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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Cardinal Burke Plays the Jackass

"It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance and thus to admit to holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio, 84, and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 (305) of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?"
YES OR NO Steve Kellmeyer
That is the question that was recently posed to me by someone who tired of how I have characterized Cardinal Burke's malice.

When I replied:
Why would my answer, one way or the other, make a difference to anyone?
The answer came back just as I thought it would:
Because to answer yes is to profess heresy and approve of blasphemous communions, which is a sacrilege.
Yes. Just so. Which is why I replied:
Exactly. You claim to be Catholic, so you can answer this question as well, and as authoritatively, as I.
IF someone has DEFINITELY committed an act of adultery without repenting, then no, they can't receive Eucharist. 
BUT....
The individual declaration of whether or not a marriage is valid is a judicial, i.e., disciplinary declaration. It is not doctrinal. That means it is not an infallible declaration. Marriage tribunals can be, and probably are, frequently in error in their judgements about a marriage's validity.
Anyone who is NOT in a state of mortal sin has a RIGHT to the Eucharist. Given that marriage tribunals can be wrong (in either direction), we cannot have absolute certainty that any particular marriage situation actually IS adulterous. If a priest denies Eucharist to someone who actually has a RIGHT to Eucharist, because they actually aren't in an adulterous situation (even though someone else thinks they are), then the priest has sinned against them. 
Thus, while the theoretical answer is clear, the practical answer in any particular situation, is anything BUT clear.
This is why the four bishops' question is STUPID.
The four bishops know full well both parts of this answer, and they know the Pope knows both parts of this answer, but the bishops have phrased it so as to only stress the theoretical answer, when knowledge is certain. In practice, we never actually have that certainty. The Pope's commentary to date has stressed the practical problem - how do we handle this situation with the couple sitting in chairs in front of us, when we don't actually know what state their situation is in and we CANNOT, even in principle, actually ever really know? 
But the cardinals' question is not about the practical, it is about the theoretical. The question, as posed, is a crap question. The bishops are trying to make the faithful THINK the Pope cannot be trusted (else why ask the question at all?). 
In short, the bishops asked the Pope that question for the same reason YOU asked ME the question:
  • you wanted a "gotcha!" moment, 
  • you wanted to make me look stupid, 
  • you wanted other people to doubt that I knew the TRUE Catholic Faith,
  • you didn't want an answer, you wanted a damned fight,
  • you wanted a fight in which YOU looked good, so your opposite looked bad.
Now, posed to me who has no authority, the question is just your attempt at annoying me, since I have no authority to undermine. But posed to the Pope, that question comes straight from the pit of hell. 
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why some priests are talking about the need to strip Cardinal Burke of his "cardinal" title. They argue Burke is no longer worthy of it. This would be an extreme move, and - in traditionalist circles - it would make a martyr of a man who is not worthy of that title either. I'm not sure it would be a smart thing to do. But it surely would be a JUST thing to do.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cardinal Burke's Double Standard

How many people remember the time Pope Benedict said it was alright for a man to use a condom?
The Pope says in the first part of the answer that "[the use of] a condom can be... a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility."
Of course you don't remember that!
After all, Pope Benedict legitimized the use of the TLM! We aren't going to attack anything Benedict says before or after that, because if we did, it might make Benedict look loony tunes, and it might cast doubt on whether he was right to legitimize the TLM!

Take example A: Cardinal Raymond Burke.
Where was the famous Cardinal Burke in questioning Pope Benedict?

Oh, that's right .... he was SILENT AS THE FREAKING GRAVE.

Why?

Well, because Benedict legitimized the TLM
AND
Pope Benedict gave Cardinal Burke cushy perqs that made Burke look Really Important (TM).
So, Pope Benedict's insanity was considered FINE by all the Right People (TM).

But, if Burke was silent in regards to Benedict, why is he forcing a public question on Pope Francis?
Why is a "traditionalist" bishop recommending that bishops can invent brand new procedures for dealing with popes? As Ross Douthat notes, that is exactly what Cardinal Burke proposes

Meanwhile one of those four dubia authors, the combative traditionalist, Cardinal Raymond Burke, gave an interview suggesting that papal silence might require a “formal act of correction” from the cardinals — something without obvious precedent in Catholic history.

A "traditionalist" that wants new procedures put in place to circumscribe papal authority - Martin Luther, call your office! And tell them you are Burke's buddy! Because you are. Now.

Again, why is Cardinal Burke doing this?
Well, Burke attacks Pope Francis because Francis took Burke's perqs away.

