Saturday, January 31, 2004
I Never Have Liked Friendster

Something about Friendster just doesn't do it for me. I think it has to do with the fact that I am introverted and while making new friends is fun every once in a while and I'll do it if I'm in a social environment, I'd much rather read a book... Or dust.

So for people like me, there's Introvertster. The 'net has it all, babe.
posted by Josh at 3:07 AM


Rolling Stone's 50 Uncoolest Records (That We Love!)

Satan Is RealOh man, how cool is this? Fifty of the worst of the best. This a month after the Fifty Coolest Records of All Time (I especially agree with #15, which contains "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine").

Of the "cool" albums, I own many. Of the "uncool," only a couple. And just for the "record," I am not happy with Rolling Stone's labelling Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell as "uncool." No matter what anybody says, Meat Loaf, you're the coolest.
posted by Josh at 2:39 AM

     Friday, January 30, 2004

Visiting the Vet

Something tells me this dog isn't enthused.
posted by Josh at 11:42 PM


MusicPlasma is a neat little utility. Type in your favorite music artist (or one just representative of a certain style) and get a visual chart showing other similar artists.
posted by Josh at 9:22 PM

Jeff Miller Rules

posted by Josh at 2:18 PM

Great New Blog

Letters From Fort Benning is run by Jeremy Hall, who just left on the 20th for basic training. As one who has never seen military service, it will be interesting to follow his (mis)adventures.

Actually, what makes this blog so unique is that he uses snail mail to make contact with folks at home who run his blog. Obviously, boot camp isn't exactly the best environment for Internet access. He asks for our prayers, so we'll have to keep him with us.
posted by Josh at 2:39 AM

Today We Honor St. Hyacinthe Mariscotti

I usually leave Feast Days/Memorials to others, but this one is particularly interesting:
Franciscan tertiary who was placed in a monastic life because of her troublesome nature. Born in Viterbo, Italy, she was so scandalous that she was forced to become a religious. She rebelled there as well, but after twenty four years, she became a model tertiary. She was canonized in 1807. (From
I can think of a one or two people I'd like to force in to a convent, but I suppose the days of forced vows have (for the better) passed us by.
posted by Josh at 2:14 AM

The King and the King, In Heaven

eBay: Velvet Elvis & Jesus The King in Heaven

Notice how Jesus gets less halo than Elvis here? Jesus looks like a fan at a truck stop googling at "the King," and Elvis looks like he doesn't even want to give him an autograph.

I've always struggled hard to figure out what you older generations saw (and apparently still see) in Elvis. His veneration following death seems a little out there. I respect him for the pioneering mover-and-shaker (pun intended) that he was, but beyond that I'd much rather listen to his near-contemporaries who knew how to get down.
posted by Josh at 1:48 AM

     Thursday, January 29, 2004
Worthless Quizilla Time!

You are Ken & Barbie as the happy and devoted
Herman and Lilly Munster! What a gas, Daddy-O!

Which Ken & Barbie Couple Do You Belong To?
brought to you by Quizilla

I always did like those Munsters.

What Common Breed of Dog Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

I was "raised" by a black lab as a baby. Makes sense.
posted by Josh at 12:57 PM

     Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Ironic Headline of the Week! Rights Agency to sue Cardinal Joos over "gays=perverts" comment

So let me get this straight... You sue somebody in order to supress somebody's freedom to expression and speech in order to secure what you consider to be the Highest Order of Freedom (tm), gay rights?

Good thing we have rights groups to tell us who has the right to an opinion.
posted by Josh at 6:39 PM


Today We Honor St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Aquinas was one of the keys to my eventual conversion of the heart.

How often do we hear the arguments that faith and spirituality are anti-intellectual, illusional efforts to help make sense out of chaos? I know the arguments well, because I held them once. St. Thomas Aquinas showed me how wrong I was.

Actually, I'd come 1/5th of the way on my own before becoming acquainted with Aquinas. I'd always suspected -- even in my agnostic days -- that there had to be what Aquinas signifies as a First Mover; God has to be the entity that sets the universe in motion. My limited understanding of physics helped to develop this concept; if nothing comes from nothing (as the fool in King Lear says), then how did motion ever start? Even the Big Bang requires something at its core to set it in motion.

But that's not where it ends. As one who's always had a deep respect for philosophers, I admired Aquinas' ability to synthesize classic Greek systems of thought in to Christianity. The Summa shows us that the foundations for philosophical thought are not only in synch with Christianity, but also help to solidify apologetical aspects of the Faith.

A prayer for St. Thomas:
You show us how to make sense of a physical world where despair and commotion compete for our souls with the Lord our God. The head often leads the heart, and so many times in error; but with your words, we find Truth. Pray for us constantly, St. Thomas Aquinas, that God may strengthen our knowledge of Him.

posted by Josh at 4:06 PM

     Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Al Franken: Not So Funny, Not So [fill in adjective of your choosing]

January 27, 2004 -- EXETER, N.H. - Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean.

The tussle left Franken's trademark thick-rim glasses broken, but he said he was not injured.

"I'm neutral in this race but I'm for freedom of speech, which means people should be able to assemble and speak without being shouted down."
I'm, err... Not exactly "for" losing my temper Dean-style and slamming a guy on to the floor. If the guy was causing a disruption, you know the Deanie Babies have security aplenty. Remove the guy and get on with things.

