Charlie's Blog: April 2017

4.23.2017

Selections From the Diary of Saint Faustina for Divine Mercy Sunday 2017


Today the Lord said to me, ‘Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it.  Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul.  When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you.  I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul.  Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy.  Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust.  If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.  The torrent of grace inundate humble souls.  The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.
SAINT FAUSTINA

O Eternal Love, You command Your Sacred Image to be painted
And reveal to us the inconceivable fount of mercy,
You bless whoever approaches Your rays,
And a soul all black will turn into snow.
O sweet Jesus, it is here² You established the throne of Your mercy
To bring joy and hope to sinful man,
From Your open Heart, as from a pure fount,
Flows comfort to a repentant heart and soul.
May praise and glory for this Image
Never cease to stream from man‟s soul.
May praise and glory for this Image
Never cease to stream from man‟s soul,
May praise of God‟s mercy pour from every heart,
Now, and at every hour, and forever and ever.
                   
                   O My God

When I look into the future, I am frightened,
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire,
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence.
And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory.

* * *

I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was open wide for every soul.  In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice.

* * *

Everyone in the world can belong to this group. A member of this group ought to perform at least one act of mercy per day; at least one, but there can be many more, for such deeds can easily be carried out by anyone, even the very poorest. For there are three ways of performing an act of mercy: the merciful word, by forgiving, and by comforting; secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray-that too is mercy; and thirdly, deeds of mercy. And when the Last Day comes, we shall be judged from this, and on this basis we shall receive the eternal verdict.

* * *

He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God.  As often as I look upon the cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart.

* * *

A soul does not benefit as it should from the sacrament of confession if it is not humble. Pride keeps it in darkness. The soul neither knows how, nor is it willing, to probe with precision the depths of its own misery. It puts on a mask and avoids everything that might bring it recovery.

* * *


* * *

Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions.  And the purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us; it will become a delight!  By the grace of God, I have received such a disposition of heart that I am never so happy as when I suffer for Jesus, whom I love with every beat of my heart.

* * *

Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like...how terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin.

* * *

I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.

* * *

There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.

* * *

The Lord said to me, ‘The loss of each soul plunges Me into mortal sadness.  You always console Me when you pray for sinners.  The prayer most pleasing to Me is prayer for the conversion of sinners.  Know, My daughter, that this prayer is always heard and answered.

* * *

All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us.  Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery.  One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.

* * *

When once I asked the Lord Jesus how He could tolerate so many sins and crimes and not punish them, the Lord answered me, ‘I have an eternity for punishing [these], and so I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]. But woe to them if they do not recognize the time of My visitation.


4.22.2017

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 46


I hate small towns because once you've seen the cannon in the park there's nothing else to do.
LENNY BRUCE


The Art of Manliness is one of my favorite websites, and I recommend it highly. Yet, I must take issue with Brett McKay's recent piece on the value of church attendance. He makes good points for attending church on a weekly basis, and they act as a way for people like me who do attend on the regular to appreciate more than just the purely spiritual benefits of the practice. But I am reminded of Flannery O'Connor's infamous tale regarding someone's remark about the symbolism of the eucharist. If it is just a symbol, then to Hell with it.

When I used to be an atheist, I had an atheist friend who obviously had been raised in a Christian home and a church setting. He lost his faith, but he never lost the reassuring comfort of church. So, he became a Unitarian-Universalist and attended a U-U fellowship. This queer practice of his would become a thing in the wider freethought world with atheist churches and Alain de Botton's dreadful, Religion for Atheists.


The simple fact is that we attend church because we worship a God we actually believe exists. I know this is a stunner, but I am one of those weird people who never got the utilitarian arguments for religious practices. There may be utilitarian benefits to attending church, but there are also utilitarian benefits to sleeping in on Sunday morning. Those benefits are why even people who profess belief in God and Jesus Christ can't be bothered to get off their asses and make it to church.

I prefer the religious case for going to church versus the non-religious case. The number one benefit of going to church would be not going to Hell. I would work backwards from there to church making you a better person, making you happier, and instilling in your children the idea that you might be a moral person instead of a piece of crap human being. But, ultimately, we worship God because He exists and is worthy of our praise and exaltation.

I don't think you can be a real man without being a godly man. You can't be a godly man without going to church. And this, Gentle Reader, is the reason manliness is in such steep decline in our nation today. Men are now video game playing douchebags and a disgrace.

2. DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFT

News comes that unemployment is now at a 17 year low. Yet, news also comes that many stores are closing and companies are doing layoffs. What is going on here? How can you have low unemployment while business is contracting? The answer is the demographic shift.

Harry Dent is the man behind this idea and observation that baby boomers will retire causing all sorts of economic upheaval, stock market crashes, and the like. Personally, I take what he says with a grain of salt. But I do believe that as baby boomers retire in massive numbers, there will be a massive vacuum in the job market, and there will not be enough millennials to fill that vacuum. The result will be low unemployment and rising wages for workers. I also predict incredible strain on pension funds, Social Security, and Medicare. Finally, cash will exit the markets as the boomers draw down their retirement funds.

I don't believe in retirement either personally or socially. That will have to be the subject of another blog post. But the bottom line is that retirement is detrimental to you on a personal level and to us all on a social level. The one upside is that it makes more job opportunities at higher pay for those of us who believe in working until you die and have a good work ethic. This was the reason Social Security was created in the first place. The downside is that we have created a geriatric welfare class that will spend 30+ years not working but living off of the work of others. That can't end well.

3. ASSANGE

The saga of Julian Assange took a new turn this week when the US DOJ announced that they would try to arrest Assange and bring him to trial. Of course, this announcement is not really news since no one doubted that the US authorities would extradite him as soon as Assange got shipped to Sweden on those trumped up rape charges. This is why Assange is now a virtual prisoner in that Ecuadorean embassy.

The problem with this announcement from the DOJ is this thing we have in America called the First Amendment. Now, this amendment has been challenged but has prevailed in cases like the ones involving porn publisher Larry Flynt. Courts have ruled that the First Amendment covers filth as well as political and religious publication. The law would seem firmly on the side of Assange since the intent of the Founders in adding the First Amendment was to provide a check against governmental power. If Larry Flynt qualifies for First Amendment protection, then Julian Assange most certainly qualifies.

