Tag Archives: Religion

The Show

Last January 6th, The Feast of the Magi, which is also known as Epiphany or Little Christmas, my wife and I are guests of some people in Coventry, Rhode Island who get together each year to celebrate the Feast Day, and the end of the Christmas season.

Little Christmas is the name we gave it when I was a kid growing up in Kingsbridge, a part of The Bronx, the only place I know aside from The British Isles which is distinguished by the definite article in its name.  I used to think Kingsbridge was a place filled with Catholics, Irish, Italians, a German or two and, even, maybe, someone not from one of those places.  I loved it for a lot of things, and remember them all.  But, my favorite memories were the smells from all the different kitchens, big ones, little ones, all kinds, ; which, I long believed, were all Catholic kitchens.  Because, even though St. John’s, which was the church and school I went to, was right next door to a Protestant Church, I never ever saw anyone enter or leave that place.  You are looking for a church to go to on a clear Sunday morning in Kingsbridge Fifty, sixty or so years ago, and you ask me or any of the guys I grew up with, and your will hear us all say, “St. John’s.” No one I knew knew of any others. Until I am about 14 I think the only kind of people there are are Catholics, and the only kind of food, no matter from where, is “Catholic” food.

Anyway, at the little thing in Coventry, a lovely name for a place, there were all kinds of folks.  We got there early because we came down from Nashua, and grabbed a hotel room nearby, so we could stay a bit longer than a half hour before having to drive home in a snowstorm.

Our host and hostess are really nice people.  She has her picture next to the word “homemaker” in the dictionary, even though she has a bunch of letters after her name, so the place was filled with lovely decorations in every room, more lights than Rockefeller Center and the smell of good old fashioned homemade, tried and true stuff wafting through the house from the kitchen and making me hungrier than a whale after a two thousand mile migration swim.

Thus it was that after the greetings and smiles and stuff, I grab a plate of good old food, pausing to let my nose enjoy itself, and wander into the room where the guys are sitting.  An old Jimmy Cagney movie, one with George Raft looking like he had his hair painted on, was playing background noise…more or less…for the conversation going on; a conversation about baseball.

We were at this place last year, so I probably sit in the same spot  where I sit now and listen to the baseball conversation; which conversation is probably the same one  as last year’s was I began to think.

I am not at all complaining, because I find such conversations fascinating; conversations which I have listened to and sometimes taken part in in places from The Kingsbridge Tavern and Toolan’s  in Marble Hill, to a place in Singapore called Raffle’s where I spent a few nights talking baseball with some cops from Australia a thousand years ago.  They are probably all the same, generally, guys talking about players and teams, averages and plays, managers and pitchers, and balls and strikes.  There’s a lot more of course, but that would fill a book.  And has.

I sat and listened for about a half hour, talking a bit with one of the wives who wandered in and probably felt like she was on Mars.  With her I do not talk about baseball,  because, frankly, I am a little afraid I might not measure up.  There are guys sitting beside me and standing around who can probably tell you the hand span of every manor league pitcher from 1898 until yesterday. My only claim to baseball history is I grew up in The City when Micky, Duke and Willy played there, and I saw Ted at bat.  What he did and when he did it, though is lost in King Solomon’s mind.

I forget what I talk to the nice lady about, but she tells me she remembers me from the year before, and I am scared, because I draw a blank, like one of those old maps filled with empty spaces and bad guesses. I practice smiling, and punctuating her conversation with eyebrow raises and smiles and “Uh, huhs” and big nods while she talks about stuff.  I get comfortable when she talks about the stuff on her plate, and what she likes about the spread.

Then she leaves and I go to the kitchen to fill my plate again.  The kitchen is a place I like.  It’s full of food.  I cook, and can ask food questions; things I know about, like herbs, and spices and sauces and stuff. There’s one or two guys there mining this or that dish and I go over to them to talk the”game”.  But, they know about what’s in front of them about as much as I know about pitching, or stealing a base.  They can use a serving spoon though.

