the minor premise

the minor premise

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Women voted...

for the first time today in parliamentary elections in Kuwait! 27 women were among the candidates!
The story is here.

Small Beer Chronicle, and a Quiz

Harvest: Eggplants, cayennes, cucumbers, tomatoes. The occasional radish. Green peppers on plants; waiting for them to change color. A gardening friend suggests I try pickling cukes next year. Picked small, mine are edible but I've been pickling most of them. Might make some raita tomorrow; I've been pestering D to try a curry with the eggplants. Big Boy tomatoes wilting rapidly.
Top uses for tomatoes:
1. salad
2. salsa
3. marinara sauce
4. cooked south asian style with something else
5. fried green
6. pickled green
7. gazpacho
8. give away to neighbors
9. give away to anyone else who will take them off your hands
10. sneak into artsy downtown pub on Open Mike night

Environment: Adult and fledgling brown thrasher flew out of front hedge in front of me yesterday evening. Fledge was still quite small but had a good set of flight feathers and ascended like a professional. I was glad to see we had some new thrashers around in view of the loss of the nest in the backyard rhodo. Occasional hummers at feeder. Am trying a second feeder out to see if it will be used. It's currently in the front yard but if nobody visits there I'll move it to the trees in back. Squirrel munchkins eating heartily, foraging farther from home. They are a good deal more shy of us now and will keep their distance. They are skillful on most trees (were still having a little trouble with the smooth-barked cherry last week) and can disappear around the other side while climbing as easily as the adults.
A wet front that lingered for a few days cooled things off (and gave everything a much-needed watering.) Nonetheless, hot and muggy are the order of the day.

Knitting: Project glut.
Reading: Checked out Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror by Mary Habeck from the new books shelf at the library. Started it twice; keep getting interrupted by knitting glut.
This old house: Kitchen walls and trim finished. D off next week; God willin' and the Creek don't riz, we lay wood flooring in the living room.

A cut-and-paste that thus far seems to have worked. Came across it on Darwin Catholic. The quiz is here.

How gullible are you? What kind of anti-Catholic novel would be most likely to reel you in?

You are most gullible when it comes to NEO-PAGAN NOVELS and books about goddess spirituality. Both argue that everything was so much better when people lived closer to nature, treated male and female as equal, and did not consider the desires of their bodies sinful. Then the Catholic Church came along and ruined absolutely everything. Ha! Even if the Catholic Church had never existed, these books would still get written--except they'd probably blame whites, or capitalism, or another easy target. Yet they still wouldn't be able to explain certain savageries of pre-Christian peoples. Wishful whining does not change either the historical record or the quality of second-rate writing. The authors of these books may love portraying themselves as the underdogs of history, but you don't have to throw money at them for it.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

I dunno about this result: I hated The Mists of Avalon and I think while reading it set a record for combinations of the term 'feminazi' with colorful adjectives. And it's not a word I often use. I think my enjoyment of Jane Austen's ridicule of Gothic novels in Northanger Abbey skewed things. (Not to mention that I've never seen any of the sci-fi movies mentioned besides Star Wars.)


Monday, June 26, 2006

Recent Reads

I came across a couple of interesting Catholic blogs recently I hadn't seen before. Father Stephanos, a Benedictine monk, blogs at Me Monk. Me Meander.
He's been keeping his readers up to speed on the new liturgical translation; it's surprising how much got changed after Vat. II. He also recently posted on living Benedictine martyr Brother Peter Zhou Bang-Jiu, O.S.B., who was recently released after years in a Chinese prison., an apologetics blog that actually features the posts of the namesake and two others, is a good read for a Catholic perspective on news. Yesterday's posts included a link to Nat Hentoff's latest on the semantics of abortion--a soul-stirring piece of writing. Hentoff's latest was in the Washington Times, but can also be read at Jewish World Review if you have trouble with those darn ad boxes that cover the text. I don't have a clue what to do with those. JWR also has an archive, if you want to read his previous stuff. Out of curiosity, I hopped over to the Liberty Beat page of The Village Voice online--Hentoff was a Founding Father of that periodical and has a home there--but the column was a previous one. I'm beginning to suspect the Voice is avoiding running those of Hentoff's columns it doesn't agree with (i.e. the abortion and euthanasia ones.) I'll have to keep an eye on them. Hentoff must have some pretty colorful thoughts about the situation, if they're censoring his stuff.

CNA reports that four North African Christians were arrested and jailed in Saudi Arabia for holding a prayer meeting in a home. (hat tip: Italian (American) Catholic)

Been trying to figure out trackbacks, but my Luddite nature interferes. So I've been sticking with cut-and-paste for the time being.

Comments continue to appear on the 'Breast is Best' post on Jimmy Akin (all right, I'm responsible for a few of them.) Started me thinking about cultural acceptance of public breastfeeding. Some of the commenters seem to have the notion that it has seldom or never been acceptable, at least not in 'civilized' society; I've always been under the impression that most societies (except our own) to include some we would call 'prudish' have been pretty easygoing about the practice. It having been the only way to reasonably ensure the survival of children in much of the world until not so long ago (in some places currently,) it's hard to imagine there was much objection. Might be an interesting research project.


Mammary Memories

I'd kinda gotten out of the lactation habit (hey, it happens to us all eventually!) Understand, a tendency to lactivism runs in my blood; I haven't bought a Nestle product since I can't remember when. But I'm older, the kiddos are growing up, the well's been dry for quite some time, and it wasn't something I was spending an awful lot of time thinking about. Then, over the weekend, it started raining breastfeeding stories.

First was this post on Catholic blog The post was interesting, and of course spawned a slew of comments (I must confess I yielded to the urge to contribute.) The article the post cited is in a British online periodical called Ecology. I skimmed but did not read it entirely; though thorough, it didn't seem to have a whole lot of new information. It's probably a good resource if you're not up on your breastfeeding facts. For me, after scrolling through a couple of screens' worth (oh, it is looooong) I started to feel a bit like the anecdotal small boy who is assigned a report on a book about penguins and begins his essay with 'This book told me more about penguins than I wanted to know.'

On the other hand, curiosity and an idle comment led me to do some poking around on the breastfeeding and HIV issue, and I found this article from a Johns Hopkins study. In the third world at least, breastfeeding by HIV-positive mothers is still considered safer for infants younger than 6 months--but only if pacticed exclusively. (A commenter on the Jimmy Akin post explains that standard practice is to nurse exclusively for six months while the transmission risk is low, then wean abruptly at six months when the risk factors start to shift.)

