Contra Mozilla

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mark of the Beast

"[The beast which arose out of the earth] deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived; and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.  Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name" (Revelation 13:14-17).

A friend suggested this passage a few weeks ago in connection with the possibility that Andrew Jackson be replaced by Margaret Sanger on the $20. Sanger is the founder of Planned Parenthood and as such was a devoted servant of Moloch. Now we find that it is not to be President Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party, who will be replaced--that would have been a good riddance--but rather Alexander Hamilton (founding father) on the $10. We do not yet know who will replace him hopefully someone worthy like Harriet Tubman or Rosa Parks or Elizabeth Ann Seton, but we'll see.

I do not think that my friend's assessment is wrong or misplaced, assuming that it is indeed someone like Sanger who appears on the bill. However, we are seeing it unfold even now that we need not wait until then to see the mark of the beast appearing prominently in public. And it is done willingly, in the name of celebration. Those of us who do not go along with this--which actually might be a majority and certainly otherwise a substantial minority--are nevertheless not allowed our place in the "marketplace" of ideas. The few who have spoken out at all have been quickly and vitriolically shouted down.

This is not to say that we live in the end time now. I do not insist on only a rigidly literal interpretation of revelations as occurring only at the end of the world, and thus I can see it play out time and again in history, both in big and small ways.

Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, pray for us! Saint Athanasius, Pray for Us! Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, pray for us! Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

And lest anybody mistake my intentions: no, I am not publishing this because I hate "the gays." I am at times very frustrated with certain people, but I don't hate them. I do, however, hate sins. I also hate ideologies which glorify sins, especially those which do it blatantly for the sake of the sin. The reason why I hate sin and ideologies, especially of this sort, is because they tend to separate the sinners from god, and they put enmity between their followers and the Church. That is truly the worst effect of all of this, and it is precisely one of the effects in which "the beast" would rejoice.


Update: Case in point, I may be on the same side of the culture wars as the fellow in Tennessee who put the "No Gays Allowed" sign on his hardware store (assuming he isn't doing this just as a parody), but I really don't stand with him. That is to say, I think he should have the right to refuse service, but I don't think that he is right to do so.

Also note that even some of the people who are simply opting not to engage in the "marketplace" are receiving their 2 minutes' hate for that decision. Witness some of the reactions--often on social media, but beyond that--to the Mississippi woman who is resigning from her position of 24 years as a county clerk rather than issue "gay marriage" licenses. There's plenty of vitriol focused on her, despite the fact that she is essentially doing what that side of the culture war claims we should do when we can't in good conscience provide a service to some sets of people (mostly, gays): that is, close up shop. Well, the Church has been through harder persecutions than this one so far is, and yet she has survived.

A Few Assorted Thoughts about Propaganda

I have long considered John Stewart to be a complete hack as a comedian; on the other hand, he is one of the most successful propagandists of this generation. His protege, Stephen Colbert, is often a bit funnier, and often a bit let hackish as a comedian; he engages in propaganda--a lot of it, to be honest--but not always at the expense of his comedy routine. However, comedy at times takes a back seat to propaganda in his shtick, too. He's not alone by any stretch here, not among comedians, not among other entertainments outfits, and not even among what once might have been called "serious news outlets."


A funny observation about certain types of propaganda: sometimes an image which would seem to be intuitively obvious as "good" (that is, visually effective) propaganda can misfire. Case in point, this image made (presumably in photoshop) after the Supreme Curt's ruling in Obergefell v Hodges:

I saw this, an immediately understood its intent to be that it takes courage to stand against a culture which is collectively in the wrong (or heading towards the wrong), to seek freedom by doing what is right and not doing what is wrong even if the rest of the world has gladly embraced injustice and slavery by following its passions. The image was posted with the quote by Chesterton that "The Catholic Church is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age." The originating site, while mostly not in English, does not seem particularly friendly to social liberalism. Thus, I read the man who is in the circle and thus not under the rainbow flag to be those few people who aren't quietly (or worse, enthusiastically) going along with the whole "gay rights"/"gay marriage" movement.

