I was at a wedding over 40 years ago. Since I was by myself I was sitting at a table of friends of the bride’s family.
Since I didn’t know any of them and was suffering from terminal shyness I didn’t offer anything to the conversation.
But I did listen intently to the comments of these middle-aged married couples. One man in particular said: Just because there is a little snow on the roof, doesn’t mean there isn’t a fire in the basement.
I think I understood what he meant and as I have gotten older…much older I have come to appreciate his comments even more.
Yet in retrospect I think there is much more meaning hidden in his comments than a basic allusion to age and libido.
His words were almost axiomatic to me in that just because one has aged, does not eliminate him or her from the full joys of livings—all the joys of living…not just sexuality.
Our hormones work on many levels, not just below the belt. We should try to maintain that fire in the belly for life, not just sex.
I just finished reading Sister Joan Chittister’s book Uncommon Gratitude, which says that we should issue a Alleluia to each new day and accept it as God’s special gift for us to dig, mine and prod until we have sucked all the marrow out of its bones.
This is a Christian twist on Roman poet Horace’s mandate to Carpe Diem….seize the day!
Most people would probably not recognize this classic phrase had it not been for the untimely suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams and the reprise of his most popular role as the unorthodox prep school teacher, John Keating in Dead Poets Society.
I recent saw the film for the third time. I easily understood Keating’s enthusiasm and love of teaching. He wanted his students–all very bright young men–not to be forced into square holes by parents, their school or the culture at large. He advised them to go for the gusto as Budweiser used to promote.
The only problem and one he tragically failed to fully comprehend is that a room full of young men will often seek not the truth and beauty that may have been on his fertile mind but the pleasurable and hormonal experiences of the flesh at such an early age that would not be able to properly understand or handle the emotional consequences of their seizing of the day.
Where Keating failed his students was in not telling them they had some necessary prerequisites before the marrow could be even tasted. His students first needed to learn discernment, self-discipline and good judgment. In other words they needed emotional maturity.
Traditional society has tried to regulate and channel with mixed results these sexual urges in young men especially for centuries. A teacher like Keating is their worst enemy and greatest fear.
Fools will always rush in where angels fear to tread is no cliché.
When I was in high school we studied a similar idea, found in Robert Herrick’s poem,
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.
I doubt if there were ever any more seductive poem than Herrick’s revival of the carpe diem genre. Of the 17th century bachelor’s 2500 poems this is the best remembered. The over-riding message of Herrick’s work is that life is short, the world is beautiful, love is splendid, and we must use the short time we have to make the most of it.
The major problem with this way of thinking and living is that it too quickly turns to hedonism and the consequences can often be tragic as in the Williams’ movie.
In my mind the idea of Carpe Diem especially in our society is totally wasted. Thanks to science and medical technology most lives are not short and fleeting. Most people can look forward to 80-90 years of substantially active and happy living.
Baseball great Mickey Mantle lamented near the end of his 64-year life that had he know he would have lived as long as he did, he would have taken much better care of himself. No male member of his family had lived past age thirty-nine. Mostly the family history of working in the zinc mines in Oklahoma was largely responsible for that.
As a nineteen-year-old player Mantle had gone for all the gusto he could swallow and became an alcoholic in the mix.
Youth in deed is wasted on the young.
I think the idea of Carpe Diem should be reserved for the elderly in their golden years. By that time their family responsibilities have usually been fulfilled. By that time they should have emotional maturity necessary for good judgment. If they have taken good care of themselves and sexual urges do not seem as demanding then these are the years to go for the gusto and enjoy each day like it might be the last day on earth…because it very well be.
Sister Joan Chittister and her co-author Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury have another suggestion. They believe that gratitude should dominate our waking hours as we grow closer to our divine destination. The authors cite several things that we should be naturally grateful for, such God, peace, wealth, health, faith, family and friends.
But they take the gratitude much further. We should thank God for everything that happens to us, even our daily crosses of physical and emotional sufferings should be met with a joyful alleluia.
To them life is an exercise in learning just how to sing Alleluia here so that we can recognize the face of God hidden in deep recesses of time. Some quiet reflection should help us see that the past is never gone from us. Our past lives with its joys, sufferings and challenges have made us what and who we are.
Old age then is also a time for a reflection on the past to see how it has shaped our present lives and to understand the providential links that have brought us to this time in the eternal scope of things.
Teachers and I can say writers and coaches as well since I have done all three often never see the results of their efforts in shaping the minds, hearts and souls of the young people who briefly cross their paths.
I know this is heavy mental stuff but if we don’t do it we run the dark risk of failing to see the importance of our lives to those around us.
Walking has become a national obsession. Year round the malls, streets and tracks are dotted with sweating men, women and children in a colorful array of sports togs, feverishly trying to beat the time clock of life’s grim reader. Charities make millions every year sponsoring walkathons for causes of all kinds.
I walk primarily to get where I am going and for the walker’s high that I sometimes get when I walk fast and for a long distance. My wife and I made the “walk” down Constitution Ave in 2008 in recognition of the 50,000,000 lives wasted because of the Roe v Wade decision promulgated in 1973.
Like wit Mark Twain I believe that the game of golf is a pefectly good way to spoil a good walk.
These are just a few of the many different motivations that compel people to lace up their Nikes, don their Under Armours and hit the streets. Did you ever wonder why people walk and how important and varied it is to human life?
Leave it to Adam Gopnik of New Yorker magazine to explain all the variegated reasons from exercise and self-defense to recreation and thinking for human bipedalism. I especially found his idea of solitude while walking intriguing!
Walking can also be a sermon. On the opening night of my parish’s Lenten Mission years ago, the visiting priest asked us, what was Jesus’ ‘best’ homily? His Sermon on the Mount or quite possibly the Last Supper immediately came to mind.
While he said both were excellent answers, there was something much better. A priest for 40 years, he had only recognized Jesus’ best sermon 10 years ago.
Before answering his question, he talked on the beauties and importance of the many walks in life, from the graduation walk, the walk down the aisle on a wedding day to the leisure stroll with friends and family.
