Friday, November 30, 2012

Rational Argument's Disappearing Act in Modern Politics

The political world is growing dumber. Put another way (and slightly more diplomatically) politicians and voters are less inclined to use intellectual argument in making their decisions.
Electoral politics has always relied heavily on emotion as a tool to sway voters. But fueled by a culture which encourages rapid collection of and dissemination of information, technology which encourages swift and poorly defended debate, and an increasingly polarized culture, modern society increasingly displays an absence of rational argument in political debate.
Technology has played the decisive role in this trend. Television and the Internet have effectively shortened the attention span of individuals by increasing the amount of information available to average citizens. This influx of information has accelerated to the point where people find it difficult to concentrate on long arguments. Television, Facebook, and Twitter are most effective at quickly transmitting short, easily digestible bites of information to large audiences.
Winning candidates need to get their message out quickly in an age where information spreads like wildfire - and adjust the length of their messaging accordingly. In modern politics, speed is life – in journalism and politics. Arguments over policies get reduced to soundbites, memes, and slogans. Stories and articles get shorter and shorter. Longer, more reasoned discourse often gets swallowed up in the sea of quick, easily digestible stories and blog posts.
The same-sex marriage debate is a prime example of this phenomenon. Proponents of gay marriage simply assert that those who oppose gay marriage are bigots who seek to make all homosexuals miserable out of spite. Opponents of same-sex marriage warn that monkeying with the definition of marriage will result in an immediate end to society as we know it. Both sides completely (and often deliberately) misunderstand the other side's arguments, preferring sound bites and mutual misunderstanding to real debate.
This was not always the case in a pre-electronic age, where information could not be transmitted rapidly. Political debates and speeches were often long, drawn-out affairs. Politicians needed to inform and entertain their audiences in an era where information was harder to come by. This made for more rhetorical flourishes - and the opportunity for longer, more discursive argument.
No longer. The skilled modern politician merely needs to get off a catchy thirty-second soundbite, and with luck (and media help) will have instant fodder for television cameras. The bane of the modern politician is the gaffe - five bad seconds or twenty mis-phrased words which can ruin a campaign.
As modern political debate is reduced to soundbites and gaffes, rational argument becomes increasingly difficult to come by in political decision-making.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Miracles and the Existence of God

There are many reasons why I believe in God. I was brought up a Catholic, and well-trained in the doctrines of the Catholic faith. Aside from this, belief in God is a very rational and defensible logical position, as is adherence to Christianity.
But that isn't to say that I haven’t been tempted to disbelieve in God's existence on numerous occasions. For one thing, a lack of belief in God is comparatively easy, at least from a moral standpoint. For another, problems with belief in the Christian God (such as the potential contradiction between an all-knowing God and an all-powerful God who is good, yet creates people who go to Hell) have often raised themselves.
Whenever I am tempted to doubt, however, I always come back to one proof of God's existence: that of miracles. Miracles require a supernatural answer - and there is only one entity that can provide a supernatural answer for certain phenomena: God.
To be sure, some supposed miracles are explainable through natural causes. (A cynic could easily dismiss the  Eucharistic miracle of Siena, for example, as a 200-year old fraud perpetrated by priests.) But then there are phenomena which cannot be disproved, such as the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano. In the eighth century at the rite of Consecration, a piece of bread was transformed into fresh human flesh (from the heart muscle), and wine was transformed into five pellets of human blood (which all weigh the same, despite being of different sizes.) Scientific tests have been performed on this miracle, which have failed to provide an adequate naturalistic explanation for it.
And then there is the famous incident of the sun dancing at Fatima, predicted by three uneducated schoolchildren after an appearance from the Blessed Mother. Richard Dawkins, one of the supposed intellectual deans of the atheist movement, was reduced to gibbering idiocy when trying to explain away the famous miracle of Fatima:
“It may seem improbable that seventy thousand people could simultaneously be deluded, or could simultaneously collude in a mass lie. Or that history is mistaken in recording that seventy thousand people claimed to see the sun dance. Or that they all simultaneously saw a mirage (they had been persuaded to stare at the sun, which can’t have done much for their eyesight.) But any of those apparent probabilities is far more probable than the alternative: that the Earth was suddenly yanked sideways in its orbit, and the solar system destroyed, with nobody outside Fatima noticing."
This is a gross misrepresentation of what happened at Fatima - no Catholic believes that the solar system was destroyed by the miracle of Fatima. which was a localized phenomena. But it is telling that one of the luminaries of the atheist movement was reduced to arguing that belief in any natural explanation of the miracle, no matter how impossible, was more likely than the barest possibility of supernatural influence. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beauty Is A Scary Virtue