Yet, some people saw this image and read the opposite into it. This rainbow fag of celebration is made possible by the one guy who refused to condemn homosexual acts (such as sodomy) as sinful and thus not worthy of legal protections and privileges. I suppose that 30 years ago, such an image might have at least reflected the reality that most people still called a sin a sin, though it would have been a rather perverse recognition. Thirty years ago, he majority was not necessarily silent on this issue, and it was right. Now, there is a small majority (or else a very vocal minority), and certainly a larger and more vocal one in the social media, which marches in perfect lockstep to the beat of the progressive drum and salutes the rainbow flag as the sign which leads them on the victory.


Most people who speak out publicly against this march to privilege sexual deviancy and to codify the rights of immorality are shouted down (at best). Where once homosexuality was "the love that dare not speak its name," opposition to homosexual acts is the viewpoint which dare not speak its name.

We are moving out of the propaganda phase and into the outright persecution phase, soft persecution first and then maybe hard persecution will follow. There is certainly somebody who will be happy with this result. Especially if it leads to some more "results."

It might be fair to say that we lost this (big) round of the culture war, because we lost the propaganda war. In fact, we barely seem to have engaged in the propaganda battle until the end. Well see what results after the persecution:

God is not mocked, yet we have taken a symbol which if figuratively the sign of His covenant with us, and turned it into the symbol for the sin that cried out loudly from Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps there were other reasons why God destroyed these cities, and so the rampant homosexual sins were only the most visible symptom of a deeper evil. Perhaps, for that matter, "God's destruction" is again a metaphor for the cities' own inevitable demise. Is that a great comfort for a civilization bent upon following their example?

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Few Good Links (vol. 21)

For those who do not know, I am being promoted to Associate Chair of my department, effective August 1 of 2015. My duties in that capacity commence then, but I've been fairly busy trying to learn how to do some of these ahead of time from our outgoing associate chair. On to the links:
  1. Here's a roundup of a few Catholic reactions to the disastrous Supreme Court ruling from Friday.
  2. And a few more reactions. It is a "tragic day for America's children." And not, coercion does not lead to love.
  3. Rod Dreher's Benedict Option is looking pretty good these days.
  4. Getting "gay marriage" is not enough. You must be made to celebrate. To quote the leadership of "Believe Out Loud" (a "gay Christian" organization), "As we look ahead to a movement beyond marriage equality, we know that the work of affirming Christians is not yet finished. It’s now time for churches to move beyond simply accepting what we understand, to affirming LGBTQ people as they are." They are not alone in hoping to go after the Church, other ecclesiastical communities, and other religious organizations. 
  5. There's also more than a few who are happy to twist, corrupt, distort, or ignore Christianity--Scripture, Tradition, historical Christianity as practiced, and even the authority of the Church--to somehow "make gay ok." They might as well ask, "Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?"
  6. It's been corrected by now, but this was originally a very awful job of "reporting"/framing the issue concerning the Church and so-called "gay marriage." As in, appallingly bad (and you can still get a sense of it from the first few comments posted there, and for that matter from the parts of the article which aren't edited). Now it is merely "pretty bad," or "average lazy newsreporter bad," complete with the original title "Austin Catholic church will conduct same-sex weddings." The article has been updated to clarify that this is an "American Catholic" (that is, Anglican) church. The leading photo was originally of Bishop Vasquez. The oppening line is "As Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, bishop of the Diocese of Austin, says he is 'deeply saddened by the Supreme Court’s decision to require States to recognize same-sex marriages,' another catholic church — with no affiliation to the Roman Church — in the Austin-area will be officiating a same-sex wedding mass on Saturday." The bold color change represents what they added in after the fact. Agenda? What agenda? (N.B. the article was published June 26 2015 at 2:59 PM and "Updated" by 4:10 PM on the same day)
  7. This would be a fairly welcome "side-effect" of the SCOTUS Obergefell decision would be the enforcement of concealed carry reciprocity for all 50 states + DC. But, I suppose it is probably too much to ask for the Court to be consistent.
  8. Some inconvenient facts (including US murder rates) for the gun-grabbers, which will of course be roundly ignored.
  9. A defense of memorization as one of the important aspects of education. To be honest, memorization is the first step in a good education--and as such, it is a crucial step. This includes training oneself on how to remember facts and other information.
  10. Here's a long post about propaganda.
  11. A lot of people were making fun of that pro-marriage pastor,Rick Scarborough, who threatened to set himself on fire if the Supreme Court legalized "gay marriage" (a threat which turns out to have been a bit of an exaggeration). They often would argue that this shows how darned nutty everyone on the "Traditional marriage" side was. As far as I know, he never set himself on fire. But tragically another pastor in Texas did immolate himself. This pastor was actually in favor of "gay marriage," and while his last note does not explicitly say that he did this to promote "acceptance" of "gay marriage," it's not a stretch to read that into his actions.
  12. A few states--so far Oklahoma and Alabama--are considering completely nullifying all side in the "marriage" debates by ceasing to issue any marriage licenses at all.
  13. Here are 5 Things Jesus Might Say to the Gay Community. It is a Protestant perspective, but I agree with quite a bit of it. They even managed to catch that Jesus does, in fact, have something to say about/against "gay marriage" (Matthew 19:4-6). I don't like the (accidental?) contrast between being rejected by "the church" and yet embraced by Jesus, so I would reiterate that the Church does not "reject" anybody, and that Jesus is ultimately found in the Church and with her, since she is His bride. 

