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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Problem With Caring for the Poor

Ok, here's the major economic problem that no one seems to want to deal with.

1) We want the poor person to have his physical needs properly cared for.
2) We want the worker who produces goods to be properly compensated for his labor.

The two goals are mutually exclusive.

It is easier to properly care for the poor if the cost of goods is low. Thus, those who care for the poor want us to donate things so they can give them away, either for free, or at very low cost, so that the poor can afford to pay whatever the very low cost is.

BUT, someone has to produce those goods. If I buy the product for less, I am paying less. The only way I can justifiably pay less is if the goods are worth less. But if the goods are worth less, then the work of the one who produced them is - by definition - worth less. Indeed, if the goods are given away for free, then the work of the one who produced it is - again, by definition - actually worthless.

We cannot both properly compensate someone for the work they do AND properly care for the poor. Someone is going to get it in the neck.

Automation allows us to drive down the price because the worker is no longer producing anything at all. In fact, he isn't even working. Instead, the producer has purchased a machine, a tool, and the producer's tool is working 24x7, producing goods. Human work is expensive. The goods are inexpensive precisely because there is no human worker involved.

To feed, clothe, and house the poor, I have to remove as much expense from production as I can. Human workers will always be the first aspects of the production cycle to go.

On the downside, insofar as humans have no work, they do not receive a wage, and therefore become part of the mass of the poor. On the bright side, because the goods they need are now extremely inexpensive, we can much more easily feed, clothe and house them.

Machines eat up the low-skill jobs first because those are the cheapest to automate. Seven men can lift a burden, or I can use a machine, a lever, and lift it myself. By using the lever, I have put seven men on the unemployment line. But it is not a sin to use a lever, or any other machine, in order to streamline production and reduce the cost of goods, especially if my goal in reducing the cost of goods is to make it more affordable for the poor.

Sigh....
I don't know how to resolve this problem.
I'm not sure it can be resolved.

Someone is likely to answer "distributism", but that is no answer at all.

The Church hasn't figured out how to handle the problem represented by automation and the proliferation of machines, the proliferation of tools. In all of human history, we've never quite had the problem we now face - a culture so inundated with machines that the need for human labor is actually disappearing even as the human population continues to rise.

Pope Francis is trying to articulate the problem, but it isn't clear that he fully recognizes what is going on. To be fair, it's not clear many people do. Certainly those who oppose Francis or see him as some kind of socialist have no appreciation for the difficulties he is trying to articulate to us. No one knows what to do here. Our biggest problem right now is to clearly articulate the full extent of the problem. Any assistance anyone can give in this direction would be most helpful.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rubio Gets it Brilliantly Right

This is This Week, George Stephanopoulos interviewing Senator Marco Rubio about Pope Francis (at 6:46 in the video):  
STEPHANOPOULOS:  Rush Limbaugh even suggested he's a Marxist.  Do you agree with that criticism? 
RUBIO:  I'm a Roman Catholic.  For me the pope is the successor of Peter. He's the spiritual head of the church who has authority to speak on matters, doctrinal matters and theological matters, and I follow him a hundred percent on those issues.  Otherwise I wouldn't be a Roman Catholic.  The pope is an individual, an important figure in the world, also has political opinions, and those of course we are free to disagree with.
Perfect.

Why the Pope Is Not A Socialist

All of Pope Francis’ writings revolve around one of the central paradoxes of modernity: How do we (a) elevate the poor out of physical poverty while (b) retaining their dignity? It may not be possible to do both.

Here's the first part of the problem: as many commentators have pointed out, the automation revolution provides physical wealth, but at the cost of jobs. By the late 1800s, the Industrial Revolution had begun to produce so many cheap goods that it allowed the creation or extension of four social innovations: (1) child labor laws, (2) retirement and retirement pensions, (3) commonly available extended education beyond grade school and a (4) five-day, forty hour work week, a work week which our current President is even now trying to reduce to 30 hours. 