Good people are beautiful. This makes perfect sense: if beauty is the physical representation of the good, then those who possess virtue to higher degrees should be more beautiful than others.
This beauty comes with great power in human beings. For beauty has a double power – the power to inspire and the power to terrify. It stands to reason that those who possess a great degree of beauty would therefore be powerful individuals.
Beauty’s power of inspiration is obvious – for proof, turn on a radio or flip through any book of (pre-1900) poetry. But the power of beauty to cause terror is also striking. For the very same beauty which gives joy to many (and inspires artists to create) drives others to fear and cowardice.
A beautiful woman, completely attuned to God, possesses incredible power. She has the ability to draw others closer to God through her caring, healing, and nurturing example. Her beauty becomes a lamppost for others on the road to salvation. But too bright a light repels those with weak eyes. Boys used to the meanness and shallowness of sin and imperfection in “hot” girls are driven away from the joy and the passion of a truly beautiful woman.
Similarly, a beautiful man, dedicated to the service of God, possesses incredible power. He has the strength to direct others in the way of virtue, and the courage to defend that which he loves. But girls seeking the cheap thrill of a one-night stand or the “hot” boy are driven off by his devotion and fidelity.
Many young men are dumbstruck when meeting a truly lovely lady. Men joke about women being “out of their league,” so to speak, but there is something even deeper inherent in that attitude than the natural admiration of a boy for a pretty girl. There is the terror of a man for a power which he cannot fathom.
Men are naturally drawn to join the lives of beautiful women. But in many cases, men cannot do so - either because of physical circumstances (i.e., they are in another relationship, live far away, etc.) or because we will not.
And if we will not, it is because we fear the road of virtue that we must travel that will raise us such heights of virtue. We may be drawn to beauty in others, but we reject it - because we fear what we do not know ourselves. On some level, we fear true beauty because we do not possess it, and we fear goodness because we do not practice it.
Our imperfections cause in us a state of terror; our sins impel us to fear those whom we should love. The better we become, the more we lose our terror of good things. The higher on the road to virtue we climb, the less we fear anything except the dark, miserable void of sin. And the greater appreciation we have of what - and who - is truly beautiful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Corporal Works of Mercy (Part 4)

Clothe the Naked
To modern Americans, this is the most seemingly anachronistic of the corporal works of mercy. After all, no one in the First World goes around wearing nothing. (Well, very few people, at any rate – and those who do so usually go about naked by choice.)
But as with the other corporal works of mercy, this work is calling us to more than mere lip service to the basic letter of the law. Like the other Corporal Works of Mercy true fulfillment of these commands runs much deeper than merely finding nudists and making them put on clothes.
Somewhat obviously, this work of mercy demands charity to those who need of warmth and shelter from the elements. Under-clothed individuals on the streets are in need of this work of mercy. Those in Africa or foreign countries who need clothes also need our help, as far as we can provide it. Whether at home or abroad, showing a willingness to clothe others is a necessity.
But this work is not merely about providing for the involuntary lack of clothing of others; it is also a command to live a live of modesty, as well. It would be a blatant mockery of this work to go about clothing others yet walk about half-dressed.
And not only must we displaying modesty in our own lives; we must inspire others to live the virtue of modesty, as well. Reminding men and women of their dignity as temples of the Holy Spirit is also a wonderful method of fulfilling this merciful work - one sadly lacking in our modern world.
To clothe those in need of warmth and comfort, and to embody the virtues of purity and modesty: this is the true spirit of this Corporal Work of Mercy. 