Father said Jesus’ best homily depicted the most important walk in the history of the world and it was on the walls of every church he had ever walked into–the Stations of the Cross.
In meditating on the stations, Father found that they were a microcosm of the Catholic faith. And every time he looked at that walk on the wall it if was as if Jesus was saying to him, Come Follow Me.” (Mark 1:17)
The first lesson is that we must stop judging people for what they have and who they are because we are all God’s children. On His second stop Jesus is telling us to stop our complaining. Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing and yet He was tortured and sentenced to death but never complained.
At stops three, seven and nine Jesus falls to the ground but despite His pain and suffering He got up again–He never quit… In the battles of the flesh and the spirit, we must never give up.
In the middle of His walk, Simon of Cyrene was enlisted to help Jesus carry His burden. Similarly, many of us have been called as caregivers and helpers to ease the burdens of those close to us who may have a difficult time carrying their crosses of disease, old age or personal affliction.
At stations four, sixth and eight, Jesus had sound advice for a world that preaches that happiness can only be found only where there is no pain or suffering.
Jesus’ touching encounter with Mary, who found immense joy within the pangs of the suffering of childbirth, echoing the profound words of St. James’ Epistle, Count it all joy my brethren, when you meet various trials for you know that the testing of your faith, produces steadfastness. (Jas.1: 2-3)
To the compassionate Veronica He leaves His image in blood and sweat that she would joyously treasure forever. To the women of Jerusalem, His message was for them to stop their weeping over His suffering but focus on their children because children who bring joy, laughter and renew the spirit of life.
At the 10th stations Jesus tells us to love the material things of the world but don’t make them the center of your being.
At the next stop Jesus talks about pain. Father said everyone is handicapped in some way. Jesus never complained during His long ordeal. He offered it up to His Father for us.
Jesus also invites us to join Him in the cross of suffering, not because suffering is wonderful but by offering up our pains and suffering for others they will serve as a vehicle of His healing grace.
Before we can finish our walk we must let go of our bitterness, grudges and forgive those who have wronged us.
While Jesus’ walk was to His death on the Cross our walk is a way to life eternal. Next time you go into a Church, take a few moment to “listen” to His best homily.
How many listen more to the anchors on commercial TV or NPR radio for their truth. I was in a parking lot at the Jewish Community Center a few weeks ago and I saw a confusing bumper sticker. This one said: I am against the death penalty. That’s all well and good but it was the following proof that nearly knocked me over.
Look what it did to Jesus! Wow what a revelation! The death penalty killed Christ and not His own people, who rejected everything He stood for fear of their loss of power. I would love to have asked the auto owner, where would we all be had Jesus not lost His life on the Cross? Would man’s salvation had been achieved had Jesus died by a “drive-by-shooting” or died of cardiac arrest at the age of 65?
Not only The New Yorker missed the importance of Jesus’ walk for salvation but even my own Catholic Newspaper, the St. Louis Review published an atrocious cartoon of Jesus hanging on the Cross with the caption that read: This is what the death penalty did!” So even the Catholic press entirely missed the message of Jesus’ long walk to Calvary.
The bottom line then is that in order to find our eternal home, we not only had to hear the talk but put pick up our crosses daily and do the walk.
I was recently reminded of the old Broadway play Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand. I remember taking a friend during Christmas week in 1965 to see what proved to be her last performance.
I most remember the song People. It was a wonderful ballad that expressed the deep human need that we have for other people.
In retrospect, I guess the lyrics expressed comedian and heroine, Fanny Bryce’s sad lament on how she envied those who really needed people. To her they were the luckiest people in the world. Even today I tend to well up every time I hear that song.
This brings me to a fascinating article in the New York Times a few weeks ago.
Boston College Professor, Richard Kearney, wrote the article, based on a discussion he had with his students in a class on Eros, entitled From Plato to Today.
Some of his students were bemoaning the fact that most of the romance they were having had been impersonalized by the Internet and the social media. They missed that real human connection that virtual or casual hook-up sex can never provide.
Many of Kearney’s students realized the tragic irony of this kind of physical connecting: that what is often thought of, as a ‘materialist’ culture was arguably the most ‘immaterialist’ culture imaginable — vicarious, by proxy, and often voyeuristic.
These are prophetic words for a culture on a downslope.
The professor then took this mundane and earthy discussion to a much higher plane, as he outlined the philosophical and moral dichotomy between Plato and Aristotle that has plagued Western relationships for 2000 years.
Today’s cyber world of virtual dating reminded him of an updated version of Plato’s Gyges, who could see everything at a distance but was touched by nothing! Kearney questioned whether we were entering an age of excarnation, where we obsess about the body in increasingly disembodied ways.
As Kearney states if incarnation is the image become flesh, excarnation is flesh become image
It is not surprising that Aristotle would see things in a completely different light. In perhaps the first great work of human psychology, his De Anima, (The Soul) Aristotle declared the human touch to be the most universal of the senses.
Touch, thought Aristotle, is the most intelligent sense because it is the most sensitive. When we touch someone or something we are exposed to what we touch. We are responsive to others because we are constantly in touch with another person.
Aristotle was challenging the dominant prejudice of his time–against the human body–one he himself had embraced in earlier works.
The Platonic doctrine of the Academy held that sight was the highest sense because it is the most distant and mediated; hence most theoretical, holding things at bay, mastering meaning from above.
Aristotle lost this battle of ideas!
The Platonists prevailed and the Western universe became a system governed by the soul’s eye. Sight came to dominate the hierarchy of the senses, and was quickly deemed the appropriate ally of theoretical ideas.
According to Professor Kearney Western philosophy thus sprang from a dualism between the intellectual senses, crowned by sight, and the lower ‘animal’ senses’ stigmatized by touch.
It was ironically Western theology, despite its proclaiming the Christian message of the Incarnation The Word made flesh — that all too often confirmed the strange dichotomy with its anti-carnal doctrines.
