Cuba Libre

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Fidel Castro is dead.  In all sincerity I pray for his soul, but it is always a good thing when a dictator dies. A dear Venezuelan friend writes on Facebook: 
Murió en la paz de sus lujos, sin haber enfrentado la justicia por tantos crímenes que cometió. No le deseo mal, solo justicia. [He died in the peace of his luxuries without having to face justice for the many crimes he committed. I wish him no evil, but justice.]
The Miami Herald has an interesting and decent obituary.  What is fascinating, given our current preoccupation with "fake news," is their reminder that Fidel Castro owes a lot to the New York Times. 
His recruiting was aided immeasurably by his skills at propaganda and psychological warfare. Castro’s greatest ploy was luring a New York Times correspondent named Herbert Matthews to his mountain camp. Though the rebels had barely 20 bedraggled men, Castro marched the same group past Matthews several times and also staged the arrival of “messengers” reporting the movement of other (nonexistent) units.
Matthews, convinced Castro controlled a huge army, wrote: “From the look of things, General Batista cannot possibly hope to suppress the Castro revolt.” A wave of favorable coverage followed in the foreign press, and with it, international support.

Lest you think, well, of course the Herald would put it that way, the Formerly Grey Lady herself largely confirms the story, although in her telling she seems to be taking credit for Castro's revolution:
The escapade began when Castro loyalists contacted a correspondent and editorial writer for The New York Times, Herbert L. Matthews, and arranged for him to interview Mr. Castro. A few Castro supporters brought Mr. Matthews into the mountains disguised as a wealthy American planter.Drawing on his reporting, Mr. Matthews wrote sympathetically of both the man and his movement, describing Mr. Castro, then 30, parting the jungle leaves and striding into a clearing for the interview.“This was quite a man — a powerful six-footer, olive-skinned, full-faced, with a straggly beard,” Mr. Matthews wrote.The three articles, which began in The Times on Sunday, Feb. 24, 1957, presented a Castro that Americans could root for. “The personality of the man is overpowering,” Mr. Matthews wrote. “Here was an educated, dedicated fanatic, a man of ideals, of courage and of remarkable qualities of leadership.”The articles repeated Mr. Castro’s assertions that Cuba’s future was anything but a Communist state. “He has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the Constitution, to hold elections,” Mr. Matthews wrote. When asked about the United States, Mr. Castro replied, “You can be sure we have no animosity toward the United States and the American people.”
I can't imagine being proud of having a reporter shown to be such a wide-eyed romantic and credulous dupe. But in any case, here's an instance in which fake news cost a nation its freedom and doomed hundreds of thousands of people to death at the hands of a tyrant. 

I'm afraid to even look at other coverage, because, as my same friend puts it (can't you feel his deep sigh?):

Y hoy veremos a cientos de políticos (de derecha y de izquierda, del norte y del sur) rindiéndole homenaje a quien causó tanta muerte, hambre y odio. Un profundo silencio es lo que corresponde. [And now we will see hundreds of politicians (right, left, north and south) paying homage to this man who caused so much death, hunger and hatred. Profound silence would be more fitting.] 

(And indeed, as I am composing here,  Eldest Weed just came in to read Justin Trudeau's vomit-inducing encomium.)


They are throwing a party over at Babalu Blog (though heavy traffic has blown them up -- be patient and check back later if you can't get in.)

Mr. W. & I will be dining at Cuba Libre this evening -- if we can get in. 




Update:


Just had a memory of the time in the 70s -- 1978?-- my father was part of a journalistic exchange that took him to Cuba. What I vividly recall from his trip there was that even then Cuba was supposed to have this advanced medical system, and yet my dad found that Cubans on the street were willing to practically give him their firstborn children for one of those little tins of aspirin. 

Also, this memory from another Venezuelan commentator: 

Fui a Cuba en el anio 2001. Visite la casa que le quitaron a mis abuelos ( a mi abuelo se lo llevaron preso por querer entrar a la fuerza a su propia casa) y recorri a Cuba entera... El nivel de miseria y prostitucion me erizaron la piel sobretodo cuando un taxi bicicleta me pregunto que de donde venia? Y cuando le conteste que de Venezuela se compadecio de mi y me dijo "Somos las dos alas de la misma paloma: nosotros ya vamos saliendo del tunel ustedes apenas estan comenzando..." 