Each of these four innovations effectively removed a segment of the workforce from the job competition market. Child labor laws and age 65 retirement removed those segment in the 1880s. The five-day, 40-hour work week was in place by 1930.  After World War II, we removed 30-40% of 18-30 year old adults from the full-time work force by encouraging them to get college degrees. In 2015, ObamaCare’ is trying to redefine the 30-hour work week as “full-time employment.” The machines which allowed world population to explode from 1 billion in 1800 to 7 billion today do not provide jobs at the same rate they provide food, clothing, housing and medical care.

It is easy to see why. Personnel costs are the highest component cost of any product. When personnel costs are removed, product price drops. In fact, removing personnel drops product price so low that it essentially eliminates physical poverty. Even the most impoverished nations in the world today suffer fewer famines and less disease than any previous population in the history of the world. The poorest of our modern poor are, in that sense, now physically wealthier than the wealthiest person alive in 1800.  World population is seven times higher today than it was in 1800: today, we feed, clothe and house seven planet’s worth of people in a style far better than we did one planet’s worth of people in 1800. Unfortunately, in order to accomplish this, in order to get the cost of production this low, we have to automate, we have to use machines as we once used slaves.

In the past, slaves and other low-skilled populations did most manual labor. Computers and other machines have replaced both. We are now, and have long been in, a service level economy that primarily moves information and automates services. By definition, half the population has an IQ below 100. They cannot participate in this economy. There are no jobs for them. 

Here's the second part of the problem: while Christian society has always said each person has dignity because each person is created in the image and likeness of the Persons of God, secular society assigns personal dignity on the basis of what each person can contribute to society. Children, the poor, the sick and the aged have less dignity because they contribute less. As society becomes secularized, as Christian faith fades from the public square, dignity is assigned not on the basis of being, but on the basis of work. But, as we have seen, half the population cannot work and can never be wealthy. That is, with religion gone, half the population has no socially recognized basis for dignity.

So, here is the paradox the Pope puts before us: how do we (a) elevate the poor out of physical poverty while (b) retaining their dignity? He insists the only solution is to give them jobs. Sadly, it isn’t clear we can, for the economic reasons listed above, i.e., increased personnel costs will dramatically increase unit costs thereby plunging the poor back into physical poverty. The relative number of jobs is continuously dropping and has been for over a century. Today, half the population will never possess the skills necessary to work the available jobs. Society doesn’t want Christian values back in the public sphere because Christian values often contradict business corporate values. 

Automation give bread but take jobs, i.e., secular dignity. Secular society will not permit Christian faith to assign dignity to the individual. It prefers to assign dignity on the basis of wealth and employment. The Pope finds this unacceptable. But no one has come up with a method for assigning dignity apart from either the dignity we each have as an image of God or the dignity we are assigned by society for being economically productive.

The Pope asks us to come up with a solution that squares this circle. He insists that, if work is the standard, everyone be given a job. Society refuses, for the reasons given above. We can condemn him as a socialist for pointing the problem out, but that doesn’t solve the problem he presents us. He welcomes discussion on this topic. He is open to recommendations. Does anyone have any?

On the Holy Father's Visit

Many, many commentators (including me) will probably be saying all kinds of things over the next few days about Pope Francis' message to us as he visits us here in the United States.

To be honest, I suspect he would prefer we entirely ignored his visit and, instead, just read the writings of the Church Fathers and acted on them.

Start here.

You won't regret it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Theory of Life

Physicist and atheist Fred Hoyle famously hated Fr. Lemaitre's explanation for the origin of the universe. In a radio interview, he derisively referred to Lemaitre's idea as the theory that a "big bang" started everything. The name was so catchy that it stuck, and Lemaitre's theory has, forever after, been known as the Big Bang theory.

Why did Hoyle hate it? Well, he was an atheist, and it sounded too much like Genesis: "Let there be light." As a complete sidenote, Hoyle would eventually become a theist (although not a Christian) because of his astrophysics. He developed a theory of how carbon atoms might be formed within the sun that later turned out to be correct. The fact that experiment proved him correct convinced him that God exists. He knew the only way his theoretical pathway could work is if Someone was monkeying with universal constants.