Then there was this article sent me with no little ire by my sister-in-law. It is by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach [I think he has something to do with cable program Shalom in the Home with which I'm not familiar.] and is titled Should Mothers Breast-Feed if it Disrupts the Marriage? The Rabbi had recieved 61 comments when I looked in, most of them from very irate mothers.

The article begins citing an NYT Science times report on the benefits of breastfeeding (Rabbi Boteach obstreporously persists in hyphenating the term--the single word is correct. A lot of lactivists went to a lot of effort about 15 years ago to get the UN to standardize the term.) Then, not denying any of those benefits, he proceeds to sweep them all aside with the earth-shattering observation that breastfeeding can get in the way of a marriage. (At this point I'm itching to issue the following correction: Raising an infant, regardless of the feeding method used, can get in the way of a marriage. But the Rabbi has a point to make, and he's not about to let minor details get in his way:)
Even Harvard University published a study years ago which found that in the first year after a child is born a couple’s love life would decreases by about 74%...
There are two effects of breast-feeding that we often do not focus on. One is the de-eroticization of a woman’s body, as in her husbands eyes one of the most attractive parts of her body becomes, in effect, a cafeteria, and second it often means that a husband and wife can’t even sleep in the bed because the baby is either in the bed or the baby cries and takes all the mother’s attention.
So why we must always glorify the benefits of breast-feeding, if it begins to disrupt the marriage itself we have to begin to question if the family is better off with a baby on the bottle because no matter what benefits there are to a baby with breast-feeding, these would all be severely undermined if the parents marriage itself began to crumble.

I initially proposed to her that an inherent inclination on the part of the rabbi to favor procreation might be clouding his judgement just a little. SIL, as her comment on this post indicates, thought otherwise.After a reread of the column I'm beginning to agree with her that his prejudice might be a little more personal. I've also been musing, with all the confidence of the woefully ignorant, on the theological aspects of the whole thing. In the interest of keeping my musing neat and orderly, I'll leave that for a subsequent post. All these lactation discussions have got me thinking some serious research into the issues they brought up is in order.

While I'm reflecting on the Rabbi's column and other views of breastfeeding in our time, I urge moral courage of all husbands of lactating women. The rabbi's intentions may be noble, but I really do think he's thrown the baby out with the bathwater in his zeal to 'save' marriages [pun intended.]
SIL commented upon the column,
...Grow up, little boys and become men!
To which I add,
Remember, Christianity had to come along before that redemptive suffering thing really caught on!

This post has been edited by the author since its initial posting.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wow, British Nightclubs have everything

"After the meal the girls headed for their favourite nightclub - but on the way out Stewart Downing's girlfriend, Michaela Henderson-Thynne, lost her footing and stumbled into a pot plant. [Italics mine]"

Roo Can Win: Wags Backing England
Saturday June 24, 03:14 PM

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Sandmonkey reports on the release of Egyptian blogger Alaa following some 'outprocessing' by the police there. Pray for serenity prior to reading.

If you scroll down past a rather jarring movie promo pic just below that story, he holds forth on skin tone issues in Egypt. Here, young women fry themselves to look tanned; there they apply concoctions to make skin lighter. Fascinating social phenom.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Darwin at Darwin Catholic philosophizes about the Duke Lacrosse Team Scandal, promiscuity among college students, and the basis for traditional sexual morality. Good reading from a feminine perspective.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Next session: an impressive display of semantic gymnastics

According to Philokalia Republic's latest post, Ted Harvey--R, a representative to the Colorado Legislature, related in an article how he shook up that assembly. Having recently met Gianna Jessen, a recording artist and cerebral palsy advocate who is herself affected by the condition, he decided it would be a great idea to invite her to sing the National Anthem at the beginning of a session. And she did--but that wasn't the end of it.

On the agenda for that day was a bill to commend Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for 90 years of service. Jessen isn't just a cerebral palsy advocate; she's a pro-life advocate--and with good reason. Her CP probably stems from a traumatic birth-related event--she survived a saline abortion at a PPFA clinic at about 7 months' gestation. Needless to say, Harvey's revelation of this fact after her performance left the Legislature in an uproar and a number of unfriendly remarks were made about Harvey's lack of 'decorum' by some of his colleagues. Reports in The Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post weren't specific, but it doesn't look like the resolution went anywhere that day.

'DUH' award of the week for gratuitous gum-flapping while completely missing the point: Kate Horle of PPRM, who commented,"There's no statistical evidence that cerebral palsy has been caused by failed abortions."


The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

Granma International Online posts (surprise, surprise) the following news item:

WASHINGTON, June 18.—A Pentagon report acknowledges that U.S. Special Forces used unauthorized torture techniques in Iraq during incidents in 2004.

The text admitted that soldiers fed the prisoners only bread and water for up to 17 days, used unauthorized interrogation methods and stripped the prisoners of their clothes, notes PL.

One of the documents cited by the report stated that one prisoner died after being subjected to violent interrogations in Mosul in 2004, although it did not specify the cause of death.

The documents, publicized for the first time, were censured in parts, concealing names of specific soldiers and the locations of the military units involved.

The publication of the report comes at a time in which cases of war crimes committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq are coming to light...

Horror of horrors--except when you consider that the story is taken from a publicly released Pentagon report and the 'censured' [sic] names of the soldiers and locations reflect security and privacy measures. Heck, the reason 'war crimes' are coming to light is because the U. S. Armed forces polices itself and makes public information as it completes investigations.

Awfully convenient of Cuba's propaganda organ to bring attention to irregularities in U.S. military procedure when the Castro regime's hands are far from clean--and they not only don't police themselves; it's like pulling teeth to get any info out of them.

Amnesty International, (which, incidentally, has not stinted to hound the U.S. about possible human rights lapses,) has quite a bit to say about Cuba's prison system. Of particular interest is the treatment of 'prisoners of conscience:' those who have run afoul of the regime for speaking out against the government, or possessing and lending published material deemed objectionable--the sort of thing that gets one an interview with Rolling Stone and the accolades of gushing news anchors north of Havana Harbor.

Now the main objections, I believe, were food restrictions, unspecified maltreatment, and removal of clothes. While I've heard stories about Cuban prison food, I'll reserve comment for lack of published data at my fingertips.As for the 'unauthorized interrogation methods' and confinement, I submit a non-random sampling, with emphasis on the accusations made:

Death row prisoners have at times been subjected to extremely poor conditions. One letter from a death row prisoner says he was confined in a windowless cell, with no toilet or running water, and was denied the right to go outside for months at a time. In July 2000, non-governmental sources in Cuba reported that one death row prisoner had been held for 18 months in solitary confinement in a closed cell where temperatures often reached 32 degrees centigrade.
--The Wire, July 2002

On 4 March, 12 dissidents were allegedly beaten and detained by state security officers and paramilitaries in a hospital in Ciego de Avila, where they were visiting a colleague who had been beaten during an earlier demonstration. They were still in detention without trial at the end of 2002. One of the detainees, Juan Carlos González Leyva, is blind and was subjected to severe conditions which reportedly aggravated his high blood pressure and other medical problems.
--Amnesty International Report on Cuba 2003 (covering calendar year 2002.)

Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, serving a sentence of 20 years in Kilo 8 Prison, Camagüey Province, was reportedly beaten on 13 October 2004 by a group of guards while handcuffed. The guards reportedly stamped on his neck which caused him to pass out. He went on hunger strike in protest.

In another case reported to Amnesty International, a police officer at La Bamba Correctional Centre grabbed Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina from behind, hit him on the head and pushed him to the ground when he was saying goodbye to a visitor in November 2004. Two other prison officers then reportedly held him down and beat him while he was handcuffed. He was then held for four days at barracks in Baracoa. He is now reportedly being held in Paso de Cuba Prison in Baracoa municipality. According to reports, proceedings to charge Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina with "resistance" and "disrespect" have been opened against him.

On 14 September 2004 Arnaldo Ramos Lauzerique was reportedly beaten at Holguín Provincial Prison. During a search, the prison guards took some papers and his personal diary from him. When he protested, they reportedly took him out of the cell, threw him to the floor and beat him, causing back pain for several days. On 18 September he was also reportedly pulled out of the shower and threatened with being beaten again.

In October 2004, Luis Enrique Ferrer García, the youngest of the 75 dissidents arrested in March 2003, was reportedly stripped and beaten by prison guards and officials in the Youth Prison of Santa Clara.

--Online document titled:
Cuba: Prisoners of Conscience: 71 Longing for Freedom.

Amnesty notes that they are 'not aware of any investigation having been carried out into these recent reports of ill-treatment. International human rights standards require that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment be investigated.' On the 2003 annual report they state:
AI last visited Cuba in 1988. The government did not respond to AI’s requests to be allowed into the country.

Reminiscent of the old Cold War days: I recall reading in Hedrick Smith's The Russians that every time the Soviet Union had a commercial airlines crash, the newspapers would spend a week or two running any air crash stories they could find from other countries. Then they would bury a one-paragrapher on their own accident somewhere in the recesses. Except in this case, good luck finding that one-paragrapher.

If the newspapers of a country are filled with good news, the jails will be filled with good people.
--Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003)
(Thanks to Food For Thought compiled by Jack Tourette for the reference.)


Monday, June 19, 2006

Comic Relief

Note to D on his last post: The Nats edged the Yankees out 3-2 in the last inning. Does that mean all that "curse of L'Enfant" stuff was balderdash?

Harvest: Cherry tomatoes in quantity, plus some Romas and Big Boys daily The Big Boy vines are withering, though, so I have to pick fast. They're not doing as well as they were last year (less rain, maybe?) but then again, the tomatoes aren't rupturing on the vine from overhydration either. Cherries and Romas, on the other hand, handle the heat well. Made a batch of tomato salad using the cherries. Am contemplating spaghetti sauce. Cayenne peppers turning red; am considering preservation options. Bitter cukes still a problem I'll need to study.

Environment: Birds still lying kind of low except at early morning and evening. The trio of Squirrel Munchkins, on the other hand, are out daily munching under the feeder. I hope they are greater respecters of the neighborhood cats than they are of us; we are able to get within a yard of them sometimes. Baby spent some time acclimating them to her presence, though, and the cats don't carry around buckets of birdseed. I'm waiting for the day squirrels tap on the window and signal me the feeder's empty. We had an adult under the feeder today who looked to have survived an attack by either a cat or another squirrel; it had about half a tail and one eye healed shut. All in all, though, it looked to have healed up reasonably well and to be free of lingering infection. Stubborn thing, life.

Momblog: Hon. Son #1, training in firefighting, 'saw the elephant' weekend before last when his crew was called out on a motorcycle/vehicle collision. That the cyclist was alive at all when they arrived is a testament to the importance of helmets; on latest update he was still with the living. I'm praying he stays that way.
Hon. Son #2, with the aid of a buddy, decided to give himself a mohawk while at camp for a week. He was a sight to behold on his return. It wasn't a complete loss; I found an embedded dog tick in his scalp while converting the mess into a boot camp-style high 'n' tight. They definitely have too much free time at camp. The same buddy graciously brought with him a GI virus with the end result that H.S. and a few others came home sick. This actually may have been a blessing as it caused D. to hold his tongue about the hair.


Pigs in Perspective

David at Italian Catholic and Altogether Strange posts about a story from Sandmonkey on the banning of Piglet from Turkey. No, that was not a typo. Turkey's public television station has banned Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons because of the frequent appearance of Piglet, pigs being considered unclean in Islam. Never mind that this particular pig is made of sawdust-stuffed velveteen. Never mind that Turkey at least continues to maintain the pretense of being a secular state.

David observes that this action comes from the same state that to this date continues to deny the Armenian Genocide of 1915 (in which the majority Muslim state targeted Armenian Christians within its borders.) The same state in which, in the wake of the Mohammed Cartoon scandal, one priest was beaten and another killed. The same state which may be covering up facts about the killing of the priest and does nothing while the country's media attempts to turn blame on the victim with accusations of proselytism.

It seems the last refuge of the scoundrel--or perhaps the first--is actually trivia.

Iraqi Bloggers Central reports on the Iraqi government's proposal to give amnesty for surrender to Sunni Arabs who have "only" killed foreigners. They also cite an opinion piece by freelancer Rayyan al-Shawaf that appeared in The Daily Star of Lebanon:

...Massacres of Shiites occur almost daily in Iraq. The death and carnage caused by the huge bombs strategically placed near Shiite mosques and in bustling marketplaces of Shiite-majority areas do receive coverage in both the Western and Arab media. Yet unless the bomb destroys a Shiite shrine, making reference to Shiites unavoidable, the Arab media by and large deliberately leave out the identity of the victims. This is symptomatic of a larger cultural problem: the majority Sunni Arab world's reluctance to identify and extirpate anti-Shiite calumny in its midst.

This is nothing new. Few in the Arab world paid much attention to Saddam Hussein's crimes against Shiites and Kurds, even when they reached genocidal proportions.
The Lebanese have long been familiar with this sort of duplicity, which in their country manifests itself in the selective commemoration of Civil War-era massacres. For years, convention has dictated that the only crimes afforded official recognition should be those committed by, or involving, Israel. The most notorious of these was the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinians in September 1982. But this approach is selective.

