The Gospel Truth

A Gospel of Fear

June 29, 2015
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There is a truism in science dating back several centuries that states the book of science is always open. Man-Made Global Warming a.k.a. Climate Change is the first and the only scientific issue where the book has been not only shut but also locked and guarded from any revision, modification or amendment. This unprecedented dictate is totally against the basic spirit of scientific inquiry!

Science is based on evidence, and observation, not computer projections.  There is no evidence, except maybe a broken hockey stick, proving that human beings have contributed to any change in the climate.

Scientific inquiry has been corrupted and poisoned by thousands of government-oriented scientists who have sold their collective intellectual souls to the gods of ignorance, irrationality and propaganda. At its best man-made climate change is a hoax and should be relegated to the junk science trash bin. At worst it is Marxist agitprop.

Truth is no longer the goal. An autocratic elite with its own agenda has used the rampant fear of an Apocalypse of imminent world destruction to herd the collective masses into a Luddite return to a way of living that lacks technology, comfort and a long lifespan.

On the wings of a utopian dream of saving the world their plan can only result in a world enslaved in an Orwellian nightmare of violence, repression and poverty. Pope Francis has marched headlong into the bitter fray, joining forces with the Gnostics of unreason and anti-Science.

With his encyclical, Laudato Si’ mi’ Signore, (Praise be to you, my Lord) he has endangered, not only his own credibility but that of the Catholic Church as well. Past and future encyclicals will not receive the respect, which they are normally due. They will fall freely into the category or Papal Opinions that have little or no bearing on the way a person lives.

The Pope’s thesis is that climate change is one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. The planet is warming and humans are the primary cause, particularly due to the use of fossil fuels (which cause greenhouse gases) and deforestation for agricultural purposes.

Ross Douthat, an editor for the New York Times, succinctly explains that Laudato Si is a document aligned with the scientific consensus on climate that excoriates the modern scientific mind-set as, in effect, a 500-year mistake. It’s a document calling for global action, even a new world political authority, that’s drenched in frank contempt for the existing global leadership class.

Do we really want a world governance?

Pope Francis seems to have has a blind spot for government involvement.  The Social democracies are spinning out of control because of their Marxist fiscal policies.  As President Ronald Reagan said, government is not the solution! It is the problem!

It’s a document that urges a rapid move away from fossil fuels while explicitly criticizing the leading avenue for doing so — a cap and trade regime — as too “quick and easy,” too compromised by greed and self-interest, to “allow for the radical change which present circumstances require.”

While Pope Francis gets A’s for his compassion, humility and energy, he deserves an F for his economic analysis. He ignores what markets and finance have historically done to provide cleaner air, water, and greater food security for millions of people the world over.

According to the Green Environmentalists, public policy should reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable sources of energy. However renewable energies are untested, unpopular and unavailable on a universal scale.

The science is also dead wrong! The planet has been naturally cooling for 18 years. The skeptics and deniers are right. As an explanation the environmentalist left says that the sun has produced less heat in that time. Sounds very natural to me. This is the way it has always happened with or without mankind.

Economics has actually helped well-intentioned people achieve the goals of poverty reduction and sustainable development, even as much work remains to be done.   Any system reflects the character of those who act in it, so personal and social ethics remain fundamental.  In a secular without any religious faith, the poor will always lose!

The only way sustainability can be achieved is through the systematic embodiment of birth control by any means, including abortion and even infanticide.

While they protecting  all forms of endangered species, unborn babies are completely absent from their list.

I know that the pope is for the poor and is very pro-life but he clouds the issue with his false science and lends weight to those who are determined to rid the earth of all of its inferior beings or what Adolph Hitler called useless eaters. This is not consistent with Francis’ inner beliefs nor with 2000 years of Church teachings.

I say all this with a heavy heart because the Pope’s statements undermine virtually everything I was taught to believe through 22-years of Catholic school education from 1st grade through a doctorate in American History.

His encyclical also undermines the 30 years I have spent in defending human life in the womb because the key to the Green Environmentalism he has adopted is the elimination 85% of the world’s population through abortion, euthanasia, passive starvation, and eventually war.

The pope’s internal logic is systemically flawed. He ignores the basic nature of the environmental movement he has joined. Progressivism is founded on Eugenics. When applied to man-made threats, the solution resides in the purging of billions of people with from the planet.

Euthanasia, starting with physician-assisted suicide is the next menace on the thanatological horizon. By eliminating productive business with their millions of global jobs the world’s poor will increase and millions will starve to death. If resource constraints are really as severe as the pope implies, and technological solutions as limited in power, it isn’t entirely clear how the planet can sustain the steadily growing population the Catholic vision of marriage and fecundity implies.

This is a pope who has brought joy and inspirations to millions around the world.  Yet with Ladauto Si’, he has infected his message with a classic  pessimism that is laced with fear and threats of an Apocalypse just around the corner. His gospel of joy has become one of fear and trembling.  Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.

This is a very sad day for Catholics all around the world. The pope has sided with the Neo-Malthusians, who erroneously believe that the world’s resources are finite and believe that an almighty government can somehow steer seven billion people into a prosperous future, relying solely on government’s ability to manage, coerce and harness all the means of production.

For that vision one need only look to Russia in the 1930s, China in the fifties and Cuba in the sixties. God help all us…not just the poor if this becomes the driving engine of the future!.


Tom and Hill

May 25, 2015
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It won’t take a rocket scientist to guess that I have adapted my title from an 18th century English nursery rhyme.   My first thought was about the long-time bandleader. Bob Kuban who played at one of our family’s weddings in the early 1990s. His one big hit was a tune from the late sixties that even to this day gets people to tap their toes and sing along. It was called The Cheater and it warned of a Lothario—-a veritable fool-hearted clown who would take your girl and lie and then hurt her!

Does this sound anything like Tom Brady?

My wife does have or had a crush on him but now that he has been publicly vilified as the world’s most despicable professional athletic cheater, he has lost favor with millions of sports fans, of sports fans outside of New England.

I suggest these millions, especially the sanctimonious hack journalists who have pontificated their elite moral values to the rest of us dummies, get a life!

The history of sports is rampant with all kinds of cheating! That’s why they have umpires, referees and field judges because it is endemic to human nature to take advantage of situations that advance their teams’ change for victory.

Sports, games and competitions are only a reflection of what a culture, a people or a country’s attitudes are.

This should come as no surprise to thinking adults that even America’s athletic heroes can and would cheat because cheating is endemic to our fallen human nature.

Cheaters are celebrated in song and in our movies and TV show. Since our progressive society has virtually erased traditional morality from human consciousness, people have been celebrated in their license to break all of the 10 Commandments at will as a sign of personal enlightenment and liberation, including cheating on one’s spouse.

Why then should we be surprised then that athletes will in a culture that stresses and rewards winning immediately that players and coaches will stretch the rules till they break in order to secure the slightest edge that may translate into victories and dollar signs? All sports suffer from the temptation to cheat, to find that subterranean edge.   Greed and vanity not only go before a fall but also ensure that one will fall far and deep. Is that what will happen to Tom Brady?

