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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Biter Is Bit

Secular humanists like to point to the Reformation with joy and pride. It is, they say, the beginning of a refusal to accept authority, the beginning of a desire to think for one's self. Thinking for yourself is to be praised, lauded, extolled as the highest of virtues!

Except when it causes you to disagree with them.

The original Reformation was made possible only via the spread of knowledge and opinion permitted by the printing press. But what happens when the cost of spreading information drops from a few tens of dollars to nothing at all?

Science is currently experiencing the consequences of the Internet Reformation.
And they're NOT happy.

Forbes recently published an article outlining four reasons why doctors hate social media.
  1. Many physicians described the challenges of dealing with patients who had retrieved wrong or incomplete information from the internet. 
  2. Many doctors in the audience were also visibly troubled by the ease with which patients could share “misleading” information, whether about medicine or the doctors themselves.
  3. ...the most significant concern raised was the impact that the “internet culture” was having on the practice of medicine.  “We need to teach students that traditional values are still important,” one audience member said
  4. The ability afforded by social media to share information rapidly and broadly was another source of concern. 
Does any of this sound familiar?
It should.

Rabbis hated targums - the translation of the Torah into local languages - because it led to people attempting to interpret the Scriptures on their own, without the training or guidance of professionals who understood Jewish theology at a deep level.

Priests, bishops and Popes had the same concerns about the widespread diffusion of the Christian Bible.

But the printing press overthrew the experts. Martin Luther embraced the information wave and taught that any individual could be a theological expert. Professional training, professional understanding was not necessary. Thus, misleading information - what Christians called "heresy" - was both easily developed and easily spread by the new printing press technology.

The "printing press culture" changed the emphasis of Christianity from that of a lived experience of the sacraments and liturgy to an essentially literary study of the Scriptures, as each individual tried to tease out the divine information for himself. This changed emphasis splintered Christianity into literally tens of thousands of subgroups, each with it's own esoteric interpretation of the text.

A similar thing is now happening with the spread of science articles and science information via the Web. What was formerly locked inside books and journals that only a specialist would read is now available for individual interpretation by anyone with access to a reasonably powerful search engine. The professional jargon is being re-interpreted by the masses according to whatever personal intellectual light the individual brings to the text.

Thus, just as the priests and bishops of old complained about the heretical readings of Scripture, so today's priests of science complain about the heretical reading of scientific studies. The controversy over vaccines, diet and exercise are only the vanguard of a larger fragmenting of the scientific disciplines.

Science has always been political, but it is now beginning to fragment, just as Christianity did during the Reformation. Certainly the scientific secular humanists would like to cheer the way individuals are overthrowing the antiquated restraints of old-fashioned science?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Pope to Visit Muslim Refugees


It's almost like he's got some kind of plan to engage the Muslims.

But I know THAT can't be true, because Zuhlsdorf says he is still wandering around like a zombie. Zuhlsdorf couldn't be completely clueless, right? So that leaves.... Hmmmm....

And get this!
Zuhlsdorf is so frightened by the commentary I'm providing here that he's actually blocked my access to his website!

I first noticed it long before I made any posts on my blog about his shenanigans.

I was posting on Facebook about my suspicions concerning his Pope Francis commentary and noticed I couldn't hit his site cleanly when I went for supporting links and documentations. That aroused my suspicions even more. It also motivated me to actually post this stuff to my blog.

Following that, as I've had time, I've run a few tests over the last few days, and yes!
He's definitely banned me from even reading his site.

That's pretty impressive.
All that work just to shut up little ol' me.

Of course, what he's doing now just confirms what I've been saying.

I man who is as well-connected as he claims to be may very well be spearheading interference from bishops and cardinals who are unhappy with the Pope the conclave elected.

Everyone is deeply interested in whether this Pope is going to clean up the Curia. (Remember Benedict's warning and the reports on Benedict's desk?)

Everyone expects push-back from the Curia as curial officials attempt to resist the changes Pope Francis might be interested in applying. And Zuhlsdorf has friends there.

He's not presently in the Curia, so he's not clearly linked to it, he can act as a mouthpiece outside fomenting dissent, he's well-placed in the Catholic blogosphere. Practically perfect in every way.

That's right, folks... What if Father Zuhlsdorf is part of the Curial push-back effort?

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Zuhlsdorf's Folly

I didn't really appreciate the condescension and dismissiveness that Zuhlsdorf has shown the new pontiff.

What's the problem?

"Pope Francis needs some time to learn how to be Pope"

Apparently, Zuhlsdorf assumes that Pope Francis is not smart enough to recognize the office he holds. In fact, as I think I've shown, Francis knows EXACTLY where he wants to take his office, and he's been moving along the course he set from the first Holy Thursday Mass, through his Good Friday "Way of the Cross" remarks and into his Easter Sunday Urbi et Orbi address. He apparently learned his new position a lot faster than Zuhlsdorf can comprehend. 

"Even though Francis has painted himself into a corner through his abrupt dramatic changes, he is more than likely going to adjust to the exigencies of his office, which include decorum at a different level and an awareness that he is more than the bishop of a diocese somewhere."