To begin with, massacres committed by Palestinian militias (Damour, Chekka, and others) have been all but forgotten; the Lebanese Christian victims of these outrages are alone in commemorating them....Even those massacres in which Palestinians fell victim to Christian militias (Karantina, Tell al-Zaatar) have been deliberately ignored in favor of focusing all attention on Sabra and Shatila. As if that weren't hypocritical enough, the principal Lebanese role in the slaughter has been officially overlooked, while the involvement of the Israelis, who were surely facilitators, has been made to appear central.

Palestinian suffering at the hands of other Lebanese groups has similarly been relegated to obscurity.

Looks like Turkey isn't the only Middle Eastern country with a perspective problem.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Manly Interruption

Hmmm - C in her last post talked about this turning into a FemBlog. While her post did talk about some very valid issues, I just can't let that slide (not while I'm still a contributor, anyway!)
First, lets look in on the Washington Nationals - Major League Baseball in a city that had been deprived of baseball for most of my life, ever since Bob Short absconded with the team in the days of Richard Nixon.
Interleague play has started and Nats are facing offthe New York Yankees. Managed by baseball legend Frank Robinson (who has a history in the area, having played and managed for the Baltimore Orioles), the Nats achieved an 11-9 comeback win against the Yankees last night. This win breaks a five-game losing streak and putstheir record at 31-39, in 3rd place in the National League east,12.5 games out of first place. That might seem somewhat depressing, except for the fact that the Atlanta Braves, usually perennial winners, are on a six-game losing streak and are below the Nats at 13 games behind. If you can't win, a little schadenfreude will do.

As I write, the Nats and the Yanks are scoreless in the second inning of their Sunday game.

For any non-U.S. readers we may have, let me turn to the World Cup. For the record, let me say I never played much soccer (football) in my youth. As a player and aficionado of the American football game, I felt it my duty to harass and make fun of the boys who would, in the fall, put on short pants and chase around an over-inflated volleyball when they could be doing the manly thing: strapping on pads and a helmet and crashing full speed into their opponents.
The latest U.S. effort against Italy ended in a 1-1 tie (draw), but only after an Italian player was obliging enough to put a ball into his own net. I would gloat and jeer more, but such mistakes in the world cup have proven to be fatal in other countries. I trust Italy will act civilly enough and just make the offending player walk home from Germany.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog already in progress.

Dminor ;-)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Muftis Say the Darndest Things

or, Dear, Are We Turning This Into a FemBlog?

The following quotes are taken from video transcripts posted under the subject heading Women on MEMRI TV. Some transcripts were previously edited by MEMRI. I have made some edits for brevity (designated by ellipses) but have made an effort not to alter meaning.

Wife-beating is associated with the cultural status of women in the different societies. Women in some cultures are not averse to beatings. They consider it as an expression of masculinity, and as a kind of control, which she herself desires. In other societies, it is the exact opposite. We must follow reason... when Allah permitted wife-beating, He permitted it to the other side of culture, which considers it as one of the means to preserve the family, and as one of the means to preserve stability.
--Mufti of Egypt Dr. Ali Gum'a, on Al-Risala TV, May 26, 2006.

We all knew women were really asking for it, right?

According to statistics from Denmark, 54% of the births in Denmark are illegitimate. In this case, the term "illegitimate" does not mean a girl getting pregnant by her boyfriend. It refers to a woman, who gives birth in a hospital, and when the doctor asks her under whose name to register the baby - who's the father - she says: "I don't know. It might be the doorman... No, no, it might be the company director... It might be the clerk, or the taxi driver... I don't know." They end up registering the child in her own name. That's an "illegitimate" birth. But when she says that the child is from her boyfriend, that's fine.
--Dr. Muhammad Al-'Arifi, Saudi author, on Al-Risala, April 6, 2006

(checking sarcasm, with some difficulty)
EU Business posted the following statistics 13/05/06:
... nearly a third -- 31.6 percent -- of the 4.8 million babies born in the European Union in 2004 were born out of wedlock.
The phenomenon is particularly noticeable up north in Scandinavia and the three Baltic member-states with a ratio of 57.8 percent in Estonia, 55.4 percent in Sweden, 45.4 percent in Denmark and 45.3 percent in Latvia.

In other words, the actual illegitimate birthrate in Denmark is 45.4%--too high, but several points short of the 54%
the good doctor cites. Note too that illegitimacy is defined as birth out of wedlock--this would include the child 'from her boyfriend,' children born to couples in committed relationships that have not for whatever reason made it official, and probably children born to parents who marry after the birth. [I don't know if Denmark defines a common-law marriage or if it includes children born into one in the 'legitimate' category.] And yes, it does include cases in which the father is genuinely unknown because of promiscuity (or in which the mother has chosen to conceal his identity.) But it may also include inseminations of single women by anonymous donor. I don't mean to encourage sexual irresponsibility or deliberately seeking to bear children outside a marriage, but let's not magnify sins with hyperbole either. I doubt very much that a percentage more than single digits of Danish women have no idea who fathered their babies.

A Muslim in Europe or America can marry a Christian woman or a woman from among the People of the Book, under four conditions:
The first condition is that she is, in fact, of the People of the Book. In other words, she must not be a heretic - for example, a communist or a Bahai. She must be a believing woman from among the People of the Book.
Some people say a woman is Christian because her father is Christian, while she does not believe in any religion... Such a woman is not Christian...We have to make sure that she's really of the People of the Book.
The second condition is that she must be chaste, in other words, honorable and pure - not a woman who sells her body to any man...
Is there a single honorable, chaste woman left in these countries? Don't they reprimand a girl who is still a virgin at the age of 14?.. She becomes undesirable...

Yeah, I always reprimand my girls for not behaving like tramps. (That's sarcasm, for those who need it explained.)

The third condition is...a Muslim is not allowed to marry a Jewish woman from Israel, or from among the Jews who support Israel...
[one must not] marry a Jewish woman, unless she belongs to the Jews who are hostile to Israel...
The fourth condition is that this marriage would not cause harm to him, to his children, or to Muslim men and women. Sometimes, he is personally harmed, because she influences him...Sometimes it is his children who are at risk. His children receive a non-Islamic upbringing...

She only carried them around for nine months, gave birth to them and probably is caring for them most of the time...but they're his children.

Islam permits marrying a woman from the People of the Book, or a Christian, so that she will enter the Muslim family and society.

No chance she'd be allowed to determine her own faith journey.

There is also a danger to Muslim women...since a Muslim woman is only allowed to marry a Muslim man - who will she marry? If all the men go off and find themselves Western blondes to marry, our own daughters - Fatma, 'Aisha, and so and so - will find no one to marry.
--Quotes from Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, Qatar TV, March 12, 2006.