The arguments against Assange having First Amendment protection are threefold. The first challenges whether he is a journalist or not. Apparently, only "real" journalists qualify for First Amendment protection. How is this determined? And would such real journalists require licensing to establish their bone fides? You can see the problem there. Josef Stalin would approve of this.

The second challenge centers on Julian Assange being an Australian and not an American citizen. The First Amendment can only give rights to Americans and not foreign citizens. On this basis, illegal immigrants to the USA could be tortured, detained without trial, murdered on the street, or what have you. It is obvious that the powers that be would love to do all of these things to Julian Assange, but it creates a whole new set of problems. My personal belief is that anyone within the borders of the USA is entitled to the rights and protections afforded under the US Constitution. I suspect the feds will try and sidestep this issue entirely and send Assange to Guantanamo Bay.

The third challenge deals with how Julian Assange gets his information. The argument is that Assange is some kind of journalistic terrorist running a non-state renegade intelligence agency. As such, he is on the same level as Osama bin Laden or the Rosenbergs. But the problem is that the Rosenbergs actually got a trial. Whether it was a fair trial is debatable. As for bin Laden, he received no trial, but he would have received one had he been captured alive and delivered to the USA.

The Assange affair is quite a mess, but it hinges on one fundamental question. Should it be illegal to publish classified information? That question has not been sufficiently answered since it was raised during the Pentagon Papers episode. Daniel Ellsberg and the New York Times were never brought to trial over their publication. The answer to the question depends on the difference between espionage and journalism.

I doubt I can settle such questions in the context of this blog, and it wouldn't matter if I could. But legal clarity needs to be brought to this murkiness. I think the fate of our democratic republic depends on the answers to these questions.

4. QUOTABLE QUOTES

If we do not fill our mind with prayer, it will fill itself with anxieties, worries, temptations, resentments, and unwelcome memories.
SCOTT HAHN

We are not to be without pain. Pain is Jesus suffering in us, but we are to look to Him for strength and courage. We are to learn this ability to shoulder our cross by gazing at Him and being gentle and humble in heart.
MOTHER ANGELICA

The moment we have a fixed heart we have a free hand.
G.K. CHESTERTON

Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers.
THOMAS SOWELL

The Lord’s triumph, on the day of the Resurrection, is final. Where are the soldiers the rulers posted there? Where are the seals that were fixed to the stone of the tomb? Where are those who condemned the Master? Where are those who crucified Jesus? He is victorious, and faced with his victory those poor wretches have all taken flight. Be filled with hope: Jesus Christ is always victorious.
ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA

We shall steer safely through every storm so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES

5. ODDS AND ENDS

--Those McDonald's employees that aided in getting the Facebook Killer are true heroes in my book.

--Aaron Hernandez chose the life of a thug. Playing in the NFL only showed that this choice was entirely voluntary and not thrust upon him. His suicide makes people think he was filled with despair. I think he did it as his last act of defiance on earth. I'll wait for his suicide notes to become public to see if he was remorseful or defiant. Either way, I believe suicide is a one way ticket to Hell. I will not presume on anyone's fate, and I hold out hope for everyone. But I don't see how you can die in a state of grace hanging from a bedsheet in a cell.

--I never liked Bill O'Reilly. As for Fox News, if they stay conservative, they will do fine. But I suspect they will become another MSNBC.

--Mark Levin is my favorite pundit. Way better than O'Reilly or Rush or Hannity.

--Ann Coulter at Berkeley shows how close we are to letting the left wing mob violence determine who has rights in this country and who doesn't. Call out the National Guard.

--The fear of death is fundamentally the fear of judgment.

--Zuckerberg should kill Facebook Live before it kills Facebook. Of course, Facebook deserves to die, but it should be the slow death of irrelevance.

6. LINKS OF INTEREST




















4.16.2017

The Easter Poem of Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatas


 And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in this way, and opened to us the scriptures?
LUKE 24:32 DOUAY-RHEIMS

The seasons blush varied with the flowery, fair weather, and the gate of the pole lies open with greater light.

His path in the heaven raises the fire-breathing sun higher, who goes forth on his course, and enters the waters of the ocean.

Armed with rays traversing the liquid elements, in this brief night he stretches out the day in a circle.

The brilliant firmament puts forth its clear countenance, and the bright stars show their joy.

The fruitful earth pours forth its gifts with varied increase, when the year has well returned its vernal riches.


Soft beds of violets paint the purple plain; the meadows are green with plants, and the plant shines with its leaves.

By degrees gleaming brightness of the flowers comes forth; all the herbs smile with their blossoms.

The seed being deposited, the corn springs up far and wide in the fields, promising to be able to overcome the hunger of the husbandman.

Having deserted its stem, the vine-shoot bewails its joys; the vine gives water only from the source from which it is wont to give wine.

The swelling bud, rising with tender down from the back of its mother, prepares its bosom for bringing forth.

Its foliage having been torn off in the wintry season, the verdant grove now renews its leafy shelter.


Mingled together, the willow, the fir, the hazel, the osier, the elm, the maple, the walnut, each tree applauds, delightful with its leaves.

Hence the bee, about to construct its comb, leaving the hive, humming over the flowers, carries off honey with its leg.

The bird which, having closed its song, was dumb, sluggish with the wintry cold, returns to its strains.

Hence Philomela attunes her notes with her own instruments, and the air becomes sweeter with the re-echoed melody.

Behold, the favour of the reviving world bears witness that all gifts have returned together with its Lord.

For in honour of Christ rising triumphant after His descent to the gloomy Tartarus, the grove on every side with its leaves expresses approval, the plants with their flowers express approval.


The light, the heaven, the fields, and the sea duly praise the God ascending above the stars, having crushed the laws of hell.

Behold, He who was crucified reigns as God over all things, and all created objects offer prayer to their Creator.

Hail, festive day, to be reverenced throughout the world, on which God has conquered hell, and gains the stars!

The changes of the year and of the months, the bounteous light of the days, the splendour of the hours, all things with voice applaud.

Hence, in honour of you, the wood with its foliage applauds; hence the vine, with its silent shoot, gives thanks.

Hence the thickets now resound with the whisper of birds; amidst these the sparrow sings with exuberant love.