The hostess is there too, making sure no one lacks for anything, and she gives me a short tour of the “field”.  I am happy for this, and try to ask a few questions about the things I see and how they got to be what they are.  She is happy to answer, and for a few minutes we go on about ingredients, and what was handed down from who, and  timing and staging.  I feel like myself again, warming to the topic.  But, then, the front door opens and another family tumbles in.  the Woman of the House goes off to welcome them. I am alone among the pots and bowls and dishes; alone but for those two guys from the other room, now talking batting averages.  They don’t even know I am there.

I look deep into the big bowl of mulled cider and see a darker mulled me looking back.  Then I nod and wander out.  You know, I think to myself as I wander into the parlor, which is nearly empty, and survey the Christmas Village spread across the top of the piano, I would love to have been a chef in a big deal place.  I look down at the little town and remember those times I fed a crowd; when I made it to The Show.

There were a couple of times like when we had about a hundred over for burgers, dogs and games at the Upper Biscayne Clubhouse.  They were great fun.  But I remember, back in the ’80s, when I cooked a meal for a couple of hundred people a couple of times.  It was a Seder celebration back when bunches of Catholics were getting in touch with their Jewish roots.  I am on the Parish Council then, and since I have such fun doing a couple of big deals at the house, I think it would be even more fun to throw open the doors at the parish.

I make a connection with the banquet manager at the Park Plaza in Boston, and he introduces me to the Executive Chef.  It is a highlight of my life when I meet him, and I regret I did not get his John Henry on a hambone or something.  What I do get is twelve boned legs of lamb that look like beach balls, and the fixins’.  All of this is gratis when I tell my friend upstairs in his banquet office it is for a church dinner.

It is from a top shelf hotel, so it is all top shelf stuff!  I do not think to ask him for the china, silver and glassware but I wonder what would have happened.  I mean they probably have freight cars full of that stuff.  On the way home, back to the parish with a trunk full of the goods I feel sorry for it because it’s going on plastic.

The first thing I find out is that we never cook all of that stuff in the one chicken oven at the Parish.  We need something on the order of a Bessemer furnace.  God rest her soul, my friend Barbara Keegan, who should have been, could have been, a D.I. at Quantico, orders up the kitchen at Bishop Guertin High school, and we are good to go.

The day, when it comes, goes off without a hitch; well without too many of them.  Barbra, now straightening out heaven’s kitchens, is on the lamb.  I am up at the parish polishing the plastic, setting the tables, preparing.  When the time comes I drive down there and remove six legs, place them in the back of the car and deliver them, like six pizzas, to the gathering wandering Israelites.

It is not too shabby, if memory serves.  Some folks even eat the bitter herbs.

But, I find out one thing.  Ham is a big deal in New England for Easter dinner.  There are quite a lot of folks who never eat Lamb.  This I cannot figure in a religion whose Savior is referred to as The Lamb of God.

My apple pie disappears, though.   And the Charoset which I make at home the night before.  I keep two of the beach balls and give four away.  Easter dinner is  big deal at our house that year.

I try the same thing once more, but, fewer people show up.  The next year someone suggests ham, or even turkey.

And, I ask to be traded.

The photo above is of my grandson, Joe, getting ready to steal second.  He’s twenty-one, soon, and a damned good cook.

 

 

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=VQnKB4-kQGI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dead and Dying: Something for Lent

This is about two things; what used to happen and what I think is happening.

I was very young when I attended my first wake; young enough so that all I remember of it is that I was in a forest of legs, legs with faces somewhere up there in the distance, and voices flying overhead.  They were making words, I knew, but I couldn’t make sense of them.  It seemed as if everyone was simply saying, “Noise!”  Everyone, that is except old ladies on chairs with sad and tired faces who were saying soft things in whispers as they moved the beads through their hands.  I looked at them with the open and intense stare of the young child, the child who hasn’t yet learned discretion and dissembling.  They looked at me in the same way; their eyes unshielded by age.

Perhaps my most specific memory of that evening is of seeing a massive pair of shoes at the bottom of a staircase.  They were the shoes of my Grand Uncle Bill Fanning, brother of my grandmother, my father’s mother Catherine Fanning Gallaher from Leighlin Bridge, Carlow, Ireland.