But even in the time of Mohammed Muslim women had more rights than do western women today--if you think I'm making it up, read on!

We all agree on the need for women's liberation. But what model of women's liberation do we want? There is an Islamic model and a Western model. With the Western model - and especially with the radical feminist movements - their extremism becomes a kind of madness. When they raise the issue known as "gender" - the claim that there is one sex, rather than male and female, and that everybody is of the same sex, and there is no difference between male and female - this obliterates the nature of Allah's creation of humans, whom He created as male and female. I say that a normal woman would never be satisfied being masculine, or becoming a man or like a man, just as a normal man would never be happy being effeminate or like a woman. If there was only one six [sic], what would make one side desire the other and try to attain it?
Therefore, I say that the issue of gender issue [sic] - the claim that all people are of one sex, men are like women, and women are like men - legitimizes homosexuality. This is what led the people who support the "gender issue" and "unisex," and who claim that there is no difference between male and female, to dream of a world without men - women living with women, and men with men. This legitimizes homosexuality...
This ideology runs counter to human nature, and will not lead to women's liberation, but to women's misery, because if a woman becomes masculine and Spartan - what man would want her?

--Dr. Muhammad Ammara, Nile Culture TV, November 11, 2005

All right, I was that close to conceding him the point about radical feminism being madness until he declared women's happiness entirely dependent on male desire. And while I'm nit-picking, is there really anybody left in the West who has a basic understanding of biology and still thinks there's no difference between male and female?
I wonder if he ever got around to outlining that 'model of women's liberation' he mentioned at the outset?

About three years ago we signed, at the UN headquarters, the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Since we signed this document, we must adhere to it.


I don't recall right now the exact articles of this convention. I saw and read it, but its details don't come to mind right now. But it does have some provisions granting women their rights.

So which idiot in the Production office brought this guy on as an expert?

Sir, the women's rights that are required... Some people, unfortunately, are being stubborn or hypocritical, claiming the opposite of this - the women's rights we demand are those provided by the Shari'a, the rights that are derived from the Koran and the Sunna. If we gave women these rights in their entirety - that would be enough.

Responding to that would be another whole post, if not a monograph.

I remember, for example, that in Europe some time ago, a wife could not be an independent businesswoman, while in Islam for 1,400 years now, a woman could manage her own money independently. This is one of many examples.

Well, to start with there's the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, who 'considers a field and buys it.' And Lydia the purple cloth seller in Acts. And the Vikings, even in pre-Christian times, gave free women high social status and rights. And Vicki Leon cites numerous examples of 'independent businesswomen' during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in her Uppity Women books...but that's another monograph.

There is Islam in other places, where they have their own interpretations. In these Islamic countries, women work side by side with men.

Define that 'side by side' thing.

Sheik Muhammad Al-Ghazali, one of the greatest religious authorities, once said: "I prefer Thatcher to seventy bearded Islamists." He said that, not me. Why? Because some women who are more virtuous and self-confident than men.

Well, give the Sheik some credit for that much...

Therefore, I think women should get their rights, even if only gradually, until she can...

Beggars can't be choosers, after all.

Host: Do you expect women to enter the Saudi government in the near future?
Talal bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz Aal Sa'ud: I see what is going on. You ask if women, who cannot even drive cars, will join the government? That would be difficult.

--Prince Talal bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz Aal Sa'ud, Dubai TV, Sept. 16, 2005

Gosh, I could really use one of those ASCII art popping balloons right about here.

Dr. Fawzan: In conservative countries like Saudi Arabia – this blessed Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – which, Allah be praised, is the most conservative in the Muslim world, in which a woman maintains her honor, decency, and modesty – and she does not reveal anything – not her hands, her face, or anything – how can she drive a car?

A veritable Paradise...

Those who call to allow women to drive – according to what has been written – can be divided into two groups. The first group includes Westernized people who want to Westernize the society, to tell the truth. They want to destroy society, corrupt it, and drag it down into the depths of decay and permissiveness, like in Western societies. These people have been blinded by what they saw there when they studied or visited there, and they want our society to be like other societies. They want it to be devoid of all values, morals, and modesty. They want women to go out on the streets all made up, like a harlot, with her face uncovered, like they see in the West. They think that the shortest and best way to reach this goal is to allow women to drive, because if a woman drives, she will reveal her face, drive without a male chaperone, will have an easy opportunity to meet all kinds of young men and women, and she will get all made up, will mix with men, and so on.

Heaven forbid! And the other group is???

I don't think that any woman, throughout human history, has been as oppressed as the Western woman today – and they still claim that they have given her freedom. They took her out (of the home) in order to exploit her, to exploit her honor and dignity. Furthermore, in many countries, her salary is lower than the man's, but she works more than him. She does not get what she wants unless she sacrifices her honor, to her bosses or co-workers.

Count to ten, all you professional women out there who actually worked your way to your position.

How strange! Even though they have permissiveness there, and any man can satisfy his desires outside of marriage… he's not satisfied with ten or twenty.

Energetic lot, those Western men.

Any girl he sees, who has certain features, he wants. If she consents – fine. If not – he rapes her.
--Dr. Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Fazwn, Saudi Cleric, Al-Majd TV, June 17, 2005

Which explains why a lady can't safely set foot outside her house alone in the West, whereas in Saudi Arabia...oh. Never mind.

Sheik Aal Mahmoud: If the husband wants to use beatings to treat his wife, he must never ever do it in front of the children. It must remain between him and her. It must be done according to the following conditions: He must not cause bleeding or bruise her body. He should avoid her face and other sensitive parts of her body. As we've said, the limitations on beating are: They must not cause bleeding, they should not break any bones, they should not be on the face, and they should not bruise her. If the husband violates these rules, he violates the rules of Allah. If she has been hurt, the husband is held liable for what he has done, because the woman is not his merchandise. He cannot do to her whatever he wants. Even if the wife forgives the husband, it does not mean Allah will do the same on Judgment Day.
--Cleric Abdullah Latif Aal Mahmoud, Bahrain TV, June 20, 2005

Well, thank goodness there are some standards! Must be some of those rights the Prince was talking about above.

But there is some hope:
Zulfa: I wasn't expecting all this uproar over something which is merely an idea. I proposed study the possibility of allowing Saudi women to drive cars.
Host: Would you, Dr. Muhammad Aal Al-Zulfa allow your wife drive a car?
Zulfa: Absolutely.
I think that if something happened to me, she would be the best person to take me to the hospital, or in any other circumstances when I couldn't drive, and she is capable of driving.
Host: And the same goes for your daughters, when they reach the right age.
Zulfa: Yes, I hope that she would drive her car, instead of some foreigner driving her and her children around.

