Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me"

On the radio this morning, I heard the morning lady describe the effect on the Boston Marathon bombings on her little girl.  The child was worried, asking questions like "Why would someone do this?"  Naturally, the parents reassured her that she was safe at home and nothing bad would happen to her.

But one phrase really made me wince: the lady said she and her husband hadn't told the little girl about this when it first happened on Monday.  Actually, they'd tried not to tell her at all, but the news was everywhere and finally the child realized that something bad had happened and began to ask questions, which had to be answered.

"We'd hoped we wouldn't have to tell her about things like this," said the mother.

Twelve years after 9/11, and this is how we've employed the time: by studiously ignoring unpleasant reality and hoping that terrorism would just float harmlessly over our heads and never land on earth to damage us.  When the news reports ground into action again on Monday, I couldn't even feel shock anymore.  All I could think was, "Well, I guess we're just going to replay the last 12 years again, because we've done absolutely nothing to produce a different result from what occurred on 9/11/01"

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Did you think it would be like this?

That's the question I'd like to ask today's pro-abortion cheerleaders, who are lashing themselves to the mast to defend the bloody abattoir run by "Dr." Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia.

As they lean ever more stubbornly against the galewinds of horror rising furiously from that bloodsoaked outpost of Hell, I'd like to know if their minds go back to the days of their youth.

When they were smart, progressive college students, with all the energy of youth before them for crusades for peace and justice, did they ever think they would end up like this?  When they were passionately marching and speaking and arguing for abortion rights, did they imagine that it would bring them to this day?  Did they honestly think the time would come when their convictions would land them here - swinging shovels at the despised conservative enemy while trying to keep their footing on a shuddering, slimy heap of decomposing, shredded body parts?

There must have been people like this in Germany in 1940, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1945.  Guys who signed up for the easy stuff in the 30s because they were kids, it was fun and everyone else was doing it - nature walks, civic beautification, campfires, group bonding.  How many perfectly natural steps led them through the darkening tunnel until there they were marching toward the Russian front, or guarding trainloads of prisoners.  And some of them must have wondered, "How the hell did I get here?"

I don't think most people become evil through a conscious, deliberate decision.  Satan says "Evil, be thou my good," but I don't believe many humans do.  I think most people end up living lives of evil this way - small, gradual steps, with a declining gradient hardly visible to the naked eye.  Until they get to this point, and would rather fight than look back that long, tilted path and admit that they never would have come this way if they'd known what it would be like. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Margaret Thatcher has died

I knew she'd been ill for some time, but I was so sorry to hear that Margaret Thatcher had died yesterday morning.  I had the radio on for much of the day, and the coverage was constant.  Henry Kissinger paid tribute to her, and I thought to myself that he must be almost the last of the great names from that era who's still alive. 

Among one of the items I heard on the radio was a CTV interview with Brian Mulroney.  He was very appreciative of Mrs. Thatcher, and spoke about how honoured they'd been to be invited to give eulogies at Ronald Reagan's funeral.  He said that when they were watching her pre-recorded address (she'd taped it the year before, because her faculties were already being worn down by dementia) she said to him (they were sitting together) "Bron, I've gone on too long."  He told her not at all, he'd have liked to hear her say more.  I wondered if she was really speaking only of the speech, or if it was a reflection on having LIVED too long.  I hope not - maybe she was only thinking that her speech could have been shorter.

He said another thing I remember:  that she worked tremendously hard to keep herself informed and educated on every topic she dealt with, even if it required staying up to 3:00AM studying documents.  At every conference, said Mulroney, she was always the best-prepared, "and she had the smallest entourage.  Just one or two aides, and Margaret."

What a telling contrast between the bumptious nobody Obama and his endless train of lackeys trotting and frisking about him.  

Obama's personal security staff itself will be huge, and it has already started making its own arrangements in Mumbai. "A team of secret service agents has already arrived, and has surveyed the areas of his stay and the roads and places on his itinerary," the officer said.
To ensure fool-proof security, the President's team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked.
The officer said, "Obama's contingent is huge. There are two jumbo jets coming along with Air Force One, which will be flanked by security jets. There will be 30 to 40 secret service agents, who will arrive before him. The President's convoy has 45 cars, including the Lincoln Continental in which the President travels."

