Monday, May 30, 2016

My first attempt at scifaiku



watching as the clone
learns to ride a bicycle -
sense of deja vu

A variation -

watching the clone learn
how to ride a bicycle -
sense of deja vu

Pax et bonum

Hillary? Trump? Catholics have other options


Donald Trump has the delegates he needs for the Republican nomination. Hillary Clinton is edging closer to the Democratic nomination, despite the best efforts of Bernie Sanders.

Unless there's a sudden last-minute unexpected twist - or an indictment - it will likely be Clinton vs. Trump in November.

For Catholics, both choices are problematic.

Clinton's extremist position on abortion and her positions on other moral issues make her totally unacceptable.

As for Trump, he's paying lip service to moral issues - but given his history on these issues, and his tendency to say whatever it takes to seal a deal, it's highly questionable where he is actually going to lead the nation. And he has spouted some truly objectionable or unrealistic positions on other issues that should make us pause.

So what's a Catholic to do?

Vote third party.

Yes, there are those who say we should vote Trump if only because there's a chance he will actually keep his promises. And a major issue is the Supreme Court. Hillary is likely to nominate candidates who will keep the culture of death and immorality in place. Trump is at least saying he will nominate judges who might change the downward direction of the nation. There's no guarantee that he will, or that once on the Court a justice will rule the right way, but it's more likely than with almost anyone Hillary appoints.

For Catholics who live in states where there might actually be a contest that might be a factor to consider. The old voting for the lesser evil - or voting to lessen the evil - arguments might come into play. (Though I still contend that the voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil - and this time around, both major party candidates are just so objectionable.)

But for most of us, that simply is not the case.

First, remember that it is not popular vote that decides who will be President. It is electoral votes, and how many such votes the states have vary based on population. One can win the majority of the popular vote , and even the majority of states, yet still lose the election.

Now if you look back at presidential elections over the last few decades, in the majority of states the candidate of one party or the other almost always wins the state. Take my state, New York. The Democratic candidate has overwhelmingly won the last 7 presidential elections. In California, the largest state with the most electoral votes, the Democratic candidate has won the last 6 elections. On the other hand, Texas has gone to the Republican candidate the last 9 elections.

There are realistically only a few states with enough electoral votes to be significant that could go one way or the other. Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the ones most often mentioned. One's vote might make a difference in those states. For the rest of us, our votes basically don't count. In New York, I could votes 10,000 times for the Republican candidate - were I so inclined - and the Democratic candidate would still win. Heck, in 2012, I could have voted one million times for Mitt Romney, and President Obama still would have won!

So unless we live in one of the few swing states, for most of us, we are free to vote third party or for write-in candidates. We can vote our consciences freely.

At the moment, there appear to be two possible options.

Joe Schriner, a Catholic who holds positions in line with Catholic teachings on every issue, has run several times before and announced he is running again this year. [JUNE 8 UPDATE: SCHRINER HAS INDICATED HE IS SUSPENDING HIS CAMPAIGN.]

There is also now a political party whose platform is in line with Catholic teachings, the American Solidarity Party. The party, which began in 2011, endorsed Schriner back in 2012, but this July is having an online convention at which it is hoping to nominate a candidate who is a member of the party.

So, for many of us who live in states where our vote doesn't matter, we can vote for Schriner, or we can vote for the American Solidarity Party candidate in good conscience. We would be voting for someone with whom we agree, and we don't have to worry about swinging the election to a candidate we find completely objectionable.

The good thing about the ASP is that it is new and has room to grow - a centrist party would be a welcome thing in this country, as opposed to the extremism of the two main parties or most of the third parties. Who knows, if one of the major parties does indeed splinter and essentially die as some pundits say might happen, the ASP could become one of the main parties - that's what happened with the Republicans just before the Civil War.

If the American Solidarity Party successfully nominates someone in July, I will likely vote for that person. It could be Schriner, for that matter. He certainly would get my vote if the ASP does not come up with someone.

Again, if I lived in one of the swing states, I might be tempted to vote differently (though I suspect I would still vote ASL or Schriner). But I don't - and most Catholics don't. So we are free to vote for someone who is not the "lesser of evils."

We can actually vote for a good candidate.

Imagine that.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Trumped out redux - moving beyond Joe to the ASP?

I posted some of this earlier - but there have been developments since. ...


I earlier admitted that I was burned out on politics - at least burned out given the nature of the campaign thus far this year.

I had followed the current slog to the nominations with decreasing interest as candidates I thought I could support gradually fell by the wayside, and with increasing horror at the thought of whom the major parties seemed determined to nominate.


It's still looking like Trump vs Hillary - neither of whom I can support or vote for.


I know the arguments about picking the lesser evil or at least voting to lessen the evil - but to me either way means voting for evil.

Hillary is just too rigid - and wrong - in some of her beliefs, especially when it comes to moral issues. And Trump - who can tell what he really believes other than in drawing attention to himself?

