Friday, July 09, 2004

We have it so good in this country... so good that people complain and fight bitterly over nothing, over a ten cent raise in the price of gas, over what this or that movie star said or did, over which roads to hold this years' parade. Certainly, there are horrible things that happen in America. Just today, here in Ft. Wayne, this story of a smothered or drowned little girl left to rot in her mother's apartment for weeks. And this story, from Colorado, about people throwing their babies away. These are horrible, horrible stories, but notice it isn't the government doing these things. The Democrats and the Republicans are not breaking down doors (unless young cuban immigrants are behind them) with guns drawn to kill people who are dissenting. The current dissenters, in fact, are praised, for the most part, and admired by the popular culture.

The Democrats are trying to make out like the Republicans want to take away our liberties, but look at the editorial cartoons below about Iran... even if our country is in flux between Left and Right, we have it good.

Al-Sadr's Iranian connection

Iranian Students fight Theocracy

Thursday, July 08, 2004


I was watching, yesterday, my five-year-old daughter in her first swim class. She was lying on her back in the pool, the instructor was teaching her the proper movements of her legs and arms. I can see the look of concentration on my daughter's face as she floats, willing her legs to make the unusual motions, like a frog, that the teacher is asking for. It's so much easier for her to kick and dog paddle with abandon and, now and then, she reverts to this with apparent joy on her face rather than concentration. In the end, of course, she'll be the better swimmer for learning these methods and skills, but the better-swimmer-joy is far off, invisible to her, and all she sees seems to be removing the fun from the water.

So, too, as I come into my new faith through RCIA and reading, do I miss the freedom, the abandon, of the Protestant faith. How much easier it is to accept the life Jesus led as a symbol, to believe his last supper is a symbol, to throw out most of the lessons of the Old Testament as being superceded by Love. How much easier still to have the modern idea of Faith in Nature, Faith in good intentions, Faith in your own internal discovery of God as equivalent to century upon century of Christian experience and thought.

I was reading C.S. Lewis who covered this well. He wrote of how a person on the shore of the ocean, the warm sand beneath their feet, the ocean breeze fanning their hair, the smell of salt and sea all around them, can feel that sense of awe and wonder that is God. He wrote that religion wants to take that awe and wonder of the ocean and replace it with a map, developed through centuries of experience by sailors and navigators. Now who in their right mind would ever get the same sense of God out of a two dimensional map that they get out of a three dimensional, five senses day at the beach? No one... but suppose you want to go to the other side of the ocean? Suppose you want to know more about the ocean that what lies immediately in front of you... you need a map. In fact, if you find yourself lost, a map is a blessing.

So, here I am, learning my strokes, studying my map... late every service in crossing myself, forgetting to genuflect, forgetting the words to the Invitation to Prayer,

Priest: Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be
acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

All: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands
for the praise and glory of his name, for our good,
and the good of all his Church.

and knowing, intellectually, that the words and motions I'm learning will serve me well when I find myself in water over my head, when I find that watching the sunrise doesn't quite help me remain on the straight and narrow road, when I find I need a map to make sense of the world. Lately, that better-swimmer-joy has seemed so far off... but like my daughter, I'm learning.

"We survived Carter and we'd survive Kerry (though it will be a long, hard slog!). I plan to vote for him because I think

a) we need to take a time out from Bush's strident public global terror war in order to prevent it from becoming a damaging, lifelong West vs. Islam clash--in order to "rebrand" America and digest the hard-won gains we've made in Iraq and Afghanistan (if they even remain gains by next January). Plus,

b) it would be nice to make some progress on national health care, even if it's only dialectical "try a solution and find out it doesn't work" progress."

Mickey Kaus, the Kausfiles

I was quite surprised to read the above and find out that Mickey Kaus, who's blog, The Kausfiles, has been so disappointed in the choice of Kerry as the Democrat nominee, is intending to vote for for Kerry anyway. I somehow can't imagine anyone taking position "A" just one election away from Pearl Harbor... and it was mostly service men killed at Pearl Harbor, not office workers. Also, Pearl Harbor was 6000 miles away from Washington, D.C. while on 9/11 the actual Pentagon was attacked. Kaus has apparently not watched any 9/11 tapes recently and seen the look of fear on the eyes of those fleeing the White House before that last plane went down in a field. Kaus has apparently not watched that al-Zarqawi video or listened to the latest terrorists threats against America. In fact, our enemies long ago accepted that this is, for them, "a lifelong West vs. Islam clash." If we choose not to call it that, if we choose to ignore the life our enemies have chosen, if we choose to "take a break", from it, this has no effect on those who are fighting us unless it is to make them believe they are winning.

As far as Kaus's "B" (Health Care), I just heard this morning that Pfizer will be deeply discounting their drugs for Americans who have no health care. Who will applaud this charitable move by Pfizer? It seems, so often, that many people think the drug companies are horrible, but through their profits they design the drugs people are clamoring to be given. How much will the drug costs of the insured increase to offset this move? What about the fact that President Bush pushed through prescription drug benefits for medicare? Kaus seems silent on these things.

Update: Why don't those who want National health care just set up their own fund for it, some kind of national group insurance plan for the uninsured, and dump donations into it? What is stopping John Kerry or John Edwards from starting that, they're both mega-millionaires. Is it just that it's unfair for some to pay and others not? But isn't that what we have anyway, about half the country pays federal taxes and the other half doesn't? Is it that those who want National Health Care couldn't gather enough money to put it in place? But all Kaus is seeking is a start, yes? Even if it's a false start... Nothing is stopping those who want National Health Care from putting it in place. Unless, of course, they just like complaining about the whole issue and don't really want it solved.

For my part, I don't want National Health Care. Just go into the license branch... is that how you want your Health Care to be run? Do I want people to be ill, to not have their drugs, to have to choose between their health and their food? Well, I think some of that is just a fact of life on earth... you can't have everything you want, you can't even have everything you need... no matter how much care you provide, that care will fall short. The government spends billions and billions on protecting us but _still_ people died on 9/11. If the government spends billions and billions on health care, people will _still_ get sick and die. Those in need have avenues for seeking help and solace, from friends, from family, from charities, from churches, from the local community... and some people, whether through their own choices or God's plan, are beyond help.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

"Adam and Eve's personal sin affected human nature. Their original sin was transmitted to future generations who inherited a human condition deprived of original justice and holiness. Original sin is not an actual sin we personally commit, rather, we are born into a condition wehre we are inclined to give in to the powers of evil which surround us."

- From "God: Our loving creator" in the book "This is our Faith"
by Michael Francis Pennock

I have this image of God looking at the choices we make like we look at time-lapse photography... Good choices, made repeatedly seem to bloom like a flower beneath the eyes of God, while poor choices reveal some sort of ugliness, some sort of blackening fungus, creeping among the blooms. Of course, God as a gardener has been done to death, but the idea of God viewing lives under time-lapse and finding beauty in moral choices hits the right buttons with me. It also reminds me that the plants in my own garden don't always do well despite my efforts...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

powered by FreeFind