At some point during that evening of legs and loud talk, everything grew quiet, and all over the place people got shorter in the legs.  They were on their knees, and saying words I knew were prayers because I had heard them from all the other people, the older ones I lived with.  We prayed for an eternity, following the lead of the man in front, Father Someone.  And, when the prayers were over, we left and went home on the subway.  I slept. It was quieter.

I do not know whose wake I was at.  I only remember legs, big shoes and noise.  It may have been Uncle Bill’s, since I never saw him after that, and Grandma, who was given to prayer several times a day, became more involved in her “office”.  She wanted her brother in heaven, and it was the best of things to do; to pray him all the help she thought he needed.  Never giving up

She never did.  Besides her brother,  she had a big family back across the water, and a sister here, too with five sons, and they all needed praying for.

Several years after that incident I attended my first Funeral Mass.  My mother’s mother, whom I loved, had died.  I knew she was sick because I’d overheard conversations at night in the kitchen, and my mother on the phone to her sister.  Then I was told to dress one cold gray morning for Mass. Nanny was being buried.  I rode in the back of the long black car between my mother and my aunt.  My sister may have been in the car with me, or she may have been staying at home with our neighbors.  I cannot remember.  My brother was there.

I cried.

The only thing I remember about the Mass beyond my first feelings of loss and sadness was the silence, broken occasionally by mournful music, as if the organ was weeping too; and the people singing sad songs for me and my family and my grandmother in the coffin in the front.  Everyone was in black, and everyone was sad, too.  Everyone prayed.  I even saw rosary beads in the hands of the men who moved then one at a time as they slowly went through the silent mysteries, silently.  What I remember most is the deep echoing silence in the church.  I used to think that church was huge, and that when silent the whole world was silent, too. Like that day.  My mother told me to pray for my grandmother, and always to remember her when I prayed.

I have no memories beyond the silence and sadness, being urged to pray for Nanny to help her to heaven, and my tears.

Georgie Masters mother hung herself one afternoon and died tied to the curtain rod in their bathroom.  Georgie and his sister Eileen stayed with us for three days.  Then on the third day, their father came to get them to take them to St. John’s, the big church, for the funeral.  We rode along with them behind the hearse carrying a lady I didn’t know much about. Because it was the way of it, I prayed for her silently in the silent car, and in the silent church where a pin drop would sound like a cannon’s roar, I thought.  Silent except for the quiet whispers of prayers being said for Mrs. Masters, that her Purgatory not be long, and that God be good to her.

We walked back from that Mass to our house.  Mr. Masters held my hand when we crossed Broadway underneath the El.  His hand was warm, and bigger than my father’s.  He had a long black overcoat one and wore a black hat.  We got back home and George and Eileen left with their father.  I could take you today, with my eyes closed, to the spot where I stood in the hallway of our apartment as they left the house.  I still pray for Mrs. Masters, but I suspect the prayers are put in someone else’s account.  She was a woman in pain.

I have been to perhaps a dozen funerals of men, police officers and federal agents, who have died in the line of duty, and one or two priests, too, called home after long years of work in the vineyard.  In the former cases, hundreds, at times thousands of their brothers lined the streets outside, and stood silently until the funeral ended.  In the latter, the loudest noise at the beginning and end was the tolling of a single bell.  A single bell.  A reminder to pray, to remember, to pray.

Their names, now, I can’t remember. What is with me still, though, are the days and places, the long blue lines outside, the robed priests about the altar inside and the silence, reverent, respectful silence.  These, like works in a gallery, frame my prayers, some of whom I knew well, some not at all.  But all I keep in my prayers, years on, like my grandmother at her beads.

We provide the music at funerals in one of the parishes here in town.  Some of the people, not a few in fact, who find out what we do recoil at knowing that’s how we spend some of our time.  “Eeewww!  Funerals!”  “How does that make you feel?”  “It must be dreadful.”   These are the kind of things we often hear from folks we tell about our work.

Well, sometimes…  But, then, there are other things.

Not too long ago we worked at the funeral of a person, a woman who I am told was a nice lady.  Well, no one wants to speak ill..  And I will not, myself.