Mark Steyn writes often about the royal pretensions of the supposedly egalitarian Americans, but this story of the imperial progress through India is the one that I always remember. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Very big news

The big event right now is that I'm moving to a new job! The Green Shoots composting program I started last year to provide some employment for Thomas and a few other special-needs young adults has been a success, and is going to be taken over by a new program called the WAVE program, and they want me to come and work for them!

I know the teacher who has been working on getting it up and running; my project is going to be one of the worksites that will be providing some employment for autistic graduates, and I'll be working as a job coach. I'll be taking small groups of the kids ("apprentices" is how they're called) and supervising them as they do the work. Some may be able to graduate to working with minimal supervision, while others will have to have someone with them all the time.

But what's important is that they'll have something to look forward to once they graduate. Too often, they just stay at home with nothing to do. We're going to start with a small number of kids and job positions, and then more will arrive in September once they've graduated from highschool. I'm hoping we can branch out and start up another composting program at another school, or perhaps even at Algonquin College nearby. It's all very exciting and happening very quickly.

My last day driving for Direct Transportation will be Friday. The one thing that made me hesitate about giving up my driving job was that someone else would have to drive James to school, and I'm just so worried that nobody else can do it. His teacher said that they'd make it work somehow; ALL the kids in the Autism Unit have some sort of behavioural issues, and yet they all get to school, so James can too. I thought I'd better start preparing him for the change, so last week I started very tentatively:
Me: James, you're going to have a surprise.
James:  Surprise.
Me: You're going to have a new driver. Mommy is going to stay home, and you'll go to school with a new driver.
James: New driver! New driver, new bus! Goodbye, blue bus! Easter, and then new driver! Next week, and then new driver!
He's been jabbering about the new driver ever since. So much for the wrenching separation - he can't wait to see the last of me! I've had to stall him, in fact, because I gave a proper 2-weeks notice, and he couldn't understand why he couldn't have the new driver the very next day. This always happens; I'm convinced that I'm indispensible, that NOBODY else can do my job, and then I find that I'm quite easily replaced. I guess I want to be the one who does things that nobody else in the world can do. Oh well, I sure do hope he adjusts well to another driver. He's older now that when I started driving him, and not quite as volatile at 18 as he was at 14.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Compare and contrast

I don't mean to brag or anything, but read this article in yesterday's Ottawa Sun, and tell me, which representative comes across better: the Anglican chick or the Catholic bishop?

Both were asked the same questions, and look at how evasive and gassy the Canon Ascah's responses are, compared to Bishop Prendergast's:

SUN: What kind of changes have you seen, in terms of the number of Ottawans involved, in the Anglican Church in the last 10 to 20 years? Has there been a noticeable difference (higher/lower) in the number of people involved with the church?

Reverend Canon Catherine Ascah: Over the past 10 to 20 years, it's fair to say that numbers have plateaued. Christ Church Cathedral has always been strong in terms of the congregation. Cathedrals are unique that way.

Archbishop Prendergast: The urban parishes tend to have better results in drawing young people; in some of the rural parishes many of the young have left for school so the congregations tend to be composed of mainly older people which, at times, are not as attractive for younger people. However, there are exceptions and some of our rural parishes are developing stronger links with elementary and high school students.

The difficult challenge is to engage the "new evangelization" which means approaching those in their 30s to 60s who have ceased practicing their faith (they sometimes describe themselves as spiritual but not religious and are numerous enough that they are referred to as SBNRs) to "come home", renew their faith or otherwise interest themselves in the gospel message they no longer have time for. This is our biggest challenge and we are only now beginning to address it.

ALL the questions are answered the same way: Ascah speaks in generalities, Prendergast sounds as if he's actually met the people he talks about. Wherever possible, the Anglican turns the conversation to her cathedral, her little personal fiefdom, which is a solitary success story in the midst of a languishing diocese. It's the difference between a shrinking, stunted, parochial organization and one that still sees itself as part of a larger, continuing body.

Screaming paranoia

One last thing (really, because there are only so many ways you can say "We're doomed!").  I wasn't going to mention this because I was sure it was just my own imagination getting carried away.  But lo and behold, here's the New York Times publishing a piece that actually outdoes me:
As Francis’ papacy lengthens, the reasons for Benedict’s eventual seclusion inside the Vatican become clearer.

