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!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Odd World

Nothing surprises me anymore. I don't know whether the world has degenerated into absolute weirdness or that nothing can escape the attention of the worldwide web. I suspect the latter. Sins that were once kept private are now shouted from rooftops so high the entire world can hear them. But we're now exposed to more than the public airing of personal and communal sins. We're also subjected to a steady stream of videos in which humans delight in sharing their own stupidity or their pets' intelligence. I must receive five or six of these video-infected emails daily. I used to watch a few, but now simply drop them unopened into the virtual trash can. Even worse are the dozens of cutsie, Photo-Shopped digital pics that arrive all bundled together in emails telling me my day won't be complete unless I look at them all. These too I trash. Maybe with my recent birthday (I turned 70 last week) I have evolved into the next stage of life: curmudgeon-hood. This would explain my hostility toward online gossip and forced cuteness. But what really irks me are the surprising things said and done by those who should know better. Here is a sampling encountered in today's news:

Justin Welby, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, stated in a recent interview that he sometimes doubts the existence of God, a rather interesting public admission from the religious head of the established Church of England. According to the church, only about 3% of Britain's population regularly attend Church of England services. It's just one more reason to praise the wisdom of our founding fathers who rejected the idea of a government-established religion.

And then there's our Commander-in-Chief who insists on repeatedly telling our enemies what he won't do when it comes to the use of military force. Talk about making the enemy's job easier! He then goes on to confirm this remarkable lack of leadership by stating that as Commander-in-Chief he will personally approve every target to be attacked by our Navy and Air Force aircraft. One can only marvel at the depth of the President's military knowledge, gained no doubt during his years as a community organizer in Chicago.

Not to be outdone by his boss, the Vice President insists on speaking in public. Remember how the media pummeled Vice President Dan Quayle for his so-called gaffes? Compared to Joe Biden Quayle was the personification of eloquence. At least he didn't call lenders "Shylocks", or praise a former senator who resigned in disgrace for sexual misconduct, or offend Asians with a perceived ethnic slur...and those are just a few of this week's Bidenisms.

Local politicians can also surprise. Charles Barron, a NY City councilman and candidate for the state assembly, wants to play host to Robert Mugabe, the blood-thirsty, murderous dictator of Zimbabwe, should the African "leader" pay another visit to NY. In an interview this week Barron called Mugabe "a shining example of an African leader" and included the dictator in his pantheon of heroes, along with Cuba's Fidel Castro and the late Libyan dictator Muammar el-Quaddafi. According to Barron, "All my heroes were America's enemies." One wonders why this man remains here when he could move to an earthly paradise like Zimbabwe...or Cuba...or even Libya.

The United States Air Force has decided to allow enlisted personnel and officers to omit the words " help me God" from re-enlistment and appointment oaths. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James issued the order as a result of a complaint from a Nevada airman. According to Secretary James, “We are making the appropriate adjustments to ensure our Airmen's rights are protected.” I find it interesting that she somehow believes such rights were ignored for the past 225 years.

Finally, it seems the current polarization isn't limited to things political. According to a recent survey by Pew Research, liberals and conservatives have very different views when it comes to instiling religious values in children. Apparently conservatives believe teaching religious faith is more important than teaching tolerance, while liberals believe the opposite. It's an interesting survey, although I dislike the use of the word "tolerance." Simply tolerating another does not seem especially Christian. We are, after all, called to love others, not merely to tolerate them. And there are certainly things we should never tolerate. The religious values of the Islamic State (or ISIS or ISIL) should not be tolerated. We are called to love the terrorist but not what he does or the horribly misguided religious faith that motivates him. Anyway, I never get too excited about polls and surveys since far too often respondents are forced to assign relative priorities to a range of unrelated values. What's more important, curiosity or creativity? 

I suppose that's enough. Anyway, there's a football game to watch.

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