Thursday, December 29, 2011

Squirrel Hunting

I spent most of yesterday with my dad hunting in Aucilla.  We started out hog hunting but when the pigs didn't show we switched to birdshot and shot some squirrels.  My dad got six.  I got . . . less than six.  This morning we're having a southern breakfast of grits and squirrels.

The bushytails could have learned a lesson from Monty Python:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Defending Jack Chick

In the spirit of St. Steven's feast day, I think it appropriate to extend some charity to someone who is an enemy of my faith.  Uber anti-Catholic Jack Chick is rather dumb.  However, so are we all to one degree or another and although intelligence is handy it is not a virtue.  I harbor no ill will toward Mr. Chick but some people certainly do, and I feel the need to defend him against unjust accusers. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is mostly concerned with telling the government what it already knows and soliciting white liberals for money.  The SPLC studies the five or six people in the country who belong to hate groups and publishes several reports a year on the subject which it ceremoniously hands over to the United States government because the SPLC is apparently unaware of the FBI's existence.  The decline in racism over the last several decades means that the Law Center would be out of business if it had not extended its surveillance mandate to anyone who might possibly be tarred with the "hate" brush.  The SPLC condemns super-trad Catholics for their supposed antisemitism and opponents of illegal immigration for "racism."  For reasons that are not entirely clear, Chick Publications also stands accused of being a hate group.

Chick Publications is listed as a hate group under the category of "General Hate."  No profile is provided and I suspect that Jack Chick's group is included for the same reason that the Catholic newspaper The Wanderer is labeled a hate group, a means of inflating the number of hate groups to cite on fundraising appeals.  Jack Chick certainly hates Catholicism, but I have yet to see any indication that he actually hates Catholics or anyone else for that matter.  Besides, he believes that the Catholic Church was founded by Satan.  If I were ignorant enough to believe that the Church is satanic I would hate Catholicism too and would be justified in doing so.  Chick also hates Islam and homosexuality, but that does not mean he hates Muslims or homosexuals.  The SPLC is applying the liberal notion that a judgement of an act or ideology is a judgement of a person.  Chick Publications is not a hate group, it's just stupid.  Jack Chick would probably not want to be associated with me but whether he likes it or not I stand with him against the self-righteous and silly people of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

May Jesus Christ the Word made flesh bless you and your family this Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Conciliar Option

Theoretically, convincing someone to abandon Protestantism should be fairly straightforward.  No one disputes that the canon of the New Testament was organized by the Synod of Hippo.  If the New Testament is inspired by the Holy Spirit then so must be the post-apostolic men who constructed it.  To acknowledge the New Testament canon is to accept an extra-biblical Sacred Tradition and to deny Sola Scriptura and Protestantism along with it. (There are of course decent arguments made by Protestants who suggest that things are not quite this simple.)

However, even Protestants who tentatively accept this argument are not necessarily ready to swim the Tiber.  To many of my Protestant friends, the doctrine of Papal infallibility seems even weaker than Sola Scriptura and I suppose I can see why.  After all, it does seem a bit strange that an elderly German man living in Rome should have a direct line to God.  Though there are good arguments for papal primacy, they are more complex than the evidence for Sacred Tradition offered by the Synod of Hippo.  If you cannot convince a Protestant that the Bishop of Rome has teaching authority than it may be time to switch to Plan B: The Conciliar Option.

The Ecumenical councils of the early church are accepted by both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches as valid sources of Sacred Tradition, and both Catholics and Orthodox have their own subsequent set of councils.  For the Orthodox, councils and the ordinary magisterium of bishops are the only sources of authoritative teaching because they reject Papal primacy.  I think that it might be easier to convince a Protestant to adopt the Orthodox position than the Catholic one.  Protestantism is culturally "democratic" while Catholicism is more "autocratic" so a conciliar approach might be more attractive to a potential convert.  Ideally, Protestants and everyone else in the world would embrace the fullness of truth that is to be found in the Catholic Church but accepting the teaching authority of ecumenical councils would be a huge step in the right direction.  It would be impossible to affirm the teachings of all Catholic councils while denying Papal infallibility, leaving the Orthodox Churches as the only logically consistent options for someone who believes in Sacred Tradition but not Papal infallibility.  Any Orthodox church would be a great improvement over a Protestant denomination because the Orthodox can claim apostolic succession and have legitimate sacraments.  I say that if we can't make Protestants Catholics, we should make them Orthodox.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book One of the Kingdom Trilogy Released!

My friend Sean McGuire has just released his novel The Kingdom: The Quest on the Kindle store for $2.99.  I have purchased the book and will review it after I read it.  You can buy it here.

For more information, check out Sean's website.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Full-Auto Pizza

H/T: Pundit and Pundette
Nashville Local News reports,

Boy disciplined after waving gun-shaped pizza slice

For the rest of the semester, a Rutherford County elementary student has to eat lunch at the "silent table" for allegedly waving around a slice of pizza some say resembled a gun.
Nicholas Taylor attends David Youree Elementary School in Smyrna, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.
A spokesperson for the school district said that the punishment has nothing to do with the pizza gun and that Nicholas is being disciplined for lying to a teacher about the incident.  However, the same spokesman then said
The principal is just trying to use an abundance of caution and send the message that we don't play about guns and it's not something we joke around about.
The article reports that Nicholas has been sent to the school resource officer to learn about gun safety.  It would seem that the kid really is being punished for brandishing a pizza gun.  I don't need to tell you that this is stupid.  To paraphrase Dave Barry, if boys were raised on a desert island and had no idea what guns were they would still collect gun shaped sticks and "shoot" each other.  The fact that schools ban boys from doing something as natural as shooting each other with sticks and pizza is indicative of the feminization of education.  Like Pundit and Pundette said, this is just another reason to homeschool.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sex and the Sims
















The Sims Medieval for iOS happened to be free one day so I installed it on my iPod Touch.  The Sims franchise could be described as a series of digital dollhouses inhabited by "Sims," people whom you have to take care of and whose lives you can direct.  If you are wondering if I have suddenly become gender-confused, you should know that I only got the game because the Medieval version has swords and mostly because it was free.

