We All Still Live in Mayberry

OLD TV SHOWS OFTEN REVEAL
UNCHANGING HUMAN TRUTHS

Andy & OpieAn episode of the classic 1960s TV series, “The Andy Griffith Show,” prompted some thoughts on how much has changed in our assumptions about human nature — or, more to the point, how much hasn’t changed.

The online journal, American Thinker, posted my reflections last week. You might want to go over there and check them out…

http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/10/we_all_still_live_in_mayberry.htmlAmerican Thinker Logo

 

Then, please come back here and offer your own insights in the comments section.

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Reelect Rick Snyder

Snyder ButtonA SEMI-MORAL APPEAL TO MY
FELLOW MICHIGAN VOTERS

Readers of this blog know that I sometimes get a bit carried off onto moral tangents. Well, that’s my inclination; I confess to it.

The moral dimensions of this year’s election are all too apparent, however. Some of them stand out in high relief here in Michigan.

I’m voting to reelect Governor Rick Snyder. And yes, I do see a moral dimension in that choice.

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Ben Affleck Explains Islam

A GOOD-HEARTED MOVIE STAR SHOWS
THE NARROW VIEW OF SECULARISM

Real Time LogoA recent episode of Bill Maher’s HBO talk show, “Real Time,” brought a bit of Hollywood glitz to the ongoing debate over the nature of Islam when movie star Ben Affleck got into a high-volume exchange with writer Sam Harris.

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Sensitive about Gender

SILLINESS IN A NEBRASKA SCHOOL DISTRICT
HIGHLIGHTS OUR CULTURAL MADNESS

All-Gender SignBy now, probably everyone has heard about the Lincoln, Nebraska, school district whose “gender sensitivity” training included a handout encouraging teachers to avoid calling boys and girls “boys” and “girls.”

As reported by the Lincoln Journal Star, Fox News, and numerous other outlets, teachers were advised to attract their students’ attention by using expressions like, “Calling all readers!” or “Hey, campers!” and to refer to them as “purple penguins” or other cutesy, gender-neutral images.

The training materials were acquired from an organization called Gender Spectrum, which according to its website, “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”

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A Climate Change

HAVE WE OVERLOOKED THE REAL REASON
BEHIND THE ISLAMIC STATE’S RAPID GROWTH?

Here’s the answer to the question of why President Obama took time from building his international coalition against the so-called Islamic State to address the U.N. Climate Summit (per my post of September 26): The forces of IS/ISIL/ISIS have become so powerful because of — Wait for it! — climate change.

Think-Act-ISISProfessor Charles B. Strozler of the City University of New York and Kelly A. Berkell of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice offer this startling revelation at the Huffington Post. Here’s how they say it all happened…

“A historic drought afflicted the country from 2006 through 2010, setting off a dire humanitarian crisis for millions of Syrians. Yet the four-year drought evoked little response from Bashar al-Assad’s government. Rage at the regime’s callousness boiled over in 2011, helping to fuel the popular uprising. In the ensuing chaos, ISIS stole onto the scene, proclaimed a caliphate in late June and accelerated its rampage of atrocities including the recent beheadings of three Western civilians.”

Well, of course. We should have seen it. It’s so obvious.

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Time to Focus

MIXED MESSAGES AND BAD OPTICS
CLOUD OUR EFFORT IN SYRIA AND IRAQ

Styrofoam CupWhen Barack Obama delivered his famous 2008 campaign speech before a colonnade of faux Greek pillars I said to myself…

“Well, if this guy wins, at least we’ll be getting a President who recognizes the power of symbolism to amplify his message and stir people’s emotions.”

It reminded me of Ronald Reagan who, as a former movie actor, well understood the interplay of evocative words and strong visual imagery.

Strange how, in his presidency, Obama is often quite thoughtless about the impressions that served him so well on the campaign trail. Sometimes it seems like he just doesn’t care about how things look.

The famous Styrofoam salute is a recent example. I’m pretty sure the President intended no conscious disrespect of his Marine guards by returning their salute with a coffee cup in his right hand. Probably it just didn’t occur to him to think about how he would be expected to comport himself as he got off the helicopter.