Sometimes hatred is charming, while love must show itself severe (St. Augustine).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Optimism-Pessimism and Hope-Despair

Some people wonder about the seeming oxymoronic phrase "Hopefilled pessimist". This is because such people do not understand the distinction between hope and optimism or between despair and pessimism. Optimism and pessimism pertain to our outlook of things which are strictly in this word. The would-be progressive is aways optimistic about how the future will turn out, if not for himself than for society at large; the world is always progressing in a particular direction, and history has a right side and a wrong side to be on. The pessimist may or may not share this view of the progress and sidedness of history, or the ongoing march of social progress; he may or may not believe that history is, if not actually repeating in a cycle, then at least rhyming. He can read the signs of the times and sees something ominous.

Take, for example, the supposedly endless march of progress as concerns "gay rights." There are a number of pessimists such as myself who almost expect to end like this (I am/we are blindfolded here):

Some less pessimistic people suppose that it will stop somewhat short of this, or will do so in our lifetimes. Perhaps is will "only" be as bad as, say, Canada. I expect real religious liberties to be eroded (as much as I expect for the now-ironically named ACLU to lead the charge on that front), And on the other hand, there are some optimists on the other side who are looking forward to the day on which the result is more like this:

"The Deserter" by Boardman Robinson, n protest of the march of progress in 1916.

I gather this based, for example, on the kinds of comments which people are more-than-happy to post in public, including more than a few comments which are exchanged between supposed friends. The cause is greater than any mere friendship, apparently. So color me a pessimist. Better still, don't color me at all right now, since that's currently being used to celebrate the SCOTUS' decision in Obergefell. There's something about wearing rose-colored grassed which makes us incapable of seeing the difference between black and white.

But if I am a pessimist only, then I am lost. The pessimist can at least see black, but if he is a pessimist only, he may cease seeing white but only "less black," or possibly gray.

Hope is a virtue, a theological one which makes us look to something better in the next life. It is the reminder that there is something bigger than history, that while history is the sequence events taking place in time there is an eternity which is timeless. It is the reminder that there is a Providence which is God-ordained, and that, in the words of Joseph Pieper, history too will be judged. Blessed are those who mourn--if that mourning turns their eyes heavenward and reminds them that this vale of tears is not their final home; that it does not matter which side of history they are on when they die, but rather which side of eternity. Despair, then, is the loss (or lack, or negation) of hope. The mourning will receive no comfort if they turn to thoughts of vengeance.