O Christ, Thou Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father, flowing in an indescribable manner from the heart of Thy Parent, Thou self-existing Word, and powerful from the mouth of Thy Father, equal to Him, of one mind with Him, His fellow, coeval with the Father, from whom at first the world derived its origin!

Thou dost suspend the firmament, Thou heapest together the soil, Thou dost pour forth the seas, by whose government all things which are fixed in their places flourish.

Who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that Thou mightest rescue man, didst Thyself also become man: nor wert Thou willing only to be born with a body, but Thou becamest flesh, which endured to be born and to die.

Thou dost undergo funeral obsequies, Thyself the author of life and framer of the world, Thou dost enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation.

The gloomy chains of the infernal law yielded, and chaos feared to be pressed by the presence of the light.


Darkness perishes, put to flight by the brightness of Christ; the think pall of eternal night falls.

But restore the promised pledge, I pray Thee, O power benign!

The third day has returned; arise, my buried One; it is not becoming that Thy limbs should lie in the lowly sepulchre, nor that worthless stones should press that which is the ransom of the world.

It is unworthy that a stone should shut in with a confining rock, and cover Him in whose fist all things are enclosed.

Take away the linen clothes, I pray; leave the napkins in the tomb: Thou art sufficient for us, and without Thee there is nothing.

Release the chained shades of the infernal prison, and recall to the upper regions whatever sinks to the lowest depths.

Give back Thy face, that the world may see the light; give back the day which flees from us at Thy death.


But returning, O holy conqueror! Thou didst altogether fill the heaven! Tartarus lies depressed, nor retains its rights.

The ruler of the lower regions, insatiably opening his hollow jaws, who has always been a spoiler, becomes a prey to Thee.

Thou rescuest an innumerable people from the prison of death, and they follow in freedom to the place whither their leader approaches.

The fierce monster in alarm vomits forth the multitude whom he had swallowed up, and the Lamb withdraws the sheep from the jaw of the wolf.

Hence re-seeking the tomb from the lower regions, having resumed Thy flesh, as a warrior Thou carriest back ample trophies to the heavens.

Those whom chaos held in punishment he has now restored; and those whom death might seek, a new life holds, Oh, sacred King, behold a great part of Thy triumph shines forth, when the sacred layer blesses pure souls!

A host, clad in white, come forth from the bright waves, and cleanse their old fault in a new stream.

The white garment also designates bright souls, and the shepherd has enjoyments from the snow-white flock.

The priest Felix is added sharing in this reward, who wishes to give double talents to his Lord.

Drawing those who wander in Gentile error to better things, that a beast of prey may not carry them away,

He guards the fold of God.


Those whom guilty Eve had before infected, He now restores, fed with abundant milk at the bosom of the Church.

By cultivating rustic hearts with mild conversations, a crop is produced from a briar by the bounty of Felix.

The Saxon, a fierce nation, living as it were after the manner of wild beasts, when you, O sacred One! apply a remedy, the beast of prey resembles the sheep.

About to remain with you through an age with the return of a hundred-fold, you fill the barns with the produce of an abundant harvest.

May this people, free from stain, be strengthened in your arms, and may you bear to the stars a pure pledge to God.

May one crown be bestowed on you from on high gained from yourself, may another flourish gained from your people.

4.15.2017

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 45


Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.
CHARLIE MURPHY

1. THE DEATH OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

United Airlines had a guy manhandled off of a plane this week because they overbooked the flight. Naturally, this manhandling became a viral sensation on the internet. United's stock has tanked. Smart move, United.

This would be a nothing story that merely excited people for a news cycle, but I cite it as evidence of a disturbing trend in our society today. This trend is the death of customer service. It ain't what it used to be, folks.

Once upon a time, the customer was king. I remember as an employee hearing that infamous line, "The customer is always right." What did that mean? Basically, it meant that your business is nothing without your customers. Ultimately, your business exists to satisfy customer wants and needs. Customers don't exist to satisfy your wants and needs. And if the customer is wrong, that person will not be your customer anymore. And if all your customers are wrong, you won't have a business anymore.

This mindset does not prevail in the marketplace anymore. Businesses don't give a damn about customers anymore. I can't pinpoint when this change began, but I noticed the shift during the bailout years of the Obama administration. It began with the banks, and it has metastasized from there. Today, this is the epitome of customer service in America:


This is a Walmart self checkout machine. This is a device that I swore that I would never use. But then, I got tired of waiting in the long line at one of the two checkouts with live human beings. I caved in and now use the self checkout on a regular basis. Walmart has tricked me and others like me into doing free work for them. And if I don't like it, I can just suck on it.

I am willing to do things like bag my own groceries or wrangle my own carts like you have to do at Aldi. This is because I know this helps make their prices so low. But even Aldi has live human beings checking you out. As for Walmart, this self checkout relies to a great extent on the honor system as such a thing can easily be tricked. Walmart would rather eat the loss on a few pilfered items.

The death of customer service could be blamed on the increasing costs of labor such as those caused by Obamacare and minimum wage hikes. Or, it could be blamed on simple corporate greed. But I don't think those are the true reasons at all. Once you can get a bailout from Uncle Sam, it doesn't matter what your customers think anymore. One way or another, you're going to get their money.

There really is no downside to treating customers like crap. Sure, your stock may tank, but the CEO and his cronies will get their golden parachutes even if the business fails. As for taxpayer bailouts, you merely need to bribe one of the many crooked politicians in Washington, and it will be fine.

As it stands, it is a race to the bottom by banks and businesses to see how badly they can treat customers and still retain their business. We are now at the point where a paying customer can be manhandled and thrown off of a flight that he obviously had to make. And no one questions the practice of overbooking which amounts to selling something that does not exist. When capitalism is divorced from Christian values, this is what it looks like. Customers now exist for the benefit of businesses.

2. TRUMP

Donald Trump has now betrayed his loyal supporters. I was not a loyal supporter, so I feel no betrayal. I think the man is slime, and I wish we had a real president instead of this clown. But he ain't Hillary! That's all he had to do to get my vote. If he resigned tomorrow and let Pence take over, I would be a happy guy. Until then, I keep defensive pessimism in the driver's seat.

