Jan 162015

Pope Francis had several things to say this week about freedom of speech as it relates to the Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris. Among them are “there is a limit to freedom of speech” and “one cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”

I have liked a lot of what Pope Francis has had to say since his election. I think he is good for the papacy, for Roman Catholicism, and indeed, for Christianity at large. But bluntly, this is asinine. There is no such thing as “freedom of speech, unless it upsets someone.” When we speak of protecting freedom of speech, what does he think we’re protecting? “Hello, how are you today?”? “Do you want fries with that?”? “Islam is a religion of peace”?

(Don’t call them violent. They’ll riot.)

screamingmuslimIt is precisely the speech that might make someone angry that must be protected. And there is no parody of Muhammad—however sustained, however irreverent, however perceivedly offensive—that anyone but a blood-crazed animal can say is worth the lives of 12 people. To be fair, Pope Francis did also condemn the attacks. But to essentially say yes, it was a terrible thing, but you also shouldn’t make fun of people’s religion, strikes exactly the wrong chord. It suggests an equivocation of the two offenses, which is obviously absurd.

(On a related note, this week Dennis Prager gave voice to something that’s bugged me for some time.  Media sources referring to “the prophet Muhammad” is nothing short of fawning deference to Islam. Have you ever considered that? Do you ever hear a “news” outfit refer to “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? Or just Jesus? What’s the difference?)

When it comes to the blood spilled in Paris last week, there is no “yes, it’s bad, but…” There is only condemnation in the strongest terms. Civilized people do not murder one another over cartoons.

Until everyone (including the whole of Islam) is nodding, without asterisks, we have a big problem.

 Posted by at 8:47 am
Jan 132015

I see people I’ve known for decades throw all the levers to full reverse in an effort to send their lives in some radically different direction—with their families, with their careers, with anything they can change (or think they can change). (I’d actually dearly love to know what one is thinking, but she and I haven’t been in regular touch in several years, and it looks really silly from the outside, and I doubt she’d receive a WTF? call from me favorably.)

I know I’m blessed. Lea and I have been together for 20 years, and in May will have been married for 18. I love our church dearly. I’m making a living in the same close family of fields I decided I wanted to go into in 1991. My sole large regret is that I smoked cigarettes, and my only (mildly) wistful tug is that I wish I’d gone away to college.

I spend essentially no time agitating about what might have been.

How much of that is that really good things have happened to me?

How much of it is that I’ve consciously chosen not to manufacture discontent?

 Posted by at 8:39 pm
Jan 072015

Three masked men, armed with automatic weapons and wearing flak jackets, slaughtered at least 12 people at the office of a satirical magazine in Paris this morning before escaping into the city. The publication, Charlie Hebdo, has published caricatures of Mohammed in the past. The gunmen reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” throughout the attack, and claimed […]

 Posted by at 10:05 am
Dec 302014

Problem: Ave Maria Grotto doesn’t have souvenir shot glasses for sale. Solution: Purchase a vial of holy water! I think Lea found this an inappropriate solution. I thought it was perfect. I start letting my study go as Christmas approaches. It becomes a gift repository, a place to keep boxes for repurposing, and so forth. […]

 Posted by at 12:56 pm

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