Collecting interesting links here as they accumulate. 

Interview w/ Dr. Biscet, cuban doctor imprisoned for many years by Castro (Spanish)


Cuban-American reaction (story accompanying video above).


Re-visiting Michael Totten's The Last Communist City


Who "wears" it better:  Trudeau, Obama, or Trump (and more Trump)? 

Other US politicians react

This piece reminds us of the brutal Castro oppression of homosexuals. Wondering how Trudeau and other progressives lauding Castro today square that? 

A reflection from a clergyman of his childhood impression of Castro.

Armando Valladeres' address upon receiving the Canterbury Medal earlier this year. 

Astonishingly, Nancy Pelosi's statement isn't bad.  Other world leaders continue to beclown themselves

Mercedes Schlapp talks about her dad's reaction (her dad was a Cuban political prisoner for 8 years). 

Counting Castro's Victims

Ted Cruz on our Cuba policy and Castro's real legacy.

Glenn Reynolds: Castro, Chavez and "bad luck."




Jeanne Kirkpatrick: Government & Us

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Here's a wonderful essay by the late U.S. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick that is supremely relevant to our times, and yet I can't find it online. Someone sent a scan of it to me. It was written in the 1970s some time, for the Georgetown University Yearbook. Cutting and pasting here. 

Government & Us by Jeanne Kirkpatrick

I was asked to address two questions in this essay: What should citizens expect from government, and especially, how moral should citizens expect their government to be? These are, of course, perennial concerns of political philosophy. In more stable times people think they know the answers to these questions, and professors are not asked to address them in college yearbooks. But in an age like ours — when the authority and legitimacy of government are challenged and common understandings concerning the right and duties of rulers and citizens questioned — the concerns of political philosophy become the private dilemmas of ordinary citizens, who must find their way among competing claims, clashing interpretations and conflicting demands to a reasonable understanding of their relationship to government. In the comments that follow, I shall not deal with the relation of citizens and governments in the abstract, but with our relations to our government.

Because the purpose of the nation’s founders was to limit government’s power and protect liberty, it makes sense to approach the first question negatively, asking what we should not expect from government. High among these are virtue and happiness. It is not the obligation or even the right of government to prescribe our goals, to provide meaning to our lives to guarantee us self fulfillment.  These are our own responsibility. Government should not try to make us happy but to provide a framework in which we may pursue happiness. The whole American tradition — in religion, politics, science, art, and everyday life — is based on the conviction that societies are more creative, religions more believable, civilizations more interesting and persons more fully developed when individuals are left free to develop their interest and talents, express their views and visions. An unfortunate verbal convention has developed according to which the liberty to order our own lives, seek our own goals, express ourselves, organize ourselves is called “negative” liberty, and freedom from arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, execution and other manifestations of tyranny is called “negative” freedom — as if these had no positive value. We should note, however, that that the people who regard these individual liberties as trivial also frequently believe that ordinary people are not really to be trusted with managing their own lives and need to be directed toward the achievement of some “high” or more “worthy” goal selected by others.  In truth, the most important demand we should make of government is that it leave us free to choose our jobs, raise our children, cultivate our friendships, write our books, seek our salvation, criticize our government, and vote it out of offices when that seems desirable.

These freedoms are prerequisite to democracy, which is, of course, the political system that protects liberty by insisting that government seek the consent of ordinary people before it makes laws binding on them.  The second most important demand we should make on government is that it serve the common purposes of the society as these are expressed through the institutions of popular rule. As liberty is a prerequisite to democracy, law is a prerequisite to liberty. It is respect for law that we must ultimately rely upon to limit the power of government and provide the framework of order needed to enjoy both freedom and democracy.

