Sunday, July 22, 2007

Amazingly Good Advice

Thanks to this post on the Bearing Blog; a piece of life advice first given in euchre: "If you can take a trick, do it." In other words, take the opportunities that come along to do a little good, never mind for whom. You're better off reading the original post for examples.

And a bit of self-recognition while reading an entry from yesterday's Wacky Wannabe Musical Monk:

I am fearful that too many folks go around saying "God is Love", without remembering who is hate.

::raises his own hand::

Monday, July 16, 2007

Talk Radio

I'm an opinion and analysis junkie. As a result, I listen to talk radio by preference; besides, there's no classical music on the air where I live. I sure do wish there was.

Today, I heard two monumentally STUPID things on the air. The first was uttered by Rush Limbaugh. After the bottom of the hour break in the first hour, he asked a question he clearly thought was rhetorical: "What's the real downside to staying in Iraq?"

Gee, Rush, if you're an actual fiscal conservative, the words "tax burden" should just LEAP to mind, you know?

The more I listen to Rush, the more apt I find a description I saw put to him some time back: America's Top Republican Ward-Heeler. He's for the Republican Party and their position, whatever it may be. Anything one might have considered a political principle of his, such as cutting spending, gets dumped post haste if it happens to conflict with current Republican political goals. And thus his role is to be sure that all the Republican faithful accept the Republican party line, as though it were infalliable doctrine.

The other was a news item brought up by the local fella who follows Rush. He mentioned that the British National Curriculum is dropping all mention of Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Mohandes Ghandi, and Martin Luther King (Jr., presumably). No mention is made in the stories I found as to whether FDR, Neville Chamberlain, Charles de Gaulle, or Benito Mussolini rate a mention. The World Wars and the Shoah (Holocaust) have to be covered, by law; but how on earth are they going to ensure that students know who did it, when, and why, if the only people in history who MUST be mentioned are Abolitionists William Wilberforce and Olaudah Equiano?

I will be very much surprised (and disappointed) if Jewish groups and their friends do not rise up in collective apoplectic uproar over the complete and deliberate ignorance of history being foisted upon British school children. Methinks a home schooling movement may be in the offing there....

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I have GOT to get that book....

Papa Ben's Jesus of Nazareth. It just keeps bringing out such fabulous stuff, like this over at The Heart of Things.

Monday, July 9, 2007

"Sicko-Phancy"! I love it!

This look at health care is an excellent one, and proposes the sort of deregulation that libertarians would appreciate -- allowing medical and dental professionals to practice at a level commensurate with their experience, rather than forcing everyone to go first to an MD or DDS, respectively.

Many thanks to the Western Confucian for tipping me off to this.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Since You're Reading This...

I clearly have readers. Some of you post comments, and at least one went so far as to exclaim, Read This Blog! Given that, and the discussion of posting my conversion story elsewhere, I've decided that it is in fact appropriate to rename this blog. But I don't plan to rush into it. Papa Ben has ably demonstrated that patience resolves a lot of decisions and conflicts.

Option the First: Crop the name back to "Arkanabar's Eclectic Rants". My desire to focus on heroism will not prevent me from posting on whatever else strikes me as worth bloviating, pontificating, or ranting upon.

Option the Second: Invent some new title that reflects my desire to focus, more or less, on heroism.

Option the Third: Pick a new title from the offerings of my readers. I'd really like that. I'm often lazy.

Obligatory "Journey" Post

Yes, yes, the obligatory conversion story. Lots of Catholic blogs have these. They inspire some of the readers. Who knows, perhaps mine will as well.

I'm a revert, pretty much. I started as a cradle Catholic, but in spite of 4 years of Catholic school and six more of CCD classes, I never really did absorb much of doctrine, and shortly after Confirmation, I was a faithless agnostic, for all practical purposes. I saw no reason to concern myself with spiritual matters, as they could not be demonstrated by scientific means. I never descended to affirming the non-existance of God or anything spiritual.

I suppose it was that, along with associations in science fiction and fantasy fandom, is what led me to dabble in the occult, particularly some neoPagan rituals and Tarot, as well as an eschatological Baha'i cult. I dropped away from those as well, stumbling instead into Amway. My sponsor in Amway opened the trunk of his car shortly after I bought my IBO kit, and told me to borrow whatever books I wanted from his collection there. I wanted a greater understanding of people, so I grabbed Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. It was loaded with Christianity, but I figured that wouldn't prevent me from learning from it. And Mrs. Littauer's explanation of Hippocrates' personality archetypes using axes of outgoing to reserved and task to people oriented made sense and ordered a lot of my thinking on how people tend to think and what they want. (Much the same information can be found at

Then, at the end, she drew a simile. She spoke of her two anencephalic children, lovely babies born without brains. She said that knowledge and life without Christ was very much like her children without brains.

I rolled over and moaned, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God." I had just been made aware of the giant God-shaped hole in my life, that I had ignored for over ten years. I wanted Him back, but I didn't want to abandon my self-identity as a thinking person to do so. Of course, the next thing that came along was More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell, which convinced me that I was not taking leave of all reason by accepting the historicity of the Gospels. I attended some large functions which included various Protestant evangelists as speakers, and I went to the front a couple of times. But I did not really take up the practice of Christianity.

I got on the internet and found a good friend. She convinced me that Dexter Yager had lied continuously for thirty years about the unprofitable nature of "tools" (also called Business Support Materials), particularly the tapes, and I left Amway behind. But I missed the positive reinforcement of the tapes, so I started listening to radio evangelists. Then Dr. David Jeremiah, of Turning Point broadcast his taped program on Revelations. Though it clearly made him uncomfortable, he presented Alexander Hislop's libellous interpretation of the Whore of Babylon (or possibly Ralph Woodrow's update of it). And I flat out knew he was wrong about the worship of Mary. And hadn't God told Peter not to call profane anything He had made clean? God had cleaned pagan Yule rituals, and made them Christian. And IF the Sign of the Cross had at one point honored Ishtar and Tammuz, couldn't God make it now honor Christ?

