Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ascension Day

The story of the ascension is found in both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles [also written by Luke].  As we know, Jesus appeared to many of his disciples during the 40 days following his resurrection and, on the 40th day, returned with the Apostles to the Mount of Olives where he instructed them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In their presence he ascended into the clouds. Two angels then appeared and declared that Jesus would return in glory.

According to Augustine of Hippo, one of the early church fathers, the Feast of Ascension originated with the Apostles and, thus, is one of the oldest feasts practiced by the Church. 

The lections may be found here.

If You Think This Is Getting To Be A Cause For Me, You're Right

There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs of regimes America was fighting abroad, the venues gradually reversed. Open debate is now protected only in the polity: In universities, muggers prevail.

Unfortunately, This Is Now The Trend

Gone are the days when campuses served as places where unpopular ideas could be given voice; now, universities purge ideas from the public square if they don't fit their infantilizing sensitivity models.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Surf Cars

Obesity Problem Solved!

CT Votes to Ban Chocolate Milk from School Lunches

That's great.  Here, kid, have some more carbs.

The Feast Of St. Augustine Of Canterbury

I have to confess that I find Augie of Canterbury an uninteresting subject.  I know, I know.  He was the first Archbishop of Canterbury; a representative of the Roman, rather than Celtic Christian, tradition and was charged by Pope Gregory the Great to abide in peace with the other Christians in Britain who were already part of an established church.  Remember that Christianity came to the British Isles at the same time it was being preached in Rome, and was well established among the Celts a couple of centuries before the Roman emperor converted to Christianity.

Instead, he insisted on imposing Roman rites on the Celts, a move which was not only contrary to Gregory's advice, but established the first fissure in the eventual breach between the Church of Rome and what would become, centuries later, the Church of England and, eventually still, The Episcopal Church of the United States.  [Although, to be historically accurate, the Episcopal Church owes its identity not to the Church of England as much as it does the Scottish Episcopal Church, bishops of which consecrated the first bishop of the American church.  It's from the Scots that we get our name, too.]

More can be read of him at this site.

[Above is a photo of the first parish I ever served as vicar/rector: St. Augustine of Canterbury in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.]

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Archaeological News


I know this place well.

The Feast Of Jackson Kemper

Jackson Kemper was born 24 December 1789 in Pleasant Valley, New York, attended Columbia College, and was ordained a priest in 1814. In 1835, the Episcopal Church undertook to consecrate missionary bishops to preach the Gospel west of the settled areas, and Kemper was the first to be chosen. He promptly headed west. Having found that clergy who had lived all their lives in the settled East were slow to respond to his call to join him on the frontier, he determined to recruit priests from among men who were already in the West, and established a college in St. Louis, Missouri, for that purpose. He went on to found Nashotah House [an Episcopal Church seminary, noted for its 'high church' practices - ed.]  and Racine College in Wisconsin. He constantly urged a more extensive outreach to the Indian peoples, and translations of the Scriptures and the services of the Church into Indian languages. From 1859 till his death in 1870, he was bishop of Wisconsin, but the effect of his labors covered a far wider area.

Lord God, in whose providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land, and by his arduous labor and travel established congregations in scattered settlements of the West: Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission, and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Welcome To The 20th Century, England. Perhaps You'll Join Us Soon In The 21st.

Church of England approves of female bishops

For the record, while the C. of E. is sentimentally recognized as the "mother church", we have, for reasons that are clear to anyone familiar with U.S. history, not been under their leadership since...oh...1776 or so.  Still, we are siblings within the world-wide Anglican Communion.

We first elected a woman as bishop in 1989, so this really isn't big news for us.

It's Time For Strict Gig Bag Control Laws

Man arrested after musician gets mandolin case in face

Apps: The Marvel Of The Age

People who are worried about climate change emit far more carbon dioxide in their daily lives than the average American, according to data gathered by a new app that can track one’s carbon footprint.