How many millions of souls grew up thinking that their souls were housed in some kind of evil monster.
Kearney believes that this negative attitude prompted Nietzsche’s declaration that Christianity was Platonism for the people who gave Eros poison to drink.
Plato’s thinking prevailed for over 2,000 years, culminating in our contemporary culture of digital simulation and spectacle. The eye continues to rule in what Roland Barthes once called our civilization of the image. The world is no longer our oyster, but our widescreen.
His way of thinking on the inferiority of the human body has infected Western culture ever since. Its presence has been noted in Gnosticism, Jansenism, Puritanism and the Victorian attitudes that still bear poisonous fruit in the 21st century. He was also responsible for the Manicheanism that infected the early mind of St. Augustine on sex and marriage.
Like Aristotle before him, Saint John Paul II fought some of the prejudices of the times with regard to nudity and the sanctity of the human body in his once highly celebrated but largely forgotten series of sermons on the Theology of the Body.
For all the fascination with bodies, our current technology is arguably exacerbating our carnal alienation. While offering us enormous freedoms of fantasy and encounter, digital Eros may also be removing us further from the flesh.
Kearney offers a fascinating twist on pornography, which is now an industry worth tens of billions of dollars worldwide. Seen by some as a progressive sign of post-60s sexual liberation, pornography is, paradoxically, a twin of Puritanism. Both display an alienation from flesh — one replacing it with the virtuous, the other with the virtual. Each is out of touch with the body.
This movement toward privatization and virtuality is explored in Spike Jonze’s recent movie Her where a man falls in love with his operating system, which names itself Samantha. He can think of nothing else and becomes insanely jealous when he discovers that his virtual lover, Samantha, is also flirting with thousands of other subscribers.
I have to confess my early infatuation with ‘Siri’. She was the only woman I have ever encountered who would do anything I asked her…until she got sort of …Dumb! She must have been a blonde.
Eventually, Samantha feels sorry for him and decides to supplement her digital persona with a real body by sending a surrogate lover. But her plan is a complete failure — while the man touches the embodied lover he hears the virtual signals of Samantha in his ears and cannot bridge the gap. The dichotomy between digital absence and physical presence is unbearable. Something is missing: real love in the flesh.
Full humanity requires the ability to sense and be sensed in turn: the power, as Shakespeare said, to feel what wretches feel — or, one might also add, what artists, cooks, musicians and lovers feel. We need to find our way in a world of touch again. We need to return from head to foot, from brain to fingertip, from iCloud to earth.
Since I started getting a regular massage twice a-week four years ago, I have come to relish the feel of a human’s touch. I think touch is one of the ways we will always need other people. It is how God intended it.
Only an atheist like Jean Paul Sarte could define Hell as ‘other people’.
I touch people all the time…and relish when a friend puts a gentle hand on my back or shoulder…even for just a second…To me it is a form of human validation…I see you…you exist…I feel you..accept my hand as a communication of those feelings.
Massage therapy has helped me also take the full incarnational measure of my body as intimately fused with my soul. As I say in my unpublished short story, The Hands, in her hands his body and soul had quickly become whole again, dispelling any Platonic notion about separation…they were reunited in a paroxysm of emotion that transcended life and even death. To me that is the meaning of Aristotle’s touch!
In the past six and a half years I have written a stack full of articles, both in my blog and for the Mindszenty Foundation on Barack Obama. He is arguably the most complex and variegated president in history.
In his case that is not a good thing. In his presidential wake he has left a dizzy wake of uncertainty, pain and fear that has left the American people nearly as deeply divided as they were during bellicose days of the Lincoln administration.
In defense of Abraham Lincoln, the nation had been seriously bifurcated since the early days of the Republic. Lincoln’s war merely vindicated one side against the other, though many of those divisions have unnecessarily resurfaced under President Obama.
Anyone who has ever suffered a Vertigo act can easily empathize with those of us who felt the country’s lack of purpose, direction or destiny has sent one’s mind whirling so that it has been nearly impossible to focus on the nation’s deepest problems.
I keep asking myself how could this have happened to America, once the greatest nation in the world in such a quick period of time. I can possibly understand electing Obama as the first Mulatto President as of historical significance, given the country’s divisive racial background but twice…is beyond comprehension.
By all traditional standards the Obama policies in health care, economics and foreign policy have been abject failures. Not only has he lowered the world’s respect for the American flag but he also has mired the nation’s future in a quagmire of red ink.
Obama was a virtually unknown Senator who came out of no-where to, not only defeat the female standard-bearer of the Clinton dynasty but also win a heated election on the strength of his vapid promises of hope and change. This is a scene out of a surrealistic cartoon. It makes me wonder what a majority of voters were smoking just before going to the polls.
His second election is even more unfathomable. He ran on something a bit more concrete but highly questionable.
Osama bin-laden is dead, GM is alive and Al-Qaeda is on the run!
Lets analyze this a bit.
Osama is dead! O.K. I have seen the heroic movie that depicts the attack that allegedly killed him. But what real proof do we actually have that he did actually die at the hands of the U.S. military? Was there any concrete evidence of his dead body—pictures…an autoposy report–burial plot? No he was unceremoniously dumped into the darkest and deepest fathoms of the ocean..to be be devoured by sea creatures of all kind.
I am not trying to start a conspiracy theory or anything like that but after all this administration once boasted of its being the most transparent presidency in history…yet in the mendacious world of Barack Obama it has been the most opaque presidential administration.
Why should we believe the president or his factotums on anything? I mean it took this man four years to come forward about his birth certificate…and how do we know what he produced was really authentic? Did it not designate his father’s race as American-American? In 1961?
Have they been forthcoming about Benghazi…the IRS’s punitive measures against the Tea Party, Fast and Furious…the Veterans Administration…Putin and reset…the beat goes on…
What has this president ever done to earn the trust of the American people?
His speeches are nothing more than pabulum for the masses. The spin his Politburo puts on his casual statements is enough to send those of us, even with the greatest of vestibular balance into the whirligig of a vertigo attack.