Oh, and it's great to find yet another example of liberal 'tolerance' for free speech.
posted by Josh at 10:20 AM

Scientology Mark V E Meter from eBay!

Hubbard did this up right. If I were going to invent my own religion, I'd create something cool like this, too.
posted by Josh at 12:35 AM

     Monday, January 26, 2004
Catholics for Dean!

Jeff Miller has drawn criticism from the Catholics for Dean website, run by a guy I actually have a connection with. Being a kid in his early twenties who has recently emerged from a massive liberal university, I can sympathize with the guy.

Never fear, though. If the liberals don't get him completely, he'll end up despising the fact that he has to pay a huge amount in taxes and will end up a Republican just like every other starry-eyed liberal young adult who learns that the real world functions a lot differently than the typical Edenic campus environment.
posted by Josh at 5:01 PM

You Learn Something New Every Day

From an Islamic Q&A:
Q: In the western toilets, you are not sure if there may be drops of impurity sticking on the toilet seat, and even if one puts a paper cover over the seat, there is a good chance of the pants, etc, touching areas of the toilet. In a case like this is it ok to urinate standing up in public toilets?

A: It is Makrooh (disliked) in Shari'ah for a person to stand and urinate without any valid excuse. In the situation mentioned herein, it is a question of doubt that you are not sure whether the seat is clean or not. To eradicate the doubt, you may clean the toilet seat with toilet paper.

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
I'll smile every time I take a trip to the urinal.
posted by Josh at 4:05 AM

     Sunday, January 25, 2004
Our Failings Have Their Purpose

Prayer is of utmost importance to Christian life. Whether it be spontaneous, contemplative/meditative, or ritual, prayer is essential for spiritual growth. This much is obvious to any of my regular visitors who are practicing Christians, but it's become obvious to me over the past couple of weeks.

Why? Because I have been blatantly neglectful of prayer in all forms. My Mass attendance has gone from once every two days at the least to just the Sunday service. This in and of itself isn't bad, but I've also neglected other things. I haven't been keeping the Hours. I haven't been saying the Rosary. I haven't even been setting aside time every day just to think and spend in silence with God.

The effect of this horrid experiment (albeit an unintentional experiment, born more out of laziness than any personal imperative) is that I have already found myself drifting away from that which I worked so hard to obtain. Any effort to advance spiritually has been put on hold and perhaps even set back a bit by this period of inaction. I find myself haunted by old imperfections in my personality that I have worked so hard to temper.

It should be no surprise to me, then, that this hasn't been a very satisfying couple of weeks. My mood has been morose and I've probably been difficult to be around. This evening before the conclusion of Mass, Father made a brilliant point: Life without God and Christ is "kind of boring and unsatisfying, but with Christ everything is possible." I hope to get things back on track over the next few days, and I also hope to use this mistake to my advantage, so that I know what to avoid in the future.
posted by Josh at 7:54 PM


Han Solo. In Carbonite. Lego style.
posted by Josh at 4:15 AM

     Saturday, January 24, 2004

I Just Couldn't Resist

posted by Josh at 2:17 AM

     Friday, January 23, 2004
Oswald Sobrino Carries Bush's Roe v. Wade Anniversary Speech

Find it here here. I am, overall, very impressed with what Bush had to say today. Unlike Mark Shea, I am not quick to condemn Bush over his usually silent approach to abortion because I feel he has his agenda, and is going about it the right way.
posted by Josh at 12:52 AM

     Thursday, January 22, 2004
And to Think, I Didn't Get a Chance to Ask Jesus Something No more text messages from Jesus - Jan. 19, 2004
posted by Josh at 5:15 AM

Churchill's 104-year-old Parrot Tight-Beaked

ABC (AU)/Reuters: Churchill parrot found alive.
posted by Josh at 5:13 AM

     Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I just keep listening to this little jewel over, and over, and over, and over...
posted by Josh at 5:28 PM

Have Fun With This One!

The George W. Bush Conspiracy Generator
George W. Bush had Michael Jackson arrested so that SUV owners could offend Michael Moore.

George W. Bush had Michael Jackson arrested so that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and the Jews could conquer transgendered people.

George W. Bush rigged the 2000 election so that Republicans, oil companies, the Christian Coalition, and big corporations could upset welfare recipients.
Coming to a Dean blog near you.
posted by Josh at 8:26 AM

What Dean Temper?! You Bad, Mislabeling Media!

CBS News: Dean To News Media: Get A Life
After Dean entered the packed auditorium with a mostly black audience of about 300 people, the former Iowa front-runner took a seat in the front row for about five minutes. [...]

"You know why I wasn't able to attend this event," Dean said, "because you guys are behaving so badly you've got to get a new life."

Upbraiding the media, Dean told the press: "I'm feeling great, we're going to win but you guys got to behave yourselves out of respect for Dr. King."

Blaming the media for the commotion of his arrival, Dean refused to answer any more questions.

"Dean did not come there to speak," Dean's national spokesman Jay Carson later said. "He came there to pay his respects, and he felt that the crush of the press was distracting and not showing the respect that Dr. King deserves."
Let's recap this: Dean shows up, sits for five minutes, has a talk with the organizers, and then leaves. Yeah, it sounds like the media attention on the day of the premier Democratic primary was just too much for Dean to handle.

