Sed Contra


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Monday, October 13, 2003

Making The Leap
My five readers may be pleased or dismayed to learn that I have made the Typepad. Henceforth Sed Contra may be found at this address. I will pop in here a while more to check on comments and old posts, but I doubt I shall post here again.
On The Front Lines
The problem Mr. Culbreath ran into, unfortunately, stems from a perennial confusion, but remains one which he can and should remedy.

I doubt, highly, that Mr. Culbreath discriminated against self-identified gays and lesbians on the basis of their merely being same sex attracted. For example, if a self-identified gays and lesbians were involved in a business that offered products or services completely unrelated to same sex attraction, accounting, or landscaping or decorating or financial advising, would they still have refused to print the card?

I think its completely legitimate to decline to print messages which one disagrees with morally, and Mr. Culbreath could and should make the case that he would not have printed the cards of anyone involved in, say, offering a swingers club or or other "service." By appearing to agree that the basis of his not printing the card lay with the person who presented the business, rather than the behavior the business sought to promote, I am afraid Mr. Culbreath fell into a familiar trap.
Some Thoughts On Rush
Now that some of the fuss has died down, I wanted to offer a couple of brief thoughts on Rush Limbaugh's announcement that he is entering treatment for an apparently long-standing addiction to prescription pain killers.

I want to make it clear that I don't wish Mr. Limbaugh anything but the best and success with his treatment. I cannot imagine the pain that might have led him into this addiction, and the pain he will have to endure shaking it. I agree entirely with Mark Shea on the matter.

But with that said, I wanted to ask some questions. What, for example, will be the disposition of the State and Federal prosecutors toward Rush's case? I don't wish to call down any of the legal dogs on Mr. Limbaugh, but his case does highlight some things about the current criminal justice situation vis a vis the War on Drugs that deserve notice.

According to a 1992 report prepared for The Sentencing Project:

Fifty-eight percent of drug prisoners – an estimated 124,885 inmates – have no history of violence or high level drug activity. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in state prisons have only been convicted of drug and/or non-violent offenses; one-third of the total have only been convicted of drug crimes. Four of every five drug prisoners are African-American (56%) and Hispanic(23%),well above their respective rates (13% and 9%) of overall drug use.

Now, to reiterate, I am not calling for the prosecution of Mr. Limbaugh on drug charges, but I am asking what makes Mr. Limbaugh's situation different from the thousands of other men and women in federal and state prison on purely drug use charges, charges without any violent component? The level of his wealth and connections? The color of his skin? Maybe one of the silver linings that might arise from his travail, pain and suffering might be a reevaluation of a criminal justice policy which, in two many cases, criminalizes what, as Mr. Limbaugh is discovering, is a primarily medical problem.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Purgatory For Spammers!
In this case If only God told them on death that when they were purged and ready to enter the company of the saints that He would send them an email to notify them of this. Each day (or whatever goes for time in purgatory) they would receive thousands of emails to sort through and that they would have to go through each one to try to find the one that notifies them of their perfection and promotion to Heaven.

They would get trick subject lines like "Welcome to Heaven", "From God", "Your purgation is over!", yet when they opened them up they would see something like.

How large is your faith life? If you desire perfection then order for a significant discount spiritual viagra because "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life"

Anonymous Comments
Any comments posts to my comments boxes that do not have some name attached (I don't care whether or not it is the commenters real name) will be deleted. My aim is for this blog to foster discussion on different topics and anonymous one or two line postings feel too much like cowardly vandalism (no matter whether they agree with me or not.)

Anyone who wants to stay and post a note is more than welcome. Anyone who doesn't feel they can do that with a name attached and still burns to comment should start their own web log.
If I lived in Denver...I Would Definitely Check Them Out
Founded in 1974 by a Frenchman who was formerly a Protestant pastor, the group is one of few Catholic communities that includes both clergy and lay people.

The idea is to enrich members' lives by exposing them to people with starkly different callings. A nun doesn't have to live apart from children. A single person can live down the hall from a priest.

The movement grew out of the Catholic charismatic renewal, which stresses experiential worship - clapping, hands in the air and speaking in tongues.

In 1999, Christian and Christine Meert, a French couple who'd been living in a Beatitude monastery in Europe, founded the Denver community, one of 95 houses with 1,700 members in 30-plus countries.