One reason baseball garners the most print and media coverage is because there are so many ways to cheat. There is a veritable shelf of well-researched books on the history of cheating in baseball. Authors Martin Quigley in his 1984 book, Crooked Pitches and Eldon Ham, in his 2005 book, Larceny and Old Leather demonstrated that cheating was endemic to a sport with so many rules.

One of the first great scandals was gambling. Eliot Asimov’s marvelous 1963 book, Eight Men Out, later made into a movie, detailed the betting scandal that nearly destroyed the game before its Ruthian prime.

It detailed the story of eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and their attempt to alter the outcome of the World Series with Cincinnati that year.

Eight Men Out details the pinnacle of cheating as eight members of the 1919 Black Sox as they were called. They conspired with gamblers to fix the most pristine of all sporting events in its day–the World Series. All eight were banished for life and most went to their graves with deep regret.

The spitball was another serious problem that grew legs over the decades as the juiced balls flew over the fences with extreme frequency. In baseball’s two decades doctoring a ball was completely legal. (Maybe they should adopt that practice in football.) It was not until Yankee sidewinder, Carl Mays killed Cleveland shortstop, Ray Chapman in 1920 with an underhand fastball that he failed to see that the leagues decided to do something about crooked pitches. What killed Chapman was not the spit or the break of the ball. It was the mud, dirt, grime and even coffee that had been legally applied to alter the flight of the ball that prevented him from judging the pitch’s proximity to his head..

While 17 pitchers were grandfathered, years later many others including Brooklyn’s Preacher Roe, and Gaylord Perry to name just a few, were notorious for fooling the umpires with doctored balls.

A scandal of comparable magnitude that just surface a few years ago was when the Miracle Giants of 1951, which produced the shot heard round the world, the ninth inning home run that catapulted the New York Giants into the world series, which they promptly lost in six games.

During the waning months of the season they stood 13.5 games behind the Boys of Summer, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers of Jackie Robinson. The Giants coaches had rigged a sophisticated electronic relay system that informed the batters of the coming pitches.

Teams have been stealing each other’s signs for centuries. The Patriots over-blown Spygate was amateurish by comparison with the Giants.

In the 1980’s corked bats became the cause du jour. When the Cardinals confiscated some of Mets’ slugger Howard Johnson’s bats, I used to quip that he corked his arms, not his bats.

Little did I know that the next generation of players would do exactly that with PEDs and create a scandal, not quite on a par with the Black Sox or the High Jinxes of 1951 but enough to taint the blood supply— the statistics of the game.

Lance Armstrong betrayed an adoring crowd and forfeited seven Tour de France titles. His successful battle back from testicular cancer would have brought him the same hero status as his titles did and yet he threw all that away. Now he is paying the price.

For my opinion on Deflationgate on this issue of seemingly great importance, I will have to surrender to the Bard who wrote a comedy centuries ago, entitled Much to do about Nothing. The deflation of footballs is the proverbial tempest in a teapot, which quite possible traces its origins back to Cicero, long before they even had inflatable hog bladders.

The real gravity of this situation is that sports are no more important to final realm of things than were the bread and circuses of the Roman Empire. While games originally serves as legitimate exercise and recreational functions, big time sports have served both the capitalist instinct and the government propensity for keeping its electorate amused and disinterested in what they do behind our backs or now even in front of our passive faces.

One knows that this is true when people get more upset over Brady’s deflated footballs than they do about erstwhile Secretary of State and quite possibly our next POTUS’ financial shenanigans so deftly portrayed in journalist Peter Schweizer’s blockbuster book, Clinton Cash.

I just finished reading it and while there is no smoking gun, the author has pieced together a boatload of evidence that documents the global reach of the Clinton’s growing financial empire.

Schweizer conclusively showed how adroit America’s most megalomaniacal couple have worked the corridors of power around the globe. It is a sordid tale of financial chicanery, money laundering, bribery, influence peddling and crony capitalism.

In the past 17 months alone the couple have amassed millions in speaking fees that can only be justified in access to power and favorable legislation around the world, especially in natural resource exploitation.

It should worry the American people who if Hill is our next president, the Republicans may never see the White House from inside again.

Brady is irrelevant to me but the Clintons may hold my life—all our lives in their scandal-stained hands. Remember HillaryCare in 1993? It was far more intrusive than ObamaCare has been in 2015.

God only knows if Tom will break his crown. Of greater importance is whether Hill comes tumbling after!


A Thief in the Night

May 18, 2015
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When I was just a small boy, I remember the time my family returned late from an outing, only to find police cars in front of our home. A burglar was reported entering through the second story. After the situation seemed clear, my parents left me alone in their darkened bedroom. Still in the house, the thief made his final forage through the top drawer of my mother’s dresser. The Bible warns us to be vigilant because death can come when you least expect it, like “a thief in the night.” Fortunately he was only interested in money and ignored the dozing boy on the bed.

As an adult receiving mail was something I had grown to joyfully expect. I eagerly awaited its delivery because it brought me business reports, news periodicals, kind words from old friends, and an occasional check. Sometimes I would receive a postcard from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts where I matriculated over five decades ago. The school provides its alumni this unique way of informing us of the recent death of a classmate.

Over the years I have received over 60 such cards, out of a freshman class of 512. These postcards force me to search for any memories I might have had of the decedent. Sometimes the lack of any recollection saddens me for that missed opportunity for a personal connection.

The cause of death for my classmates has been varied. Two perished in helicopters in Vietnam. Several died of cancer or heart ailments and there was at least one suicide, a diminutive fellow who played Mickey Mouse at the 1965 World’s Fair. Of the number of classmates who entered the priesthood, one of the few who stayed was murdered, ironically by “a thief in the night” who had come to rob his rectory on the island of Jamaica a quarter century ago. I have grown to dread these postcards, not only because a forgotten friend may be on one, but because of their unspoken truth that there is one with my name on it waiting to be mailed.

The one card that upset me the most was the one I didn’t get. My roommate for three years at the Cross was a tall, blond fellow, named Peter T. Lawrence. While we were not bosom buddies he was like the brother I never had. He was a brilliant young man with a deep intellect that took me most of my life to approach. Yet he was troubled by some unseen drive or feeling that made him appear inward and even introverted.

We lost contact over the years. The last time I had seen him he had a wife and two beautifully blonde children.   It was 1980.   Years later I decided to write him and explain to him how much he had meant to me as a friend and how much he had inspired my intellectual drive before one of us ended up on a postcard. I also mentioned that if he chose not to answer I would understand.

Well nothing happened for six months. At Christmas I got a card with his name on it and his last known address. However it was not from Peter but from his widow. The last number of years had not been kind to him. He had been separated from his family and had suffered a series of strokes that virtually incapacitated him. On the prior New Years’ Eve, a massive stroke had ended his life.

I immediately contacted his two best friends from grade school and high school respectfully. The college finally got a notice of his passing and while it was mentioned in the Quarterly Alumni publication there never was any postcard. Peter did not get his postcard! There seemed to be some sort of cosmic injustice in that.

The undeniable truth is death comes to us all in many different shapes and forms. It is more inevitable than taxes. At birth each one of us is guaranteed two dates: the one on which we are born and the date that closes the brackets on our personal history. Better than any other line in literature, John Donne’s quote from his Meditations XVII, No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main captured the shared universality of our demise. Every time someone dies it diminishes our earthly existence and reminds us just how mortal we are.

