Thursday, January 29, 2004

WHAT MATTERS
Maybe it's having a newborn daughter in the hospital (picture of whom you can find here, but I don't care so much about what the Holy Father did or didn't say about The Passion and what folks in the Vatican did or didn't do to manage this information.

I think Mel Gibson will be OK regardless. There's other people the Church needs to worry about taking care of more than a very wealthy movie star.
RCIA
Every few weeks, there'll be a post on Mark Shea's blog like this one about how they went to RCIA and held hands and sang Kumbaya and were handed condoms on their way out the door each week along with a list of places to go to have a same sex wedding until the Church comes around on that issue.

Almost invaraibly, there will be a response like this one, along the lines of, "well, I had the same experience, and then I found this terrific orthodox preist who taught me the Real Faith in a series of one-on-one meetings, so I didn't have to put up with that nonsense."

And that sounds great, but in looking in the Catholic blogs, these seem to be the people most disillusioned by the scandals, as well as by the Church in general (though I may be colored by one prominent person with a conversion story similar to this.)

Why is this? I suspect that what RCIA is really good at is hooking people up with the horizontal aspect of being Catholic, being part of a community, and yes, this is an important part of being Catholic. The one on one instruction does a better job of getting across the instruction, but doesn't neccesarily help the catechumen to be part of a Christian community. These are generalizations -- I'm sure there's RCIA programs that do a great job on doctrine, and individual instructors who integrate the instruction with the life of the community.

Many of those who seek out the one on one instruction are in a very real sense already converted (hence their frustration with the conversion of heart based early RCIA sessions), while those showing up at an RCIA meeting aren't yet. This is why RCIA doesn't begin with the Catechism, which wasn't designed to be a text book anyway. This is also why it includes things like discussing the readings, which means getting the inquirers or catechumens in touch with the rhythm of the liturgical year. The goal is to have the catechumen accept Jesus, from which he will be disposed to accept the teachinga. The individual learner already accepts the teaching, and just needs to learn more about it.

This leaves each with unique problems.

The RCIA neophyte may be poorly equipped to handle challenges to Church teachings, either from his own deisres or the culture.

The individual instruction neophyte may be poorly equipped to handle scandals in the hierarchy, or teachings he personally disagrees with. Since the community doesn't do much for him, why stick around?

I think we need to find a method of catechesis that combines the best of these methods. The witness of many wonderful converts shows that our current methods aren't entirely failing, but there's certainly room for improvement.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

HOW I FEEL
Peter Vere nicely captures how I feel about the Democratic candidates.

I'm concerned about all the deficit spending we're doing. I'm not proud of the Iraq war or the way the Administration has represented us to the world.

But the only alternaitive is to vote for a candidate who first and foremost approves the killing of the unborn, and mocks and looks down on my concern about it.

When will the Democrats realize how many of us there are?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

FAIR WEATHER EVERYWHERE
When the partial brith abortion ban and bans on cloning were going through Congress, there was a lot of harping, from InstaPundit and others about how these bans were outside of Congress's powers, and that conservatives who favored them were "fair weather" federalists.

Well, now Barbara Boxer has introduced the "Freedom of Choice Act of 2004," which would "invalidate current restrictions on access to abortion and family planning health care services such as mandated delays and targeted and medically unnecessary regulations. "

I eagerly await the libertarian outcries about this attempted grasp of power by the federal governemt.
YOU KNOW
Seeing the timing of this article, I can't help but suspect that author's real problem with "vanity" 3-D ultrasounds isn't the safety of the child, but that it reveals that there really is a child in there, so maybe killing them isn't such an OK thing.

But that's me.

Monday, January 26, 2004

THEY'RE ALL THE SAME
Seems like all the Democaritc nominees are saying the same things.

Hmm, how could one of them distinguish himself?

How about taking on the abortion lobby, and catch on to the growing discontenet with the culture of abortion among young people? How about taking the side of women who are coerced to abortions by abusive boyfriends and people who told them it was no big deal?

Nah, then I might be able to vote for him.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

MY PROBLEM
Per this post, I didn't see it in time to post a response to the thread (been a bit busy), but I wanted to write down my thoughts.

I don't have a problem with people shedding light on the evils of the Church. I have a little bit of a problem, but not a huge problem, with people publically criticizing and disagreeing with prudential decisions of bishops.