GM is alive…not really. They survive as a shadow of their once powerful self after illegally ignoring their bondholders in favor of a union that was largely responsible for its demise. It is the legacy payments, which will eventually sink GM for good because unless GM’s relationship with the UAW changes they have no hope for long-term survival.
Is Al-Qaeda now on the run…or maybe he was right…they are running…right us with guns blazing and their knives, dripping with American blood…boldly threatening to raise their Islamic National flag over the White House?
Then there is the question of leadership…from behind? Did Obama learn his military tactics and strategies from the Generals at Camp Swampy?
Does he really know what to do with the Russians, Shiites, Sunnis and border illegals? Or he using these past six years for a reprise of the cinematic character Inspector Clouseau…or was it Inspector Clueless?
Like Bill Clinton before him, Obama fancies himself a world citizen, which is throwback to the 18th century’s twisted vision of an enlightened world without rancor…war…turmoil…a world that needed no arms of any kind…All these minions of peace had to do was talk with our former enemies. Then the power of their rhetoric would convince the Muslims and the Russians that geopolitics, invasions and balances of power were just useless relics from the 19th century that had already been designated for the ash heap of history.
Yes and when President Rip Van Obama awakes from his long siesta perhaps he can prescribe an Excedrin pill for the dizziness and nausea that his administrations have foisted on the American people. Hopefully it will not be too late for the country to regain its footing in the world and its balance in leadership.
I was in my favorite restaurant the other day, reading my newspaper when all of a sudden, I heard this plop on my table.
When I looked up some woman I had never seen before said in a barely audible voice, I have a cookie for you!
Then she quietly moved on to another table and did the same. She was akin to a modern-day Johnny Appleseed as she spread her affections and concerns to the world around her with a cookie.
I really shouldn’t be eating that kind of sweets but out of gratitude or maybe human courtesy I ate some of the cookie.
After a few moments my curiosity had been piqued. I chased her down and asked her why she was doing this.
She looked at me with sad eyes and softly said the world is in such a mess…I thought this would help us with it.
I asked her if she meant Ferguson…Iraq…Gaza and so on.
She said all of it…the world is such a mess.
Her fear and consternation were visibly palpable.
Then it occurred to me that she had personified what Rush Limbaugh had said on his program earlier that day.
She had perfectly articulated the liberal mindset of the world being so sad that we were just helpless pawns in a maelstrom of unfathomable times.
The conclusion then is that we can’t do anything about the situation and must simply defer to our leaders to save us from these terrible times. I told her that it has always been like this. The world has always seemed to have been a mixture of confusion, chaos and overt evil. Some times were far worse than what the world is experiencing now.
The pages of history are riven with such violent and deadly tales of plagues that killed millions, earthquakes, tornadoes, world wars, famines, pestilence and the Holocaust to name but a few.
She just shook her sad head and walked away.
I guess she had never studied any history in school.
Since I got my doctorate in history 42 years ago, my favorite subject has been virtually eliminated from college and secondary campuses. I know they say they teach it but it’s not history anymore…just left-wing agitprop.
To me history is neutral. It is not liberal nor is it conservative. It is what really happened.
In a word it is reality–the ultimate reality show.
While times change…leaders come and fade from view. The one constant that has been with us since the very beginning has been our immutable human nature.
This is just one of the many ideas that the left has gotten wrong.
They see history as the unending quest to deify man and set it on an altar of Progress.
Philosopher Emmanuel Kant recignized the existence of a fallen man when he wrote out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.
Evil, sin, despair and violence are all in the human DNA.
G. K. Chesterton seconded this idea when he wrote of original sin in the last century as the one teaching of the Catholic Church that did not have to be taught. Just pick up a newspaper!
People who think they can help the world by giving cookies don’t understand the dynamic of the human soul and its battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. These concepts have virtually vanished from education, society and the public square and are foreign to a generation of Americans. Nothing will ever change unless people realize that the fault is within our souls and not our stars.
For a poignant, literary rendition on the phenomenon of human nature, one need only consult the writings of South Carolinian author Pat Conroy. His quintessential book is The Great Santini where the abject cruelties and insensitivities of his father, Col. Donald Conroy vividly come to life.
I haven’t read the book yet but it hit a nerve with the Conroy family. Son Pat quickly became the pariah of his highly dysfunctional family.
I have seen the movie, starring Robert Duvall and Blythe Danner several times. Though tame by comparison, it did succeed in capturing the pain and suffering the senior Conroy caused his family.
The marital union of the real Conroys produced seven children, three more sons than depicted in the film for a total of seven roughly hewn and deeply disturbed children.
While at Logan Airport after a trip through New England some weeks ago, I happened upon a bookstore. My browsing brought me to a hardback edition of Conroy’s only non-fiction work about his family’s serious difficulties. Since it was published in 2013, I thought I might not be able to get it when I returned home.
So even though my carry-ons were bristling and graoning and almost impossible for me to lug around, I stuffed it in there and prayed for the best.
The book’s title is The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and his Son. The book, which sometimes reads like a novel is the most bittersweet book I have ever read. One minute I was laughing out loud and the next I was wiping tears from my face.
Even though the focal point of the book is the aforementioned Great Santini, Conroy also explored the demise and eventual death of both his parents with such warm affection and grace that I literary felt his pain bleed from his deftly crafted work.
Col. Conroy’s legalistic Catholicism stands tall and fragile throughout.
Though its presence did not seem to stick on any of the kids, the rich spirit of the Catholic Imagination permeates the subtext of the book with an inherent spiritual beauty that cannot be ignored.
The Church’s teachings are arguably responsible for the warm aura of family life, amid the ruins of a twisted timber of humanity that tortured every member of the family.
At the funeral for their youngest brother, Tom who had fallen into the absolute abyss of despair, they had mistakenly put Tim as the decedent. His brothers went on how they were glad that it was him who had died and not Tom who would be really missed.
This gallows humor, laced with a primordial sacrasm digs to the soul of their inability to free themselves from the Conroy demons.