I am actually happy with Trump as he makes a decided turn to the right. His policies and actions on Syria are correct. Ronald Reagan would have done what Trump has done. Trump is displaying strength towards North Korea. Then, there is the MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS dropped on ISIS in Afghanistan. That was a thing of beauty. Peace through strength.

On the domestic side, Trump appears to be stepping away from the mercantilist trade war rhetoric with China. He has not converted to being a robust free market guy, but there is a glimmer of hope here. We will see where he goes with this.


Trump is in trouble in one glaring area. This would be the alt-right. Trump is giving the cold shoulder to Steve Bannon. I don't think Bannon has much longer to remain in the Trump administration. When he leaves, I expect Steve to enact revenge upon Trump by way of Breitbart. This is where Trump is likely to pay the price for courting these people. If Trump remains a one term president as he suggested, this won't matter. But if he hopes to be re-elected, I don't see how he will be able to do it without these people. There is also the threat of the damaging information the Bannonites could release in the interim. Betrayal carries consequences.

The alt-right are essentially neo-fascist. They are a motley crew, but they are united in their belief in nationalism and America First! They are less Hitler and more Mussolini. I need to remind the Gentle Reader that it is possible to be a fascist while not being a Nazi. This doesn't make it less problematic.

Where the alt-right differs from classical fascism is an aversion to neocon foreign policy. I think neocons are classical fascists in this regard. Where neocons favor imperialism, the alt-right favors isolationism. The Trump administration is now a battleground over this philosophical difference between nationalism and globalism. The alt-right is now losing this battle, and they know it. It is slipping away from them.


The real villains in the new Trump administration are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. These two are neither right, alt-right, neocon, fascist, or any of that. They are something much worse. They are Democrats.

Trump has a soft spot for family. Otherwise, these two would be persona non grata in any Republican administration. As it stands, they are stealth liberals. I think Ivanka is totally pro-choice on abortion due to her secret meetings with Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards. Both have supported Democrats in the past. These two are not good.

I am no fan of either Bannon or Kushner. But I'd rather have Bannon around than Kushner. But Kushner is family while Bannon isn't. And that, Gentle Reader, is why Trump will inevitably betray us all. The man has no bedrock of principles.

I tend to divide the world into two classes of people. You have those who are loyal to principle, and you have those who are loyal to people. Ted Cruz would be one of those people who are loyal to principle. Naturally, people hate his guts for this because most people are without principle. As for Trump, he is loyal to people. Of course, this is contingent upon them being loyal and beneficial to him. Trump has already shown a proclivity to dispose of people who don't serve his agenda, his popularity ratings. or whatever. To say that Trump is a fair weather friend is to put it mildly.

I know Trump because I have a family member who has the same type of personality as Trump. I don't like people who have this personality defect. These are the types of people who swear undying devotion to a spouse until she gets in a car wreck that costs her a limb. Disfigured and a liability, sweetie pie gets tossed, and the story about her gets rewritten in the mind of the deluded narcissist. And if they are really clever, they can convince sweetie pie that it was her fault, and she becomes grateful for the crumbs that fell from Mr. Fantastic's table.

Sad to say, Fareed Zakaria tells the absolute truth about Donald Trump. The man is full of it. A man who cannot be honest with others or himself is a man who can never learn from his mistakes. Every so often, Trump shows a bit of humility. But it doesn't last long. He is utterly lacking in self-awareness.

Where does that put conservatives? Ironically, it puts us in a rare position of strength. Conservatives know the truth about Trump. His behavior is unsurprising to them. They were never beguiled by the man or bought any of his BS. Guided by principle, they either support or oppose Trump depending on the issue. Donald Trump is an orange haired clown to them. This leaves Trump with two options. He can vilify them and insult them like he did with Ted Cruz in the campaign. Or, he can work with them. As it stands, Trump represents the one thing that conservatives have never had before--a useful idiot.

3. PLANET OF THE VAPES

I am neither a smoker nor a vaper. With that said, I support the use of e-cigarettes and vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. I think those vaping products are awesome things, and I encourage all smokers to make the switch.


The evidence is still inconclusive on vaping, but I have spoken to people who have switched to these products who report feeling better, being able to breathe better, and being able to taste food again while not having nicotine withdrawal leading to a relapse back into smoking.

The simple fact is that nicotine isn't the killer in tobacco. It is the tar. Vaping separates nicotine from that tar which can only make it safer. The only danger from these things seems to be exploding lithium ion batteries. But this is a problem for smartphones and laptops as well. Yet, there are those who would try and ride the battery issue towards a complete ban of these products.

The real danger of vaping is to the financial profits of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Both profit from addiction to cigarettes, so they naturally want the FDA to come in and help them out by eliminating the competition from these innovative products. Naturally, the FDA belongs in the hip pocket of these industries and will cave to them unless the vaping industry bans together to protect themselves from this tyranny by regulation.

I would love to abolish the FDA. They aren't about safety at all. They would prefer that you die from smoking as opposed to living longer and healthier with vaping. This is a sad day when an agency created for the sake of public health actively undermines it and becomes a promoter of disease and death.

4. Q & A

Q: Do you have any vices?

A: This question came up the other day with a coworker as we were joking about people's vices. Then, it struck me that I had no vices. I don't use drugs and never have. I have never smoked marijuana. I don't gamble, cheat on my wife, or look at pornography. I don't even eat meat. I have three beers per week which is the closest thing to a vice that I have. There is that Twitter addiction I am fighting, but social media is not considered a traditional vice. Needless to say, I have quit that, too.



Why am I free of vices? It isn't as a consequence of willpower. The simple fact is that I used to have vices. Vices are comforts to us. When life becomes stressful or depressing, you can always light up a cigar or enjoy a nice glass of scotch. If these things don't do the trick, you can do a John Belushi speedball and hope to survive. For me, I pray now.

Prayer does the trick. Whenever I feel bad, I pray. The rosary is especially helpful, and I clutch those beads the same way a smoker holds on to his lit cigarette. Because of this "religious addiction," my real addictions have vanished from my life. It all confirms my hunch that people become addicted to things more from spiritual reasons than anything else.

One of the things that most impresses me about Jesus from my readings is how He prayed. He took time out to pray. It is the only time that He seemed selfish. Of course, Jesus was not selfish, but this was the one thing He had to do for Himself. He had to spend time with God the Father. God had to be with God.