The Beatitudes are centered on monasticism and contemplative prayer, with a deep devotion to Mary.

But they also borrow from Judaism and Orthodoxy to honor Catholicism's historic ties to those traditions.

The Denver community holds Shabbat dinner on Fridays and stages Jewish dance on Saturday nights in the convent basement. The white walls of its chapel are lined with the icons of saints, an Orthodox tradition.

Community members dress only in brown, symbolizing the earth, and white, for the Resurrection. They live simply, sharing a Toyota Corolla with 248,000 miles and a broken taillight. Their modest budget relies on donations, marriage preparation classes run by the Meerts, and the two priests' diocesan salaries.

Several times a day, the members gather to pray together. They study the Bible and Vatican II documents. They share meals. They pray more - alone. Night prayer at 8:30 is followed by the "great silence," when members tend to chores without a word. Bedtime is 9:30.

Some days and evenings, community members stage retreats or prayer services at other parishes.

"In a world with a lot of material needs, we can be a little light," said the Rev. Jose Sanchez, 43, a native of Argentina who arrived two months ago to shepherd the community.

Homily From the Abbot of the Monestary of Christ In The Desert
For this week's readings:

My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Does Jesus reject all wealthy people? That does not seem likely and the Gospel does no support such a view. Does Jesus ask everyone to follow Him? Yes, that seems to be His invitation to us. That “discipleship” makes various demands on various people.

If we start with the first reading, from the Book of Wisdom, we find a standard approach to material wealth: it does not compare at all with wisdom. This should immediately challenge each of us to ask a question: if I had to choose one or the other, either wealth or wisdom, which would I choose? We need to know ourselves well enough to be honest about our answers.

Then we can ask ourselves: if I had to choose between Jesus and wealth, which would I choose?

We do not have to presume, however, that wealth is opposed by itself to following Jesus. The whole concept of wise stewardship has arisen to try to describe people who truly follow Christ and use their wealth for the good of others.

So when we come to the Gospel, we must hear Jesus challenging the rich man to sell everything not as a demand, but as an invitation to follow Him more closely. This invitation must resound in our hearts as well. We must look truthfully at our own lives and ask if we are willing to give up everything in order to follow Jesus. Everything may not be asked of us, but we must be ready.

Surely Jesus, who had the reputation as a wine-bibber and a glutton (see Luke 7:34), is not a man who is insisting that everyone be austere and totally bereft of material goods. Rather, we have this invitation to follow Him. The second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews, speaks clearly about the demands of the Word of God. It is this Word of God that invites us over and over to follow the Lord.

Our challenge is not giving up wealth and material goods, our challenge is to follow Jesus and come to know the living God.

Christianity Today on Anglican Split
My old friend Doug Leblanc has a good story about the Anglican turmoil that goes a good bit deeper than most mainstream stories I have read have gone.
Priest Pulled From Parish After Criticizing Active Homosexuality
Father John J. Pasquini, a priest at St. Juliana Church in West Palm Beach has been asked to leave his parish, where he has been for three months, after he wrote critically about active homosexuality and the Episcopal Church's affirmation of a self-defined gay man as bishop.

When the priest asked what was going on, the Vicar General of the Diocese replied that Pasquini's homilies were poor, he didn't show enough devotion to Mass, he was not equipped to be a priest and would never be a pastor in the diocese.

So Pasquini is being packed off to a hospital where, with all his alleged pastoral inabilities, he is bound to be a hit among folks ill and dying and their relatives and friends.

Needless to say, I doubt that any of these allegations of fault are true. The Father has served two other parishes before and without complaint. I think he is in hot water because he dared to speak what the Church teaches in public and I hope another diocese that might remember that it is still Catholic might pick him up.

And you folks sometimes write me to ask why you don't hear more homilies about sexual sin, particularly about active homosexuality.

NY Times on Anglican Fissure
Article in the New York Times this morning about the split among Anglicans over approving homosex.

It includes some gems:

But now conservative Anglicans are saying that the era of collegial coexistence is over. They are threatening to divide the worldwide Anglican communion over the issue of homosexuality.

Let's see, one one side of the house announces that it is going to break the lease and follow after whatever the prevailing trends of ideology are loose on the streets and, yet, somehow, it's the other side of the house being blamed for preparing to move out?

These church leaders say that the real issue is honesty: There are gay Anglican priests, bishops and churchgoers in many countries, and the American church has merely allowed them to come out of the closet.

