Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Saturday, May 25, 2002  

Libertarian Party Line

Instapundit (you all have the link by now) cites the classic libertarian line of folly in a blog by writing:

"I'm just not a conservative. At least, not the kind of conservative that likes to tell other people how to live their lives, and that enjoys the role of moral censor. That sort of thing is just another species of PC bossiness, sharing far more ground with the intrusive left than it wants to admit."

Well, where do we draw the line on telling people how to live their lives? The blue nose busybody in me says I'm willing to tell people not to murder, rape, steal, defraud, lie, defame, drive drunk, blow smoke in my face, which side of the street to park on Tuesdays, and to recycle their trash. So which part of being a moral censor does Reynolds object to?

Oh, yeah, the part that affects anything he wants to do. Which part of democracy does Reynolds hate? The part where a majority can make a law that makes homosexual practice or acts of sodomy a crime; a democracy that makes abortion and cloning illegal; a society that votes to make pornography illegal.

But then Reynolds is a law prof and thinks laws aren't enough, we need lawyers and judges to do away with the laws of the people when it interferes with what he wants to do or have.

And, oh yes, don't you love it that he's "not the kind of conservative that likes to tell other people how to live their lives." Except when he's telling us how to live our lives when we, as a people, create laws he doesn't like. Up on his high horse, Glenn demands, "I hate moral censorship except when I find reasons to morally censor you!"

This is like the liberal who screams at the Christian - "You're so judgmental!"


This link takes you to various comments of Reynold's on Teen Sex like this:

"if teen sex is particularly bad, it must be bad for one of two reasons: because it is inherently bad, or because it's bad in its consequences."

If it's bad only in its consequences then things that ameliorate those consequences, like contraception, safe sex, etc. also ameliorate its badness.

I don't regret any of the sex that I had as a teenager, though none of it happened when I was, say, 13.

So maybe it's important to wait until you're ready.

Teenagers have been having sex since the beginning of time. Their bodies are ready for it, and it's absurd to tell them to "just say no." Instead they need to be taught the judgment and sense of self-worth that will enable them to do what is right for them.

There are a few more utter stupidities such as these at his site.

In some respect, one has to admire Reynold's for his ignorance is bliss attitude. He simply cannot imagine how there could be any bad consequences so far as emotional, spititual, psychological effects. If it felt great - good! If not, too bad, try again later when you're more ready. He never defines that perfect moment of readiness, though.

Elsewhere, Reynolds has told us he doesn't like busybodies telling others how to live, yet somehow, magically, he will teach young people "judgment and sense of self-worth what will enable them to do what is right for them."

Explain to me again, Glenn, how you intend to manage that? Ahh, Glenn, you keep showing the cloven hoof while trying to pretend to an urbanity and sophistication which is just a cover for your kind of ignorance and foolishness.

I had sex as a young person and I regret every single occurance of it which took place outside of marriage (and I regret most of that which took place in marriage). Why? Because I did not know the true value of another and the effect of grace when invited to the marriage bed. Mostly, though, I did not know enough about love, fertility, and fruition to make the experience truly worthwhile and humane.

But of course, such things are sneered at by such as Glenn. It's impossible that he could be missing out on anything, be wrong about anything, or be bothered to actually search out the truth. Not when it's so much easier to be glib, facile, and shallow about human beings and as one.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:49 PM |

Joy! Joy! Joy!

Everytime I sell a book at (see link at right), I think -"now it's going to happen; now comes the deluge, the critical mass, the NY Times book review. I sell about 1 book/six months (if I'm lucky, the book has been out for two years now).

But the first Christmas I sold 4, and was sure the steamroller had begun. Am I a hope fiend or what? (Sorry Tim Leary, I stole that from your book title - an interesting read.).

I have learned that advertising is everything. My one brief review in our obscure city Catholic Herald is what sold those four books.

Then I got greedy. I sent a press release to our very obscure Catholic radio station and got invited to appear on it.

I showed up prepared to talk about my book, I had various pages Post-it noted; I had prepared a brief spiel describing the contents and beauty of my book, and sat down ready to delight.

I never got to talk about my book. I mentioned in passing about being a convert and the host proceeded to wonder about adult converts, and why I became Catholic. I tried to pass quickly over the matter (it is very personal and distressing in so many ways. I don't like to talk about the fact that I had been about to kill myself over my despair of life), and mention that my experience was a bit of a "road to Damascus" type of experience and the "full Hollywood experience" as a friend of mine once described it.
But the talk show host kept at it. I never got to talk about my book, and I wasn't prepared to discuss my faith and experiences of God.