I read a lot of self-improvement blogs but none of them tell you to pray. I like the other advice about time management, diet, and exercise. But nobody tells you to pray or go to church. Yet, prayer, confession, spiritual reading, and Mass attendance are the things that have made the greatest impact in my life.

Should you give it a try? Absolutely.

5. QUOTABLE QUOTES

Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.
POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.
BLESSED JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth--anonymously and posthumously.
THOMAS SOWELL

No one is ever holy without suffering.
EVELYN WAUGH

Jews wait for the Lord, Protestants sing hymns to him, Catholics say mass and eat him.
WALKER PERCY

6. ODDS AND ENDS

--Charlie Murphy was the second funniest guy on Chappelle's Show after Dave Chappelle himself. His passing saddens me. He was not a joke teller so much as a storyteller, and his stories absolutely killed. His death is a real loss to the world. May he rest in God's peace.

--I would support the dissolution of the Society of Jesus. Pope Clement XIV did the right thing when he suppressed the Jesuits. He was just a bit early on that one.

--A friend lost his Android smartphone. The good news is that Android lets you remotely delete your information turning the phone into a brick. I recommended he get a flip phone. You don't lose a flip phone because it fits in your pocket like your wallet.

--The Dodge Demon is a pointless thing. Those 840 horses still have to obey the speed limit.

7. LINKS OF INTEREST

Islam: Was it Really Gabriel?

Catholic Enablers of Islam

Francis-appointed Cardinals back Jesuit’s pro-LGBT book

Finding Divine Intimacy

Is Anyone Catholic Anymore?

Why No Civility Is Possible Today

How To Be Politically Incorrect and Prosper

Here’s What You Could Do With Your Life If You Acted On Your Social Media Fatigue

The Flaw in the Benedict Option

Steve Bannon Dismisses Austrian Economics

If It’s Hard To Imagine A Day Without Your Phone, That’s A Good Reason To Try It

IN PAIN SHALL YOU BRING FORTH CHILDREN

The one question you shouldn’t ask a childless couple

The Least Diverse Place in America

TRAITOR

Bob Harper Quits Vegan, Suffers Heart Attack

Bob Harper Calls Out Hateful Vegans On His Instagram

YOU LOSE, SATAN!

When Jared Wins

If Trump Fired Bannon, Would He Seek Revenge?

Catholic Virtual Tour of Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna

How Did Jesus Pay the Debt for All Sins?

Good Friday: The Meaning of the Cross

GARDENING AS MEDICINE FOR MILLENNIALS, AND THE REST OF US

Trump’s Retreat From Populism

CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT THE CRUCIFIXION IS NOT CHRISTIANITY

Mr. President, Follow in the Footsteps of Reagan, Not Bush

4.14.2017

Life Is Suffering


For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.
MATTHEW 16:25 DOUAY-RHEIMS

I write this on Good Friday of 2017, and it is my reflection not only on the passion of Christ but the nature of life itself. I have been on both sides of it. I was a Christian who lost his faith and embraced atheism. Then through the intercession of our Lady and my wife, I came back from that living death to the new life I live now as a Roman Catholic. In my journey, one thing remained with me. It was and remains the Unchanging Fact. Life is suffering.

All of the world's schemes, philosophies, and all the rest are vain attempts to escape the Unchanging Fact. There are those who have gotten the raw deal in life. Perhaps they were born in poverty or were cursed with some crippling or disfiguring disease. They never got the breaks in life. Life broke them instead. These are the poor in spirit.

The rich in spirit are those who got the breaks in life. They were born into wealth and comfort. They went on to success, fame, and the rest. Then, they discovered how disappointing and empty life can be. So, they destroyed themselves in loveless relationships, alcohol, drugs, and the rest. Then, there are those who look perfect on the outside, but their home lives are a wreck. I've lived long enough to conclude that comfort is the shortest path to madness. If you doubt this, witness all those celebrity meltdowns.

Material affluence often leads to spiritual bankruptcy, and there are those who are poor who would love to run the risk of that spiritual bankruptcy. They commit the sin of envy not realizing what they covet. As James 4:3 puts it, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." God will never answer a prayer to be made spiritually bankrupt.

As I meditated during the Stations of the Cross today, I thought about a lesser message of the cross. The greater message is obviously about the Atonement and Christ's love and reconciliation. But the lesser message has to do with Christ's admonition to take up our own cross and follow Him. Why should we do this? Why should we also embark on our own personal via dolorosa? The answer is twofold.

The first part of the answer is the fact that you are on the path of suffering regardless of what you do. I rejected faith in Christ because I lived under the delusion that perhaps life had something to offer. After a decade of this, I realized that it didn't. You can either suffer with Christ or suffer without Christ. Christ endeavors to disabuse us of the notion that life has much to offer.

The second part of the answer is that by choosing Christ you are choosing life. This is that abundant life Christ spoke about. This should not be confused with the heretical gospel of the prospetarians who believe that Jesus suffered and died, so you could get a Mercedes-Benz. This is that abundant life where you become dead to the world but alive in Christ as St. Paul references again and again. I call this mindset "holy indifference."

I have suffered much in this life, yet I don't consider myself to have suffered as much as the saints, martyrs, the apostles, and Christ Himself. Yet, my own experience confirms what they teach. Life has nothing to offer us. Life does not satisfy. Life is suffering.

The best life has to offer is a momentary delusion and the amnesia about our own fates. We act as if death will happen to others but not to us. In the meantime, we suffer. What compounds the suffering is that it is meaningless. But with Christ, it has meaning.

This is the heroic virtue of Jesus Christ. He took His own poverty, His own suffering, and His very death and turned it into a gift to God the Father on behalf of us. And we also are given the opportunity to turn our own miserable lives into a similar offering. In that embrace of our own sufferings and crosses, we find meaning, purpose, and life. You can die for nothing, or you can die for something. No matter what, we all die.

I have often wondered why God allowed me to go through all the things I did, but I see the blessing in it all now. God was bankrupting me in order to offer me the true riches He had to offer. As a Protestant and a Calvinist, I accepted suffering, but I saw no value in it. It was pointless and stupid.  Then, I fell away into atheism which was also suffering that was pointless and stupid. Then, I encountered Catholicism, and I was told that my suffering could have value and purpose. For some reason, that resonated with me.