Now, I have no brief for creationism. I consider a six-day, 6000-year old Earth a silly theory given current evidence. Obviously, God created life, but, as Father and Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine, observed, the Bible isn't a science textbook.

However, this does not make me a fan of evolution either. Even worse, the math doesn't work well for spontaneous generation of life (which is actually a problem separate from that of evolution). Spontaneous generation is so mathematically unlikely, it is nearly impossible to believe. God clearly had to have had a hand in creating life, but exactly how He did it is a complete mystery to me. All I know is that some kind of life-generation event happened. That's why you are reading this and I am writing it.

Calculations vary widely for exactly how improbable that life-creation event was. Some people argue the event is very much more likely than we understand, and, given the number of stars in the universe, and the number of planets that must revolve around each star, it is therefore likely that life exists on many planets. But if they are right, that poses a problem for theories of evolution.

Here's the problem: if spontaneous generation is more likely than we generally calculate, and if we are willing to grant that spontaneous generation has caused multiple worlds in the universe to host life, then I can't see any particular reason life didn't spring forth from non-life many times on this planet, instead of just once. In fact, if life can come into existence from non-life multiple times during the life of the universe - which is the position of those who insist that other planets hold life as well as ours - then what possible difference does it make if life spontaneously generated multiple times on one planet versus one time each on dozens of other planets? Why do we insist it can happen only once per planet, each planet separated by many light years? There is no particular logical or mathematical reason to make a geographical distinction. The universe is calculated to be about 14 billion years old, the earth between 4 and 6 billion years old. Taking the age of the earth and universe into account doesn't add any real improbability to the problem.

Indeed, it is possible that life cannot come into existence apart from DNA/RNA. Now, I know there are other theoretical models, but we have no living examples of them, so other models are all theory. It is possible the other models are wrong, that is, it is possible that there really is only one way for the universe to spontaneously generate complex life (life more complicated than a prion, which is not even clearly alive). Further, it is possible that this life-generation event sequence requires a specific base DNA/RNA material sequence in order to occur.

If that is true - if life has to be DNA/RNA to work - then it would actually make sense to see multiple "spontaneous generation" life events on the same planet. After all, if the conditions clearly obtained for the first event, then all the pieces are already present for the second, third, fourth, ad infinitum events.

Which would mean that all those mutually exclusive evolutionary "life trees" that we see are actually illusory. The different creatures on the planet only look related, but they actually aren't. Each species, genus, group, whatever level you want to call the cut-off, is actually the result of an entirely separate spontaneous generation, sharing, at most, a common chemical precursor. This theory seems at least as probable an explanation as the idea that spontaneous generation only happened once and everything else evolved out of that one, spontaneously generated, living creature.

Or, to put it another way,  I am proposing a DNA/RNA version of the anthropic principle. All living things appear to be descended from a common ancestor not because they are, but because there is no other way to have life exist.

In this scenario, each species/genus/whatever represents for biology what each separate universe represents in the multiverse proposal.

But this theory poses what I will call the Hoyle Problem. Just as Big Bang Theory looked far too much like Genesis for any atheistic physicist to accept, so the theory described above looks far too much like Genesis for any atheistic biologist to accept. It essentially allows you to assume an individual creation event for each genus.

So, there is a philosophical objection. However, from a purely atheistic viewpoint, I can't see any mathematical objections to the possibility of multiple spontaneous generations on the same planet.

The calculations on a life-creation event are all over the board. Since we have never successfully replicated it, we don't really know what the odds of spontaneous generation actually are, at least not in a concrete way. But, from the mathematical perspective of improbability, it is not like we're talking about different classes of large numbers. No matter how improbable the first event, once the first event occurs, the second can only be as improbable, and, if the second is to happen on the same planet under the same conditions, possibly quite a bit less improbable then the first.

If spontaneous generation processes can operate concurrently in different geographical locations (several different planets all having a life event), then there is no strong argument against having several of those concurrent processes happen in the same geographical locale as well. Which means that creationism, in this modified form, may well be correct.