I don't see where Zuhlsdorf gets off judging what is an appropriate level of decorum for a Pope. Zuhlsdorf doesn't fill the office, I daresay he never will, so where do these highly dismissive and indecorous public remarks come from and what is Zuhlsdorf trying to prove by making them? That he's smarter than the Pope? That he's holier than the Pope? That he understands the papacy better than the Pope? Really?

"He must be wondering if he is going to wake up from some sort of long, strange dream."

More could be mined from this post, but this incredibly dismissive closing remark on Zuhlsdorf's part is sublimely ridiculous. Zuhlsdorf is saying Pope Francis is too stupid, incompetent, etc., to recognize that he's been elected Pope?

Just because Pope Francis doesn't do what Zuhlsdorf would do, Pope Francis gets treated like the dullard step-child by the all-merciful Zuhlsdorf, who is willing to overlook Francis' little peccadilloes until such time as Francis learns to hew to Zuhlsdorf's line.

That's the impression I am getting from Z.
Frankly, Z is pretty sickening.

If this is the best the traditionalists can do, it's no wonder the rest of the Catholic world finds traditionalists disgusting. 

Friday, April 05, 2013

FLASHBACK: A Catholic Schools Prediction Revisited

A fifteen percent enrollment drop in roughly five years is not particularly good news, and the news will only get worse.
I wrote the above sentence in February, 2008 about the 2006-2007 Catholic school enrollment.
Given current trends, by 2012, the homeschooling population will be bigger than the population in the Catholic school system.
That was my prediction on August 14, 2009.

Let's see how well I did.
More than 2 million U.S. students in grades K-12 were home-schooled in 2010, accounting for nearly 4 percent of all school-aged children". US News and World Report, June 2012
Yep, right on track.
The numbers below are for Catholic schools during the last century, compared to US population growth (data is from the National Catholic Education Association):

Total Enrollment Grade School High School Percent Change Non-Catholics US Population Percent Change
1919-20 1,925,521 1,795,673 129,848 104,514,000
1929-30  2,464,467 2,222,598 241,869 28% 121,767,000 17%
1939-40 2,396,305 2,035,182 361,123 -3% 130,879,718 7%
1949-50 3,066,387 2,560,815 505,572 28% 149,188,130 14%
1960-61 5,253,791 4,373,422 880,369 71% 180,671,158 21%
1970-71  4,363,566 3,355,478 1,008,088 -17% 2.70% 205,052,174 13%
1980-81  3,106,000 2,269,000 837,000 -29% 11.20% 227,224,681 11%
1990-91 2,475,439 1,883,906 591,533 -20% 249,464,396 10%
2000-01  2,647,301 2,004,037 643,264 7% 281,421,906 13%
2010-11   2,065,872 1,467,694 598,178 -22% 308,745,538 10%
2012-13 2,001,740     1,434,243       567,497 -3% 15.90% 312,780,968 1%

Notice that the Catholic school enrollment growth has only exceeded US population growth three times in history: in the decades of the 1920s, 1940s and 1950s: each were post-World War decades.

We now have a total Catholic school enrollment that is virtually identical to the 1919-1920 school year, even though the country's population is now over three times larger. In order to attain that number, we had to increase the number of non-Catholic students from less than 3% to nearly 16% (in violation of the Magisterial documents), but even with a five-fold increase in non-Catholic attendance, we haven't been able to staunch the blood loss.

Even during the go-go economic times of the 1990s, the growth in Catholic school enrollment didn't match population growth. It essentially just held steady. That is, even in the best of economic times, Catholic schools aren't growing.

So, if you take the 1990s out of the equation (or, alternatively, look at the average loss since the 1960s), Catholic schools are losing 500,000 students every ten years. Given that the system currently enrolls 2 million students, the problem is obvious. If that trend continues, the entire Catholic school system will be gone in four decades. Entirely. Gone.
"Recent studies laud homeschoolers’ academic success, noting their significantly higher ACT-Composite scores as high schoolers and higher grade point averages as college students. Yet surprisingly, the average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students."  Education News, May 2012
"No homeschool graduates are unemployed or on welfare." Forbes, January 2013
"Per pupil cost is 5% of public school ($500 vs. $10,000) and 10% of Catholic school ($500 vs. $5000). Burgeoning Internet resources and on-line courses will only improve the cost numbers. It is nearly 75% more effective than public school in educational outcome, and 35% more effective than Catholic schools."  Kellmeyer, August 2009
I repeat the call I made to bishops and priests in 2005.
Stop throwing money down the rathole of Catholic brick and mortar schools.
Start giving parish and/or diocesan stipends DIRECTLY to homeschooling families.

You can subsidize the education of a LOT more Catholic students that way, at a significantly reduced cost not just in salary and physical plant upkeep, but also in legal liability problems. By returning the problem to the parent, you don't need to do all that expensive "Children Really Are Protected (CRAP)" training.

Whether you like it or not, the Catholic school system is going away. It's better to get out in front and lead then be run over by the train as you try to flag it down.

Update June 2018
There are more homeschoolers in Texas than there are privately schooled students.