First a word about the game.  The Sims Medieval is a departure from the tradition of the series and includes both rpg elements and sandbox gameplay.  Neither are done very well.  The quests and leveling system are some of the most boring things I have ever experienced in a game.  The Sims Medieval is actually worth less than the $0 I paid for it because someone would have to pay me to play it for very long.  Even the freestyle sandbox gameplay that is the core of the Sims franchise is very dull because it is extremely restrictive.  You can neither build a house for your Sim nor burn it down.  No fun at all.

The limitations on the actual life of your Sim are not simply boring but actually disturbing in regards to Sim sexuality.  In my game, I had my Sim marry the only Sim woman who would give him the time of day.  With some embarrassment, I directed my Sim to engage in conjugal relations with his spouse.  I figured that it was ok because they were married and it would be interesting to raise a baby Sim.  However the oddest thing happened, or rather didn't happen.  My Sim's wife never became pregnant.  I then noticed that there were no children in the entire game world and it did not appear as though any were likely to show up.  A childless world would be a good setting for a creepy dystopian novel but the game world is presented as a cheery vibrant place whose residents are entirely nonchalant about the coming demographic collapse.  It would appear that sex in the Sims Medieval (at least the iOS version) is inherently sterile.  The procreative is not merely separated from the unitive by the sinful act of contraception but is entirely and intrinsically foreign to the sexuality of the Sims.  While the game designers probably thought that this was of little consequence, it is actually rather disturbing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Back!

I'm done with the semester and home on break!  Now I just need to think of something to write about.  Hmm....

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Slacking

That "brief hiatus" is turning into an extended one.  I have a lot of work to do and will resume blogging in a couple of weeks.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The UN and China's One Child Policy

Brasscheck TV hosts some nutjob conspiracy theories on its YouTube channel but sadly, this video is not one of them.  China's tyrannical population control and the complicity of westerners is very real.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Most Important Woman in History

Prior to the rise of Christianity and devotion to Mary, the most revered women in the world were the Vestal Virgins and the Delphic Oracle.

The job description of the Vestal Virgins looked like this:
1. Keep a fire burning.
2. Don't have sex.






























The Oracle at Delphi was a lady who offered vague predictions while tripping on psychedelic fumes.





























Mary is honored for bearing God in her womb and being the holiest of all saints.  While pagan priestesses lived apart from the people, Mary lived as a model for every human person and will intercede on behalf of anyone.  Mary blows away the competiton.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Break

I have to take a short hiatus from blogging while I work on term papers.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cardinals Win World Series!

<a href='http://foxsports.com?vid=fc22b848-2cde-46d6-b17c-52751b3275af&mkt=en-us&from=IV2_en-us_foxsports_videosearch&src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='MLB on FOX: Cardinals celebrate' >Video: MLB on FOX: Cardinals celebrate</a>

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Funniest Catechism Ever

At Crisis, John Zmirak gives us a preview of The Bad Catholic's Catechism:

Q: If the best we can do by sheer reason is to end up with a kind of watchmaker god, then the rest of it has to come from “revelation.” But there are more religions in the world than you can shake a stick at—and some of them are pretty intolerant, so you’d better hide your stick. Each one makes the same argument: “God is this way, not that way, and we know because He told us so.” How in God’s name (heh, heh) are we supposed to know which one to believe?

First of all, you aren’t exactly getting that right about the world religions. Admittedly, it’s possible that the one true religion is an obscure little cult that exists in a single mountain valley in Soregonadistan, but that doesn’t seem terribly likely. A faith that got reality “right” would by its nature seem destined to make a major impact in the world and attract some followers, so we can start with the major world religions. Now when we look at them, in fact there are only three which claim to have direct access to revelation from God of what His nature is: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. What is more, all three of them claim to descend from the very same patriarch, Abraham, who they all agree was the first man to receive explicit instructions from God about how to honor Him.

Buddhism doesn’t claim to have a message from God, just a special insight into the nature of ultimate reality—which boils down to the fact that existing in the first place is a kind of curse, and wanting one thing rather than another is a really bad idea because you aren’t likely to get it, which will make you unhappy. Since the goal is not to find happiness (that’s impossible) but simply to stop the misery, you should learn to quit wanting things, and if you get good enough at this you will eventually stop existing. If Buddhism had a god, and he had a voice, it would be that voice inside your head at the dentist’s office that tells you to ask for more laughing gas and Novocaine, the risk of a coma be damned. Taoism is a mystical nature cult and Confucianism a political and ethical philosophy. The latter has so little explicit religious content that when the Jesuits made it to China, they felt they could include Confucian rituals in the Mass, since they didn’t even overlap with (much less contradict) Christianity. Hinduism claims to have passed along traditional knowledge of many hundreds of different gods, none of which claims to be unique, and one of which is an elephant. Next!

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Vatican: Reincarnation is Real

(Rome) According to an important official in the Vatican, people are reincarnated after death.  The body they assume depends upon their karma in previous lives. 

The official who made the statement is Chaiyong Satjipanon, the Thai ambassador to the Holy See.  He said, "As a Buddhist, I believe in Reincarnation and hope to eventually break out of the cycle of death an rebirth.  Hey wait a minute, this isn't one of those articles that tries to make some obscure statement sound like the teaching of the Catholic Church is it?  Hey, where are you going?"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pro-Life Petitions

HT: Is Anybody There?
There are two important pro-life petitions going around right now.

One expresses support for the congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood.  Sign here.

The other demands that the federal government defund Planned Parenthood.  Sign here.

Please sign the petitions!

So True

Friday, October 21, 2011

Politics on Catholic Blogs

I will sometimes feel especially disturbed by political or economic commentary with which I disagree when I find that commentary on a Catholic blog.  Plenty of other people get riled up by politics on Catholic blogs and I think I know why.  Catholic bloggers are not themselves infallible but we will often support infallible teachings.  If I were to write, "God is three persons in one nature" or "Abortion is evil" it would be a sin to disagree with me, not because the disagreement is with me, but with the teachings that I refer too.  A lot of Catholic bloggers myself included, write about religion and politics.  As a result, we shift from support of Church teaching to fallible political ideas which can make the reader feel as though bloggers are trying to say that any good Catholic must agree with him politically.  Bloggers do not mean to imply that their non-theological ideas are Sacred Tradition and their readers should keep that in mind.  Or not.  Feel free to ignore this advice.  I'm not infallible.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Belated Blogoversary


















As of last Saturday I have been blogging for one year.  Though I have not always been as prolific a writer as I would have liked, I have greatly enjoyed sharing my thoughts with the blog.  Thanks for reading! 

