In today’s society the role and even the value of men seems to have deteriorated to arguably its lowest level in history.
Men are being attacked on all levels.
This is happening in films, books, on TV and worst of all by millions of women.
Modern technology has made them virtually irrelevant to procreation as countless women are forsaking relationships for artificial insemination.
If science ever learns how to synthetically produce human semen, a man will have as much use to women as Gloria Steinem’s bicycle.
I think that’s why so many young boys have become so confused about their sexuality and find the comfort of older men, not only more pleasurable, but also enlightening.
Perhaps religion can share some of this blame.
To me a man without a religion is a man without a soul.
As religion has become more feminized, the masculine strength so prevalent in churches during the early 20th century doesn’t appear as dominant.
Churches, priests and hierarchies have to recapture their manhood.
I fault the movement within the Catholic Church for female priests–an oxymoron if there ever was one–as reflective of this trend.
Church leaders have not done a very good job of countering this misplaced attempt at equality on the altar.
During a recent bible study session, one our members–the notorious fellow of I tell jokes story in a past post–tried to worm his liberal views on this subject into the discussion.
I gave the standard answer as to why this was against church teachings.
One of my fellow conservatives, without emotion or missing a dramatic pause proceeded to not only eat the liberal’s lunch and dinner but stayed long enough to consume his breakfast.
With a consummate articulation, fit only for a university lecture hall, or the late William F. Buckley, he told the stunned liberal that the dominant analogy Jesus used for his post-resurrection relationship with his church was that he was the husband the church would be his bride.
A young aspiring seminarian made this very point after a 5PM Mass the other night.
This is the underpinning to the Church’s explanations that priests had to bear the same physical characteristics as Christ.
Larry, who actually hold a prominent chair at Washington University’s School of Medicine, said that for the church to give in to feminist pressure would turn this ordained relationship into a lesbian one.
Wow did that ever silence the denizens of the left in our group.
As for myself, I also believe that my image of God the Father had to be partly founded on the male influences in my life…especially my natural father.
I think that is true…not just of religious belief but all young impressionable people.
He was the only real man I had to identify with…except for Ward Cleaver, Beaver’s dad on TV.
My father was a good man in a quiet way.
Fortunately my dad had little of the feminine in his demeanor.
Unfortunately his distance and hesitancy for affection led me to gravitate more to my mother’s wing.
Much of his goodness came through my mother.
I think she had a saintly influence on him that I would never have understood then.
To me he was distant…somewhat cold–I can never remember his ever hugging or patting me on the shoulder.
I won’t say that he never did–I just have no recollection.
I know my mother did but evidently not as much as I needed.
Both parents were reserved in those kinds of emotional demonstration.
In his wonderful new book, The Joyful LIfe, my friend and fellow Bible study cohort, Rick Herman, wrote about the five languages of love.
Of these needs of service, praise, and so on my favorite was the need of touch–human touch.
I think that’s one reason I feel so at peace on Lena’s massage table.
My concept of God has continued to develop along these lines.
Human touch has become part of my religious faith.
Now I hug people all the time.
It is my way of communicating this incessant feelings of pure joy that I feel inside.
God has become a God of touch to me.
Jesus was a man who touched…in more ways than one.
The laying on of hands has great religious significance.
Now when I am afraid or anxious I ask God to just hold me in the palm of his giant hand so I will feel safe and unafraid.
That has become my new prayer.
Trust me it works.
Most of my life’s ambitions were what St. Paul dismissed as the things of a child
I used to blame my parents for my failures, my anxieties and so on.
I remember my mother confiding in me…probably for the first time in my life–this was about 45 years ago
She told me in a department store parking lot that my dad’s mother–my grandmother– had committed suicide at the age of 48 in 1909.
It was a menopausal suicide.
My dad was just 12 years old.
For all I know he had found her hanging in the hallway.
Had I only know that I never would have been so judgemental of him as an adolescent or held any childish resentments.
While being an adult is difficult, being a child can be even harder and much more confusing.
I think I would have understood him better and gone with the flow of his distant moods.
