WHAT THE HELL!! (LITERALLY)

Acts of terror are as common as cats now. We even build years long TV series around terror of one kind or another, and monster movies with nearly supernatural heroes, full of sound and fury signifying in every case our ultimate victory over devilish cruelty.  It’s NOT that way outside the theater, you know.  Outside the theater we can’t even come up with a name or a reason beyond terror and terrorists.  On an almost daily basis the major news outlets, both print and broadcast, let us know of bombings, knifings, poisonings, burnings and what all.

Across the globe, north and south it’s Terror and Terrorists.  And that’s about as deep into the reasons and the forces for the worldwide havoc, the death tide that keeps getting a little bit higher every day.  It sort of reminds me of the tale of the frog in the pot.  Because, really, there is, there must be a reason.  But we don’t talk about it.


It used to be that Jews were about the only ones murdered by terrorists. Every few months for years some Jew would be tossed off a ship, or a bunch of them would be massacred during some event or other in between the wars that were always won by the Israelies.

It’s been different since 9/11/2001. Now anyone, anywhere seems to have a target on them, and “only Jews” is so 20th Century.

It is past time to ignore the lion in the living room with us. Societies and governments, especially the latter, need to deal with this and deal with it so it ends, once and for all.

If it finally comes to a Crusade, make sure it doesn’t have to be repeated, that we don’t need another Lepanto or Vienna in another three or four hundred years.

We are always told that these terrible things are done by terrorists, irrational beasts, and except for the fiends in ISIS we are never allowed to speculate on a reason. Our news sources seem afraid to name the idea behind the act.  All they can say is that ISIS is some kind of radical maniacal fringe of what we are all told, over and over again, is The Religion of Peace.

I am about finished reading a terribly scary and sad book by a kind and gentle Catholic priest who begins by talking about the slaughter of twelve Catholic monks at their monastery in the Atlas mountains, in the middle of a totally Muslim country. Father James Schall, the author, says the story is frightening for a number of reasons, but the one that frightens me most is the fact that the monks were slaughtered simply because they weren’t Muslim. And so, it seems to be the case, that is the truth, behind every last act of terrorism we have seen, from schools in Chechnya, to tall buildings in New York City, and Yazidis in Iraq is an effort at Islamic “missionary” work.

The book by Father Schall is called, simply enough “On Islam”. I do not recommend it if you like to sleep nights without dreaming dreams that will keep you shivering and thinking the next day. But I do recommend it if you think it might be nice to take a long trip, or visit, say, Paris, without worrying about dying there, or on the way, or home. The things you learn may help you understand why you may want to stay closer to home….as long as home, itself, remains a safe place to stay.

And that is something else you may have to come to terms with after reading the Schall book ( and there are many others like it). We really are not safe at home. One of the reasons that he wrote the book (really a number of essays he has written and published from 2002 to recently) is to call attention to one simple fact. The explanation for this woe is found in the basic principle of Islam: unrelenting war against the non-Islamic world at all costs and by any means until nothing but Islam remains.

And, until people and their leaders in the rest of the world recognize that we are facing an intractable, implacable and unreasoning enemy in Islam, and its fundamental doctrine that the world is to be Islamic in toto, and do something about it bad things will continue to happen; as they have been happening for more than a millennium.

I remember what the Taliban did in Pakistan to the two giant statues of Buddha. I remember what ISIS has done to churches and cemeteries, and ancient sites in the Middle East. And to Yazidi women and young girls, and Coptic men on the shore of the Mediterranean.

Just think how much fun they’ll have with St. Peter’s, the Vatican Museum, the Louvre, the Smithsonian…and you.

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Pays De Trou De Merde

If only he had said in French what he said in English, he could have whispered it in some reporter’s ear and her toes would have curled.  It might have been a Weinsteinian’s dream come true.

If only.

But, as my father used to say, “Wish in one hand and sh#t in the other.  See which one fills up first.” Anyway, he said what he said, and it doesn’t matter if he never really said it.  Everyone believes he said it, and that’s all that matters, in a time and place where 99% of the time, 99% of the people use that word or worse when talking about everything from the neighbor’s house next door to the way they arranged the seats at the new ball park, or how the street looks after the garbage is picked up.  Probably the only people not using it and similar words are cloistered monks and nuns, who live their lives in silence.