Honesty and Compliments

I recently obtained an armband inscribed with the words “Tell the Truth!” I now wear it constantly as a reminder to live by that principle. 
For the phrase signifies that a man's thoughts and arguments must accord with what is true, and that his actions must also accord with his beliefs. It is a reminder to me to live up to a standard which I constantly fail at, but must always seek to attain.
Too often we choose to spare others the telling of unpleasant yet necessary truths. In sparing others from hard but necessary reality, we harm them. For we allow people to foster illusions about themselves that have no basis in reality, and allow them to persist in their error.
One example of this is in the realm of compliments. Many compliment people whose actions do not merit praise, in order to spare their feelings or to obtain things from them. I sometimes find myself giving undeserved praise to others, because it is much easier to make someone feel good about himself than to tell him hard but necessary truths.
But my lack of honesty comes with a terrible price. Because I know that all my compliments are not genuine, I find myself questioning the honesty of compliments I receive. Every “good job” and “well done” is a source of confusion, an occasion for carefully parsing out the meaning of each word and gesture. Instead of accepting and learning from praise, I attempt to determine whether words signify true praise, a throwaway line, sarcasm, or a veiled insult.  
Compliments sincerely given are poisoned by those that are false. One lie poisons the well of truth, no matter how pure the original water.
This is not to say that one should go about willy-nilly telling the faults of others. Truth divorced from other virtues is a dangerous thing (as I have noted elsewhere).  We must not tell truths with the potential of destroying the good name of others, for example. (In Catholic theology, this is known as the sin of detraction.)
But nor must be lie and tell others that their mediocre actions are good. It is not a good thing for individuals to perpetually live in a bubble free of criticism. Individuals in healthy relationships must challenge one another.
We live in an age which demands the cloak of civility over our true feelings. Many friendships and even relationships simply could not survive without it. But it is better not to lie and perpetuate a veil of illusion.

Are Atheists Less Violent than Religious People?

A common argument made in favor of atheism raises the question of religiously-driven violence. The basis for this argument is simple: Christians (and those of other faiths) have been driven to kill for their religion. But atheists don’t kill for theirs. After all, who would kill for a lack of belief?
The answer to that rhetorical question, of course, is no one. But that rhetorical question brutally attacks a straw man.
The question should be rephrased: Do any particular belief systems encourage violence or make it more likely for individuals to engage in violence? And the answer to that question is much less favorable to atheists. For Christians have a moral incentive not to engage in violence which atheists do not have – namely, the favor of a deity who encourages good behavior, or the reward or threat of an afterlife.
Atheists, by contrast, have no such moral mooring. The lack of belief of atheists allows individuals to adopt a worldview which encourages selfishness.
Strictly speaking, no one kills for a lack of belief. It is true that one might misuse his religious belief in order to justify violence, just as it is true that no one kills because he don’t believe in anything. But while a person without belief in God might not kill for a lack of belief, he might consider himself more enabled to kill someone than a religiously inclined person because he doesn't believe any moral code is preventing him from engaging in violence. 
History has proven that atheists are no strangers to using violence to achieve their own ends, just as it has proven that religious individuals have unjustly killed in the name of their God. Violence, unfortunately, is inflicted by people of all faiths - including those who lack faith altogether.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Personal Pet Peeve Regarding Greetings

I have countless pet peeves. Perhaps the most basic of these is my attitude towards the modern understanding of the common greetings “How are you doing?” and “What’s up?”
A person unskilled in the arts of modern slang would take these phrases to be actual inquires into to the personal status of a friend or neighbor. And years ago, this would have indeed been the case.
But over the years, these greetings have been diluted to mere acknowledgements of the presence of others, if that. "How are you" means little more than "hi." And I despise this trend with a fiery passion.
When I ask an acquaintance “how they are doing,” I actually want to know if he is doing well, or if I should be worried about him. I am not simply saying hello. Similarly, when I ask a friend “what’s up,” I am not merely acknowledging his existence. I actually want to know if they are doing anything of interest, and whether I can help them in achieving their ends. 
If I seek only to acknowledge your presence, I will do so with a nod or a wave or a "hi." But if I ask about you, I expect an answer. And I will answer your queries in similar fashion.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Allegory of the Kingdom

