Thursday, August 30, 2018

Want to do urban ministry?

LeBron James shows the way, in a manner of speaking, by sharing some of the attitudes he'd picked up--and then discarded--upon attending St. Vincent-St. Mary's High School in Akron.  He appears to have made some of the same kind of cultural errors that I made the opposite way when I would visit Compton, CA on Saturdays as a college student.  Want to do urban ministry, or, for that matter, ministry outside your particular culture?  Understand that the people you're going to get to know may live in a very different world, and that you've got to understand a lot of people simply don't understand your world. 

Side note is that some of the most difficult cultural differences to overcome are those where you don't have an immediate visual cue--like race--that people think very differently than you do.  For example, when a conservative tries to minister on a prestigious college campus, or when someone from the suburbs goes to poor rural areas.

Well done, LeBron.

A bit from Oswald Chambers

Referencing Luke 10:19-20, Oswald Chambers wrote this. 

Jesus Christ says, in effect, Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me. The snare in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. You never can measure what God will do through you if you are rightly related to Jesus Christ. Keep your relationship right with Him, then whatever circumstances you are in, and whoever you meet day by day, He is pouring rivers of living water through you, and it is of His mercy that He does not let you know it. When once you are rightly related to God by salvation and sanctification, remember that wherever you are, you are put there by God; and by the reaction of your life on the circumstances around you, you will fulfil God’s purpose, as long as you keep in the light as God is in the light.
The tendency to-day is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make usefulness their ground of appeal. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure that ever lived. The lodestar of the saint is God Himself, not estimated usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that Our Lord heeds in a man’s life is the relationship of worth to His Father. Jesus is bringing many sons to glory.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Investigative reporter finds that horrendous allegations, including murder, related to at least one Catholic orphanage, have a basis in fact.  Add this to homes for poor mothers in Ireland, and apparently even a sad case at Boys' Town, and the sad reality is that it seems Rome has problems that could well rival those in DC or the public schools. 

I'm going to guess that Father Flanagan, given his advocacy of reform of Catholic institutions in his native Ireland and the U.S. alike, would have been rather peeved that, 70 years after his death, the church he served and loved hadn't figured out what he learned starting about a century ago. 

Who makes the Catholic Church look clean?

According to a 2004 study, apparently it's the public schools and teachers' unions, which are apparently spending far more money and have far more victims than any Catholic ever had a nightmare about.  Apparently the NEA/AFT money has been successful as well, as the study hasn't been repeated despite the obvious significance of what's gone on.

Time to let loose the dogs of war, so to speak, and bring some of this out into the open where we can deal with it in a way corresponding to its nature.  I suspect that we've been paying--welfare, medical costs, incarceration costs--far more than we need to simply because your average victim suffers in silence.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Just one thing missing

Former Trump staffer Omarosa is ready to testify at Trump's impeachment trial any time, any place, according to this article.  Just one thing appears to be missing, however; evidence of impeachable offenses.  Omarosa says she has some and is "cooperating" with Robert Mueller, but if it's as obvious as she wants us to believe, exactly why hasn't Mueller indicted anyone yet?  Omarosa, in praising Michael Cohen, also glosses over the very real crimes of tax evasion and the like he could have been convicted for.

Seems to me her most recent interview is as fact-filled as her recent book. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On the Asia Argento kerfuffle and Catholic priests

People are saying a bunch about how Asia Argento's apparent settlement with a young man who accused her of sexual assault somehow invalidates a movement Argento had a good part in starting: #MeToo.  Apart from the obvious point that this is a simple example of the tu quoque ("You Too!") fallacy of informal logic, let's take a look at the facts.

Argento is said to have been more or less compelled into non-consensual sex acts (a.k.a. "sexual assault" or colloquially "rape") with Harvey Weinstein in the 1990s, and in 2013 was single and made a number of social media posts suggesting, shall we say, a very intimate friendship with her alleged victim.  I can't say whether she's guilty or not, but they aren't the kind of thing you want provided in a court of law.

But for the sake of argument, what does it mean if she is guilty?  Well, we know that Argento is a victim, and that victims often become victimizers.  Now, does this minimize the importance of #MeToo, or does it emphasize realities of which we were already aware?  I'd argue the latter. 

In the same way, the recent report listing ~ 300 offenders in a few dioceses in Pennsylvania offers the Catholic Church a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the conversation if they will only take it.  The offenders may be out of the reach of the law, but shouldn't part of their penance be to talk with psychologists and other experts in the area about how they first found out about their perverse desires, how they acted them out, and the like?  Maybe do some community education about how to prevent this kind of thing in the future?

Yes, part of me wants blood here, but another part also wants people to recognize the signs that something is seriously wrong.  Rome can help a lot with this.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Yes, speak up

This tweet from one of Larry Nassar's victims says a lot about how a predator can, or can not, be stopped.  You see, the conventional wisdom was that Nassar's crimes started at MSU when he became an osteopathic doctor.  However, Ms. Klein says she was first abused 30 years ago, around 1988, when Nassar was only an athletic trainer at USAG.

Keep in mind here that athletic trainers generally do not work in as private a setting as doctors, and they are not allowed to do the range of services that doctors are, either.  So it would seem that USAG missed a golden chance to stop Nassar back when his career in crime was barely started.

Or, perhaps it had already started when he was an athletic trainer at the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, or perhaps it started as far back as 1978, when he was a student athletic trainer in high school.   It seems that as ugly as this is already, it's  likely to get a lot uglier.