Cardinal Burke is no Padre Pio, Padre Pio being a man who quietly accepted subordination for ten years, because he understood the value of obedience. Instead, Burke is acting like a whining brat, and the traditionalists (mostly Trump voters) are eating it up! Because "whiny brat" = TLM devotee = Trump voter.

Like calls to like across the deep.

Legal Murder and other Perqs of Being a Twin

If a woman can abort a child who shares half her DNA because "woman's body, woman's choice", then how far can the principle be extended?

Certainly, we know that a person can opt to have a portion of their body chopped off.  As ABC News reports, some people want to be amputees. On what basis can we judge them for wanting that? Person's body, person's choice. If a woman can tear up something with half her DNA, certainly she can tear apart something that is completely her own DNA.

By the same token, one of a pair of Siamese twins should have the right to kill the other one in the pair, if s/he so chooses. Again, same DNA, person's body, person's choice. Now, in this particular case, the judges decided to kill one child so the other would have a better life, but there is no reason, in principle, that one of the twins could not have elected to have the other one killed.

And if it can be done for Siamese twins, then why not for those who are separated? The have the same DNA - in that sense, they are the same body.

In abortion, we kill an independent life with half the DNA of her mother simply because of geographic location and personal convenience.

As court cases have shown, in the case of amputation, because it is our body, our DNA, we can get rid of a tissue, organ or limb that has all of our DNA,

And, as court cases have shown, in the case of Siamese twins, we can clearly kill someone who has all of our DNA.


So, in the case of normal twins, we are still just killing someone who happens to have our DNA. As long as the reason involves personal convenience, on what grounds can anyone oppose such a killing? Woman's body, woman's choice, after all.

No one could argue against it unless they were themselves twins - you don't have the right to argue against it. And even if you were and you did, that would just show you had been brain-washed by the patriarchal society of singles, who don't understand the special problems, the special discriminations, suffered by twins. How dare you interfere with the survivor's personal growth?

Sure, it was a hard decision to kill of my genetically identical brother/sister, but it had to be done or I would never reach my full capacity as an independent person. Certainly, anyone who supports legal abortion can see the logic of that.

Stop being so narrow-minded, forcing your bigoted Christian principles on survivors of twin births. It's really none of your business. If you don't like killing twins, don't kill your twin. But don't interfere with those who do need to attain personal fulfillment. It's a simple principle, really. Why can't you Neanderthals understand?






Sunday, November 27, 2016

Are DAPL Protests a Hoax?