Then the show was over and I was abruptly cast out into the outer darkness (the cold).

Frankly, I felt used and thrown away. I realized that all I had been was an attempt to hold a listener to a radio station. I wasn't really a person at all, but a performer who was supposed to do something magical to attract attention for a little while.

The business man's answer to me is that I meant to use the host and his radio program to sell my books, as commercial an enterprise as anything, that I was as much a whore as anyone.

Except, I hadn't thought so when I went in. I had really thought that it would be me and a fellow talking about a good story in a friendly way. But I saw from the start how artificial it was and that that every TV, radio, magazine interview was a game usually played by both sides. But not always. It's the non-scheming interviewee who usually gets taken advantage of - like me that day. I was led into talking about things I did not wish to discuss, and had no experience in fending off such invasions of privacy.

I was put on the spot and wasn't ready for it. And then I was casually dismissed - thanks for coming, that went all right, take care.

I vowed I would never try to commercialize myself again. (There has been no demand since that I do so.) But I learned a great deal about the nature of mass media and its operating principles. It's a soulless machine whether Christians do it or not. People who blithely assert that if Jesus came today he'd appear on TV underestimate the Prince of Peace. He would despise the soulless hosts and media with their inhuman attitudes and commercial lusts.

But, even so, I sold a book today!

posted by Mark Butterworth | 4:40 AM |

Show me the money!

Being an interesting guy (Jeppe Kabell of Denmark says so, see here, and we all know he can always be trusted), I am going to talk about the quotidian which will, of course, fascinate my 20 regular readers.

The other day I made bread. It was supposed to be sourdough bread, a concoction I adore; but I do not live in the SF Bay Area where the conditions for sourdough bread are paramount.

Since I am a gourmet cook (everyone says so, and ignores me when I tell them that I only find good recipes and follow them until death. I create very few new and glorious foodstuffs on my own), I bought a package for my bread in which the flour and yeast were all prepackaged. I simply mix the ingredients (for which, as I said above, I get immense credit - being the culinary genius I am), and later it is tasted and my daughter says, "This is really good. It tastes just like bread from the store."

And I beam.

"But it's not really sourdough," I say.

"Tastes like it to me," she says.

"Really? It doesn't seem to have the bite I'm used to."

"No, I can taste it," she says.

"Amazing," I say. "How about that."

End of fascinating story. I told you it was impressive. Somebody inform Lileks that I'm stealing his audience.

Am I the only one or does his Bleat make others want to steal his life and daughter? Oh, how I miss those baby days of my child. Heaven, for me, is parenthood. I love every second of it. I will never find greater happiness than in making and raising a child. If heaven wants me to be a different kind of animal, I will say - not yet. Let me bear and raise 10,000 children and then I might be ready to move on to a different existence.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 4:00 AM |

Etymology 101

I think it may very well be the nature of the blogosphere to coin new words before everyone else.

Consider our new verb - Fisking, or to be Fisked. This enters the domain like Chauvinism or Kafkaesque or (more likely) as Quisling.

If you don't know what fisking is, hang around awhile and you'll catch on. (Or visit Tim Blair, among others.)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:25 AM |

Forgive me - another sports blog

The Sacramento Kings pimp slapped the LA Lakers last night in a contest that the referees once again screwed up and let get out of hand. I'll explain.

By the fourth quarter, the Lakers were so far behind that they became desperate to try and make plays, defensive stops, and turnovers. The Kings got a little sloppy which led to a burst of turnovers, and quick 3 point baskets by the Lakers, but the real problem was the refs.

When a team gets desperate to make plays, it means that it will foul hard and often. The level of play is raised to a pitch that is extremely dangerous because of the aggression unleashed. If the referees don't keep the game under control and punish the severe aggression with constant foul calls, it can lead to frightening injuries for the leading team.

This is what happened last night. The Lakers started playing extremely dirty. Not because they meant to hurt, but because that's always the result when you play desperately. The refs didn't reign in the violence.

I don't know if the Lakers will lose the series, but they deserve to simply because they play dirty when they're down. No one else is as vicious as I've seen them play.

The funny thing is that they crow they're the greatest and unstopable when they win, and cry the loudest of being abused when they lose. They thought they would walk all over the Kings, and get their third ring; but Sacramento is a superbly talented team this year, and very poised. They never give up and have been in almost every game they've played. They don't get blown out, and even when behind they hang tight, and often close in the end for a win. They play with immense heart and have a combination of players and roles which is highly complimentary.