George Orwell, please call your office

It appears that Chelsea Clinton has learned the wrong lesson about "newspeak" from your novel 1984, as she's using it quite well to say absurdities like "pro-choice is pro-life".   Because what is more pro-life than ripping pre-born babies limb from limb?  Duh.   In other news about Ms. Clinton, apparently she's claiming that the Holocaust added $3.5 trillion to Nazi Germany's economy.  (for the humor impaired, that is a joke from the Babylon Bee)

Seriously, if this is the best thinking Ms. Clinton can come up with, I have to suggest that she and her parents are due profound apologies from Sidwell Friends, Stanford, Oxford, and Columbia--and full refunds of all tuition and fees paid.  She is entitled to her point of view, perverse as it is, but coming into adulthood as a total dingbat despite multiple prestigious degrees is in part the fault of her "educators".

A groan and a suggestion

Apparently two more Olympic gymnasts have said #MeToo; they too were molested by Larry Nassar.  I pondered a while back if Nassar had any patients he hadn't molested, and increasingly it's looking like such unmolested patients of Nassar's are like hen's teeth.

And with that, it strikes me that if I had access to large numbers of dried up cowpies, I'd collect them, paint them teal, and spread them around the campii of Michigan State, USC, Ohio State, the USGA, and the USOC, so that the leadership there could have "teal shit" in front of them wherever they went.  And if I happened to be the leader of one of these institutions, I would pick one of them up and put it on my desk. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Now this could be fun!

Apparently the environmental left is moving to ban balloons because of the likelihood that they also could hurt aquatic life, just like plastic straws.  Now of course, there's little evidence that suggests it's a huge effect, but since when has that stopped American environmentalists?

Besides, I can think of something that liberals love and have promoted since the early 1980s that closely resembles the latex balloons that the environmental left would like to ban.....yes, I'm humming along to "Up, up and away" (in my beautiful balloon), remembering Rush's use of the song for one of his updates....yes, we could help save the environment AND make the environmental left really, really grouchy to boot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What would be the worst thing?

Numerous sources today are reporting that a Pennsylvania investigation of molestation by Catholic priests is naming 300 as abusers--for perspective, Wikipedia suggests that there are only about 37,000 total in the U.S., and the diocese involved represents perhaps 75% of Pennsylvania's 3-4 million Catholics.  Doing a bit of hand-waving math, we would expect that about 5% of U.S. Catholics are in this diocese, which would be expected, then, to have somewhere around 2000 priests.

Leaving some allowance for priests moving from one diocese to another, and leaving a bit of room for the fact that these offenses occurred over 2-3 generations of priests, it would seem that previous estimates of about 4% of priests being abusers may be low, and that another round of Hell is about to break loose for the Catholic Church.

Update: apparently the dioceses in question have about 1.7 million congregants, about 2.5% of U.S. Catholics, which would suggest only about 1000 priests.  Even accounting for 3 generations in the last 70 years, that would suggest only about 120 offenders overall (how many of them known?), which would suggest either a lot of movement between dioceses and/or that the rate of offense there is quite a bit greater than 4% of priests.

And then, I'd have to guess, another round of Hell will then break loose for churches in "my" tribe, sad to say.  It brings to mind the question of "what is the worst thing that could happen?"  Apart from people who rightly belong in jail for what they've done, it would stand to reason that a lot of church property may soon be owned by trial lawyers and their clients, and that believers are going to need to figure out different places to worship and serve God.

It sounds bad, but we need to remember that one of the greatest periods of growth for the Church was when Rome was killing whatever Christians they could find, and when God's people had to meet quietly in homes and do their acts of benevolence without hiring time on TV and the like.  If things go down like I anticipate, it will be a set of tough lessons, but a set of tough lessons that will remind God's people of what's really important.

And as we anticipate that, we might decide to change our ministries from property and buildings to people.  Double bonus, no?

Friday, August 10, 2018

More California dreaming

As many who follow the news are aware, California is committed to spending something like one hundred billion bucks to put a bullet train between LA (or really its far out suburbs) and the Bay.  Now, while I've got huge differences with rail transit in general, it struck me that the bullet train is classic 1960s technology, and if Californians can milk the taxpayer to get such technology, why can't I?  So here's a short list of the 1960s technologies I'd like to have not just available today (though many aren't), but subsidized for me by the taxpayer.

  • A 409 with 3 deuces under the hood. 
  • A dishwasher that actually works and lasts 20 years.
  • A clothes washer that actually works and lasts 20 years.
  • Dish and clothes detergents with phosphates that actually work.
  • A firearm purchase without background checks or a paper trail.
  • A clothes dryer that actually works.
  • Appliances with a pilot light that don't constantly need new igniters.
  • A toilet that works
You know, we could work this, couldn't we? 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

All true, it appears

I just got back from a two week vacation in California--Bay area and northwards--and sad to say, a lot of what I've heard about that great state's decline is absolutely true.  Even in the very prosperous towns of Mountain View and Palo Alto, you've got garbage strewn all over and signs warning drivers to lock their cars lest someone steal their things, tech workers living in RVs (and strange traffic control methods in Palo Alto to prevent it), and the fa├žade of prosperity along with the reality of empty homes and buildings. 

It is as if residents of the state have forgotten what formerly made their state work, and I saw that when I visited Stanford's campus in Palo Alto.  There is a degree of beauty there that I've rarely seen elsewhere (and I've been to Cambridge MA and Heidelberg), but there was something striking and quite frankly appalling as I watched those on campus act as if the dozens of Rodin sculptures (including a complete Gates of Hell and a bigger than life Le Penseur) were simply freshman sculpture projects. 

Loved the whales, sea lions, redwoods, and wineries, but the state is cruising for a bruising, societally speaking.