Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The President and Homosexual Marriage

Hoo boy... Well, this will probably make unpopular with a number of people. As long as I tick people off on both sides I'm good, right?

As to our dear leader's recent statement that he is for the legalization of gay marriage:

He has a right to his opinion. Do I think he's wrong? Absolutely. However, it's not like this is a big shock to anybody, it's probably better that he not beat around the bush. That being said, will that be the new stick? Vote Obama or you're a homophobe? Who knows.

As to the rightness or wrongness of legalizing "homosexual marriage"... There are basically three positions I see in this issue: (1) Yes Gay Marriage is fine, legalize it; (2) no Gay Marriage is not fine, ban it; (3) the government shouldn't be dictating marriage laws, regardless of my opinions on Gay Marriage. Given the current government we have, this specific government, I am relatively (80~90%) convinced that three is the only tenable position to hold.

As to the first, the legalization of gay marriage has already driven the most successful institutions in the foster care industry out in many states (i.e. Catholic Charities). Legalizing gay marriage means that not fostering to homosexual couples is an illegal discrimination, forcing a religious institution to violate its tenants or get out. Yeah... We really want to be in that place again...

The second option is favored by many conservatives, but remember that one of the big reasons for the government to issue marriage licenses was to prevent interracial marriage. If we give the government it's head now and say that it has the right to dictate who can and cannot get married, what is to prevent an expansion of that in the future? More than that, given that some religions (e.g. certain brands of Mormonism) permit and even promote plural marriage, is that not prohibiting free exercise?

The third option is to my mind not ideal, but the best option that limits the scope of the government's power to interfere in out lives. Consider, if gay marriage was legalized, how long would it be before the Catholic Church (or protestant churches who consider homosexuality to be disordered) started to be attacked? How long before the law suits against Catholic (and other) business owners who weren't comfortable contracting for the marriage ceremonies of people whose marriages they considered unnatural?

How long before the government decides to start using marriage licenses as a carrot and stick in a bigger social engineering program?

No amount of legislation is going to prevent homosexual fornication, just as no amount of it has prevented heterosexual fornication. Laws are not the issue here: the sickness is in our culture, and it I'm not just talking about homosexuality.

But therein lies a major problem in what many conservatives seem to be arguing for, and the reason why they are so easily contradicted on this issue. While "tu quoque" (you too! - pointing out hypocrisy) is a fallacy and does not disprove an argument, holding a position while acting in a manner contrary makes you very unconvincing, and is like building on sand.

Conservatives have no room to decry "homosexual marriage" while they treat marriage in general with contempt and scorn. While they contracept their marriages, they have no foundation. While they live together and fornicate before marriage so that the wedding is a formality, they have no foundation. While they marry and divorce each other on a whim, treating it as no more binding that a junior high relationship, they have no foundation.

Our country needs a strong foundation, and that foundation is the family. The family has always been the foundation of society, it existed before society, and it will persevere through the dissolution of society. To be sure, the "homosexual marriage" movement threatens that foundation, and needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the people arguing against "homosexual marriage" have been complicit in undermining that same foundation from which they are attempting to stop unnatural marriage.

Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Apparently Nigeria is Doomed

Wow. Just wow. This post starts the "Quid Gehenna?" tag, where I will put sundry issues that make me look like this:

I just read a rather discomfiting article over at Crisis Magazine. Take a sec, go read it so that we're on the same page, then get back over here for some musings.

Back already? Fantastic. Let's go.

So, I'm confused. Those accursed moderns have gone and befuddled me again. Apparently, voting against Barack Obama (The Promised One©®™) clearly means you must be racist (because he's black, and you noticed, didn't you, you racist, hate-mongering such and such!), but encouraging the entirety of Africa to curb its population (because apparently there are too many Africans? Or something? What?) is totally A-Okay.

Because that makes sense.

What's the real reason, New York Times (Hell's Bible©®™)?

Oh what's that you say? It's illegal immigration? It's that their are ~400,000 undocumented Africans living in America?