Life is not only precious but also sacred. I am dismayed that so many people waste or carelessly throw theirs away. Sure life can be hard but too many people seem to have forgotten this life is but a preparation for the one to come. I am also amazed that so many make elaborate plans for “retirement,” only to die shortly after ending their careers. I often wonder if they planned as well on how they would spend eternity.

The daily obituary pages now offer us the smiling faces of countless strangers, friends, and family. Like my Holy Cross postcards, they serve as constant reminders that we should live each day with grace, good cheer and love as if it were our last, just in case that “thief in the night” might decide to take our most valuable possession.

 


The War on Words

May 5, 2015
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camFor the last 30 years we have heard or read millions of words on the wars on poverty, terrorism and women. One war that most people have not even noticed is the war on words…an insidious attempt to control the language and with it the thoughts, minds and lives of the American people.

Many age-old aphorisms have warned of the importance of a nation’s loss of its language and the true meaning of its words.  Novelist Robert L. Stevenson (Kidnapped) proclaimed that words are power. Orwell said that controlling language makes humans easy to control.  Orwell’s corollary of this appeared in his dystopian novel, 1984: Those who control the past control the future.

Of Orwellian proportions the current war on words has won battles on many fronts in this country. Minority groups, such as Jews, blacks, gays, females and now Muslims all have protective words that have hermetically sealed them from any sanctioned verbal or intellectual challenge or assault.

Contrived words with little substance or literary value abound in our politically correct world. These  shields of verbal armor include Anti-Semitism, Racism, Homophobia, Sexism and now Islamophobia.

Unlike the old adage I learned as a child about sticks and stones, like a hilarious Geico Insurance commercial with the ill-fated lonely cowboy, these words can not only hurt you but destroy your careers, marriages and stain you with a secular guilt that no water or absolution will ever wash away.

In general they all mean irrational attacks on the integrity, history or culture of an ethnic group, race, lifestyle or a non-Christian religion. Their very invocation end any sort of fair and honest debate as to the merits of their programs, ideas, policies and moral vision.

They are by their very nature collectively reminiscent of the anti-intellectualism that has flared up among the left for several generations.

These contrived words with little substance have a power of their own. They have become the vanguard of the politics of personal destruction and their power grows by the minute in our schools, universities, businesses and even many of our churches.

My Catholic Church appears in the crosshairs of many of these groups for its attempts to support and buttress the remnants of the Western Civilization they contributed largely to over the last 1500 years.

Jewish people don’t like our Gospel according to St. John because he warns of the fear of the Jews. Gays feel uncomfortable in our churches because of our designation of their sexual proclivities as deviant and sinful. Women think they should be running the Church and ordained to our male priesthood. The Muslims blame us for the Crusades, which to them were nothing more than Roman imperialism, quickly forgetting that in the second century of their existence they had brought Jihad to the gates of Paris.

I see the day, already here in Canada, when a priest will be arrested for preaching against homosexual behaviors.  I see the day when any letter to the editor that does not laud these groups will never see the light of day. No religious person will be welcome on a college campus anywhere in America. They will have to shed their religious beliefs like offensive garments at the doors of elected office.

That day has already ascended on many of our schools.  In reality these anti-American ideas create confusion and a fear among its people who will cower millions into silent cooperation.

In some cases there is even confusion among its participants. Many years ago I was at Holy Cross for a football game. At a meeting for class agents, a young black school administrator was pontificating on the importance of people of color. Now I don’t mind any sort of reasonable change in nomenclature but with black people change seems to be endemic to their race.

In my lifetime a black person has been politely called a colored person, a Negro, black, African-American and now some wished to be called people of color. No wonder so many black people tend to be confused about their racial identity. I raised my hand and asked the young POC a rhetorical question: Isn’t calling a person, ‘someone of color’, very close to calling him or her a colored person? In other words in the wild and crazy word of identity politics, have we not come full circle?

Another area that roils my blood, though not as important as any of the above is heated battle over the mascot names of dozens of American sports franchises on the professional and the campus level.

Native Americans have become very influential in American culture. They have traded the stupor of the reservation for the luxury and power of the gambling casino.   A small number of advocates have made it their main purpose to rid our sports culture of any mention of their warlike background. In others words this is a vain attempt at rewriting Indian history, including the cultural tributes bestowed on them by naming sports teams after their heritage.

Personally, I still call them Indians, even though that was it was a Columbian misnomer…but then so is their contrived substitute Native American. The American Indian migrated across the Bering Straits eons ago. They were just early immigrants to the area that became the Americas.

Literally dozens of professional, college and high school teams had lionized Indians by calling their teams, Indians, Warriors, Braves and so on. Can anyone think of one team that has chosen a name to denigrate its sports franchise?

Even the Whittier College Poets, where Richard Nixon sat on the football team bench, revered its namesake, James Greenleaf Whittier.

The only ones I can think of that may be even considered were the Indianapolis Clowns, a Negro League team that Henry Aaron once played for. Of course there was the short-lived substitute for the Stanford Indians, who for one season were called the Thunder Chickens. That sounds like a self-parody! Now they are named after a color, just like most of major league baseball’s pioneer teams, who chose their names from the color of their socks. And Stanford now has a tree as a mascot. How green of them!

To date virtually all derivations of Indian heritage have banished from the face and real estate of  life in America.

I got my MA from St. John’s University when they were called the Redmen. I didn’t see anything offensive about that and their cheerleaders, two of whom I had dated in high school, were nothing but respectful. I will admit that their new name The Red Storm is an attractive and reasonable substitution but the very fact that they had to be coerced into change still annoys me.

The last Indian mascot standing was the ill-fated North Dakota University Fighting Sioux. In use for over 70 years the name first came under fire in 1999 when the UND athletics program’s use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo was the subject of controversy and conflict with the NCAA, resulting in the unpopular decision to retire the Sioux nickname and Indian head logo in 2012.

While The Sioux had a brief respite in 2012 it has now been completely legislated and coerced out of existence by the state and the race-conscious (fearful) NCAA, which threatened them with expulsion from its ranks should they stubbornly resist this coercive sociological change. To date no mascot name has replaced the still locally popular Fighting Sioux. As an aside is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame University next on the politically correct hit list?  Or my own Holy Cross Crusaders!


Dead Certainties

April 6, 2015
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I was intrigued by Simon Schama 1992 book, Dead Certainties. His title reminded me of my posts Uncertain Truths I & II. Schama surmised that even historical facts are not a 100% reliable.  Historians constantly argue over the meaning of the “facts.”

Since historians are to history what theologians are to theology. can the same unreliability be also as true of theology?

Theologians, who are the gatekeepers of faith and tradition, often  contradict each other. It falls to the Church magisterium, primarily the Pope to keep Church teachings on a steady and reliable course.

Since the magisterium is composed of human and not divine beings error, politics and guile often come into play. While the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church, its ways may not be that obvious or even understandable to the human intellect.   God may have some more mysterious purposes for even the turmoil and dissention that periodically afflicts His Church.

In modern times, supernatural issues do not offer any cause for concern.

But the mundane affairs of public and private morality, which ebb and flow with changes in the culture that supports them, can seriously divide the faithful.

I am not saying that there are no absolutes in the 10 Commandments but that each one elicits discussion and can change with further and deeper understanding.