(By the way, it turns out that Woodrow repudiated "Babylon Mystery Religion" later on in his life, an act of great courage and honesty, for which he deserve our admiration. He remains an evangelical Charismatic.)

I also participated in an online community pretty much devoted to disputation and arguments about religion and politics. I usually advanced or defended the libertarian position. Somebody there posted some declarations about the Catholic Church that again, I knew were flat out wrong. This time, I did some research, and was able to refute the declarations and provide links to the opposition. From that reasearch, I learned the basis for the Church's claims of authority and infallibility, which I found convincing. I joined the Catholic Exchange community and read nearly everything posted on their portal (still do, it's good stuff). I decided that it was time to return to the Church.

I was visiting my family for Christmas that year, and it was our plan to attend the Christmas Vigil Mass at the parish of my childhood, because they were losing their priest, and they wouldn't be getting another. I knew I desperately needed a good confession to receive the Eucharist, so I spent half the afternoon of Christmas Eve frantically looking for a priest to give me Reconciliation. I was out of luck. In desperation, I called the childhood parish, got hold of the pastor, and begged him to take my confession any time up to a full hour before Mass. He told me he'd be in the confessional fifteen minutes before Mass started. I was greatly relieved.

And it was all wonderful. I hadn't been so filled with joy in years.

The process of conversion is still ongoing, and with the help and guidance of the Church and the Holy Spirit, it will remain so for the rest of my life. I still have trouble with sin, particularly sins of omission. I do not regularly open either my St. Joseph's Edition New American Bible or my Catechism of the Catholic Church, but they're within arm's reach. Still, the introduction of the CCC, which described man's purpose in life, absolutely RIVETED me. It was just THAT good, to know what life is really all about. But at least I know now where I belong, which is within the Church founded by Jesus on Peter, and the root motivation for everything I should do: to know God, and to love and serve Him, with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength.

And I thank God for our separated bretheren, and ask that He bless them. But for them, I very much doubt I would be here. But the most credit MUST go to God, whose grace alone allowed me to find Him.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Captain America

This post uses the names of a whole bunch of copyrighted characters. Such characters are property of the copyright holders, and I in no way wish to present the notion that I am such.

It's time to write about the late, great Steve Rogers, alias Captain America! I have meant to do so for some time now. For those who don't know the story, it's at Wikipedia. You'd think an Irish-American who grew up in New York in time to come of age during World War II would be strongly Catholic, but for fairly obvious commercial reasons, Marvel never particularly portrayed him that way.

I didn't properly appreciate Cap back when I read comics. Spider-Man was my kind of hero; brainy, smart-mouthed, unconventional, and mighty. Cap was staid, convetional, and (so I thought) utterly stolid. But Captain America was always THE most stand-up hero in the Marvel Universe, bar none. And Steve Rogers was the best man ever to carry the shield. No other was ever so worthy.

Part of the reason I think Cap is so worthy is that, according to his origin stories, he is not particularly superhuman -- his strength, agility, endurance, and toughness are very closely matched by Batman and the Punisher, for example. Thus, he goes forth against insanely powerful enemies with essentially human abilities and an indomitable spirit, and wins. Thus, he has less of the Neitzchean Ubermensch overtones than others in the genre.

Steve Rogers was a man whom I would be glad to see emulated, by ANYONE. He stood for the American Way of truth, justice, service, and liberty. Never mind our failure to live up to our way, that's what he stood for, in costume or not, and he always did his best to live up to it -- doing so better than any other hero in the entire superhero comics genre. Not once can I think of any action he took, which he did not see as being the best way to live up to the ideals of the American Way, and almost always rightly so.

And it is for depriving us of this paragon of adherence to the virtues of truth, justice, service, and liberty, by having him shot to death by a sniper, that I am so very disappointed with the writers over at Mighty Marvel. The more disturbed and distorted the American Way becomes, the more we need a man like Captain America to show us how to truly live up to it.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

St Jude Thaddeus

Just selected St. Jude as my patron for everything.

Yes, everything.

So, how do I justify making the Patron of Desperate Causes and Things Almost Despaired Of my patron for everything?

Because I've had to face it and admit that when looking within myself, I have cause for desperation. St. Jude reminds me that the ONLY way I can do anything good, the sole hope I have for improvement, is God. Outside of Him, everything is a desperate cause, that I ought to almost despair of.

Catholic Doors has St. Jude novenas here, here, here, and here.

Culture of Death

Sympathizers and fellow-travelers of the homosexual lifestyle movement ask why we consider them to be part of the Culture of Death. This article may shed some light on the violent reality of the culture.

Enough reading on the Theology of the Body will show the reasoning: God created sex so that a husband and wife could be fully open, fully devoted, and fully in union with each other, and so that, like Him, we could bring forth new life. Anytime sex or procreation rejects any of these things, God's purpose, which is love and life, is likewise rejected.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Nation of Independence

I'd be so pleased to write a great essay of my own on the proper role of government in society, but blogger tMichaelB has beaten me to it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Linking to other blogposts

I guess there's a first time for everything. Terry Nelson at Abbey Roads posted this about the parallels between contraception and homosexual sex, and why both are part of the culture of death. My immediate reaction was that his insight deserved a wider audience.

Like a link from MY blog would ever provide that.