As with most funerals we attend and provide music for, so was this one peopled with a number of people who appeared to me as if they had just wandered in off the street, or had indeed come to a funeral, but had no idea at all what exactly that meant, or why it was taking place.

I mean, in the latter case those folks might have been thinking  something like this about that: “Duh, Jimmy, she’s dead isn’t she; a bunch of ash in the little gray pot Uncle Bilge just brought in?  What’s the point?”  And indeed it may have been,and probably is,the prevailing frame of mind for some who “happen by” these things; little more than a quiet place to check for messages; or to catch up with someone not seen since the last party.

“Yeah, I feel sad Uncle Bob is dead.  But, look, I ain’t worked since I got the news he was dying last week.  I was gonna visit but, like, I was too busy.  Besides, we were comped at the new casino in Revere for two days.  Yeah, outta sight!.  Don’t matter, really.  He’s dead now.  Just a minute, I gotta check this message.  By the way, you going out with me and Davey on Friday, The Rotten Tomatoes are playing at The Scalded Duck.  They got this new beer they’re promoting that tastes like sour apples with a pickle nose and burnt shirt finish.”

Most of them, the bereaved we used to call them, on this morning stood at the front, at the foot of the altar in a sloppy group talking loudly while we sang some prologues before Mass. (Yes it is still a Mass, folks, though it is more often referred to as a service, as if what was inside the box or the coffin was a device to be worked on by the Gook Squad or a car needing a tune up.)

They chattered the things one chatters before a funeral these days: About how long it has been since they’ve seen each other.  About, whether or not Auntie May is as crazy as she dresses these days.  “Did you see that thing she’s wearing?”  About how the Red Sox or the Bruins or the Patriots are doing.  New cars.  Old cars.  Vacations and, recently, tattoos, or “ink” or “tats” as they seem now to be called.  There were some in evidence on the legs and bare arms of the younger women who attended; though none were on their faces…yet.

Not long after that, we were called to provide music for a young man who had died suddenly.  He left two or three young children behind, I do not remember the total number, along with his girlfriend, as she was styled in the obituary.  He was lauded as a wonderful father to the children, who played with them, and was always good for a laugh, leaving them happy they had seen him.

His mourners included a number of fellows who appeared in their “colors”, filling two rows at the back of the church, and reminding me of bears in a cage.

A few weeks before this, maybe a month, I heard, his brother had died.  Suddenly, as the saying goes.

Yesterday we were present for the final rites of an old woman, mother, grandmother and, I think great-grandmother, and several days ago it was another old man.  Dark clothes filled the pews, and quiet.  Only one or two children were among each congregation of mourners gathered to say farewell.

This morning another old man who died quietly at home, followed by a bundle of relatives, dark and quiet, was wheeled in his casket to the altar for the final rites.

I find myself wondering about the things I see from my post up in the choir loft, and what is happening, and I cannot really think that what is happening is good.

Myself?  I am I know no better than anyone below me, probably worse off than most.  But, being present at twenty or thirty of these “celebrations” each year has not convinced me that I am.

And, is that a bad thing? At least, I find it “wonderfully focuses the mind.”   We of course have life.  We forget the other three things.

In Paradisum

John 11: 50

 

Here is a letter I have written to Fr. Robert Shanley, President of Providence College, and who is currently presidentially presiding over the very dignified and collegial lynching of a great scholar, a devout Catholic defender of the Truth, and a good and decent man.  I imagine him in his robes of office: aloof, yes, compassionate, of course, aware of all the necessary facts, without question, and deeply concerned for the lives, and souls and the, well, the reputations about to be supported or sacrificed for the greater good of the school and benefit of all mankind.  It is what presidents do…when not playing golf or hosting benefactors, delivering speeches and looking magisterial and compassionate, wise and consoling, boundlessly merciful and intuitively practical; when being, in a word, godly:

 

Rev Robert Shanley, O.P.