CNN provides evidence that they are:
The Standing Rock Sioux call this reservation home, and many are not on the frontlines of this months-long, and at times violent, protest. With no end in sight, what does it mean to them? And are they even united in their support?
The answer to that last question: Not even close.. 
Fool Bear has had it with the protesters. He says that more than two years ago, when members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could have attended hearings to make their concerns known, they didn't care. Now, suddenly, the crowds are out of control, and he fears it's just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. 
Go down to the camps, he says, and you won't see many Standing Rock Sioux....
Ten miles west of the protests, a man who doesn't want to be named, for fear of retribution, admits he looks forward to the pipeline. It'll mean fewer trucks barreling down these rural highways and fewer trains flying down the tracks.  
The Daily Beast points out that this looks like a classic manipulation:
Anti-DAPL activists say they don’t want the DAPL built here. But in reality, they don’t want it built anywhere. Their real goals are combating fossil fuel development, moving America toward renewables, and mitigating global climate change. (At present, oil, gas, and coal comprise 81 percent of American energy consumption. Renewables comprise 5 percent.)  
And that’s why they love to hate pipelines. The much-debated and for-now-denied Keystone XL, which would transport crude oil from Canadian tar sands to American ports, is perhaps the most infamous. But there are many others, including the Spectra Algonquin AIM pipeline being built across the Northeast, attracting protests in Boston and New York, where the route now runs 105 feet from an aging nuclear power plant.
Local ranchers are so fed up with violent protesters illegally occupying ranchland that they are actually selling their ranchland to DAPL:
Apparently land owner David Meyer is fed up with it. 
“It’s a beautiful ranch, but I just wanted out,” he told the folks at KXNews
Meyer is a local, private citizen. I can’t imagine how difficult his situation has been with these on-going protests. Last month the Bismarck Tribune reported “damage to an ATV, stolen tools and windows busted out of equipment” at a quonset on Meyer’s land, though the paper said there is no “hard evidence” linking the damage to protesters. 
Hard to imagine that’s a coincidence, though.
Few people have heard why the firemen deployed water cannons, because few news sources are describing the violence deployed by the protesters against the small contingent of small-town police trying to contain the situation.
It seemed the peaceful protesters as you might call them who were there stayed back out of the range of the water. You could see the line form back away from that water so that they wouldn’t come forward any more,” the deputy said. “I would call them more peaceful protesters. The agitators, many of them stayed out there in the water and continued to harass, continued to try and push forward, continue to try and cut chains, cut wire, and come at us.” 
Many critics of the law enforcement response have suggested that officers were aggressive toward the protesters, but when I asked the deputy if law enforcement ever advanced from the roadblock toward the protesters he said “absolutely not.” 
“The majority of the people I see out there were white people,” the deputy told me. 
“None of us wanted to move forward,” he continued. “None of us wanted to do that. We just held our line. We have to hold our line, because if those people get through those people who are trying to hurt us, what are they going to do to the good people of the state who aren’t trained to defend themselves?”
“We held that line,” he added. “We told them ‘go back to your camp, but don’t come out here and attack us’.”
We know a lot about the DAPL. Most of it is in contradiction to what people think is going on.
To start, the pipeline’s path, which has been set for two years, does not enter the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. The portion being protested is on private property and does not run on previously undisturbed land. It follows a pre-existing energy corridor in which electricity transmission lines and the Northern Border natural gas pipeline already lay.
The protests might also give the false impression that Native American tribes had no input to the project. The public record shows that they did. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held 389 meetings with 55 tribes to discuss the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe met with the corps nearly a dozen times to discuss archaeological issues and to help finalize the pipeline’s route 
No one has shown that any sensitive tribal land is being jeopardized by the pipeline. Nor is there reason to fear that the pipeline would compromise the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water supply. The Missouri River in North Dakota already is traversed by eight pipelines that safely transport energy products every day.  And the tribe’s water intake is scheduled to be moved later this year to a spot roughly 70 miles from the Dakota Access Pipeline’s river crossing.
sheriff visited the site, and says the MSM is lying. According to the New York Post, the protesters are anything but peaceful. This looks a lot like the Sioux Tribes are being used as pawns in a much bigger game.
Are they?
And, if they are, which side should we be on?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cardinal Burke's Breakup

With his latest statement, wherein he insists that Christians and Jews don't worship the same God, it's pretty clear that Cardinal Burke is no longer fully in his right mind. When a cardinal starts contradicting Aquinas, the councils of the Church and the Pope, he is in trouble.

If you want to say Islam denies Christ and therefore doesn't worship the same God, then we ALSO must conclude that Jews don't worship the same God. Muslims at least consider Him a prophet, Jews consider Him a deluded heretic, so there's even less justification for saying Jews worship the same God.

But, since Jesus said "salvation is from the Jews", that conclusion creates theological problems that cannot be resolved.

God is All-Just, All-Merciful
Jesus and Mary are sinless.
Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus is judge on the Last Day.
These are all Muslim beliefs.

Islam is just another Protestant heresy. Islam uses an essentially Eastern approach to understanding God, but without the Catholic leaven of sacraments and liturgy, Islam makes mistakes just as heinous as the Western Protestant approach. Indeed, viewed in this light, the rise of Islam could easily be seen as the Eastern Catholic version of the Protestant Reformation.

When I taught RCIA, I used to point out that people who only understood addition and subtraction are not denying math, they are merely ignorant of the higher forms of math. When it came to theology, the pagans know the four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), but not much else. The Muslims understand algebra, but have no grasp beyond that. The Jews, the Chosen People, understand geometry. Non-Catholic Christians can get through most of trigonometry without too much trouble. And non-Catholic liturgical Christians, such as the Eastern Orthodox or the Coptics, even manage single-variable calculus. But if you want to understand the whole width and breadth and height of the subject, only the Catholic Faith will do.

Now, none of these groups are totally wrong. It's just that only one group has a really thorough, comprehensive understanding. Our job is not to deride them for what they do not know, but rather to teach them. Cardinal Burke has, for whatever reason, lost sight of how it all works.

UPDATE:

This interesting analysis from Ross Douthat points out the problem:
"Cardinal Raymond Burke, gave an interview suggesting that papal silence might require a “formal act of correction” from the cardinals — something without obvious precedent in Catholic history."
That sounds exactly like the New Age lefties after VC II (and I include Lefebvre in that list of New Age Lefties), inventing new "precedents" in order to accommodate their personal schisms and heresies. That single sentence from Douthat really tells you all you need to know about the "traditionalist" Cardinal Raymond Burke.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Meditation on Superheroes

Everyone knows the superheroes: The Hulk, the Flash, the Green Arrow, Captain America, Ironman. They are physically imposing, doing impossible leaps, stunts and lifts in order to save the world. But their supporting sidekicks are often-times just as much super-hero characters, even though their feats are never considered as such.


