Religion and Culture

I wrote this 10 years ago. I ask the question again.


The Global Exclaimer

Liberals and Life

CARROLLTON – I was reading some tribute letters in my new favorite magazine First Things about Richard John Neuhaus, who recently died. Father Neuhaus was the founder of the magazine, and wrote each month the keystone of the magazine, The Public Square, subtitled A Continuing Survey of Religion, Culture, and Public Life. This section of the magazine has quickly become my favorite, both for its breadth and depth as well as his wit. Sadly, I only just discovered this magazine and have been reading it since November 2008.

Among many other things that he was in life, Father Neuhaus was in the 60s a Lutheran pastor and a “left wing radical.” With Rabbi Heschel and Fr. Daniel Berrigan he founded Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, one of the largest antiwar groups of the day. He was pastor of an inner city Lutheran church of largely…

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A Picture Worth

A Thousand Miseries

“What is this Democratic Socialism?”
“It is simply Socialism by another name.”
“Ah yes, Socialism by any other name…”
“Is Hubris.”

We were planning a whole article of say, a 1,000 words or so, regarding socialism, but found this picture instead:

The Glob Corollary: There Is No Right Way.

Removed From Clerical State

Finally. As in irrevocably.

(ROME) – Pope Francis has removed Theodore E. McCarrick from the clerical state. The crimes which he has been found canonically guilty of are reprehensible and sickening. To wit:

“solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

“Solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession,” meaning he propositioned the most vulnerable for sex while they were there seeking forgiveness for their sins. This vomitous abuse of power is indeed Satanic – a perversion of a Sacrament of Healing into Sacrilege of Harm. I don’t throw the term “satanic” around lightly. Satan cannot create, he can only pervert those goods which already exist.

I am sick to my stomach thinking about it. Does the punishment fit the crime? I cannot speak to that. My nausea tells me no. But, we do have Luke 17:1-2, and Mark 9:42 –

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

McCarrick shows no remorse – at this point I would be surprised and doubtful if he did. Habituated as he must certainly be to his abuse of power, he sees nothing wrong with his actions. Corruption. Thus are we perverted from good to evil.

I fear for his soul. My guess is one day he will plead for the millstone.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Ft. Worth sends this letter, which I applaud:

Letter to the Faithful of the Diocese of Fort Worth Regarding the Laicization of Theodore E. McCarrick

February 16, 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am supportive and grateful to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for his irrevocable decision to dismiss Theodore McCarrick from the clerical state after due process in accord with canon law in which he was found to be guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

It is my hope and prayer that the laicization of Mr. McCarrick will assist in healing those who suffered from his acts of sexual abuse and misconduct. Justice entails that anyone who assisted him in these actions or covered them up also be held accountable.

We read in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus told His Apostles, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more,” (Luke 12:48). Ministry in the Church is a grace from God that carries with it sober responsibility. Ministry is not a right to be claimed by anyone as an entitlement; rather, it involves a covenantal trust begun through our Baptism as members of the Church established by Christ. This applies even more clearly to those men entrusted with the sacred responsibilities of the ordained ministries of deacon, priest, or bishop.

During my five years of serving as your bishop, I have always taken prompt action in removing priests, deacons, staff, and volunteers when credible allegations of sexual abuse against minors have been established.

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and I have no tolerance for sexual abuse against minors, as well as against vulnerable adults by its clergy, staff, and volunteers, including me as bishop.

Please join me in continuing to pray for those who were harmed by Theodore McCarrick and for anyone else who has suffered the effects of sexual abuse perpetrated by others. I remain,

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Michael F. Olson, S.T.D.
Bishop of Fort Worth

And we need to pray for McCarrick. Hard as that is for me to say. We must try to snatch him from Satan’s jaws.

Of Farting Cows

Ah youth!

WASHINGTON DC – Two apparently unrelated things, then a tie-in:

First, when I was a lad I worked in a grocery store as a Perishable Manager (think bread & dairy) and was ofttimes tasked to make signs to support the ad of the week. We were always running our private label hamburger and hot dog buns 3 for $1 during spring. And the signs always looked something like this:

Yes, boring, but not my fault. There were creative constraints placed on me – I had to use the yellow sign paper, had to use the big black markers, etc. All quite tedious for an ebullient lad such as myself. For entertainment, I would make signs up and show them to the asst. manager, just to see the look on his face. Like this one:

Then I would wistfully tear them up and make the real ones.