President

Providence College

1 Cunningham Square

Providence, RI 02918 USA

 

Dear Father Shanley,

You have been described to me by people better informed than I am as a philosopher, an art of which I have only a passing knowledge.  And as a priest, and a Dominican at that, I am reasonably sure that you are more than well versed in Catholic theology. Indulge me in a little bit of my own background, stories from my youth about philosophy and theology.

Father Anthony Rubsys, who went to Heaven, I am sure, in August, 2002, was a refugee from Communism who came to America during the Hungarian uprising.  He was a biblical scholar fluent in seven languages, a good and gentle, a loving, man.  He taught me in class and counseled me out of it.  He was extremely intelligent, extremely gentle and deeply concerned for The Good.  Why else not, I have often wondered while thinking about and praying for him; a man who saw and suffered much, all of it the result of when and where he lived before coming to this country, through the horrors of Nazism and the Second World War and the soul sickening weight of post-war Communist rule.

As an assignment in one of his classes, I wrote a paper on Thus Spake Zarathustra.  I was taken then with the Strauss tone poem, and stupid student stuff.  So I wrote the paper and handed it in.  Several days later Father Rubsys returned it with this note in his handwriting above my title, which was something like Superman, “Why do you waste your time on this when the faith has so much more to offer, to study?”  I cannot remember much beyond the title of the thing I wrote about. Nor can I remember much about the music, except what bit of it opens that film by Stanley Kubrick.  Few, I suspect, will remember much about it, if anything at all in another hundred or so years.  Almost no one knows the film’s music’s title.

Harry Blair was a much decorated World War II veteran, a tank commander in Gen. Patton’s Third Army, a tragic man, and a Shakespeare and Renaissance scholar.  I took every class of his that I could and got to know him very well.  He drank too much; but, I suppose, he had every reason to do that.  When he taught King Lear his classroom was filled beyond capacity. His rendering of the King’s speech in the storm on the moor brought more than one student to tears, myself included, as we listened to an old man pour out his grief at having given his life to his children and been misunderstood, spurned, betrayed, cast away.

I once had a letter published in the school’s newspaper…the editor was a friend of mine…and Harry read it, of course.  The letter called for the “aggiornamento” underway in Rome to be extended and applied at the school, for there to be a radical change in, well, just about everything.  I remember I called not only for windows to be opened but walls to be demolished and ended with “I would have no church at all!”  Brave words, I have thought more than once since.  Brave words for the inferno we face, now.  We sat together, Harry and I at the bar in the Pinewood drinking an afternoon beer and he showed me the issue of the paper with my letter, quietly asking me what had possessed me to write it.  Seriously I answered at length about all of the things I saw that were wrong and needed changing.  “You are very young,” he answered, and then we went on to talk of other things, though I do recall him wondering aloud about the lady I was soon to marry and asking how she felt, how I might feel when I was a father.  But, there he left it.

Bear with me, please, Father.  I do have a point.

There is no doubt that Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a philosopher like yourself, and a great and good man.  Were he a Catholic, I suppose his cause would already have been introduced.  In many ways he was a martyr for the truth, and a lover of the beautiful in people, in society and in all of creation; even when found in the Gulag, anterooms to hell built and maintained by hell’s servants here on earth.  Maybe that’s overly dramatic, but, nevertheless…  Joseph Pearce, who wrote an excellent biography of Solzhenitsyn, has written his own story, and a fascinating one it is.  He calls it Race With the Devil, and discusses his descent into violent racism and hate, and ascent from it through the grace of God.  Indulge me in a quote from Pearce’s book:

“My descent into delinquency was aided and abetted by the progressive philosophy adopted by the school. No effort was made to impose discipline, which resulted in the triumph of anarchy in the classroom… (The) disruptive elements made it difficult, if not impossible, for teachers to teach and for students to learn.”

I apologize for the size of the quote.  I cannot figure out how to change the font. Nevertheless, it’s the sad truth and the tragic cause of the matter at hand, and the inevitable result of the choice in this matter (and in how many others?) you and the faculty quislings who brought this complaint against Professor Esolen to you seem, for all of your wisdom, training, education and Catholicity, to have made.  That the “death” of one man is necessary.