Maybe Dean didn't realize 49 other states vote after Iowa.
posted by Josh at 2:37 AM

PC Run Amok Alert

Seems as if Allah Is In The House has had its online store, run by Cafe Press, either temporarily or permanently shut down. It's not surprising to hear "Allah's" comment on this:
I'm willing to give CP the benefit of the doubt for now and assume that this is some kind of bureaucratic glitch or that someone was a little overzealous in enforcing the User Agreement, and that the items will be reinstated. But after browsing some of their other shops, I do find it curious that merchandise parodying Jesus remains freely available for purchase while mine gets a second look.
It's PC to parody Jesus. Just don't go after Allah.
posted by Josh at 2:16 AM

     Monday, January 19, 2004
And to Think, the Holidays Have Passed Us By...

eBay: Michael Jackson White Glove Swarovski Crystal

For any of you out there with $3,000,000 to spend on a glove that's touched Jacko.
posted by Josh at 11:16 PM

Oh NO!

From the merciless folks who brought us the Teletubbies, I present to you the Boohbahs.

I'm glad I have no children.
posted by Josh at 5:15 PM

Unfortunate Headline

Reuters: WHO Confirms Fifth Death from Bird Flu in Vietnam

I give up. Who?!
posted by Josh at 3:53 AM

     Sunday, January 18, 2004
Happy Boy Mannequin

From eBay's most scary.
posted by Josh at 1:45 PM

Evangelicals, Satan, Bush, and How Satan is propping up Bush's war on terror

Or more accurately retitled:

"Why I am Catholic"

(click quickly on the lower right-hand corner of the ad they make you go through for one-day access)
posted by Josh at 3:57 AM

I Love This...

Love is Not Tolerance by BISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN
Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it.

It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin.

The cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth.

It forgives the sinner, and it hates the sin; it is unmerciful to the error in his mind.

The sinner it will always take back into the bosom of the Mystical Body; but his lie will never be taken into the treasury of His Wisdom.

Real love involves real hatred: whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the buyers and sellers from the temples has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth.

Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of "live and let live"; it is not a species of sloppy sentiment.

Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God, which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly.

posted by Josh at 1:13 AM

     Saturday, January 17, 2004
Dean Loses Ground in Iowa

Dean's recent faltering in the polls in Iowa comes as no big surprise to me. Older Democrats (those, "I'm 72 years old and have voted Democrat every step of the way" types) who remember a Democratic party built upon ideals that the party has long since abandoned might be a little put off by Dean extremism.

Others may find themselves faced with the cold, hard reality of the matter, which is that Dean cannot possibly beat Bush if given the party nod.

I daresay that your average individual in Iowa - or anyone from a non-metropolitan midwestern perspective - relates little to Dean's extremist viewpoints on issues like the Bush invasion of Iraq. Most midwesterners tend to be pro-military and undoubtedly pro-war no matter what their political orientation, and it should come as no surprise that the left largely regards my fellow midwesterners as one short step up from the supposedly anti-intellectual, backwards south.

The alternative, then, is to go with somebody a bit more moderate in their eyes, like Sen. John Kerry (who will not be receiving communion in Wisconsin any time soon) or Sen. John Edwards. Both have received more favorable press because of their campaigns that are not as viscerally stirring as Dean's. In short, it's a bit more easy to like both Edwards and Kerry, and likeability goes a long way when you're attempting to swing a massive number of non-party affiliated votes.

It's going to be interesting.
posted by Josh at 11:03 PM

Real American Heroes/Real Men of Genius

I remember when various radio stations prior to 9/11 were carrying the "Real American Heroes" ads for Bud Light. I guess they got nervous with that after the "American hero" took on a different meaning, but they continued on under "Real Men of Genius." And thanks to this website, you can hear them all!
posted by Josh at 5:00 AM

     Friday, January 16, 2004
More From George on The Da Vinci Crap

Chicago Sun-Times:More answers from George on 'Da Vinci Code'
From my unscientific survey, about half of you think it's simply well-marketed fiction and nothing more.

The other half, the ones who are a little more open to conspiracy theories and embrace the possibility that there is a creature of mythic proportions living in Loch Ness, believe Brown might be on to something. And something big.

posted by Josh at 6:44 PM

Which is More Disturbing?

#1: That you can purchase a piece of Abe Lincoln's hair from his assassination.


#2: That there is a group named "Historical Hair" that trades in this sort of thing?
posted by Josh at 5:29 PM

I Was Secretly Hoping It'd Be Him...

John Paul II
You are Pope John Paul II. You are a force to be
reckoned with.