I wonder about this, though:  When anyone above the seventh grade’s been using words like that, and worse, good old Anglo-Saxon words, in every place but at the Communion rail, do you think that there could be a little, or more than a little bit, of hypocritical schadenfreude being indulged in here.  I mean, these words were once, most of them I think, were every day words when words were young, before streets were paved and we had indoor plumbing in most places.  And no one is too very far removed from that.

Especially not now.  Even if we drive Lamborghini’s we live, eat, sleep and talk sh#, and worse.  Why, we here in this country invented Playboy, and spend billions watching on our “devices” people who make a living doing what pigs do.  What’s clean, wholesome, mannerly and nice about any of that?  Don’t you have to wonder, don’t you, if the place has gone completely mad when everyone from kids to kings is talking potty mouthed everywhere; when every movie, every pop song, and every TV show sounds like an afternoon with a bunch of longshoreman on a bad day, or a bull session on the cell block?  Maybe it’s because we no longer make mouth sized bars of soap that stuff like this is so common?  Why the uproar over one word spoken by one guy in a private meeting?

And this thing makes headlines?  What did I miss?

Oh, that’s right.  It’s a racist remark.  But, isn’t everything else these days; racist, or sexist, or ageist or some as yet un-identified  form of discriminatory behavior, speech, dress or existence?

A bunch of years ago I spent a lot of time working in Harlem, and in some other places in and around New York’s metropolitan area.  Most of the people who lived there in those places were black people, and most of them were poor, poorly fed, poorly educated, poorly housed and poorly treated by everyone around the towns and neighborhoods that they called home.

I once arrested someone who lived in a cellar and used the coal pile for her lavatory.  The house she lived in was within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  She and thousands like her, tens of thousands, lived in homes which were once as posh as the ones a mile or two south on Park and Fifth Avenues.   Until, that is, sharp business men learned they could buy them cheap, and pile three time the folks into them at three times the prices.  That racket’s been around for centuries…all over the world.  And I have a feeling that it’s how “les trous de merde” are made.

It ain’t only places like that, you know. Not too long ago I lived in a small town in Ohio on the edge of Appalachia.  There were places in that town a lot like the places I saw back East; this, time filled with white people; toothless, badly dressed, poorly fed, poorly educated, chronically ill, dirt poor, men, women and children.  How about half naked kids playing outside in the winter?  Now, there’s a trou de merde you can drive through on your way to watch Ohio State play Michigan State.

Trump, if he said it, only called a spade a spade; and, my point is, he only used a term quite familiar to everyone above the age of ten in this country.  The folks who are upset by it all are the nosegay and smelling salts phonies; the “whitened sepulchers”, the liars who are as familiar with those things as a seagull with gurry; which means most of the people yowling about how horrible this all is.

Gurry, for you folks unfamiliar with the word, is simply rotting fish offal.  It looks and smells much better than it really is when in a black dress, topped with a pink hat and preceded by a hashtag.

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In Three Days

In three days my daughter will be fifty-one.  Yesterday I drove her to the doctor’s office.  She injured her back several months ago while working as a nurse in the cardiac ward trying by herself to move a patient who weighed in excess of three hundred pounds; proving, I guess, not a few physical laws about mass, force, inertia, and movement.  What she did move were several vertebrae and their connecting tissues which became the cause of my “moving” her to the doctor’s office for treatment.

Cause and effect is really interesting when you spend a little time thinking about it, don’t you know.

Along the way we talked about a few things, one of them being the current battle in the ongoing “war of the sexes”, for want of a better way of putting it; the one which might be called the “Battle of The Hash Tag”.

Perhaps it is because she is the daughter of a fellow who spent a number of years in law enforcement, in and out of court rooms, involved with attorneys offices, due process, yadda, yadda.., but she did surprise me a little with the vehemence of her reaction to the whole matter and her opinions about the opposing sides in the current bloody battle.  She had no use for either of them, but the side she most criticized was the Hash Tags.

I listened to her criticisms of women who brought forth, after being given compensation it now appears in many cases to do so, complaints about sexual liberties taken by men with whom they worked, or knew or were simply around…and famous; and the guys who were, really, skunks and low-lifes, if that’s what happened, being marched before the lights and fitted for the noose like a bunch of bankers in Mao’s China, or a bunch of college professors being accused of telling the truth to idiots; coddled idiots to be sure, but….