What I do have a big problem with is using a pattern of sinfulness by bishops as a trump card in arguments when one disagrees with the bishops.

The discussion about the Arlington "Good Touch Bad Touch" program is a perfect example. Parents and others express outrage, others look at it and say there's really nothing wrong with it, and rather than detail what exactly is wrong with it, people cite it as just one more example of what's wrong with the bishops. So the choice presented is to either trust the Concerned Parents, or trust the pedophile-hiding celibate bishops who have no children of their own. You're with us or you're with the terrorists.

I'm sorry, but this is not Christian, and using this pattern of argument is an invitation to deaden the hierarchy's voice when it speaks on issues one might agree with. Just last Saturday, two different letters to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch used exactly this line of argument to oppose Bishop Burke's warnings to pro-choice politicians.

And before someone starts telling me about Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple and calling the Pharisees hypocrites, I think it's important to remember that Jesus focused on that particular behavior. He didn't say that this comes from the Pharisess, and the Pharisees are no good, thus this is no good.

This bishops are our spiritual fathers. Expose their sins if you must. Disagree with their prudential decisions if you must. But I feel very strongly that it's unwise to use their sins to destroy them personally in order to win an argument about a prudential decision.

Nobody wins that way.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

BABY BITES BLOG
I am pleased to announce the arrival of Katherine Grace McGuinness, born Tuesday morning at 8:50 AM.

Katherine came to us about two months earlier then expected, so she's still got some challenges, but, with God's help, she is off to a great start. She weighed 4 lbs., 7 oz. at birth.

Blogging, such as it is, will be even lighter.

Friday, January 16, 2004

FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Great weekend of football last weekend; let's hope this weekend continues the trend.
  • Colts at Patriots
    Man, am I looking forward to this game. Peyton Manning and his unstoppable offense against the Patriots defnese. Should be a close, fun game. And it looks like the whether will at least be tolerable.
    Pick: Colts
  • Panthers at Eagles
    I know I probably said something like this last year, but it's hard to imagine how the Eagles can lose this game. The fans won't let them/ McNabb won't let them. Last week's game, I think was a real breakthrough for him. He'll lead them to the Super Bowl.
    Pick: Eagles
SOME RIGHTS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHERS
Regarding the AMerican Library Assosciation's decision not to support Cuban Librarirans jailed for making copies of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Nate Hentoff writes:

On December 9, one of Castro's defenders, Ann Sparanese, a member of the policy-making council of the ALA, sent a letter to her colleagues on the council, in which she wrote:

"Despite the fact that we as librarians prize them highly, political rights -- for instance, intellectual freedom -- is only one of a constellation of human rights, some of which Cuba respects in greater measure than the United States." Among those, she added, was "universal, free education."

Without "only" the intellectual freedom of conscience and speech, how can one defend any human right against a dictatorship? Or against any government, including ours?

Hentoff is right about this poppycock. But it illustrates a pro-life point.

All of the "constellation of rights" are dependent on the most fundamental right of all -- the right to life, or to put it another way, the right not to be killed.

If I can be killed for no reason, even in the womb, my right to "universal, free education" isn't worth a whole lot is it?

We've gotten to the point in rehtoric where all calims to rights are treated as equal. This case illustrates what happens when we do that.

Trading in the right to life for the right to self-determination is like trading the sun for a star in a dar away galaxy. It might be a pretty star, but the sun is our source of life. Once that's gone, we won't be around to enjoy the constellation.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

THE ARLINGTON CONTROVERSEY
Kevin Miller pretty much says what I think about it, though I'd add one more thing.

One of the criticisms of the program is that responses to the crisis should focus on preists, not children. I don't buy that.

I thought a big reason for the scandal was "clericalism" -- one form of which is the belief that if a priest says something is OK, it must be.

One of the goals of this program is to empower children to know that certain things are not OK, even when done or approved by a priest.

It seems like that would be important.

Monday, January 12, 2004

FOOTBALL THOUGHTS
Best weekend of football I can remember. Both my teams (rams and Eagles) involved in overtime playoff games. I don't think I've recovered yet...

Rams Fans And Media
After this weekend, I don't ever want to hear a Rams fans carp on about how much beter they are than the negative fans of the Northeast.

After turning on the team in the middle of the game on Saturday, they have spent the last two days criticizing an iffy decision by the coach and insisting that we need a new quarterback and all new coaching staff.

They forget a few things....

