading. Either Darwin or the wonderfully accessible books on evolution by Dawkins will do the trick. That's much more fruitful than relying on the embarrasing argument by design - an argument conclusively refuted by David Hume over 300 hundred years ago.

Posted by: rt Sep 30 10:30 AM

Well said, W.E.!

Posted by: cricket Sep 30 1:45 PM

Thank you W.E. for your critique of my letter. It allows me to elaborate a little.
1) It doesn't matter how many people hold that the earth was created (supernaturally not magically) since 10,000 BCE. It remains straw man for the atheist since proving them wrong does nothing to disprove the existence of God.
2) I did not say support for scientific fact/method is the same as steadfast faith, but that it is only in blind faith that one can hold the position that science can reap answers from the field of metaphysics--particularly the answer they require, viz that God does not exist.
3) I had hoped that my "disparagement" of B-thumping fundies would be taken rather as gentle ribbing. Certainly many fundamentalist Christians are to be admired for their courage and for their selfless goodness which is beacon to all--just as many atheists are to be admired. That doesn't make them right though.
4) I did not cast doubt on the existence of the quark as you seem to think, but what remains unexplained is the real intelligibility of the Universe.
5)Again you return to your straw men. Yes, there are Christians afraid to explore science honestly. But there are others beginning with the Church father Gregory of Nyssa, continuing through medieval scientists and philosophers Albert Magnus and Aquinas, through to this day, who look at God's creation every bit as clearly as any atheist. We see and hear all the chords and cacophonies you do--and by Grace honor the Composer of your "symphony".

Posted by: J.C.Sep 30 5:51 PM

cricket: Atheists do not claim that it is possible to disprove God's existence in the same way that evolutionists claim it is possible to disprove Intelligent Design. These are separate questions. There is a mountain of evidence, much of it catalogued by Dawkins, that exposes the threadbare nature of anti-evolutionary arguments. When it comes to God's existence, all that atheists point to is the suspicious lack of evidence that he is there at all. Of course, science can't "reap answers from the field of metaphysics", since metaphysics is as bogus a field of human inquiry as theology.

Posted by: cricket Sep 30 6:32 PM

I would like to point out with respect that . J.C. has misinterpreted my letter. I nowhere stated that evolution is (necessarily) a matter of chance. As a matter of fact I conceded, arguendo, that evolution may proceed to its end via the very pathways that Dawkins suggests in his book. Further implied in my note is that even though evolutionary theories say nothing as to the origin of life, I might even allow that it may in future be discovered to have begun in a series of naturalistic processes as well. It remains that an intelligible universe in which even the tiniest particle has meaning (think about the word "meaning"), and the aggregate of which even such an atheist as W.E. refers to agreeably as a "symphony", can only have come about in the first instance either through mere chance or through some outside Agent, and only the latter actually "accounts" (in my letter, I chose that word quite categorically) for it. To stubbornly insist it is rather the former thus takes great faith. None of W.E.'s "carefully researched" science can lead to this conclusion, nor can it be reached by philosophy. Hence it is irrational--though please note I do not use "irrational" as a term of disparagement but merely descriptively.

Having written, I see now . J.C. has posted a second response. I wish we could find a way to discuss this that didn't involve the delay imposed by "comment moderation". I will try to answer him later.

Meanwhile, May God Bless J.C. and W.E. both.

Posted by: Darsh Sep 30 7:01 PM

Thank you cricket for standing up for our Creator, Odin! It's obvious to us that the world was created by the powerful Odin, and we all hear His wonderous orchestra of swords and shields on the battlefield!

May Odin rain many blessings on you and your family, cricket, and allow you to reap the rewards of many battles to come!

Posted by: J.C. Sep 30 7:28 PM

cricket: In your original letter you disparage those who believe that "godless chance accounts for not only the existence of both life itself but of ends and purpose in life's rich garden." I assumed you were referring to evolution in the last part of that sentence and suggesting that evolutionary theory means believing that everything that currently exists came about through accident. If you didn't mean that I apologize, but surely I wasn't the only one who had difficulty with your phrasing.