And, I cannot understand why you did what you did; a great disservice to the students , confirming them in their stupid and uncharitable,  selfish and infantile behavior…at the same time causing pain, anxiety and worry to not only this good man and his family, but thousands of other people who have never yet met the man face to face but know and treasure him through his prolific good works, his brilliantly clear and consistently charitable mind, and his reliably masterful scholarship.

You are a priest and pastor, too, finally much more important callings than mere president.  Have you acted in this instance as either one?

I expect that  Caiaphas was thought a wise and good man, a president, so to speak, who gave no help when help was needed.  And, of course, we all know what to think of Pontius Pilate, who simply gave up before the angry mob.

Which of the two should one say best describes you in this matter?

Yours truly,

Peter Gallaher

PS:  I only know of one other person named Shanley, a fellow I came across many years ago when I was working.  He was a Wormtongue, covert slave to Saruman.  In other words a coward and a traitor.

 

 

A Woman Said

What follows was part of a discussion on a well known “social media site”.  I copied it because I thought it said a lot about a great divide in our country, the one between two kinds of people, two generations, two different world views, two different cultures.  It was occasioned by the appearance of a cartoon showing the President of these Untied States wearing the clerical robes of a pope.  It was s satirical cartoon designed for strong reactions, and it got them.  People objected to the artist’s robing Obama as the Catholic Pontiff, commented on his support for abortion and his refusal to recognize the conscience rights of Catholics.  Someone, a young woman, wrote:

I find it disturbing, but I’m mostly offended by the commentary it represents. I don’t like Obama, but I don’t find him to be any more “tyrannical” or arrogant than any other President we’ve had. Calling him a Communist really just illuminates one’s complete misunderstanding of communism, and the equation of abortion with the Holocaust as well as the implication that requiring insurance to cover birth control is equal to abortion, just pisses me off.

And someone replied that while the Holocaust had destroyed a mere 6 million, the death toll from abortion was much higher than that.  They wanted to know why such a thing as that comparison “pissed her off”.  The lady said:

Because those Jews weren’t unborn fetuses whose existence required the cooperation of women whose bodies they’d be inhabiting, stressing, straining and whose lives they’d be massively impacting irreparably as a result…. I think people have a right to liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don’t think carrying unwanted pregnancies to term is part of either of those things.

This occasioned a criticism of the lady’s position on abortion and contraception as rights guaranteed by the Constitution and legitimate medical procedures necessary for good reproductive healthShe took issue:

Yeah… I disagree. People have a right to want to get off with a partner without getting pregnant as a result, and they also have a right to end pregnancies. You see – there’s a part of anyone’s moral compass that may say “well, in the event of rape – or in the event of medical complications – or in the event of abuse – or in the event of an accident…” well guess what – I don’t think the government should be sitting in a woman’s doctor’s office with her… and I don’t consider myself or anyone else an appropriate judge of when it’s “okay” and it’s not to abort an unwanted fetus – so in the interest of liberty, I’m going to excuse myself and the government acting on my behalf, and anyone else I have the power to excuse, of the right to decide when that woman may exercise her physical autonomy. She is a free being – if she chooses to allow a fetus to grow inside her, if she chooses to remove it – that’s entirely none of anybody else’s business. The moral consequences are hers alone, whatever they may be….  I think people have a right to liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don’t think carrying unwanted pregnancies to term is part of either of those things.

As for the requirement that private employer’s insurance policies cover contraception – I could go on at length about the necessity of hormonal birth control for many women (such as myself) for entirely NON-birth control related reasons (if I don’t take it, I get terrible cysts due to my endometriosis – cysts that may very well prevent me from getting pregnant in the future when I choose to) – but also that I don’t think an employer, whether or not it’s the Catholic church, should be making the medical decisions of its employees. Removing one area of coverage allows others to be chipped away at – and employers and insurance companies may find it in their interest to lower premiums by not covering many routine and/or necessary procedures they chose not to agree with for whatever reason.