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by Josh at 4:53 AM

     Thursday, January 15, 2004
Fr. Andrew Greeley on We, The Orthodox

The boomers are receding within our Church, and this has Fr. Greeley nervous. In large part, Fr. Greeley finds that the recently ordained tend to be more conservative and, well, more in line with age-old Tradition regarding morality and the sacred priesthood:
Stark differences exist between older and younger priests on many major areas of concern within the Church. The 2002 Los Angeles Times study reveals that priests of the Vatican II generation overwhelmingly support the idea that priests should be allowed to marry. In the study 80 percent of priests aged forty-six to sixty-five were in favor, as were 74 percent of those aged sixty-six to seventy-five. Only about half the priests under thirty-five, however, supported the idea. The study revealed a clear divide, too, on the ordination of women. Sixty percent of priests aged fifty-six to sixty-five, and at least half of those aged forty-six to seventy-five, supported the idea, but only 36 percent of priests under forty-six did. Significantly, even priests over seventy-five-whose views took shape well before Vatican II-were slightly more likely to support the marriage of priests and the ordination of women than were the young priests.
As a result of this return to a more orthodox perspective, Fr. Greeley suggests that young priests are working against the aims of Vatican II, and thus distancing themselves from a more morally liberal laity. His conclusion is interesting:
To explain the laity's dissatisfaction with the Church, priests from all generations tend to trot out the usual litany: individualism, materialism, secularism, lack of faith, lack of prayer, lack of commitment, media bias, hedonism, sexual freedom, feminism, family breakdown, lack of education, and apathy. The advantage of such explanations is that they free priests from any personal responsibility and put the blame on factors over which the clergy cannot be expected to exercise much control. The rectory thus becomes an isolated citadel battered by cultural forces, which encourages precisely the sort of closed, band-of-brothers mentality that the Vatican II reforms were designed to break down.
The "usual litany" -- which I happen to agree with -- does not have to foster an environment where priests wall themselves off in "citadel" fashion, entirely withdrawn from the secular world around them. One fairly orthodox priest comes to mind immediately, and many others that I have met do not see themselves as detatched entirely from the populous because they have a religious vocation. For your average young orthodox priest, I daresay it doesn't have much to do with "Us Against Them," as much as it does, "These are our sheep, and sometimes they go astray, but we love them all and have a duty to keep them on the right path." Priestly love isn't shown by retreating in to an Ivory Tower, nor is it shown by a complete capitulation to secular forces that encourage and promote amoral behavior. This is what we, the young orthodox know. Those who consider a religious vocation or have come in to Holy Orders are not fleeing from society. Rather, we're making a sincere effort to love with the best interests of both the Church and Her people in mind.
posted by Josh at 4:51 AM

Fr. Groeschel Update
Today is Wednesday, January 14, and here is a brief update on Fr. Benedict's condition.

Fr. Benedict appears to be "the same" as yesterday - at least externally; sedated, in a sleep-like state and lightly assisted by a respirator. However, being "the same" is actually good -- he hasn't lost any ground. The body is healing itself and this takes time - God willing, these are the first steps along a long road to recovery.

Tonight, between six and eight o'clock (EST) a well-know and highly esteemed trauma surgeon will be operating on his broken right arm. The mere fact that they have opted for surgery indicates a certain amount of "strength in the system." Doctors don't like taking chances if they don't have to. So, in short, we should see this as a positive sign.

Keep him - and all of those suffering with the tragedy of surprised injury - in your prayers.
posted by Josh at 1:52 AM

Ring Tones are Big Business

According to Reuters, cell phone ring tones are now a $3.5 billion dollar business. That's a lot of money for songs that sound like they've been recorded on a pre-historic Casio.
posted by Josh at 12:34 AM


The resin model of Christopher Walken's head is now up to $31.00. With just 3 days left for bidding, wouldn't this be ideal for your foyer or living room? A greater discussion piece there never was!

(And yes, Chris, Walken still has need of his actual head, and should be needing it for future music videos where he shows off his trained dance steps.)
posted by Josh at 12:16 AM

This Saddens Me Greatly

The people over at Little Green Footballs do a wonderful job of keeping the world up-to-date on the latest developments concerning Palestine and Israel. Yesterday afternoon they blogged on this news story out of the Middle East:
In an unprecedented show of support for a human bomb attack, Yasser Arafat's official radio greeted with elation the news of latest suicide assault in the Gaza Strip.

"Citizen Rim al-Riyashi was heroically martyred when she carried out an explosive operation at the Beit Hanoun Junction, killing four soldiers of the Occupation," declared Voice of Palestine Radio in its 4-PM newscast, about an hour after the attack in the Gaza Strip.

Arafat for another Nobel Prize!

Things like this make me sick, and as I pray for peace in the Middle East through non-violence, I become more aware of the fact that a warrior religion isn't going to settle for anything less than having it all their way.
posted by Josh at 12:08 AM

     Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Britney, Britney...

Yahoo! Launch Music: Britney Believes in 'Sanctity' of Marriage
"I do believe in the sanctity of marriage, I totally do," Spears told MTV's "Total Request Live" in a telephone interview Wednesday. "(But) I was in Vegas, and it took over me."[...] The pop superstar says she can't understand the fuss.

"We landed on Mars that day - why aren't they talking about that?" she asked, referring to the Mars Rover launched by NASA .
Maybe they're talking about it because a public pop figure made a mockery out of the 'sanctity' of marriage that you claim to profess?

Just maybe, though.
posted by Josh at 11:56 PM

Hilarious Dean Image

Allah Is In The House has a link to a fantastic picture from a Howard Dean press conference. Caption it and join the fun.
posted by Josh at 10:59 PM

When Did The Christian Science Monitor Become a Liberal Rag?