Things were always better between us from that point on until he died, 23 years later.
I keep thinking–what kind of father image did he have?
I was fortunate to have gotten enough of a favorable image of him to want to be a better man than I was.
My grandmother had been my grandfather’s second wife.
I had no idea what happened to his first Mrs. Borst.
My dad hardly ever spoke of his father that I remember.
And when he did it was critical in a subtle way.
Maybe he blamed him for the loss of his mother.
It is natural for a 12-year old child to do that.
Did he carry that cross for the remaining 80 years of his life?
Could I have helped him carrying its heavy weight?
My grandfather had been a Catholic until he was 12 years old.
Something the priest said to him made him angry and he left the confessional and the church in a huff.
In doing so he took my two aunts and my dad from the Catholic Church.
Oddly enough, my dad married a faithful Catholic and both aunts converted–the one was the influence that changed my whole life by getting me into Xavier HS.
So what kind of image of God did my dad have….I don’t really know.
However I can sympathize with my grandfather.
I also had a problem with a priest one time in the confessional when I was about 10 or 11.
I was having some difficulty explaining to him something I had done and he raised his voice and said I had better get it out or I would burn in Hell forever.
It was more than a sobering thought–it has frightened me of that confessional box ever since.
For the last eight years I only go face-face and to priests that are far more understanding.
I remember vividly the hell and damnation sermons of the priest above.
His God was a very BIG God and he was impressed with God’s Almighty Powers.
His sermons played like fiery orations from the 17th century and probably frightened more people than helped them.
I think these impressions of God are all distortions,
You can’t love a god that scares you to death.
On the other hand a god cannot be the weak milquetoast kind that excuses and enables everything and says go ahead….do what you want!
He will expect me to be a faithful married man, true to his family, his vows and his church.
He will remind me when I stray but he will not only welcome me back, but like the GPS system…the God Positioning System that Rick Herman’s A Joyful Life talks about, he will show me the way back.
That’s how big my God is.
How big is yours?
And if he is not as big as mine, then please join me in the huge palm of his hand where all the people I hold dear to me will glow for all eternity.
A number of years ago, I went to a lecture in our parish basement by a Jesuit priest, a Father Paul Coutinho.
His book title asked the question:
How Big is Your God?
It is an interesting question that hits on the subjectivity of our concept of the Divine Being, who according to Christian tradition, watches over and helps the vast universe.
In the course of human history the vast majority of people, numbering in the billions, have believed in some kind of super-powerful Being.
The beliefs of primitive societies focused primarily on the power and might of nature.
These people knew that something was out there that dwarfed them in terms of force and dominance.
To alleviate or placate this power they developed rituals and sacrificial offerings–sometimes of human beings–that would appease these powers and protect them from all kinds of natural and even supernatural phenomenon.
The Greeks and Romans elevated these early religious practices to an intellectual level that established a more personal mythology that gave offers to their many gods.
They personified such divine attributes as love, beauty, war, love, and so on.
It was the Jews, who gave us a picture of a monolithic Being.
And it was his children of Israel, whom he had chosen to spread the word of his power and might.
The Christians chimed in with a Triune God with three different personalities and attributes–sort a Divine division of labor.
Since the 7th century with the Muslims and later in 15th-16th centuries with hundreds of other variations of Christian sects, the idea of God took on more extensive variations.
The Jews stress their ethnicity and fight a singular battle to preserve their race in a modern land of milk and honey.
The varieties of religious belief have become even more divided.
Christians and Catholics today have become more pacific, stressing God’s absolute forgiveness and charity toward all his creatures.
Millions of Muslims still favor their religion’s militancy, leaning on the axiom of convert or die.
Countless other Muslims seem more inclined toward a peaceful jihad of self-conquering and discipline.
Father Coutinho’s own concept of God, despite his Jesuit collar, seemed to owe more to his native Hindu culture than it does Christianity.
His question compelled me, not to change my belief in God but reassess my image of him so as to understand our relationship better.
I think that is something we all should do.