At present, we cannot tell what took place at the beginning of time, although Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" provides some tantalizing conjectures about the period starting about five seconds after. But to say that only God "accounts" for all that we see around us is to say, with all due respect, precisely nothing. We are once more back to the most easily refuted of all theological arguments: the argument from design. I won't bore readers by going over what so many philosophers have said about this "proof" over the last 400 years, but if anyone wants to examine this argument more closely they need only purchase a copy of Hitchens' "God Is Not Great."

Anyway, I have to go since I am a bit late performing my daily rituals for the gods Zeus and Hera.

Posted by:W.E. Oct 1 8:14 AM

Nothing quite electrifies the 'soul' as spirited debate! Such arguments do always tend to reel and do-se-do, however, because two different languages are being spoken. If belief in any ‘god’ were approached from a purely scientific position, it would have been discarded as nonsense two centuries ago. Religion, of course, places itself beyond scientific proof. Theists have been brainwashed since childhood to simply accept that their bibles / korans / whatever, are simply, unquestionably 'true'. Faith dictates that the words of the gods cannot be disproven. This ensures that there are very few people who will be swayed from their beliefs, even when (from a scientific perspective) such beliefs should be in the same corner of the history books as tarot cards and astrology. If we remove blind faith from the equation, the argument for religion cannot even stand up on the moral / philosophical level (as more eloquent men than I have demonstrated!) As a young teen, I recall asking myself a simple question : The god of the bible is an active god. He DOES things. His reported actions in, for example, helping Moses' tribe escape from Egypt are very 'hands on'. The question remains ... Where was he at Auschwitz? Were the Jews of Moses' time more important? I would have given my life to save even one child from the Holocaust. Why hadn't this super-magical god lifted a finger to help a million children? Am I morally better than god? Heaven forbid!

Posted by:rt Oct 1 9:01 AM

Clueless. {cricket's note: I think he means me but I'm not sure because rt was commenting on another letter as well}

Posted by: cricket Oct 12:45 PM

So much to say, so few "characters left".
Re J.C.@5:51
1) With respect, I have no eggs in the intelligent design or anti-evolution basket so you're wasting your own "characters left" swatting at it.
2) The evidence is the music that is reality in many thousands of ways we can draw out for days. My tone-deafness theory still stands.
3) Metaphysics may be bogus as you say but unfortunately whenever we look out on the world in wonder we bump our heads against metaphysical questions. Unfortunately whenever we make a moral decision it is fraught with metaphysical assumptions as well. "How does the world work" is a scientific question, but "how is it that the world works" is a metaphysical. In the end, though, if metaphysics is bunk you cannot say, "God does not exist," for that is a conclusion in the very field you deny. You CAN say, "I just don't know if God exists--maybe he does; maybe not." But then you might be forced to examine the claims of people who met a man who said he was God, was crucified, died and (they say) rose from the dead--people who then strangely died martyrs' deaths rather than just admit they were lying or mistaken about him.

Re Darsh@7:01
I would thank you if I didn't strongly suspect you're simply being sarcastic at my expense. However, if you think there's a good argument in juxtaposing God with Odin, it can only be (and, please, I have no desire to offend you) that you've not gone beyond a child's understanding of God as big bearded man in the sky.

Posted by:cricket Oct 1 1:10 PM

Re J.C.@7:28
1) The source of your difficulty may be that you have written “but” where I wrote “and”. The “but”, and hence the real focus, comes after the passage you quoted. Secondly, I did not mean to “disparage” anyone, only to point out that their position is one of faith not of reason.
2) Bryson’s conjectures may provide valuable insight into how meaning was infused into the universe sometime before 5 seconds (a very long time in Creation), but they cannot say why, and the assumption that there exists meaning with no one to have meant it remains an assumption of faith.
3) It is not so much from design that I am arguing but from reality. You are correct that philosophers have refuted Aquinas’ five proofs beginning with their own assumptions (and those taken on faith), however continued drawing out of their arguments has resulted in their leading by modern times inexorably to nihilism and Nietzschean ethics—a denial of reality itself and of truth including moral truth. These may be reasonable positions but they are counter-intuitive given the reality in which we presume to live our day-to-day lives. For example, they're really not the positions I want the guy dating my daughter to live by.
4) Hitchens’ invective against religious people is beneath contempt and his arguments puerile.