If Shaq wasn't in the league, Vlade Divac would qualify today as the best center around. This is a team that not only fires on all cylinders, but has replacement parts which would start on lesser teams.

I hope sports fans watched last night's game and saw what thugs, whiners, and poseurs the Lakers are. I expect the US is rooting for my home team. They play basketball unselfishly with elan, speed, and comradery. Teams like this never last very long. Enjoy them while they're here.

(The reason they don't last too long is that they're too good in all their parts. Players need more room for their own game (leading roles) after awhile; or the money situation and salary caps prevent holding all the parts together when they all deserve very high salaries for their contributions. The Kings has one of the highest payrolls in the league, and Mike Bibby, an essential cog, will be a free agent this summer, for example. He must be kept, but how?)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:14 AM |

One Proud Papa - My Cup Runneth Over

Tonight my daughter's high school had an event. It's the VAPAC Gala. An end of the year program primarily for the seniors where awards and scholarships are given out at Sacramento High. It's sort of a small town Oscars ceremony. My daughter is a junior and she and others of her class had the pleasure of putting on skits and acting as presenters for the Senior Class.

The VAPAC (Visual And Performing Arts Center of Sacramento schools) crowd is a kind of school inside a school. It draws on students from all over the city, and they have a certain autonomy as a program. It's our version of NY's fame school, but its still rather a small community. Maybe forty seniors were there. The scholarships can be substantial. One is funded by a foundation at $14,000 which is usually split in two.

My daughter was one of the presenters with a classmate who had been in a one act play with her. Together they traded repartee which was quite funny which then evolved into a hilarious skit based on that one act play. The humor depended on the shared knowledge of the seniors and parents who had seen all the various performances that year. It was very droll and well done.

Prior to that, my daughter had been in a skit of the Abridged Shakespeare of Romeo and Juliet. She acted as narrator as two fellows acted out the play in brief but ludicrous folly.

I simply sat in awe of my daughter. And also in awe and delight in her classmates, young people who were very fine and excellent. I don't understand why people complain of teenagers (a word I despise) as they talk about phases, hormones, sullenness, and emotionalism. The young people I saw tonight were overwhelmingly positive, bright, healthy minded, sincere, intelligent , and talented. Just thinking about their wonderfulness brings me to the verge of tears (yes, I'm now officially a gusher of a man who weeps when he sees God's beauty and joy in such matters of life - I'm a walking Hallmark card of sentiment over goodness and delight).

But to watch my daughter is especially a phenomenon of heavenly joy. It is like watching a young Meryl Streep. She is the most talented young actress I have ever seen in person. To see her do comedy is to watch a young Lucille Ball. To see her do Shakespeare is to see Meryl Streep (as I said). To see her onstage as a presenter is to see a level of poise, polish, professionalism, and personability (to use a lot of alliteration) which is astonishing. She is lovely, and under the lights she beams as if no one was more at home on stage and delighted to be there. Her attention to diction, expression, and the glow of her smile simply makes everyone else seem a bit brighter, and yet a little more ordinary in their presence and talent. She is the real deal. She makes you glad you came out that night.

When she failed to win a part after auditioning for Shakespeare in the Park for the summer with our City College (two year school), I had to wonder how blind and stupid her auditors had to be. I wanted to buttonhole them and say - "Look at her. She's perfect! She beautiful, she's talented, she smart, she's blonde, her figure is lovely, and she has a presence on stage and a radiance that is ineffable! What's not to like, you pinheads!"

But the professors went with their own students. I understand it, but it still rankles. A professor has students that must be appeased for the sake of peace; and after all, it's not like the world is at stake if they don't cast the perfect Hero (a female role) in Much Ado About Nothing.

Still, it breaks my heart with worry that this wonderfully talented human will not get the opportunities she deserves; that she will be relegated to hit or miss parts during the most lovely time of youth; or that she will be rejected so often as to make any further effort by her foolish and futile.

Not only is my daughter rich in beauty and talent, though. She is a nice human being. She is unpretentious, not egotistical nor conceited. She is kind, sweet natured, and co-operative (and very intelligent - straight A's but also wise and mature in her perception of reality. She is naive and innocent in many respects, but not stupid. She is every parent's dream child and always has been.)

She loves acting and performance (service to others, really) and analyzes carefully how to be good at it. And it shows. Other parents and adults notice the difference when she's onstage, too. (Not just me - she's that luminous.)

Every adult who meets or sees this child of ours (my wife and me) is considerably impressed and other young people and children adore her.

