This is Getting Hard to Take

Do people really think that everybody who disagrees with them about politics is

A) stupid,

B) an unwitting tool of the forces of evil,

C) an amoral slimeball, or

D) all of the above?

Really? Like, it’s us against them, Gondor versus Mordor, Rebel Alliance vesus Galactic Empire? Because, if that’s really the case, then shut up, get a gun and start shooting – what’s left to talk about? They’re just orcs and cloned storm troopers anyway – why waste your breath, just cut to the chase.

BUT – if among your opponents are some actual human beings, then ENOUGH WITH THE BASHING, ALREADY!

Currently, the Tea Party people seem to be getting the worst of it, but that changes moment to moment, I’m sure the socialists and liberals are taking their share of incoming fire, too.

While acknowledging that, yes, there are some stupid, ignorant, gullible people out there, and yes, there are evil people out there, too, who gladly use the gullible as tools (and the gullible are often gladly so used in return for getting to pretend they are with the cool kids), I’m really not convinced – yet – that the situation is so bad that it’s constructive politics and acceptable humanity to sneeringly insult and dismiss *everybody* who shares a particular political point of view I happen to disagree with.

Memo to liberals: Tea Party people have some valid points. Many of them are very aware that certain established forces are trying to co-op and neuter their movement, and are fighting it like mad. Many of them are appalled at the same exact behaviors in government and business that appall the socialists in your camp. There are plenty of goofballs in that movement, but, hey, take a look in the mirror before you start thinking there’s any higher percentage of goofball Tea Partiers that goofball Liberals.

Memo to Conservatives: Socialists have some valid points. Amoral capitalism – which is what we’ve got, once you get a little past the mom and pop level of business – is compelled by its own internal logic to do Very Bad Things. Very. Bad. Liberal outrage at the injustices perpetrated in the name of profits is real, and, at least sometimes, completely valid. Not all liberals are closet Stalinists who hate America. Many love America as much as you do.

Yes, evil people and nuts are out there. But, at least as a working assumption, let’s assume that many of our fellow Americans are worth talking to in a civil manner even if they don’t agree with us politically.  For if  our opponents are, in fact, as our President put it, ‘enemies’, the rational alternative is not name-calling and sneering. If our ‘enemies’ are really orcs and stormtroopers – well, you know how that turns out.


Music at Mass Review: 11/7/2010

Attended Parish C today. Children’s Choir.

Parish C has, by far, the highest commitment to liturgical music of any of the local parishes. Adult choir, kid’s choir, two separate ethnic choirs, two excellent keyboard dudes, instrumentalists – it’s  good to see that level of commitment and involvement.

They also seem to, you know, READ THE LYRICS before foisting them off on the congregation – while ‘lame’ happens sometimes, heresy is avoided. I love that.

For the last 40 years, children’s choirs have usually meant 1) suffering and 2) near occasion of sin. It is best not to even think about the smiley-faced abominations we’ve endured. So, I was very pleasantly surprised today when the children assembled in choir robes as if they were going to be a real choir. And, wonder of wonders, they even sang a *Greek* Kyrie, and not a wimpy one, but one with a little meat to it. Cool! (I was sitting up front, and the  kid’s choir director mouthed ‘thank you’ to me, as I was probably the one person in the congregation that a) knew that Kyrie, and b) has a loud voice – otherwise, the poor kids would have not heard much of a response. as I mentioned, it wasn’t a super-easy Kyrie.)

The kids made a yeoman’s effort at a couple pieces that I’d never heard before, clearly written for children’s choir but also not silly. One sounded a bit like Faure, for crying out loud, with the kids having to follow that modal slippery-slidey-ness of that style. They weren’t great, but it was such a relief to hear them try some real music.

They did do a couple goofy songs – that Gloria *clap*clap* thing, Gather Your People, O Lord – but adult choirs inexplicably do those songs, too.

All in all, there’s still hope in the world. Kids singing chant – whoda thunk it?