There is no more important demand citizens of a democracy can and should make on their leaders than that these latter use power only in times, places and manners prescribed by law and the Constitution. The events we call ‘Watergate” constituted a “constitutional crisis” because they involved a refusal by high public officials to be bound by legal restraints on government’s power.  The “crisis” was resolved when the supremacy of law was reaffirmed and the offenders submitted to prescribed legal processes. Watergate was an offense against the public morality because the officials involved failed to honor official obligations.


This brings me to the final point: how moral should we expect our government to be? There is a tendency for contemporary Americans to judge the moral quality of government by the personal morality and motives of its high officials, and to assume that when good men with good motives and good personal habits lead a government, good government results.  But this is not necessarily the case.  There are important differences between moral governments and moral individuals. Private morality depends on such personal virtues as honesty, generosity, reliability, industry, fortitude. Public morality concerns the polity and depends on institutional relationships and policies which protect and enhance democracy, freedom, accountability, order, justice. A responsible person, for example, is one who can be counted on to honor his obligations, but a responsible government is one in which rulers are held accountable through periodic competitive elections for their use of public office.  It is true that the moral quality of rulers sets the tone for the political class and seeps downward into the political culture and it is also not unreasonable to suppose the values and predispositions present in leaders’ private lives affect their behavior in office as well as out.  But a passion for the cultivation of personal virtue has never been the distinguishing characteristic of political men, and it is unreasonable to expect that political leaders will be paragons of personal virtue as well as persons of high political skill.  Politicians are at least as prone as others to ordinary hypocrisy and venality and their personal moral failings should be treated in about the same way as the comparable failings of others in the society.  There is no good reason, for example, to judge a Congressman who is unfaithful to his wife more [or less] harshly than a private citizen guilty of the same offense — providing that the Congressman has not used the powers of office to expedite his pursuit of pleasure.  But if we may not expect our leaders to be more virtuous than the rest of us, we should demand that they be more scrupulous, and more meticulous than anyone in their observance of the law, because they have unique obligations to uphold and enforce it.  Most governments in the world testify that the happy condition in which rulers are subject to law is not easily come by or widely enjoyed.


Once liberty, democracy and law are secure we can discuss and debate the nature of the good life and move toward its achievement, leaving it to successive majorities to determine how best to protect the public tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure equality of opportunity and minimum economic wellbeing to all.  These can be dealt with if not finally solved providing that those very positive substantive demands on government — for liberty, popular rule and law — are successfully made and enforced.

Civility Is Not A Suicide Pact (Or: Yeah, It's Trump Who's Endangering Democracy.... Sure.)

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Trump is the fascist threat to free speech. Except that all he does to shut you down is insult you on Twitter and make idle boasts.  Whereas the Obama/Clinton progressives come after you:


  • AND they demonize you by hiring union goons and mentally ill people to create fights at your rallies, which their willing dupes in the media then dutifully report as if YOUR people were the thugs: 




Trump is the guy with the erratic foreign policy:  Except all he does is bluster -- and then move the conversation in the direction he wants. Whereas the Obama/Hillary progressive axis mold our foreign policy -- and the world's stability-- completely according to whim:

When the Churches are silenced and religious schools are allowed to serve only their co-religionists and every courageous person in the country is being audited or prosecuted, from where do you think you are going to mount your counter-attack? From the House or Senate? Just wait till the Hillary -appointed SCOTUS gets itself involved in re-districting cases! 

My God, people. This election is not about private vice. It is about the wholesale corruption and weaponization of every American institution. Have the good guys no instinct whatever for self-defense? 

Please read Julie Ponzi's Freedom in the Absence of Virtue and think anew and think better about your nevertrumpism:  

While it would be wrong to disparage people just because they lack the stomach for the uglier battles of real world politics, one could wish that such people had more modesty about their judgments of those battles. For those who imagine their rehearsing of Donald Trump’s private moral failings is anything but counter-productive in our current struggle to re-establish the conditions for a future healthy moral orderone that can better support the freedom that is our rightmystify me.  
Good and gentle souls who can identify and provide good arguments about what constitute moral wrongs have an important public role in a thriving republic.  In an unhealthy republic like ours, that role is different (and necessarily less public) though no less important. Prudence requires judgment about what may advance versus what may cause the retreat of virtue at different times and circumstances in our history. We are now engaged in a life and death struggle for the survival of our republic. In the midst of that, too much heavenly-mindedness is of little earthly good.