Someone took issue with her position:

You need not go on at length about the necessity of hormonal treatments for many women. I am relying only on my memory, and anecdotes from a woman (my first mother-in-law, may she rest in peace) who worked for one of the doctors who developed such medications here, but I seem to recall that he and his colleagues were concerned to develop medications for those conditions…and to regulate the menstrual cycles of their patients who were having trouble conceiving. I got the distinct impression that this one doctor, at least, was dismayed at what has been made of his work, since. That is merely an impression, though.

That said, it would be heartless of me to seek to bar someone who needed an effective treatment from getting it, and I would think the same of anyone else who held that view, that they were heartless. However, I would give odds that the number of therapeutic uses to which those medications are put is far outweighed by the number of women who use them for what is thought by most of the world to be their only use. You and I do not agree that people have a” right to get off with a partner without getting pregnant as a result”, especially if the exercise of that “right” requires me…or any other person, or organization….whose religion and deeply held belief consider such a thing morally reprehensible. More than that, I am not alone in thinking that requiring persons who so believe to pay for the means to do so in however small a part is equally reprehensible. In such a case, my constitutional right to the free practice of my religion trumped the other” right” you champion so eloquently…until January 20.

Let me make myself clear, here. There is no right that I know to health care of any kind either enumerated in the constitution or to be found in the shadows of those rights enumerated…except for abortion from 1973, a procedure which I and many others consider homicide, now made legal and claimed as a right, and simply because it is performed by doctors in clinics and hospitals also recognized as a “therapeutic” procedure…an Orwellian mangling of language if ever there was one.

Finally, I’ll risk being possibly incorrect on your position about Obamacare, but I think I will be safe in concluding that whatever it is, your position and mine on the so called “mandate” and its subsequent amendment meet with your approval. If I am wrong you may chalk it up to my leaping to that conclusion from your assertion of a right to mutual getting off without the risk/threat of pregnancy.  Even though the exercise of that right requires the use of some forms of contraception for a perversion of their original purpose.

Time and space do not permit an exploration of why I would reject as immoral such things. Time and space do not allow, either, for a discussion which I think needs being had in this country about responsibilities and duties rather than rights; concepts which would seem to me to rule out such things as mutual getting off without the risk of pregnancy. Suffice to say the arguments would be framed within natural law principles, which I suppose you know well and reject. And, now, I retire.

And that is the way it rests.  Silence reigns, and no one is satisfied with anyone else.

This Ain’t Rocket Science

You ever wonder why you can’t even mention the word God in some places, like, oh, schools?  I mean, it’s a little word.  Ain’t it?  What’s to be ascared of?

Well, some times you can mention God in school.  But you can’t say anything nice, or good, about God.  You gotta talk about God as if He’s dead, or dopey, or downright mean.  Otherwise you’re not smart, or you’re silly or numb as a hedge fence as the saying goes.  Unless you’re a theologian or some other kind of professionally smart guy, like a physicist or biologist.  Then you can mention God and talk about him as if , well, as if He was a footnote.

It’s because, I guess, if you mention God, you gotta start thinking about good and evil somewhere along the line.  And that leads you to thinking about such things as what is or isn’t good and evil, who’s responsible for it and how to make things better or stop them from getting worse.  The folks who think about these things today often don’t want to think that we can’t do all of that ourselves…if we even admit that some things may be good and other things, well, not bad, really, but not yet, umm, good for everyone, everywhere.  I mean hunger’s not good for everyone, unless you’re dieting, or unless you’re running a shipping line that’s got a big bucks contract to deliver surplus food from a rich country to a poor one.  And sex is always good, everywhere, all the time, with anyone.  And science is good, because what it don’t know it will soon find out and, well, make sense out of all of this.

See what I mean?

Here’s an advertisement from Macedonia that mentions God and good and evil.  It’s really stupid.  Watch it and see.  By no means is this rocket science, and you gotta wonder why folks bother with it.

Back Home Again In Indiana

This is a link to a website formed by students, and student groups at Notre Dame to protest the appearance the President of these Untied States at their graduation.

http://www.ndresponse.com/press.html

All sorts of things are going through my head, now. Not the least of them is the fact that…as far as I know…no one at the New York Times and its ilk, or CNN, and the newsworks, has yet spent much time on this.  But then, I stopped paying attention to them a long time ago.  It interfered with my digestion.