It is, Vatican experts said, a solution that not only provides a secure environment for Benedict, but also effectively avoids setting up a power center rivaling the Vatican. And it discourages any following that could coalesce around the pope emeritus in a church mindful of painful schisms that have shaken it at important moments in its history.
Now that resignation from the papacy has been resuscitated as an option after 600 years, the Vatican is no doubt concerned about setting precedents, said Alberto Melloni, the director of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna.
“You couldn’t have the pope in a German convent where he could become a pole of attraction for those faithful reluctant to accept his resignation,” Mr. Melloni said.

I actually mentioned this to Dean, but as I said, I figured it was just a bit of exaggerated suspicion.  In any case, these days it wouldn't be necessary for Benedict to be physically located someplace where a rival power base could form; the internet makes it possible for dissidents to coalesce even if they're scattered around the world.  But even I didn't imagine what comes later in this article:
The Vatican has rejected any prospect of meddling by Benedict. But concern remains among some cardinals, Vatican officials and church experts.  
“There is a duality, and even if the old pope says he will retire from the world, he will be an awkward presence,” said Roberto Rusconi, a church historian at Third University of Rome.  
But he dismissed the possibility of a new schism like the one that occurred with the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378. Afterward, one pope lived in Avignon, France, and another in Rome. Such divides were fomented by secular rulers, he said, with the dueling popes each claiming legitimacy.  
Even so, he said, better to keep Benedict inside the Vatican — in its own way a prison of sorts, like any cloistered convent — because not everyone might resist asking the old pope’s opinion. Professor Rusconi added, “That just can’t happen.”
Wow. Not just "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" but a sort of Spandau confinement for the previous pope. If anything could galvanize opposition to the new regime, that would be it.

Chesterton: "A Sneer Against Medievalism"

"One of the queerest and most nonsensical of modern notions is that the worship of simplicity is one in which there can be no hypocrisy.  It is the notion that nothing can be sailing under false colours, so long as they are primary colours....

Such people seem to forget that there can be corrupt motives leading to the Simple Life as well as to the Scriptures or the Sacraments; and that there are Socialists who betray Socialism as well as Christians who betray Christianity.  It is certainly not by becoming Puritans that we can make certain of not being Pharisees.  For that matter, it is not even by being Early Christians that we can make certain of not being Simon Magus or Judas Iscariot.  No creed or philosophy, simple or complex, ancient or modern, can be altogether free from the peril of being employed for ends of venality or vanity."

G. K. Chesterton

Something is very wrong

One thing that really gives me the creeps about the Francis triumphalists in the Catholic blogosphere is their complete separation from reality when it comes to their hero's reception by the secular world, especially the press.  They insist that "the usual suspects", i.e., the press, immediately rose like a Herodian swarm to destroy and devour the newborn papacy of Francis I.  As proof, they offer one hoary story about being on the wrong side during the Argentinian military dictatorship.  The suspicion was no sooner raised than it was debunked and dropped, and in the New York Times, no less, but the pope's cheerleaders still fancy themselves as plucky Davids engaged in dramatic combat with a hulking, malevolent Goliath.

In truth, the press coverage of Francis has been almost uniformly positive.  He's enjoying nearly Obama-level approval from the New York Times and the Washington Post.  Their pages for over 2 weeks have been filled with bubbly reports of his heartwarming simplicity and humility, usually set against pointedly disapproving comparisons of his predecessor, to show him to greater advantage.  It could hardly be plainer that the press and the left think he's one of them.  But it's too uncomfortable for Catholics to look around and recognize that they're now allies with those who have always been the enemy, so they keep pushing on a now-open door and pretend that nothing has changed.

Except for a few perfunctory "Of course I loved Pope Benedict, too" disclaimers at the very beginning (which have pretty much disappeared by now), Francis's cheerleaders have gone along with this distorted media campaign.  In what is practically a repeat performance of Obamamania, Catholic blogs like Little Green Catholics and even The Anchoress have thrown themselves giddily into a brainlessly emotional enthusiasm over a blank slate, filling the spaces with their own fantasies and wish-lists.  Like the Peggy Noonans and David Frums of the right, they've spent the last few weeks furiously digging themselves into their entrenched positions, and thrown themselves into aiming their artillery on their former allies who are now reviled as pharisaical mugwumps too hidebound by tradition to recognize the time of their visitation.  (Though Elizabeth Scalia has shown some signs of sobering up.)

I think it's worrisome when people don't recognize when they're living in a fantasy world.  It was a bad sign when people couldn't see the truth about Obama and actively resisted accepting it.  It's just as bad now when they won't recognize a song half-sung from the Vatican.