She makes the essential point that while morality is a condition of freedom, it is not the ONLY condition thereof -- and at this juncture, not the most important one. RTWT. 

Likewise, VDH makes a very persuasive case for Trump: Enough already with his faults, even if we stipulate them: 
Name a Trump cruelty or idiocy — unfamiliarity with the political discourse, ethnic insensitivity, cluelessness about the world abroad — and parallels abound, from Obama’s mispronunciation of “corpsman” as “corpse-man,” his mocking of the Special Olympics, and his remark about “punish[ing] our enemies” to Hillary’s statement that believing David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker required a “suspension of disbelief,” her “what difference does it make?” glibness about the Benghazi attack, and her past pandering to “white Americans.” And these Democrats’ frauds — from the Tony Rezko sweetheart lot deal with Obama to Hillary’s $100,000 profiteering in cattle futures — are even more banal grifting than Trump steaks and Trump vodka. Had anyone else in government set up a private e-mail server, sent and received classified information on it, deleted over 30,000 e-mails, ordered subordinates to circumvent court and congressional orders to produce documents, and serially and publicly lied to the American people about the scandal, that person would surely be in jail. The Clinton Foundation is like no other president-sponsored nonprofit enterprise in recent memory — offering a clearing house for Clinton-family jet travel and sinecures for Clintonite operatives between Clinton elections. Hillary Clinton allotted chunks of her time as secretary of state to the largest Clinton Foundation donors. Almost every assistant whom she has suborned has taken the Fifth Amendment, in Lois Lerner fashion. The problems with Trump University are dwarfed by for-profit Laureate University, whose “Chancellor,” Bill Clinton, garnered $17.6 million in fees from the college and its affiliates over five years — often by cementing the often financially troubled international enterprise’s relationship with Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Collate what Hillary Clinton in the past has said about victims of Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults, or reread some of the racier sections of Dreams From My Father, and it is hard to argue that Trump is beyond the pale in terms of contemporary culture.
There is a lot more, including an actual affirmative case. Worth reading the whole long thing. Here's one interesting point.
When Trump shoots off his blunderbuss, is it always proof of laziness and ignorance, or is it sometimes generally aimed in the right direction to prompt anxiety and eventual necessary reconsideration? Questioning NATO’s pro forma way of doing business led to furor, but also to renewed promises from NATO allies to fight terror, pony up defense funds, and coordinate more effectively. Deploring unfair trade deals suddenly made Hillary Clinton renounce her prior zealous support of the “gold standard” Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. Wondering whether some of our Asian allies might someday build nuclear weapons galvanized Japan and South Korea to step up and warn North Korea against further aggressive acts, in a new fashion. In Europe, Trump is said to be unpredictable and volatile. But since when are predictability and serenity always advantages in global poker?

And could anyone not as HARD as Trump have stood up to the Democratic machine? 
Something has gone terribly wrong with the Republican party, and it has nothing to do with the flaws of Donald Trump. Something like his tone and message would have to be invented if he did not exist. None of the other 16 primary candidates — the great majority of whom had far greater political expertise, more even temperaments, and more knowledge of issues than did Trump — shared Trump’s sense of outrage — or his ability to convey it — over what was wrong: The lives and concerns of the Republican establishment in the media and government no longer resembled those of half their supporters.

See also: Thomas Sowell

I wasn't sure how I was going to vote until the weekend they released the 11-year old gross Trump recording -- a recording that exists because NBC pays people to talk that way for their racy gossip show and that they sat on for a dozen years until just this moment. And then we're all supposed to dance our little Christian outraged-chastity dance just on their say-so? Enough of that. It makes me so angry, I'm voting for Trump. The march through every free institution must be stopped. 

On the Lewdness of Mr. Trump

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Image shamelessly pinched from the internet; Kyriosity takes credit in comments. 

There isn't any defense. The danger of any comment on the video of Donald Trump's lewd comments is that it will appear to defend him. What he said was gross -- and I just skimmed a story to get the gist. Blech.