Whoa whoa whoa... Hold up. Aren't these the same people who are calling Republicans racist for having the audacity to believe that only citizens of the United States should be allowed to vote in elections of the self same constitutional, federated republic? Aren't these the same people who accuse anyone who even talks about having secure borders or any reform of immigration laws that aren't just amnesty racist hate mongers? The same people who don't bat an eyelash at over 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants already here from places other than Africa?

Just to recap our math, 11 million is 27.5 times 400,000.

Now, to clarify, you should really read what I think about immigration (legal and not) here. But the thing is, I don't think that this is really an immigration problem, and I don't think that the New York Times thinks it is either.

I can't help but feel that the article in question is a creepy revival of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick (a.k.a. A Modest Proposal), except that they forgot that Swift's work was a satire.

Get in my belly!!!

For those of you unfamiliar with the work, Swift's (modest) proposal was that to free themselves of economic woe, the Irish should sell their children as food for the upper classes. After all, there are too many mouths to feed, and not enough food. Makes sense, right?

Which brings us back to the New York Times article in question. The problem with satire, is that some poor fool will inevitably take you at face value and think to themselves, Say, I think he's on to something there...

I guess the only way to eliminate poverty and make sure that we don't overpopulate the planet is to get rid of the poor, right?

It takes a special kind of mental dishonesty to on the one hand criticize America and the West for its intrusion into other regions and countries, while on the other hand doing exactly the same thing in an effort to prevent... wait, what are we preventing? Oh that's right, non-white, "third world" babies who may grow up to be poor. Oh well, I guess I should be happy that the New York Times isn't suggesting we eat them.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

On Immigration

I. LOVE. Immigration.

My great grandmother (my mother's mother's mother) was born in Nebraska from parents who emigrated from Austria. I saw a scan of my great-great-grandfather's signature getting off the ship in New York City!!!

This country is a country of immigrants, was founded and built on the backs of immigrant labor and ingenuity. Immigration is fantastic!

I. LOVE. My. Country.

Quote all the Robert Frost you want, in a world where blood-thirsty thugs want to kill us and destroy our way of life, good fences make good neighbors.

Strict immigration policies that limit the influx of convicted criminals and those who would do us harm make us safer from those who thought that crashing airplanes into civilian targets was a good start.

Can these two beliefs coincide?

Yes, borders need to be secure, but we also need to respect the dignity of the person, and of the family. Neither our current immigration policy nor the draconian or laissez-faire alternatives most commonly proposed come even close to doing a good job of either, let alone both.

Is amnesty without change the answer? Massive deportation?

No, but our current quota-based system is inhuman, capricious, and cruel.

Illegal immigration is a problem. It is, and saying that it isn't doesn't make it go away, and it doesn't make the millions of undocumented immigrants go away either, nor does it help them get right with our laws so that they can have their shot at the American Dream.

So that we are all aware, I said what I meant. Immigration (act) can be illegal. Immigrants (people) can lack the proper legal documentation. Undocumented immigrants have committed illegal immigration. The current "'merica" label of "illegal immigrant," or "illegal alien" is nonsensical, and offensive. People can't be illegal.

So what are we to do? The vast majority of immigrants (legally here and not) are looking for the land of opportunity, the chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. On the other hand, our prisons house a mind-boggling number of felons who aren't even citizens - violent offenders, rapists, drug dealers, gang bangers, murderers, all of them here illegally. How do we protect ourselves while still being the land of opportunity?

I wish I had an easy answer. I don't know that there are any in this situation, but here is what I would pursue, were I in authority.

I. Secure the Border Our borders, northern and southern (yes, terrorists have snuck in through Canada) should be guarded. By the National Guard. That's what they're here for, right? To defend the homeland? Build walls, and fences, and well staffed crossing points and relatively frequent intervals.

II. Eliminate the Quotas There is no excuse to limit the number of people entering our country by some arbitrary bean-counting bureaucrat's quota. Not in my America. If we can't compete with immigrants who are playing by the same rules we are, then we need to step up the game.

III. Streamline the Paths to Citizenship Keep It Simple Stupid should be the motto of the naturalization process. Work visas, visitor visas, and easy paths to citizenship. Maybe start a sponsor system to farm out the work of keeping tabs on low-risk newcomers. Make military service a path to citizenship; go through basic training and serve 5 years in active duty, and you and your family are citizens (or at least fast-tracked). Die in combat and your family is granted citizenship. Worked for the Romans.