Consider someone like Felicity Smoak in Green Arrow, Cisco/Ramon in the first season of The Flash, or Q from the James Bond series. All are portrayed as computer hackers and tech geeks who provide the cute weapons that assist superhero's in achieving their goals, but none are considered superheroes in their own right. While the audience greedily devours Captain America's every turn, twist and somersault, Q's magic is accepted as just a notch above common-place.

Why?
It reflects a couple of strains in human philosophy and current culture.

Familiarity breeds respect

We are each familiar with the difficulty of performing physical feats of strength and dexterity. All of us have, at some time, wished we were a little stronger, a little more dexterous. We know that if were had been, we would have been able to move that refrigerator, lift that box, we would have avoided dropping that bottle.

We can imagine what would have happened if we has imply had those physical skills. We can tell ourselves that we could have those skills if only we went to the gym a little more often, did a little more physical training.But, we have jobs to do, kids to take care of, chores to finish. Those have to get done. We could have been better, but we had lives to live, so we aren't quite there. Physical feats may be out of our reach, but they seem somehow vaguely attainable.


Intellectual feats are not in the same league. When faced with a difficult intellectual problem, we do not generally assume we could solve it if only we had studied a little more. The math problem is not unsolveable because we didn't study. It is unsolvable because I could never solve that problem, no matter how much I studied. Maybe George could solve it, but George is fundamentally different than me. George was born with an intellect I can never envision myself having, even theoretically. I literally cannot imagine what it would be like to be that smart, because I can't see where George's limitations are. His limits are not visible, the possibilities he embodies cannot be envisioned.

So, when Felicity breaks AES encryption, writes a new AI program and infects it with a virus she just wrote from scratch during the commercial break, we don't have any way of comprehending what she has done. Because we have no experience with the problem, we don't appreciate the superhero quality of the solution. Instead, we assume that if someone can type at a keyboard, they can do anything: instantly recognize the interface, instantly plum the depths of the database or the computer network and quickly find the answers they need.

We understand which physical skills take a lifetime to master, but we have only a hazy idea of what intellectual skill sets take a lifetime to master, we do not know what skills are impossible for anyone to master. Our movie hero geeks solve in minutes, intellectual problems that normally take years to work through, problems that often don't have any known resolution at all. While audiences visually devour the intricacies of a complex fight scene, we give them only the most superficial depiction of the intellectual turns, twists and somersaults required to resolve an intricate intellectual problem. Even if the writers could figure out and tell us what that impossible logic was, they would have to assume the audience would not be able to follow the reasoning.

Because we understand physics on a visceral level, we respect those who can perform physical feats that we cannot perform ourselves. But, because, by definition, we do not understand intellectual problems we have not solved ourselves, we do not really understand when an intellectual feat has been performed in front of us. We may appreciate THAT it is difficult to make a trans-dimensional waffen-guffer, but we really cannot understand HOW difficult it is to make such a marvelous device.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

And why would we? The Red Queen may have believed up to six impossible things before breakfast, but technology seems to routinely accomplish seven impossible things before lunch. The "experts", those magicians in their white lab coats in some coastal research lab, put supercomputers in our pockets, travel machines in our garages, elixirs of life in our pill bottles.

During the course of our day, we don't expect anyone to lift a car and crumple it like tissue paper. But we do expect our cars to get one hundred miles per gallon and our white coats to cure our cancer. And if the experts don't give us what we expect, then we begin to suspect. We suspect they actually know how, but they are just hiding the solution in order to line their own pockets. They've done six impossible things before, why can't they do the seventh? They are experts, after all.




Felicity Smoak and her colleagues are superheroes whose accomplishments will never be fully appreciated because their accomplishments are both far too common and far too difficult to understand. Arthur C. Clarke once famously remarked that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. As technology wraps around us like a blanket, as it becomes increasingly impossible to understand that tech without years of study, we increasingly inhabit a magical world.

Uneducated savages believe in magic. Paradoxically, because of our vastly increased knowledge, we have increasingly become savages. The average modern person understands the technology he inhabits at about the same level the average primitive understands the forest he inhabits.  We know where to go for water, food, we know how to travel between geographic areas, but if anything goes wrong, we are at just as much a loss on how to fix it. We are Grodd the Ape in an Ironman suit.