I think I will close this brief reflection with a passage from Tolkien's Return of the King, since it grants comfort and a glimpse of hope:
"Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping above a cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, even his master's, ceased to trouble him."
It is when we have hope that we are able to set aside our worries for a time, knowing that they won't go away in this life, but also knowing that in the end, that they will be insignificant and "passing" things. However substantial they may seem in this life, they are but shadows which must fade to naught when the light of eternity pierces our vale.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Social Media Celebrations

I'm seeing a lot of social media profiles being changes with a "gay agenda rainbow" filter over their picture. his is to celebrate today's Supreme Court ruling. I guess I should do my part. I'm the guy facing the camera:

Consider that today they are "celebrating," and are in their most ecstatic and satisfied state: yet I've noticed that the slightest comment expressing disapproval, sadness, frustration, consternation, or fear is shouted down by the outsider's alleged friends. What will they do in a week or two when the ecstasy of today's ruling has faded?

Skeet Shooting

I don't know if skeet shooting is legal in Poland or not (I assume that it is). But if I lived there, especially if I lived near its western border, I would take it up as a hobby. Apparently, there will be plenty of opportunities for targets, and for a good cause.

And So It Goes

Where it leads is this, then on to jackboots.
So it ends.
"If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie." (Scalia's Dissent)

And so it continues.
"The Catholic faith has constantly taught, that marriage is the unique relationship between one man and one woman that needs to be promoted and strengthened. Marriage is a gift from God, rooted in nature itself. The biological realities of male and female together with the complementarity they bring to the institution of marriage allow for the natural procreation of children and the opportunity for the child to be nurtured and to learn from a mother and a father who each bring unique gifts to the family. Neither today’s United States Supreme Court decision, nor subsequent alterations to civil law, can change this truth which we profess."

And so it begins.
" just ten years ago they swore Lawrence would not lead to gay marriage, and then two years ago swore that gay marriage would not lead to you being forced to bake them a cake. 
So if a top Hillary advisor dodges the question of tax exempt status for churches who refuse to perform gay marriages -- you can take her non-answer to the bank, Bigots.... 
religious conscience is more than just what we do in the two hours a week we spend in church. Though Kennedy reassures you that for those two hours, you are free to "advocate" for your bigoted, unsupportable, and evil views. 
For now, anyway."

Saint Thomas More, pray for us.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Laudato Si?

So, there's a new papal encyclical which has been released for the public to read. Cool. I haven't read it yet, and I'm not going to comment on it yet. I've already seen lots of reactions, but I've trying not to read through any of them yet (I'm linking them here for my own future reference, once I've finished the encyclical in a few days or weeks). I'd rather read the encyclical first, even if it is pretty long (~180 pages), then read some reactions (even if I anticipate that they may be good ones). One of the more interesting reactions I've seen is from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople).

But really, I think we'd all be a bit better off if about 99% of the talking heads would just shut up and let us read this thing in peace. Give us all a week or two to read it (not all of us have free time in abundance!), giving it a little fanfare but not trying to spoil it or distort it. For that matter, go read Mortimer J Adler's How to Read a Book, which cautions strongly against reading the secondary sources before reading the primary source. That was when secondary sources were often well-thought-out essays and books, not "beat the deadline" columns and blog posts!

Truth be told, I still haven't really finished the last encyclical, and i also didn't really thoroughly read the one before that. Maybe this can collectively be my summertime leisure (ha!) reading.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Difference Between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

I don't have anything in particular against the children's fantasy series by J.K. Rowling (disclaimer: my wife does). It's a somewhat entertaining piece of popular fiction which has somehow been a worldwide phenomenon and which made a fortune for its author and entertained countless children (and, let us be honest, no small number of adults).