On various blogs that I visit, individuals have voiced their suspicion that TheChristian Science Monitor has become progressively liberal in their attitudes towards both Christianity and the United States as it relates to the global stage. I've been keeping an eye on TCSM, and stories like this one confirm what others have been saying. Interesting stuff.
posted by Josh at 10:53 PM

Peace Doesn't Include Beating Your Spouse

CNN: 'Beat women' cleric gets 15 months
MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish court has sentenced a Muslim cleric to 15 months in jail for inciting violence through a book he wrote advising men on how to beat women without leaving any marks or evidence, the president of a women's group told CNN.

posted by Josh at 8:42 PM

How Did This Happen?!

My life is rated R.
What is your life rated?

Seriously, folks, it's only rated R if we're at Disneyland.
posted by Josh at 6:28 PM

Look! This Time I'm Defending Dean, Taking Aim at His Apologists

Pardon me for it, but I've run in to plenty of noteworthy Dean-related material this evening. Another page out of yesterday's opinion section entitled "Newsweek's grand inquisitor" takes Newsweek's Howard Fineman to task for asking Dean about his theological perspective. This one is so much fun, I want to go through it one section at a time.
The media's increasingly negative coverage of former Vermont governor Howard Dean's presidential campaign reached a nadir of sorts last week, when Newsweek's cover package featured an interview that essentially cast reporter Howard Fineman as grand inquisitor and Dean as suspected heretic
In order for Fineman to be 'grand inquisitor' and Dean a 'suspected heretic,' the reporter would have to ask Dean for verifiable proof and evidence supporting his faith. It's pretty clear - as we see later in the article - that Fineman is merely questioning Dean on his religious beliefs. The initial religious question is a simple one:
After five straight questions about Iraq and the war on terrorism, Fineman asks Dean, out of nowhere, "Do you see Jesus Christ as the son of God and believe in him as the route to salvation and eternal life?"

Dean, belying his reputation for having a hot temper, gives a low-key reply: "I certainly see him as the son of God. I think whether I'm saved or not is not gonna be up to me."
Interesting that Aaron Kinney suspects Dean's "hot temper" would lash out at a benign question such as this. Why would Dean conceivably bark at this moderate question? Even those such as myself who have seen evidence of Dean's temper would be really surprised if this set the man off.
The bias Fineman's question exuded is alarming. No doubt many Christian groups in America would like to ask Dean that question, and they're entitled to. But Newsweek? To be sure, faith is a relevant campaign issue, as is the question of whether Dean or other Democrats can connect with Christian voters, particularly in the South. But Fineman didn't merely ask if the Vermont doctor was religious; he phrased his question in a way to root out whether Dean subscribes to a particular kind of born-again Christianity. We've reached a new low when reporters are doing the Rev. Jerry Falwell's work for him.
You heard it here first, folks: some types of Christians don't subscribe to the belief that Christ is the "son of God" and that he is the "route to salvation and eternal life." That's only what those whacky born-agains think, according to our friend here. Funny, and I thought all branches of Christianity revolved around this one fundamental belief. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, and yes, even rad-trads tend to be in agreement on this point. Those who don't see Christ as the Son of God and thus the highway to heaven aren't typically called Christians.

Kinney, reflecting upon Dean's comment that he feels "Job-like" recently, says:
Readers who merely flip past the interview will see only "I'm feeling like Job," which, taken by itself, could make Dean seem even more pompous and egocentric than Newsweek and other members of the mainstream media have already painted him to be.
It's possible that the reader could see this in a number of ways if the original context for the response is not provided, but that's not what Kinney is talking about. He's referring to the failure of the reader to look up 20 lines and find the context in the article. If this is truly what Kinney fears, I suggest that nothing should ever be written again.

Please, loyal and dear reader, do not read that last sentence without scrolling up, lest you draw the conclusion that I advocate the destruction of Arts and Letters.
posted by Josh at 3:39 AM

This is What Happens...

...when the chattering classes over-analyze/think about relationships in what can only be a coerced attempt to live the life of a Melrose Place character. God/Buddha/Allah/Odin knows that the health of the family is at risk when you marry within your own faith, right?!

Nice try, Abby.
posted by Josh at 2:52 AM

Has the Media Been Selling a Distorted Picture of Dean? The media vs. Howard Dean
Democrats haven't voted yet, but reporters have got the story: The former Vermont governor is angry, gaffe-prone and unelectable. How do they know? Republicans, and anonymous Democrats, told them so.
Actually, Dean has no one but himself to thank for how the press has handled his temper. Early on I developed the general notion that Dean was an angry loony lefty by hearing him clamor on about how Bush is Evil (tm of the DNC). It's an easily detectable characteristic of his campaign available for recognition by the most passive observer.

Oh, and I love this little quote from Dean on his own temper:
The episode marks the first time that the short-fused Democrat has lost his temper in public during the campaign, although last month he admitted he sometimes gets so angry he needs to be physically restrained.

"If someone punches me I am apt to chase them down, and I need to be restrained by the people who know better and have been in the game longer than I have," Dean told MSNBC.
Case closed,
posted by Josh at 2:33 AM

Save the Planet! The Red Planet!