If anyone should ever question my faith and ask if I have produced fruit worthy of Jesus and his love, I need only point to this one human being and say, "Look over yonder at that marvelous child. I have been so faithful to God, grace, and love that I was able to get out of God's way and let him do his magic on her. Does she not do him glory?"

A sad note about these reflections, though, is that my own parents (and my wife's) never expressed any similar sentiments or interest in their children. I envy my daughter that she has the kind of parents I wish had (and suffered from the lack). Oh, how I wish every parent would wake up, nurture, and cherish their children so that they might thrive as I think my child has when all is done positively, yet with discipline, notice, and patience. I have always treated my daughter like a person, enjoyed her company and conversation, and spoken to her like she was intelligent, witty, and wise. It turns out that she is all that and more. My heart is full.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:24 AM |

A Welborn Mind

I confess that I read Amy Welborn's blog religiously (link on the right). I skim a fair amount since I can only bear so much scandal at a time (and complaints about liturgical excesses or stupidities wear me out after awhile, too. Been there. Done that.). But she has a hilarious blog about a priest and his new home that is tres amusant.

I say amusing because as I have resigned from the RCC (so to speak - once a Catholic always a Catholic - isn't that what they say?), I find such egregiously unChristian behavior in the church more amusing to me now than before.

I have to laugh because I know very well about this sort of thing. Athough the priests sex scandals are horrendous to me, I have been aware of a variety of financial scandals that will propbably never be addressed in the church. I have seen it in my own parish a misuse of money that would shame the Dishonest Steward of Jesus' parable.

If Amy keeps up her focus on scandals of one sort or another in the church, she will eventually find herself in my company - outside, shaking her head in bemused sorrow.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:41 AM |

A Good Joke (but will anyone get it?)

I once knew a man who was so cheap, that he wouldn't even say 'hello' first on the street.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:00 AM |

Friday, May 24, 2002  

Carrying my Cross of Gold

A number of folks have commented on the Pope's attack on celebrities and their bejewled crosses, and on the face of it, it does seem like a petty criticism given the current state of affairs in the RCC in the West.

Yet, as I visited the NYPost to read a column, I saw a sidebar on Catherine Zeta Jones (Douglas?) wearing her cross. I didn't read the gossip column, but it suddenly occurred to me, how would I like it if the Pope had criticized my behavior to the whole world?

Sure, I might try to shrug it off and laugh, play the wise guy and make smartass comments - even claim to feel flattered by his attention over poor little me - but as I lie in bed later with no one to enjoy my witty ripostes - I would hope that I was mortified, truly mortified and chastened that the Pope, of all people, had singled me out and said - repent sinner!

Maybe John Paul's anger at rich celebrities mocking Christ with their extravagant manners won't change the world much, but it just might do those folks he criticized a bit of good and caused them some humiliation that matters.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:54 PM |

The Cloneheads came from France

Instapundit links to this fellow here on the inevitability of cloning with some more rather spurious claims and speculation.

I'm simply at the point of a slight alteration of what Socrates once said, "Of the real and the unreal, do we need anybody to tell us what they are?"

My attitude is simply becoming, "There are some things you just don't do. You know it and I know, and this is one of them. Asking for reason upon reason why you shouldn't do what is not to be done is worse than childish, it is senseless and cruel. Be a man and learn the difference between the real and the unreal."

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:44 AM |

Love the Stripper mom

Every time I do a blog on the stripper mom of Sacramento, I get a bunch of google hits.

Well, a radio station gave her a job. The manager said, "she deserved the opportunity."

Doing what, you ask? They don't know. They'll have her answer the phone on their morning show and see if she can say her name without sounding like her tongue is juggling marbles, I guess. They don't know if she has any skill or talent that would be helpful, but "she deserved the opportunity." (They are hoping for a ratings boost, though.)

I wonder if I do something immoral like kill somebody what I earn? Imagine what an opportunity I would deserve for my actions! Number one with a bullet! Top of the world, Ma!

No, I'm being a little cruel. I wish her well, I hope things work out; most of all I pray she sees the error of her ways. But I guess she got quite a lot of mileage out of being a 'bad girl'.


The problem with work like stripping, nude modeling, porno and such is that the money seduces. Not too many entry level jobs start at 100 K or more a year. And the funny thing is, when you start getting $5,000/week you begin to feel like you deserve it; and what's more, you start living like you need at least that much to survive.

The work is degrading, but not hard nor especially long hours. Nothing hardens the heart more than such voluntary degration, though.

So, we're all praying for Christina and the straight and narrow path.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:55 AM |

Thursday, May 23, 2002  


I have almost nothing to say today. I say 'almost' since obviously I have this little blog in me.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:42 PM |

Wednesday, May 22, 2002  

Chocolate is a Vegetable!