An Unfortunate Change

Today's feminism teaches British women to see themselves as victims and victims cannot exist without a villain, in this instance – men. In order for this thesis to have any kind of logic, feminists have made sweeping, inaccurate judgments about an entire demographic, based on nothing more than their gender. Ironically, the exact practice they claim to be fighting.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Well, If That's What It Takes

Brain implant turned man into passionate Johnny Cash fan

PTSD has come to signify the moral, social and political suffering of war. But not all suffering is a mental illness.

Each scar is different

“At the mid-point of the path through life, I found Myself lost in a wood so dark, the way Ahead was blotted out.”

So what does the first Canto of The Divine Comedy have to teach us?

From The Most Interesting Of This Season's Graduation Speeches

The entire point of college is to be exposed to different things: Different types of people, different ideas—and maybe some of those people will hail from organizations that negatively impacted poor countries, or maybe they were partly responsible for a war that ate up the country’s resources and resulted in human rights abuses and lots of needless death. But if, at the end of your time as an undergrad, you haven’t learned that oftentimes you find great wisdom in [expletive] people, or just that there might be some value in hearing what someone you don’t like or respect might have to say, what on earth have you learned?

Certainly, that was the great advantage of the education I was able to receive.  I've been the better for it, too.

Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs

The conventional interpretation of this phenomenon is based on cognitive dissonance. When people have taken "irrevocable" actions in the service of a belief—given away all their property in anticipation of the saucers landing—they cannot possibly admit they were mistaken. The challenge to their belief presents an immense cognitive dissonance; they must find reinforcing thoughts to counter the shock, and so become more fanatical. In this interpretation, the increased group fanaticism is the result of increased individual fanaticism.

In other words when any social movement, be it political, environmental, or spiritual, reveals itself to be untrue or inaccurate, only the most radical and unhinged remain with it.

It's interesting to note that mainstream Christianity has never become a bastion of the angry and irrational, perhaps because we cannot be disappointed when our belief that is neither locked in the past nor dependent on a nebulous future.  We live for the now.

Summer's Early This Year

I say that because the newspapers have started their seasonal "shark attack" stories already.  For those who are new to The Coracle, we note annually how these are stories that are often pre-written, merely requiring the placement of names and location.  In other words, perfect for the time of year when half of the newsroom is on vacation at any given time.

Here's the first for 2014:

Shark attacks woman off Brevard coast

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The combination of the end of the academic year and the loss of a beloved member of my parish is taking me away from The Coracle for a few days.  New items will appear at the end of the week.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Feast Of Alcuin

May 19, 804: Alcuin of York, an English scholar who became an adviser to Charlemagne and the most prominent figure in the Carolingian Renaissance (the rebirth of classical learning under Charlemagne), dies. He also devised a handwriting system using both small and capital letters for easier reading.

His biography may be found at this link.

Almighty God, in a rude and barbarous age you raised up your deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth your eternal truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Excellent Words From Stephen L. Carter [An Episcopalian, BTW]

And, before I go any further, I would like to express my personal thanks to all of you for not rescinding my invitation. I know that matters were dicey for a while, given that I have held and defended actual positions on politically contested issues. Now and then I’ve strayed from the party line. And if the demonstrators would quiet down for a moment, I’d like to offer an abject apology for any way in which I have offended against the increasingly narrow and often obscure values of the academy. 

In my day, the college campus was a place that celebrated the diversity of ideas. Pure argument was our guide. Staking out an unpopular position was admired -- and the admiration, in turn, provided excellent training in the virtues of tolerance on the one hand and, on the other, integrity.

Your generation, I am pleased to say, seems to be doing away with all that. There’s no need for the ritual give and take of serious argument when, in your early 20s, you already know the answers to all questions. How marvelous it must be to realize at so tender an age that you will never, ever change your mind, because you will never, ever encounter disagreement! How I wish I’d had your confidence and fortitude. I could have spared myself many hours of patient reflection and intellectual struggle over the great issues of the day.