In reading Joshua Claybourn's latest piece on the potential for Martian oil, I can't help but look forward to the emergence of intergalactic environmentalists. Fast-forwarding twenty years, here might be their major points:

  • "You're destroying [the planet in question]!" You're stripping the land and ruining its natural environmental characteristics, you capitalists! The beauty of [the planet in question] will never be the same!

  • "What about the potential for life on [tpiq]?" You could be disrupting the Plan of the Universe! These creatures that don't exist are in danger of becoming extinct! For the sake of tofu, think of the children! O the humanity!

  • Well, maybe that's a bit over the top, but you wait. If we ever make this sort of thing feasible, some sort of EcoTerrorist somewhere will hate us for it.
    posted by Josh at 1:55 AM

    Film Cameras, RIP

    MSNBC: Kodak to stop selling traditional cameras
    posted by Josh at 12:32 AM

    Gee, I Wonder What the Troops Think About Europe

    This about sums it up.
    posted by Josh at 12:26 AM


    Better Than The $10,000 Augustine!

    Cox and Forkum offers a fantastic t-shirt sporting this image. I wouldn't exactly wear it to a retreat or anything, but it'd sure turn heads.
    posted by Josh at 12:04 AM

         Tuesday, January 13, 2004
    Christopher Walken Head!

    eBay: Currently at $9.99, what a bargain!
    posted by Josh at 11:52 AM

    Need Ink? Call the Cistercian LaserMonks!

    SlashDot: LaserMonks Offer Prayer, Printer Cartridges
    posted by Josh at 12:05 AM

         Monday, January 12, 2004
    'Allah Is In The House' Simply Hilarious

    Check out Allah Is In The House, a site that mocks current news, mostly from the Arab world. The majority of it is clean and fun satire, but there is an occassional bad word thrown in the mix. Today's post goes straight towards the pressing issues:
    Somehow last night Allah and Osama got to discussing which character would we be if we could be any character from American literature. Osama said Captain Ahab. Allah said the Hamburglar. Think about it. He is, like, amazing. How does he get away with stealing so many burgers when he is already dressed like a criminal? Do people in McDonaldland not know to hide their Big Macs when they see a guy in a mask and a f-'ing striped jumpsuit prowling around? Then, what happens when a burger is stolen? Is there any doubt about who did it?
    You know, Allah, I've wondered the same thing.
    posted by Josh at 4:47 PM

    Have We Found Water on Mars?

    Quite possibly, writes As interesting as all of this is, I'm still compelled to reply with, "So what?"
    posted by Josh at 4:26 PM

    Buy This For Me and I'll Be Your Best Friend!


    Actually, for the asking price, I'd just prefer holding on to my 20th century copy. But the bibliophile in me sure loves this.
    posted by Josh at 3:20 PM

    Prayers Needed for Fr. Groeschel

    Catholic Exchange (via Mark Shea): TV Preacher Father Benedict Groeschel Hit by Car in Florida

    When I was coming out of the agnostic fog and in to full communion, Fr. Groeschel's presence on EWTN was of great benefit to me, both spiritually and intellectually. His learned nature and sincere honesty pours forth in almost every sentence he utters. May God grant him a speedy recovery!
    posted by Josh at 3:16 PM

    Cardinal Francis George Doesn't Think Much of The Da Vinci Code either

    The Chicago Sun-Times: Cardinal takes a crack at 'The Da Vinci Code'
    posted by Josh at 5:25 AM

    Own a Piece of... History!

    Thanks to a couple savvy individuals, now you can own sand from the site of Saddam's capture.

    And to think this missed the holiday rush....
    posted by Josh at 5:07 AM

    Psychosis, Reality, and Art

    Check out this neat website which highlights the effect of mental disorders on artistic expression.

    I don't like cats to begin with.

    posted by Josh at 4:56 AM

    First Things on the Death of Johnny Cash

    I'm a bit late finding this article, but what an article it is. This piece sums up not only why Cash succeeded while literally thousands fell in to obscurity ("That's because he lived, sang, and played truthfully. There was in him no hint of fraud"), but we also get a glimpse of the Christian Man in Black:
    For Cash there was no empty cross but a crucifix, which neither concealed the horrors of suffering nor prematurely removed the bleeding Christ to a higher plane. In the end, it seems all his life's vices-and even his virtues-were consumed by the blood of Christ. The truth of Cash's music, and of his life, lies in the image of the crucified Jesus-who dies alone and forsaken, simultaneously consummating the whole creation and crippled by its weight. For Cash, redemption was not won without a fight: "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrew 9:22).
    I pray one day I'll meet him in Heaven.
    posted by Josh at 3:23 AM

    New Autobiography: Was Shakespeare a Catholic?