Once upon a time there was a rich and powerful kingdom, which had risen from humble beginnings to become a large and powerful empire. It was a singularly blessed realm which possessed great natural resources and was guarded by legions of brave soldiers.
Its people lived in unparalleled luxury, and had ample leisure to sample the numerous circuses, games, and fairs which the land was justly famous for in all corners of the globe. It prided itself on being a bastion of justice and virtue, a shining beacon of awesomeness to all nations.
But there was disquiet in the land. The wealthy grew resentful that the poor enjoyed many entertainments of the kingdom without working or filling the realm’s coffers. The poor waxed envious of the many luxuries of the rich. And to pay for its many wars and entertainments, the realm had to borrow great sums from other kingdoms. To maintain its power, the realm sent many brave soldiers into foreign lands to fight in little and costly wars.
The ruler of the kingdom had promised to bring a new era of peace and prosperity to the realm, and created many new titles, raised up a horde of new courtiers, and established divers new rules in order to establish his will. But although he had reigned for several years, his policies had not produced the fruit he had promised; indeed, the troubled besetting the realm waxed strong indeed.
Now, the founders of this realm had decreed that at regular intervals, a new ruler should be chosen by the people from among their ranks to govern the land. And so in due course a challenger arose who sought to supplant the current ruler and take his office. He was a wealthy merchant, who had governed one of the provinces of the kingdom, and was well respected by his fellow merchants.
But this challenger was despised by two powerful classes. The guild of entertainers, which held great sway in the land, warned of grave consequences if the challenger was raised to the full honors of the throne. One female troubadour (for this was a very enlightened land) proclaimed that she would travel to a new planet if the challenger gained the throne. (She did not explain by what witchcraft this was to be accomplished.) And the criers who informed the people of the events of the day decried the wealthy merchant as a heartless monster, and even changed his words in public squares so as to mock him.
The time of choosing drew near, and public disputations were set up to allow each man seeking power to make his case for the throne. The ruler and the challenger bitterly attacked each other with heated arguments in public disputations. When these disputations were over, the supporters of each faction declared their candidate to be the clear winner, and mocked he whom they opposed as unworthy of any position in the realm.
Despite the frenzy of the criers and the obsession of the followers of each proposed ruler, many citizens simply went about their daily lives, blissfully ignorant of the choice presented them.
A few citizens recalled that previous rulers had made promises to their predecessors similar to those made by both men seeking the throne in their day, yet did little to solve the great questions facing them. These citizens nominated other challengers to the throne who claimed to present different solutions to the great questions of the day. (They beseeched the criers to present their candidates to tell the masses of these men, but the criers ignored their plaints.)
At length, the day of choosing dawned, and citizens great and small streamed into vast assemblies to support their favored candidate. That evening, hordes of people gathered in public squares, to hear the results of their choice from their criers with eager anticipation. The partisans of both factions knew that their preferred ruler would be victorious, and mocked those who thought any differently.
That night, the criers gleefully informed the masses that the ruler had maintained his position on the throne. His followers cheered, believing that their idol would usher in a new era of power and glory for the realm. The followers of the merchant warned that the kingdom was doomed; small groups even threatened to flee the kingdom in despair.
The sun still rose the next morning, and the crops still grew, and darkness did not cover the earth, nor did plague and famine come over the land.
Indeed, little had changed with the coming of the new ruler. The nation continued to borrow, wars continued to crop up, and the poor still complained of their plight. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Weapon of Pity

The emotion of pity is often a necessary spur to acts of mercy. Pity drives some people to forgive injuries, and it induces others to display charity to those in distress. Pity, evoked in the right circumstances, is a very noble emotion.
However, pity is very easily abused. For many people need to suffer privation in order to be brought to a better state - and often use others' pity to avoid that privation. Misplaced pity can prevent a good man from acting in a way that would inconvenience someone in the short term yet benefit him in the long term. Pity can become a cloak for good men to avoid responsibility and display cowardice in dealing with their neighbors.
The ability to evoke pity is a weapon in the hands of many emotionally abusive individuals. Those skilled at evoking pity in others often do so to avoid punishment or to make others notice them.
And misplaced pity is a powerful weapon indeed. The husband or wife who chastises his spouse to cover up faults that he (or she) committed, the girlfriend or boyfriend who verbally flogs himself (or herself) in order to garner sympathy from the other, the child who emotionally blackmails his parents into putting off punishment – they all use pity as a weapon to get what they want. 
Many even try to create an attitude of pity in themselves. They seek to make themselves feel better for imaginary injuries, and use that attitude for avoiding responsibility.
All of these individuals use pity as a weapon against others. They attempt to hijack an emotion for their own emotional ends. And in doing so, they seek to remain in their fallen condition.
And often they succeed. For we humans naturally feel sympathy for the sorrows of others. We naturally seek the good of others, and are saddened when others do not experience what is good. We naturally feel pity for the unfortunate - and rightfully so.
If others give us pity when we suffer misfortune, that is a gift we should accept with gratitude. But pity should never be used a weapon. Indeed, we should never seek the emotion of pity from others. We must all seek to rise above our own condition, and not allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity or in the pity of others.