Posted by: J.C. Oct 1 2:02 PM

cricket: I appear to have touched a nerve.

1. Thank you drawing attention to my error regarding "but" and "and". This is, however, a distinction without a difference. Even with "and", your phrasing is highly ambiguous.

2. You try to collapse the difference between scientific and religious attitudes by claiming that both depend on faith. This gambit has been tried many times before, and it is as wanting now as it was then. Scientists - and atheists - believe in the principle of falsifiability. In other words, if compelling evidence forces them to reconsider their views they will do so. You claim that "the music that is reality in many thousands of ways" constitutes that evidence. I'm sorry for having to beat a dead horse, but this is the same tired argument from design I alluded to in my last post. At the very least, you have to admit that many intelligent people do not accept "the music of reality" as proof of a deity, and to accuse these people of being "tone deaf" adds insult to injury.

3. Atheists are not nihilists, and it is outrageous to say so.

4. It isn't enough for you to argue for the existence of a deity; you argue that a specific man was God. And the "evidence"? His followers died because of that claim. Oh, my.

5. Your swipe at Darsh is unfair, since there is no more evidence for Jehovah than there is for Odin.

6. Spare me the ad hominems. Instead of referring to Hitchens as "puerile", perhaps you could address his arguments.

Posted by:cricket Oct 1 3:30 PM

Re W.E.@8:14
I don't have time to answer all your points, W.E. and this will be my last comment here. We can continue at my own blog if you like. I'm sure you can find it.
1) It is not that religion places itself beyond scientific proof but rather that it is by its nature beyond scientific proof (just as the claims of atheism are) since it concerns the supernatural and science is only concerned with nature. However religion is subject to the demands of reason insofar as its claims touch on the physical world.
2)Your reference to the Jewish Shoah of the 20th century is fortuitous. If there is no God, then morality is just a combination of epiphenomena of our evolutionary processes and a social construction. The result is you really have no solid moral ground on which to criticize me if I want to kick a dog downstairs, rape a small child, or exterminate the Jews of Europe. You can explain why YOU think I ought not to do these things, but descriptive explanations hold no moral force. I, on the other hand, believe that moral truths are real and the Nazis did real evil. Whether God was at Auschwitz, I don't know, but you can only say he wasn't if you happen to know that none of its victims is now in Heaven enjoying hyper-blessings infinitely beyond any such suffering. Neither of us can say that.

Anyway, thank you and God bless you all and Godwin's law which ends this for me.

I didn't answer J.C.'s last note over there, so in fairness I won't answer it here either, unless he should happen along and wish to continue the debate.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My letter to the Free Press on this Dawkins' book review...

...if you'll forgive a little self-repetition:

Dawkins and his apologists, in this case Ted St. Godard, tilt at straw windmills in their attacks on young earth creationists. Earth may well be billions of years old; evolutionary theory may well correctly describe the paths of the speciation of life just as Dawkins elicits. However, it remains that to hold that godless chance accounts for not only the existence both of life itself and of ends and purpose manifest in life’s rich garden, but indeed the origins of true intelligibility in the universe right from the tiniest quark, requires a steadfast faith every bit as irrational as that of any Bible-thumping fundamentalist. It remains that all creation animate and inanimate veritably sings its Creator for any with ears. Atheists Dawkins and St. Godard must insist implausibly that theists—the vast majority of humankind—are all stupid or insane. We need only maintain that they the atheists are tone deaf.
Update. It was pointed out that the "they" in the last sentence is ambiguous.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

¿Habla ingles?