In some ways I don’t think man’s polytheism has totally left the planet.
I don’t mean that people believe in many gods, like the Greeks or the Romans.
Our impressions of the Eternal Being have taken on so many different forms and characteristics that Father Coutinho’s idea may not be that far off the page.
This thought conjures up the philosophy of 19th century philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach, who established what he called the true or anthropological essence of religion.
Feuerbach believed that in every aspect God corresponds to some feature or need of human nature.
If man is to find contentment in God, he claims, he must find himself in God.
According to Feuerbach God is little more than the outward projection of a human’s inward nature.
This is reflective of the idea of Voltaire, who was not an atheist like Feuerbach, or Freud but believed If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.
Atheism has become very popular today among angry white men.
They used to say that there were no atheists in a foxhole.
I would amend that to say that there are no atheists alive today.
Oh there are many who do not or will not believe in the God I write about but like the Greeks, the Romans and the primitive tribes before them, they all believe in something.
Belief is the only thing that gives meaning to our lives on earth.
God is the eternal good.
Many, especially the intellectual elite and college professors have found the good in their own intelligence, science, saving the world or even just a good book.
Others, who deal on a lower level, have deified sex, a pharmaceutical high or just being alive as their earthly good.
Those who despair of life having any meaning, simply kill themselves.
Because of the vastness of God, and the fact that he appeals to man in so many different ways, I think it is not wrong to believe that different people see him in a variety of ways that appeal to their own needs.
This is an example, not of God’s limitation, but of the limitations of human beings to understand this most important mystery of our universe.
Of course in all honesty while this may explain the diversity of beliefs in a God, I think some beliefs are much better and more reflective of the God of Church and Scripture than others.
People should not forget that religion is to honor God and not themselves.
Recently I was prompted to think of my freshman year at Holy Cross…the good old days when the practice of religion was more under the sway and impetus of pre-Vatican II.
By that I mean Orthodoxy ruled.
My freshman class was the last one at the Cross that had obligatory daily Mass (except for Saturdays) in the Chapel at 7AM sharp.
We were allowed three Mass cuts a semester and then we had to undergo some rather draconian punishments–students had to check in at the general service area every 15 minutes from midnight until dawn.
That was one college experience I never had.
The clerical gatekeeper was Father Abbott–a very fitting name I have always thought for a priest.
I still have this vivid memory of his closing the doors to our St. Joseph’s Chapel… exactly as the bells chimed seven.
Above the faint echoes of the chimes, I can still hear some of those arriving 30 seconds later…banging on the door, beseeching him to have mercy on them and let them in.
He would just turn without emotion and go toward the front of the chapel, while monitors quickly took the role.
I think Father Abbott serves as a good example of how I viewed Our Father in Heaven—an eternal gatekeeper who shows no mercy once the clock has struck seven on our lives.
I don’t like that strict image of God and I don’t want to believe in that kind of god any more.
I have to think this image was nothing better than a reflection, not on Him but the tenor of my times and my Catholic upbringing at that point in my own personal history.
I think it is false image–an idol that can instill in believers a legalistic map for salvation that may work for some but will cheat many out of the true joys of living the faith.
It is this image of God that I have feared for most of my life…and is perhaps partly responsible for my high anxiety post of a couple of weeks ago.
I cannot explain just how much anguish that image has caused me over the years.
I think that false image underscores what can be wrong with religious belief…or at least my religious belief.
It is one of the aspects of the church I grew up in–the pre-Vatican II era, which stressed rules, without the love and forgiveness that seems to permeate Vatican II Church.
Salvation seemed to reside in following the rules to the letter of the law.
It almost implied that one could micro-manage his or her own salvation as long as one followed the rules.
That was something I think I subconsciously adapted to get me inside Father Abbott’s chapel before the clock struck seven.
Unfortunately in this image, trust and forgiveness, two virtues that have trouble finding a place on my resume, are usually relegated to the back of the spiritual bus.
God’s Justice rules while his compassion and forgiveness was for Protestants.
