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Thursday, December 20, 2012

You CAN Outrun a Bullet

It takes a marksman about 3-4 seconds to set the sight on a target, so if you run away and weave, you greatly reduce your chances of being hit. In fact, you don't even have to weave.

Studies of New York police officer shootings show that if you can put 25 feet between you and the shooter, he almost certainly won't hit you at all.

In live fire situations, where cops were actively trying to hit a perpetrator, they managed to hit their targets:
  • 38% of the time at a distance of 0-2 yards, 
  • 17% of the time at 3-8 yards, 
  • 9% of the time at 8-15 yards. 
  • 8% of the time at 16-25 yards, 
  • 4% of the time at greater than 25 yards 
So, what are teachers trained to do?
Lock all the children into a small room, just like you would lock sheep or cattle into a pen.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Mortal Sin at Newtown

Did the teachers at Newtown, Connecticut commit mortal sin by failing to arm themselves in preparation to repel intruders?
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility. 
If a teacher FAILS to be properly armed and ready to shoot an intruder dead, has that teacher committed a mortal sin?

Hmmm...  Grave matter, full knowledge, refusal to do as Christ commands - quite possibly "yes."

I can choose to be a martyr myself, but I cannot choose, by my action or inaction, to make someone else a martyr. I cannot refuse to arm myself because I don't like the idea that I might have to use deadly force to protect the ones who have been placed in my care.

Now, when Cardinal O'Malley called for "more gun laws", perhaps he really did mean to say that all teachers should be trained in deadly force.

If that wasn't what he meant, he may want to read the Catechism.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Inconvenient Truth: Homicide Edition

Now that we've had another mass murder, everyone is arguing about gun control law. At the risk of making the discussion more rational, let's study some correlations.  Keep in mind that correlation is NOT causation - just because two factors happen together does not mean one caused the other. Both might be caused by a third, as yet unidentified, factor.

For instance, it is the case that child abuse has been dropping for five straight years. It is also the case that gun ownership has been skyrocketing the last five years. So, which one is the cause, which one is the effect? Have parents become so frightened of their own children that they no longer dare neglect them, and now choose to arm themselves against the little tykes? Or have children gotten a hold of newly acquired household guns and threatened their parents with death if the latter ever again breathe a word about eating spinach?

Well, probably neither. Probably, a third (or fourth) factor is at play - perhaps older parents are less likely to neglect their children AND more likely to buy a gun to protect themselves and their families than young parents are. Or maybe it's the phase of the moon. Who knows?

In fact, we don't know that the two trends are connected at all.
All we know is that both trends are real.

With that in mind, look at this Wikipedia world map of homicide rates, showing the murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants by any cause (not just guns), based on UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2012 data:

 Murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants most recent year.

Notice that liberals are always comparing the murder rate in the United States to the murder rate in Europe, but never to the murder rate in Cuba or Russia - both nations with strict gun control laws. Why? Well, both Cuba and Russia's murder rates are much higher than the murder rate in most of Europe. If we want to lower homicides, we should look at nations with lower homicide rates, right?

Well, maybe.
Or maybe not.

Let's take a look at another map, based on data from the CIA's 2009 World Factbook, comparing global median age ranges in various countries. The median age is the age which half the country is above, and the other half is below:

Notice how closely median age correlates to homicide rates. In South America and Africa, the correlation is darned near 1:1 - the younger the population, the more likely it is to be homicidal. Within the United States, FBI statistics bear this out - murders are committed primarily by males between the ages of 17 and 35, tailing off rapidly above the age of 50. So, it is not too surprising to find that countries whose median age is between 17 and 35 will have higher murder rates than those which aren't.

We also see from the map, that this correlation between youth and homicide is not perfect. Lithuania has a very old population (40+), but a relatively high homicide rate. The three Scandinavian countries are all old (median age is 40+), but have very different homicide rates. Similarly, Russia, America, China, Ukraine, Poland and Australia have similar median ages, but quite different homicide rates.

But, overall, the median age correlates well enough to the homicide rate for us to make one relatively safe conclusion: if we really want to compare apples to apples, we shouldn't be comparing homicide rates in the United States with homicide rates in the much older nations of Europe, but rather to the more age-equivalent societies of Russia, China, France, Ukraine and Australia.

When we compare these age equivalent countries, we can now see rather a different story. Russia has the highest homicide rate (10.2), followed by the Ukraine (5.2), the United States (4.2), France (1.1), Poland (1.1), Australia (1.0) and China (1.0).