Like my friend the angler, who finds that eating a stack of garlic and anchovy sandwiches before fishing somehow draws entire schools to congregate around his boat, Fatah wait[s] with baited breath to see Layton convert.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Protestant Biblical Exegesis

I joke with my Protestant friends that their number one rule of Biblical exegesis is:
Given that the Catholic Church is wrong about the issue in question, what is a plausible alternate reading of the passage in question?
I joke as I say yet I've yet to see them deviate from it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Moderns believe pity and scorn are two sides of a penny if not precisely the same thing. They are quite wrong and astoundingly so in some cases.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Here's an FLA I once wrote

... to try to explain to a Protestant about grace and merit, indulgences and communion of saints. If this blog had readers, I would hope one would tell me if it is fatuous to the point of embarrassment.

Suppose you love your young son one bright day and make a plan to show him that love. So, you promise to buy him a bicycle that happens to be worth, say, $300—quite a lot of money, though you don’t tell him that. All you ask is that he be a good boy and behave himself. You plan to pick it up for him on Friday (payday) though he has done nothing to deserve it particularly. But all his past less-than-perfect behavior is forgotten. Suppose then, on Wednesday, he misbehaves and breaks a valuable lamp as a direct result. You are no longer so inclined to buy the bike for him, and he runs weeping to his room. However, on Thursday, he comes to you, contrite as the day is long. He quite seriously offers to pay for the lamp (which you know he could not possibly afford to do) and to forgo the bike. Convinced that his repentance is true, your heart rekindles and you offer him a deal. If he will clean his room every Friday for a month (Is it a job you’d value at anywhere close to $300? Not even thirty), then you will buy him the bike anyway. He accepts and gives his word. Next day, out of your paycheck, you lay out $200 for a new lamp yourself. Now suppose the boy, true to his word, maintains exemplary behavior for the month and also does a tip-top job (for his age) of cleaning his room on each of the next three Fridays. (On the third Friday, his younger brother, caught up in the excitement, helps him). On the day before the final Friday (payday, again), smiling indulgently, you tell him to go give his Mother a big hug and kiss in lieu of cleaning his room the following day. He does so, positively beaming, and the next day you bring home the shiny new Schwinn. After all, you tell yourself, he earned it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

We have found the world's greatest master--of understatement

Excerpted from our news item:

President Medvedev of Russia was hailed as a goddess during an official visit to a Buddhist monastery in eastern Siberia.

During the first trip in 16 years to the remote Ivolginsky monastery in Buryatia by a head of state, he was shown a statue of the White Tara, a seven-eyed, female figure in the Buddhist pantheon, whose embodiment he is believed to be, it was reported.

The spiritual leader of the monastery, Pandito Khambo Lama Damba Ayusheyev, said when asked about the president’s spiritual significance: “It’s very hard to understand this for non-Buddhists and even for some Buddhists too.”

Bid for a spot in the new Hymnal.

WHEREAS I have it from a reliable source that in parish churches all across the fruited plain, men and women are gathering together and resurrecting the stirring old hymn "Faith of Our Fathers," except now, after the first verse in the interest of familial harmony adding a second heretofore unwarbled stanza beginning "Faith of Our Mothers...", and a third a bird told me beginning "Faith of our Sisters and Brothers too...":

It is with soaring hopes and great confidence of getting a footnote in the next USCCB or CCCB approved hymnal I submit hereby for the approval of the sensus fidei my proposal for the new fourth verse:

Faith of my uncle, hangin' still,
In spite of drunken pranks that linger,
O how my heart beat high with joy,
Whene'er I pulled that glorious finger!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting serious for a moment: an important PSA.

Make no mistake: the odd ice-cream headache is almost certainly nothing to worry about. But too many people continue to eat ice cream too quickly suffering recurring ice-cream headaches unaware that they could be signs of a more serious ice-cream malady: ice-cream meningitis perhaps or, more seriously, an ice-cream aneurism; even ice-cream cancer.

My great-uncle--never a sick day in his life--dropped dead at 81 from an ice-cream stroke at the TCBY.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Another letter to an atheist

Commenting on the outcry from Christians over some recent end-of-life cases in which the question of euthanasia arose, my atheist friend puzzles at:

...this fervor com[ing] from one who professes to believe in life-after-death. If there really is life after death (eternal life, in fact), why is it important to prolong the suffering career of the cancer-ridden body in this fallen world? To put it another way: atheists, who believe that this earthly life is the only life there is, might be forgiven for clinging to it at all costs. Yet, oddly enough, atheists are generally OK with euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, while it's the supposedly religious people who are the clingers.