Second, again as a lad, I studied a martial art. We worked out on concrete floors. “Concrete?!” you gasp. Yes. Why? Because, reality. If you fall wrong on concrete, it hurts. Gravity and concrete were our true teachers. Relentless, their admonitions never varied, never lapsed, never encouraged, never chastised. Simply, “You did it wrong.” or, “You did it right.” A mat would have shielded us from reality, would have skewed our world view, would have allowed us to think we were accomplished when we were not. There were no illusions. No false understandings. Simple inescapable reality. Truth, if you will.

The tie-in. AOC as she is often referred to has put out The Green New Deal.

I’m just going to post this link to the Green New Deal website. Click on the picture. There are four pillars to the “plan.”

  1. The Economic Bill of Rights
  2. A Green Transition
  3. Real Financial Reform
  4. A Functioning Democracy

But, I don’t care about all that. What I care about is something far more sinister. I found a copy of the original FAQ on AOC’s website, since removed.

It has this interesting comment:

Yes, we are calling for a full transition off fossil fuels and zero greenhouse gases. Anyone who has read the resolution sees that we spell this out through a plan that calls for  eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy. Simply banning fossil fuels immediately won’t build the new economy to replace it – this is the plan to build that new economy and spells out how to do it technically. We do this through a huge mobilization to create the renewable energy economy as fast as possible. We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast, but we think we can ramp up renewable manufacturing and power production, retrofit every building in America, build the smart grid, overhaul transportation and agriculture, plant lots of trees and restore our ecosystem to get to net-zero

“…get rid of farting cows…” I laughed. Out loud, even. It sounded like something I would have written on one of my signs. My guess is someone on her staff was bored, penned that as a lark, and they all had a good laugh.

And then I thought, “This must be fake news – or a deliberate parody.” I looked for the Onion or the Babylon Bee logos. Nope.

I decided to verify if what I was reading was what it reputed to be. I googled, “did original faq for green new deal really mention farting cows?

In my exhaustive 20 second search I determined this was not fake news.

And then I learned that the website had been over-hauled and a new FAQ – a more proper, shall we say acceptable FAQ, one with all the gravitas expected from a member of the House of Representatives, had taken its place. Her staff had been training on mats their entire career; gravity and concrete apprised them of their naiveté.

There comes those moments for all of us of a certain age. A moment when we recognize that something desirable and admirable if not at all practical has been lost. Perhaps it is when you take the training wheels off your kid’s bike. Perhaps it is when they go off to college. Some call that thing youth. Even when inevitable, or perhaps because it is inevitable, there is a wistful solemnity that accompanies standing witness to this loss of innocence. No more farting cows. AOC has taken her first step into the machine.


The Carrollton Exclaimer

Being A Subset Of The Glob

CARROLLTON – Cradle of Civilization – Looking for things to do this weekend?

Saturdays on the Square: Date Night – February 9

Looking for a romantic Saturday night outing that won’t cost an arm and a leg? Join the City of Carrollton for a special installment of Saturdays on the Square: Date Night. This series takes place every second Saturday of the month in Historic Downtown Carrollton (1106 S. Broadway Street) and features everything from comedians, to bands, to movies. This month, the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians (2018), PG-13 will be shown on Saturday, February 9 at sunset. Don’t forget to bring lawn chairs and blankets to curl up under. For more information, visit

Chinese New Year Celebration – February 10

Join the Carrollton Public Library in celebrating Chinese New Year on Sunday, February 10 from 3-5 p.m. at Hebron & Josey Library (4220 N. Josey Lane). The Carrollton Sun Ray Chinese School will be leading attendees in a variety of activities honoring Chinese culture. For more information, visit or call 972-466-4800.

African-American Read-In – February 10

All are invited to hear excerpts from stories, poems, and songs written by African-American authors Sunday, February 10 from 4-5 p.m. at Josey Ranch Lake Library (1700 Keller Springs Road). Special guests will read selections aloud for your enjoyment. Free books will be given to children and teens. Light refreshments will be provided. This program is presented by the Professional Achievers for Community Excellence (PACE). For more information, visit or call 972-466-4800.