This is reminiscent of St. Paul when he lamented in Romans for the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do.
A 1000 cookie girls will never be any match for our human nature—only God’s mercy, love and grace.
It is not everyone who can claim to have enacted two laws or truisms but I have.
The latest one is that bad ideas invariably drive out good ideas in a society.
I am referring to the idea that people who have fundamental religious, moral and ethical beliefs have been victimized by the secular idea that the new liberal Taliban is in town and they will not tolerate any idea that differs from their new orthodoxy.
I am not talking about Islam but cultural atheism or what president Obama identified as the new national religion in his speech at the Catholic university Notre Dame in 2009.
Pope emeritus Benedict often remarked that he thought it was not so much atheists who damage the Christian faith, as it is the practical atheists who do the real damage. The practical atheists are those who profess themselves Christians but who then live as if God does not exist.
At the heart of this practical atheism, which is very present in our day and also very easy to fall into, is a false relationship with God. We say one thing yet we do another and we convince ourselves that no one is the wiser. And that includes God.
Racism, multiculturalism and diversity have been adroitly employed to chase religious and moral people from the public square.
This all may have begun with the virtual elimination of the Bible from the public school system in the 1940s and 1950s.
As C.S. Lewis noted, the modern world insists that religion be a purely private affair, then shrinks the area of privacy to the vanishing point.
Total elimination has always been high on the left-wing agenda throughout history.
I need only cite the French Revolution to dramatize my point.
Racial prejudice and bigotry has become the driving wedge to open up new venues of religious elimination for years now.
The Civil Rights was essentially necessary but it lost its credibility after affirmative action was defended many years after it had become obsolete.
Good grief! Affirmative action or reverse discrimination has been the law of the land for 40 years. Enough is enough!
It is so deeply embedded in the national psyche, thanks to the Democrat Party, that to mock or criticize any black person even in private is a mortal sin that demands a symbolic public execution. Just witness the plight of Daniel Sterling.
Apply that fear to presidential elections and you see what we get!
By not recognizing the excesses of this racial intransigence traditional society has indirectly delegated or surrendered too much power and moral authority to these real purveyors of intolerance and hatred.
If they would only stop the hatin’!
I am talking about the self-empowered racialists who abuse the moral authority bestowed upon them.
While the civil right movement was legitimate in its early days, its justification now serves as an ersatz proxy moral card to auxiliary groups such as homosexuals, and even many feminists. They have used the accidents of birth to demand acceptance of a life style that had been condemned for millennia.
This is not to say that the Christian virtues of our once moral society should not temper the grave and inhumane excesses of past history but this does not translate into any legitimacy granted to their sexual practices.
The newest phrase to capture all this has been On the Wrong Side of History.
As if the liberal caliphate has a clue just what is moral and immoral! For a collective group that has rejected traditional religion and virtually all of its moral values, they are woefully unqualified to create any replacement set of values that would have universal appeal, such as the Golden and Silver Rules.
They self-righteously think they represent the right side of history.
In a recent screed in her USA Today column, sports writer, Christine Brennan pontificated about Tony Dungy’s alleged intolerance of homosexuality in the NFL.
She was directing HER intolerance to his honest and heart-felt beliefs that he made about the last man drafted in the NFL’s college draft, Michael Sam, who wantonly disturbed the relative tranquility of NFL locker-room politics with his self-admission that he was gay and proud of it.
Millions of football fans were subjective to the kiss on national TV without warning. Where is all the concern about our sensitivities?
With regard to Sam’s admission, Dungy noted I wouldn’t have taken him. It’s not going to be totally smooth…Things will happen. In other word he did not want his new football team, the Tampa Bay Bucs turned into a media circus.
The Rams were more willing to take that chance, since he was a Missourian, and that was their choice. There is only a 50-50 chance he will make the team unless the media forces the Rams to deny a better player an opportunity to play for the Rams.
Everything Dungy said is reasonable and honest. So why should we even listen to people like Ms. Brennan sound off about subjects they really don’t even understand?
And how come sports fans must be subjected to her liberal drivel? Give her an opinion page and leave the sports to someone who really cares about what goes on between the lines or on the court.
In paraphrase of Thomas Paine, these movements have made the world anew. This is all part of the hope and change that candidate Obama promised us, a hope founded on the illusions, lies and myths of a history gone bad.
Theirs is not the right side of history or even the wrong side of history. History is neither. The moral judgments its makes are wholly subjective. Only God really knows which is right or wrong. What the liberals have today is only the left side of history.
I was going to call this Honey, I Shrunk the Country, a veiled reference to the 1989 Rick Moranis movie about an inventor who accidentally shrinks his children.
I think it is a fitting metaphor for what President Obama has done to this once proud and powerful country.
He has shrunk the nation’s economy…its military and its standing on the world stage.
Way to go Mr. President!
Many military and political people have started calling him the worst president in history.
I don’t understand what took them so long. I saw that in him eight months after his first election.
I have already written about my astute granddaughter who asked me six years ago who I thought was the worst president. She was six at the time.
I made a case for Obama and she said that I was saying that only because I had voted for McCain.
Oh, if we only had college students who knew as much.
The good news is that since then she has gone from being a liberal Democrat to telling me recently that she was a neutral. By that I think she meant an independent. To me that is a great deal of progress.
When she is in college maybe she will be president of the Conservative Club if there still is such a thing.
The only thing wrong with my thesis is that it is based on my objective standards of what I think is good for the country.
My standards are precisely that–standard.
For a country to thrive it must maintain a delicate balance between personal freedoms and government power. These two entities have been in conflict since the First American Revolution.
To be successful the citizens of a nation must feel secure in their beds at night.
The level of national security has fallen greatly in the 21st century. After 9/11 our world changed. It was harder to travel and there seemed to be threats to Americans abroad.
Rightfully or wrongly President George W. Bush fought two wars so that our battles against terrorism would not come to our shores again.