And that’s the problem: He didn’t think.

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All about Religion

IT MAY BE UNCOMFORTABLE, BUT WE HAVE TO
FACE THE ISLAMIST WORLDVIEW HONESTLY

9-11 on CNNSeptember 11, 2001, I was working at The Ave Maria Foundation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when someone came rushing in to announce that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. A bunch of us scurried to the newsroom of Credo, a Catholic community tabloid we published at the time. There a TV was kept tuned to cable news. When the second plane crashed into the second tower, productivity came to a total halt throughout the organization.

Of course, 9/11 was a disruption for the whole country. And so, Al Kresta, host of Ave Maria Radio’s daily talk show, “Kresta In the Afternoon,” found himself with no guests available for that day’s broadcast.

I offered to sit in with him, and the two of us kept up a running — if somewhat disjointed — narrative of the day’s unfolding drama drawn from reports collected by Al’s then-producer, Kathy Schiffer (now a widely read blogger at the Patheos Catholic portal).

While word was spreading that the Islamist radical group al-Qaeda was likely behind the attacks, a theme began to emerge in the reports and TV chatter — to whit: that these were cowardly acts perpetrated by madmen.

Granted such early comments reflected people’s initial shock. But thinking about the brazen evil that had come upon us that morning I remarked to Al on the air…

“They aren’t cowards, and they aren’t madmen. They have a profoundly different understanding of life.”

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Justice and Envy

A VOLATILE MIXTURE OF HUMAN MOTIVES CLOUDS
THE FERGUSON INCIDENT AND ALL OUR POLITICS

JusticeThe Gospel read at daily Mass recently was Jesus’ parable about the vine grower who hires workers at different times throughout the day to tend his grapes (Matthew 20).

Each worker is promised the standard day’s pay. But when evening comes, the workers hired earliest are upset because those who began work later are paid the same amount as they. The early-hires grumble, feeling they should receive more, since they put in a full day’s toil while the others worked only a couple of hours.

“I’m not cheating you,” the boss responds, quite taken aback. “Didn’t you agree to the usual daily wage?”

Where the grower sees himself as being charitable, the workers perceive unfairness.

“So what if I give this last worker the same as you?” he asks. “Aren’t I free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I’m generous?”

The story is an allusion to God who dispenses His mercy as He wills. But it also contains a brilliant insight into human nature: namely that there’s a fine line between justice and envy.

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The New Barbarians

WILL WE SEE AN INTERNATIONAL EFFORT
TO COUNTER THE SO-CALLED ISLAMIC STATE?

I have never been in the military, so naturally, I’ve never experienced combat. On top of that, I’m in my sixties.

ISIS EmblemConsequently, I always feel hesitant about advocating armed action, even when some obvious threat to our nation presents itself. What do I know about blood and guts? It’s not my ass that would be in harm’s way.

But on certain occasions, armed action is necessary. Something had to be done after 9/11, for instance, though historians will be long debating whether the actions we took were the right ones.

And just now it looks like we’re at another of those call-to-arms moments, with forces of the self-proclaimed Islamic State marauding across Syria and Iraq, making noises about planned further conquests.

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Fifty Shades of Grey

CONTROVERSY OVER AN UPCOMING FILM
BRINGS ECHOES OF CONTROVERSIES PAST

50 Shades CoverOf all the pop culture buzz these days, pretty much the buzziest concerns “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the film version of E.L. James’ much ballyhooed 2011 “erotic romance” novel.

This is the book (first of a three-part series) that supposedly made sadomasochistic sex an acceptable subject of interest for middle-class women — or at least made fantasies about sadomasochistic sex acceptable. As such, it’s the flagship work of a literary genre designated Mommy Porn.

Well, I’m not a middle-class woman, and I suspect I’m not old enough to see this kind of stuff anyway. So the scheduled release date (Valentine’s Day, 2015) will very likely pass without my bottom ensconced in a seat at the local cineplex.

Much of the buzz is of a less-than-enthusiastic nature, as one would expect. The thought of middle-class women immersing themselves in sadomasochistic sex isn’t what you’d call edifying. And so “Fifty Shades of Grey” — in both its print and cinema versions — has stirred controversy.

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