America the Beautiful?

I am an American who loves my country. And I will remain a proud American until the day I die.
But it is getting more difficult for me to defend the United States of America as a good nation and a defender of justice and peace around the globe.
For in the United States of America, more than 1 million children are killed each year. America exports our culture of death and destruction across the globe, through our support of family planning programs and our ever-increasing use of drones. Our culture is incredibly materialistic, based in consumerism and laziness.
I am not arguing that America is the great Satan and the destroyer of the world. Nor do I believe that America is the sole cause of every evil that happens on earth. Indeed, I still do believe that America, on the whole, generally shows far more moral sense than its fellow developed nations (Europe, Japan).
But as the world's "superpower," America has a moral responsibility to act justly and to live morally - to be a "city on the hill," as it was founded to be, and a force for justice and virtue. Americans have a responsibility to lead by example, and have largely done so (for example, during their long fight against Communism).
But America's moral superiority has diminished since then, and is waning fast. Marriage is being redefined, with all that goes with it. American culture is rapidly descending into crudeness and baseness, displaying ever-increasing violence and immorality on our movie screens, televisions, canvases, and radios. And the American government, under President Obama, is slowly phasing out religious freedom, by implementing a mandate for Catholic institutions to pay insurance companies to pay for birth control.
Not all in America is dark and gloomy. Americans are slowly becoming more pro-life (although the meaning of that term may be called into question). Americans still have freedom of speech, relative freedom of the press, and the ability to worship without fear. And Americans still show a heartening propensity to rise to face challenges in moments of crisis.
But these blessings of freedom, while great indeed, are increasingly tenuous in a world where the very meaning of liberty has been altered. To paraphrase from a quote from Sir Edward Grey during World War I, the lamps of liberty are going out across the worldincluding in America.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dear Christians: Stop Making Awful Art!

An actress acquaintance of mine was gracious enough to invite me to a movie premiere for a Christian film she worked in. I was honored to be invited, and happily accepted the invitation. But I did so with reservations, knowing that the movie would probably turn out to be a certain problematic species of film: a noble attempt at spreading a Christian message which leaned too heavily on its message to become bad art.
And my reservations were eminently correct.
The message was typically Protestant – essentially, read your Bible, live by it, and all will fall into place. (Theologically problematic at best, but a fairly standard Protestant message.)
But the film lacked artistic merit, and was not even remotely close to being a representation of real life. The plot was singularly predictable: A worldly pastor comes to realize the problems in the town. A mysterious man (with the name of Jesse. Seriously!) comes and helps inspire the pastor to preach using the Bible. The town comes around (in a period of less than 2 weeks) after some resistance.
It took me all of 5 minutes to figure out the basic plot – and I am singularly clueless when it comes to predicting how films will turn out.
The dialogue was (quite literally, in my case) cringe-worthy. And the actions of the characters were not true to life. There were many instances I could point to, but one will suffice: The main couple, a husband and wife, supposedly a loving couple for over 25 years, never touched one another during the film - not even a hug when the wife lost her job. The couple stood or sat like statues during about 15 minutes of scenes.
Now, this was the first film the group which showed this movie made, with first time actors and actresses. The film had a very low budget. Their effort and their earnestness was clearly visible.
But their work is a representation of Christian art as a whole – a noble attempt, but very poor quality results.    
I understand that Christian movies are designed to send a message. But is it really too much to ask that they be technically skilled as well? 
Indeed, Christian art must display technical skill if it is to be truly effective. We Christians may be unworldly, but our artistic works should at least be true to life.  
Much of the reason that so few people respect Christianity is that our culture is boring and clueless about reality. Christian culture should be more attractive by virtue of its embrace of the source of wisdom and beauty, Jesus Christ. But most modern Christian art, quite frankly, is not attractive: not true to life, not inspiring, boring. cringe-inducing. Far too often, Christian films, writings, and music are glorified didactic sermons in a thin disguise. And who wants to listen to a 90 minute pseudo-artistic sermon except those Christians who do not need the message?
By contrast, the secular world knows how to tell a story and tell it very well. Hollywood tells brilliant, complex, compelling stories, even if they have disgusting messages. The music industry concocts slick songs with catchy lyrics, even if the morality for the songs is horribly skewed.
It is not as if Christians are rendered devoid of artistic talent by their faith. (Renaissance, anyone?) And there is certainly a market for well-made Christian works of art. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ - one of the most powerful movies ever made - made millions of dollars because it appealed to Christian ideals so effectively.
In a world where 50 Shades of Gray can become a best-seller, it is clear that artistically-inclined Christians are failing in their task to create beauty. Beauty may yet save the world - but not if Christian artists refuse to stop making crappy art and dedicate themselves to honing their technical skills. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