This imbalance between physical and intellectual feats can never be resolved. By definition, we do not appreciate the difficulty of problems we don't understand. We never really will. So, Felicity Smoak will never really be seen as a superhero because we will never really have the capacity to see her as one. Superheroes are self-evident. With Felicity, Cisco, Q and their colleagues, we have to think about it.

Even the intellectual superheroes recognize the problem. Superheroes have secret lairs, but their feats are visible and obvious to everyone. Intellectual feats never are. So, Felicity yearned to do the feats of physical bravery that everyone around her did. She was happy to finally be shot and thus have a war wound to boast about. But, Green Arrow never yearned to learn how to code.

A Ray of Hope


But, perhaps the picture painted here is too bleak. We all know our physical response to the universe matters, but we also know our intellectual and spiritual responses matter more. The superhero may be brought low by green kryptonite, but he remains a superhero because he is indomitably bound to do what is right. The supervillain may crush the same cars, but he does it in service of the wrong.



And even the good guys have a hierarchy. We all know some superheroes are better than others. Why? Well, precisely because some hold more firmly to the good. Thus, while Captain America, Ironman and the Hulk are all superheroes, we know Cap' will hold us to standards the others don't.

Even the superheroes know it. That's why they went to war with each other. Half of them knew they weren't good enough to make the choices that had to be made, they didn't trust that they grasped the good well enough. Superheroes all, but some of them didn't think they could live up to Cap's standards. They wanted someone else to make the call, someone else to take the burden from them, because they feared, strong as they were, that they would drop it.

Even the superheroes know, ultimately, it isn't their physical strength or their intellectual abilities that makes any of them even a hero, much less a superhero. It is their degree of dedication to do the good, their iron will to be good, THAT is what makes them great. That is why we recognize them as great.

That is something we all understand.
And that, at least, is a comfort.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Electoral College In A Nutshell

Why do we even have a Congress?
Why do we even vote for representatives or senators?
What's the point?
It's not like the person who gets elected to Congress actually does what we WANT.

Nobody questions electing Congress, but lots of people question the electoral college, even though the way they operate is EXACTLY THE SAME.

You vote for somebody in the hopes they vote the way you want.
Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

In neither case does it matter what the majority want.
The electoral college is just a single-purpose, special Congress.
Any argument you bring against having the electoral college works equally well against having a Congress.

Meh.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Terrible, Awful, Preposterous Anti-Trump "Riots"

You know, it strikes me that both pro- and anti-Trump forces are wussy crybabies.

Sure, the anti-Trumpkins are crybabies who can't seem to accept that they lose. But the pro-Trumpkin forces are hardly any better.

Most of what is happening barely constitutes a riot. A few random flags and tennis shoes get burned, a couple of people collect some bruises from angry protesters, someone publicly defecates on a sidewalk (an action that doesn't even raise an eyebrow in New Delhi or Mumbai) and suddenly we have a "riot"? Seriously?

No one is burning cars, very few stores are getting looted, almost no one is getting shot. Yes, I know five people were shot at one Seattle protest and are in critical condition. But, seriously, that's all you got?  This hasn't yet even risen to the level of a busy weekend in the south-side of Chicago, much less some kind of national conflagration.

But to hear the Trumpkins tell it, the world is shaken to its core, the very pillars of heaven are cracking and it is all the fault of .... well, pick your favorite Trumpkin enemy.

They like to blame Obama for not speaking out. But seriously, why bother? We all know Obama is incompetent. Blaming Obama is like slapping an infant - what is the point?

Others blame George Soros. Alright, even if Soros is behind the protests, so what? Soros is Trump's friend. Soros gave Trump an emergency loan so Trump could complete Trump Towers. Soros and Trump spend Christmas Eve together. You will never hear Trump say a bad word about George Soros. In fact, quite the opposite. Trump has already publicly said,
Oh, forget Soros, leave him alone, he’s got enough problems... “He [the protestor] goes, ‘What about Soros!’” Trump continued. “Let’s talk about somebody else.”
So, Trumpkins should really just back off this line of inquiry. The Donald doesn't like it when you go after his friends. Soros, the Clintons, the Obamas - they are all part of the same oligarchy, all part of the same circle of friends who watch out for their own and each others' kids. Trump ran the Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment conglomerate for years. Donald knows how to stage a fake fight between two good friends. The wrestling match is over, Donald got the gold belt. While the fans fight out in the parking lot, Donald and his friends are deciding how to divvy up the gate.

Yes, anti-Trumpkins are whiners.
But so are Trumpkins.

If you aren't watching the show, then you are the show.
I need more popcorn.