Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How should one respond to the news that American servicemen were tortured and beheaded by insurgents?

Obviously, are first response is compassion for the soldiers who were victimized, their families, and all the soldiers who are at risk for simlar treatment.

Another way would be to cry for revenge -- if this is the type of enemy we are facing, then we need to be ruthless ourselves.

Of course, we know that's not the right way to respond. The Gospel teaches us not to return violence for violence.

But there is a worse response.

Yes, when some learn about an incident like this, their first response is to give those who have been against the US government being involved with torture about 5 seconds to react, and if they do not do so acceptably in that time, lambast them for their inconsistency. Examples: Instapundit and a correspondent to Mark Shea.

This type of argument rankles me in so many ways. Those who play this game simultaneously make the following claims:

  • Al-Qaida is such an extraordinarily threatening and brutal operation, that our understood standards for just wars and treatment of enemy combatants shouldn't apply. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't understand the magnitude of the threat that is before us. This is a completely different kind of threat, demanding a completely different response.
  • People should react to atrocities committed by Al-Qaida with the same level of response as stories about American abuse and torture. They should be held to the same moral standard.

Do you see the slipperiness here? You dragged us to war but beating us over the head about how uniquely evil these people are, then you expect us to be shocked when they actually commit evil acts? Please.

InstaPundit writes:

And yet Guantanamo will get more ink. And, again, the argument is that it's a man-bites-dog story when Al Qaeda tortures -- but that's belied by the moral equivalence that we keep seeing in the coverage.

See, I don't want us to ever get to the point where "Americans torture detainees" also becomes a "dog bites man" story. What InstaPundit calls moral equivalence is actually a gross dis-equivalnce. Americans are held to a higher standard than Al-Quaida is.

May it ever be so.
Any sypmathy I had for the Mavericks calling a foul anytime a defender was in the vicinity of Dwyane Wade evaporated when they failed to grab the rebound of Wade's missed free throw in the final seconds. Yeah, the Heat turned it over because two Heat players grabbed the ball and travelled with it, but how on earth do two Heat players end up with their hands on the ball and no Mav players manage to do so in that situation? You must get that rebound!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006


WITH WAL-MART SELLING ORGANIC FOOD and fair-trade coffee, what new reasons will the haters find for hating 'em? I'm sure they'll come up with some.

Well, hmmm, I don't like Wal-Mart because they use their market power to drive down prices to the point where suppliers can either exploit third world labor or go out of business. And that they treat their own employees poorly.

So, a few organic veggies and coffee aren't exactly going to send me scurrying for new reasons.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rod Dreher writes that part of his turn toward Orthodoxy is motivated by American Catholocism being too feminine.

I can relate somewhat to the complaint -- engagement in a modern US parish means doing a lot of small-group sharing, hearing treacly stories about people's "spiritual journey," and in general being in an environment that only Jim Nantz would find comfortable.


Is this desire for a masculine Church true or "truthy?" Are we really looking for a Church that makes us comfortable but others uncomfortable?

By which they mean, in general, an atmosphere that downplays or even denigrates the virtues associated with manliness: courage, honor, physical bravery, and so forth. I know, I know, women can be and are brave, honorable, yadda yadda; but you know what I'm talking about here: many parishes honor the virtues typically associated with women and nurture.

Dreher says that the American Church stresses nurturing too much. Well, when Jesus said who would get to heaven, he seemed to put a lof of emphasis on nurturing. Too feminine? Too bad.

Anyway, this is the kind of thing that I was talking about in my previous post, about why something snapped in me in my former Catholic parish on the Ash Wednesday when the pastor told the congregation he wasn't going to talk about sin and repentance (his actual homily, I forgot to mention, was about how we all need to be better to ourselves). I am sick to death of this wimpy American middle-class approach to religion, in which we are challenged to do little more than feel better about ourselves and be nice to everybody. I don't think most men relate to that at all. We look for challenge, for something to overcome (evil in ourselves, evil in the world), we look for something to defend.

And then your "wimpy" Ash Wednesday homily. Please take a look at the Gospel for that day, especially this passage:

"But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden"

It seems to me that taking care of ourseleves is a more valid commentary on that passge than the sackcloth sermon you thought was appropriate.

Maye not what Mr. Dreher wanted to hear, maybe not what American Catholics need to hear at this moment, but it does flow from the Gospels.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the Temple. But it seems to me that Mr. Dreher is asking for a religion that stresses this side of Jeusus more than the ratio of this episode to all Jesus' tachings about the beatitudes (not exactly a tribute to Western Masculinity), turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, forgiving people over and over, et cetera.

I guess what I find most frustrating is that Mr. Dreher says he wants a Church that diesn't make people comfortable, but that seems to be exactly what you're looking for. You just want it to be uncomfortable for other people.