As she spoke I remembered some things from other days not so long ago, and the word lynching, among others, crept into my mind, not for the first time in the past several months.  Yes, lynching and the term “uppity Nigger”.  As we all know, it can even take place in Senate chambers on TV given the proper circumstances.  Who really needs a Coliseum any longer?

I also remembered the term “Casting Couch”, and how it was one of those things in the “not so long ago” that everyone acknowledged and more or less lived with; casting a wink, a nod and a knowing smile toward Show Biz folks, and corner office holders everywhere; at those who had made it a way of life, on both sides of the whole sordid mess.  Who did not know that “stars” and “starlets”, that corner office holders and “executive assistants” were “like that” was, well, stupid.  Who in their right mind marries seven times?  Who lives in Connecticut with the wife and kids but has several apartments scattered across the country in case the meeting, the conference, the scene shoot, the whatever runs long?

I also remembered my mother Eleanor “Big Nell” Gallaher, and her sister, the formidable Violet Augustina Downs, two ladies from another age whose withering glances, and emasculating tongues combined with impeccable manners were more than a match for any animal on two or four feet.  Their mother grew up in the notorious Five Corners section of Lower Manhattan whose gangs and rackets make today’s M-13 look like Cub Scouts and Little League Ball.  I never heard one of them raise their voices.  Nor, did I ever hear them once express regret at ever having done or not done anything.  They knew right from wrong, clean from dirty, a gentleman from a jerk; and well knew the way to deal with each kind.

I sat thinking about those three women, and the others,the many, whom I knew growing up, and wondered what had happened since.

What upset her most, my daughter told me as I drove her home after her visit, was the fact that all of those accused were immediately judged to be as guilty as sin, frog marched through the papers and the evening news, “perp” walked across the country and ruined as completely as if they’d been the target of a sneak atomic attack; cast into the dark with the dogs the to weep and gnash their teeth for something that no one will really know happened as terribly and as frequently as it has been alleged to happen.  Could something like that have happened with women like her grandmother, grand aunt and great grandmother?

Perhaps they deserved it!  Perhaps the perverts were exactly that, perverts.  But, the way in which things took place here is, I can’t help thinking, every bit as perverted and disgusting as the acts alleged, and, by the way acts not at all proven, yet. And the cast of thousands, the “lunch” mob of attorneys, commentators, reporters, editors, and guardians of the world who dine now on the rotting corpses of the condemned, the protectors of maids and maidenheads haven’t the slightest interest in that thing called truth.

Nor, if truth be told, am I in the least bit convinced of the sincerity of the “flash tag” legions.  They are no different than the window breaking, flag burning, marching mobs who fill the streets at the drop of a hat, demanding an end to everything.  Far from being something new, they are simply the same thugs and thieves screaming now in soprano voice; a hellish choir of angry demons, exploiting the latest, admittedly very exploitable,   sorry mess we make of ourselves with great regularity; the latest sordid evidence of our own falleness.

On the way home we continued the conversation.  My daughter asked me why I thought this whole mess of “sexual sinning” was being played out as it happens to be.  My answer was simply that it is another set piece designed by the folks, or forces, who want an end at last to Western Civilization; another part of the multi pronged attack against it.  That’s a pretty big thesis to defend, I know.  And I freely admit, it’s beyond my little brain to defend it.  But, it is the way it seems to me.

We had a cup of tea at her house, then I left.  Driving home I remembered another day and time, a conversation with my brother-in-law Frank Morse, R.I.P, a cop in New York city, whose birthday is today.  We were both young men talking about what we saw going on around us in the 1960’s during the Age of Aquarius, the Summer of Love, when everyone it seemed was turning on, tuning in””’ and dropping out and wondering when the tocsin would ring.

Over another beer he told me about the time his Uncle, who drove a car for some mobster in The City, and his Father had to visit a fellow and convince him he had to behave more gentlemanly to his wife.  It took more than one lesson, one visit to the “family therapist”, but, despite the attention payed to the matter, no progress seemed ever to be made, and the marriage was ended.

If I had a nickle for the number of such counseling sessions I heard about during my growing up, and the number of lessons I received from them, and the men with whom I grew up, about the way a man should treat a woman I think I would be a rich fellow.