Smart versus Dumb; Right versus Wrong

While I am of the ‘Pox Upon Both Their Houses’ Party – the party of George Washington and other true patriots – this does not prevent me from seeing good in either of them, when that good presents itself. For example, there are and have been any number of very intelligent Democrats – Clinton is brilliant man, as is Barney Frank. FDR and the Kennedy brothers were very intelligent. All these men probably are or were smarter than I am. And demographic reality suggests there are plenty more men and women Democrats who are really, really smart.

Being intelligent is a good thing. But it is a good thing like being beautiful, not a good thing like speaking the truth. For – and this is the part Democrats in particular seem to be unclear on – it is entirely possible to be brilliant, insightful, eloquent, charming, and possess all the other gifts of the intellect – and utterly and completely WRONG. It is also completely possible to be dim-witted, ignorant, provincial – and completely right.

The subtle thing here is that, while intelligence may help you understand a situation more quickly and thoroughly than those who are not as intelligent as you in that particular way, that very same intelligence comes with a set of temptations and pitfalls that are not as big an issue with the less intelligent.  Chief among these is hubris. Closely related is the need to be thought brilliant – it’s very hard for a person whose self image is all tied up in being thought smart to endure the scorn of others who are thought smart. This, I think, explains what has been called ‘the herd of independent thinkers’ phenomenon. Continue reading “Smart versus Dumb; Right versus Wrong”

In other news, Snake Swallows Self

How does one make funny out of the following?

–        Carefully timing the news so that it happens too late to inspire yet more people to go to the polls AND hits the post-election news cycle so that it will get buried, the Fed has announced that it will buy at least $600B in Treasury bonds. That means one arm of the government – the Fed* – is buying debt from another arm of the government – the Treasury. In this case, the Fed is creating money (no, really – the Fed’s job is to create money ex nihilo. You knew that, right?) solely for the purpose of funding our government debt. Continue reading “In other news, Snake Swallows Self”

Songs at Mass Review (10/31/10)

Oh, boy. At the early Mass today at Parish A, got both a winner of a song and shanghaied into singing it.

The long term choir director, who is a very nice guy and a good musician, in whose choirs I and my kids used to sing years ago, saw me in the pews and collared me to help him lead the singing – he had issues with his voice (cold?) and had only one other person in his choir show up, and I’m loud and can read music, So –

I’m standing at his side at a lectern very purposely set so that one’s back is directly to the tabernacle, singing  this beauty:

What Is This Place

  1. What is this place where we are meeting? Only a house, the earth its floor.
    Walls and a roof sheltering people, windows for light, an open door.
    Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here, and know our God is near.
  2. Words from afar, stars that are falling, sparks that are sown in us like seed:
    names for our God, dreams, signs and wonders sent from the past are all we need.
    We in this place remember and speak again what we have heard:
    God’s free redeeming word.
  3. And we accept bread at this table, broken and shared, a living sign.
    Here in this world, dying and living, we are each other’s bread and wine.
    This is the place where we can receive what we need to increase:
    our justice and God’s peace.

By some act of divine mercy, I have for nigh these many years been spared this, this *thing*. Let’s dig in:

Continue reading “Songs at Mass Review (10/31/10)”

Will the Real Skeptic Please Speak Up? Another Ramble

In college, many years ago, I once read a little pamphlet that contained some exchanges between Martin Luther and Erasmus, occasioned by Luther’s publishing of a paper called ‘On the Bondage of the Will’. It was a fascinating read on several levels, but one item in particular has stuck in my mind all this time. Erasmus makes the point that, if Luther truly believes that the human will is not free, why in the world would he bother talking about it? Learning about the abject slavery of the human will isn’t needed by those Christians who by the sole grace of God and through no merit of their own have gained freedom, and it won’t do any good for those other poor souls, who are utterly enslaved by sin and are incapable of doing anything at all to change that situation.

It seemed like a pretty good point to me at the time, and still does. However, history shows that Luther did not, in fact, stop talking about it. Score 1 for passion, 0 for logical consistency.

But then again, those who think consistency is some sort of hobgoblin must take some comfort in how few people are afflicted with it. Continue reading “Will the Real Skeptic Please Speak Up? Another Ramble”