With that said, Tolkien's works--here I include specifically Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion--are collectively an epic masterpiece which should be counted among the great works of western literature. There is simply no comparison between the two.

There is also a very vast difference between the two authors. Ms. Rowling is a talented writer who can tell an entertaining story. Tolkien was a brilliant thinker who developed not only a story, but a whole mythology to underlie it, a whole world which could exist as a mirror of our own. He was also a Catholic Christian, and quite faithful (if at time curmudgeonly) concerning his religion.

Rowling, for her part, loosely defined herself as a Christian writer, but on the other hand openly embraces a number of doctrines incompatible with series Christian thinking.

So, to give one simple example of a difference between the two, whereas Rowling is openly cheering this on (and condemning in the name of tolerance all others whose beliefs differ from hers) Tolkien is rightly rolling in his grave over it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly in One Article

The good, the bad, and the ugly has been encapsulated in one article. The good is the top half , the article itself: another state is recognizing the need for the protection of religious liberty. Hence, its legislature, which is for now dominated by members of the only party which retains or feigns some sanity in the culture wars, has passed a law which allows religiously-run institutions (think Catholic Charities) to obey their collective consciences (not to mention religious doctrines) when placing children for adoption.

The ugly, which is ginning up for the bad, is in the bottom half of the article on the internet. You see, allowing free conscience exercise must simply not be allowed. Here there is a soft-target, in appearance at least: the entities in question accept state monies to provide a service to the state. Said entities would happily do the service for free, I'm, sure, if not for a byzantine set of social, economic, and legal rules which make their operation quite costly, indeed more costly than would be if the state were completely uninvolved.

The bad is that this provision will likely not stand: for it to do so, a large number of politicians must exhibit one of those traits which the class generally lacks, which is the courage of conviction. The ugly, as seen in the bottom half of the internet, is that the result will be the explicit removal of these protections, plus a strong public backlash against anyone who supports them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Some Good News

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld some of the key provisions to Texas' anti-abortion law. Apparently, a large number of abortion clinics will close down as a result. This is excellent news, though it is also likely very short-term, even assuming that this ruling is confirmed by the Supreme Court. The reason why it is so short term is that it's only a matter of time until a number of newer abortion mills are opened which meet the current requirements.

And this assumes, furthermore, that Texas doesn't have a political shift from the moderately pro-abortion position of allowing abortion for up to 20 weeks to a more pro-abortion position of removing these few and frankly very weak restrictions.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Today's Physical Science Fueled Rant

There would be many more of these, but the d@--! physical science class uses up almost all of my free time. Really, it's the same 2-3 students who suck up most/all of my time outside of class.

I hold office hours for an hour each day, but what's the point of specifying these? The students just show up whenever they feel like it. Then, they start asking questions. Normally, I would encourage this kind of behavior, but these are not worthwhile questions. They are more akin to, "can you do my homework for me"/"please pre-grade my lab reports"/"please spot-check my work line by line and step by step for me!" questions. This is not a good use of my (or their) time, and it's been this way virtually every afternoon since the stupid class started last week.

I've taken to scheduling made up meetings so that I have an excuse to leave after class, among other times. I'm going to implement a request of my wife that she call me at 5:00 sharp each day so that I have a way of getting out of my office hours then and not at 6:00 or later. Kicking students out or telling them to come back later accomplishes nothing.

Today, I spent two hours explaining to a college student how to add, subtract, multiple, and divide simple fractions. It went something like this:
"What is (1/4)/4?"
"Uh, 1?"
<proceeds to explain using pictures and pies>
"Oh, so it's must be /16."
"Yes. Let's try another one. What is (1/3)/2?"
"Uh, 2/3?"

Now, to be fair, I also spent time doing other things. Such as, for example, reading entire passages from the textbook, passages which were assigned reading, because he wanted a verbal statement of Newton's Laws of motion. The reading the passages was when I gave up stating the laws verbally, only to have him say, "Wait, I only wrote down the first three words, what was the next part. Ok, what was that 6th word?"