    The New York Times: Avon Calling
    Wells will have none of this; Wood, though unusually cautious about William Shakeshafte, is convinced that Shakespeare's parents had remained Catholics.

    posted by Josh at 3:12 AM

    Gotta Love the NRO's Corner

    Two individuals blog glowingly about Archbishop Burke's recent statement concerning the Eucharist and pro-abortion politicians (scroll up for the second comment). Here's my favorite snippet:
    "When Dr. Martin Luther King wrote his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail," he cited the natural law teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas in defense of civil disobedience. If Dr. King drew from Catholic teaching to uphold what is right and good, then should not we as Catholics do so as well?"
    Also, directly below the entry of the link provided, the NRO goes after Sullivan's selective reading. Andrew Sullivan misinterpreting things for the benefit of what Mark Shea calls "lil' wille?" It can't be possible.
    posted by Josh at 2:40 AM

's Best Fiction of 2003 is usually dead-on when it comes to matters art-related, even if they are often politically astray.
    posted by Josh at 12:57 AM

         Friday, January 09, 2004
    Modern Day Slavery

    www.chiesa: Twenty-first Century African Slaves – In the Land of Islam
    The book contains testimony by women and children who escaped from slavery and evidences that in the 1990s the practice was encouraged by the National Islamic Front, the leading party in Khartoum headed by Hassan Al-Turabi, an important leader in the Islamic world:

    "Leading NIF figures mobilized the local Arab tribesmen; encouraged them to participate in the jihad; promised them the right to keep slaves as the bounty of war, assuring them that it is justified in the Koran, as a means of conversion to Islam; and provided logistical back-up on 'slave raids' with provisions of horses, weapons and troops." [...]

    The book also contains interviews with Arab slave traders, who sustain that the shari’a (Islamic law) authorizes them to enslave children and relatives of men with whom they are at war. They state that they sell slaves to Arabs in other countries.
    An older friend of mine in his mid-50's - a relatively liberal, artistic individual - told me how he was taught in grade school that Islam was largely a warrior religion that used violence and all sorts of nasty means to convert indviduals. How anyone could ever draw those conclusions is beyond me.
    posted by Josh at 4:25 AM

         Thursday, January 08, 2004

    If you haven't been living under a rock like me recently, you're probably already well-aware of Godspy, a Catholic site containing a wealth of good articles updated near-daily. Check it out; I give it a 5-star rating.
    posted by Josh at 4:12 PM


    Revelations Regarding Revelations

    Anyone half-way versed in Catholic Apologetics knows the reasoning behind the Catholic rejection of sola scriptura, since it is one of the defining differences between Orthodox and Protestant systems. That being said, I will leave this argument to those who have debunked the notion of sola scriptura effortlessly.

    There is, however, something further that I would like to develop. Others have undoubtedly voiced what I am about to lay out, but it seems to be underplayed by a majority of apologists who tend to stress different (yet equally critical) points.

    The collection of documents referred to as canonical scripture received their status as the result of the First Council of Nicea. During this time, the early Church was struggling with the heresy of Arianism. Church leaders came together to discuss - and agree - upon issues of Christian doctrine so that the Church could move forward in a unified tone, preaching one set of beliefs.

    It is important to note that these agreed upon beliefs were pre-existing before the Council, and came as the result of Tradition, handed down through apostolic succession. The importance of succession is not something dreamed up by the later Church to prove its authority; we see from the Greek Christian historian Eusebius (who wrote his The History of the Church in the early fourth century) that ancient Catholicism stressed apostolic succession because of how proper authority was handed down from one bishop to the next, linking directly back to the apostles. It is also important to understand that the Council did not convene in order to revolutionize the dogmatic principles behind Christianity. We see countless examples in historical texts, where the early Church Fathers viewed the most pure, wholesome Christian Church as one who maintained the beliefs and practices of the apostles, therefore linking directly to the High Priest, Jesus Christ. Thus, hammering out the differences in opinion was the primary goal of the First Council of Nicea, and only pre-existing beliefs were ratified.

    How does any of this relate to the canon of the Bible? Under these obvious conditions, we recognize that the Bible did not develop as a sole means by which to express and explain the Christian faith. Rather, the canon was set in order to explain these pre-existing beliefs, held by the apostles and the bishops who met at Nicea. Obviously, the texts that didn't make the canon were rejected because they did not adequately express the teachings handed down via Tradition. The Bible's task is merely to point towards Tradition. As a result, it's no coincidence that the apologetic notion of biblical justification for Catholic doctrine holds true. How could it not, when the canon was set with this primary goal in mind?

    To divorce Tradition from the Bible leads to all sorts of problems, difficulties Mark Shea highlights wonderfully in his By What Authority? Heresies of all sorts, rejected by Protestants and Catholics alike, can be justified and strengthened by an errant reading of scripture, where scripture is seen as the sole means by which to explain the Faith.

    In my next post on the subject of sacred scripture, I'll take a look at how post-modern literary theory actually supports the Catholic view of authority as it relates to the written Word. It'll be a bit of a stretch and some concessions must be made, but I think it's a worthy endeavor.
    posted by Josh at 2:24 PM


    The One Democrat I Don't Distrust... good 'old Joe Lieberman. Old moderate Joe, who has a sense of God, who knows a valid war when he sees one, and who I sense actually loves this country of ours. I also sense that he's one of the hold-outs from a time when the Democratic party based its positions on actual ideals. Oh, and there's another reason I like Joe, from a recent ABC News Interview:
    "Lieberman has spent most of his professional life in politics, but there's perhaps one aspiration he might have enjoyed pursuing. 'I went through a Bob Dylan phase,' he said. 'One of his tours was called The Rolling Thunder Review - when Joan Baez was with him and people would come and go. It would have been fun to have spent a few months with Dylan on The Rolling Thunder Review."

    posted by Josh at 3:20 AM


    Hypocrisy Abundant in Michigan and Moral Relativism

    Oswald over at Catholic Analysis, one of my favorites in St. Blog land because of his intellectual look at Catholicism and our times, posted a beauty today on Michigan and their governor. He writes:
    Granholm is the same governor who incredibly claims to be a prayerful Catholic inspired by Mother Teresa and who quotes Scripture in her budget battles with Republicans.
    I wonder what Mother Teresa would say about a woman like this, who praises the future saint's works and then destroys them with her tongue in the next sentence. Probably something like, "I tell you, I don't know you..." (Luke 13:25).