I will not have the great American hamburger maligned (nor the hot dog) by a limey!

T. Dalrymple writes: "The popularity of hamburgers is a manifestation of magical thinking. Eating them (or for that matter wearing baseball caps backwards, a custom that has reached the remotest regions of the globe) will bring the easy and abundant life that is man's inalienable birthright."

Let's put aside McDonald's for the moment (but those little cheeseburgers are good! and cheap!) and look at the classic American burger. 1/3 or 1/4 pound of the finest ground sirloin, topped by a healthy slice of Swiss cheese nestled on top of a leaf of lettuce or two, a slice of onion and ripe tomato marinating in a marvelous sauce of ketchup and/or mustard and/or mayonnaise between two fresh pieces of deliciously buttered and toasted bread and you've got one heck of a great meal.

You've got your dairy - cheese, some butter and mayo; your grain - bread; your vegetables - onion, lettuce, tomato; trace minerals in your condiments; and your delicious char broiled protein - hamburger!

All in one hand! Man, you're talking heaven! This is the food of the gods. Only a snobby limey could forego such a treat as this. Why, the pure inventive genius of it to put all you need in one handy meal - and then, then my dear friends, to top it off with a side of deliriously wonderful french fries! It doesn't get any better for the hoi poloi than this!

This is not comfort food - this is American ingenuity in a bun! This alone will make you a great American.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:03 PM |

He man or girlie boy?

Minute Particulars raises a question I have asked myself and for which I will give the short answer I arrived at: The problem is the male.

Men are the real problem in this world. Look at the churches and you'll find more women in them. The great poet, William Blake, wrote: "If the men would do their duty, the women would be wonders." This is true. Women follow men's lead and seek to please the male more often than not (certainly women can be as willful if they insist).

Men will only follow a man. That's why Jesus had to be a male. Also why he had to die on a cross. Men respect and follow dramatic heroes more than anything else - and seek to emulate the greatest heroism. One problem with Christianity, though, is that it gets feminized to the point that men are disgusted by it. But even then, I think it is more a matter of male pride than effeminate priests and ministers that make men hostile to Christian faith.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:04 PM |

Sportsblog - Sorry

Well, my beloved Sacramento Kings evened the playoff series with the Lakers with the greatest offensive foul machine of all time complaining he was cheated.

This is going to be a tough series for us if we lose, and for the country (so much depends on this!).

Why? Because in the Dallas/Sac series, we finally got to see basketball played as it was meant to be played. The series in the East looks like fun, too; what with Jason Kidd pushing the ball like crazy and the Celtics shooting from all over the court.

But the Lakers illustrate two aspects that ruin the game for me and will explain why the Kings really aren't beloved to me, and why I am getting disgusted with B-ball.

One) Shaq O'Neal is an amazing athlete for a man of his size, but his strength has ruined the low post game since there is hardly a play (I watched and counted one night) when he expects the ball that he doesn't throw an elbow, knock a defender back, then move into the vacated spot as the ball arrives. He then turns around and shoots an embarrassingly easy two foot shot or dunk.

The variation of this is to simply lower the shoulder into his defender, create space and shoot. He is then in position to get his rebound should he miss. For the ten to twelve times he does this, he gets called for an offensive foul maybe twice - and only for those times when he has used his shoulder. He is never called for the foul he always makes just before receiving a pass in the low post.

What this does to the game is to weight it on the side of the Lakers. O'Neal, already a formidable athlete, becomes unstoppable.

Two) I watched Kobe Bryant make an offensive foul nearly every time he got the ball. (I'm picking on these two because I was paying such attention to them, of course, but I'll make up for it later.)

Kobe is doing what many before him have done to ruin the game - foul or violate so often that it can't be called anymore. And so things like walking, palming, carrying the ball, changing your pivot foot and so on become a part of the game. What Kobe does is this: he uses his off arm (the one not bouncing the ball) to fend off defenders and/or hook them to get around them.

This happens for one reason, when guards started to get bigger than six feet, they also became slower since bigger men are always slower than smaller players. No one was ever quicker than Calvin Murphy or Spud Webb. These guys could run circles around Magic Johnson, for example.

So the new guards of size needed to fend off quicker and smaller opponents who could easily steal the ball from the high dribblers. They did this by sticking their arm out and blocking the defender - a clear violation. But not called now, and everybody does it, even the smaller guards. Just as Chris Webber seems to like lowering the shoulder a la Shaq in the low post.

