Thursday, August 30, 2012

Insights from others...

Alan Morgan's take on Arthur C Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from a genuine kook."

"God is not somebody else" -Thomas Merton

"The spiritual path?  You are already there." - Brother David  Steindl-Rast 

The Coachmen of our time

Just in time for both conventions, check out this Disney classic. Starring Karl Rove and James Carville as The Coachman.

An excellent example of effective Pubic Relations

This is probably the best 3-minute introduction to effective public relations I know of; as one who has practiced public relations for 40+ years.  Note the inflection point at 1:20 when a youthful call to patriotism suddenly becomes a very sinister martial march.  Worth keeping in mind when watching both campaigns.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Art imitates life imitates art...

We're living in one of those wrenching moments in history when the old order is dying of its own moral disease, and the new one hasn't become manifest yet.  (Likewise, the old gods are dead and the new one[s] have not appeared yet.)

This is certain: the Enlightenment is over.  The old model of doing science without con-science, and increasing our technical capability with no reference to moral responsibility, is finished. So is the notion that for one to succeed, another must fail.

Now two paths are opening up to us.  Either a modern dark ages where superstition and ignorance are honored (see the platforms of both US political parties).  Or we will move on to a more enlighten notion of business and technology - where we pay as much attention to the social and moral consequences on the user end of the fulcrum, as to the ingenuity of engineering at the input side of the fulcrum.  (It's all about leverage: technical and financial.)

Long ago, the author of Deuteronomy described such a time as ours: I set before you the path of life and (true) prosperity, or death and destruction. I beseech you to pursue the former that you and your offspring may live.

To that end, I came across a story today in about the ferocity that Quebec has brought down own its own students who rebelled against tuition hikes: The Quebec govt has opened a can of worms it will never be able to close again.

Turning a deaf ear to the students, and then beating them down, is the same mistake the US government made 45 years ago when men of my generation first got called up to serve in Vietnam.  In the first years ('64-65) we were willing to go - as our fathers had in WWII - but wanted to know why before we went.  Johnson, then Nixon, both said "Shut up and fall in line."

When our govt refused to answer that most basic question, young people then began to raise a whole lot of other questions in the late 1960s which are still in front of us: regarding the environment (the first Earth Day), women's rights (Roe v Wade), ethics in govt (Watergate).

Either before or after reading that essay in, compare it with this video from the musical Les Miz on YouTube.  Art imitating life imitating art...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Citizens United: Posing a difficult theological challenge

All five of the Supreme Court justices who voted for Citizens United are Roman Catholic (as am I), and from their lofty benches have deemed that corporations (representing property rights) have the same standing before the law as persons (representing human rights).

If corporations are 'persons,' then it follows from the Justices' shared theology that corporations, like human persons, have souls. (Since a fetus is "ensouled" from the moment of conception, then a  corporation is "ensouled' from the moment of incorporation).  

Now if corporations have souls, does  it mean they are stained with Original Sin and need to be baptized?  If so, how do you baptize a corporation?  Do all the employees and shareholders get in the river, or just the Board of Directors, or major shareholders, or senior managers...?  And if at some point the Board enters into bankruptcy, or shuts down operation, or cleans out the treasury and heads south, is that murder, or suicide?  

And if an ensouled corporation dies, does it face eternal judgement?  If a corporation is judged to be Heaven-worthy, does that mean all shareholders and employees go to heaven, or just the Board?

Clearly the honorable justices have not thought this through very well, and we should press for clarification soon before this decision becomes, as Chief Justice Roberts says, "settled law."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paul Ryan and the Gospel of Wealth

Rep Paul Ryan attempts to make the case that Catholic teaching on social justice maps well to free market economics as currently practiced. And they might well map to each other.  Unfortunately, the Church's teaching doesn't always map to the Gospels, as evident in Mark 10;17-22:

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a young man ran up to Jesus and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, "You know the commandments." And the young man replied, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give the proceeds to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pithy little aphorisms

Where is it written that...

     * Lawyers and bureaucrats are the authorities on interpreting the spirit?

     * Virgins and celibates are the authorities on human sexuality?

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The Right believes that a child in the womb is the most precious thing in the universe.  But once the child is born, s/he is a victim of market forces where it's dog eat dog all day  long.

The Left, on the other hand, believes that a child in the womb has no existential right to live.  But once the child is born, s/he is entitled to live in a risk-free world.

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The US set out to be the new Athens: a democracy of opportunity with an aristocracy of achievement.
We have become the new Sparta: a bloated military-police state defending itself to death.

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Scientists collect facts, and out of these make new theories.Theologians collect facts and rearrange them to fit existing theories

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We are drowning in information, and starved for knowledge.

The first American Job Creators

The first American Job Creators made work for 13 million Africans, including free relocation service, two squares a day, and guaranteed lifetime employment.  Also, the opportunity for salvation in the next life if they read about Jesus, except for the Book of Exodus.