No, if there is one thing this is is not about, it's honesty. Honesty would mean that the folks pushing this agenda would have to admit it's about codifying misbehavior and sin. It's no great secret that Christians fail in their attempts to follow Christ, have to repent and get up and walk again. Kids in the natural world don't get it right the first times they try either.

But its quite another thing for a body which claims then name of Christ to declare that a behavior which has been seen as sinful for 2000 years is just not sinful any more.

The first might be personal failure and even hypocrisy, the tribute vice pays to virtue. But the second is an attempt to, by some sort of spiritual alchemy, turn vice into virtue. But no matter how many layers of gold paint are applied, the leaden weight of sin remains the leaden weight of sin. One thousand liberal Anglican prelates could meet in convocation for 1000 years and every day appear to solemnly declare the homesex is ok, and it still would not be ok.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Where, oh Where, Right Wing Film Geek?
I know he is out there because I keep seeing his comments in comment boxes. Come on Victor, pull the new computer out of the box and get going. It's a Mac, how hard can it be?
Why Women Do Not Wish The Suffrage
One hundred years ago women did not have the vote and there is a common believe now that all of them wanted to have it. Except for the ones who wrote essays in the Atlantic Monthly about why they didn't.

And how cool is it to have a publication whose archives goes back 100 years and which is willing to make some of the old stuff available online?

This is the negative reason why woman does not wish the ballot: she does not wish to engage in that conflict of wills which is the essence of politics; she does not wish to assume the responsibility for protecting person and property which is the essence of government. The affirmative reason is that she has other, and in some sense, more important work to do. It is more important than the work of government because it is the work for the protection of which governments are organized among men. Woman does not wish to turn aside from this higher work, which is itself the end of life, to devote herself to government, which exists only that this higher work may be done. Nor does she wish to divide her energies between the two. This higher work, which is itself the end of life, is Direct Ministry to Life.

A Thought On The Scottish Tempest
A lot of furor is being generated over the notion that Cardinal Designate Keith O'Brien might have had to make clear statements about his fidelity to the doctrines of the Church on contraception, celibacy, married clergy and homosexuality. Even if this were true, and I don't know that it is, why should it be news to expect a Prince of the Church to teach and hold what the Church teaches and holds?

Friday, October 10, 2003

More News On The Priest Alleged Involved With Sex Offender
Domenico Bettinelli has some more details on his blog. Turns out the priest involved was still a priest but not with a parish....
And Their Diocese Had No Place For Them, Of Course
My mind boggles when I think about the reception Saint Francis would get today.

The religious order they developed is formally called Holy Transfiguration Skete (monastery). It's a stone's throw from Lake Superior at Jacobs Falls, midway between Eagle Harbor and Eagle River, Mich. The cedar shingle-sided complex, with its soaring bell tower and three copper-sheathed domes, is styled after churches found on the steppes of the Ukraine. The monks also have taken on a Ukrainian church look, with heavy robes and full, untrimmed beards.

Despite their difference from the Upper Peninsula norm, the monks have been accepted.

Same Sex Marriage and Friendship
Eve Tushnet has been doing yoewoman's work in raising some terrific points in the ongoing debate about the nature of marriage and same sex marriage. I admit that I have not been paying as much attention to these discussions as I probably should, in part because much of the conversation has been above my head but also because I have to keep my snout too deeply buried in the day to day stuff of my life to be drawn into that discussion. Heck, I have trouble keep up this little web log!

But her recent posting on friendship and same sex marriage (thanks to Father Jim over at Dappled Things for pointing it out) lead me to ponder a little bit on how important friendship has been, and continues to be, in my own life.

It's no secret that the man with whom I used to be sexually involved have continued a deep and ongoing friendship even after we stopped sleeping together. We did so because, in the wake of the shock of chastity, we came to the conclusion that what we had as friends had always extended far beyond merely the bedroom and that there was no reason to stop being friends just because we stopped doing it.

This surprises and shocks some people, particularly Christians. I think the notion that maybe there might be some good in sexually active same sex relationships even though the sexual activity remained sinful stumps folks who really, really want to see the issue in more straightforward, black and white terms. But the truth remains. Lust and emotional neediness might have drawn us together, but ongoing growth and genuine love is what God drew out of such sordid beginnings.