Some of my favorite posts in chronological order:

My First Post

Calvinist Monopoly

I Appoint Some Czars

Dawkins vs Plantinga

March for Life

A Witness or a Talk?

Surprising Facts About the Sacraments

Songs of the Civil War

Are You Ready to Die?

The Heresy of Indifference

Jack Chick vs Jack Chick

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Joe Biden is Bad at Making Comparisons

Our perpetually confused Vice President recently made a favorable comparison between the Occupy Wall Street protesters and the Tea Party, saying that "they have a lot in common."  This seems odd considering that Mr. Biden has compared the Tea Party to terrorists.  According to the transitive property of political mathematics, that means that Joe Biden has likened the left-leaning Occupy Wall Street Movement to terrorists.  Someone should tell the protesters; maybe they'll occupy Biden's lawn.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Catholics and the Crown

MSNBC reports,
HT: CMR
A 300-year-old ban on heirs to the British throne marrying Roman Catholics would be overturned and discrimination against royal daughters removed under reforms proposed on Wednesday by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron has written to the leaders of the 15 other realms who share Queen Elizabeth as their monarch, including the Solomon Islands and the Grenadines, to request their approval, his office said.

Cameron wants to banish laws dating back to 1688 and 1700 designed to ensure a Protestant monarchy and barring anyone in line to the throne from marrying a Roman Catholic unless they relinquished their claim to the crown.

Only a Catholic link is barred — there are no restrictions on Jews, Hindus, Muslims or even atheists. 
Being Catholic, American, and part Irish, I am instinctively suspicious of the British Crown and the marriage ban was just another reason to dislike the institution.  Fortunately, there are still plenty of other problems with the British monarchy that will serve to reinforce my prejudices.  For one thing, as Matt Archbold points out, the potential lifting of the marriage prohibition probably has less to do with sympathy for Catholicism and more to do with secular indifference.  Also, it is still illegal for a Catholic to hold the throne because that would awkwardly conflict with the nominal role of anti-pope.  Then there are the crazy ramblings of Prince Charles and the pre-marital cohabitation between Prince William and his wife.  Between historical anti-Catholicism and modern secular "values," the British Crown offers more than enough reasons for grumpy people like me to oppose it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Camoflage!

I'm really looking forward to December, when I get to go home and hunt.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Great Catholic Pastime

This Day in History

In 1582, absolutely nothing happened in Catholic countries on this date, or on the other days between October 5th and 14th of that year.  This is because those days did not exist in countries that had adopted the Gregorian calendar.  If you want to take your time traveling Delorean for a spin in a historically Catholic nation, don't set the machine to go back 429 years; you will end up in the temporal void erected by Pope Gregory XIII to protect the time-space continuum.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Catholic Femanazis Cry For the Altar Girls

My comments in blue.

From America Magazine,
by The Editors

This is not a local story, but one that represents larger trends in the church—in the priesthood, the liturgy and in the role of the people of God. Recently Sts. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz., changed its policy on altar servers. From now on only boys may serve; girls may apply for jobs as sacristans. Why? The rector of the cathedral told The Catholic Sun that the cathedral is not alone in making this regulation. A parish in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., he argues, have found that replacing girls with boys as servers leads to more vocations to the priesthood.
 
These moves to limit laywomen’s access to the altar threaten to drag the church back into the pre-Vatican II world.
Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.
One wonders if next the altar rail will return, another barrier between the priests and the people.
Either standing in line or using an altar rail, the congregation receives the body and blood of the Living God, and kneeling at the rail is more reverent.  But the America editors don't care about that because they are Marxists who think that the difference between priest and laity is an unjust class distinction.

According to the rector, people who are upset about this decision concerning Mass servers make a mistake in considering it “a question of rights,” as if someone’s rights were being denied. But, he says, no one has a “right” to be a server or even more a priest. One must be “called” to any church office. When the secular world comments on who should be an altar server, he says, it has only an emotional view, unguided by the light of reason.
It's as if the rector predicted this editorial.

The key issue is the status of the baptized: that the laity may be called by the Spirit to offer their talents in various roles. The rejection of altar girls disregards the counsel of the Second Vatican Council that the charisms of the baptized “are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation.” By virtue of baptism, the council reminds us, “there is neither male nor female. For you are all ‘one’ in Christ Jesus.” There is “a true equality between all with regard to the dignity and activity which is common to all the faithful in building up the Body of Christ” (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” Nos. 12, 32).
The charism argument presented by America is the same used by those who want to ordain women.  The idea is that if you feel called to something, you have a special charism for that activity, and that this activity ought to be pursued no matter what.  Personally, I feel I have a charism for punching America magazine editors in the face.

That this call should be fully welcomed does not appear to be a priority in Phoenix. Yes, the Vatican instruction “Sacrament of Redemption” (2004) allows women servers, but it leaves the decision to local bishops. In Phoenix the bishop leaves it to the pastors. This pastor did not consult the parish council, he says, because its members are not theologically trained.
The rector did nothing outside of his rights and America still complains because he did not consult the parish council.  Of course, the council is free to make a recommendation on a policy whether a pastor consults it or not.  Either way, the parish council plays a purely advisory role and it really doesn't matter whether or not the pastor asks them for their opinion.

Another issue is the image of the priesthood today. Is it wise to re-enforce the sense of the priesthood as a clerical caste?
Better a distant clerical caste than a collection of middle-aged men who insist on being called "Bob" and wear gay sweaters.
Is the acolyte supposed to be like the page who serves Sir Galahad until King Arthur dubs him a knight?
Well yeah, that's the idea.
In a culture where parents want their daughters to have the same opportunities as their sons—in co-ed Catholic colleges, in the armed services (getting shot at), in athletics, in employment—the church can look irrelevant, even foolish, in shunting them aside.
America says the Church ought to conform to the culture so as to avoid looking foolish.  In other words, ordain women, marry gays, and endorse contraception!
The more the priesthood is presented as an exclusive club, the smaller and more remote it will become.
No, the more priests are presented as liberal and effeminate, the smaller the priesthood will become.
Those who put up barriers between themselves and the people should, using modern parlance, recall Jesus’ words to his disciples: “Look, how many times do I have to tell you? You are here to serve.”