The most overt of these is Thou shalt kill.   According to my 1963 college ethics book, which had the official seal of the Church—the Imprimatur–there were three exceptions to the rule–a just war, self-defense and the death penalty.

Most moral laws and arguments are founded on what might be analogized to a geometric theorem. In Geometry you have to start with a given in order to built a logical formula that makes what follows true and unassailable. Overturn the theorem and the formula collapses like a House of Cards.

The death penalty serves as the best example of the nature of a changing and even an evolving faith.   Saint John Paul II cast serious doubt on the efficacious use of the death penalty as a mode of self-defense in his 1995 Encyclical Evangelium Vitae.   He said that the situation did not exist where a state needed the death penalty to protect itself.

During a discussion in Bible study on another papal encyclical, one man stated emphatically that the pope’s encyclicals had to be taken seriously because they were not opinions but the teachings of the Church.

Many in the Church go so far as to assume that encyclicals are protected under the mantle of infallibility.

John Paul II did not offer any concrete evidence or rationale, scientific, moral or otherwise to support his change in the traditional understanding of a valid Church teaching on the death penalty.

Catholic writer and attorney, Helen Alvarre provided an insight to the future saint’s thinking during a talk I attended at St. Louis University on the eve of the pope’s visit to St. Louis in 1998. She said, He just didn’t like to see anyone die. This sounded like a personal opinion to me.

Since traditionalists are still free to believe in the death penalty, I guess we are all Cafeteria Catholics now!

The empirical data generally supports the death penalty as a deterrent. In the dozen years the death penalty was federally outlawed in all 50 states, the murder rate skyrocketed. Thousands of innocent victims died because of its absence.

Another teaching that has been under fire for over a half century has been the Church’s ban on artificial contraception. Paul VI’s 1968 Encyclical Humanae Vitae inspired a widespread protest among millions of Catholic married couples that hurt the Church in many ways.

The background history that led to the pope’s unpopular decision is as compelling as it is sad.   The Church has been extremely consistent in this teaching, dating back to early Church history. However John T. Noonan’s 1965 book, Contraception, proved that most of its Biblical roots, such as the reliance on Onan, who had wasted his seed was a distortion of its Biblical meaning.

The Church has also relied on some of the teachings of the Stoics, who believed intercourse unlawful except for the purpose of creating children. The Stoics also condemned intercourse for pleasure because of an erroneous belief that during intercourse, but not otherwise, the female emitted a seed containing a soul.

This is the same kind of Manichean thinking that fueled the twisted thought of Augustine on sex and marriage.

The contraception ban has also relied on the natural law. According to another source I consulted, the Natural Law Theory of the Stoics, focused strictly on the sexual appetites and instincts of animals who mindlessly copulated singularly for procreation without any moral component.

Marital relations are far more complicated and run on a different plane than that of the mostly promiscuous animal kingdom.

With the appearance of the first oral contraceptives in 1960, many in the Church argued for a reconsideration of the Church’s historical positions. Neither John XXIII nor his successor Paul VI wanted the almost three thousand bishops and other clerics in Rome for Vatican II to address the birth control issue even though many of these bishops expressed their desire to bring this pressing pastoral issue before the Council.  Why?

In 1963 Pope John XXIII established a commission of six European non-theologians to study questions of birth control and population. After John’s death in 1963, Pope Paul VI added theologians to the commission and over three years expanded it to 72 members from five continents. The make-up included 16 theologians, 13 physicians and five women without medical credentials and an executive committee of 16 bishops, including seven cardinals.

Over several years the original members of the commission had considered and weighed carefully the relevant theological, sociological and psychological evidence.

A preliminary vote of the inclusive body showed an unofficial tally showed 52 to 4 in favor of reform with two abstentions.   Despite the fact that the pope stacked the commission with 15 cardinals, archbishops and bishops as official members for the final week of discussion, the high-level prelates reportedly voted 9 to 3 with three abstentions that the use of contraceptives was not intrinsically evil.

The Commission’s 1966 Majority Report proposed that artificial birth control was not intrinsically evil and that Catholic couples should be allowed to decide for themselves about the methods to be employed. According to this report, use of contraceptives should be regarded as an extension of the already accepted rhythm method.

Especially important in changing commission members’ minds was an important survey Patty and Patrick Crowley did of the members of their Catholic Family Movement. The CFM members reported movingly how the rhythm method did not work for them and how it was inhibiting intimacy and hurting their marriages.

It is my belief, despite of the revolutionary nature of St. John Paul’s The Theology of the Body that the Church leadership does not understand the importance of marital intimacy and comfort in helping couples weather the many storms that flow naturally from such a relationship.  Sexual relations are often the metaphysical glue that holds marriages together.

The Commission also produced a minority report which argued If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930.

It should likewise have to be admitted that for a half a century the Spirit failed to protect… the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error… had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned. (Pius XI— Castii Canubii)

The commission’s majority report, which was intended to be kept secret, was leaked to and published in the National Catholic Reporter in 1967. A year later, amidst widespread expectations, Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae, reaffirming the church’s official ban on all forms of artificial contraception.

It is arguable that the die had already been cast just by the very fact of the Pope’s calling for a special commission, which created a reasonable doubt in the minds of millions of married couples. This should have relegated the issue to the private consciences of the faithful.

To hide behind the rubric of Infallibility is troubling because it ignores the facsimile of doubt it created from the very beginning. To date only a handful of papal statements have publicly been declared to be infallible… and only two of them after 1870 when Infallibility became part of Church dogma.

The Vatican also contributed to this situation by failing to fully inform the faithful which issues had been infallibly settled and which ones still bore the possibility of fallibility and change.

In 2013 Catholic writer Frank Maurovich, founding editor of The Catholic Voice relates his personal story of a 1964 interview with Dr. Thomas Hayes, a biophysicist working for the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.  Hayes believed he had a viable solution for the Church’s birth control dilemma.

Hayes underscored the biological fact that randomness in human intercourse differs radically from animal behavior whose biological drive occurs during specific times to perpetuate the species. Quite bluntly humans, especially men, are always in heat!

Marital relations serve another purpose beyond procreation, namely as expressions of love, joy, healing and mutual support. The conjugal act is not the act of one, but of two. And so, we cannot say that every conjugal act is open to generation. Once we learned that the breach was made…he concluded!

In Hayes’ understanding the probabilistic nature (of procreation) is due to the random spacing of the individual acts of intercourse rather than any probability within each act of sexual intercourse itself.   As a result he concludes it does not then depend on the direct fecundity of each and every particular act.

This answers the question many young married pose: Why does every marital act have to be open to pregnancy?

Logic, according to Hayes, dictates that if a married couple purposely interferes with the randomness of sexual acts, even in the rhythm method or what is called today, Natural Family Planning, they have transformed by an act of will what was a random natural act to a human act at a specific time in order to avoid conception. Thus he concludes that all forms of contraception should be permissible.

Hayes’ arguments do not support nor lead to the philosophy of Planned Parenthood.   His article comes to the same conclusion as the commission’s final report that the church’s constant teaching holds that each marriage should be fruitful and couples should avoid a contraceptive mentality that is, avoiding childbirth for selfishness, convenience or material gain.