When Antonin Scalia died I texted my spiritual director and said, "feels like the Lord has removed his hand of protection from this country and we are in free-fall." As a political matter, maybe this sinks Trump and those in the GOP calling for him to step aside may be right. Whatever the injustice or unfairness of Trump being held to a standard the Clintons aren't held to, I wouldn't want an act of defiance on his part to bring down the whole Congress.

This post, however, is not directly about Trump the man or about what political action is called of us at the moment. It's more me unburdening myself of a frustration, and forgive me if it sounds a bit self-righteous.

I hate Donald Trump's and Billy Bush's conversation; it sickens me. But I'm equally sickened by everyone's horror. When I was in high school, a large percentage of my friends, particularly my guy friends, listened to Howard Stern's radio show every morning. I never listened, but I caught a few moments of his cable tv show later in life and I gather that kind of talk about women was the thing. Stern talked that way about women to their faces -- evaluating their body parts and telling them what he'd like to do to them, and they submitted for publicity's sake. And I gather that male guests just joined Stern in, yes, locker room bragging about their sexual exploits. That was the show, and it was celebrated -- enough for Stern to go from radio to cable tv to a movie about his life.

My friends -- even some of my pious Christian friends-- watch and celebrate Game of Thrones, which features graphic depictions of the demeaning of women and everyone else, I gather. Rap lyrics celebrate the assault of women all day long -- and these artists are feted on our talk shows and invited to the White House.

Bill Maher, hero to the Left (and to some of the Right for his straight talk about Islam), speaks foully and celebrates his hanging out at the Playboy Mansion, where people are known to behave in the way Trump describes, and that is perfectly cool. And people like Ann Coulter are friends with him.

President Kennedy joked about his presidency being like a golf course; I will spare you the foul punch line if you don't already know it. Senator Kennedy was caught in flagrante delicto drunk and palming waitresses all the time. Bill Clinton is a known sexual predator.  Joe Biden is often shown on camera being far too handsy with pretty women.

The progressive culture advocates teaching kids to talk in vulgar ways about their sexuality from the time of kindergarten so they'll be sex-positive. This Administration has launched an all-out legal assault on chastity such that any instance of pure living must be wiped out -- yea, verily, even unto the Little Sisters of the Poor: You, who are consecrated to being a sign in the world of the glory for which men were created and are destined? You will bend to the sexual revolution and finance it.

The Washington Post, on this very morning when it is tut-tutting over Trump's words, also runs a piece lamenting the shutting of a brothel, where women are treated precisely the way Trump's words treat them.

I hate this gross culture that demeans women and sex. It makes me feel sick to my stomach when I think about young men steeped in this sick culture going anywhere near my daughter, who is the most beautiful soul on earth -- or anyone else's daughter. But I hate even more the even grosser culture of the Lie where someone like Hillary Clinton or people like the editorialists of WaPo and the Formerly Grey Lady get to point their fingers and pretend they didn't create and celebrate the culture in which Mr. Trump merely partakes.  These people who celebrate porn and abortion and make heroic figures out of crabbed, small-souled, sex-deluded creatures such as Bill Maher and Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke and sick men like the Kennedys and Bill Clinton are not merely being hypocrites or playing politics when they denounce Trump. They are self-consciously engaging in a Big Lie: the corruption of meaning itself.

I don't even have an expletive strong enough to express my contempt for what we're witnessing this news cycle. And I deeply resent being put in a position where denouncing the grossness of Trump's remarks is playing into the Big Lie.  This is the problem of the corruption of culture, as Harriet Beecher Stowe illustrated brilliantly in Uncle Tom's Cabin, where the good guys who defend human dignity are forced by the culture itself to become outlaws -- to lie or break the law or defend what they ordinarily would find indefensible in order to defend the greater good of human liberty. No one escapes with his purity intact.

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A Nation of Corrie Ten Booms

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Mr. W. and I were just talking about how difficult it is not to simply absorb the culture in which you live because no one can really stand outside his own time. Maybe a little, in flashes, but not really. Now here comes Anthony Esolen with a little essay about that: Holier than Them.