UPDATE
Looks like biology is finally catching up with me.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Why Christian Apologetics Fails

Question:
Something common I've noticed among Christians. They won't approach the issue directly, they won't state any thesis clearly (rarely even the thesis "God exists"). They often flatly refuse to state what they believe and why they believe it. BUT, they are very quick to defend their ideology. In fact, it seems that that's all you guys do -- and I don't mean just you, Steve -- hostile defense after hostile. defense And the majority are not nearly as sophisticated as you, but you all do the same thing, regardless of elvel of education. I've seen Jesuit priests with PhD's pull the same crap.

If you're so damn sure you're right, why does it offend you if someone asks how you know this? Even if you end up saying "you don't know," that's an honest answer I can respect. It's also what we agnostics say all the time.

Based on your polemic behavior (and that of many others) Christianity seems to me like a poorly played chessgame with no strategy except a quasi-defense, and a remarkably weak one at that. I'm not seeking evidence, just reasons.

Answer:
Here's the problem every Christian has.
IF God exists AND God is infinite, THEN - by definition - there is more to Him than I can explain or even experience. If the infinity that is God were to stand in front of me right now, my finite senses would be instantly filled to their capacity, but there would still be infinitely more to experience.

So, when someone asks me to PROVE God exists, they are asking me to provide information which I cannot, even in principle, perceive, much less transmit. This is where empiricism falls down. It wants to assume finite, perceptible capacities, and - BY DEFINITION - that isn't the case.

Empiricism's net has holes one-foot wide, and it's trying to catch a one-inch Fish.

Now, my limitations doesn't affect Truth. Truth still exists.
But here's a conundrum which we humans haven't solved.
Christians hold two things to be simultaneously true:
1) God is utterly rational
2) God is Love.

We don't understand the connection between those two things on anything but an inchoate, inexpressible level.  All we can conclude is this: if we do anything OTHER than love, we are being irrational. But, I can't explain this beyond making the statement, because the limits are outside of propositional logic's capabilities.

And that's why Christians always retreat to indirection... poetry, if you will. God is Truth, BUT God is also Beauty and Love.

Propositional logic reveals truth (with appropriate caveats), such logic can only dimly reveal Beauty (as Euclid did when he looked on Beauty bare) and it can't explain Love at all.

Thus, we also know that only Beauty and Love can illuminate the infinity that is Truth.

Worse, as Christians, we know all men are broken, so we have a tough time accurately reflecting or transmitting unbroken Beauty of Love. We aren't all that hot at transmitting Truth either.

So, we do the best we can in all three areas, knowing that our best will always fail to transmit the Reality. We are forced to become poets or frustrated apologists or both.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

On Breastfeeding

When it comes to public breastfeeding, you have to admit, there's a certain inconsistency on both sides of the aisle. One side says, "Exposing your breast to feed your child has sexual connotation! It is exhibitionism! Don't do it in public!" Meanwhile, these same opponents have zero problem with women in bikinis selling beer. That is, opponents of public breastfeeding seem to want to deny the utility of breasts in order to maximize their sexualization. Those who like their female breasts sexualized are outraged that anyone would remind us breasts actually have a function - feeding children.

On the other hand, supporters of public breastfeeding says, "Nonsense! Breasts are made for feeding children!" But then they insist that breastfeeding women have special rooms set aside just for that activity, they insist women cover up while breastfeeding AND they insist most strenuously that men not look at a breastfeeding baby or mother. This makes no real sense. If breastfeeding were merely the use of a tool, and a man can watch someone swing a hammer or change a tire, then why can't a man watch a woman breastfeed? You see, with those caveats, breastfeeding supporters seem to deny that breasts are primarily a tool to feed children. In fact, they actively agree with public breastfeeding opponents that such activity is, indeed, sexual in nature.

And if you disagree with me, then consider how comfortable you are with Marian images like this:

From the Madonna and Child project by Kate Hansen

How many people want this hanging in their living room, or on their child's wall?

The answer?

Virtually no one in our Protestant American culture.