IV. Kick Out the Felons Why are we feeding and sheltering felons who aren't even citizens of this country? I can't say that every felonious crime deserves this (as I don't have the list of felonies memorized), but certainly violent crimes deserve a restart to square one.

V. Naturalize Those Already Here By the last count I saw, there are well over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. If the humane argument doesn't convince you (breaking up families &c.), then realize that pragmatically, there are too many people to kick out. We're in enough debt already, and many of those people are tax paying non-citizens (didn't know that, did you?). A fine, a slap on the wrist, restitution if they destroyed someone's credit through identity theft, and then path to citizenship.

Immigration is a complicated issue, to be sure, but not so complicated as to justify inhuman treatment. Thou shalt not molest a stranger, nor afflict him: for yourselves also were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Condescending King

I had a thought recently (well, many, but we'll stick with this one for now...) that being Catholic is a truly marvelous thing. The particularly beautiful thing to me right now is simple: perspective.

Perspective is important. In the old parable of the four blind men and the elephant, none of the men knew the whole picture - they didn't have perspective. They were caught in the immediate and the immanent, and so the big picture was lost to them. How easy it is to fall into the same trap, and would that being Catholic were enough to inoculate and defend against it! Yet today I am grateful for one particular perspective which the Catholic Church offers, and has offered for two millennia.

The film Dogma1 popularized the statue of "Buddy Christ," whose disarming grin and winning thumbs up grace the top of this post. This statue was introduced in the movie to revamp the Church's image, to be more hip and modern. It also seems to be the icon of "new" christianity. Smile! Jesus loves you! Everyone's okay just as they are, and don't you dare judge anything they do because Jesus said judging was bad, and that's just who they are and Jesus loves everyone!

There's a wishy-washy component to much of "modern" Christianity (conservative and progressive alike) which can tend to see Christ almost exclusively in His humanity, or as a good teacher. There are some (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) who go so far as to allow Christ to be in some way equated to Mohammed or the Buddha - prophets and teachers. I even heard a regularly Mass-going Catholic state that Jesus's purpose for coming to the world was to teach.

The thing is, there's a scandal in christianity. There's a deep dark secret that we are so ashamed of, that we don't talk about because it makes us nervous around our hip friends. Jesus isn't like the Buddha. Jesus isn't like Mohammed. He is not some really good man who said very holy things and lived a holy life and was nice to everyone.

He. Is. God.

But Jeremiah, "You call me Rabbi, and Lord, and rightly so..."
Yes, I know.
My problem with this thought, this simplification to the Good Teacher is not so much that it is wrong about His teaching, but that it fails to give us the proper perspective.

So the challenge is this: Is your Christ a friend who happens to be King, or a King who has stooped down to become one with you?

The reason that the Catholic Church builds beautiful Cathedrals, Basilicas, Shrines, and Grottos, the reason why she captures the history of salvation in gorgeous stained glass to make it accessible to the illiterate, the reason why she commissions statues and icons and paintings and music, is because we have a condescending God King. Condescension - "with to come down."

We sacrifice,
build beautiful temples to His glory,
bow down and kneel before Him,
because this... ...became this... ...for the sake of a slave.

That Jesus Christ is King of the Universe is undeniable, and may every knee in heaven, on earth, and below the earth bend, and let the earth tremble in the presence of her King.

That Jesus Christ is the intimate friend and brother of any and all who come to Him is undeniable, and what a friend we have in Jesus! What a kinship, that we should be adopted into His family!

But is He friend first, or king first?

It matters.

[1] Dogma (1999) - a horrible waste of your time and money which flirts with humor occasionally. I have watched it. Once. With jaw clenched, and muttering, "this is so wrong, this is so wrong... Why didn't they get any of this right?" pretty much the entire time. Seriously, the only part I haven't forcibly blocked from my mind is the scene wherein the angel of death kills an entire boardroom of executives, with the sole survivor being the secretary, who is the only one innocent enough to not deserve death. He then almost kills her for not saying "bless you" when he sneezed. I thought that was hilarious. The rest of the movie is garbage as far as I'm concerned.