What could account for those differences? It can't be gun laws or gun ownership.  Here is the list of gun ownership rates.

If you click the link, you will notice that countries with a lot of young people, and therefore extremely high homicide rates, also tend to have the lowest number of guns per person. That is, the lack of guns in a young population doesn't appear to inhibit homicide rates at all.

But we care about populations with median ages between 35-40. Below is a short version of the per capita gun ownership list for countries with a median age comparable to the United States. The number of guns per 100 residents is listed:

  • 88.8 - United States (#1 on the list) 
  • 31.2 - France 
  • 15.0 - Australia
  •   8.9 - Russia 
  •   6.6 - Ukraine 
  •   4.9 - China 
  •   1.3 - Poland

Yeah, not much correlation there. Ukraine and Russia have higher homicide rates even though both have only one-tenth the guns the US has. France has three times the guns Russia has, Australia has twice the guns, but Russia easily outpaces the homicide rate in both those countries as well. The Ukraine is in the same situation - fewer guns than similar countries, but a lot more murders.

If gun ownership correlated to intentional homicide rates, the United States should top the list of homicidal countries. Instead, it is only about half-way down.

If we were to drill down into American statistics, it gets even more disturbing. Men make up only 50% of the population, but account for 90% of the murders. Blacks males make up less than 6% of the population, but they account for 53% of the homicides in the United States and 50% of the homicide victims. Most murder victims and offenders know each other, either through friendship or family relationship. And the majority of murders happen during or after an argument.

In short, if young black men who knew each other were to stop getting into fights, America's homicide rate could be cut by half.

So, what should we do? While we arguably have a problem with homicidal violence, the availability of guns doesn't appear to have much to do with it.

Apparently, if we really wish to stop homicidal violence in America, we would have to criminalize being male, especially being a young black male. We would also have to criminalize the establishment of interpersonal relationships, either via friendship or family. And having personal arguments would have to be categorically outlawed.

If we passed just those simple laws - jail young men, especially young black men, outlaw families and friends, and incarcerate anyone having an argument - homicidal violence should disappear. Additional gun laws don't even have to be considered.

See how easy it is?

Monday, December 10, 2012


A stopped clock is right twice a day.
The National Catholic Reporter said something very profound:
Liturgy is not about taste or aesthetics. It is how the church defines itself. Those who rejected Vatican II and its liturgy were the first to understand the connection between liturgy and our self-understanding as church.  
Pope Paul VI also understood this. The rejection of the Vatican II liturgy is a rejection of its ecclesiology and theology.
There's one problem, of course.
It was precisely Pope Paul VI who rejected the Vatican II liturgy.

As has been noted by virtually everyone, the liturgy described in Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium isn't the Mass that Pope Paul VI implemented. He tossed the council's advice into the trashcan, created and promulgated his own liturgy. Nothing wrong with that - he's the Pope, he has the authority to do it.

But if we want to say "the rejection of the Vatican II liturgy is a rejection of its ecclesiology and theology" - and I think that is a fair statement - then we must admit that Pope Paul VI was the first to obviously reject Vatican II. 


Which is really awkward for everyone.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Catholic Homiletics Porn

In popular usage, "porn" has become a very expansive term. We can talk about gun porn, tech porn, car porn... in fact, "porn" is now used to describe any communication that increases the obsession with or lust for a specific thing, any technique used for exciting extremely strong emotions about a subject.

One FSSP church I attend has a priest who does Catholic homiletic porn.

In what does this consist?

Well, Catholic homiletic porn is a homily that professes to talk about a specific doctrine, but in fact never gets around to talking about the doctrine. Instead, the congregation is subjected to a dizzying collection of quotes, stories, private revelation and sundry nonsense, none of which actually address the purported subject at hand, but all of which are intended to provoke a visceral emotional response in the hearer.

It's all about stirring up emotion, and the facts be damned.

Two recent examples will have to suffice.

Round One
Recently, the priest subjected his flock to a homily that purported to be on the anti-Christ. Now, there is not really much that anyone can say about the anti-Christ. In Scripture, the apostle John says the anti-Christ is anyone who denies that God came in the flesh. In that sense, any time any one of us sins, we substantially prefigure the anti-Christ. The CCC devotes two articles to the subject, to whit:
675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576
676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.578
Ludwig Ott's "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" says not much more, except to add "the historical interpretation associated with a particular time (Nero, Caligula, and others) as well as this historico-religious explanation, which seeks the origin of the idea of the Antichrist in Babylonian and Persian myths, are to be rejected." (p. 487)

And that pretty much sums it up.
So, what did the priest have to say in his sermon?