Guess The State

President James A. Garfield Monument burglarized, commemorative spoons stolen

Thursday, May 15, 2014

And Some Of Us Just Bonk Our Noses With Our Own Boards

He never forced anything. Never took more than the wave offered. If the face opened, he dipped and climbed. When the wave dwindled, he cut back to the source and banked off the foam. The other surfers had their own ideas about how a wave should be ridden, and sometimes their styles were beautiful to behold. But they could also appear awkward, unpleasing to the eye, jerking movements, hunched posture, stinkbug stance— unbalance. Because, somewhere in the beginning of their surfing lives, they’d formed the notion that waves were to be appropriated the same way trees are felled to make houses and oil is slurped to drive cars. Waves were out there to be stamped, conquered, tamed. Not so the old dude. His spirit animal was the dolphin, an organism in its rightful place, gliding within the given milieu. He balanced and moved from areas of high pressure to low, and, in doing so, was always one with the wave and wave with him.

McElroy, Jeff (2012-11-28). Californios: a surf noir collection (Kindle Locations 113-120). van Haitsma Literary. Kindle Edition.

In The New Religion Of Science, Questions Are Unnecessary

Neil deGrasse Tyson and the value of philosophy

Big money from grants and for television documentaries is much more likely to be received if the science one is espousing is "settled".  Philosophy, which challenges all beliefs, is the practice of questioning.  In such a "settled" world, as was once said in The Village, "Questions are a burden to others."

This Is True, As Anyone Who Has Observed A Star Wars Fan Can Attest

Why Myth Matters

Just wish they'd give true religion a chance sometime.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Demise Of The Intelligent Atheist

...we have reached a moment in Western history when, despite all appearances, no meaningful public debate over belief and unbelief is possible. Not only do convinced secularists no longer understand what the issue is; they are incapable of even suspecting that they do not understand, or of caring whether they do. The logical and imaginative grammars of belief, which still informed the thinking of earlier generations of atheists and skeptics, are no longer there. In their place, there is now—where questions of the divine, the supernatural, or the religious are concerned—only a kind of habitual intellectual listlessness.

Another Anti-Surfer Being Brought To Justice

A billionaire technology mogul testified that he didn't recall details about the decision to deny public access to a once-popular Northern California beach.

A personal account of the importance of this beach may be found at the Reading Water weblog.  It's an interesting world we live in when universities think that they can reduce free speech and foreign billionaires think they can own the ocean.

From The Stronghold Of Free-Thought That Is The Contemporary University

Professor bans students from thanking God in graduation statements

Update: Sensing the possibility of a whopping lawsuit based on its flagrant violation of the First Amendment, the university has corrected this assistant chemistry professor's errant, and wholly prejudicial, regard for protected expressions of faith.

Slowly, but perhaps surely, higher educators are learning that the entire United States is a free-speech zone.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Forget Google, Memorize Poems

Broadly speaking, we went from a 19th century notion of education as a combination of disciplining the mind and filling it with knowledge, to a modern notion of education as exploring, discovering, and practicing. What used to be called the "art of memory" fell by the wayside.

Marine Archaeological News

Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria

A Sensible Home Necessity: Bagged Fruit

Students Remember Lectures Better Taking Notes Longhand Than Using Laptops

The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. 'Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance,' says psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, lead author of the study.

Although, given the quality found in university lecture halls these days, why bother to take notes or even study?  Look up your professor's political and ideological affiliations on his/her Twitter and Facebook accounts, parrot their stance in your classroom comments and written assignments, and sit back and enjoy your "A".

If Campuses Really Were Places Of Open Discussion And Diverse Thinking...Ah, Never Mind

Student Alleges Prof Warned Ted Cruz-Teabaggers to Leave Class or go Home in Body Bag

It doesn't matter how you ideologically or politically self-identify; this is simply wrong.  Once again, we see university culture as one that permits only one perspective and reinforces it with threats of violence.