  • The Rams were 12-4 this year, despite a roster overhaul with this seemingly inept coaching staff and quarterback.

  • The Rams coaches and players didn't quit when they were behind in the game, unlike the fans who started booing them and leaving (leaving!) when the Rams got behind.

  • Andy Reid made the "aggressive" play and "trusted his quarterback" in a simialar position in last night's game. And what happened? On the first play there was almost an interception that would have cost the Eagles a chance to win the game, and there could have been an interference call that would make the field goal more difficult. On the second play, the quarterback was nearly sacked, which would have resulted in the time dripping off the clock and the Eagle not having a chance to win. And this was with Donovan McNabb, who'd been to two championship games, not second year starter Marc Bulger. Maybe it wasn't such a dumb call....

  • This wasn't the terrible indictment from Martz on Bulger the media are mkaing it out to be. Bulger had a nice year, but he's not Peyton Manning or Steve McNair at this point in his career, and I think he'd be the first to say so. Not putting the ball in his hands doesn't mean he never will.


Rams fans, excepting perhaps Yankees and Lakers fans, are the most spoiled fans in sports.

Quick hits

  • Few kickers look more pathetic when trying to make a tackle on a kick off than Mike Vanderjagt.
  • I wasn't hearing boos from the crowds in Kansas City and Philadelphia when their teams got behind....
  • 4th and 26!!???


That's it for now.

Friday, January 09, 2004

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
This is really a sucker weekend for playoff picks. Why? We've just seen all the road teams chalk up impressive victories. Meanwhile, we've forgotten how good the road teams are. It's tempting to think the road teams are coming in with "momentum" and "emotion", but they had to play a game last week, and the home teams didn't that's a big edge.
  • Panthers at Rams
    I don't really like this Rams team. They've got a good defense, but don't seem to handle the blitz well. Still, they've got offensive weapons, and the Panthers don't.
    Pick: Rams

  • Titans at Patriots
    To me, this is the easiest pick on the board. The Titans are banged up. The Patriots have won 14 straight, and have had a week to rest, and will be playing at home on a cold night against a (realitvely) warm weather team.
    Pick: Patriots

  • Colts at Chiefs
    Colts finished a lot stornger than the Chiefs did. Need a defense to win in the playoffs, though.
    Pick: Colts

  • Packers at Eagles
    Again, I'm not buying this "team of destiny" crap. The Packers needed overtime to beat the Seahawks, a terrible road team, at home. The Eagles are a better team than the Raiders, the Broncos' second team, and the Seahawks.
    Pick: Eagles

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

ROSE NOTES
Just to clarify, Pete Rose isn't kept out of the Hall of Fame because people think he's a bad guy. He's kept out because he broke a specific rule, one that is posted in every Major League Clubhouse, and one that effects the integrity of the game itself. So it's not neccesary to think Rose's bets are a morally worse offense than Babe Ruth's appetites or Ty Cobb's nastiness.

Also, betting on one's team is problematic, because as manager, Rose had the ability to influence which games the Reds won by his decisions about, for example, an ace relief pitcher. Is there specific evidence that this happened? No, but that's not the rule. The rule is you can't bet on games in which your own team is taking part.

Now, as Rob Neyer notes, maybe betting on your own team shouldn't be a hanging offense, and I have some sympathy for that argument.

What is true is that it doesn't matter if Rose is "truly sorry" or if he confesses, etc.

What's really a damn shame is that Rose is stealing the thunder from Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley, whose accomplishments we should be celebrating today.

Friday, January 02, 2004

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Back by lack of demand, my predictions for each NFL playoff game this weekend.

  • Cowboys at Panthers
    Neither team seems to be able to do much on offense, and both have good defenses. I'm thinking Parcells finds a way to push the Cowboys to vitory.
    Pick: Cowboys

  • Titans at Ravens
    Titans have a good passing game, but not much of a running game. Ravens have a good running game, but not much of a passing game. Both teams have strong defenses. I'm thinking it's easier to stop Jamal Lewis than Steve McNair.
    Pick: Titans

  • Broncos at Colts
    Don't know what to think of this game. The Broncos ran all over the Colts a couple weeks ago. I don't think the Colts will let that happen again.
    Pick: Colts

  • Seahawks at Packers
    Both teams have strong offenses. I don't buy the Packers mystique, but winning in Green Bay is a tall task for the 'Hawks. They're a year away.
    Pick: Packers