He allows his friend Robbie George to set up the problem:
the inestimable Robert George, likes to ask his college students how many of them, if they lived in the South before the Civil War, would have opposed slavery. They all raise their hands. “Bless their hearts,” says he, and then he advises them what their opposition would have cost them: ridicule from the most visible political and intellectual leaders of their society; slander of their motives; incomprehension at best from their families; loss of employment; loneliness; and scant gratitude from the people they aimed to help.
Nor is it clear how they could form a moral position running athwart so much of what they must have taken for granted from the time they were born
We all like to think we'd have worked the underground railroad or housed priests in Reformation England or hidden Jews from the Nazis or stood like Sakharov. And the truth is, no, we wouldn't. Mostly we'd have been shaped by the relentless propaganda campaign and the fear of retribution. If we even saw the evil at all, most of us would sigh and be silent and keep our heads down.

Esolen uses his piece to mock the virtue signaling of our time, where our pieties cost us nothing:
we are not called to oppose, notionally, comfortably, the characteristic evils of other ages, basking in the glow of a righteousness that costs nothing. We are called to suffer in opposing the characteristic evils of our age. And we will not begin even to conceive of how such a thing is possible, if we do not obey an authority that transcends mankind.

He has in view the sexual revolution:
What is the public evil of our time? What single “good” will cost you the most, through public ridicule or persecution, if you reject it and act accordingly?
He highlights a particular instance of cowardice masquerading as bravery that caught my eye as well. A pastor in Rhode Island fired his music director for getting gay married with the full knowledge of parishioners. So the parishioners, to protest, sang "All Are Welcome" in place of the Creed. 

What struck me about their protest was not so much the empty "bravery" of it, but how unwittingly apt their chosen gesture is: "We easily jettison the actual precepts of faith by which Christ's disciples live in favor of a fuzzy feeling folk song of our choosing." 

Esolen heaps deserved scorn on such folk, who imagine they are being brave and defiant when they are actually being swept along by the currents of the time. But I think his earlier point is more important -- the part about how difficult it is to stand against evil -- and not just because of cowardice, but because the water you're swimming in is so hard to see. 

That is what frightens me most about more years of Progressive rule and what mystifies me about some of my Christian #nevertrump friends who think any of the Christian institutions from which they plan to mount their counter-assault on the culture will withstand another four or eight or twelve or sixteen years of HHS mandates and transgender bathroom rules and the like. I think most of us who write about these things now will not think the same with eight or twelve more years of this. 

People seem to write as if the coming (already here in vanguard) soft persecution of Christians will be good for the Church -- it will purify us, awaken the sleeping giant, etc. I suppose that might happen.  Maybe we will be brave. Some people no doubt will. There have always been Joan Bells and Joe Scheidlers and Baronelle Stutzmans among us. But the truth is that most of us will just be carried along. They'll tell us we can't have our hospitals or universities unless we support gay marriage and pay for abortions and you know what will happen? We'll agonize, and then we'll decide in conscience that the good of being able to treat people in the hospital or of teaching most of what we believe outweighs the evil to be done by turning so many people out of work by closing those institutions down. Better that we should continue our work as best we can than turn these vital duties over to others, we will say.  

We will Sr. Carol Keehan it, and we will do so in good conscience, believing in good faith we are making the best of a bad situation and lamenting our own persecution.  And of those who do stand up we'll say either that we admire them but we don't think Christian conscience necessitates their stand or that they are a little too harsh or odd and that's not the way to attract people to the faith. We will have a point, as people who say such things (myself among them) do today, but we will be making these same compromises with a secularism now 5, 10, 15, 20 years advanced and even more people than today will simply not remember, or ever have experienced, any reality other than rule by the secular administrative state and they won't think it's that bad. 

This is why we pray, "Lead us not into temptation."  Because most of us are not strong enough to stand against the strong winds that blow. Most of us --I-- need a healthy culture because we have neither sufficient leisure to study and understand the times, nor eyes to see the evil in them, nor courage to oppose evil when we do see it. 