I've written earlier of how important and educational it was for me to be exposed to a variety of points-of-view when I was an undergraduate, but that was back when a four-year degree from a private, liberal arts college cost about $16,000.  Now that it costs over $100,000, there seems to be far less interest in the wildness and free-thinking that is required for true education.

Look at how naive this student is:

Gilbert said as a conservative student, she enrolled in the course to broaden her horizons and learn about the president from a perspective other than what she is normally exposed to, but dropped it after Madison’s remarks.

Broaden your horizons?  C'mon, kid.  Your job is to cough up a six-figure tuition to the college, pay interest to the government loan program and, beyond that, shut up.  Your just a student; you're not supposed to think.

Like Many Words In Our Orwellian Age, "Free" Seems To Have A Mutable Definition


Not Archaeology, But Still Pretty Neat

Central Park's 3500-year-old Egyptian obelisk has seen better days. Centuries of wear-and-tear have camouflaged the monument's ancient hieroglyphics, and now conservators are cleaning up with the help of high-powered lasers.

This is why the "squints" rather than the "diggers" are the ones in charge these day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thanks, Mom

She came to this country from Scotland to join with her already-arrived parents during Germany's torpedo war against merchant shipping, traveling alone on a passenger ship in the North Atlantic.  She was 14. She became the first woman in her family to graduate from college; then from graduate school.

As a teacher, she taught mainstream students and then, up until her 85th year, those judged "at risk" who would come to her classroom wearing court-mandated electronic ankle bracelets.

She made me go to church every Sunday, even after I was confirmed, and saw to it I became an acolyte who knew what he was doing.  When I was five, she made sure I learned how to swim at the local Y; then made sure, summer after summer, that we went down to the sea.  Jesus and Surf have been the twin themes of my life because of her.

She taught me how to fight for one's students and against impassive bureaucracies, as I watched her do when she was involved in local politics.  She is 4 feet, 11 inches of iron.  To this day, whenever I find myself encountering some diocesan martinet I think, "Do you really want to mess with me? I'm Mary Clements' son."

Friday, May 9, 2014

News From The City With The Strictest Gun Control Laws In The Country

15 wounded in shootings overnight in Chicago

I refer to my earlier comments.  Also and again, gun laws will not constrain or control those who live outside of common law; namely, criminals and lunatics.

Then again, there are these guys:

Police Shooting Frenzy Raises Concerns

I Don't Blame Him. It Cost Taxpayers $4300.

Saskatoon man angrily throws tarp over public art that consists of two large bundles of garbage

Actually, In The Examples, It Seems As If There's Always Been A Purpose. It's Just Not Specifically Defined.

The slow death of purposeless walking

[We made reference to "purposeless" walking as a meditative technique on Sunday.]

The Feast Of Gregory Of Nazianzus, 329-390

There are eight original "doctors of the church" in Christian history: Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Jerome of Strido, Gregory the Great (aka Pope Gregory I), Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom of Antioch and Constantinople, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus.  They formed the foundational theology for both the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople in the centuries before the Great Schism.

Today's feast is that of the latter Gregory, who was the bishop of Constantinople, a role which made him a kind of "pope" of the Eastern portion of Christianity.  There was much he accomplished during his life, mainly in suppressing the first true heresy of developing Christianity, and in composing the doctrine of the Trinity, a notion still much prized [or derided] for its inclusion and complexity.  His greatest literary effort, the Five Theological Orations, was still mandatory reading in seminaries in my day.  His legacy is that of an orderly academic discipline in the study of God's mission of salvation.

More of Gregory may be read here and here.

Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like your bishop Gregory of Nazianzus, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

Yeah, I Called This One

How the 'Jesus' Wife' Hoax Fell Apart 

In September 2012, Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King announced the discovery of a Coptic (ancient Egyptian) gospel text on a papyrus fragment that contained the phrase "Jesus said to them, 'My wife . . .' " The world took notice. The possibility that Jesus was married would prompt a radical reconsideration of the New Testament and biblical scholarship. 