My List of Loves

Years ago, I was asked by several of my friends to list what I love. I foolishly promised to do so, but my good intentions always take a while to complete.
So now that my interrogators have forgotten their requests, here, by unpopular lack of demand, is that glorious list. (They are listed in order.)
1.     God
      2.     Catholic Faith
      3.     Family
      4.      Friends
      5.      Writing
      6.    Walking
      7.      Intellectual Argument
      8.      Winning
      9.      Denver Broncos
      10.  History (especially Reformation-era)
      11.  Soccer
      12.  Sleep
      13.  Little Blue (my car)
      14.  Yuengling
      15.  Scrabble
      16.  Writing Bad Poetry
      17.  Civilization IV
      18.  Gatorade
      19.  Looking Down from Heights
      20.  Virginia
      21.  Pompous Word Choice
      22.  Salt
      23.  Settlers of Catan
      24.  Jolly Ranchers
      25.  Stratego

      There are other "loves," but you have suffered enough if you reached the end of this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Take Back the Bible!

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” – St. Jerome
Perhaps one of the most common charges levied against the Catholic Church is that Catholics do not care about the Bible. Protestants are especially fond of claiming that individual Catholics are unconcerned with the Word of God.
This charge is false, of course. Catholics compiled, translated, transcribed, and preserved the Bible for hundreds of years before Protestantism even existed. It would be lunacy for a Church which cared nothing about the Bible to care for it so long and so well.
But this lie is based on an unfortunate grain of truth. For it is distressingly true that many Catholics – even Catholics who love their Faith – know very little about the Bible and understand little of the fruit and beauty contained within its pages.
But we Catholics believe that the Bible is truly the word of God. If God grants the opportunity to read it, then how dare we spurn His wondrous gift?
Rejection of the Bible is both wrong and incredibly foolish. The Bible is one of two principal sources of divine revelation (the other is Tradition). Scripture and Tradition work hand in hand with one another to reveal those truths of the faith God deems necessary for our salvation.
But the Bible is even more than a source of divine revelation (wondrous as that is). It is the story of our salvation from our own sin and foolishness. It is the chronicle of our ancestors in faith, a window into viewing their successes, failures, and foibles. It is full of wisdom that speaks to the heart of the human condition. It contains within beautiful and haunting poetry. 
The words of Scripture still strike like lightning across two millenia, even after multiple translations.
Excerpts from the Bible are read during every Catholic Mass for these very reasons.  But far too many Catholics tune out during the reading of these passages from the Good Book.
When the Liturgy of the Word becomes little better than a chance to catch up on sleep, Catholics effectively reject the story of their salvation, ignore a key resource for defending the faith, and spurn a work of incredible beauty and power.
Dear Catholics: Your Bible is a treasure. Tolle lege!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Post-Election Musings