Inevitably the issue of women’s roles in the church raises the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood. Recently a cardinal in Lisbon and some bishops in Brazil, among others, also raised the question; but since Pope Benedict XVI, despite continued agitation, has reaffirmed the policy of John Paul II to allow no discussion of the topic, the matter of altar servers must be considered a separate and independent issue.
If it's a separate and independent issue why bring it up at all?  Obviously because America supports the imbecilic idea of women "priests."

In no way should policies imply that women are second-class citizens—welcome to tidy up the sacristy, arrange flowers and clean linens but not to set the gifts at the altar or hold the sacramentary or censer.
Only in the mind of a liberal Catholic could a simple division of roles mean oppression of women.
Rather, they must be welcomed into every service and leadership role, including catechists, lectors, chancellors and general secretaries of bishops’ conferences.
Calling for women to be welcomed into "every service and leadership role" is a less than subtle endorsement of women's ordination.
(The diaconate for women remains an open question and ought to be explored.)
Women deacons used to exist in the Church though they were probably not ordained.  Even if women could be ordained to the diaconate, doing so today would only confuse the great mass of unthinking Catholics who do not understand the major differences between priests and deacons and further the cause of women's ordination.  This of course is exactly what the editors of America want and their call for the question of female deacons to be "explored" really means "make women deacons now!"
Churches that invite all their people to bring all their talents to the welfare of the congregation will thrive. To tell a young woman that she may no longer pour the water on the priest’s fingers at the Lavabo looks like sexism.
Liberals have terrible priorities.  Who cares about increasing priestly vocations?  Not looking sexist is what's really important!
If the ban in these dioceses continues and spreads, perhaps women and girls will consider withholding their other services to the parishes, and men and boys, in solidarity with their sisters, will decline the honor of acolyte.
No, that is not going to happen because the sort of girl who wants to serve her parish is not a spoiled diva, and the sort of boy who wants to serve at the altar is not a feminist wimp.

Having girls share serving opportunities with boys is an expression of their equality in Christ. Parishes must create a variety of social and service activities. A distinguishing characteristic of today’s young men and women, even when they are not “devout” in the usual sense, is their rejection of discrimination in any form.
Well heck, I'm more or less opposed to discrimination and that makes me "alternatively devout".  I guess I don't have to go to Mass!
They are highly sensitive to any hint of exclusionary policies in organizations. Perhaps if more young people  (notice they write "people" instead of men) believed they could continue that commitment to equality as priests, more would be ready to follow a priestly vocation. 
The mission of the priesthood is the salvation of sinners and the glorification of God, not the advancement of liberal ideas about "equality."  If a young man is primarily concerned with political correctness, he should not be a priest, he should be a writer for America magazine.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Defending the Dumb

The Remnant newspaper is fond of the SSPX and often defends the Society.  The editors of The Remnant correctly insist that the Society is not in a formal schism with Rome, but fail to see that the SSPX has a greater problem.  Local bishops do not grant SSPX priests their priestly faculties, making any Sacraments performed by them illicit.  The Orthodox churches are definitely in schism with the Catholic Church, but they are in better shape than the SSPX super-trads because Sacraments performed by Orthodox priests are licit.  The Remnant and other defenders of the SSPX are right to refute the charge of schism, but they do not realize that there are other important considerations besides basic unity with Rome.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Question of Caliber

Those who dislike guns often suggest that male gun owners use firearms as a type of "extension" for anatomical shortcomings.  However, if this is true, why do we gun owners care so much about our right to own this:

 

















Instead of this?
















Just a thought.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Water Heater Rocket

I have been very busy lately with schoolwork and napping but I will soon return to a more or less regular schedule of written posts.  In the meantime look at this water heater exploding!:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Political Correctness is unChristian

Political Correctness is not only silly, its immoral.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way.
The ethos of political correctness is based on the assumption that men are sexist, whites are racist, and that heterosexuals hate gays.  On the contrary, the Church teaches that we are to assume within reason that people think and act with good intentions.  Political correctness is uncharitable and unChristian.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The School For Papist Gamers

John Paul II the Great Catholic University offers a degree in communications with an emphasis on
video game design.  It will be very interesting to see what students in this program produce in the future.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fr. Spitzer on the Existence of God

This is a recording of Fr. Robert Spitzer's speech at Benedictine College, delivered last year.  I attended the speech and was very impressed; had I known that it was available online I would have posted it a long time ago.  The sound quality of President Minnis' introduction is not very good, so you might want to skip ahead to the 3:50 mark.  Fr. Spitzer was wearing a microphone so the speech itself sounds ok.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Establishment Clause Should Be Less Established

Happy belated Constitution Day (Sep 17) to everyone!  To mark this occasion, I will take part in the time honored conservative tradition of complaining about the establishment clause.  The establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitutions states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."  Liberals and conservatives have been arguing about the meaning of this clause for most of the last century and the debate is as divisive now as it has ever been.  I propose a solution.

Well actually, I propose two solutions, a Plan A and a Plan B.  In plan A, I am installed as dictator, thus rendering any constitutional questions moot.  If that doesn't work out, Plan B should go into effect.  Plan B is the disincorporation of the establishment clause.  Most establishment clause controversies arise at the state level and if we could roll back the incorporation (application to states) of the clause it would prevent a lot of arguments over its application by lifting restrictions upon religious activities within state governments.  This isn't just the crazy idea of a lone nutjob, it's a crazy idea that has been endorsed by Justice Clarence Thomas.  In Elk Grove School District v. Newdow, Justice Thomas had this to say in his concurring opinion:
The text and history of the Establishment Clause strongly suggest that it is a federalism provision intended to prevent Congress from interfering with state establishments. Thus, unlike the Free Exercise Clause, which does protect an individual right, it makes little sense to incorporate the Establishment Clause.
I could not agree more.  The text of the clause clearly refers to the power of the federal Congress, not to state governments.  The rest of the First Amendment should however be incorporated, including freedom of speech.  That way, a county judge could display the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, and an atheist would have the right to complain about it.  Sounds like a good solution to me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2 Peter 1:20-21

"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

I am curious to see how Protestants reconcile this passage with Sola Scriptura.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Catholic Limericks

Two great poems by Catholic bloggers:

How Nice to Be Nice
by Left Footer

How nice to be nice!
To tolerate vice,
And give honour to every perversion.
To love without boundaries,
Ideological quandaries,
And have Faith, but one's own private version.


