Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Painting a pretty picture

A man writes a book about how greedy financiers have sunk his family, but forgets to mention that his wife declared bankrupcy twice before this. Oops.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

One Man's Journey into Catholic New York

I really have enjoyed reading this New Yorker's write-ups on some of the various churches. Nice photos, helpful information, and interesting commentary. Kind of cool and ambitious to try to visit every parish church in New York City. Sounds like something I would like to do!

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama, Notre Dame, and abortion

I'd write something, but the Curt Jester has covered it so well I'm not sure there's much to add.

Public service vocab announcement

It turns out that it is possible to be whelmed, rather than over or underwhelmed.

to whelm (third-person singular simple present whelms, present participle whelming, simple past and past participle whelmed)
To cover with water; submerge.

So much for that joke.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Scandal and suicide

Not sure if I've addressed this topic before.

The general tendency of various religions, including the Catholic, has been towards allowing funerary rites in cases of suicides on the basis that one can not know the state of the person at the time of suicide, etc. Thus allowing funerary rites is both merciful and helps the family with the process of grieving.

Having both a suicide in my close family and some suicidal individuals in my life, I would like to call attention to the fact that the granting of funerary rites to suicides can actually have the effect of encouraging suicide - the logic being somewhat along the line that if funerary rites have been granted, the sin must not be very bad, and so I can kill myself and still go to heaven.

Now it very well may be true that the value of the funeral may outweigh the scandal, but I don't think I've ever seen a discuison of this effect in my perusals of the literature. Indeed it has been quite ignored as people rush to find any reason or excuse not to prohibit a funeral:

In one famous case, when Rudolph, the heir to the throne of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, committed suicide in 1889, the medical bulletin declared evidence of "mental aberrations" so that Pope Leo XIII would grant a religious funeral and burial in the imperial crypt. Other similar concessions were probably quietly made in less sonorous cases.

Just something to consider.


Running barefoot

Turns out that after some research, more expensive running shoes tend to lead to more injuries because the feet become weak from disuse. You spend money and are worse off at the end.

This being me, I can't help but draw an analogy to the moral realm. We have a million technologies which keep us from having to exercise our "moral muscles", all sorts of pills and devices and, shall we say, surgeries, which all act to exclude perceived sources of pain from our lives and allow us to be "authentic" or perhaps loyal to our feelings.

But in the end, you end up a less charitable person, a less giving person, and a more self-centered person. Abortion, which starts for the "hard cases", moves to be a general method of contraception, and next thing you know infanticide is all the rage in Europe when a genetically inferior child somehow manages to be born. Plastic surgery, which starts as a theraputic technique for soldiers and such, becomes a cosmetic necessity which distorts our ability to see beauty in difference.

I can assure you that you do not wish me to write a paragraph on my opinions concerning our treatment of body hair as a society.

So this is just a brainstorm, so I'm not sure about its truth value, but it does seem somewhat plausable that the more money you spend trying to insulate yourself from unfortunate events, the more painful anything that gets through is. Perhaps if we spent more of life running barefoot we'd be better in many ways besides having stronger feet.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Swine flu - God's wrath or media sensation?

I'm certainly not in any position to answer that question. And it sounds good:

"The question that people should be asking themselves is," says Rabbi Levin, "why is there a sudden outbreak of swine flu?" According to ancient Jewish tradition, he says, when we are faced with a tragic event, "we are supposed to be introspective and ask ourselves: what and why is God doing this to people?"

Rabbi Levin goes on to connect the origin of the current swine flu outbreak in Mexico City with the fact that this same city recently legalized abortion. As a matter of fact, as Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, observes in his commentary on 'Swine and Abortion' for, the swine flu was officially announced by Mexican authorities on April 24th, two years to the day after abortion was made legal.

But I think it's a stretch. It's always fun to look for cause and effect like this, but I would tend to think that God will usually work in ways a bit more subtle.

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Kamma ze ole?

A most interesting analysis of why it's wrong to go to a store with helpful salesmen, pump them for info, then buy it on Amazon.

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