While he was doing that, little was done to address our Southern borders. Millions of illegal immigrants have flooded to this country with the blessings of both parties. Republicans see them as cheap labor while Democrats see them as gullible voters in search of free stuff. To a degree maybe 35-65, both parties deserve to be held accountable.
The litany of Obama scandals from the IRS to Benghazi outperform any list from the collective administrations of the alcoholic Ulysses S. Grant, the libidinous Warren G. Harding, the shifty Richard M. Nixon and the clueless Jimmy Carter—all of whom have been labeled at one time the worst president in American history.
But what confuses the issue for most good-hearted Americans on the right and the left, is the abject fact that President Obama and I do not have the same standards. His beliefs are diametrically opposed to virtually anyone of my standards. What I see as bad and even evil are good and wholesome in our president’s mind.
I see abortion, illegal immigration, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem cell research, an increase in the minimum wage, national health care and subsidies for healthy Americans as all as attacks on the American character and deleterious to the integrity of our national institutions.
I believe in a strong national defense, secure borders, capitalism, fiscal conservativism, a strong foreign policy, not an ignorant democracy where an odious agenda is deliberately rammed down the American people’s throat.
I believe true freedom. not moral license is necessary for our prosperity and for that of the world.
Obama thinks that America is evil to the core. He believes that we are largely responsible for all the unrest and violence in the world and quite frankly the world would be better off without us.
If you want o see what that would like see author Dinesh D’Souza’s new film America
Obama promised that he would transform the nation and in doing just that he has been undermining everything the vast majority of the American people hold dear to them.
President Obama has threatened to make a mockery of the laws of the land, especially our Constitution.
He obeys only those laws that he wants and ignores those that don’t fit his agenda.
He has a vision for America that he believes will make the world a better place–especially as long as it can benefit from his deep-seated intellectual ideals.
If one wants a vision of Obama’s world look back to its progenitor the French Revolution which gave us first the guillotine, the reign of terror and later the concentration camp, the death camps and the gulags.
His megalomania is only surpassed by his inattention to detail, unconcern for the consequences of his policies and for the harm and the abject evil they engender in a world that is bordering, not on Nirvana but on the chaos of Hell.
While he mocks Christians for believing in a heavenly future in the next life, Obama promises that we can have Heaven on earth if we just listen to him.
The graveyards are riven with petty dictators and ersatz intellectuals who have made the same disingenuous promises.
Too many conservatives and patriots from Mike Huckabee to Bill O’Reilly naively see him as someone who wants the same things as they do but is just going at it in a different way. They could not be any more wrong about his sinister agenda.
Obama reminds me of Claude Lefty Williams one of the infamous Black Sox who threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds to spite their owner, Charlie Comisky and pick up some easy money. The scandal rocked baseball for years and was ultimately responsible for Pete Rose’s banishment from the game he played harder than most.
Williams was the most egregious of the eight-man cabal and wound up losing three of the five games necessary to win in 1919.
Fast forward to the 1981 World Series when pitcher George Frazier of the New York Yankees became only the second man to suffer three losses in a series.
When reminded of Williams’ chicanery, Frazier quipped Yeah but I wasn’t trying to lose them!
The other day a headline in USA-Today caught my eye. It was entitled Naked TV Taking Off. There seems to be a plethora of participants sans clothes programming under the heading of Reality TV that tapes middle age men and women in various motifs trying to act natural.
According to journalist Ann Oldenburg as Survivor, the granddaddy of all survival reality game shows, kicks off its 28th season Wednesday (8 p.m. ET/PT), a new wave of survival-TV series is rolling in. Among them: Fox plans a show that will play out over the course of a year; a second season of Discovery’s titillating Naked and Afraid arrives in March; and Syfy’s Opposite Worlds gets ready to crown a winner.
Each episode chronicles the lives of two survivalists—a man and a woman—who meet for the first time and are given the task of surviving a stay in the wilderness naked for 21 days. After they meet in the assigned locale, the partners must find and/or produce water, food, shelter, and clothing within the environment.
The events of each couple’s quest play out in a single episode. Partners strip down and meet each other. They are provided with rough cross-body satchels containing a personal diary/camera—for use when the camera crew is not there at night—and a map. They all wear identical necklaces with a center bead, which is a microphone, and some personal jewelry is allowed.
I saw a two-minute clip of this show and it was tame by anybody’s standards. Sure there are a lot of bare bottoms but any hint of genitalia is blocked by mysterious white light balloon, giving lie to the advertisement that this is a reality show.
The above article also pointed out: We’ve got The Bachelor. And we’ve got Naked and Afraid. So why not mesh the two?
VH1 has just announced it has given the green light to Naked Dating, a one-hour weekly series that will explore the art of romance free of pre-conceived notions, stereotypes — and clothes.
No jewelry, no phones and no conventions of society to get in the way.
Each episode is its own date, following a man and a woman as they each date two different suitors. At the end of the episode, the two will analyze what they’ve learned and decide on whether or not to move forward with their prospective love matches.
But of course this will all be done in an exotic locale and everyone will be naked.
I even found a website devoted to Naked Yoga.
On the surface all this appears to be innocent and relatively harmless.
I know that many will signal this as further proof that Western Civilization as we once knew it has officially ended. Nudity is everywhere–stage, art galleries,dance recitals, theater and movie theaters.
Perhaps something different is going on. During my formal history studies I learned of the Pendulum theory, which held that life and history are always changing. Both are in a constant state of flux, heading into the future.
When it comes to ideas, trends, fads and historical movements at some point it will reach its end and start coming back to the other direction.
Now this is not a perfect theory when applied to American social mores but it does offer some insight.
Our society has become so satiated in a sewer of pornography and perversion that it has suffered an overload that threatens the emotional stability of millions of Americans and their families.
Since the human body has been a battleground for many of these searches, what better place to look for the harmony of body and soul that seems to have vanished from our culture.
According to Bobby Schindler’s article on the legal murder of his sister Terry Schiavo, namely the Dehydration Death of a Nation, …we have become a nation that spends billions trying to find the perfect while ignoring the condition of our collective soul.