I can see this happening: the White House quietly informing the Reverend President Father Quisling (or is his name more appropriately Judas) of Notre Dame that it is very sorry to have to cancel the Great Reverser’s appearance; and the vast Boobocracy really knowing little to nothing about this. After all, who wants folks praying…on their knees and with those little strings of beads, yet…that His Hopefulness stops killing people. It just doesn’t look good. One wishes, sometimes, that Catholics would simply stop these silly standings around on principle.  They are so out of step and out of place in a society built on hope and change.

I say I can see it happening, but I don’t think it will happen.  The fools who run what used to be called Catholic schools have no honor, and little enough of faith.  Oh, they have an awful lot of intelligence, enough to look over at their secular neighbors and notice how business is conducted, there.  Why not do the same?  Why not “sell” the sizzle and not the steak?  And so they invite the functional equivalent of a serial murderer to tea and broadcast proudly, “Why we are just as good as they are, young sheep in the meadow.  We have Presidents to lunch.  Do come and join us.”

So, they are probably on the phone to some eager coat brusher and door holder in the White House Sub-Basement, the fellow who is in charge of the White House Office for the Subornation of Presidents of Supposedly Catholic Colleges (next to the space that holds toilet paper).  “Umm, Sherwood,” they are saying, “we seem to have a problem, here.  A few of the holdovers from the faculty, old dinosaurs and about ten or fifteen students are complaining that we should have invited someone with a more orthodox perspective on some issues affecting our, umm, faith interestes, than His Supreme Hopefulness.  Please, please, be assured that isn’t the way we feel about the matter.  But, what may one do, academic freedom and all that, don’t you know.”

“Not to worry at all your most Reverend President.  I am completely aware of the situation.  We do not expect that all will see eye to eye with President Obama’s hopes for America.  We love Notre Dame and all Catholic Schools, and we need them, and you, too.  You should speak to Father Julian, president of Kissling College about this.  His solution is to allow them their praying where praying should be done, at the chapel, near the gym; well in back of it, where it won’t offend anyone.  As I was saying to Father Arius over at St. Smithwick’s College just the other day, the President welcomes open debate on the issues, and never wants to see anymore abortions than are absolutely necessary.”

“Well, that’s a great idea.  I can get the Dean of the School of Religious Interaction with the World to lead a prayer service at exactly the same time the president is speaking.  All bases will be covered.  How tolerant and diverse.”

“Go to Notre Dame,” I can hear the President’s advisers say.  “Sherwood, down in the OSPSCC says they’re prepared to lock everyone up who even thinks about saying anything out of order.  But, not to worry.  We’ve dealt with that silliness before and can handle it again.  You’re on top of the world, now.  You will impress the folks who spend big bucks on campaigns.  Say a few words…here I’ll write them. I’m Catholic and know what gets them in their hearts and wallets.  Say a few words about starving kids, the great contributions Catholics have made, how much you love the Pope (a good and humble man, may that always be the case); and don’t forget to use this phrase “family values”.  Make it your own.  If folks are on their knees praying, treat ’em nicely.  Oh, man this is great TV!  Look down and point to them.  Then say, “I respect these people praying and want them to know I believe everything they believe.  That’s why I came here to tell you that I am working to bring about the hope of life and health for all Americans, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim and unbeliever, alike!”  They’ll carry you out on their shoulders.

Better still…  Oh, man this is sooooo great!  Make it the occasion for an announcement that on the date of the first verified cure of a disease by the use of embryonic stem cells…who knows when, that doesn’t matter…you’ll begin construction of a monument on the Mall to the memory of all of those brave embryos who sacrificed their lives so that the rest of us could live disease free, and we’ll have an Embryo Remembrance Day just for them, parades, bunting, speeches, tears of cured folks who’ll give public thanks for the brave little souls.”

“I like that,” he’ll say.  “Michelle will want to bring the girls, too.  Kids love parades.  Get me Pelosi and Dodd on the phone.  They’ll love this”

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw up.

What a change…