The presidential election is all over but the shouting. President Barack Obama just won his second term in office.
Make no mistake - his re-election is one of the worst things that Catholics in America have ever faced. The next four years will be very rough for the Church.
For Barack Obama merely introduced his attacks on the Catholic Church - most notably the HHS mandate - in his first term. He now has four more years to implement his attacks on the Catholic faith - his signature plan, healthcare, will take full effect in the next four years. And those attacks will come thick and fast.
But we must also remember that our strength is in God, and that we must avoid putting our full trust in princes such as Romney. God is our master, not men; we are servants of God, and not of government. And our home and our treasure is in heaven, and not here on earth.
When politicians such as Obama seek to persecute us and destroy us, always remember that God is on our side. Whatever may come, God is in control.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Thomistic Proof for the Existence of Sasquatch

A few years ago, I composed a group of about twenty-five Thomistic style proofs for various absurd questions, such as the pressing question of whether God would like chocolate ice cream. Collectively, these "proofs" became known as the Summa of False Logic.
Some of my friends recently made the mistake of reminding me of the existence of these proofs. One of them even challenged me to come up with another of these proofs to determine the existence of a mysterious big and hairy ape-like creature known as Sasquatch
What they so foolishly reminded me of, I now inflict upon you, readers. Here is my Thomistic proof for the existence of Sasquatch.

Objection 1: It would seem that Sasquatch does not exist. For Sasquatch has a bizarre name which any self-respecting sentient creature would immediately reject. But the name Sasquatch has stuck over the years. Thus, Sasquatch has not sought to change his name, and therefore must not exist.  
Objection 2: Further, Sasquatch’s existence has never actually been confirmed by scientists. Now, in a modern world where cameras are ever-present, it would seem that Sasquatch’s existence would be confirmed by the tools of modern technology. However, the existence of Sasquatch has not been confirmed - thus Sasquatch cannot exist.
Objection 3: Further, Sasquatch sightings are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest region. But the Pacific Northwest is a boring region of the country. So the residents of the Pacific Northwest have to make up stories in order to justify their continued residence in such a boring place. Thus, Sasquatch, a supposedly mysterious creature, is merely a story told by residents of the Northwest in order to justify their continued existence. 

On the Contrary: Sasquatch clearly exists. For beer commercials and commercials pitching beef jerky often show Sasquatch terrorizing individuals. But commercials for glorious substances such as beer and beef jerky do not and indeed cannot lie in any respect, because beer and beef jerky are such glorious substances that salesmen do not need to tell lies about them in order to sell them to customers. Since Sasquatch appears in these types of commercials that are incapable of lying, it is clear that Sasquatch does and indeed must exist.

I Answer That: The existence of Sasquatch is a definite reality. For Sasquatch is a rational non-human creature that is immune to the sins of fallen humanity. And his avoidance of fallen humanity is the surest sign of his existence.
Any non-human rational creature seeing the sins of fallen humanity would immediately seek to avoid humans to the best of his ability, because humans are sinful creatures. Thus, Sasquatch is seen only when he randomly stumbles across humans. Inevitably, Sasquatch's reaction to his encounters with fallen humanity is to run away or fall into a rage. 
This is fitting. For unfallen creatures do not mingle with the fallen, the light does not mix with the darkness, and sin does not mingle with innocence. So is it with Sasquatch
Since Sasquatch avoids fallen humans and negatively reacts to them, clearly Sasquatch must exist.

Reply to Objection 1: Celebrities name their children all sorts of ridiculous names, like Apple, Audio Science, and Destry. Many celebrity children keep their strange names into adulthood, for sundry reasons. Thus, it is certainly possible that Sasquatch would choose to accept his ridiculous name, probably as a penance for the misdeeds of humans who taunt him in beer commercials.
Reply to Objection 2: Just because scientists have never actually seen Sasquatch does not mean that the creature does not exist. For scientific knowledge is and will always be imperfect, and cannot claim full authority about the existence of reclusive creatures.
Reply to Objection 3: This objection is an example of the philosophical error of regional solipsism. Just because the importance of a particular region of the country is not very high does not mean that all stories told about by the natives of that part of the country are untrue. Perhaps Sasquatch hides in the Pacific Northwest to shroud his awesomeness, because otherwise his glory would be too great for mortal eyes to behold in a more relevant portion of the country.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Inexorable Marriage Slide

I wrote a rather long piece for Catholic Exchange about how advocates of true marriage often find themselves incapable of logically defending their position - and how the embrace of the contraceptive mentality in modern society has led to this state of affairs.

Here's the link:

Now, go forth and read!