--member of the Saudi Shura Council Muhammad Aal Zulfa, Al-'Arabiya TV, June 8, 2005.

Well, all right, so he's not Martin Sheen--progress is progress!

I don't EVER want to hear about how lousy women have it in the U. S. again. Understand?


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

And in a place no one would confuse with Paradise...

A Daily Briefing on Iran reports the June 12 march for Women's Rights in Iraq. Also posted are photos of the event and inevitable attacks on the participants by police including the female unit affectionately known as the "Black Crows" (why nobody thought of 'Sharia's Angels' as a monniker I don't know.) The subsequent citations are from several articles posted of linked by Daily Briefing:

It is estimated that approximately 5000 women and supporting men showed up to the General Women's March at Haft'eh Teer Square in Tehran today. The march which was meant to be a peaceful protest against the misogynist rule of the Islamic Republic was slated for 5 to 6 pm Tehran time (9 to 10 am eastern standard time in the U.S.). The participants carried placards, signs and banners protesting the medieval regulations imposed on women and continued to chant slogans supporting women's, children's and human rights.

Among those present at the march were academics, well-known human and women's rights activists, student leaders, members of the greater Tehran bus drivers union etc. who showed up and were arrested. Among those arrested are: beloved poetess and suffragette, 80-year old Ms. Simin Behbahani who is always front and center...

That does it. Ms. Behbahani goes straight to the top of my prayer list! Should I live to 80 I hope I have half her spirit.

Many of the regime's guards and agents were dressed in plain-clothes and passed themselves off as demonstrators until they began to attack and beat the protestors. They had batons, tear and pepper gases as well as all kinds of other chemical agents...

Oddly a group of the activists who were known as the members of the central committee of organizers of the march, both women AND men, were arrested before they even left their houses...

The viciousness of the police attack caused men who were passing by in the street to protest, our correspondent says.
"These are our sisters, how can you do this?" passers-by shouted at police...As the police started making arrests members of the public who had nothing to do with the protest repeatedly shouted: "Leave them alone."

(from Rooz Online)
Last year too on the eve of a similar women’s rally on June 12th, some prominent women activists were summoned to the ministry of the interior (which is responsible for domestic security) and asked to dissuade other women from participating...
The current summons comes at a time when a number of student activists too have been summoned to courts and security agencies, indicating an overall policy of intimidating and controlling protests or gatherings of any nature with political overtones.
This year’s June 12th gathering has so far gained a larger international and domestic support. One example of this is the support of 5 women Nobel Peace Prize winners who have endorsed the rally and called on women of all walks to join in. Since hardliners have taken over all government and political agencies in the Iranian government, including the social and cultural ones, they interpret any public social activity by women to be pressure on the government.

Iranians are living in interesting times. June 12th's roundup also cited a story on Khomeni's grandson's opposition to the current regime. Today's posts just get 'curioser and curioser:'

(From The New York Sun:)
Two scions of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran are emerging as emboldened opponents of the regime in Tehran, reviving the prospect that the son of the former shah may collaborate with the grandson of the ayatollah who deposed him.

In a reversal of historical roles, it was Reza Pahlavi, heir to the Peacock Throne, who was last week in Paris - the safe haven of Ayatollah Khomeini immediately before the 1979 revolution - drumming up support from French legislators for his plan of nonviolent regime change.

Meanwhile, at the spiritual center of Iran's Shiite theocracy, Qom, the grandson of Khomeini, broke a near three-year silence in the press, and publicly gave his support for a Western armed intervention in his country.

And finally, a quote from the Ayatollah Khomeni's will, also posted today at the above site:
..if you think, as some misguided laymen do, that for the Mahdi (AS) to appear, the world must be entirely overwhelmed with cruelty and injustice therefore, to have him appear sooner, cruelty should be promoted, then let us all chime our own death knells. (From God we are and unto Him we return.)
The author of the piece in which it is quoted remarks,
I find it news worthy that the current regime appears to be doing exactly what Khomeni warned against.

Indeed. I never thought I'd be saying this, but bless the old zealot's black-turbaned cranium. On this matter he was positively prescient.


Meanwhile, in the Workers' Paradise...

Granma Internacional Online reports Fidel's comments on Cuba's 'Yes, I Can Do It' literacy program:

"If we teach people to read and write we will have hundreds of millions of revolutionaries, of fighters capable of changing the world," affirmed President Fidel Castro during the closing session of the International Literacy and Post-Literacy Seminar that brought together more than 700 delegates from 33 nations at the International Conference Center.

Yeah, Fidel, but once you've taught 'em to read, how're you gonna keep 'em from reading stuff you'd rather they didn't know about? Oh, yeah, in the excitement of the moment I almost forgot about that little library suppression matter...

The leader of the Revolution stated: "Capitalism has no interest in abolishing ignorance. It can be confirmed that there is no will to educate people just as we can demonstrate that we want to and can combat ignorance," he assured.

Al contrario, Fidel. Bienvenidos al Mercado Libre de Ideas! (or Free Market of Ideas, as the Yanquis would say.) Of course, since it's only recently that you, with a flourish, proclaimed the importation from China of rice steamers, I suppose that control of the Internet will be a problem for your successor, whoever he may be, to deal with. You might try a little free market yourself, Fidel. I understand that locally produced rice steamers were a successful cottage industry down there before you put the kibbosh on them. Who knows, the Woz and Jobs of Cuba may even now be hunched over a '58 Chevy in some Havana barrio.


Monday, June 12, 2006

A Notion of "Balance"

From the Huffington Post:
" Stating the Obvious in Las Vegas -- One of the greatest pleasures of the YearlyKos conference was hearing the obvious stated as the obvious -- instead of the usual 'one side claims this, while the other side claims that' notion of 'balance.' "

Why make an argument when the other side does it for you?

Running a bit behind...

...but Captain's Quarters posted an explanation on June 10 of why the "witness" who claimed he saw Zarqawi being beaten to death by American soldiers couldn't possibly have seen it.

And although "666" jokes should now be as stale as reading 1984 in 1985, I came across some goodies last week but couldn't seem to get any computer time to post them. Time for a little levity, if slightly out of date.