Perhaps the pendulum has gone as far as it can go. Just maybe this flood of naked TV programs that do not seem to appeal to the prurient interests of men and even some women will help them extricate themselves from the moral morass that has entangled their souls.
During the 16th century Western culture suffered an overload of rituals and devotions to the human soul that furthered devalued the importance of the human body.
In this ignoble attempt its leader saw fit to throw the body’s Creator out with the medieval bath water of Puritanism, Jansenism and Gnosticism—all which thought the body was an evil mechanism created in the devil’s workshop fraught with temptation, sin and eternal death.
This situation gave birth to the Enlightenment that led to Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey and the so-called sexual revolution that threw the human soul out the window.
What we are experiencing now is their thinking taken to its inevitable logical conclusions of sexual excess, and perversion.
Both these historical events appear as a complete rejection of the perfect union of man’s body and soul into one indivisible human being,
Perhaps Naked Yoga with its visible pudenda and phalli is a new attempt to bring the body back to its Edenic status and total integration.
I think this was signaled in Saint John Paul II’s work of the Theology of the Body, which sought to bring back a human way at looking at the human body.
Saint JP II urged people to treat the bodies of others as being a person and not a thing.
I have not seen a truer indictment of America’s culture of death than this basic statement.
Along similar lines there is the story of Junior Lindsey Stocker, who failed a dress code check at Beaconsfield High School in Quebec.
Stocker tried to explain: when I started explaining why I didn’t understand that rule, they didn’t really want to hear anything I had to sa… I felt very attacked …adding that many of the rules in the dress code appear to specifically target girls.
She left the classroom and printed off about 20 posters inspired by an image on Tumblr that read: Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects” and posted them around the school.
In my opinion her shorts were not immodest or suggestive.
This is the pure personalism of the late saintly pope. Her adult message to schools was that they should teach boys to respect their female classmates as persons and not sexual objects.
Perhaps Naked Yoga and the naked TV shows are secular attempts to tap into this corporal theology.
If one looks at these men and women in their natural state doing nothing more than very athletic yoga exercises, one should be thinking along with the pope and see them, not as naked objects but as beautiful creations—all made in the image and likeness of God.
According to Saint John Paul II this by no means signifies that impurity of body is identified simply with partial or total nudity. There are circumstances in which nudity is not impure. If someone uses it to treat the person as an object of pleasure – even if it is by bad thoughts – he alone is the one who commits an impure act. Impurity of body only occurs when nudity plays a negative role with respect to the value of the person. One can say that what happens then is a de-personalization….
I think the bifurcation of man’s body and soul probably happened during the days of St. Augustine. He had been a subscriber to the Manichean heresy in the 5th century that saw the human body as detestable and a vehicle for temptation, sin and eternal punishment.
Many of the hang-ups good Catholics suffered from and still may suffer from can date back to this time.
Of course this does not mean that we should deny sin and that we are free to express our sexuality in any way that we wish.
Sin flourishes when we treat others as things!
The truth of these words was echoed in an interview of Glenn Beck on Fox recently where the social commentator said, religion teaches us to love people and use things. Today’s society teaches us to love things and use people.
If a woman saw a man as an individual, she would not flaunt her sexuality in his face but dress with a modesty that flatters her entire body without emphasized her erotic zones.
What we need today is a healthy attitude toward the human body. If humans, especially the sexually high-wired American male can ever learn to substitute love and appreciation for women and their bodies the world would be a nicer place and we would all be that much closer to Eden.
Innocence in mind and heart has become a lost virtue in our increasingly godless society.
While parents often tried to protect their children from learning the harsh and often cruel realities of the world until at least they reached puberty, today purveyors and despoilers of this youthful innocence have entered into the playroom with early sex education, vulgarities of all sorts and adult fads in dress and speech.
Peer pressure through the social media among those who have already gone over to the other side makes childhood even more difficult.
The term baby doll has long represented a sexually active young woman with child like characteristics or even sometimes a pre-teen who has been thrown into the adult mix of sexual trafficking the drug culture.
She seems to be the avatar of the future for young women.
This is all a sad and serious commentary on the state of America’s fallen society.
Kids grow up physically much faster today as so many diets seemed laced with all kinds of synthetic hormones that reduce the puberty age to near-kindergarten age.
This has made it even more imperative that those untainted by the world, the flesh and the devil maintain a spirit of childlike innocence and wonder that can ward against these influences.
This does not mean that one should be immature or a Peter Pan in mid-flight who just refuses to grow up.
To the contrary it means that adults make a conscious endeavor to look, not at the sordid side of the block that society is selling but on the sunny side where faith, morality and all the personal virtues of self-giving and sacrifice can preserve that sense of purity in one’s heart and soul.
While the body grows, the soul develops natural antidotes of faith, hope and charity to combat the external forces that would tear it apart.
The old Brooklyn Dodger, catcher Roy Campanella used to say that to play baseball there has to be a lot of the little boy in you.
I have always quipped that I was only 12 years old emotionally and that I was terrified of the eventual onset of puberty with its attendant pimples and girls and the like.
There may be some truth to that in that since I have noticed a pattern in my life with my own, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren that they all seemed to outgrow me at and about their thirteenth year.
They were all cool with me before then. They usually laughed at my corny jokes and I could down and dirty with them on the floor as we rough-housed, played all sorts of athletics games–indoors and were generally a menace to anything breakable.
But when the clock struck thirteen, Dad, Uncle Bill or Daddy B wasn’t quite as cool or as fun to be with. When they laughed at my jokes I often felt they were laughing at me.
I think this is the reason that I have begged all of the above to skip the years as Pat Boone wrote one time Twix twelve and twenty.
I think I knew that society would take that innocence away from them and they could no longer share my simple joy of living and experiencing what I call the sense of Wow in everyday things.
I have seen that 1000 yard stare as they used to call the look of soldiers who had seen too much and done too much that could be shared with the people back home.
I see a similar look–the stare of the teenager. It is a cold and hard stare that looks through you. It means to me that they have gotten themselves involved sexually way before their time and they feel themselves like a rudderless ship just spinning around in a vortex of despair and guilt.