So now you see Kobe (or Doug Christie) always throwing out an arm to block the defense from reaching and stealing the ball; with the defender called for a foul more often than not if he actually does knock the ball away.

What happened to the game is that as size became more and more essential, the rules became more often breached until the way to win becomes a kind of slugfest. Basketball was never meant to be a game of power, but of skill. It is now both, but it's not as much fun for the spectator, especially when it's your team getting pummeled and beaten into defeat - ground down by non-call after non-call.

Soccer fans might understand this if tackling the player with the ball became more like body checking in hockey (allowed anywhere on the field toward any player) with no one carded for a penalty. Imagine what soccer would become then? Like hockey and football - not the same sport it once was.

You end up with great athletes playing a lousy game.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:44 PM |

Now and Denmark

Anybody read Danish? (I said read not eat.) I've been getting referrals from Jeppe Kabell's weblog. Anyone know what this says: Faldt over en blog, der skal checkes ud:

I assume the Danish visitors know and read English, so give me a heads up (or are you all laughing behind my back and in front of my face? Maybe you're saying - check out this idiot.)


I got an e-mail from Jeppe and this is what he wrote:

"Just found this weblog, which I should check out later" -
something like that.

I find your writing interesting.

Thanks, Jeppe.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:37 PM |

Tuesday, May 21, 2002  


Well, it seems that Cardinal Law and his fellow travelers in irresponsibility will never resign after having demonstrated utter incompetence and unconcern for the laity.

That's it for me. I can't really attend the same church that supports such people as these; no more than I could continue to support a Jimmy Swaggert or Jim Baker.

When the wolves run the sheepfold, it's time for sensible sheep to abandon the flock.

I understand a lot of people are putting their hopes in some conference in Dallas, but the sad fact is, these same men may do something positive to correct this abuse for the time being, yet, clericalism will never be overcome in the RCC. This scandal will fade, but the other hidden and lingering scandals of abuse of power remain. Particularly the problem with money and thievery.

Well, I shall always be grateful to the RCC. So much to love, but finally, too much evil to tolerate.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 5:03 PM |

Invaders from Mars

The Chinese want to build a moonbase and exploit resources there. One problem, though. China doesn't own the Moon. We do. America, that is (except we made some sort of silly agreement and ceded it to the UN or something like that, but treaties are made to be broken, so let's claim what's rightfully ours).

I hope our President will tell the Chinese they must apply for a visa to visit our Moon; nor may they remove any property or alter the landscape while they are there.

In fact, I think we ought to make this a cause celebre. I mean really. It's our Moon! We got there first, planted out flag on it, and built a golf course, left a potting shed or two there and some golf carts for the next foursome whenever they decide to take an out of this world vacation. It's just a remote resort like Alaska. But it's still America. Stand up, America, and fight for your Moon.

If the Chinese want a moon, let them go to Mars.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:59 PM |

Stripper Gets rapped by Christians (That should get me some hits. I got a bunch yesterday of people googling about this story.)

Update on the stripper mom from my blog here. Her 5 year old daughter will finish kindergarten and get her little party because mommy will take a leave of absence from stripping for the next three weeks or so; and explore other job offers including an insurance company and radio station... after her plight (yeah, what a sad plight) became national news and fodder for radio talk shows around the world, according to the Sac Bee.

She's not doing it for the church, though, but so her daughter can have her graduation party. (Since when do you have graduation for kindergarten? This is getting ridiculous.)

She appeared on national morning shows and The O'Reilly Factor touting her story, often with her (ahem, former) pastor. Pastor Cole is quoted as saying, "It's been our desire to see her quit her job, move toward a new career path in her life. The path she was on was destructive. This one is constructive..."

"But Silvas hasn't ruled out returning to nude dancing if none of the job offers pan out." If they don't pay as much - which they won't for an ignorant girl with entry level skills.)

As for her daughter, she "wants to find a school less concerned with image and more concerned with the welfare of children." Funny, because she's not at all concerned about her image and the welfare of her daughter with a stripper mom. "I don't think the church's reaction was very Christ-like," she said. All her support seems to be coming from outside the church, she added.

Yes, the Bee did a section on Letters to the Ed. and most of them pilloried the church for its cruelty, insensitivity, rigidity, and harshness. Many of the letters were from other Christians claiming shame for their religion. Amazing.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:34 AM |

A Muddy Slide

I like slippery slope arguments. I think they're almost always right whether from the left or right. The left, right (and religion) asserts one sin leads to another - and it always does follow thus.