I think our contemporary culture's understanding of friendship is extremely diminished, if not out and out impoverished. We confine our understanding of the loyalty of friendship, the love of friendship, the existence of genuine philia, to the realms of friendship and soldiering. The movie Stand By Me portrayed the sort of friendship that young boys can have, and it's commonly understood that being under fire with someone else forges a bond that is expected to be lifelong.

But the truth is that all significant, committed friendship can and should have the loyalty, trust, generosity and honor that those friendships have. Once upon a time this was understood. Gay and lesbian activists still occasionally embarrass themselves (in my opinion) by coming out with a declaration that this or that historical figure must have been gay on the grounds of some letters or something that showed deep commitment. Sorry, those folks weren't likely same sex attracted, they were probably conforming to a standard of friendship that we no longer revere.
The Issue is How One Lives
The headline of this story reads Suspension stuns parish, neighbors, but then the story has this quote:

I have no real issues with Nolin and Kelly if they had a relationship. They're adults. But with Nolin's record, I just really hope this will convince (Gov. Mitt) Romney to put some teeth in the sex-offender registry law, she said.

Sorry, lady, but the fact that the priest was acting out homosexually should have made you less shocked, not more, at allegations of what has been done and not done. I mean here is a man who has been ordained and who pastors a parish and who, allegedly, has still let himself get involved in a sexually active relationship with a convicted sex offender and boy rapist. And the fact that they are doing so would not bother you, even a little?

Folks, the point of living a Christian life, both on our own and as part of communities, is to seek the Kingdom of God and to grow into Saints. That a pastor of a community could have jumped the tracks so badly and not even brought up a conviction among his flock to pray harder for him suggests that parish might have some deeper problems than merely pastoral sin.

The focus on "gays in the priesthood" which continues to bubble along in several other places as well just keeps missing the point. The great danger is not from priests who might live with some degree of same sex attraction but who nonetheless remain faithful to Christ and to their ordinations. The danger is in priests who live with some degree of Same Sex Attraction and simply disregard or eschew their promises and commitments in order to indulge their lusts - and who are not called on the carpet for it.

Of course I cannot be positive, but I would not be surprised if a perusal of this priests personnel file didn't find previous complaints about sexually acting out with other men and reveal that those complaints were ignored.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

My Time On EWTN
Well, my voice appeared on EWTN's Life On The Rock program tonight, for less than five minutes, I think. I am not sure what role I was supposed to play on the program; the host didn't seem to know why they would have asked me to appear and they didn't mention that I had written Beyond Gay.

I got a pretty strong sense from what was probably the host's the most leading question that he wanted me to knock living an actively gay life, which I could do but it's just not the point.

I brought up how this is primarily a discipleship issue, not as much an orientation or attraction issue, and how the Church teaches that men and women living with Same Sex Attraction can and should be Saints. And that was when the host cut me off.

So, for what its worth.

Missing The Point on Condoms
The Vatican is under fire again for suggesting that condoms are not the holy shield against infection by HIV. The dispute has entirely, or virtually entirely, focused on whether the condoms perform technically adequately to prevent infection by HIV.

Might I suggest that this emphasis misses the point? The question about whether a very, very thin latex sheath is going to protect you from HIV is moot if the people involved are using them correctly in the first place, but there is a whole heap of evidence that even "safe sex" educated people don't use them correctly or at all.

This concern about the technical abilities of condoms focuses on testing them under laboratory conditions by sober, professional people, working usually under very bright light and feeling good about following some tight scientific guidelines. But I think the overwhelming majority of condoms are used by people who more often than not drunk or high, who don't use them too often, who are often in the dark or in diminished light and often feel very ambivalent about what they are doing.

And it only takes one failure, whether by the condom or by the person using it.

On EWTN Tonight
This weblog's five readers might be interested to learn that at least my voice will take part in a conversation on Sorting Through Agendas: The Truth About Homosexuality on EWTN's Life On The Rock.

As far as I know, my voice goes on at 7:30 Central Time, 8:30 Eastern.
Under The Tuscan Sun
Went to see Under The Tuscan Sun on Saturday and found it overall a pretty good film. The Italian Tourist Board must be thrilled at the free advertising, unless they paid some sort of fee for having all those terrific shots of the Tuscan countryside that made me want to leave for Florence as soon as possible.