How Good to Be Sad 

How good to be sad
When the world is so bad
And to act every way as a Christian
To follow the Cross
And despise life’s dross
And be regarded with suspicion

Message From a Gnostic Missionary

Last month I wrote a post on the Gnostic themes in Tron: Legacy.  A few weeks ago I noticed a new comment on that post.  I don't want to make fun of anyone who leaves a respectful comment on my blog so I will simply say that I found the message very strange.  The comment in full:


Amazing finding of yours that went wrong Patrick, let me argue against, delete my post if you want but keep in contact with me as I find your ideas somewhat interesting.

Let me start by saying that I'm a Gnostic Missionary, and an ex Catholic. I was looking for pictures of old CLU meditating for my meditation course and I found your blog.

It surprises me that being a Catholic you actually found the Gnostic message in TRON Legacy. When the movie was about to come out my master told us to watch it as it had a gnostic message I presume left by him.

Yes it has a Gnostic message which will probably go against your catholic beliefs only if you think it does;

The real message is the teaching of the "Demiurge" the blind god creator of the physical world. People believe this to be merely literary, yet the true meaning is deeper:

We are the Demiurge, we are creators of the physical world, it is said that man is the architect of his own destiny, yet by trying to make the world perfect and enjoyable we have created an imperfect world, the same thing happens in Tron Legacy: Old CLU or Flint or I don't remember his name creates a computer world intended to be perfect yet he gets trapped in his own creation.

Look at our world; who created our innefective governments?, who chooses our leaders?, who created the financial systems with all those flaws?, why is it so hard to pay taxes so that you need to hire an accountant to do so?, why do you have to make a line and collect so many documents to get an approval for anything?. All of those troubled things are artifacts of our own creation, we are suffering and trapped in a world that we have created.

The computer semi gods whose name I don't remember that are described as perfect and innocent where Quora comes from represent mankind before the fall of Paradise.

Young Flint and Quora are represented as disciples who created light on their own and were able to trascend this computer world to a superior realm, which is the same teaching Jesus the Christ gives us.

At the end, being Gnostic or Catholic or Jewish or Buddhist or whatever the message is always the same: That we need to follow Christ, or Buddha,etc. Which is the path of liberation, in order to perfect ourselves and transcend our flaws to reach the state of enlightenment they reached, which is the end of suffering and to reach heaven as you may call it.

By the way how do this gnostic messages make it to these movies?, same procedure as the movie "Inception", a master goes into a director's dream and creates an inception of the message, the direction might be an atheist or whatever but he find his dream inspiration clever and puts this ideas into the movie.

Other Gnostic Messages in movies, take a look at:

Matrix Trilogy (full of them)

Thor (Father sends his son(human part) to the phsyical world to learn in order to become perfect. The Sephiroth Tree and multiple dimensions are also talked about by Thor).

Inception.

etc.





I didn't really know how to respond to this so I kept it short.  My reply:

Thank you for commenting. Sorry for the late reply.

I do not know enough about modern Gnosticism to present a comprehensive argument against it, but I want to answer one of your points.

The Synoptic Gospels are consistent in their portrayal of Christ as savior and God. He is not "enlightened" he is enlightenment. I suppose you believe in one or more of the Gnostic gospels that say something very different about Jesus. You can call Jesus a Gnostic if you want but you and I believe in two very different and mutually exclusive people called Jesus.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11

Two years ago, Peggy Noonan wrote a column about the "children of 9/11," those who were young when the terrorists struck but not so young that they were insulated from the tragedy.  She writes,  
They've been marked by 9/11 more than they know. It was their first moment of historical consciousness. Before that day, they didn't know what history was; after that day, they knew they were in it.
It was a life-splitting event. Before it they were carefree, after they were careful. A 20-year-old junior told me that after 9/11, "a backpack on a subway was no longer a backpack," and a crowded theater was "a source for concern." Every one of them used the word "bubble": the protected bubble of their childhood "popped." And all of them said they spent 9/11 and the days after glued to the television, watching over and over again the footage—the north tower being hit by the plane, the fireball. The video of 9/11 has firmly and ineradicably entered their brains. Which is to say their first visual memory of America, or their first media memory, was of its towers falling down.
Noonan captures perfectly the way I and those my age felt on and after September 11th, 2001.  I was 9 years old at the time, living in Pheonix, Arizona.  When my siblings and I got up for school, our parents told us there had been "a bombing."  As more information came in and the body count rose, my protective bubble burst; I now knew that there was a world outside of my immediate experience and sometimes very bad things happened in it.

May God have mercy on the souls of all who died that day and may He protect our country from those who would do us harm.  Amen.

Papal Cookies

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sola Fides est Falsum

Catholics often point out the great contradiction of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). Supposedly, scripture is reliable and tradition is not, but the canon of scripture comes from tradition.  The contradiction serves as powerful evidence against Protestantism and I have yet to hear a Protestant offer a convincing rebuttal to this point.  However, this is not the only major contradiction within Protestant theology.  The other pillar of the Reformation, Sola Fides (Faith Alone), also lacks self-referential consistency.

"Faith Alone" refers to justification, the means by which one attains salvation.  Both Protestants and Catholics believe that one is saved by the grace of God but Protestants hold that sanctifying grace is given not through sacraments or any other "work" but directly from God provided that one has faith in Him.  Millions of Protestants believe in the false doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

The essential contradiction of Sola Fides is that it denies the efficacy of human acts in regards to justification while simultaneously claiming that a human act is necessary for salvation.  The salvic act that Protestantism endorses is faith itself.  Faith is a gift from God but it is also an act of the will.  When a Protestant accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior, he is making a conscience choice to believe in something and in this way he is performing a work.*  Ultimately, grace comes from God but in order to receive that grace a Christian must open himself to receive it by an act.  Just as walking up to receive Communion is an act, the choice to believe in Transubstantiation is an act; it is a mental act that is expressed verbally with the word "Amen."  The same principle applies to a Protestant altar call and statement of faith.  Protestants don't realize it, but their theology implicitly requires a human act for salvation.  Sola Fides is false.