As a clarification I need to say, there is much of the new, kinder, more gentle and forgiving Post-Vatican II church that I do not like as well.
In modernizing the Catholic Church, or opening of the windows, they have lost some of the Catholic soul and become too much like secular society.
Just look at what has happened to the nuns and their convents.
The rules and commandments were like the dreaded dates on a history test.
They gave order and rationality to the facts of life.
Without them, there was nothing but moral chaos and uncertainty.
I also miss the sisters of old.
Sure some were too strict and sometimes harsh, maybe even a little neurotic but they did give me an additional structure for faith and belief in the right kind of God, even though their concept might have emphasized the rules too much.
Without that structure I do not think I could transcend the legalisms of my past understanding.
I truly believe that they had the care of our immortal souls as their main concern and that was always first with them.
Can the same be said today?
I think too many in the church today believe in a collective salvation that starts here on earth.
They think the road to salvation comes from social justice, which I believe is more Karl that Jesus.
Everything seems centered on the Christian community and little is done to form strict and right consciences.
But without a church, religion is nothing more than good feelings.
And feelings are ephemeral.
They change with the temperature and have little or no substance.
And that brings me to the question of being a man with religious faith.
But that is a question for PART II
I know many of you out there voted for the president….maybe more than once.
Now all you have to do is sit back and watch him go after those rich folks who have oppressed you and made your lives so miserable.
Somehow they caused you to lose your job, pay higher gas and energy prices and maybe even lose your homes.
Yet no one has ever explained how the Bush tax cuts caused these mysterious afflictions
You just love to watch the fat cats squirm.
You love to see them get theirs.
It is about time they paid their fair share…which has to be everything they have since no one has ever told me just how much is fair.
The good old Germans, who were unsuccessful at war but smart when it came to psychology even have a word for it.
It’s Schadenfreude, which means taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.
It sounds much better, almost medical than does the old used-up class envy.
When this president is finished there won’t be any classes.
That’s one of his principles, isn’t it–a classless society?
Personally I think the Obama family is a prime example since they have little if any class–I will excuse the daughters who seem isolated from the worst features of their parents.
Americans will all be equal.
That’s the goal, right?
That’s why you voted for him–so that gravy train from Washington would never stop its deliveries to you.
One woman was ecstatic that Santa Claws had brought home the bacon for her.
Americans now seem obsessed with getting their fair share of the goodies from Washington.
Ayn Rand wins and JFK losses.
(Think: Ask not what your country can do for you….
Charity is for fools.
Take from the rich and give me mine seems to be the standard mantra coming from all the urban centers and union hangouts.
That’s what it is all about. Right?
Free food, education, medical care–all at someone else’s expense…right?
That’s the new American
I wonder what the middle class voters and their families think about this idea.
The more cowardly feel relieved that Obama Claws hasn’t come for them…yet!
They are just happy that they have not been targeted…yet!
Even old Warren Buffett, that twisted sage of financial accumulation, says that while the tax increase on his class won’t help the budget deficit much–it won’t help it all because they will spend it right away–he thinks it promises to increase the morale of the middle.
Oh really just how will that happen?
In effect Obama Claws wants to construct an iron ceiling on the middle class by making it impossible for them to ever ascend any higher.
And if that happens why would they want to kill themselves by working harder?
So they can give more to Obama Claws and his Marxist regime?
That’s not how human nature works.
And to boot the president is still out campaigning among you.
He’s telling you how the nasty Republicans are willing to sacrifice you for their few rich constituents whose standard-bearer, old Mitt call me Bain Capital Romney went down in flames along with his Five Point Plan.
Hillary has already been anointed as the next president-elect in 2016.
And meanwhile, the current president re-elect, who failed to lead, heal or inspire, is still campaigning.
It is the only thing he has ever been good at.
He is trying to literally destroy the loyal opposition in a partisan way that may spell the end of the Republican Party if he ever gets his way.
He wants America to be a one-party state so that he can ram his levelling agenda down everyone’s throat.
Well Bunky I have news for you.
Obama Claws isn’t going to stop with rich folks.