Hayes also pointed out that the church had already approved the use of the rhythm method. If this approval has relied upon biological naturalness to distinguish rhythm from other contraceptive methods, it would now seem possible for the church to extend its approval to all contraceptive methods of birth control (provided, of course, husband and wife have serious reasons for limiting births in their family).

The possibility of acceptance by the church of all contraceptive methods of birth control has come about not by any change in moral principles but by the application of a more accurate picture of human reproduction as reported by current biological concepts.

It should go without saying that this principle does not include abortifacients, which are not contraceptives but work after a conception.

Could Hayes’ randomness when coupled with Onan and the Stoics view of animal biology lead to the dissolution of the historical theorem that created the ban on artificial contraception?

In my opinion it seems that more evidence exists for a modification in this teaching than Saint John Paul II offered for in virtually eliminating the death penalty.

With regard to the Church’s loss of face on infallibility since most people do not even understand a doctrine that the Church has done little to fully explain and has virtual kept locked up in the Vatican vault, I think that loss would be minimal.  Widespread dissent and disobedience to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical has already done its damage to the Papacy.

I also think that any blowback would pale by comparison as to how the Church has bungled the Pederasty Scandal.  To me this is far a more serious challenge to the Church’s integrity than any pill.

If Pope Francis truly wants to be the pope of hope and healing this would be an excellent issue for him to fully address.


Uncertain Truths II

March 23, 2015
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My original rendition of Uncertain Truths created some interesting feedback! It was my treatment of salvation that caused the greatest concern.   My main critic erroneously thought that I had stated that one could be saved even after death. I never said or wrote that anywhere, not have I ever believed that!

I think I said that I hoped everybody went to Heaven eventually…even Adolph Hitler. I can easily make a case for that based on the complicity of the human mind and all the factors, genetic and cultural that go into the formation of the individual conscience. According to the Catholic Church to think otherwise is to be guilty of the negative sin of presumption.

I will admit that there was one ambiguity that I need to address. My Jesuit friend told me the story just after his ordination in 1969 as Catholics we had to only believe that there was a Hell but did not have to believe that anyone was there except the Fallen Angels. It’s a plausible statement but it did not clarify things well enough.   What he should have said was that while we can hope that all men are saved, we have to allow for the distinct possibility that some or even many souls will not be saved.

My understanding of salvation was seriously expanded while reading Fr. Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s marvelous book, DARE WE HOPE THAT ALL MEN BE SAVED. The book jacket contends that his was one of the most misunderstood works of Catholic theology in our times.

His critics falsely accuse him of universalism, which holds with certainly that all men will be saved.   However he does not actually say that.

He allows for the possibility that some or even many men will not be saved. But he adds that as Christians we may hope and I would add but also pray that all men may be saved.  This is the full extent of loving one’s neighbor.

In 1 Timothy 2:4 God wills that all men be saved. Can even sinful man thwart the will of God and contradict divine providence? Isn’t it reasonable to think that this just may be the case?

In the  DARE WE‘s Preface Father Robert Barron quotes a vision of St. Catherine of Siena where she suffered in her soul to even think that one of God’s creatures would be damned for all eternity.   She said she did not know how to reconcile even one of your creatures made in his image and likeness should be lost and slip from your hands.

The bottom line is that we can never know exactly what happened at that precise moment just BEFORE death. That is not ours to know with certitude but allows for the hope that God’s Mercy will win over His justice.

There was an article in the Wanderer many years ago that I think quoted where a 13th or 14th friar was so concerned with the salvation of all his fellow men that he reasoned that it was possible that on the precise second before the rope tied on the bridge snapped his neck God intervened and worked his divine mercy and saved the man.

He did not say it was certain only that we can never know that it didn’t happen… especially if God is not just a judge but also one of infinite and unconditional mercy. That’s the God I have to believe in. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE…an underrated virtue if ever there was one.

At the focal point of this disagreement is that my friend has both feet deeply implanted in the Church before Vatican II and I have only one foot planted there as I try to straddle the distance between the two different approaches to the Catholic Church.   I think I am more of a reformed traditionalist because I like some things of the old way of thinking but have accepted some of the new way of thinking since 1963.

There are some things that we were taught then that perverted the old Orthodoxy. It had become a church based on laws…dos and don’ts that had sacrificed some of the true virtues necessary for loving our neighbor.

With regard to morality it was still beholden to an Augustinian stoicism that jaded its perception of sex and marriage.   This Augustinian aura wounded millions of Catholics.   I can hear it in most of my fellow Bible study men–subtlety but it is there— I had a priest threaten me with eternal damnation in the Confessional because I could not explain something I had done.

I was 10 years old!

This particular priest was turned on by Almighty God and would shout those words from the pulpit every Sunday. Cotton Mather could not have done a better job of scaring a congregation to death.

Had I been proud like my paternal grandfather, I would have walked out of the Catholic Church forever…but thanks to the grace of God, pride is not one of my major failings.

Today I see dozens of other Catholics from that era…daily communicants that seem to have no joy or internal happiness (peace) that their religious devotion and abundance of grace is supposed to instill. They summarily judge other people and can be rude and even nasty to the small people around them.

At a meeting a while back one them snapped at me when I did not clearly hear what she had said to me. She said loudly what are you deaf?   I said…Yeeeaaah! Her late husband once yelled at me in a Parish Council meeting because I questioned something about the Serra Society he ran.

To me their religious faith seems more akin to pride and arrogance than it does holiness. That’s what the Orthodoxy of the old Church has done to many. It seems devoid of charity and compassion for their fellow man.

While the new Church has its serious faults, with its remote emphasis on sin and salvation and large emphasis on the horizontal love of neighbor, I have been trying my level best to eliminate the negative from both churches and stress the positive of both.

The old  church was a virtual dictatorship while the new one seems almost anarchistic at times.  The first provided necessary structure and moral order while the other has added love, charity and hope.

My religious belief is in there some place.  While I laugh a lot and feel, not warm and fuzzy but the warmth of having something special inside my soul…and I try to pass it on through my humor, stories and genuine friendliness, I still have a dark dread of the judgment to come.

One of my new acquaintances is a young waitress at Lester’s.  She made my day a few months ago when she told me I was the coolest guy she had met in her nine months on the job. That can do wonders for a 71-year old man.

One time we started talking about Philosophy and Faith and she told me she was still searching—aren’t most people just trying to get along–the basis of the very first Vitae Foundation ad 20 years ago.

I recommended Fulton J. Sheen’s Life is Worth Living to her. I said it was a better tip than the money I left her. As I was leaving I also told her I would put her on my nice list The people on this list are special people–mostly all female for whom I pray.   One candle at a time—.that’s all any of us can hope for.

I think we are all called to be messengers of grace and in today’s world that will not happen by preaching the Orthodoxy of the old Church— but by extending the warm hand of friendship and hope so they can see the glow in our souls that points to an all-loving, an all-forgiving God.

If we are all good beacons of these virtues legions will make that connection and follow Him in an instant! Weren’t people attracted to the early Christians by the way that they love each other?

The Catholic Church is not one of just laws and judgments. It is the Church of love and mercy. But it is one pregnant with paradoxes and deep esoteric truths that most cannot fathom.  God’s infinite mercy is irreconcilable with His absolute justice.  It is the ultimate squared circle.  We can’t understand it because it contradicts our human logic.