*One might argue that this extends the concept of "works" too far, considering that the apostles made a distinction between faith and works.  However, by condemning Catholic reception of the Sacraments as works, Protestants adopted a new definition of the term and it is this meaning that should be applied to Protestant theology itself.     

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Scythian

Last night Benedictine College put on a free concert for students featuring Scythian, a Celtic rock band.  I did not go to the concert until near the end, partly because the name of the band offended my sense of geography.  (Yes, I know I'm weird.)  The area once known as Scythia is nowhere near the British Isles, but their band is named Scythian.  After I read the last names of the band members, I realized that at least two of them had Eastern European ancestry, thus explaining the band name and satisfying my geographical OCD.  In addition, the band plays some Gypsy and Klezmer (Eastern European Jewish) music, further justifying their name.

Anyway, I was very impressed by the part of the concert I did attend and I wish that I had heard the whole thing.  Simply put, Scythian plays great songs with a tremendous amount of energy and technical skill.  The band members also appear to be practicing Catholics.  During the concert, the band dedicated one song to the resident Benedictine Monks, and I could see that lead singer Alexander Fedoryka was wearing a scapular.  Checking the Scythian website I discovered that Scythian was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus to perform at World Youth Day in Madrid!  They even offer a free sampler album to commemorate the occasion.  Check it out here.

I really enjoyed hearing Scythian and I encourage you to buy their music.  But don't take my word for it, check out these great songs and instrumental pieces:
 







Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Bible: College Edition

Bible verses adapted for college students:

Mt 4:4
It is written, "man shall not live by Ramen alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

Mt 25:24-25
He who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man . . . so I was afraid, and I went and got an Art Degree.

Ex 12:29
At midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt with a mighty load of student loan debt.

Mk 2:16-17
The scribes and the Pharisees, asked Jesus' disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "It is not the sober who have need of a designated driver, but those who are wasted."

Lk 12:35
Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning and don't fall asleep, because your term paper is due tomorrow.

Gen 4:8
Cain said to his roommate Abel, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, and killed him because he kept waking Cain up at two in the morning.

1 Cor 7:39
A coed is free to date whom she wishes if he belongs to the Lord or at least has a car.

Jer 23:32
Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, who lead my people astray with Women's Studies and Howard Zinn.

Dan 5:5
Suddenly, opposite the lampstand, the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king's palace in double spaced 12 point type.

Rev 21:19
I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one uses them without proper citation, he will be suspended for plagiarism.

Monday, August 29, 2011

For Bloggers Who Love Comment Counts

Acts of the Apostasy presents the Top Ten Topics That Will Rock Your Catholic Blog:

10. Why the Latin Mass/Novus Ordo is better than the Novus Ordo/Latin Mass.
9. Attire for Mass - shouldn't folks just be glad no one's showing up naked?
8. Medjugorje - Real, or is God just joshing?
7. "If I were bishop...my diocese would be whipped into shape in no time!"
6. So-called gay marriage - doesn't it prove that gays, deep down, really want to be straight?
5. Natural family planning - contraception with a conscience, or a scientific alternative to "Not tonight dear - I've got a headache"?
4. The Democratic Party/Republican Party represents the full embodiment of Catholic Social Teaching.
3. If the Church had 4 or 5 more folks like Michael Voris, Satan would throw in the towel and admit defeat.
2. Communion in the hand or communion on the tongue - which way proves you're the better person?
1. Gregorian Chant sounds stupid - give me "I Am The Bread Of Life" any day!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Autographed Bible



















I think Canon Law states that Bibles do not require an Imprimatur if they are signed by God.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving In

Have not posted in a bit because I have been moving back to school in Kansas.  Please pray for me and my classmates!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bishop Aquila Lays Down the Law

Life Site News reports,
The Church should seek the conversion of pro-abortion politicians, but if they remain obstinate they should be expelled from the Church, says Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo. 
The Bishop proposed in an interview with Catholic World Report this week that Bishops should take their cue from the Gospel of Matthew in handling pro-abortion politicians.  
“Our Lord tells us to speak to the person, and then take two or three others with us if he does not change,” he said. “If he still does not change, the Church can speak to him, which is done through the bishop. [The bishop] exercises the authority of Christ. Christ then says that if that person is still obstinate and will not change, treat them as a tax collector or Gentile. Expel him.’” 
The Bishop continued: “Catholics are called to defend human life, particularly that of the unborn. The Church’s teaching is clear. If we don’t challenge public officials who reject this teaching, we leave them in their sins and confuse the faithful.”
It's great to see a bishop with backbone!  His excellency is probably doing a good job in Fargo, but it would be nice if he were transferred to a more populous diocese.  There aren't many people, pro-abortion or otherwise in North Dakota so Aquila does not have anyone to excommunicate.  Wouldn't it be great if he were Joe Biden's bishop?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Social Distortion: Ring of Fire

I'm not a big fan of punk rock in general, but there are some great punk covers of classic songs.  This is the Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire" covered by the band Social Distortion.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Could You Pass the U.S. Naturalization Test?

Applicants for U.S. citizenship must correctly answer 6 out of 10 questions selected from 100 possible questions in order to pass the civics segment of the U.S. Naturalization test.  Here are some sample questions from Mental Floss:

1. How many amendments does the Constitution have?
2. What is the economic system in the United States?
3. Name your U.S. Representative.
4. What are two Cabinet-level positions?
5. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?
6. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
7. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.
8. What is one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for?
9. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?
10. What did Susan B. Anthony do?

Answers

A Market in Thailand



H/T: Reaganite Republican

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Does Anyone Read the National Catholic Reporter?

Recently, I viewed the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) website; it featured an editorial titled, I am a Pro-Choice Catholic.  I wondered, does anyone actually read this crap?  The ideas promulgated by the National Catholic Reporter are so stupid that I can't imagine anyone paying $40 a month for the privilege of reading them.  Faithful Catholic bloggers make a habit of skewering NCR and other heretical publications, but what if no one actually subscribes to them?  After some online research and phone calls, I came up with a list of readership statistics for leading Catholic publications in the United States and the number of monthly visitors to their websites.