MrsDarwin at Darwin Catholic compiled these under 'Beastly Stuff:'
Julie D. has up a post on the number of the beast , and her comments box is getting silly. Here's the lowdown on the number of the Beast, 666 -- and all its brothers and uncles and ugly stepchildren.
666 Biblical Number of the Beast
660 Approximate Number of the Beast
DCLXVI Roman Numeral of the Beast
665 Number of the Beast's Older Brother
667 Number of the Beast's Younger Sister
668 Number of the Beast's Neighbor
999 Number of the Australian Beast
333 Number of the Semi-Beast
66 Number of the Downsized Beast
6, uh... I forget Number of the Blond Beast
666.0000 Number of the High Precision Beast
665.9997856 Number of the Beast on a Pentium
00666 Zip Code of the Beast E-mail Address of the Beast Website of the Beast
1-666-666-6666 Phone & FAX Number of the Beast
1-888-666-6666 Toll Free Number of the Beast
1-900-666-6666 Live Beasts, available now! One-on-one pacts! Only$6.66 per minute! [Must be over 18!]
666-66-6666 Social Security Number of the Beast
Form 10666 Special IRS Tax Forms for the Beast
IAM 666 License Plate Number of the Beast
Formula 666 All Purpose Cleaner of the Beast
66.6% Tax Rate of the Beast*
6.66% 6-Year CD Interest Rate at First Beast Bank of Hell ($666 minimum deposit, $666 early withdrawal fee)
$666/hr Billing Rate of the Beast's Lawyer
$665.95 Retail Price of the Beast
$710.36 Price of the Beast plus 6.66% Sales Tax
$769.95 Price of the Beast with accessories and replacement soul
$656.66 Wal-Mart Price of the Beast (next week $646.66!)
$55.50 Monthly Payments for Beast, in 12 easy installments
And don't forget: Speculation that the "mark of the Beast" will take the form of bar codes or computer chips is incorrect. The mark of the Beast is actually conferred by Livestrong bracelets.

* And you thought your tax rate is high.

Julie D. also notes that the 6/6/06 of Revelation would have been according to the Julian calendar. So the Apocalypse actually did come, only about 10 days earlier. (And I missed it!)


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Backyard Nature Report

Feeder visited by a second female hummingbird. Haven't seen much of her since so she must be dividing her time between here and the neighbors. The heat and humidity are getting increasingly oppressive now and many critters are hunkered down by midmorning, so unless I'm on the lookout at early morning or evening I'm not likely to see much.
One of the front-yard oaks has a litter of baby squirrels (3, we think) who have been getting out of the nest since mid-last week. I startled one coming out the door last week (musta been his first day out) and was surprised as he scrambled over the bagged leaves and up the siding boards of the house at how clumsy they are at that age. He's lucky I wasn't a cat. They're doing better getting up and down the trees now, and you can practically watch them grow. It helps that their tree is next door to a black cherry, of course, which must be like a pastry shop to them. (The fruit is too tart for human taste buds, though the field guide assures me that they can be used in jam.) Momma is a regular at the 'squirrel' feeder and throws down plenty of seed, so they eat pretty well. (Ditto the mourning doves.) As I have the feeder hanging on a metal post, I'll be interested to see when they master the art of climbing it.

Harvest: 2-6 cherry tomatoes ripe daily, lots of green ones on the vine. We may soon be swamped. Eggplants coming along; a small green pepper or two on each of my 7 plants. A gracious plenty of green cayenne peppers (only one plant.) Everything gets wilty if I don't water daily. Radishes are slowing down with the heat and beets aren't even bothering to come up. I'll have to try them again come fall.



Mister Ghost of Iraqi Bloggers Central has posted a very thorough overview of reactions to the death of Zarqawi in the Iraqi and Jordanian blogospheres. Of particular note is Iraq the Model which has commentary today and last Thursday and is always informative. Worth the read, and more in-depth than the evening news.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lurching Down the Slippery Slope

Kathleen Parker, one of my favorite Southern Lady opinion journalists, has a column this week titled
Abortion's Dead Poets'Society. She cites the following statistics:

The week before...Britain's Sunday Times reported that more than 20 babies had been aborted in advanced stages of gestation between 1996 and 2004 in England because scans showed they had clubfeet. Had these parents never heard of Dudley Moore, the British actor who also had a clubfoot?

Another four babies were aborted because they had extra digits or webbed fingers, according to the same story. In 2002, a baby was aborted at 28 weeks because of a cleft palate. Last year, a 6-month-old fetus was aborted when ultrasound revealed that part of a foot was missing, according to the Times.

The most maddening aspect of this trend is that all of these deformities are minor and, in our time, treatable. Yet to some people, accepting a slightly less than perfect child is apparently too much to ask. So, I suppose, is making some sacrifices to treat and rehabilitate a child.

Parker refers to a number of well-known people, from Lord Byron to figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, whose minor handicaps did not prevent them from leading full, productive lives. And those are just some of the famous ones. We all know people who are slightly less than 'perfect,' whatever that is (heck, I've got some kids who would fit that description.) Should they not have been born?

What kind of parent creates such expectations for a child? How will they deal with it later if their 'perfect' baby turns out to be not so perfect?

My God, where will it all end?


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Under U. S. law, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This applies to everyone, including the Marines accused of doing the unspeakable in Hamdaniya. They will be provided with legal counsel, which will do everything in its power under the law to get them acquitted. This is no more than was done for Zacarias Moussaoui, the Lackawanna Seven, the Unabomber, or Timothy McVeigh. Of course, the prosecution will be called upon to present evidence that these men are guilty of a crime and can be expected to dig up every available scrap to that end.

That said, it may be a bit premature to begin theorizing about what happened in Hamdaniya. Of course, as the MSM and some legislators have been jumping at any opportunity to tarnish the administration and (despite everyone's "but we support the troops!" protestation) the U.S. Military, they have been quick to put the worst possible spin on the rumors that have been coming out of that city. A report this morning, however, seemed to have something of substance to it. It is said that some among this group of men have acknowledged an element of premeditation. Allegedly(remember--nothing is yet proven beyond a reasonable doubt) the Marines were looking for the terrorist that had killed one of their own with an IED. Failing to turn him up in a house-by-house search, they may have killed an unarmed civilian instead.

Years ago, an Army-wife girlfriend described the military to me as "society condensed." This, I believe, is an accurate assessment. The U.S. Armed Forces comprises the brilliant, the noble, the honorable--and the dregs of society. I have encountered compassionate military personnel, profoundly religious and ethical military personnel, and (usually, thank goodness, via the newspaper) a rogue's gallery of liars, cheats, thieves, rapists, and cutthroats in uniform. The only excuse for this state of affairs is that the situation reflects society as a whole and that the rogues tend to be quickly weeded out (and often more severely punished than would a similar crop of civilians) when they are exposed.