It is akin to the story I was told as a child about St. Augustine’s attempt to fully understand and explain the Triune God.   He was wandering one of the beaches in North Africa when he encountered a young boy who was digging a hole and putting seawater in it. When asked what he was doing the lad responded that he was trying to put the sea into his hole. Augustine understood immediately the futility of his own search.

I also read a story about a priest who quipped while I am alive, I am all for God’s Justice but when I die, I am all for His mercy! A resounding Rush Limbaughesque Dittos to him!!

Look for another similar post I will call Dead Certainties and follow me on Twitter @Savant28.


An Irish Legend

March 4, 2015
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There is nothing on this earth more important than family. The one thing I learned from my Introductory Sociology course in sophomore year at the Cross was that the family was most important building block in any civilization. I think that’s why that along with private property and Christianity it has been on the hot-list of all leftist ideologies since the French Revolution.

The clan or the tribe is just an extended family. I don’t think any nationality or race values its extended family more than the Irish. I know that is a fact because my wife tells me that almost every day. She is an O’Rourke through and through. In fact she also tells me that I should happy that she did not change my name to hers after we got married several years ago.

The O Rourke family surname is thought to be one of the oldest in the world, originating in the 10th Century following the death of a young prince named Ruarc.  The name Ruarc was a name originating with the Old Norse Hrothekr, meaning ‘famous king

We have been to her heartland four times—all in the 1990s. We went with a tour in 1992 and 1998. In 1994 we went with her brother, Michael O’Rourke and his wife. But instead of taking another tour we hired a driver to create our own itinerary.

The trip I will remember the most was the third trip, the one in 1996. Our daughter, Michelle had been to Ireland in 1994 to attend a two-week course on W. B. Yeats in his childhood vacation home of Sligo as part of a Ph.D. program in 19th century European Lit.

She brought her mother a wooden sculpture of her clan’s namesake, Brian O’Rourke, the last of the Irish chieftains. The wood-carver knew all about the O’Rourkes, a warrior clan that was very important in developing that western region, especially their home base in ground County Leitrim for several generations. Sir Brian had a castle seven miles outside of Sligo.

Two years later her brother was studying at the University of Dublin as part of a program through St. Louis University. We decided to take his sister and visit Matthew in Dublin. The visit would not have been complete without a side trip to the O’Rourke castle.

We took the three-hour train to Sligo where our first stop was to see the wood-carver, Michael Quirke who had made the woodcarving and told our daughter of the famed legend of Brian O’Rourke.

Michael repeated the story of Brian O’Rourke for us. After the Spanish Armada was devastated during its failed attack on England in 1588, Sir Brian and many members of the O Rourke family were thought to have helped many surviving members of the Spanish fleet.

The Spanish galleons out-numbered the English flight but were outgunned by the superiority of the latter’s large cannons.

Michael said that when one of the officers got back to Spain he later wrote his memoirs that depicted the supreme hospitality of the Irish chieftain.  When word of O’Rourke’s “treason” got back to Queen Elizabeth she sent an army to capture Sir Brian and bring him back to London in 1591 where he was drawn and quarter, a most brutal form of capital punishment. The English did the same thing to Scottish hero, William Wallace in the 14th century.  His execution was graphically portrayed in the Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart in 1995.

The “official” Irish history fills in many of the gaps. Sir Brian O’Rourke claimed descent from one of the ancient kings of Ireland, and was remarked upon as a handsome and unusually learned Gaelic chieftain. He assumed leadership of his family in the mid-1560s, having assassinated his elder brothers, but his territory of west Bréifne on the border of Ulster soon came under the administration of the newly created Presidency of Connacht. His territory was centered on the banks of Lough Gill and in the area of Dromahair. Foundations of an O’Rourke tower house can be seen today at Parke’s Castle, close to Dromahair. (This is probably the ruins we visited in 1996.)

Although the English knighted Ó Rourke’s, in time they became unsettled by him. The English lord deputy, Sir Henry Sidney, described him in 1575 as the proudest man he had dealt with in Ireland. (That is saying something since all the Irish are proud!) Similarly, the president of Connacht, Sir Nicholas Malby, put him down as, the proudest man this day living on the earth. A decade later Sir Edward Waterhouse thought of him as, being somewhat learned but of an insolent and proud nature and no further obedient than is constrained by her Majesty’s forces.

Ó Rourke’s remained unhappy with English interference in his territories, and he was also content to be described as a leading Catholic lord. After Perrot’s departure, he assisted at least eighty survivors of the Spanish Armada – including Francisco de Cuellar – to depart the country in the winter of 1588, and was regarded as friendly to future receptions of Spanish forces. Although not proclaimed as a rebel, he put up a forcible resistance to the presidency – again under Binghams’s command – and would not be bridled.

Ó Rourke’s demands against the government grew with the violence on the borders of west Breifne. In peace talks in 1589, he did accept the terms of a crown tribute that had been agreed by his grandfather, but resisted the composition terms of 1585 and refused to allow the formation of a crown administration in the new county Leitrim.

Instead, he sought appointment as seneschal, or medieval steward who managed the retainers of a noble house. He was under the direct authority of the Dublin government, leaving him independent of Bingham. He also sought safe possession of his lands, a safe-conduct for life, and a guarantee of freedom from harassment by the president’s forces of any merchants entering his territory.

In return, the only pledge he was willing to give was his word. A member of the Dublin council, Robert Dillon of the Meath family, advised him to stay out – intimating that Ó Rourke would be taken into custody if he came in and submitted to crown authority – and Ó Rourke declined the government’s offers.

Sir Brian was arrested in Glasgow, where the townsmen sought a stay on his delivery into custody, fearing for their Irish trade. The denial of their request caused an outcry, and the king’s officers were cursed as knights of Elizabeth with the allegation that the Scottish king had been bought with English angels (a reference to the pension the king received from England).”

On the 3rd of November 1591, O’Rourke was drawn to Tyburn. On the scaffold Miler Magrath, Archbishop of Cashel, sought the repentance of the condemned man’s sins. In response, he was abused by O’Rourke with jibes over his uncertain faith and credit and dismissed as a man of depraved life who had broken his vow by abjuring the rule of the Franciscans. O’Rourke then suffered execution of sentence by hanging and quartering.

Stories like the legend of Brian O’Rourke and his clan go a long way to help understand why the Irish have always felt oppressed by their English Masters.  All this led to the bloody Easter Rebellion in 1916 and Irish Independence six years later because like William Wallace and Brian O’Rourke all men long to be free.

The O’Rourke legend will live as long as there are O’Rourkes to proclaim it.  Their family motto reads Serviendo Guberno, which translates to GOVERN BY SERVING.  My wife seems to fulfills that motto perfectly.

Editor’s note:  My mother told me her mother was a Dolan.  So I guess that makes me one-quarter Irish…though some true-hearted  Irish imply that I really am a Dolanski.


A Race for the New Social Fabric

February 9, 2015
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At lunch I was reading New York Times’ William Rhoden’s paean to the late basketball coach, Dean Smith. Instead of focusing on his impact on coaching or his impact on college basketball, Mr. Rhoden was compelled to delve into Smith dancing to the tune of the racial social fabric.