I used to create a breastfeeding calendar - every month contained a different classical image of Mary with an exposed breast feeding the infant Jesus, a theme quite popular in the Middle Ages. There is even a famous image of the vision of St. Bernard, in which the Virgin (known as the Virgin Lactans) squirted an arc of milk several feet into the waiting mouth of the saint.

The Vision of Saint Bernard by Alonso Cano

Even though I left that particular subject out of every calendar, and stuck just to Mary feeding Jesus, almost no one bought the breastfeeding calendar because even the breastfeeding supporters didn't want it hanging in the kitchen where their kids could see it.

Go figure.

Postscript:
If you want to REALLY spin someone's head, look up Roman Caritas. How many daughters would feed their parents this way today? Yet the act was considered by Christians as the height of familial piety and love, a precursor and preparation for the virtues taught by Christ.

“A Roman Woman’s Love for Her Father” by Peter Paul Rubens


Luther on Marriage

No one, with the exception of Bill Clinton and other homosexual supporters, teaches what Luther taught on marriage:

"Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.  We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides...  No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day."  from 'Let Your Sins Be Strong, 'The Wittenberg Project;'  translated by Erika Flores, from Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter No. 99, 1 Aug. 1521. - Cf. Also Denifle’s Luther et Lutheranisme, Etude Faite d’apres les sources. Translation by J. Paquier (Paris, A. Picard, 1912-13), Vol. II, pg. 404).

“If the husband is unwilling, there is another who is; if the wife is unwilling, then let the maid come..." Luther, On Married Life

"Suppose I should counsel the wife of an impotent man, with his consent, to give herself to another, say her husband’s brother, but to keep this marriage secret and to ascribe the children to the so-called putative father. The question is: Is such a woman in a saved state? I answer, certainly.” Babylonian Captivity of the Church

In a letter to the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Brück, Luther stated that he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture." ("Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis.") Letter to the Chancellor Gregor Brück,[3] January 13, 1524, De Wette 2:459.

As to divorce, it is still a debatable question whether it is allowable. For my part I prefer bigamy to it.” From On Marriage

From a strict Lutheran point of view, Bill Clinton was an excellent Lutheran.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Thomas More and Kim Davis

Unserious people are arguing Kim Davis should follow Thomas More's example and just resign. Thomas More resigned his post as Chancellor rather than take an oath of office that named Henry VIII's marriage valid and Henry himself leader of the Church in England.

The comparison fails on several levels.

Personal Preservation
Thomas More stepped down, but still lost his head. Would Kim Davis' resignation really preserve herself or her family? She would lose her job, lose the ability to run for office, look like a coward to a lot of people, possibly become unemployable. Everyone is called to be a Christian, but we can choose our martyrdom. She's chosen jail over the alternative. That's her choice. It belongs to no one else.

Impact
As Chancellor of England, explicit public rebellion against the King on Thomas Moore's part would have part into question the very stability of England itself. The Pope had not yet publicly excommunicated Henry. More was well-known and well-respected. From a political perspective, public commentary would have been very harmful to Henry's rule.

Kim Davis' is a county clerk, essentially unknown outside of her county. Her refusal to issue marriage certificates does not cause political instability in America nor any particular political problem King Obama. Her refusal is not threatening the stability of the country.

Conflicting Laws 
More had to resolve a conflict between the law of the realm vs. divine law. Furthermore, the law he dealt with was a written law, passed by Parliament.

Kim Davis, on the other hand, is not fighting a written law passed by any legislature. It is merely a court opinion. The actual written law, the statutes of Kentucky concerning marriage, explicitly tell Kim Davis that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Given our legal system, states have rights with which federal courts, even SCOTUS, may not interfere. Kim Davis thus has a three-way conflict: (1) the states' rights to define marriage versus (2) a federal court's right to change that definition vs (3) divine law. And, in the Federalist papers (specifically #78), the Founding Fathers of the United States explicitly said that SCOTUS is not the last word on the law.

Punishment
Here is the only point of similarity. More was clearly given an unjust hearing and beheaded on the basis of a liar's testimony.