Rec Out! – February 12

The City is excited to offer a new program at Crosby Recreation Center (1610 E. Crosby Road) from 10:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, February 12. This program give individuals 18 and up with a disability an opportunity to practice life, social, and communication skills, as well as develop friendships and participate in the community. The program will include games, crafts, snacks, a lunch out, as well as other outings such as bowling and visiting trampoline parks. The program is $20 for residents and $22 for non-residents. Participants will need to bring money for lunch. To register, visit

The Modern Martyr

Being a reprint of an article by G.K. Chesterton – written about 110 years ago.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Those that know me know of my fascination with G.K. Chesteron – writing over 100 years ago, he was a veritable prophet. But he wrote with a wit and joy that I yearn to emulate.

I listed this under book reviews, but I am simply going to post the whole article. It reviews itself, one might say.

The Modern Martyr

The incident of the Suffragettes who chained themselves with iron chains to the railings of Downing Street is a good ironical allegory of most modern martyrdom. It generally consists of a man chaining himself up and then complaining that he is not free. Some say that such larks retard the cause of female suffrage, others say that such larks alone can advance it; as a matter of fact, I do not believe that they have the smallest effect one way or the other.

The modern notion of impressing the public by a mere demonstration of unpopularity, by being thrown out of meetings or thrown into jail is largely a mistake. It rests on a fallacy touching the true popular value of martyrdom. People look at human history and see that it has often happened that persecutions have not only advertised but even advanced a persecuted creed, and given to its validity the public and dreadful witness of dying men. The paradox was pictorially expressed in Christian art, in which saints were shown brandishing as weapons the very tools that had slain them. And because his martyrdom is thus a power to the martyr, modern people think that any one who makes himself slightly uncomfortable in public will immediately be uproariously popular. This element of inadequate martyrdom is not true only of the Suffragettes; it is true of many movements I respect and some that I agree with. It was true, for instance, of the Passive Resisters, who had pieces of their furniture sold up. The assumption is that if you show your ordinary sincerity (or even your political ambition) by being a nuisance to yourself as well as to other people, you will have the strength of the great saints who passed through the fire. Any one who can be hustled in a hall for five minutes, or put in a cell for five days, has achieved what was meant by martyrdom, and has a halo in the Christian art of the future. Miss Pankhurst will be represented holding a policeman in each hand–the instruments of her martyrdom. The Passive Resister will be shown symbolically carrying the teapot that was torn from him by tyrannical auctioneers.

But there is a fallacy in this analogy of martyrdom. The truth is that the special impressiveness which does come from being persecuted only happens in the case of extreme persecution. For the fact that the modern enthusiast will undergo some inconvenience for the creed he holds only proves that he does hold it, which no one ever doubted. No one doubts that the Nonconformist minister cares more for Nonconformity than he does for his teapot. No one doubts that Miss Pankhurst wants a vote more than she wants a quiet afternoon and an armchair. All our ordinary intellectual opinions are worth a bit of a row: I remember during the Boer War fighting an Imperialist clerk outside the Queen’s Hall, and giving and receiving a bloody nose; but I did not think it one of the incidents that produce the psychological effect of the Roman amphitheatre or the stake at Smithfield. For in that impression there is something more than the mere fact that a man is sincere enough to give his time or his comfort. Pagans were not impressed by the torture of Christians merely because it showed that they honestly held their opinion; they knew that millions of people honestly held all sorts of opinions. The point of such extreme martyrdom is much more subtle. It is that it gives an appearance of a man having something quite specially strong to back him up, of his drawing upon some power. And this can only be proved when all his physical contentment is destroyed; when all the current of his bodily being is reversed and turned to pain. If a man is seen to be roaring with laughter all the time that he is skinned alive, it would not be unreasonable to deduce that somewhere in the recesses of his mind he had thought of a rather good joke. Similarly, if men smiled and sang (as they did) while they were being boiled or torn in pieces, the spectators felt the presence of something more than mere mental honesty: they felt the presence of some new and unintelligible kind of pleasure, which, presumably, came from somewhere. It might be a strength of madness, or a lying spirit from Hell; but it was something quite positive and extraordinary; as positive as brandy and as extraordinary as conjuring. The Pagan said to himself: “If Christianity makes a man happy while his legs are being eaten by a lion, might it not make me happy while my legs are still attached to me and walking down the street?” The Secularists laboriously explain that martyrdoms do not prove a faith to be true, as if anybody was ever such a fool as to suppose that they did. What they did prove, or, rather, strongly suggest, was that something had entered human psychology which was stronger than strong pain. If a young girl, scourged and bleeding to death, saw nothing but a crown descending on her from God, the first mental step was not that her philosophy was correct, but that she was certainly feeding on something. But this particular point of psychology does not arise at all in the modern cases of mere public discomfort or inconvenience. The causes of Miss Pankhurst’s cheerfulness require no mystical explanations. If she were being burned alive as a witch, if she then looked up in unmixed rapture and saw a ballot-box descending out of heaven, then I should say that the incident, though not conclusive, was frightfully impressive. It would not prove logically that she ought to have the vote, or that anybody ought to have the vote. But it would prove this: that there was, for some reason, a sacramental reality in the vote, that the soul could take the vote and feed on it; that it was in itself a positive and overpowering pleasure, capable of being pitted against positive and overpowering pain.