I think he asks a good question. At its most stark it is for Catholics (and any who believes in sacramental Baptism): why don't you just douse the forehead then slit the throat avoiding for him so fortunate a vale of tears in favor of immediate beatific bliss and everlasting. But this is to take the atheist's barren world view as our own—albeit with a little heaven tacked on the end—discounting, among many other blandishments of a life of grace, the uplifting dynamic of an ongoing community of man whence rises a Communion of Saints—the reason why any man's death diminished, say, Donne (as he seems to have thought).

To shed the light of a mere burning match on the Christian's strange position we look first at the atheist's, his perfectly reasonable attitude based on two conceits on his part. The first is the idea that he can at a moment in time effectively plot the arc of his future existence and determine whether its integral is positive or negative. It is highly questionable a notion at each step, not the least insoluble term being how to calibrate existential nothingness at our worldly zero. The second, implicit in the first, is the tenet that suffering is always of negative value and this second notion is simply—certainly in terms of the person whose God came to earth to suffer, but also empirically, if we are honest—an error.

Of course I'm talking about an idealized atheist, and when we turn back to the Christians in these news stories the problem of explaining their behavior when facing death is made many times more difficult by the fact that they (and we) are none of them (or us) ideal Christians but are by and large as infected as anyone by the spirit of the post-Christian age in which we are immersed; an age in which peculiarly the ontological if not the eschatological assumptions of the atheist hold sway, but animated by a spirit not at all unlike that which in all ages gains its purchase in original sin. In short, our motives are mixed and when any one does cling to life at all costs (especially at the cost of others’ lives), he does evil. But anyone may fear death as your less-than-ideal atheist also does along with the imperfect Christian, and it is only in folly that the pure and shining, the fearless atheist specimen looks down on such a ragged and craven Christian, scoffing that for the Christian death is—or need be—but a play-acting scene (say, I’ll just lie down here and close my eyes till the end of Act II, then we’ll all go to the wrap party and have a real good time).

This is false. Death, we know well, is the radical disintegration of the body and from it its form the soul. It entails real and utter surrender of oneself to a blackness, perhaps to forgetfulness, and no one knows, beyond an obscure and remote promise, what for himself lies beyond it—even more: what strange and fiery form the self itself may take—and that is a fearful thing. Indeed, the Christian must acknowledge that, again for him, it might be much worse than oblivion. But it must be just so else the Christian concede all love and sacrifice and all hope and thanksgiving are but play-acting exercises as well (say, I’ll just {wink} deposit my pocket change here with this beggar assured that later on I can withdraw it in golden flag—with interest).

Further, it must be remembered that for us death is the novelty, the unnatural thing we were not designed for but rather a punishment for our sins, itself symbolizing, even aping the end of our self willed separation from God. In that, but for Christ's sweet promise, death is an enemy forsooth to be hated and feared. But to unite ourselves truly to that promise and extract all its sweetness requires from us the real love that lies in self-sacrifice so profound that it is to our fallen natures like death before death, and so again, poor Christians, we poor Christians are afraid.

But Christian is the word not so much for what we are but for what we aspire to be, so while one may well fairly judge Christians harshly as lacking the courage of their convictions (though he must grant they are not easy convictions to live up to), better judge Christianity on its own terms. The true Christian view of death begins with Christ. The saints recall His seven last words with great reverence and close attention and are moved to face their own death with the equanimity of St Stephen who begged for the lives only of his executioners. In a modern hospital setting our example is St Gianna Molla. She was no clinger. If the difference between them and us is the Hope born of a plenitude of Grace—which Grace engenders also a more perfect Love—then surely these saints both of unconquerable courage and of a Love most potently expressed in mercy will be in favor of assisted suicide?