Yet now it appears almost certain that the Jesus-was-married story line was divorced from reality. On April 24, Christian Askeland—a Coptic specialist at Indiana Wesleyan University and my colleague at the Green Scholars Initiative—revealed that the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife," as the fragment is known, was a match for a papyrus fragment that is clearly a forgery.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

By All Means, Bring Neither Thoughts Nor Beliefs To A Job Interview. If You're A Drone.

"I understand that religion is a major part of your life and that was evident in your recommendation letters, however, this field is not the place for religion,...We have many patients who come to us for treatment from many different religions and some who believe in nothing. If you interview in the future, you may want to leave your thoughts and beliefs out of the interview process."

Worcester Man Allegedly Caught Riding On Top of Moving Train While Wearing a Sombrero

He was also wearing a poncho, police said.

[I just liked the headline.  I never got stories like this when I was reporting.]

So, The Govt Ordered Me Not To Pray With Merchant Seamen And Vets Because Of The Sequester...

...and all it ever did was cost one, ONE, job?  I thought 1.5 million were to lose their jobs.  This news makes me glad that I ignored them.

Only one employee in the entire federal government lost a job due to sequestration, according to a government audit that found the only permanent cut came at the U.S. Parole Commission, which eliminated one position.

Not to mention turning those elderly vets away from outdoor memorials.  Nice folks in the govt.

The Feast Of Julian Of Norwich

Insomnia, from which I occasionally suffer, can be great when working on sermons or catching up on a variety of letters and notes that need to be processed. It's also good for catching that deer that's eating my rhubarb.

But around early afternoon, it can be a bit of a drag. Rather, I can be a bit of a drag by early afternoon. Insomnia usually causes word-retrieval issues, spontaneous bursts of laughter at nothing in particular, and a certain impatience with common foibles. Yesterday afternoon, after only three and a half hours of sleep the night before, I stifled a potentially debilitating giggle when a white colleague spoke of the importance of racial diversity while standing before a white-only crowd.  Professionally, it's best not to notice absurdity.

A partial list of well-known insomniacs includes Benjamin Franklin, Cary Grant, Catherine The Great, Charles Dickens, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Napoleon, and Marcel Proust. There are others, but I think their condition was created less by nature and more by pharmaceuticals. Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Vincent Van Gogh [he treated his mattress and pillow with poisonous camphor in order to induce sleep] come immediately to mind.

The most bizarre treatment for insomnia must have been Groucho Marx's, as he would spend the night randomly calling strangers on the phone and insulting them. I haven't tried that one yet.

One of Christian history's insomniacs, as well as a sufferer of migraine headaches [specifically, scintillating scotoma] was Julian of Norwich, whose feast day will be celebrated today. Appropriately, I'm writing this in the middle of the night because, well, it's three in the morning and I can't sleep. What better time to write of Dame Julian?

Actually, I should ask what better time to link to an article about Dame Julian, one of which may be found here.  Suffice it to say that she was one of the great mystics of the Anglican tradition and her story evocative of that portion of spirituality of which we seem rarely to speak these days. Given the volume of literature that has been produced about her and her visions, especially since the mid-20th century, it may be safe to say that she is the greatest of Anglican mystics.

Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"The World Is A Forest Of Mirrors"

Man Shot And Killed In Hartford's Fourth Homicide Of 2014

Ever heard the names Torrence Gamble Jr., Taijhon Washington, Kyle Brown-Edwards, Varnouard Hall, or Durell Patrick Law?  No?  They've all been killed this year in New Haven, another city in our state and the home of Yale University.  There are no make-shift memorials for them nor any trusts set up in their memories.  No t-shirts, no plaques, no city parks, no 5K footraces that bear their names.