I seldom read Rhoden’s column because of his obsession with social issues, especially his race in sports.    However he is not the greatest offender in this regard.

The female columnists in USA Today, such as Christine Brennan, have the same problem focusing on sports through the self-centered prism of their own worldviews.

My advice to them is get a job writing on the editorial page and leave sports to what happens on the court or between the lines.

The sports page used to belong to the games and the performances of athletes.  Now it is the fodder for agenda-driven social issues that chase most of us to the comics page.

Sure I like a nice profile on where athletes came from and some of their struggles with diseases, broken homes and the lot but please stick to the games they play.

Just beneath the aforementioned Rhoden column was another offbeat article that was unintentionally laced with a sense of irony that dripped from each word as the story unfolded.

I am talking about Jere Longman’s piece on a unique kind of race that had taken place in Philadelphia a week or so ago. Some 350 people paid from $20-$30 apiece to “run” in a one step race.  (Beer and food was also part of the price.)  That’s right! The starting and finishing lines are just on stride away.  Everyone had the same exact “running” time–one second.   Age divisional winners were chosen by lot since all the contestants had identical times.

This Philadelphia race, aptly christened the Instant Gratification Run can be construed as an existential comment on our new emerging American society where instant gratification is almost not fast enough.

This is the participation trophy, and “the competition is bad ” social theorem come to its most logical conclusion and by acclamation should serve as the perfect metaphor for the Obama Presidency.

I say that because no president has done more to discourage achievement in school, business and society at large.   He preaches about, not equality of effort, hard  work, or production but equal reward.

So in a country whose own president once admitted to Barbara Walters that he was “lazy,” a race that requires no preparation, fasting, or self-discipline should stand head and shoulders above any personal achievement. This is a race that mirrors our national obsession of  equality of result, instead of effort.

Obama’s America gives out food stamps and other people’s money to millions who have been conditioned to believe that they are morally entitled to the largesse of people who invest wisely, deal with harmful stress or work long hours.

The Racialism as a part of the American social fabric Mr. Rhoden cares so much about has been passe for years now. History passed it a longtime ago and Obama’s election left it stone cold dead.

This is the new social fabric–leadership that demeans accomplishment–you didn’t build this.

It reflects a Progressive Party that tampers with the traditional social fabric, provided by the marriage of one man to one woman.

It is a country now that has cast aside all the moral commandments that regulated the darker side of our nature–a side they can never see because they have become willfully blinded by their own agendas and social prejudices.

It is now a country that can tell religions that do not follow its secular and atheistic lead that their views have no place in public society and should be solely relegated to the privacy of their sanctuaries, confessionals and homes.

In the place of private enterprise, the traditional family, and Christianity they offer the free lunch, free college, free universal medical care—-al the needs that their people had without any regard as to how they will pay for any of it. They have killed the Golden Goose and broken all of her eggs.  They have eviscerated, dismembered and incinerated American Exceptionalism with passion and glee.

In President Obama’s long, endless presidency, change has evolved into transformation that will most likely end in national suicide.

I shall not be surprised to see him remove the stars and stripes of war and patriotism from our flag and replace it with the sloth…a symbol for our times.

Liberty started in Philadelphia and now it looks as if it has run its course and will end in Philadelphia…at least in a metaphorical sense.


The Banality of Nudity

January 26, 2015
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One of the great conflicts in human existence has been the clash between free will and individual conscience. It is a never-ending battle that often wages in the soul of any conscious human being.

When I was 19 the temptations of the flesh nearly overwhelmed me in the Augustinian sense of the word.

Southern author Pat Conroy has the most graphic description of the workings of lust in the mind of an 18-year altar boy at Midnight Mass in 1962, in his autobiographical novel The Great Santini.  The contrast between the spirit and the body has never been better described.

I read a religious pamphlet that said that people like me could not wear paper bags over our heads. We had to encounter the world, as it was—sinful, imperfect and filled with the workings of the world, the flesh and the devil.

The  Catholic Church has not been very helpful in that regard. It only emphasized the negatives.  I was to abstain from any impure actions, desires and looks.  Prayer seemed to be my only defense…and of course the paper bag.

Yet as I grew older the temptations multiplied as women shed two-thirds of their clothing on the street and virtually all of it on the beach. In denying my body its natural instincts I made it a constant source of temptation, fear and anxiety.

This was years before Saint John Paul II’s revolutionary tract on the Theology of the Body, which in essence taught men how to look at the feminine form…even in their her nude state with respect, appreciation and even joy.  He stressed that nudity in itself was good but stressed the proper context and how it was received by any onlookers.

This was basically the point the priest writing in the pamphlet 50 years ago was making when he suggested that I thank God for making them so beautiful. It took me a long while but eventually I came to adopt this attitude in my thinking.

The human body, especially the female body, has had a variegated place in human history. Each page seemed to have the apple juice of Eden all over it.

Modernism has always had its own concerns for nudity and self-expression that lacked the moral framework of John Paul. It has led to a virtual cult of the body.

On the way to early Mass on any Sunday, I have always marveled how religiously devoted the gaggle of runners, bikers and walkers were, as they plied their energies to stave off the inevitable.  I have always wondered if they took as much care and concern for their souls as they did for the bodies.

The body used to be referred to as the temple of the Holy Ghost. Now millions flock to health clubs and spas that have become the new temples for the body.     According to one critic, to idolize physical perfection is to treat our body as a god.   It is a narcissistic self-love that seems devoid of Divine love.

Attitudes toward the human body involve many other aspects. Where freedom is present, nudity cannot be far behind.  It is the nature of things. Personal and social nudity seems to have ubiquitously breached the usual parameters of tradition, culture and modesty.

One place to find a lot of nudity is the notorious California Esalen Spa.  In her personal memoir spa specialist Sharon Thom wrote in a revealing article Fig Leaf in the Wind, explaining that the freedom of being nude at their resort was a great leveler.

While some nudity is a given in massage therapy, one therapist in training had to bear all for her instructors and fellow students.  It was a valid part of the training.   It was the most liberating event in her life. You can’t hide behind clothes anymore, because you don’t have any ON!! 

As for sports one would be surprised to find how many people have reverted back to the Greek Olympics where all their athletes, men and women competed in the nude. Many people currently play tennis, golf, swim, bike and hike without the need for clothing, except maybe a helmet for bikers.

Naturism is the philosophy of living in harmony with nature without any feelings of  lust or shame.  Nude Beaches and nudist resorts are the most common venues for social nudism.   The World Naked Bike Ride is held annually in cities all over the world. America is fast becoming a series of nudist enclaves where people betray an Edenic return to the Garden.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Burning Man Festival, a postmodern carnival of the absurd where nudity is fully acceptable. The weeklong event is held every year in the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada, beginning the Monday before, and ending on, the American Labor Day holiday.  And of course National Nude Day is celebrated every July 14th now.

New York Times theater reviewer Ben Bratley commented a few years ago full nudity has been a customary part of the mainstream Western theater since the 1960s and ’70s… But I have never been confronted with as many male chests, buttocks and genitalia as I have in visits to Broadway and West End theaters during the last six months.