As an elected official, Kim Davis cannot legally be removed from office except by impeachment in the state legislature (unlikely - the legislature passed the law saying same-sex marriage was idiotic) or her own inability to be re-elected to her office. Kim Davis' federal judge, who has a history of persecuting Christians in favor of homosexuals, and his allies knew they couldn't get impeachment and they certainly can't strip her of her office. So, they throw her in jail, where she continues to collect her pay. This is completely unjust, a violation of Kentucky law.

Clearly, the judge should resign for his insistence on persecuting Christians in violation of Kim Davis' Constitutional rights. Just as clearly, that won't happen.

Homosexuals, their judges and their MSM supporters created this circus and made Kim Davis a martyr. As a Christian, her course of action is perfectly acceptable. Her situation is so markedly different from that of St. Thomas More that - apart from the injustice against both More and Davis - no other serious parallels can be drawn between the two.

They desired acquiescence from Thomas More.
He gave them silence, and got beheaded.

They desired silence from Kim Davis.
She gave them resistance, and got jail.

Update:
It was pointed out to me that Daniel refused to resign his post under King Darius and was thrown to the lions. There is precedent for refusing to resign an official post.

Update 2:
Abraham Lincoln: "if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made...[then] in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

Update 3:
It's always nice to know the Pope agrees with me.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Pope Francis: Communist

“A man without work feels in some way that he is refused citizenship in the advance army of civilization and denied unity with fellow workers who by their work have earned a right to leisure. Leisure is earned; unemployment is unearned. Until his self-respect becomes completely destroyed, the unemployed man feels that he is not a part of the civilization in which he lives, because he has made no contribution to it. Unemployment, in the eyes of the Catholic, takes its biggest toll not from the economic man, but from the moral man; its greatest wound is not the empty pocket, but the empty heart.”
Pope Francis will be condemned as a socialist for expressing the sentiment above.

Traditionalists will call Pope Francis a raving leftist, and will point out that the words, written verbatim above, are the kind of nonsense we can only expect from FrancisChurch and its liberal, bleeding-heart socialist compadres.

"Why does God allow this outrageous man to tear down the Church? This must be the End Times!"

That's what we hear from the traditionalists when Pope Francis mentions such things.

But when you point out the quote is actually from page 99 of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's 1940 work "Freedom Under God, the Dignity of Labor" you hear.... crickets....

Definitely no apologies.
Just ... crickets.

127. We are convinced that “man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life”.[100] Nonetheless, once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired, it becomes easy for the meaning of work to be misunderstood.[101]We need to remember that men and women have “the capacity to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments”.[102] Work should be the setting for this rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play: creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today’s global society, it is essential that “we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone”,[103] no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning. 
128. We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work. Yet the orientation of the economy has favoured a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines. This is yet another way in which we can end up working against ourselves. The loss of jobs also has a negative impact on the economy “through the progressive erosion of social capital: the network of relationships of trust, dependability, and respect for rules, all of which are indispensable for any form of civil coexistence”.[104] In other words, “human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs”.[105] To stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.

Homosexuality and the Old Testament

Whenever anyone points out that the Old Testament forbids homosexuality, some homosexual supporter inevitably replies along these lines:
Well, let's make eating catfish illegal then. It's in the Bible. Same with shellfish. Wearing clothes from two different materials? Illegal! Touching an unclean animal? Illegal! (Whew, those Muslims can go back to work at Costco now) Letting your hair become unkempt? Illegal! Planting different seeds in the same field??? ILLEGAL!!! (See where this is going??)
Yes, I certainly see where this is going.
But does the homosexual supporter see where it is going?

If s/he wants to argue that the OT prohibition against homosexuality doesn't apply in modern times any more than the prohibition on catfish or shellfish does, then let us follow this marvelous new reasoning to its logical conclusion.