I hear secular and church politicians speak about gun violence [and speak and speak...], but the only thing they've done in recent years is make it difficult for the law-abiding sportsmen and sportswomen of the state to purchase ammunition.  That does nothing; it saves no one.

Gun laws do not prevent gun violence.  By definition, criminals work outside of the law; hence the title "outlaw".  Laws such as these merely constrain the law-abiding.  Criminals will always have guns.  If I were of a more cynical nature, I would observe that, as the victims of gun violence in Connecticut are mostly young, black men, this does not seem to be a demographic that anyone in power deeply cares about.  Good thing I'm not more of a cynic.

I grew up in an urban neighborhood and taught in what used to be called an "inner-city" high school.  I've been the pastor of urban churches.  I've seen what violence does; I've also seen what creates it.  Do you want to know what would reduce gun violence?  First, secular and church politicians could do whatever is necessary to create jobs and skills training programs in their cities.  Second, social institutions would need to be encouraged, especially those of relevance to an urban population.

Unfortunately, the economic model of our state does not succeed in creating urban jobs as much as it does in creating dependency on federal and state aid; our social institutions are ignored or derided for not fitting into the political concern du jour.  Don't even get me started on the decay of religion-based social programs, something else that's been ignored by the state.

[Although, the mainstream Protestant churches have been willing to aid in their own demise.  When I was active in Hartford and the federal government was promoting "faith-based programming", I was discouraged by some of the diocesan leadership from allowing my church to participate as the programming was the product of a Republican administration.  Yeah, that was logical.  I ignored that advice, of course, and we were able to start a reading program for school-age children that boosted their ability to something closer to their grade level.  For my apostasy, I now abide in a rural corner of the state and get to preach to a whole sixty or seventy people on a good Sunday.  That doesn't really matter, though, as I know there are adults today who can read because of our efforts.]

Instead, non-criminal activity was made a felony through hastily written and ratified gun control laws, the politicians patted themselves on their backs for their "bravery", clergy continue to bore congregations with transient social concerns, mental health treatment and poverty-born futility continue to be ignored, and young, black men die.

When Early Peoples Worried About The Weather, They Were Being Superstitious

When we do it, it's because of Science!  See, we're better than they were.

My New Hero...Um...Heroine

Parents call cops on teen for giving away banned book; it backfires predictably

Millennial Observation Of The Week

Even a culture like ours — a culture dedicated to hedonism and relativism — has to put on a show every once in a while and pretend it has some semblance of a moral standard. It shows you that those philosophers and theologians were actually onto something when they wrote about Natural Law.

Creeping Totatlitarianism

Bikers banned from selling cupcakes at shooting range

"'Motorcycle clubs are not street gangs,' Foglio said. 'The bigger issue is profiling.' The Devil Dolls describe themselves as an 'outlaw motorcycle club.' Yet the members are business owners, veterans, single moms and women from 'all walks of life," Foglio said.'"

The worst thing one can do in contemporary America is challenge a stereotype and fail to fulfill a conventional narrative.  It makes people a little unhinged.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Antidote To Helicopter Parenting

Want to make sure your kid graduates from college? Money helps, as well as good grades — but so does having an involved father. In fact, we’re learning more about the importance of dads in all families, rich as well as poor.

Dartmouth: Home Of The Most Fragile Students In The Ivy League

Another ridiculous politically-correct brouhaha has broken out at Dartmouth College, America’s most hopelessly and disturbingly fragile Ivy League school.

This time, the fracas is over a fundraiser for cardiac care that the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Phi sorority had planned to jointly sponsor, reports Campus Reform.

Problems arose because a single student, junior Daniela Hernandez, was offended by the party’s theme of “Phiesta.”

As a result, the soiree, which was scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled by the presidents of the respective Greek organizations.

Well, it was only a fund-raiser for charity, after all.  It's not like it was as important as some student's feelings.  Here, kid, have a "sorry you were offended" trophy.