Slippery slope arguments are generally wrong when the terms used are incorrect. For example, pro-aborters say that any restriction on their choice results in an egregious loss of freedom and independance. They're right, but absolutely wrong in that they confuse the meaning of freedom and independance. Their logic is correct but their premises are false.

The left think Ashcroft will destroy their legal freedoms and rights by imposing various restrictions and greater power to Fed agencies. Yes, having to bear being searched anytime the police feel like doing it to us is a loss of freedom and presages a police state.

Will it ever get that bad? Probably not, but in fact, a modern man is a highly controlled and governmentally regulated creature. And it keeps getting worse.

But most people hate the slippery slope argument because they always want to be the last invader or sinner. They want what they want and figure it can't do that much harm to the world in general. If I say, Oh yes indeed you do harm. They get in a huff and demand instant proof of the sky falling. It's like the child who commits his first self-aware sin like stealing or lying and is astonished when he isn't struck by lightning immediately. It makes him bold enough to say - see, it's not such a terrible thing. God didn't mind a bit.

People only accept the "natural consequences" argument when they experience immediate and severe consequences like kids drag racing and killing themselves or someone else; or taking a drug and dying, or dancing on the edge of an unstable cliff. "I told you not to play there! Now see what you've done! You've gone and gotten yourself killed!"

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:47 AM |


Dispatches from Outland has noticed the discussion (rather hit or miss) among some of us about sufficiency in religion and the problem with authority. A problem I've been grappling with ever since I became a Christian.

Roy mentions that any reliance of an outside source or quality (like Reason) as an ultimate authority creates a circular argument.

I'm not as sure about this since I'm certain that the existence of God is uncontestable. Reason can only support such an assertion in the same way that reason insists 1+1=2.

So I think there are factual notions we can derive authoritatively through reason alone.

But Authority as we apply it to Church, Scripture, Tradition - these areas do create circular argument.

At last, we are left with what Jesus was left with - our experience of God (or lack thereof).

Christianity has been fortunate in that its foundation occurred in a milieu which respected spiritual experience, had wisdom about such things, and many shared in the experience of the risen Man/God and still do today.

Other religions don't have this and rely entirely on scriptures to support them. Remove the authority of the scriptures and you effectively destroy the religion. Islam will eventually encounter this problem very soon as Koranic criticism comes more into play and demonstrates clearly that the Koran has been modified, rewritten, edited and so on rather than coming out of Mohammed's mouth as pure, dictated verses.

Buddhism relies more or less upon the effectiveness of its prayer life (which is very impressive, indeed.) Hinduism relies on cultural inertia and tradition with much wisdom literature.

Judaism depends on scripture and on the certainty of the One God, the Sheckinah experience to sustain it plus the inertia of cultural tradition and tribalism.

The Christian, though, when push comes to shove, must at last rely entirely upon Faith in what he knows to be true without doubt - Jesus lives. He can never prove it to another. He might persuade with arguments of Bible, prophecy, theology, doctrines, and such - but ultimately, the Christian can only say - I know him. I saw him. He showed me the way.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:30 AM |

Monday, May 20, 2002  

Darned if they do, darned if they don't

The NY Times has a story on how parish reactions to bishops actions. Everything is impossible. If the RCC runs by hierarchy and central leadership, it alienates and kills faith. If the people control their own parishes, idiots are in charge and it all splinters and falls apart through dissension and factionalism.

¶At Sacred Heart Church in New Orleans, more than 300 parishioners signed a petition in support of their pastor, who was removed last month because of an incident involving a teenager more than 15 years ago.

¶Near Richmond, Va., parishioners at St. Michael's Church wear buttons and T-shirts supporting their pastor, who was removed recently for an incident of what the diocese described as "inappropriate judgment" that took place 31 years ago. .

¶In Azusa, Calif., parishioners at St. Frances of Rome formed a chain around the church to keep out protesters after their pastor was removed following accusations of what detectives have called "inappropriate touching." The police had to remove one parishioner who struck a protester. .

¶Parishioners at Our Lady of Fatima in Manorhaven, N.Y., are rallying around their 74-year-old pastor, who was removed because of an accusation about an incident involving a teenager that took place 35 years ago..

¶In Blue Bayou, La., parishioners at St. Louis Church want their pastor back even though a photograph in a recent book showed him bare chested with a Mardi Gras drag queen..

Experts say parishioners are angry because church leaders continue to impose decisions and policies from above, without input from the laity..

"All these incidents suggest that the hierarchy still is far removed from recognizing the problems of a church structured for the 15th century operating in the 21st century," said William D'Antonio, a research sociologist at Catholic University in Washington. "If all the church leaders want to do is act as the hierarchy and tell parishioners what to do, then they have learned nothing from what has happened over the last several months.".