Murder is now acceptable. Adultery is certainly legitimate activity. Cheating the poor is most excellent. In fact, any government official who doesn't sanction both homosexual marriage and cheating the poor should be jailed. You should be able to sell a man for a pair of shoes, use false weights at the supermarket and sell goods for exorbitant prices. In fact, if you aren't price-gouging, then you should be incarcerated. Why? Well, because the Old Testament forbids all those things, and we are so past that old-fashioned nonsense.

In fact, if we continue with this line of reasoning in order to justify our Christian support for homosexuality, we instantly realize that Christians can support a whole lot more than homosexuality.

After all, Jesus never said a word against rape. Thus, rape is perfectly fine. Rape should be legal and licensed by the state, just like homosexual marriage. Jesus warned the elders not to judge the adulterous woman, therefore there is nothing wrong with adultery. He pointed out that there would always be poor people, so He obviously intended for us to exploit others. Indeed, given how capitalism and the Industrial Revolution have essentially eliminated poor people, it logically follows that we must re-double our efforts at exploiting everyone we can, just to make sure we can generate enough poor people to make Jesus' words a reality. It is a Biblical imperative!

And, of course, since homosexual supporters are so logical, and they started this line of reasoning, they obviously agree with this line of reasoning.

The Reality
In fact, homosexuality is a mental disorder that was removed from the DSM III manual on purely political grounds, as even homosexuals themselves acknowledge. No science was involved - it was all due to psychological bullying of the author of the DSM III.

According to homosexual advocates and the CDC (but I repeat myself), homosexuals have higher levels of substance abuse, higher rates of partner violence, higher rates of STDs, higher levels of narcissism and racism. Because of their addictive personalities, mental instability and deadly lifestyle, even when they are given the best treatment 21st century medicine can provide, they have the average life expectancy of someone from the 19th century.

It can't be due to the "bullying". After all, whites have higher rates of suicide than Hispanics or blacks (blacks have the lowest suicide rate in the nation), so obviously, by that reasoning, whites are the most oppressed segment of the population, and blacks the least. Similarly, in both 2000 and 2010, whites had higher rates of domestic violence than Hispanics (8.8 vs. 6.8 and 6.2 vs 4.1, respectively), so clearly whites were more oppressed during those years than Hispanics. Hispanic and white students report more drug abuse than black students, so clearly, blacks are less oppressed then Hispanics and whites.

Now, is this something they just have to deal with, because they were "born gay"? Alcoholism has at least as much of a genetic component, but that doesn't mean driving drunk is legal or that being alcoholic is looked on with favor by insurance companies and employers. Even if it were found to be natural, that doesn't make it acceptable. If homosexual supporters were not #ScienceDeniers, they would realize this.

And if we really want to go the route of blaming it on genes and bullying, then we have to apologize to all rapists for daring to impose our narrow-minded religious views on their legitimate sexual preferences:
Nearly 40 percent of the risk of committing rape is determined by genetics with the other 60 percent dependent on external factors such as childhood abuse, upbringing and socioeconomic background, the study found.

Christianity has always condemned homosexuality because that activity is harmful. Those who suffer from this mental illness are to be assisted, they need treatment, so that they can stop engaging in this deadly activity. It would be uncharitable to handle this affliction any other way.


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tesla and and the Bible

When someone asks what good the Bible is, when someone asks you to name ONE practical thing the Bible has taught anyone, you can reply: "Electricity!"