I should advise modern agitators, therefore, to give up this particular method: the method of making very big efforts to get a very small punishment. It does not really go down at all; the punishment is too small, and the efforts are too obvious. It has not any of the effectiveness of the old savage martyrdom, because it does not leave the victim absolutely alone with his cause, so that his cause alone can support him. At the same time it has about it that element of the pantomimic and the absurd, which was the cruellest part of the slaying and the mocking of the real prophets. St. Peter was crucified upside down as a huge inhuman joke; but his human seriousness survived the inhuman joke, because, in whatever posture, he had died for his faith. The modern martyr of the Pankhurst type courts the absurdity without making the suffering strong enough to eclipse the absurdity. She is like a St. Peter who should deliberately stand on his head for ten seconds and then expect to be canonised for it.

Or, again, the matter might be put in this way. Modern martyrdoms fail even as demonstrations, because they do not prove even that the martyrs are completely serious. I think, as a fact, that the modern martyrs generally are serious, perhaps a trifle too serious. But their martyrdom does not prove it; and the public does not always believe it. Undoubtedly, as a fact, Dr. Clifford is quite honourably indignant with what he considers to be clericalism, but he does not prove it by having his teapot sold; for a man might easily have his teapot sold as an actress has her diamonds stolen–as a personal advertisement. As a matter of fact, Miss Pankhurst is quite in earnest about votes for women. But she does not prove it by being chucked out of meetings. A person might be chucked out of meetings just as young men are chucked out of music-halls–for fun. But no man has himself eaten by a lion as a personal advertisement. No woman is broiled on a gridiron for fun. That is where the testimony of St. Perpetua and St. Faith comes in. Doubtless it is no fault of these enthusiasts that they are not subjected to the old and searching penalties; very likely they would pass through them as triumphantly as St. Agatha. I am simply advising them upon a point of policy, things being as they are. And I say that the average man is not impressed with their sacrifices simply because they are not and cannot be more decisive than the sacrifices which the average man himself would make for mere fun if he were drunk. Drunkards would interrupt meetings and take the consequences. And as for selling a teapot, it is an act, I imagine, in which any properly constituted drunkard would take a positive pleasure. The advertisement is not good enough; it does not tell. If I were really martyred for an opinion (which is more improbable than words can say), it would certainly only be for one or two of my most central and sacred opinions. I might, perhaps, be shot for England, but certainly not for the British Empire. I might conceivably die for political freedom, but I certainly wouldn’t die for Free Trade. But as for kicking up the particular kind of shindy that the Suffragettes are kicking up, I would as soon do it for my shallowest opinion as for my deepest one. It never could be anything worse than an inconvenience; it never could be anything better than a spree. Hence the British public, and especially the working classes, regard the whole demonstration with fundamental indifference; for, while it is a demonstration that probably is adopted from the most fanatical motives, it is a demonstration which might be adopted from the most frivolous.