I don't always get answers to my prayers. Like Paul, I am left with my thorns. But I know that these thorns are for my ultimate good. I am grateful for my suffering, and I see the gifts in my afflictions. It is a poor father who provides a comfortable life to his children causing them to become spoiled and soft. They only love their father for what he gives them and not for who he is.

God is no sugar daddy. With Christ's work on the cross, the penalty for sin has been removed, and the path to salvation has been opened. Yet, we are still left with suffering. God expects us to share in both the glory of Christ and also the suffering of Christ. He could suspend this order of things in an instant, but He does not.

Anyone could embrace a savior that takes away the pain. It is another thing to embrace a savior who expects us to suffer and offer that suffering up. People don't want the suffering Messiah. I think this is why Judas Iscariot did what he did. He signed up for the glorious Messiah that would defeat the Romans and bring glory to Judea in conquest and prosperity. This was the notion in the minds of the other apostles as well. They didn't get it.

People want a Messiah who will transform them and their lives and the meaning of life itself. Jesus actually delivers on all these counts. Yet, we are so blind and stupid that we just don't see it. People just want the Mercedes-Benz. They don't want the birthright. They want the bowl of lentils.

To appreciate what Christ has to offer, I think it helps to be driven to the absolute edge of suicide and despair. You have to become utterly sick of this world and this life. In the blackness of that sickness and emptiness, Christ can shine a light, and you can see it. It is easy to turn your back on that darkness and leave it behind.

I have Christ in my life. This is what matters to me. I don't have a Plan B for this life. I had one before, and God let me take it. And I found that it was not for me. There is only Christ. Nothing else than Christ will ever satisfy me. Nothing else can make me happy.

Life will always be suffering. That can be endured. What cannot be endured is suffering without meaning. Christ gives meaning to my suffering and to my life. I offer that life to Him. Without Him, I would have no life. And when I lose this life, I hope it will be given back to me in the Resurrection.

4.13.2017

SOC 16


Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.
LAO TZU

I think this will be the time I am finally successful at quitting Twitter. I deleted my account, and I felt the positive change almost immediately. To reinforce my decision, I have been Googling info on why quitting social media is a good idea. This NYT piece and this TED talk have been the best things I have found and make me glad I cut out my Twitter addiction. Social media is truly the equivalent of an internet slot machine where you are drained of time and attention instead of cash.

I find myself with more time and attention span now. I am reluctant to admit how much time I spent on Twitter, but it was not insignificant. My spur for quitting this time was the envy I felt for people who eschew things like smartphones and social media. I already reject the smartphone, but I felt like a hypocrite. I was like the Baptist who never drank beer but would take bong hits in secret.

Smartphones and social media go together like cigarettes and Bic lighters. I might have been using an old fashioned Zippo instead of a Bic, but I was still smoking the same stuff as everyone else. The flip phone is no complete escape from social media. I would tweet and read tweers from my flip phone.

How do you stay informed without social media? Basically, I use three tools. The first is old fashioned email. I try to keep the inflow to a tolerable level by not subscribing to many newsletters. The second tool is Google News which gives me the headlines of the day and the opportunity to dig deeper on anything I find interesting. Finally, there is Feedly which delivers the specific items I care to follow. That's it. Those three tools are all I need.



One of the weird things I noticed since quitting Twitter is that I actually read more. My counts in Feedly have been steadily going down while I seem to be enjoying what I read more. The other thing I have noticed is that I have more time to write for the C-blog. All that stuff you hear about focus vs. distraction is true. Twitter is an engine of distraction. I like that term for social media--ENGINES OF DISTRACTION.

Smartphones are the equivalent of a social media crack pipe. Facebook is the number one app for smartphones, and it is the thing most likely taking the attention of the driver ahead of you risking life and limb to update their status. As a flip phone user, I don't have these distractions, and it makes me a much safer driver.

Naturally, I have to deal with the Luddite thing. Compared to an Amish guy, I am very much a technophile. I love electricity. I love my computer. I love my cellphone. But somewhere, the world went to crap with Facebook and the iPhone. The issue isn't about being a technophile or a Luddite. The real issue is about how people use the internet and interact with it.

I tend be a reader. As such, I would rather read a book than watch a movie. This carries over to my web habits. I'd rather read the news and informative articles from real writers than peruse status updates from Cousin Alice, the cat hoarder. I would rather write posts for my blog than spew endless tweets all day. Basically, I'd rather have a sit down dinner with a knife and fork than a drive thru dinner from McDonald's. To say that makes me a food hater is grossly incorrect.

Facebook is the number one engine of distraction which I liken to one of those weird toys people hang in their kids' cribs to keep them amused. They look like this:


Spend some time on Facebook, and you will see that you are turning knobs, spinning wheels, and ringing bells just like some slobbering infant making a poop in his diaper. It is very annoying to an adult but totally addicting to this nation of infants. Do you protest this characterization? I've got one word for you--FARMVILLE!


If Facebook is an internet romper room, then Twitter is the cafeteria at an elementary school with its endless stream of chatter and that one kid blowing bubbles in his milk through a straw connected to his left nostril.


As for other social media, Instagram is just Facebook without words like the kindergarten at the elementary school. Linked In is a pretend social network for grown ups but no one uses it sort of like the library at the elementary school.

The sad reality is that social media dumbed down the internet for the rest of society. While grown ups write articles and read them and code HTML, social media allows illiterate people to play along with the grown ups sort of like the steering wheel on the child safety seat.


This may seem like a harsh assessment of things, but I think I am more charitable than the smartphone people who call me Luddite and dinosaur because I don't have the latest toy. Basically, the paleontology references come out when you insist on living like a grown up.

When you are a grown up, you care more about tools than toys. Email is a tool. Facebook is a toy. The same goes for phones. My flip phone is a tool. Your smartphone is a toy. Does this sting and burn? Then consider how much you PLAY on the damn thing. I witness this all day--people playing on devices. This never happened with the Crackberry. And witness the most juvenile of communication forms--the EMOJI!


Our communications are now reduced to this childish hieroglyphic crap. It is unreal how immature our society and culture has become.