Overall I found the movie felt very...Authentic. An academic woman writer has found that the man she married and thought she loved has, in fact, not loved her and in the wake of the failed marriage she travels to Tuscany, buys a house in a desire to change her life, and winds up getting involved in the surrounding community as she does so. She also manages to have an affair with another guy, an Italian this time, who winds up leaving her, which sort of left me feeling a little like what else could she have expected since she didn't really ask for any emotional commitment from him before she threw herself at him and they started stripping off their clothes on the way to bed.

Yah, that was one of the down things about the film, a little gratuitous exposure that could have been handled differently while making the same point.

One thing that I found less authentic. There were a lot of kids in this movie, a lot more kids in the movie than I have seen in trips to Italy. The Italian birth rate is below replacement and, unless the trend changes, in something like 300 years there will be few Italians left. In the Italy of the Under The Tuscan Sun the big Italian family still reigns, although all contemporary society suggests it has gone the way of all contracepted phenomenon.
I know, I haven't been blogging much...
But that's because I have just been busy, particularly busy in the mornings, which is my most preferred time for working on the web log. My only excuse is that I have been stepping up the workout and that has been taking time in the mornings.

I haven't been making recommendations for products or services on here but in the ongoing battle to lose 100 pounds, of which I have lost more than 80, I have really found a computer program helpful.

Crosstrainer, produced by a Canadian firm called Innovative Logic, helps me keep track of the food, exercise and other data from losing the weight. Keeping track of where I have been has kept me encouraged and moving forward as the weight has steadily kept dropping.

It's an inexpensive program, they let you download and try it for 30 days and the customer service has been good whenever I have needed it.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

If This Kiss Could Mean More Than Wishful Thinking
Saturday's public session of the talks was cordial and respectful, with Williams and his delegation, which included his wife Jane, bending down and kissing the pope's ring.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

How fast Is Your Internet Connection?
My new cable modem is 1.5 MB per second which, I have been told, is "fantastic".

I do know it has my made a the part of my life which relies upon a computer much, much faster and easier.
Fixing Health Care
It sounds like Eve Tushnet and have come to an awareness about broken the U.S. healthcare system is at roughly the same time. Young people never think about these things; it is the arrival of the bills for thousands of dollars, even if they are handled by insurance, that wake us up to the possibility that something may be amiss over at the E.R.

Eve linked to a link which, in turn, offered this article which outlined some possible responses to the problem that don't include the standard "one provider" response which has been found to have problems other places.

In a large part the article rehashes some ideas I have known about for a while, but still leaves some questions. I like the notion a lot of getting the consumer more directly involved with the shopping for health care so that prices might start to respond to consumer pressure. But the tax credit idea seems to have holes too. What about those folks who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but still don't really file much of a tax return - i.e. folks for whom a tax credit might not translate into the necessary cash to buy the insurance when they needed it? How do those folks get the coverage they need?

And this is really important folks. Just as nothing sharpens the mind as much as a trip past a ready scaffold, so too does seeing a bill for $30,000 that but for the insurance we might be entirely responsible.
Picketting St. Joseph
You know, I love the writings of Dorothy Day, particularly those from the early years of the Catholic Worker Movement. Some from the autumn of 1936 include this gem about "picketting St. Joseph."

We picketed St. Joseph this past month, when we were sending out the appeal — asking him to take care of our temporal necessities, as he had to take care of the temporal necessities of the Blessed Mother and the Infant Jesus during those long hidden years at Nazareth. It was a peaceful and loving picketing, the crowd of us taking turns to go to the church and there in the presence of Christ our Leader, contemplate St. Joseph, that great friend of God and Protector of His Church. One of the girls in St. Joseph’s house, when we announced the picketing at the breakfast table, wanted to know, very startled, whether she would have to carry a sign. We assured her that the sign she carried of her membership in the Mystical Body which Father Lord [missing words] .

That followed immediately the context of their work that October of 1936:

The way the priest at the Church of the Transfiguration goes up to the altar with out-stretched arms in the morning, the humble reverence of the Franciscan at the Church of the Precious Blood on Baxter street as he kneels at "The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us", the gallant and tender figure of St. Joseph clasping the Christ Child at the same church, the willing co-operation of all the workers around Mott street this turbulent month when there was so much moving to be done, and all the work of the paper had to go on — these were some of the things which put us in mind of the love of God this past few days.