Fortunately most survive.
When they turned 20 they usually revive a little more interest in me. But it is a different kind of relationship and little like it was before. The natural teacher in me took the baton from my child within. We now talk of what it is like to face a world full of wonder, surprises and grave consequences.
Through all these changes that little child of wonder is still alive and well and living in the nursery of my soul.
Every time I spy a little child in a stroller or seated in a high chair at some restaurant—especially the little girls–I see the face of God. I see it in their smiles, their laughter and occasionally in their tears. It is this simple joy that lifts my soul and finds sunshine where often there is darkness and even evil.
I remember John Wayne saying as his character Davy Crockett in the epic film, The Alamo when seeing a little dirty-faced girl leave with the civilians during the last hours of the Mexican siege, it a shame they have to grow up.
His unspoken words were …and see all this death, destruction and cruelty of war.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us that unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Perhaps that’s what the epitaph of addict and poet Francis Thompson’s tombstone means: when you get to heaven look for me in God’s nursery.
I hope that counts for me and my 12-year old emotions, although I do plan to first make a stop at that special beach I have written about in a prior two-part post.
13) In the spring of 1972 I received my doctorate from St. Louis University. While it never materialized into a real career it gave me the necessary tools to handle a lot of different things. While my teaching jobs were never fulltime that freedom allowed me to write and most importantly spend 28 years behind a radio microphone discussing the issues of the day. It was WGNU radio that provided me with a forum to learn more about human nature and truly find out just what I believe and why I believed it. It was better than a Ph.D. I was also the station’s general trivia champion twice.
14) In 1974 I had my first professional article published in St. Louis Fan Magazine. I called it The Greening of a Cardinal Rookie. The Cardinals gave me my first press pass so I could interview third baseman, Ken Reitz who had broken in the September before. He gave me six quotes in the locker room and I wrote 3500. Even then I knew how to expand and embellish.
15) On May 9, 1974 I appeared on the NBC Today with Gene Shalit for three and half minutes. I was there to talk about my baseball history course at Maryville College. I argued that it was probably the first accredited course of that nature in the Midwest.
16) Hall of Fame sportswriter Bob Broeg started calling me the Baseball Professor. I parlayed that into my own TV show on local cable that ran for 17 months. I wrote, produced and starred in this baseball variety show, named The Baseball Professor, I did it all except film it. No notes just my memory and fast-speed voice tempo. I think all of 11 people saw at least one episode of this unique show.
17) It was after the visit to Cooperstown that I had an epiphany at the Albany airport. I decided to start a historical society for the old St. Louis Browns. One of their former players, Rick Ferrell had been inducted along with Pee Wee and I was saddened by the fact that no team would retire his number like all the other inductees. (I don’t think he ever had a number with the Browns I later learned.) We are celebrating our 30th anniversary which is eight more than the number of living members of that defunct St. Louis team. (22)
18) Having grandchildren is sometimes a lot better than having children. I will never forget the first one. Unlike her daddy I saw her just minutes after her birth. From such a tiny red little human being she has grown into the fine figure of a young woman, now preparing leaving home for college this coming fall.
19) Her brother could not have been a better athlete. He has excelled at every sport he has ever tried and were it not for his penchant for concussions—one each in football, basketball and lacrosse–who knows how far he might have gone. He has now taken up tennis, his dad’s game. And after a slow start he won his last his last five varsity matches before Districts. For years we really bonded while playing Madden Football. I must have a little of his aggressive spirit because I got tired of losing 60-0. Once I learned how to play I would beat him at least 40% of the time. He just hated that. And when I beat him in three of four chess games–look out!
20) Their baby sister was born with a small hole in her heart. She had open-heart surgery at 18 months and now can run a mile in 7:18. I never could run one that fast. She has the same aggressive spirit as a dad and brother. And she is a whiz with the books and a fantastic volleyball player, slated to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
21) My daughter’s only child is our intellect. With a verbal IQ of 153 she we have been talking politics for years. She’s almost 12. Six years ago she informed me she was a liberal Democrat because she loves their principles. She reads more books than I do, acts, sings and even ran for Student Council. For her poster she chose the Most Interesting Man in the World, the Mexican beer guy, who happens to be my new hero.
22) The best vacation my wife and I ever went on was the trip to Southern France where we spent a week on a French yacht the Le Poniard that we boarded in Nice. While traveling all up and down the Amalfi Coast, one evening after a sumptuous dinner we stopped to see Stromboli belch fiery lava while we listened to Pavarotti on the top deck of the boat. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
23) One of the greatest nights of my public life occurred at the Birthright dinner in 1996. I was given their prestigious Monsignor James Hartnett Award for service to the organization. It was more than an honor because I had known Monsignor for many years. He not only baptized my third child but introduced me to Stan Musial. What made it even more special was that the dinner occurred on my 56th birthday with 700 hundred of my closest friends in attendance. But if that was not enough for some reason I had hoped that Bob Costas would be there. Why I don’t know. I just prayed for it. To my knowledge he had never attended one of these dinners. Whom should I see leaning against a wall as I enter the reception area but BC himself. In talking to him I discern that he is totally unaware who the birthday boy is and I don’t tell him. When my acceptance speech was over he rushed up to my tables and got down on one knee to apologise. I thought I had died and gone to heaven right then and there.
24) Massage therapy has been the elixir that has giver new joy to my older life. While she is relatively new to my experience I had the good fortune of getting a series of massages from a young therapist in Florida quite by accident. (Does the name Wally Pipp mean anything?) She had a kind and gentle aura that warmed the cockles of this old man’s heart. She is the kind of woman who should be ministering to old people because she had patience, understanding and a kind heart that made me feel very special in her presence. It is fitting that I saved my regular MT for last! Her magic hands have not only provided me with a boatload of inspiration–three articles, one play and a short story–but have been a foretouch of the world yet to come that has made everything else pale by comparison.
I am thankful for all these many memories!!!!