I like being a grown up. This is why I like having my flip phone or sending an email. This is also why the Jethro Gibbs character has a flip phone on NCIS. That guy is a Marine and a grown up. A guy like that is not going to use a smartphone and play Candy Crush on it.


The fact is that I have seen people in their seventies with smartphones and people in their twenties on flip phones. But generally speaking, the people with flip phones were mature while the people with smartphones were immature and not very smart.

Smartphones do have some useful functions for grown ups. You can check your email and browse the web. These were the things you could do with the Blackberry which was definitely a phone for grown ups. It is sad that Blackberry gave over to the kids and have virtually abandoned making smartphones for grown ups. They should have played up the professional angle and persisted with it. Instead, they joined the toy market and lost. Dumb.

4.09.2017

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 44


Smartphones. Who cares? Smartphones. I only have dummy phones.
DON RICKLES

1. SYRIA

There is a lot of praise and condemnation for Donald Trump after launching missile strikes on Syria after reports of Assad using chemical weapons on his people. I am in the praise camp, but I want to clarify where I stand on these things.

Once upon a time, I used to be an antiwar libertarian. I called myself a "noninterventionist." This somehow was less stinging than being called a pacifist and an isolationist. Yet, I was both of those things. Absent a direct hit on the US mainland or territory such as Pearl Harbor, I believed the USA should remain neutral or absent in virtually all foreign affairs. I also harbored some of Ron Paul's delusions that things like 9/11 were blowback from meddling in foreign affairs.

The supporters turned critics of Trump are in this Ron Paul camp. All attacks on the USA are blowback. All chemical weapons attacks by foreign dictators are false flag attacks meant to provoke our involvement. Now, I want you to think about this nonsense a bit. If we get involved in foreign affairs, we will experience blowback. If we don't get involved, we will be false flag attacked to provoke our involvement. THIS IS INSANE. What these nutjobs have created is a logical trap with the same answer. We should isolate ourselves and mind our own business. I wish things were this simple, but they aren't.

I dropped the Ron Paul foreign policy when I became Catholic and became a born again conservative. The guy who best represents my thinking now is Mark Levin. The guy is neither a radical noninterventionist nor is he a neoconservative. Basically, Levin believes in peace through strength. I believe in peace through strength. Ronald Reagan believed in peace through strength. And, it should be clear to the world now that Donald Trump believes in peace through strength.

The problem with radical noninterventionism is the naive belief that if you mind your own business then people will mind their own business. This is simply not the case. Peace is the objective, but we have to recognize the fact of original sin. People love to mess with other people, and this includes foreign leaders and countries. At some point, you are going to be in a fight or war. The best way to bring about peace is the assurance to your present and potential enemies that you will utterly destroy them if they are unable to police themselves and live in peace. This policy is the correct one on a personal level as well as a national level. This is why I support the Second Amendment and the NRA and defend the right of people to arm themselves. It is also why I believe in a robust national defense. You should always be willing to fight.

On the flip side of noninterventionism is neoconservatism. There is nothing conservative about neoconservativism. Basically, neocons believe in the positive aspects of big government at home and abroad. Essentially, they are leftwingers with a fetish for using military force. Democrats like Obama and Hillary Clinton are for this lunacy. When these lunatics are found in the Republican Party, they are called neocons. Today, this would be John McCain and Lindsay Graham.

The neocon project is to fix what is wrong with the world. Fundamentally, they are utopians and busybodies in foreign affairs. These are the people who say that we should give war a chance. Yet, what positive benefit has ever come from war? The only real winners in these wars are the arms contractors.

War fixes nothing. It merely kills people and destroys things. Unfortunately, killing people and breaking things is an unavoidable fact of life. This happened in World War II. Nazi Germany needed destruction.

War should always be the last option, but it should always be an option. The neocons want it to be the first option while the isolationists want to take it completely off the table. With Syria, the use of chemical weapons changed the game there considerably. Trump knew it and acted appropriately. He did the right thing. As a matter of policy and principle, we should oppose the use of all weapons of mass destruction. Even Hitler refrained from using chemical weapons. That fact should make us pause and reflect.

When guys like Assad use chemical warfare, they are violating a fundamental agreement among nations that has been in place since World War I. You don't use chemical weapons. That same agreement extends to biological and nuclear weapons now. The reason is that such weapons are no longer warfare on your enemies but on humanity itself. When any leader resorts to such weapons, he needs to be opposed.

The fear after the strike on Syria is the possibility of neoconservative objectives in Syria. I am in agreement with guys like Rand Paul that this would be a huge mistake. But to do nothing is to let Assad run nuts with chemical weapons. We simply can't have that sort of thing.

We will see where Trump goes from here, but he did the right thing on Syria this past week. People who feel betrayed by Trump's hawkishness need to rethink their nutty philosophy on foreign policy. It should be recalled that FDR could have saved many Jews from the Holocaust by a few well placed bombs dropped on railroad tracks and bridges leading to Auschwitz and other places. If Trump prevents the further use of chemical weapons by Assad, he will have done a really good thing even if peace does not come to Syria.

2. GORSUCH

The GOP exercised the nuclear option and confirmed Gorsuch to the SCOTUS. I am happy about this. Some lament going nuclear, but they fail to understand one important fact. The Democrats would not have hesitated to go nuclear for one of their radical leftwing activist nominees. This is the thing you have to remember about Democrats and liberals. There is no option or action beneath them. They will do anything to advance their agenda. This is because they are fundamentally evil.

There is no such thing as a good Democrat. Certainly, there are those who will try to differ, toss up JFK, or argue otherwise. But is there such a thing as a good Nazi? Is there such a thing as a good communist? Can one be a good murderer?

The Democrat party is fundamentally and philosophically the party of evil. The number one reason they opposed Gorsuch was because they believe in killing unborn babies. They actually believe in killing born babies, old people, and political opponents, but they can't be that blatant about it at the present time. The only difference between a Democrat and a psychopathic murderer is that the Democrat is willing to take the slow path to the same end.

I have high hopes for Gorsuch. He may match Scalia and even exceed him in his rulings. All I know is that his nomination to the SCOTUS was a promise kept by Donald Trump and a indictment against those who couldn't soil themselves by voting for a flawed presidential candidate. Just think of who Hillary would have put on the court. I voted for Trump, and you're welcome. Pray that Roe v. Wade gets overturned.