Probably the most famous play, where famous actresses have bared all on a regular basis, is The Graduate. The play was written by Terry Johnson.  Anne Bancroft played Mrs. Robinson, a middle age woman who seduces much younger Dustin Hoffman, in the movie.  While Bancroft used a body double for her nude scene in the movie, actresses who played Mrs. Robinson on the stage didn’t have that luxury.   Such theatrical luminaries as Linda Gray, Kathleen Turner, Morgan Fairchild, Anne Archer and Lorraine Bracco are among the actresses who have bared all in this play.

The only personal experience I have had with nudity on the stage was in 1995 when my wife and another couple saw the Broadway play Indiscretions, starring a frumpy Kathleen Turner.   It was based on a farce by French playwright Jean Cocteau.   In one scene a young man sits happily in a bath basin soaping himself. A young woman, dressed in what might politely be said to have barely covered some of her Victoria Secrets sauntered down a long and perilously high spiral staircase.

As the tensions in our foursome started to tighten in our second row seats, all I could think was, one of two things was going to happen.  She was going slip off her Teddy and get in the tub or he was going to stand up.  I am not certain I was relieved or disappointed when the latter happened. I looked at my wife and the other couple who seemed to be staring straight through the moment. I found out later the young actors were Jude Law and Cynthia Nixon.

Performance Art is on the periphery of the increasing nudism in Western culture. These artists often use the human body as live sculpture and even architecture.   They range from the esoterically astute Serbian Marina Abramović, who explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind to the mildly deranged Karen Finley whose claim to fame is cavorting on stage in her chocolate covered body.

Abramovic’s latest exhibit was at MoMa in New York City a few years ago where pairs of mixed naked couples, stood facing each other in a narrow doorway. To enter the next room visitors had to squeeze between them.

Ever since Lady Godiva, in the 11th-century, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to a legend, rode naked – only covered in her long hair – through the streets of Coventry in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants, especially women have used their naked bodies to protest injustices, alleged and sometimes imaginary throughout the world.  Women from the pro-animal PETA in this country to Ukraine’s FEMEN, women are still baring their breasts and other body parts to raise consciousness toward their respective causes.  Recently one of the latter was arrested at the Vatican.

To illustrate how far it has gone, there is no better example than in the recent book, The Seven Deadly Virtues. In the chapter, written by on Chastity by Matt Labash, he cited an exhibit during the 2000 Republican National Convention where there was a Q&A session with legendary porn actress Nina Hartley. The politically opinionated Hartley held court, wearing nothing but a serious demeanor.

The reaction of the crowd of mostly men was a mixture of boredom, insouciance and polite acceptance. To paraphrase the late Hannah Arndt American culture suffers from the banality of nudity—over-exposure to the point that God’s greatest creation will lose the human respect it just;y deserves.  While not of the above is overtly immoral, nudity’s ubiquity is our cultural reality.  We should all make our moral peace with it because it is not going away and there is a shortage of paper bags.


Going to See the Russian

January 13, 2015
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Nearly 10 years ago, my thespian daughter had a supporting role in a play, Going to See the Elephant. She played the traveling wife from a larger urban community with a sick husband. The lead character was an older woman, who was tied to her farm in Osbourne County, Kansas shortly after the end of the Civil War.   Though her life was the personification of routine and drudgery, she still had a vivid imagination of someday being able to visit foreign lands.

The title of this 1982 play, which my daughter’s short-lived theater company, The Orange Girls produced was an American idiom that indicated overwhelming emotion, and according to Belle “Maw” Wheeler it was a colloquial term for daydreaming that created a reverie that gave people a respite from the boredom and drudgery of their mundane lives. Presumably the Elephant represented exotic travel to faraway lands…from Kansas, such as India or maybe even Africa.

I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to most places that I have always longed to see such as Rome, Dublin, London and even Malta, I never had any desire to go see any elephant in India or even in the San Diego Zoo.

But recently I had this yearning to see the Russian…Vladimir Tarasenko, who is the latest young phenomenon to skate for the St. Louis Blues Hockey team. Vladimir Andreyevich Tarasenko was born on Dec 13 1991. in Yaroslavl, Russia.   Only in his 3rd season, Tarasenko, the team’s leading scorer with 23 goals was just named to the NHL All Star Game.  He is also a former Russian league scoring champion and a Russian Olympian to boot.

There seems to be something special about him that inspired my Elephant Moment.  Perhaps it was his Russian origins, his size or the cool grace with which he plays the game.  Perhaps I think he will be the next Wayne Gretzky, the greatest player in hockey history, whom I saw lace up his skates twice.

I am not what you call a hockey fan by any stretch of the imagination. The last hockey game I attended was probably in the last century. The Blues changed players so often I could not develop any attachment or interest in any special player. I did see the aforementioned Wayne Gretzky when he briefly played here as well as stalwart, Brett Hull whose father I think I saw play when I was young.

Well last night my yearning was satisfied when I saw Tarasenko lead the Blues to a 7-2 victory over the same team, the San Jose Sharks whom they had beaten by an identical score just a week ago.

What impressed me most about him was not just his size, but also the smoothness and fluidity with which he transversed the rink. It was more of art form, germane to the European game than the pure brute strength of North American hockey. In fact virtually the whole team demonstrated the grace and speed with percise passing in stark contrast to the type of goon hockey that has characterized the sport in the NHL for so long.

The influx of several European players is largely responsible, including several Russians. They have taught the North Americans how to really played the game.  This reminded of one of  late comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s best lines: I went to a boxing match the other night at the Garden and a hockey game broke out!

Last night’s game was almost uninterrupted by penalties and there were no fights at all.  The crowd was energized and very much alive but not angry, drunk or rowdy.

While Tarasenko did not score a goal for me, he did assist on the first two scores and was always lurking around the maw of the goal for a scoring opportunity.

I went to the game with an unusual combination of multi-generational family, including my younger son, my youngest granddaughter and my only son-in-law.   While we had the complete family out for dinner the evening before, this evening had a special meaning for me.

There was a diversity of family relationships, each with its own innate character and hierarchy.  While I was the patriarch of the 11 family members at dinner, this night I was not only the “patriarch”– in reality the family matriarch rules the family–I was a father, grandfather, and father-in-law.  My son Matthew was a son, uncle, and brother-in-law.  Tim was a father, a son-in-law and a brother-in-law.  Olivia…now 12 was a daughter, granddaughter and niece.

Even though I was “plugged up” to protect what little natural hearing I have left, I was able just to feel our special family aura in my soul.

At the first period intermission, my son and I went on a hunting expedition—there were no elephants in the trade center that night to see the exhibit on the third level, dedicated to the St. Louis Browns, a team with which I have had a strong posthumous relationship.

Over 30 years after they left for greener pastures in Baltimore, a few others and I founded a Historical Society (1984) in their honor.  Four years ago I joined with announcer Bob Costas, St. Louis Cardinals’ owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and the late Tom Phelps, in funding the exhibit as part of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.   This had been my first chance to actually see the exhibit and my name on the plaque that joins the two-glassed cases that is stocked with Brownie history, legend and lore, including two of my short histories of the team.

The entire evening was one of those moments that I will treasure until the end of my days. I guess I had one of Véronique Vienne’and Fr. Richard Rohr’s Naked Moments.  (see last Post) I owe it all to the Russian.


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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