When The World Goes Mad, It Seems To Follow The Same Historical Pattern

Odessa Jewish community mulls emergency evacuation

Supreme Court rules prayer at town meetings is Constitutional

The Supreme Court said Monday that prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity.

A Particularly Good Article About Hospice Chaplaincy

Boston Globe: To the dying, spiritual caregivers can be godsend

Friday, May 2, 2014

Archaeological [Super] News

Cold War Spy-Satellite Images Unveil Lost Cities

This is remarkable.

Increasing Totalitarianism

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Jesus Sighting

Norco CafĂ© Owner Believes Jesus’ Face Appeared In Pancake

The Feast of Athanasius

May 2: Athanasius
Uphold your Church, O God of truth, as you upheld your servant Athanasius, to maintain and proclaim boldly the catholic faith against all opposition, trusting solely in the grace of your eternal Word, who took upon himself our humanity that we might share his divinity; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

To Paraphrase Shakespeare, I Could Drink Hot Blood

"A Veterans Affairs official accused of keeping double books to hide the fact that dozens of veterans died awaiting care previously ran a Washington state VA facility that allegedly fudged suicide numbers,..."

This is the part that really gets me:

"But veterans advocates said Helman's transfers are part of the government agency's pattern of shuffling officials around instead of holding them accountable. 

'This is not the first time that Sharon Helman has been involved in an incident involving manipulation of patient data,' said Pete Hegseth, chief executive officer for Concerned Veterans for America. 'She fudged the number of veterans suicides at a previous job — and was never fired. She just moved.'"

The worst thing that the Roman Catholic Church did with its "problem" clergy was move them around rather than confront the issue.  I'm surprised [not really] that the government does the same thing with its employees.

More From The Tolerant, Diverse Paradise Of Free Thinking That Is The Contemporary University

Another college, another "free-speech zone":

Hawaii college sued for stopping students from handing out Constitution

Once again, administrators have to be reminded that the entire United States is a free speech zone.

I wonder when higher education institutions are going to stop falling into obvious traps like this one? Perhaps after an expensive legal action or two.  As with the curious business at the University of Connecticut, it's much easier to let an outside organization spend a portion of a day standing with placards and handing out fliers than to create a scene that reveals the institution to be intolerant of open discussion or the promotion of free-thinking, not to mention woefully unaware of the guarantees in the Constitution.

Is this the result of creating a "participation trophy" generation?  Is the new role of higher education to present a narrow spectrum of ideology, label it as that which is the only correct point of view, then refuse to present, thoughtfully engage, or encourage consideration of any perspectives outside of those so labelled?

If so, that means college students are not only incapable of critical thinking, but that those skills are no longer valued in education.  Thus, the entire tradition of Western education, ranging back to Socrates, has now been significantly altered.  Well, neutered, really.

When I was a college student, I was encouraged to visit a variety of points-of-view and use my own judgement, guided by the wisdom of our faculty, to determine a workable ideology.  They never, ever, ever thought that their job was to "protect" me from conflicting perspectives.  They could hardly have been called educators if they did so.

This meant, of course, that I went through stages that now embarrass me somewhat.  In my youth, I was a socialist, an agnostic, a mild anarchist, the editor of an underground newspaper, an outspoken critic of Jane Austen [Horrors! for an English major], and a general pain-in-the-neck to authority figures.  I suppose that I engaged in "incorrect" thinking from time to time, but only to those of a near-Soviet mind-set.

And what was the result of this intellectual pilgrimage?  A successful career in education and a deep, abiding sense of faith.  What has made me a priest and, more importantly, a committed Christian, is that I was able to engage a rich variety of ideologies and beliefs and determine my own path through them.  I found agnosticism wanting, socialism naive, and anarchism to be juvenile; but I still don't care for Jane Austen.

I was also allowed to mature in my thinking, galvanized by experience and a lot of error.  What awaits these poor, wan college students who need to be protected by their professors from conflicting ideas and "outsiders"?  The world does not, cannot coddle anyone.  Sooner or later, there is an intellectual reckoning that should be realized in youth rather than the cusp of middle-age.