Of course the answer, finally, is no, for the saint rejects not only the first two assumptions of the suicide enthusiast, but also even more profoundly the third error of the atheist—the presumption that one can own a life (either ones own in the case of suicide or that of another in the case of euthanasia). To frame it thus is to recognize the hollowness of the question, If there really is life after death, why is it important to prolong the suffering career of the cancer-ridden body in this fallen world? for to equate on one hand doing all we can to alleviate the physical and psychological suffering of the dying—short of stealing something literally of inestimable value and disposing of it as literally worth less than nothing—with, on the other, purposely prolonging (what we arrogantly suppose to be: needless) suffering, is to embrace wholesale all three of the atheist’s errors—that he knows what life and death are (and they are reductive), that he understands suffering (and it is uniformly negative) and that it’s his choice to make (with or without good data). The first two are manifestly false to anyone on a moment’s reflection. While the error in the third may only be grasped by a certain type of theist, the ends of its implications in all facets of life will be dire. But that is a whole other discussion.

I've said this before

... but I wanted to write it here for the record.

or the materialist atheist, the most honorable life is the career of a religious huckster and the most sublime death is suicide

If I had readers I would invite their critiques of this formulation.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Brendon at Respondeo dicendum attempts to debunk the claim that...

...incredible claims require incredible evidence.
But who actually says, "incredible claims require incredible evidence?" It makes no sense. Incredible claims certainly require credible evidence, while credible claims as far as they require evidence at all must also rely on credible evidence. Incredible evidence can even cast doubt on credible claims to say nothing of incredible claims.

I have heard that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This makes a certain amount of sense. For example a person making the claim that God does not exist would be required to furnish credible evidence, yes, but extraordinary evidence also. Indeed: if there were ordinary (credible) evidence that God does not exist the matter would already have been disposed of.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My letter to the Free Press.

If supporters of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights are having qualms about building over hypothetical ancient graves they should be many times more deeply ashamed building it on the graves of the very real 100,000 aborted children per year. The notion of any such thing as human rights in Canada is only a sad joke until the humanity of the innocent unborn is addressed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Aren't we going to have five months left over?

In a Monday proclamation, President Barack Obama declared June 2009
to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
I'd like to suggest, to give the rest of us a bit of a break, that the next two warm summer months be declared LGBT Sloth Month and LGBT Gluttony Month. Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to LGBT Wrath Month to say nothing of LGBT Lust Month

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Volver (2006)

Volver (Returning(?)) is an interesting film by director Pedro Almodóvar starring Penelope Cruz as Raimunda a sister, a mother, a niece, a would-be restaurateur and the daughter of a mischievous ghost. Perhaps I didn't "read" the (Spanish-language) film properly, but the early action in the film coupled with the prevalent theme of returning (from the dead) seemed to promise the viewer a tragic denouement, even as the film's wry humor quite endearingly balances out its darker themes of death, rape and insanity. But when one minor character stubbornly remains quite frozen, the circle is broken and the promise fizzles. I would have given three stars, but I bumped it to four based solely on Raimunda's climactic performance in the restaurant of the title song. The voice double is Estrella Morente: be sure to listen to this longer version in HQ.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A post at Via Media reminded me of this.

The first Buddhist Monk I ever saw close up—it was years ago—was asleep in a departure lounge in the Dorval Airport (now the Trudeau) in Montréal. He was a large man and larger than life in his vivid orange robes; but what my wife and I really noticed was his shoes: a simply beautiful pair of brown brogues that shone like the sun. They must have cost him at least $300—perhaps much more, I dunno—at a time when I had never spent more than fifty bucks for a pair of shoes. They were too stunning even to provoke envy—or worse: some ugly self-righteous attitude of superiority over the seeming extravagance of such a purchase by one who ostensibly seeks detachment—just deep admiration.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Last surviving passenger of Titanic dies anyway,

making all the hundreds of dollars and dozens of man-hours spent in the rescue effort ultimately pointless.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It was the third of June.