Number of Subscribers\Monthly Web Visitors
St. Anthony Messenger: 300,000*\790,800
Our Sunday Visitor: 48,000\127,750
America Magazine: 40,000\164,250
National Catholic Reporter: 35,000\1.217 Million
National Catholic Register: 33,000**\1.125 Million
Commonweal: 24,000\222,000
Catholic World Report 12,000\97,300

It would appear that the heterodox publications National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal, and the borderline America magazine, are in the mainstream of Catholic publications in terms of readership.  Especially disturbing are the 1.217 Million monthly visitors to the NCR website.  Perhaps most of those visits were by LarryD looking for something to lampoon, but I rather doubt it.  It is too bad that the awful National Catholic Reporter is so popular, but it is heartening to see such high readership of Our Sunday Visitor and the National Catholic Register website.  At the very least, Catholic bloggers have no shortage of material when it comes to heresy.  Nothing cures writers block like outrageous attacks on the faith and the National Catholic Reporter is generous to continually produce them.

*This number seems very high but I corroborated it using both the SAM website and an outside source.  I suspect that they give away a lot of issues.
**This figure is from 2008 and may not reflect current subscription levels, but it was all I could find.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NASCAR Bible

This is why Catholic Bibles require an imprimatur:


The View From Iowa

Al discusses the Iowa straw poll.  He reports the results:
Michelle Bachmann won the poll with 28.5% of the vote.  Ron Paul came in 2nd with 27.6%.  Tim Pawlenty came in 3rd with 13.6%.  In 4th was Rick Santorum with 9.8% & in 5th was Herman Cain with 8.6%

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jack Chick vs Jack Chick

Jack Chick is well known for producing anti-Catholic tracts and other evangelism literature.  Let's take a look at the cartoon tract titled Are Roman Catholics Christians?  The booklet claims that the Sacraments of Penance and Communion are false rituals modeled after Near East pagan practices and that the Catholic devotion to Mary is a derivation of pagan goddess worship.







The major problem with Chick's argument is that his line of reasoning can be used to attack all of Christianity.  Much of Christian theology is similar to pre-Christian pagan traditions in the Near East.  For example, the cross, the most recognizable Christian symbol, looks suspiciously like the Egyptian Ankh, the hieroglyph representing eternal life.  An atheist might argue that the story of the Crucifixion was made up by people influenced by Egyptian culture. 



There are other parallels between Christian and pagan tradition.  Chick claims that the Catholic Church borrows from the cult of Osiris, but basic Christian theology also includes themes associated with the worship of Osiris.  Osiris is described as a shepherd and Egyptians believed that they could attain eternal life through his death and Resurrection.  Also in Egyptian religious history, one finds the cult of Aten, a monotheistic religion founded by Amenhotep IV many years before the Exodus.  Using Chick's method, one might conclude that Judeo-Christian monotheism was simply an adaptation of Aten worship.  Noah's flood sounds strikingly like the flood described in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, which probably predates the Genesis account.  Just like Catholics adapting the Babylonian "confessional" perhaps the Israelites adapted the Sumerian flood narrative.   If pagan ritual inspired Catholic ritual, as Chick claims, why shouldn't pagan theology have influenced Christian theology?

Chick's own anti-Catholic arguments can also be used against Protestant Christianity.  He compares the bread eating ritual of Egypt to the Sacrament of Communion, but the Egyptian ritual can also be compared to the little "c" communion rites of Protestant churches.  Even though Protestants don't believe in transubstantiation, they do eat bread that symbolizes Christ, an act that seems similar to the Egyptian ritual Chick describes.  Chick's comparison between Venus/Isis and Mary is also self-defeating.  The comparison can be used not only to attack Catholic Tradition, but also the Scripture held in common by Catholics and Protestants.  Revelation 12:1-5 says,
A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered.  Then there was seen another sign in heaven, and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns, and on his head seven diadems.  His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the women who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son.  She brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod.  Her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.
There is no escaping the fact that the woman described is Mary, because her son is clearly Jesus. She is depicted as wearing a royal and supernatural wardrobe, just like the statue in Chick's drawing.  In addition, Genesis 3:15 addresses the serpent, and says that "the woman will crush your head."  The statue of Mary in Chick's tract is shown crushing the serpent.  Though Christians do not of course consider Mary a goddess, one might compare the image of Mary in Revelation to female deities in various pagan pantheons, many of whom are associated with celestial bodies and pregnancy.  In reality the statue that Chick draws is not based on any pagan goddess, but on the imagery in Revelation and Genesis.  By condemning Marian imagery as pagan, Chick is inadvertently condemning Scripture.

The comparisons I have made between Christianity and paganism do not refute Christianity any more than Chick's cartoons refute Catholic teaching.  Christianity is not a derivative of pagan myths but a fulfillment of the human desire for God that inspired those myths.  The Egyptians hungered for the bread of life, so they ate bread that they called god.  The Babylonians felt the need for absolution so they turned to a pagan confessional.  These rituals were an attempt to satisfy the need for Sanctifying Grace.  The ancient pagans didn't know it, but what they really wanted was to receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, and deep in his heart, so does Jack Chick.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bill and Ted and Obama

Bret Stephens writes,
The aircraft was large, modern and considered among the world's safest. But that night it was flying straight into a huge thunderstorm. Turbulence was extreme, and airspeed indicators may not have been functioning properly. Worse, the pilots were incompetent. As the plane threatened to stall they panicked by pointing the nose up, losing speed when they ought to have done the opposite. It was all over in minutes.  
Was this the fate of Flight 447, the Air France jet that plunged mysteriously into the Atlantic a couple of years ago? Could be. What I'm talking about here is the Obama presidency.  
When it comes to piloting, Barack Obama seems to think he's the political equivalent of Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and—in a "Fly Me to the Moon" sort of way—Nat King Cole rolled into one. "I think I'm a better speech writer than my speech writers," he reportedly told an aide in 2008. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm . . . a better political director than my political director."  
On another occasion—at the 2004 Democratic convention—Mr. Obama explained to a Chicago Tribune reporter that "I'm LeBron, baby. I can play at this level. I got game."  
Of course, it's tempting to be immodest when your admirers are so immodest about you. How many times have we heard it said that Mr. Obama is the smartest president ever? Even when he's criticized, his failures are usually chalked up to his supposed brilliance. Liberals say he's too cerebral for the Beltway rough-and-tumble; conservatives often seem to think his blunders, foreign and domestic, are all part of a cunning scheme to turn the U.S. into a combination of Finland, Cuba and Saudi Arabia.  
I don't buy it. I just think the president isn't very bright.  
Socrates taught that wisdom begins in the recognition of how little we know. Mr. Obama is perpetually intent on telling us how much he knows.
Read the full column here.

