Friday, April 6, 2012

My Take on the News: Triduum; Oops; and Assumptions

Today is Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord: and a very big deal for me. It's also another day when I give my take on the news. I wrote two 'unscheduled posts' yesterday, about why this long weekend is so important; and what I think of a sort of prudishness about religious matters:
That SNAFU at Stall Brook Elementary School, looney as it was, may be turning out better than I'd expected. As of yesterday afternoon:
"The superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools released a statement Wednesday stating that students will now be allowed to sing or not sing 'God Bless the USA' during an upcoming assembly at Stall Brook Elementary School.

" 'Political correctness is certainly a consideration in the public sector,' Superintendent Edward Fleury wrote in a statement posted on the district's website....
(Todd Starnes. Fox News Radio (April 5, 2012))
Now, my take on part of this week's news:
  1. Triduum: Three Days That are Changing the World
  2. U.S. Justice Department: 'Oops, Never Mind'
  3. Catholics Don't Matter?

1. Triduum: Three Days That are Changing the World

"Let Easter Triduum transform you, Pope tells faithful"
David Kerr, CNA/EWTN News (April 4, 2012)

"In the final few days of Holy Week, Catholics should recognize that Christ's love for them is shown by 'the total gift of himself on the cross,' said Pope Benedict XVI.

" 'Let us allow ourselves to be touched by this love, to be transformed, so that the resurrection may really be realized in us. I invite you, therefore, to live the Paschal Triduum intensely, and I wish you all a Holy Easter!' the Pope said on April 4....

"...Exploring the scriptural texts that will be used over those three days, the Pope explained how St. John's Gospel describes those days in the life of Jesus as his 'hour.'..."
The word "Triduum" reminds me of action/adventure comics and cartoons - where it could be a misspelling of "Tri-doom," which sounds like a more-than-commonly-unrealistic three-part weapon: maybe because I've seen the Japanese space-western "トライガン / Trigun."

Triduum predates comic books, and pretty much everything else in my native culture. It's Latin, and means "three days:" in this context, the three days from Thursday evening to Sunday evening.

There's nothing startlingly new in what the Pope said: just the same radical, life-changing message the Church has been passing along for about two millennia now. This isn't a democracy, where we could vote on a referendum to repeal part of the Decalogue, or replace God with Elvis, the Beatles, and John Denver. And that's another topic. Topics

People, Perfection, and Progress

I suppose I could complain that we still, after two thousand years, don't have a perfect society. I won't.

I think efforts to create a utopian society have all run into the same problem: no matter what rules or philosophies we use, a utopian society is still stuck with human beings. Like it says in Job 5:6,7: where you've got humans, you've got trouble.

Besides, I think there's been a little improvement. Slavery, for example, is illegal in some places now: although it took more than a century - and a major war - to sort that mess out in this country. Yet more topics, and I've been over this sort of thing before. (February 2, 2009)

2. U.S. Justice Department: 'Oops, Never Mind'

"US Justice Department drops case against sidewalk counselor"
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (April 4, 2012)

"The U.S. Department of Justice dropped its case against a pro-life sidewalk counselor and agreed to pay $120,000 for the lawsuit after a federal judge ruled that the case should never have been brought to court.

" 'I think this sends a strong message that pro-lifers will not be intimidated into silence,' said Mathew Staver, founder the nonprofit group Liberty Counsel, which represented sidewalk counselor Mary Susan Pine.

"Staver told CNA on April 3 that from the very beginning, the case against Pine was weak.

"Department officials claimed that she had violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law by preventing a car from accessing the Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. on one occasion in Nov. 2009...."
In this case, it looks like you can fight city hall: and win. I think it helped that the U.S. Department of Justice had a 'weak case.'