This character is doing better than most of the others in the class. I fear the blowback from the horrible reviews which I will receive when I fail 2/3 of the class. This is worse still, because if I continually receive bad reviews, I can expect not only to have to explain myself to the tenure committee, among others, but also to lose a lot of money (perhaps $10k or more, if the result is very low enrollment in certain of my classes). Yet, unless the class as a whole improves, failing the lot of them is the right thing to do.

To end all of this on a slightly more positive note, I suppose that if mys students finally learn how to do fractions, then they did get something from my course. It's not what they're supposed to get, or what I'm wanting for them to get out of my class. And it's a damning indictment of our pre-college (and frankly, college) level education. Bu I suppose that they will have learned something, and it's better 5 or 10 years (or even 15 year--a lot of these students are non-traditional age-wise) late than never.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Alabama SB377

In anticipation of the practically inevitable Supreme Court ruling against marriage, the state senate of Alabama is considering legislation to do away with marriage licenses. I've been suggesting that something like this will be tried at some level, though I suspect it won't be especially widespread. Sympathy for "gay marriage" and against religious liberties have both been on the rise* in America, across the nation. The plan all along has been to force this issue on people, and in particular to force it on people who don't want to participate.

The latest on that front is is that participating is not enough--you must also practice correct-think. As Rod Dreher notes,

You understand, of course, that this is not about getting equal treatment. The lesbian couple received that. This is about demonizing a point of view, and driving those who hold it out of the public square. Just so we’re clear about that....

It does indicate, though, the next phase in the March of Progress. You must not only bake the cake, or arrange the flowers, or make the ring, you must hold the correct opinion when you do it.

A typically hateful commenter (from the other side) glibly replies,
"You people truly are unbelievably dense.

Do you not get that gay couples (and their family, friends, and fellow decent fellow American citizens) do NOT want your bigot products and services. We (all the above mentioned) don’t want to give you one dime. Period.

That is not the point....

So… put out your signs [and offer to cheerfully serve the gay community despite them]...Then watch as you’ve made your beliefs and feelings perfectly well known how your business crumbles, as not only gay people but a large swath of customers choose not to do business with those they know to be bigoted and engaged in efforts to harm their gay friends, family, and neighbors."

In any case, I do not know if this decision to cease offering marriage licenses is a workable solution--though I am in favor of the government getting out of the marriage business if marriage is to become meaningless. And, to the extent that civil marriages are dissoluble by divorce, and that they do not function for the purpose of procreation, and that they will now start to be expanded to include ever more types of partnerships, marriage has become civilly meaningless at best. So long as the government finds a way to recognize the actual rights of spouses (hospital visitation, joint ownership, etc), extended to non-spousal relationships or otherwise, fine, do away with civil marriage.

For better or for worse, the law is a teacher. It is best when the law teaches rightly, but the law has not been doing that for decades. This is basically just a continuation of that slide from teaching correctly about marriage, and so the law is not only not teaching well or flat out refusing to teach, it is in fact teaching lies. So, in that sense, having the law refuse to teach anything at all is a step in the right direction, albeit a very hesitating one (and one with some possibly bad complications).

An institution which should be the source of much good is becoming a source more of evil. The right thing to do is to redeem that institution; that action has failed. I suppose that the next best thing is to burn it down, which is going to happen anyway. It can hopefully be rebuilt, and correctly, in some distant future. I'm not one to stand by chanting "burn baby burn!" as civilization is engulfed in flames--but if burning it down is the wrong reaction to civilization as a whole, it is the right reaction to a Trojan Horse. And, tragically, that is what the civil institution of marriage has become.

This may not be the right solution, but in the end, it may be the only solution left, at least as far as the present civilization is concerned.

*Soon that will be "old" news, and the social justice brownshirts, will embrace the next (lock)step of "progress." They will then demand that the rest of us fall in as well. Or else.