Well, NONE of this.

He doesn't mention a single particle of doctrine through the whole long thing. Instead, he claims - with no particular evidence (IrenausAugustine, and Lactantius found the idea laughable) - that Nero is a "type for the anti-Christ". So, he goes on a long, long diatribe the heretical Donatists would have loved in which he meandered on about Nero: his predilections, his sins, his excesses, his persecutions of Christians; all the bloody, gory details he could comfortably include, while hinting that there was even more sordidness that he dare not speak, lest he offend the congregation!

Ah, the titillation it produced!

You could almost see the ripple of excitement through the congregation as the voyeurs contemplated the forbidden dainties the priest set before them!

This sermon produced not a word about Scripture or what St. John had to say, no mention of the CCC's passages on the anti-Christ, nothing from the Councils, no doctrine at all. No, just the life of Nero, which Ott's manual, quoted above, seemed to prohibit... but no matter.

He had successfully increased his congregation's obsession with and mania about the "end of the world", a mania to which he is dramatically (in every sense of the word) attached.

The sermon was a rousing success.

Round Two
So much so, that the next week, the same priest followed up with a sermon on the Last Judgement. Since he loves typecasting, he chose to assert that the Roman destruction of Israel was a type for the Last Judgement. This allowed him to go on a lovingly detailed description of the bloody sack of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple and the annihilation of the Levitical priesthood.

And... what was the point of this description?

Beats me. While the description of the sack stirred marvelous emotions, none of it had a thing to do with the Last Judgement.  In fact, not only did none of it have any relevance to the Last Judgement, quite a bit of it was simply wrong. As has happened in the past, he ended his sermon by using his assembled descriptions to assert that "the Old Covenant is dead, the Jews were destroyed along with the Temple."

Now, I've heard this nonsense before.
In fact, the idea that modern Jews are not really Jews because they don't have a Temple is really, really popular among rad-trads. And really, really stupid as well. Even Michael Voris got tagged by me on this one.

And, in order to keep this post from getting any longer, let it suffice to say that every single point I make against Voris' video can be brought against this pastor's sermon. It was, and is, a stupid, stupid, stupid sermon.

But to the Voris points, I will add just one more. The CCC points out:
674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.569 ... St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"571 The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",572 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".573
If today's Jews are not real Jews, then the real Jews are gone. If the real Jews are gone, then there is no second coming to look forward to, for those long-dead Jews didn't, in the last analysis, recognize Jesus before they died out.

That's heresy, but that's the logical conclusion you are forced to draw after listening to this priest's homiletic porn on his personal mania, the Last Judgement.

Now, I'm picking on this particular priest because he is the one at hand. Actually, most priests suffer from various forms of his delusion. They claim to teach some aspect of doctrine, but their homilies are actually simply intended to foment an obsession in the minds of the congregation. Whatever the pastor's pet peeve is, he intends to make his congregation's pet peeve. So, the whole orientation of the parish is slowly altered to reinforce whatever mindset the pastor has.

The teaching of Church doctrine stops, the teaching of personal devotions as dogmatic truths begins.
It stops being the Catholic Church and starts being the parish of Father X and his tribe of whirling dervishes, all of them rabidly focused on whatever fixation the priest has.

So, I know I am not alone when I contemplate this question every Sunday: should I go to the liturgically abusive Novus Ordo parishes, with their pablum sermons, or to the liturgically inscrutable traditional Mass, with its absurd sermons?

I wish it were a rhetorical question.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Pronoun Trouble

Here's a question for Latin Mass types.
When you who claim to love Latin pray in English, you always say "Holy Ghost"

But when post-Vatican II types, who hate Latin, when THEY pray, they always say "Holy Spirit".

And on the rare occasions when the two pray together, each glares at the other for their silly language pretensions.


Now, "Spirit" comes from "spiritus" which is Latin for "breath."
e.g., In nomine Patris et fillii et Spiritus Sancti.

But "ghost" is derived from the Old English "gast" which comes from the German "Geist", and back to a root which originally means "to be excited or frightened".

So, the people who HATE Latin in liturgy pray in... Latin.
And the people who HATE English in liturgy pray in... Old English.

And they each glare at the other one for praying in the language they profess to love.

Does anyone wonder why I say "A Pox on BOTH your houses!"