I also think it helps that word gets around faster these days - and folks who aren't part of the establishment have options other than saying 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir.' I've posted about this sort of thing before, too:
I suspect that the folks in the U. S. Department of Justice who went after Mary Susan Pine were sincere. But I don't think they were right.
More posts about forcing Catholics to violate our conscience:
The Department of Health and Human Services vs. Conscience


"...Staver explained that the allegations centered around Pine walking up to an approaching car, whose passengers stopped, rolled down the window, accepted literature from her and proceeded on their way to the abortion clinic.

"U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. asserted that 'various persons are being, have been, and will continue to be injured' by Pine's conduct...."
Thinking that people are "injured" by being given information sounds crazy: but I grew up in this culture, and think I understand why someone in America's Department of Justice said that. Viewing knowledge as "injury" relies on a few assumptions:
  1. Human beings
    • Start being people when they've reached a certain age
    • May live if they're sufficiently
      • Healthy
      • Useful
      • 'Wanted'
  2. A woman
    • Should be free to kill her children
      • If she
        • Feels like it
        • Is told to by her
          • Husband
          • Boyfriend
          • Professor
          • Doctor
          • Whatever
      • And the child isn't a "person"
        • Using the guidelines in point 1
    • Is hurt if she questions any of the above points
If I'd presented those ideas differently, they might have sounded 'compassionate.' (March 16, 2012)

I don't think innocent people should be killed: and I think all human beings are people. (April 5, 2012)

3. Catholics Don't Matter?

"Obama policies may be effort to court non-religious voters"
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (April 3, 2012)

"Recent policies by the Obama administration that have isolated many American Catholics may be part of an election strategy to reach out to non-Christian and non-religious voters, says one political scientist who specializes in Catholic research.

" 'I don't think his campaign is really worried about "winning" the Catholic vote,' said Mark M. Gray, director of Catholic polls for Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

"Gray explained in a March 29 blog post that President Obama may be willing to risk losing the Catholic vote as he works to build support among those who are not Christian or not religious at all...."
I think what Mark M. Gray wrote may be very close to the mark, explaining why the Obama administration seems to be trying to grab control of religious practice in America. Or maybe America's current leadership may simply not understand religion.

I've gotten the impression that for many of America's 'better sort,' religion is something one may do for an hour on the occasional Sunday, but which one does not allow to interfere with 'real life.' Not if one is a sane, sensible, 'intelligent' person.

That attitude might make sense, if the high-profile 'religious' folks we're shown in the news were typical of people who take their faith seriously:

(Reuters photo, via, used w/o permission)

That "God hates you" lot are not, in my considered opinion, typical Christians. As I've said before, I don't even think they're typical American Protestants. But folks of that ilk are loud, they're colorful, and they get a lot of attention in traditional media.

Then there's the Catholic Church. I'm about as sure as I can be that some of the world's 1,100,000,000 or so living Catholics are not particularly sensible. But the Church itself? For two millennia now, the Catholic Church has been - - - not much like the media's 'religious' stereotype. I've quoted Fulton Sheen on this general topic before. Recently. (March 28, 2012)

(The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, used w/o permission)

Catholics, Statistics, and Change

"...A recent analysis by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate estimated that there will be approximately 55.6 million Catholics in the voting-age population for the 2012 election.

"Seventy-nine percent of these Catholics live in 16 states that offer a combined 306 Electoral College votes.

"These states create a significant target for candidates, who need 270 Electoral College votes to win the race.

"The high concentration of Catholic voters in heavily weighted states means that the Catholic vote could be critical in the upcoming election.

"In addition, key battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin are estimated to have more than 1 million voting-age Catholics each. In the contested states of New Hampshire and New Mexico, Catholics accounted for more than one-third of the vote in the 2008 election.

"However, according to a February analysis released by the Pew Research Center, Catholics in the U.S. have shifted away from the Democratic Party since the 2008 election...."
Catholics often voted for Democrats during the 20th century, and had reasons for doing so. But it's not the 20th century any more.
More posts about forcing Catholics to violate our conscience:
The Department of Health and Human Services vs. Conscience

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.