I know, that sounds a little snarky, but frankly, I long ago got all Trumped out. All I have been able to muster lately are a few political clerihews, such as this one:

"John Miller"
 provided Trump filler.
Asked if it was really he, Trump said, "I don't sound like me,
that is, he isn't he, I mean, me."

Given the state in which I live - NY, where the Democratic candidate has won easily every year since 1984 - my vote is not likely to count anyway, so I had been leaning toward a write-in candidate, Joe Schriner, a consistent life Catholic. (Yes, consistent life on issues like abortion, the death penalty, unjust war, euthanasia, and more. Not like those lip-service so-called prolife candidates who support abortion under some circumstances, and of course support the death penalty, questionable military action, and so on.) I agree with him on issue after issue, so I can honestly say I'd be voting for a candidate I like and respect.


BUT, since finding him I've discovered another alternative.

The American Solidarity Party.  The party was created in 2011 as the Christian Democratic Party USA  and endorsed Schriner in it's first presidential campaign back in 2012. After that election, the party changed its name to the ASP, and has been slowly growing . Now it is planning to hold a nominating convention in July. They may nominate Schriner again, but it increasingly looks like they are trying to name one of their own in an attempt to grow the party. That makes sense.

The ASP is, like Schriner, promoting a platform that is very Catholic when if comes to social, moral, and economic issues. It's a rational and more centrist alternative to the two extreme major parties.

Yes, the third party arguments can get tossed out again, but isn't it time we stopped being duped by the major parties? The Republican Party began as a small third party, so the ASP may have a chance to become a major player down the road.

I registered with the party and said I'd even be open to running for local office as an ASP candidate. A party leader then contacted me and asked if I'd consider tossing my hat in the ring for President. I suspect it was just to get a couple of possible candidates for the convention. At the very least, the candidate will have no chance this year, so it's more just to have a face and a name to help the party get some recognition.

I understand that goal, but I declined the offer. I'm not a serious candidate for such an office, there are a number of better qualified folks in the party already, I can't see me hitting the campaign trail given my reserved ways, and, the last point, the wife was not enthusiastic! But I would be willing to help them organize locally.
 

The logo of the party is a pelican, a traditional Christian symbol of charity, by the way.

So, looks like I will be involved in politics in some capacity. And it looks like I will be able to actually be happy about supporting a Presidential candidate.

COMMON GOOD | COMMON GROUND | COMMON SENSE.

Sounds good to me! 

Pax et bonum

Friday, May 27, 2016

Favorite Rosary mysteries


I don't know about other people, but when reciting the Rosary there are mysteries that resonate with me more than the others.

Mind you, I reflect on them all, but some just have added meaning. It's basically one per each of the different collections of mysteries.

With the Joyful Mysteries, it's the Nativity. But then, what would you expect from someone whose favorite holiday is Christmas, and who plays Santa professionally! The Nativity just fills me with joy and puts a smile on my face.

With the Sorrowful Mysteries, it's the Agony in the Garden. It might be because that's the one that I can most identify with - the emotional suffering of facing something horrible.

With the Glorious Mysteries, it's the coming of the Holy Spirit. I just feel so full of that energy and power the Spirit brings, and it reminds me of Charismatic Renewal days.

And when it comes to the Luminous Mysteries, it's the Wedding Feast at Cana. I just imagine Jesus at such a human celebration, and I picture him dancing. That image makes my heart dance!


Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Today's haiku


morning moon -
golfer in hoodie searches
for where his ball went

abortion vigil -
Hillary backer gives us
finger as we pray

outside the clinic
unmothered mothers slowly
walk to waiting cars

Pax et bonum

Three religious haiku


The hermit/solitary life newsletter, Raven's Bread, just published three of my haiku.

The first had been published before:

mother's rosary -
threads still hold
where links had broken.

But the other two had not been in print before:

abbey chapel -
monks celebrate Mass
as crickets chant

falling leaves -
walking the dog and praying
one bead at a time

I've now been published more that 50 times, though some of the poems have been reprints. So I think it's more accurate to say I've had more than 40 poems published.

Just enough to feel like a real poet and writer.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Proud to be a Prude


I am a prude.

Yes, I'm aware of the negative connotations of the word. As the good folks at Miriam-Webster put it, a prude is "a person who is easily shocked or offended by things that do not shock or offend other people," with the sense of being a goody-goody or a fuddy-duddy or a prig. Generally it's applied to people who object to what they perceive as excessive or inappropriate sexuality, skimpy or revealing clothing, foul language, or violence.

There are indeed people who are prudish to an unhealthy level, who reject, for example, nudity even in acceptable situations, such as with one's spouse or during a physical exam, or even when changing clothes, or any normal sexual activity even in marriage.

But there's more to the word than that.

The word comes from a French word "prudefemme" - a good woman or an honorable woman. That doesn't sound bad.

And the person's objections are described as exceeding prevailing community standards.

But what are community standards? How are they defined? Are they always valid? And what about eternal, moral, or objective standards?