The President needs a lesson on wisdom from that most excellent time travelling duo Bill and Ted.
(The relevant part ends at the 45 second mark but the entire clip is worth watching)

Good Shop

Through Good Shop, you can purchase items from Amazon, Ebay, Apple, Best Buy, and many other online stores and have a percentage of your purchase go towards the charity of your choice.  Food for the Poor, Catholic Charities, Students for Life of America, and Priests for Life are just a few of the nonprofits that can receive funds through Good Shop.  Check it out!

Links!

Why the Eucharist is Not Cannibalistic 

Pope Paul VI's Popemobile up for Auction 

The Worst Religious Reporting Ever

The Comprehensive Catholic Internet Bible

Pranks of Major League Baseball

Catholic Hospital Hosts Abortionist

Dinesh D'Souza on Thiestic Evolution 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Techno-Gnosticism in Tron: Legacy

Tron: Legacy is an enjoyable family film that has exciting action, great special effects, and absolutely terrible philosophical underpinnings.

This last point may come as a surprise to fans of the first Tron movie, which had some truly positive themes.  Tron, released in 1982, is not just an adventure movie but a Christian allegory.  Within the digital world of a computer processor, autonomous programs are made in the image and likeness of human "users," but those who profess a belief in their creator are persecuted by the Master Control Program (MCP).  The human heroes of the movie become computer programs in a sort of incarnation to save the system from the MCP.  The MCP forces uncooperative programs to fight trained soldier programs in arena games.  This is reminiscent of the Circus Maximus in Rome, where Christians were killed in creative ways to entertain a pagan audience.  The theme of persecution is apparent during a climactic scene in which rebel programs are set to be executed in a cruciform position before they are rescued by the heroes.  In addition, the minions of the MCP are colored red, perhaps an allusion to Communism.  Tron is a movie with a good message, but its sequel did not follow this precedent.

In fact, Tron: Legacy presents a negative message.  The plot and philosophy of the film revolve around the Isomorphic Algorithims or ISOs, sentient programs that evolved spontaneously on the computer grid.  The ISOs are super-geniuses that are supposed to be able to solve the mysteries of science, philosophy, and religion for the benefit of mankind.  "Solving mysteries in religion" ought to set off alarm bells in the minds of Christians.  There are two types of religious mystery, the kind stemming from the inability of humans to fully comprehend the nature of God, and the type that is invented and solved by humans or in this case, ISOs.  That second type belongs to the heresies of Gnosticism.  According to Gnosticism, a person is saved not by God, but by knowledge of God; knowledge that enables one to achieve a state of saving self-knowledge called Gnosis.  In Tron: Legacy that saving knowledge comes from computer programs, a literal deus ex machina. 

Movies are both literary and visual and the Gnosticism of Tron: Legacy has a definite visual component.  Jeff Bridges' character is shown meditating, and one can safely assume that he isn't contemplating the mysteries of the Rosary.  This is Gnosticism with an Eastern tinge, as the person in a meditative state looks inward to achieve a state of Gnosis.  Describing the differences between figures portrayed in Buddhist and Christian art, G.K. Chesterton writes, "The Buddhist is looking with a peculiar intentness inwards. The Christian is staring with a frantic intentness outwards."  Compared to the cruciform believers in Tron, the spiritual imagery in Tron: Legacy is a major step in the wrong direction.  


Two further points are worth making about the Isomorphic Algorithms.  First, the ISO Menschen are Über not by any sort of virtue, but because they are simply knowledgeable.  This is consistent not only with classical Gnosticism but also with Scientism and other iterations of Modernism, a philosophy equally perniciuos.  Second, the ISOs, who as products of the electronic grid could be considered creations of humanity, are supposed to save their creators.  This is the exact opposite of the first movie, in which the users save their creation.  Just as Tron is analogous to God saving Man, Tron: Legacy is analogous to Man saving or at least changing God.  This is consistent with modern western culture, in which people believe in a God made in their own image, a God who conforms to whatever ideology or lifestyle the individual chooses to adopt.  Though they may appear at first to be an innocuous plot element, the ISOs are binary bundles of bad philosophy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

92% of New Gingrich's Twitter Followers are Fake

According to Gawker  
Yesterday, we published an item based on a former Newt Gingrich staffer's claim that Gingrich assembled his 1.3 million Twitter followers—a number that he's taken to bragging about—in part by buying fake Twitter followers. A lot of people did not think that was true! But today social networking search firm PeekYou announced that it had crunched the data and come to the conclusion that roughly 106,055 of Gingrich's million-plus followers are real people. The rest are fakes. 
Our source yesterday told us that about "80 percent of [Newt's followers] are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various 'follow agencies'" paid by his campaign. That made sense to us largely because Gingrich's 1.3 million followers seems oddly inflated compared to, say, Sarah Palin's 600,000. But many folks quickly, and quite reasonably, pointed out that Gingrich was one of the first GOP politicians to be listed on Twitter's suggested user list—a perch that guarantees a torrent of Twitter followers and is as likely an explanation as any for Gingrich's high follower count. Of course, that doesn't disprove the claim that he buys fake followers—both can be true. The only historical data we could find on Gingrich's followers goes back a year, and—except for a small bump that coincides with the launch of his campaign—he's held pretty steady over that time, so we don't know whether there are any suspicious spikes in followers prior to that or whether they all came rushing when he was added as a suggested user in 2009. Short of direct evidence of follower-buying, there's not much more we can do to corroborate our source's claims aside from actually pore over all those 1.3 million followers looking for fakes.
As it turns out, the search firm PeekYou has done just that! And it doesn't look good for Gingrich. In a happy accident, PeekYou—which is sort of a people-oriented search index—has for the past year been conducting research on how to measure the quality of Twitter audiences, a project that included looking at politicians' Twitter followers. And by their count, just 8% of Newt Gingrich's followers are real people.
Wow.  That is just pathetic.  Presumably, Gingrich didn't come up with this idea himself, but he ought to fire who ever did.  Of course he is going to lose anyway so it won't make much of a difference.