{knock knock}
"Why, Billie Joe, I do declare. Come on in. Take a chair.... Uh... How are you?"
"Very well, thanks--though from its tone your quaery would appear to be other than a mere social pleasantry seeming--as it does to me--to be fraught with an unwonted concern I might be otherwise. Hmm?"
"Well, uh, since you ask, er, um... I had heard incidentally that you had, that is to say you may have... I might say, flung--yourself from--from the bridge... the uh..."
"yes, the Tallahatchie Bridge... you're smiling. Why?"
"Ho, ho, ho. Indeed... Yes, I did plummet from a certain venerable edifice spanning that incongruously named body of water-- directly into said body of water, I might add. Indeed, as I say, into the deepest part. Though, I must say, not deep enough to save my feet to the ankle from being plunged into the cool muck on the bottom... albeit to my great delight."
"But... then... your suici--"
"Greatly exaggerated, yes. Gosh, the Tallahatchie bridge is not exactly Mississippi's Golden Gate. It can't be six meters from deck to water's surface. Honestly. It was a lark"
"Ah. Of course. But then, you never did have a lick o sense, Billie Joe McAllister. Have some cake?"
"{Roaring} Ho, ho, ho, ho. Guilty as charged, my friend. And yes, indeed. I don't mind if I do."


"Um, it's just that, you know, after our throwing that thing off the bridge... you know, the..."
"Ah. I had forgotten about that. Yes, I can see now why you might have been concerned, and for that I certainly do apologize."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

That time of the year, again.

Bless me Father (and by the way, Father, thanks for clearing all the boxes and exercise equipment out of the confessional--shame this comfy chair isn't used more often), for I have sinned. It is one year since my last confession. These are my sins. Um...
I prayed the rosary once during mass, and ... um... that's all I can think of, forgive me, Father.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Some medical advice.

Next time you're sore all over as a result of repeated irrational attacks of overwhelming terror AND you're hankering for the marvelous taste sensation of warm maple syrup, just fix yourself some panic-aches.

You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Celery Soup.

An onion and lots of celery chopped fine, sautéed in olive oil. Added S&P, ½ tsp of ground thyme and a dash nutmeg. Simmered for an hour and a half with a stock from the carcass of Sunday's roast chicken. Puréed. Served with more S&P and a dollop of heavy cream.

If it isn't good, I'll tell you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some more ornithological little known facts

Birds have to breathe very quickly and in copious amounts to produce enough energy for flight. That is why when ever they start on a journey their friends tell them, "Beak Airful."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My letter to the Press

Re Pope's condom message reckless.

The writer, conflating two issues better discussed separately, is wrong on both.

On contraception the position of the Church is well known. She rightly reasons that the spiritual harm it causes outweighs any perceived good; the aging population and pornographic pop-culture of a society in the throes of sexual anomie a mere forty-five years after the inception of the sexual revolution bear this out.

On AIDS prevention we need only compare infection rates in the Philippines and Thailand or in Uganda and Swaziland to discover that the Pope is right again. In each case the latter country aggressively pursued a policy promoting condoms ending with an infection rate more than five times that of the former. The reason which escapes the writer is simple. Public promotion of condoms encourages irresponsible promiscuity at rates which dwarf the sorry effectiveness rate of condoms in preventing AIDS.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What I cooked. ( A new Call-me-Mara post category.)

I've taken up cooking. This is what I cooked on the weekend.

  • Stir fried chicken with onions, noodles and black bean sauce. Other ingredients included snap peas, green pepper, diced carrots and fish sauce.

  • Roast chicken stuffed with lemon, carrots and celery rubbed with lemon, olive oil and sage.
  • Mashed Potatoes with lemon butter
  • Gently steamed (al dente) broccoli with butter.
  • Greek salad (English cucumber, small sweet tomatoes, red onion, Canadian feta, and Kalamata olives with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon and lime juices, salt, pepper, sugar, mustard and oregano)
  • For dinner on Monday: Red Lentil and Cauliflower Curry. Other ingredients included onion, garlic, spinach, and peas as well as minced ginger, cumin, turmeric, ground mustard seed, and cayenne pepper.

Here's a thought:

If doctors had never discovered how to do abortions, then ad0ption agencies could just offer an extra service. You could fill out a form when you hand over your neonate, checking box one if you prefer a gay adoption, box two if you prefer we just kill it for you, or box three if you've no preference.

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I'd be a blackguard and a cad, if I weren't so ineffectual. The less said "About Me", the better.