What I find is that the person who is called a prude is often called so by those who want to ignore or reject traditional morality.

Take the issue of sex outside of marriage. It's standard fare in movies and on television these days - even on shows that are deemed "family entertainment." Dating is portrayed as synonymous with having sex (just as being engaged has become synonymous with living together without being married.) In dramas, implied or simulated sex seems to be a requirement. Characters even in comedy shows are often obsessed with having sex, or are frequently shown in sexual situations.

But if you dare to say a particular scene, or the almost mandatory titillating topless or nude shot in movies is inappropriate or unnecessary, someone will yell "prude" at you.

Yet traditional teaching is that sex outside of marriage is a grave sin. That's in the Bible. It's a sin that's listed with other grave sins that can get you damned.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, "2353 Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young."

And when you portray it in movies or on television, you stray into pornography: "2354 Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense."

Now, community standards have been so watered down that these grave actions are deemed "acceptable," but that does not abrogate eternal moral standards. Those declining community standards are symptomatic of a coarsening of the culture. Christians have often pointed out that this is one of the major ways Satan - or if you prefer, evil - is slowly seeking to damage us and separate us from God.

Moreover, if the rule of thumb is community standards, what about in other communities that have other standards? What passes for "normal" and "acceptable" in parts of the West would get you arrested and even physically punished (if not executed) in other lands. This is not to justify such harsh punishments, but if the producers (and supporters) of movies and television shows want to use community standards as an argument, then they should consequently not market their products in places where the standards are different.

Or is the only real standard maximizing profits?

The same kinds of arguments used in terms of sex can be raised when it comes to foul language, dress, and excessive violence.

And are we not called to model appropriate behavior? That would mean those who claim to be people of faith need to be careful about what they watch and say and promote in any way. Are we not also called to speak out to defend the eternal values and the innocent who are being led astray by "community standards?"

As for those who still want to call defenders of morality and appropriate behavior "prudes," remember, antonyms of "prude" include "immoralist," "libertine," and "misbehaver."

Are those things you really want to be called?

As for me, I'm proud to be a prude.

Pax et bonum.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

All Trumped out - I'm leaning toward Joe


I admit it.

I am burned out on politics.

I followed the current slog to the nominations with decreasing interest as candidates I thought I could support gradually fell by the wayside, and the horror of whom the major parties seemed determined to nominate became more real.


It's looking like Trump vs Hillary - neither of whom I can support or vote for.


I know the arguments about picking the lesser evil or at least voting to lessen the evil - but to me either way means voting for evil.

Hillary is just too rigid - and wrong - in some of her beliefs. And Trump - who can tell what he really believes other than in drawing attention to himself?

I know, that sounds a little snarky, but frankly, I'm all Trumped out. All I have been able to muster lately are a few political clerihews, such as this most recent one:

"John Miller"
 provided Trump filler.
Asked if it was really he, Trump said, "I don't sound like me,
that is, he isn't he, I mean, me."

Right now -  and given the state in which I live - my vote is not likely to count anyway, so I'm leaning toward a write-in candidate, Joe Schriner, a consistent life Catholic. (Yes, consistent life on issues like abortion, the death penalty, unjust war, euthanasia, and more. Not like those lip-service so-called prolife candidates who support abortion under some circumstances, and of course support the death penalty, questionable military action, and so on.) I agree with him on issue after issue, so I can honestly say I'd be voting for a candidate I like and respect.


Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Noodling Again!



one who dares mock the
flying spaghetti monster
will soon pasta way

Pax et bonum

Refugees haiku



a slug among weeds
has never been unsettled
about refugees

Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 7, 2016

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream (Part 2)


Finally got the results of the sleep study I did to try to figure out why I was waking up so often and so tired much of the time - regularly falling asleep or nodding off during the day.

Sleep apnea - mild, to moderate.

Not bad enough to be dangerous to my health, but enough to interfere with life.

Immediately they tried to get me on one of those CPAP units. I suspected they would; it's a source of income, after all. But insurance  (due to the deductible) does not cover the machine, so I was going to be spending quite a bit out of pocket. I questioned whether it was really necessary. Well ... no, my issue is not a threat to my health. They also said there were some things I could do, but did not elaborate beyond sleeping on my side rather than my back. I said I wanted to think about it.

I went home and did some research - on multiple sites. Where I sleep - side vs. back -is indeed one way to reduce the problem. So is losing weight. Taking medicine to counter my allergies. reducing alcohol consumption - not that I drink a lot, but I do have a beer many evenings - are other ways.

Reducing my weight and fighting my allergies are things I want to do anyway, and would help me in other parts of my life. The beer - well as part of a diet I'd already be giving that up already.

For now, I'm going with the lifestyle solutions rather than spending money on the machine. If that helps, great.

But at least I now know what's wrong, and that it's not a major risk.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why not? Another political clerihew (Cruz)



Ted Cruz
in his presidential bid was destined to lose.
His Senate colleagues lament, "Alas and alack,
that means he's coming back."

Pax et bonum