Parishioners at St. Louis Church in Blue Bayou, La., certainly see it that way. When their pastor, the Rev. Thomas Bouterie, resigned after his photo appeared in a Mardi Gras book, they figured he was pressured to do so for the sake of the diocese, not the good of the parish..

"They don't know how much they hurt us," Loretta Chaisson, a parishioner, said. "It should have been for the parish to decide, and not the bishop.".

People might think I'm kidding when I say the train just keeps rolling or - Ol' man river, he jus' keeps rollin' along. The church is apparently filled with people of the exact same kind of loyalty which hears no, sees no evil, but will speak plenty of evil about those who tell truths and facts about despicable things. You wonder, are people, my neighbors, really so stupid as to believe Fr. Our Old Favorite couldn't have done what that so and so said of him? He's so sweet.

I'm all for loyalty and innocent until proven guilty, but some of these people seem pathological in their denial of human reality. I grant you that a sin committed 35 years ago without repetition speaks well of an individual's reform; except for one thing. The person in question should never have been allowed to continue as a priest. No more than a doctor who murders a patient, repents, goes to jail, does his penance. The act destroys the conditions of vocation when someone has an office of trust and authority. It's not a matter of zero tolerance, but insistance on unblemished integrity in order to hold such a position. It's not revenge; it's about a reasonable standard of purity and behavior.

I've never molested my child or any child. It's not that hard a rule or exacting a standard. Punishment for beaching such a standard ought to be applied and caution enforced afterward punishment.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:56 PM |

Emily, not Litella

Many excellent and brief blogs at Fool's Folly today. I especially like the GKC tidbit.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:37 PM |

Second Thoughts

Mark Byron has a fine blog on verses of Paul's from Colossians; particularly regarding the nature of blog and journalism commentary.

To be a writer who attracts interest, one thing is essential - a focus on conflict.

Two other things are equally helpful - to be vehement in outrage and invective, and/or funny in savaging others.

Both qualities of writing depend on name calling, categorizing the nature and type of another person so as to discredit their actions, positions, or beliefs.

But for Christians, this poses a problem. We are forbidden to engage in name calling of any kind by Jesus (anyone who calls his brother, raqa - traitor - will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; or something like that).

Thus, any pejorative name we use for another is equivalent to traitor since it always implies that the other person is letting the side down somehow. Even to call someone a heretic, an apostate, is to categorize. And it is this dehumanization by categorizing others that Jesus objected to.

But being careful about what we call those we disagree with makes for duller writing. It takes more time to respect another's humanity castigating an opinion or belief and not the person behind the opinion. So and so is a fool! That is quick and to the point. So and so holds a particularly foolish idea! No, it doesn't really rock the paper and ink or screen, does it?

Also, as Christians, our interest should not lie in devoting so much of our attention to conflicts in the world and with others necessarily. We should be spending more effort looking at the good in others and counting our blessings than complaining about every new outrage (until all we do is rant).

For myself, I hate what the cardinals and bishops have done to my church (and no, I'm not going to look on the bright side or seek to know the good of these men since I feel certain they are corrupted by their offices), but I can't spend every day thinking and blogging about every new item of vice and corruption in the church as some others seem to be doing.

For one thing, there will be no end of liturgical, canonical, official outrages in this world. The same with The Corner and NRO, Frontpage and so many other conservative websites that flush out from cover daily another egregious story of Man the Fool. I visit many sites, but I do a lot of skipping and skimming now.

Many bloggers comment on the high quality output of James Lileks in his Bleats and Screeds, for his writing is colorful, funny, and vehemently apt in invective quite often; but it also means that Lileks is operating at a high emotional and inventive pitch (his similes, metaphors, and comparisons are incredibly rich and descriptive). He could not do this if he were worried about others' feelings, if he had to examine his conscience ( and measure it against Jesus' standard) and his right to call other people idiots, fools, nut cases and so on.

(We're going to overlook those verses for this time where Jesus curses out various sorts with woes upon them, or when Paul lashes out in Corinthians and elsewhere just after he's been counseling patience, forbearance, and tenderness.)

That's why I often say that to be a Christian is to be a dullard. We aren't allowed to be loud, obnoxious, offensive (in manner), vulgar, scornful, derisive, and so on - all the fun things that other people do who don't care what God has to say about Love.

Generally, Mark writes analysis and not invective which is why I read him and a few others regularly even when I'm not interested in his subject matter. He tends to make it interesting to me because of his tone.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:06 AM |