A Blow To Ecumenism?
The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine withdrew its invitation Wednesday for the Episcopalian Diocese to use one of its churches for a ceremony because the pro-gay leader of the Episcopalian Church was slated to attend.

The local Catholic diocese rescinded the invitation after Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, defended in a news article the church's confirmation of a gay bishop and argued that the Bible does not condemn same-sex relationships.

A couple of thoughts on this. First, the Catholic Church cannot demand that Rev. Griswold change his position on homosexual activity, but it is quite proper to make it clear that the differences between the two institutions are now more sharply different than ever.

Second, this quote from Rev. Griswold needs to be unpacked:

"Discreet acts of homosexuality" were condemned in the Bible because they were acts of lust instead of the "love, forgiveness, grace" of committed same-sex relationships, Griswold said. "Homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation, is not mentioned in the Bible."

Well, Reverend, what do you call it when sexual acts take place in complete disregard for even the possibility that, however inadvertently, the human body might actually perform as it was designed to perform? Am I to say that the miracle of how God created me as a man, the intricate engineering and working that allows me to produce sperm cells and all the mechanics of sex is is no other reason than my own pleasure, that's all? And what about the disregard my actions showed for my partners in these acts, who became essentially the means to my desired outcomes? And that's love?

I was involved in a loving, sexually active monogamous relationship for seven years, one that has continued on as a deep and abiding friendship. The context of love we were building in our friendship was not sufficient to render as loving those objectively unloving acts.

I agree that New Testament authors could not have known about the notion of deep seated Same Sex Attraction, but I am not prepared to claim that they would have revised their opinion of homosexual acts had they known. They understood profoundly well that the bottom line is not what tempts us, it's how we live.

However, in the run up to meeting between JPII and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Vatican is focusing on what unites more than on what divides.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Ever Wonder What You Looked Like Before Seeing The Light of Day?
Click here and find out!
You Know, In The End SSA Doesn't Much Matter
There is a lot of attention being paid to Same Sex Attraction these days. Folks who live with it and feel the best way they can deal with it is to celebrate it run full tilt into folks who think of it, at best, as a flaw in their make up and at worst as something that could lead them into hell. And that battle is going to keep on going at the level, in the culture, in the media and politics.

But for everyone who actually lives with a degree of SSA that battle remains more or less irrelevant. All that really matters is what we think, about our own experience of SSA, about our own behavior, about how we choose to live our lives and seek our joys, and in the end what we think about Christ. At the last analysis we are the ones with the power. If we ask the God of the universe into our lives I believe He will come, and the Church has taught for 2000 years that He will come. But He won't push His way in, and the power to accept or reject remains with us. The heart of the lover always exists on the string of the Beloved.

I, on my own, am never going to be able to convince anyone who lives with SSA to my point of view about it. I have developed my attitudes over a mixture of experiences and events that have included sexual promiscuity, sexual monogamy, emotional friendships and personal failures. They have included a life changing encounter with God, as a Person, not just as an idea, a concept, a feeling or a wish. When I got up from the floor over a decade ago, shaking, weak, confused but filled with a deep awareness of I knew not what, I knew nothing in my life would ever be quite the same, could ever be quite the same.

I can't make anyone else have that experience. I can invite them to have it, I can pray for them to have it, I can present everything I know about God in a way that I hope will help them have it, but I cannot make them have it. And in the absence of an experience, much about the way I live my way will not make any sense - and may even repel a lot of people. But He called, I answered, and I cannot take that back - even if I wanted to.

And the good news is that I am not responsible for whether other people have that experience or not. I am not responsible for what they choose to do or not do if they have that experience. The only thing I and everyone else can be responsible for are our own lives and our own choices. I have written before that people are not the sum of our temptations and, thank God, that is true. But its also true that the sum our choices goes into making up a lot of us and it is for those choices in my own life that I remain responsible and it is those choices that I most strongly seek Christ's face.

So the bottom line is how do we live as Christians. Not whether we object to this event or that issue, or denounce something or whatever. It is how we, in our lives, react to and act upon the ways God calls us. We live in a culture where many people claim God and label themselves with God, but how many of us think even briefly before we go to bed each night about whether we tried to reflect Christ in the world that day, and if we did how well did we do so?