The way he spends the 82,000,000,000 their new taxes will bring in from the top 1%—that’s if they decide to earn as much as they did this year— will not feed his spending habit for more than for a week or two.
Like the master thief Willie Sutton allegedly said when asked why he robbed banks?
That’s where the money is!
Where is the real money in this country?
Why with you the middle class that holds this country together.
Just look around you, the subtle brainwashing is already beginning.
In the NYT edition for November 28th, in the business section, one of their soothsayers predicted that taxing or even soaking the rich may do a little to help things now, the middle class will have to be taxed more to make things work again.
Just do the math.
The rich don’t have all the money in the well.
When we were not under-employed and our economy was healthy, the middle class thrived.
Now under Obama’s zero tolerance for profit and growth trillions of dollars of wealth have disappeared.
If you are in the middle class or know anyone who is I have just a really lame poem for you:
While this may be perfectly within the Christmas spirit from President Obama’s perspective, I am not even sure this qualifies as doggerel, so be forewarned.
You better watch out;
You better not shout;
You better not pout!
I am telling you why;
And it will make you cry;
Obama Claws is coming to your town.
He’s going to make Bush the clown.
He doesn’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice;
You’ll be dining on water and rice;
He wants what’s in your purse;
So things can only get worse;
He won’t want much from you;
A few bucks will do;
Obama Claws is coming to your town.
He’s going to make Bush the clown;
So don’t you fret;
He’s going to pick your pockets just the same;
And he’ll take everything he can get;
That’s the name of his game.
Why complain it’s only wealth;
He says you will still his plan for Health;
Obama Claws is coming to your town.
He’s going to make Bush the clown;
My sincere apologies to anyone who really knows how to write poetry of any kind.
Have yourself a Merry Christmas, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
If you live in a union city you are going to need it.
Obama Claws is coming to get you.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Besides being a conservative, who senses the country of his youth and even most of his adult years, is gradually slipping away I have a lot in common with radio’s El Rushbo, Rush Limbaugh.
One of our most important similarities is our significant loss of hearing.
In a recent broadcast, Rush spoke from the heart about how devastating hearing loss can be to the quality of one’s life.
While Rush has said many things on the air that border on the profound, his inside information about experiencing a near complete loss of hearing truly resonated with me.
I felt that he was speaking directly to me.
I felt he understood how frustrating in can be to be out of sound with most of the human race.
He said being deaf is the only affliction that will make people mad at you.
When you ask someone to repeat what they have said they often get frustrated and can’t seem to understand why someone who looks very health can’t hang on every symbol they utter.
Subliminally many must think that you were just not listening well enough to get the wisdom of their words.
They would never blame a blind man for not seeing.
This is something that all of us with signficant hearing loss must come to grips with.
My road to understanding has been a long and arduous one.
It all started at a parish dinner about 20 years ago.
I tell jokes!.
Before the meal was served a friend named Geoffrey was holding court and I thought I heard him say, I tell jokes.
Well, I literally laughed out loud…because as smart and as well-educated my fellow Ph.D. is, humor is not his forte.
What he had actually said was something about Father Issac Joques, the French Jesuit who was martyred in the 17th century while working with the Huron Indians in Canada.
And there was nothing funny about that!
This was not the first time that I had heard something funny that was really just something else.
The sad truth was that my hearing was diminishing and I was the last one to notice it.
I used to joke that my sense of humor was just based on bad hearing.
That is more true than it is funny.
After years of resisting my wife’s concerns, I went to the Central Institute for the Deaf.
Their hearing tests are very scary
As I sat in my isolation booth, my therapist would beep all sorts of sounds and then read a long list of unrelated words that I had to repeat.
Attempting to predict or even guess when the sounds occurred was very stressful to me.
After a while, I just didn’t give a beep!
I hate tests I can’t study for.
I even study for blood tests avoiding things that may elevate my blood sugar or my PSA.
But this was hard.
The more times I have taken their test, the worse my scores were.
My chart looked like the stock market in March of 2009 or maybe January of next year.