    Yesterday, Sobrino wrote on liberal Christianity's attempt to ignore the signified that comes via the Cross as signifier in order to justify their worldly sins. He sums up this notion as such:
    Do not trust anyone who reserves to himself or herself the final determination of what is right and wrong. You shouldn't deposit a nickel with such a person, much less your body or commitment or future. Without acknowledging God's revelation of right and wrong, we end up as hopelessly amoral,untrustworthinessy, and lacking in integrity.
    How right he is. Moral relativism is - the notion that I alone can decide what is moral and amoral - extremely appealing to my sense of the worldly. In fact, I lived it for a number of years. Having rejected the notion of 'sin,' I took on a system of belief where I wasn't doing anything wrong unless I hurt others. Regardless of the fact that my sins wound up largely hurting me, I lived by this false ethos

    The biggest problem with moral relativism is that nobody really lives it, and having this pointed out to me was the biggest step towards putting the false philosophy to bed. For example, a true moral relativist would be forced to say, "So what if Al Qaeda believes that Americans should die? If that's their moral stance, then so be it!" And while you wouldn't know it from comments made by many morally relativist liberals, they actually do pass judgment. For some reason, these individuals dare to condemn poor 'ole Al Qaeda, who is merely living out its own version of morality. And in doing so, liberals of this view wipe out any claim at moral relativism because they have made a moral judgment and condemned a group due to the fact that the terrorist's moral code does not coincide with their own.

    If we have a world of seven billion gods who decide what is right or wrong, how can there ever be any progress? When every man is an island, firm in his belief that every man should decide for himself yet also firm in the belief that his is the right moral code, we cease to exist in any form of cohesiveness.

    I used to have a problem with the Catholic Church - or any religious institution - telling me how to behave, what to do and what to avoid. I thought of myself as a "good" person capable of determining those things on my own. Yet we're not really capable, because man's nature is to create the easiest path for himself, regardless of his personal flaws. And if we find ourselves in a situation we would have previously condemned, we just re-write our moral code to fit it in somehow. It's quite evident that man can rationalize and justify any evil.

    That's why we need a Church who speaks out against the soiling of marriage, the injustice of infanticide, and the very notion of moral relativism. Rather than view the Church as a prison wherein I am shackled to a moral code, I see Her as the great liberator; the Church gives me the path to happiness, because every sin condemned by Her is an element of humanity that leads to misery.
    posted by Josh at 12:03 AM

         Thursday, January 01, 2004

    Happy New Year!

    Just wanted to take a few moments to wish you all a happy New Year. May this year bring, to you and yours, much spiritual prosperity.

    Looking back upon the past 12 months, I wonder how I made it through. I went through about half of it in a Dark Night of the Soul, as the Little Flower calls it, as have many. It was really the first time in my life that I struggled with what Winston Churchill referred to as his "Black Dog." Depression nipped at my heels for a good six months, but in those six months I have done more to turn towards Christ and His loving embrace than I have in the rest of my years combined. I sometimes wonder - no, it becomes more clear by the day - that this burden was placed upon me for just that reason: to bring me closer to God and His Church. Without suffering the soul cannot make gains, and this year I went quite a ways.

    So on the occasion of this New Year, when we celebrate Mary, Mother of God, I pray that all of those who have known broken promises and betrayal might come to feel Christ's comfort, and simply remember this: Even though Peter betrayed Christ by denying his relationship to Him, even though he broke his promise never to disown Him, Christ founded His Church upon Peter. How much pain and anguish Peter's denial must've caused Christ! And yet, Peter is still the Rock. While Christ knew of Peter's pride and eventual betrayal, Christ still gave him the keys to the Kingdom. Christ forgave Peter and bid him to do God's will here on earth. We're called to forgive the same way, even though it's undeniably difficult.

    This is, I would argue, the most fundamental beauty behind Christianity. To know that God felt the pain of abandonment and betrayal. To know that God, ever powerful God, felt the lash of the whip. He felt those nails and the sting of the lance. God suffered and died a death more horrible than He Himself will grant the overwhelming majority of us.

    This is why, when we send up our cries and our tears and our frustration, God hears us. He knows it firsthand. And He comforts us all, one way or another.

    God Bless.

    posted by Josh at 11:10 PM

    saint some days

    My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

    I do not see the road ahead of me
    Nor do I really know myself,
    And the fact that I think I am following your will
    Does not mean that I am actually doing so.

    But I believe that the desire to please you
    Does in fact please you.
    And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
    And I know that if I do this,
    You will lead me by the right road
    Though I may know nothing about it.

    Therefore will I trust you always though, I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, And you will never leave me to face my struggles alone.

    -- Thomas Merton


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