3. BEN OP

Rod Dreher finally published that damn book of his. I have already written what I think of the Benedict Option here, and my opinion of it remains unchanged. There is really nothing Benedictine about the BO at all. I will have to read the book myself and review it at some point, but the reviews I have read about it indicate that the book is exactly what Dreher has been blogging about over the last couple of years.

The Benedict Option is neither Catholic nor Christian. I don't think Jesus was fudging when He called us to be the salt and the light of the world. What would have happened to St. Thomas More if he had exercised the Benedict Option?

The BO is misnamed because Dreher is fundamentally an Epicurean. For those unfamiliar with Epicurus, he was was a Greek philosophy who advocated a refined hedonism and a withdrawal from the wider world and into a cultivated garden. The goal of this withdrawal is to establish and maintain a pleasant life. Now, I'm all for enjoying good things in life, but I don't believe in elevating this to a lifestyle. I suspect that Dreher does because he is always posting those "View From Your Table" blog posts like this and this and this. The man clearly loves eating. I also believe that Epicurus would recognize one of his own disciples.

I don't want my arguments against the Ben Op to be straw man and ad hominem. The fact is that the legit arguments have already been made and established, and none of them deter Dreher from his error. So, when the argument has been won, we must move to the personal. Why does Dreher advance a Christian sounding argument for an unchristian strategy? The answer is obvious. The man wants a pleasant life and lifestyle. He wants comfort. And that, Gentle Reader, is the fundamental danger and error of the Benedict Option.

Pope Benedict XVI got it right when he said that we were not made for comfort but for greatness. Dreher is a Catholic schismatic who bailed on the One True Faith when the weight of that cross became more than he could bear. He couldn't go back to being Protestant. so he started going to a Russian Orthodox church. There are two things I know about the Orthodox. The first is that they are orthodox even when they aren't. The second is that they are irrelevant in every country and culture they inhabit bowing to temporal authority at every twist and turn.

I don't see how so many can't see what I see in Dreher's proposal. Basically, Dreher wants to make us just like those insipid Orthodox who are utterly traditional and "holy" and invisible. They are the salt that has lost its saltiness. Once you cut yourself off from Peter, you are divorced from the source. Jesus can't have a second wife. As it stands, the Orthodox are a relic church.

Cowardice isn't Christian. Once you bow to the world, the world will expect you to finish it off with puckered lips pressed to its derriere. Evil is never satisfied. The world must be resisted at a basic level but also transformed per the instructions of our Lord. We are to make ourselves holy and also make the world holy as much as we possibly can. There is frustration and setbacks in this work, but we are never called to abandon this work even if it is a "strategic withdrawal."

Christianity requires suffering. Anyone who preaches a Christ who was not crucified is anathema. I don't think it is a mere coincidence that both Protestants and the Orthodox eschew the crucifix in favor of empty crosses while Catholics almost always have a corpus on their crosses except for those modernist parishes with their dreadful resurrexifixes. Yet, it was St. Paul who wrote, "We preach Christ crucified." I think a crucified Christ is an essential feature of the true Gospel, and its absence a recurring feature in heresy and schism. This is because heresy and schism propose an alternate route or "option."


There is no option to the cross. If you are in the world, the world will hate you, and that is the cross you must bear. And if Dreher or anyone else claims that this is not what the Benedict Option is about, then I have to know what it is about. Either it is quietism and retreat, or it is nothing. But we know better. Let's not fool ourselves here. The Benedict Option is a cowardly retreat from one's calling and a way to salve one's guilty conscience over this cowardice. This trickery is known as "purity." We are retreating to "purify" ourselves and become more holy. What utter nonsense and falsehood.

This is the thing that I like about Donald Trump. That guy is an utterly flawed human being. He is a hot mess of a man. But he isn't a coward. He doesn't always get it right. But he gets more right than wrong. Meanwhile, the limpwristed cowards want to camp on the sidelines in their purity while throwing condemnation at the guy actually doing something.

Here's what you should be doing. You should get in the fight. This means voting. This means running for office. This means expressing your viewpoints in newspapers, internet forums, and on the streets. Look at how tireless the forces of evil are for their agenda. They never quit because they know evil wins when good gets tired and goes home.

Yes, we are in a post-Christian America. And how did we get here? The answer is that Christianity in America has grown soft and corrupted by Protestant errors, the prosperity gospel, modernism, and all the rest. Comfort has bred this, and Dreher counsels more comfort. We need to eschew this comfort. We need to be more holy and more righteous. And we need to fight. This disaster is not a defeat but an opportunity to follow our callings. If the unrighteous Trump can fight, certainly the righteous should fight even more than him. Don't hide under a bushel. Be the light in this dark world.

4. QUOTABLE QUOTES

Evil draws its power from indecision and concern for what other people think.
POPE BENEDICT XVI

Anticipated spears wound less.
ST. THOMAS MORE

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.
THOMAS SOWELL

5. ODDS AND ENDS

--Don Rickles was politically incorrect before the term even existed. And we loved him for it. He will be missed especially in times like these when we need him.

--Colbert is beating Fallon because liberals miss the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

--The problem with Alec Baldwin's impersonation of Trump isn't that Baldwin is a noxious liberal. He is just a terrible impersonator. Maybe SNL could pull Dana Carvey out of retirement to get the job done right.

--Californistan goes after a pro-life investigative journalist for being pro-life. That's it. And that First Amendment will be null and void when they secede. Of course, I give them ten years before they are absorbed back into Mexico.

--I think it is a sign of weakness and stupidity when a person moves from political opinions to lambasting someone's body or looks. The problems we face are not due to Trump's hair or Rosie O'Donnell's obesity.

6. LINKS OF INTEREST

Four Years Later: Reflections on an Unprecedented Pontificate

PAPALOTRY, RIP: Pope Ignites Counterrevolution

Wonder and Wickedness

Why Did Assad Use Nerve Gas?

DISGRACED PRIEST SHINES LIGHT ON NY CORRUPTION

Is Capitalism the Enemy of the Family?

Report: Pope Francis thanks Malta bishops for guidelines allowing adulterers to receive Communion