The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back in Business

I haven't posted anything in almost a month. I've simply been too busy since returning in early June from our trip up north. And then, about 10 days ago, my hard drive crashed and put me out of business for a day or two. Rather than replacing the drive, I ended up buying a new PC with Windows 8 and all the trimmings...well, the few trimmings I actually need. The cost of a new PC is really quite reasonable these days, especially if you're not a gamer, and I'm not. I am, however, an amateur photographer of sorts, so my hard drive contained several hundred gigabytes of the photos and videos I've taken over the years. Fortunately, I had actually planned ahead and backed up everything daily using "Just Cloud". As you might imagine, the restoration of all these gigabytes of data has taken quite some time, but the task is now complete. No data was lost, so I'm very happy.

A lot has happened since my last post. The Internal Revenue Service has admitted focusing its considerable powers on conservative and religious organizations thus exposing itself as the enforcement arm of the administration's political team. I trust their local field agents will not hold my repetition of this revelation against me come April 15, and will instead remember all the love I have often expressed for this agency and its employees. Fortunately my income is negligible and my assets few, so I am hardly an enticing target.
NSA Headquarters

Not to be outdone, the NSA, the Fort Meade-based intelligence organization that prefers to remain in the deep shadows, has also been the recipient of more than a little unwonted exposure. It would seem that Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower / traitor / hero / enemy spy (pick one), has informed the world about the NSA's apparently insatiable appetite for data. In its enthusiasm for accomplishing its mission to save us from our enemies, it decided that the best way to identify potential bad guys is to gather everything on everybody. That way they will miss nothing. Of course, the fact that this might well violate the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures was seemingly overlooked in all the post-9-11 excitement. I'm sure they'll get it all sorted out soon; and don't worry, the NSA is completely apolitical and would never use this huge pile of data inappropriately.

Justice Kennedy
And then this week the Supreme Court, thanks to Justice Kennedy, its designated swing-voter, issued a 5-4 decision declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. In doing so the Court overturned more than the Act; they also overturned several thousand years of human history, tradition, and moral values. Justice Kennedy, reading the majority opinion, stated that the Act represented "a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group," that it "demeans the [same-sex] couple" and "humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples." The opinion goes on to state that "the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage."

In affect, then, Justice Kennedy and his four liberal colleagues have accused the legislators who voted for DOMA back in 1996 of willfully wanting to demean, harm, and humiliate the nation's homosexual citizens. Those legislators include now-Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Patty Murray, Senator Carl Levin, and many more Democrats. And DOMA was, of course, signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. There's irony in here somewhere.
Hagia Sophia [(c) National Geographic]

Looking overseas, there's some interesting news out of Turkey. One of Christendom's oldest and greatest cathedrals, Hagia Sophia in Instanbul (pictured above), was desecrated and turned into a mosque after the Ottoman Turks sacked Constantinople back in the 15th century. In the 1920s, when the nationalistic secularist Ataturk removed the Ottomans from power, the cathedral-mosque was converted into a museum.

Studios Monastery in Turkey
But this could soon change. There is a movement to transform the building into a working mosque once again. And this is not a unique case. A number of Turkey's historical Christian churches are being turned into mosques. Indeed, even the world's oldest still functioning Christian monastery, the Studios Monastery, built in the 5th century and dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is also threatened. The locals have accused the monks of anti-Turkish activities and of illegally occupying the monastery which they claim is on land belonging to the local villagers. According to news reports the appeals court in Ankara sided with the villagers. The court stated that the property on which the monastery has sat for over 1,600 years doesn't really belong to the monastery. The court also declared that the monastery was built on top of a mosque. Now that would be quite trick since the monastery was constructed almost 200 years before Muhammad was born. The logic of Islam continues to amaze.

Come, Lord Jesus! [Rev 22:20]

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