To rule out tumors, I have now had three MRIs of my brain–they found nothing!
I saw an ear specialist, who told me that sometime in my life my right ear had suffered a trauma of some sort.
I told him that it was my wife’s ear because when we drive she is always on my right.
The actual words he used were that my right ear had suffered an insult to it.
I quipped that well I did talk radio for over 28 years and people usually insulted me in BOTH of my ears.
I did have a lot of ear infections when I was young.
My dad called a fellow physician to lance my ear in my own bed when I was about seven.
In 1979 I can remember some moron yelling in my ear at a Phillies game.
Then there was a Melissa Manchester concert at the Fox Theater many years ago.
We had seats dangerously close to what looked like 75’ speakers.
But other than that I don’t know what happened to my hearing.
I have had about three hearing aids.
I had a lot of trouble with the first two–I have a great deal of earwax–I know–you don’t need to know that but, the wax got wedged into the hearing aids constantly.
Like linoleum, my aids suffered from wax build-up.
You don’t know what it feels like to experience a tiny piece of technology being asphyxiated by a wax invasion.
The one that I have now is silver, sleek, and fits over my left ear.
It looks like a phone.
They can’t do anything for the wife’s ear.
When I am not wearing my aid, I literally have to get in someone’s face to hear them or twist my head or sometimes even my entire body around to continue a conversation.
I have to make doubly sure my breath doesn’t offend!
Last year I was at an awards ceremony for our local theater people.
Our daughter had been nominated for another Kevin Kline Award.
Well one of her fellow actresses happened to sit next to me.
She was a very energetic and effervescent young woman who liked to yell and scream when one of her friends got a name mention.
I knew her all of five minutes and she was telling me how she had just done her first “nude” scene in a play—Bug.
I had seen the movie–one of Ashley Judd’s weirdest performances with the notoriously angry actor, Michael Shannon.
After I explained my hearing difficulty to her, she tried very hard to accommodate me with my problem.
Judy’s ear as I call it was quite a difficulty for us since she was on my immediate right.
For me to hear her in the darkened theater, we had to perform this awkward ballet of head movements while seated–she would move to her right as I would turn my head to the right, so she could whisper in my left ear.
In the course of one such movement, her nose brushed ever so lightly against the lens of my glasses.
I then learned what it felt to look at the world through a nose print.
It is the high pitches of women and children that give me the most difficulty.
The worst part of it is the tinnitus.
They told me at CID that I had Titanic Hearing Loss. (I made that up).
I didn’t know what that was years ago but it’s the constant noise in both ears that comes from nerve damage to the ear.
I have it in both ears.
It is not actually a ringing—a phone that no one will answer.
It is more like static that has nothing to do with frequency domain signals–or what ever that means.
It is a form of white noise and it can be very annoying.
This white noise creates a silence that literally drowns out my ability to hear anything that sounds intelligible.
This results in my I now call the eerie silence of sounds.
Oh they are out there but I don’t understand what they mean.
Sometimes a person who can’t hear is considered to be retarded or dumb.
I have to admit that I often have a blank look on my face when I don’t understand what someone has said.
I happened to trip over a very fat female comedian the other night who loves to ridicule all the vast number of minorities in America.
Her name is Lisa Lampenelli and she had something to do with Donald Trump.
I think he fired her.
Maybe she made fun of his hair.
She likes to be called the Queen of Mean.
She said that to raise her ratings she wanted someone to protest her foul and nasty humor.
She was shocked that it was a deaf group that protested something she had said.
Deaf people are nothing but a bunch of retards, she said.
I doubt that I will ever be totally deaf but the very fact that one of my natural functions is in a serious decline–not unlike our country— does give me pause for reflection if not concern, just as Milton’s failing eyesight did a few hundred years ago.
Of all the afflictions a person could have, in all honesty, this is one of the easiest and for me a very light and small cross for me to carry.
Just as the poet John Milton lamented about his lost vision in his Sonnet #XIX: When I consider how my light is spent, I am considering how my sound has been spent.