So, in the end SSA doesn't much matter. Christ matters a lot more. Living with and loving Him matters a lot more. Seeking His face matters a lot more. At the edge of eternity SSA might mean as little as a pocket full of beans. If you choose to live a homosexually active life I will probably never agree with, or approve of, that choice. But my approval means nothing. All that matters is where we are with Christ.
Why No One Really Cares About Prison Rape
No this is not the all prison all the time blog, but a recent charge in my comment boxes that I have too poor a view of our current prison system has led me to look into it more.

The truth is that the United States has essentially accepted violence—and particularly brutal sexual violence—as an inevitable consequence of incarcerating criminals. Indeed, prison assault has become a cliché within mainstream culture. The news and entertainment media refer to it nonchalantly. Prime-time TV shows, such as Oz, depict the most awful scenes of rape and carnage. Popular TV dramas routinely depict police taunting potential defendants with threats of the violence and sexual abuse they will face in prison. Indeed, last year 7UP ran a TV advertisement in which a teasing threat of sexual assault in prison was part of a light-hearted pitch for selling soda. The advertisement ran for two months without objection and was only pulled after criticisms from prisoners'-rights groups.

So accepted is assault as part of prison life that an outsider might conclude that on some basic, if unarticulated level, we think it an appropriate element of the punishment regimen. Perhaps we believe that allowing prisons to be places of horrific acts will serve as part of the utilitarian deterrent effect of criminal sentences. Or perhaps we recognize that prison rape and assault are an unavoidable byproduct of the rape and assault in society generally, so that our goal here is not utilitarian but retributive: that is, even though we cannot eliminate rape and assault, we can at least reallocate them. Thus, when we purport to incapacitate convicted criminals, what we are really doing is shifting to them, the most "deserving" among us, the burden of victimization.

Florida Grand Jury To Investigate Prison Abuse
When they gather in the courthouse to investigate the state's only maximum security prison for girls, 21 Palm Beach County residents likely will learn about teenage arms twisted until they popped. They'll read about a 14-year-old girl led into a staff bathroom and the condom wrapper found afterward in the garbage can. And they'll hear about a suicidal girl, supposedly under 24-hour watch, who managed to slip razor blades into her bra and later slice her wrist.

More On Dolls
Apparently one of the few (as far as know) similarities between European self-identified gay and lesbian activists and Wahahist Muslims is their ability to transmit, or see, messages in children's toys. The activists seek to make sure grade school children in Scotland have "lesbian dolls" with which to play (scroll down for story) while the Saudi Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice claims to be able to discern dolls' religion.

"Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful," the committee said.

It is no problem that little girls play with dolls. But these dolls should not have the developed body of a woman and wear revealing clothes," fumed Sheik Abdulla al-Merdas, a Wahhabi preacher in a Riyadh mosque. "These revealing clothes will be imprinted in their minds, and they will refuse to wear the clothes we are used to as Muslims."

Mattel could sell mini-burqas for their dolls, I suppose. But Western children would still probably be bored by dolls wearing burqas they could not remove so the Saudi approved models would have a very limited market outside the Kingdom.

Barbie, Jewish or not, has been banned in Saudia for a decade.
More Canadian Tolerance
Gotta love the folks up in the Great White North...and thank God again for our Constitution and First Amendment.

Vancouver police are investigating complaints that B.C.'s top Catholic, who is at the centre of a fiery debate over homosexuality, was threatened by an angry crowd of protesters outside his window late at night.

"We have been in contact with Archbishop [Adam] Exner about the incident and talking to him about security measures he can take," Vancouver Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said late Tuesday....

Since the first story about the Catholic church's decision appeared in The Vancouver Sun, the paper has received hundreds of letters to the editor and e-mails, most of them criticizing Exner for telling four Catholic school principals they must withdraw from VanCity's junior banking program because the 295,000-member credit union approves of homosexual relationships.

In an opinion piece in today's Vancouver Sun, Exner writes that the story "opened the floodgates to letters, e-mails, phone calls and faxes, alleging everything from bigotry to fascism. The word 'Nazis' was even used. A small but angry crowd screamed obscenities and threats outside my window late at night."

Ok, Likely Not The Wrath of God But....
Some might remember the fellow who was busted, with his girlfriend, while having sex at the back of St. Patrick's Cathedral as part of a radio promotion stunt. Well, he has died, age 38, of a heart attack. RIP, and I am not being sarcastic.

Thanks to Victor Morton for the tip.