Ethics training is not new in the U. S. Forces. The purpose of an army may be "to break things and kill people, " but society in general and the military in particular have codes of honor as to which things are not to be broken and which people are not to be killed. Accidents happen, but they shouldn't happen often. Out-of-control actions endanger the individual, the unit, and innocent noncombatants. Warriors may risk losing self-control in the heat of battle, but troop discipline should mitigate this tendency.

So did this small group of Marines go out that day with the intention of killing someone--anyone--in revenge? At this point I don't know the answer to that question. What I do know is that, if they did kill a civilian just because they felt like "getting one of theirs," they are guilty of a sin against God, a crime against humanity, and a grave act of dishonor against the Marine Corps and their country. If they have done what they are accused of having done, they have erased any difference between themselves and the enemy they fight--an enemy that has shown little concern for whom it kills and in fact has repeatedly targeted innocent civilians. If they have killed indiscriminately for revenge, they have disregarded the most fundamental principles of the society that nurtured them--a society that long ago abandoned the blood feud and that has long disdained the concept of guilt by association. The big question will be not, "Why did they do it?" but "Why didn't anyone speak up against it?"

When and only when all the facts have been sifted out, if they are in fact guilty of murder, they should--and I have confidence, will be--punished to the extent the law allows. If so, may God have mercy upon them.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Go Forth...

Some encouragement on the occasion of Pentecost.
The Catholic Communication Campaign printed this on their fundraising flyer. According to the flyer, it is on a sign in Mother Teresa's children's home of Shishu Bhavan in Calcutta:
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered,
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
If you are successful, you win false and true enemies,
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth,

The headline writers for our local newspaper believe in having fun with their job whenever possible. Today's edition ran a story on a Memorial Day presentation at an area elementary school. The speakers were two Navy officers, one of whom taught the kids a few words of Navyspeak: port, starboard, and the more arcane geedunk (snack food.) The story was headlined: Youngsters Learn to Talk Like Sailors.
Harvest: First cuke grew quickly to almost a foot; was bitter to inedibility. Picked next one at about 8" as this is the recommended size for the variety. About 6" were pretty good, the remainder nearest the stem bitter. Will pick subsequents at 6" or less. Cherry tomatoes ripening, eggplant & peppers fruiting.
Environment: Found our regular female hummer dead near feeder late last week. Cause uncertain; the solution was pretty fresh and I don't think the dogs had anything to do with it. She was large as hummers go and may have been coming back the last few years; I suppose heat or age could have been factors. Refilled the feeder; hopefully we will see some others over the summer. House finches regulars at feeders.
Painting: Glory, glory--finished second wall of kitchen!

Saturday, June 03, 2006


This passage was in my chapter of Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom (1970, Paulist Press) last night, and I saw myself in it:

You may remember the story in the Gospel of the storm of the sea of Galilee: Christ asleep in the boat and the storm raging around. At first the apostles work hard and hopefully in order to survive. Then at a certain moment they lose heart, and the storm that was outside comes inside—the storm is within them too. Anguish, death no longer simply circle round, they come inside. And then they turn to Christ and do what we very often do with God: we look at God in time of stress and tragedy, and we are indignant that He is so peaceful. The story in the Gospel underlines it by saying that Christ was sleeping with His head on a pillow—the final insult. They are dying and He is comfortable. This is exactly what we feel about God so often. How dare He be blissful, how dare He be so comfortable when I am in trouble? And the disciples do exactly what we do so very often. Instead of coming to God and saying, ‘You are peace, you are the Lord…say a word and things will come right,’ they shake Him out of His sleep and say, ‘Don’t you care that we are perishing?’ In other words, ‘If you can do nothing, at least don’t sleep. If you can do nothing better, then at least die in anguish with us.’ Christ reacts, he gets up and says ‘Men of little faith!’ and brushing them aside, He turns toward the storm…and everything is quiet again.

Worth reflecting on when things are bad and we have hit the wall trying to put them right. Do we blame him for not dying in anguish with us? Bloom, a Russian Orthodox Archbishop, was a skeptic in his youth and during WWII served as an army surgeon and also with the French resistance. Surely he writes here from personal experience!

Every so often, I sense that Hound of Heaven padding along behind me.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Therapy for Conspiracy Theorists

Okay, I know I put a moratorium on DVC on this blog, but
this piece
from the author of A Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living was just too good (besides reinforcing my viewpoint.) Anyway, I couldn't resist quoting the following excerpt on dealing with conspiracy theorists. (Which, technically speaking, keeps me on the right side of the ban, as it's general-purpose and not specific to DVC.) An excellent strategy, I think, for addressing all denominations of the tinfoil-hat set!

A thought-provoking lunch. It convinced me that admirable efforts such as Amy Welborn’s to refute the assertions woven throughout the turgidly typed pages of The DaVinci Code might just be beside the point. It’s probably not worth protesting this silly, mercenary book—or the boring movie made of it by hack director Richie Cunningham … I mean, Ron Howard. If you know someone gullible enough to take a pulp airport novel as “evidence” that Jesus Christ was not divine—but rather a horn-dog rabbi eager to “hook-up” with a former hooker, in order to father a race of bumbling French kings…do you really think the answer is to argue with him? Using, you know, reason? You might just as well pick up the book, smack him on the nose and say “No! Bad! No! Very bad!” That’s likely to be more effective, and a heck of a lot more fun.

Or here’s another idea, which is even more entertaining. It’s a strategy I once used with a friend who was intelligent but emotionally unstable. At a dark time in his life, he got himself sucked into poisonous theories which questioned the Holocaust. Rather than spend time reading the sludge churned out by nostalgic Nazis which he was taking as gospel, I decided to try what I called “ridicule therapy.” When he suggested that the Holocaust had been exaggerated or faked, I said, “You’re so naïve. Do you really think there was a so-called ‘Second World War?’ Another lie foisted on us by you-know-who….”

“But that’s ridiculous,” he insisted.

“Really?” I said, “Or is that just what THEY want you to think?”

As time went on, I had to go further. So I suggested darkly that the Freemasons had been “faking the weather” for the past 30 years. I started referring to the “so-called weatherman” and putting little air-quotes around the word “weather.”

At last, I bought my friend the books of David Ickes, a former British soccer star who “discovered” the fact that the world has been dominated, for the past 10,000 years, by a race of alien lizard men (think Opus Dei, with long darting tongues) who can take on human form. These books are in deadly earnest, and utterly hilarious, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Now mind you, I didn't cite this to encourage playing head games with the mentally ill. The tabloid holds enough sway in our society that there is no shortage of reasonably sane people who might benefit from a bit of "therapy." The plus side of this method is, since you're out-tinfoiling them, you don't leave them much room to call you a "true believer."

Hat tip: The Shrine of the Holy Whapping/a>