An excerpt from Tesla's autobiography :
"One day, as I was roaming the mountains, I sought shelter from an approaching storm. The sky became overhung with heavy clouds, but somehow the rain was delayed until, all of a sudden, there was a lightening flash and a few moments after, a deluge. This observation set me thinking. It was manifest that the two phenomena were closely related, as cause and effect, and a little reflection led me to the conclusion that the electrical energy involved in the precipitation of the water was inconsiderable, the function of the lightening being much like that of a sensitive trigger. Here was a stupendous possibility of achievement. If we could produce electric effects of the required quality, this whole planet and the conditions of existence on it could be transformed. The sun raises the water of the oceans and winds drive it to distant regions where it remains in a state of most delicate balance. If it were in our power to upset it when and wherever desired, this might life sustaining stream could be at will controlled. We could irrigate arid deserts, create lakes and rivers, and provide motive power in unlimited amounts. This would be the most efficient way of harnessing the sun to the uses of man. The consummation depended on our ability to develop electric forces of the order of those in nature. 
It seemed a hopeless undertaking, but I made up my mind to try it and immediately on my return to the United States in the summer of 1892, after a short visit to my friends in Watford, England; work was begun which was to me all the more attractive, because a means of the same kind was necessary for the successful transmission of energy without wires. At this time I made a further careful study of the Bible, and discovered the key in Revelation. (emphasis added) The first gratifying result was obtained in the spring of the succeeding year, when I reaching a tension of about 100,000,000 volts—one hundred million volts -- with my conical coil, which I figured was the voltage of a flash of lightening. Steady progress was made until the destruction of my laboratory by fire, in 1895, as may be judged from an article by T.C. Martin which appeared in the April number of the Century Magazine. This calamity set me back in many ways and most of that year had to be devoted to planning and reconstruction. However, as soon as circumstances permitted, I returned to the task."

The SSPX and Abortion

Pope Francis has given two incredible indults in preparation for the Year of Mercy: he has given all priests throughout the world the ability to forgive the sin of abortion and he has authorized the SSPX priests throughout the world to give a valid absolution in confession, something that no SSPX priest had been able to do up to this point.

The two indults are linked because both hinge on the priest's ability to forgive sins. A priest's ability to forgive sins comes from the bishop whose authority he lives under. If a bishop wishes to reserve the absolution for a specific sin to himself, his priests do not have the ability to grant absolution for that sin. It isn't a question of the priest deciding whether or not to absolve - even if he attempts absolution, the absolution would fail, because the bishop had not granted him the power to do it.

Thus, SSPX priests - who do not recognize the episcopal authority of the bishop installed by the Pope, but instead pretend they gain authority from some other unspecified source - have not ever been able to grant valid absolutions. Similarly, while American bishops have uniformly granted the ability to absolve abortion to American priests, not all bishops throughout the world have given their priests this permission. The Pope has essentially directed all bishops throughout the world to grant (1) faculties to SSPX priests, and (2) faculties for absolution of abortion to all priests, SSPX or not.

Abortion
Over the centuries, various popes have considered the culture they lived in and have tried various methods by which to decrease the grievous sin of abortion, from granting the right to absolve to all priests, or only to bishops, or even only to the Pope himself. In 1588, for example, Pope Sixtus V tried discouraging abortion by reserving confession and absolution to the Holy See alone, a restriction used for only the most heinous sins.

Pope Francis has contemplated our current culture and decided that it is time to return the ability to absolve this sin to all priests everywhere. This doesn't change the gravity of the sin, it changes the Church's prudential decision about how best to help lessen the incidence of this particular grievous sin. Changes in culture often call for changes in discipline. This is an instance of that fact.

SSPX Absolutions
Many SSPX'ers and their supporters will now claim "the Vatican has realized that the SSPX are not schismatic revolutionaries but instead Catholic patriots who don't want to see 2000 years of Latin rite tradition and teaching tossed into the dumpster for the kumbaya mass and coloring book cafeteria Catholicism."

In fact, quite the opposite has occurred.

The Church has long recognized that the SSPX are schismatics who have trashed 2000 years of Church teaching into the dumpster when they dumped the Second Vatican Council.

However, in her mercy, She grants the SSPX mercies that the followers of that particular cult would simply never grant to other Christians, in the hope that by this example, SSPX hearts would be softened and they would return to full communion with the one true Church. By this decree, Pope Francis has given an extraordinary demonstration of the extravagant mercy of God.

And again, the two indults are deeply linked. Abortion kills a human person, false absolution kills the soul of both the one attempting to grant it and the one who fails to receive real absolution. By granting these twin indults, Pope Francis has engaged in both corporal and spiritual works of mercy. He is truly leading us by his example.

Let us hope those attracted to abortion and/or the SSPX hear him, understand what he has done for them, and turn from their evil ways.