P.S.  A colleague made an interesting observation: "In the 1960s, college was affordable, faculty outnumbered administrators, and speech was free."  Welcome to the brave, new world of the 21st century.

The Best Thing In The New York Times [Save For The Obits, Of Course]

[No matter where one lives, the Mets take it on the chin time and again.]

Everyone Should Teach Writing

Yes, I advanced this idea myself when I was chairman of the English Dept. at Central High in Cleveland, back in 1980 [If you're doing math, you will note I was probably too young for this position, but what the hey.]  It was sound and logical and wildly ignored by all except...the English faculty.  And they had no choice.

Still, it's the best way to approach total education.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Psychotropic Drugs, Yet Again

‘He had ADHD and took strong medicine for it and had other things, too,’

Had a gun been used, the governor and our bishops would be all over the media.  Instead, a simple printed statement from the former and nothing from the latter; and still, the real culprits are unaddressed mental illness and over-reliance on brain-soaking meds.  Making it about guns is the morally lazy course, so naturally it's attractive to all types of politicians.

Archaeological News

Although I should note that this is the fourth theory about this that I've heard since I was 20.

Egyptians moved pyramid stones over wet sand

More From The Tolerant, Diverse Stronghold Of Free Thinking That Is The Contemporary University

Jewish NYU students hit with ‘eviction notes’ from pro-Palestine activists

Oh, this is good: "The notices – stealthily delivered in the dead of night by members of NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine – warned students at the Palladium Hall residence that their suites were scheduled for demolition."

Yeah, try starting an "NYU Students for Christian Witness" club and see how far you get.

Just Another Day In The Nutmeg State



Connecticut school seeks to break senior's prom date

Personally, I find that literalists are damaging to the "brand" of Christianity, making our religion seem obtuse and backward, especially to the un-informed majority outside of the faith who think this is representative of the entirety of our historic reality.  That being said, the reason I can openly practice my form of Christianity is because of the Constitution, a document that also guarantees freedom of speech.  I don't expect some plonking undergraduate atheist to understand this, but I expect more from a professor.

He does a pretty good ape impersonation, though.

I Understand Completely

British burglar, 58, breaks out of prison to escape incessant hip-hop music

In My Day, People Got Kicked Out For Not Wearing Pants

High school senior kicked out of prom for wearing pants

Over-Reliance On Technology Will Get Someone Killed

Due to license plate reader error, cop approaches innocent man, weapon in hand

And again:

Cops apparently ended up making an actual arrest, two doors down. Hunter says they left her tied up when they went down the hall to make that arrest. No drugs were found in Hunter's home, but her address is the one that appeared on the warrant. A woman in the house where the arrest was made suggested someone mixed up Apartments E and G, the two that cops visited.

Archaeological News: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Remote surveillance to monitor 'uncontacted' Brazilian tribes

It's Not About Logic

It's about control.

A new bill making its way through the Connecticut legislature would ban daycare centers and home childcare providers from serving whole milk or 2% milk to the kids in their care. Setting aside for a moment the sheer lunacy of the proposed law's premise, I'd like to point out that it's also based on an incredibly faulty understanding of nutrition.

After all, this is a state that responded to its severe lack of public funding for family mental health support by almost making me a felon for owning an empty box made of cheap metal that was a half-inch longer than they think it should be.  [If I have confused you, what I'm saying is that I used to own a magazine for a rifle that held more than ten rounds of ammunition.  It held eleven.  It is a class D felony in Connecticut to own such a thing, as empty metal boxes are worthy of more serious attention than mental health.]

P.S. Rather than stand in line in the cold of winter waiting for a half-hearted state police trooper to give me the paperwork to register my empty metal box, I just threw it in the trash.  So, if you're reading this, Big Brother, please don't send a SWAT team to my house.