Two Thoughts on Today's Readings

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Why, hello, long-neglected blog. Not sure precisely why the impulse to place this here, but what the heck: going with it. Two disconnected thoughts that popped out while meditating on the scripture readings for today's Mass.

The first is from 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, where Paul is talking about God being the only true judge and everyone's hearts being manifest on judgment day. Since Paul says he has nothing on his conscience, but he doesn't even judge himself but leaves it to God, I've always understood the passage in the negative, the emphasis being on judgment: in the end, evil will be exposed, so a) be on guard that your own heart be pure and b) have fortitude; all will be made right in the end.

No doubt that meaning is there, but for some reason this morning the last line of the passage is what jumped out at me: "he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God." The praise that is due, no doubt (thus the warning element is maintained), but praise. That got me thinking about how awful it is to be misjudged. I can think of several instances, still painful in memory, when in all sincerity I wanted to do a person a good turn or was acting out of entirely pure motives and the action went badly awry and I was completely shocked and hurt by the bad reaction. It's easier to accept having made a mistake than it is to have one's motives misapprehended and rebuked. I think about that in particular with respect to my kids. I cannot express how much I love them, and often enough my "love" goes awry and wounds where it intended to tease or praise. How marvelous to think that all those agonizing wounds of misunderstanding will one day be healed. Some day that one person will know not only that I wasn't mean, but that she was loved....What a miracle of joy and mercy and healing to one day understand how much we have been served, been loved, been thought well of, been appreciated, been seen, been prayed for --not only by God, but by others, all our lives!  Everyone's goodness, including our own, will be revealed. 

My mom used to claim (not that she's wrong, I've just never encountered the passage) that C.S. Lewis says that more people than we understand are "on their way up" as it were, and it will be one of the joys of heaven to see people we never expected there. (And I suppose they'll have the surprise of seeing us!) That's a happy thought in this run-up to an election that has divided friends and brought out the rash judgment in everyone. Some day we will all see how much good was intended. 


The second thought comes from the Gospel passage, Luke 5:33-39, when the Pharisees ask Jesus why his disciples don't fast. Jesus says they'll fast when the time comes and then makes these two analogies: people don't ruin a new garment to patch an old one, and people don't put new wine into old wineskins, because they'll burst.  I've never understood these analogies to be frank. Jesus seems to be saying that old and new don't mix, somehow, but since that doesn't in any way jibe with the message of repentance and salvation for all, that passage has always been opaque to me. This morning suddenly it seems obvious: Christ is saying things need time to ripen.  If you tear up a new garment to patch an old, you just ruin both and have nothing. If you put new wine into old wineskins, the skins will burst and you'll have neither wine nor the old weathered skins you waited so long to have. 

The key, I think, is again the last line: "new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” I couldn't understand the passage previously because I was trying to read Christ's words as a defense of the disciples and a rebuke to the Pharisees. It *is* a defense of the disciples, but one of a different nature than the one I'd been searching for.  Here I think his defense is along the lines not of, "You're wrong, they're right,"  but more along the lines of, "Patience, give them time." You know how fresh converts are delightful in their love for the faith and their excitement about each new discovery -- but they're also obnoxious and very green?  I imagine that's what Christ is acknowledging to the Pharisees. Yes, they're green. But they're also full of fresh zeal and love, in the first throws of getting to know the Lord and his love. Their faith needs maturation, and that will come soon enough with the Cross. But you can't rush these things. And when their faith has matured? That will be like the best old wine: very good.  

Annals of Self-Awareness, Infinite Jest Version

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I thought we had reached the un-toppable peak of lack of self-awareness when Planned Parenthood tweeted about babies being unwelcome at Trump rallies.

But now Joe Biden has pointed out to a crowd his aide carrying the nuclear football in an effort to make a point about Trump's lack of judgment about the nuclear football.

Sigh. Have we reached peak preposterous yet?





P.S. I think some folks are making a little too much of Biden's "breach." It's not as if we make all that much effort to hide the nuclear football guy or what he does -- you always see pictures of the football being loaded onto planes and helicopters. But you're supposed to be a bit discreet about it. Sheesh.