Now, there are no men.  Now, there are no women either it seems.  Summer is long over.  So is the Age of Aquarius.  Do you hear the bell ringing?  It is the tocsin.

 

 

 

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From The Shower

( An occasional series of mind rumblings from a mind of rather small dimension. Don’t be afraid.  You are safe inside. But, I am not responsible for what occurs otherwheres. )

BAT-S**t CRAZY

(or BSC)

It seems to need the hyphen, don’t you think?

I am in the shower this morning and this happens:  I think of the two word phrase that is the title of this little piece.  That is all.  The water’s pouring down the way it does.  I am buck nekkid.  The razor is in my hand …I draw it slowly and carefully across my neck taking care to remember the jugular only inches away and waiting.  And then, the phrase just occurred to my mind while washing the soap from my face after shaving, and checking for blood in the rinse water circling the drain the same way it did in the Bates Motel.  Relieved and living I continued my shower the while thinking about that phrase.  How did it come to be?  I mean not just then in the shower, but what made the man or woman who devised such a thing devise it.  I asked myself that very question which may have occurred to you, Dear Reader, at odd and quiet moments while reflecting on odd and quiet things.  Huh???

I have seen them, bats, of course, in their early evening flights into the night and been at times a little nervous; and, more lately, when I had learned they are the scourge of mosquitoes, with an approving and hopeful glance I cheered them on, silently of course. Bats eat mosquitoes for a living, and that makes them okay in my book.  We have a lot of mosquitoes, too many it seems.  Pray for more bats for the harvest.

By now we all know how they get around, their echo location thing. Sending out hyper-sonic pings and listening for the echo with their radar antenna ears.  Maybe that’s how they get mosquitoes, through sifting the airwaves for tasty little tidbits. Thinking about that, and their airwave sifting I thought about us. What have we got to sift from the airwaves?  Dreck, and more dreck; a mountain of mud.

That should tell you how my mind works.  I went from thinking about bats, radar and those miserable bugs to thinking about Wikileaks, and e-mails, and the miserable little bugs we have afflicting themselves on us through the medium and ministry of print and electronic media, and the associated positions and twistings thereof.  I couldn’t tell if they were Bat-S**t Crazy, or we were, for entertaining the possibility that any one of them, and their Dirtbag associates was worthy of being in the driver’s seat for any period of time, let alone for four years.  I was thinking then, of course, about the Presidential election this year, itself taking on the appearance of a criminal conspiracy involving almost everyone above the age of reason in the nation, which age, it seems, keeps creeping higher and higher, like monetary inflation, national debt and the temperature.  Soon, I think, it will be so high only the dead will have reached it.

I mean, just look at the mess all this Hope and Change BS has put us in, not the least of which is nearly $20,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo,ooo. of national debt.  None of it is any of mine.  I didn’t benefit from it and I cannot pay for it.  I do have an idea that we, each one of us, should file in Bankruptcy Court under some chapter or other for relief from any requirement to pay back to the treasury whatever is determined to be our share of this debt we had no part in incurring; and neither want to assume nor assist in its payment.  Let those who created it in the Agencies, Bureaus, Committees and Departments…the cancers in the Body Politic…responsible as they are for the burden, carry it and discharge it.

“Debt, Schmedt!”  We’ve got more than that!  Now, the latest of any number of scandals concerning skullduggery in high places continues…or low if the truth be told…  I’ve been trying to ignore; this unending sorry storm of Blivets, all of this mishegas that passes for what once might have been conversations, intelligent ones by intelligent and capable people, about matters that should be on the minds of anyone not still playing with what they have scraped from their diapers is become first sad, then infuriating and now tragically, bizarrly comic.  Matters, like, well that number above, the people who made it, what they did and what should be done to them and about it disappear.  Or, for another instance or two, how to deal with raving Russians, murderous muslims, calculating Chinese; such problems are ignored.  Instead we focus on a sick dope who takes pictures of himself in his underwear and sends them to teenagers; and how a zillion, perhaps, e-mails, some of them perhaps top secret, some of them reported to the FBI and Congress as having been deleted, and some of them maybe most of them merely shopping lists most of them from his wife to the Ice Queen.  And said wife, a clever jinx, cannot for the life of her understand how a zillion or so of her emails got mixed in with all of those underwear photos.  I vannot imagine the number of teenaged girls asking for a Top Secret clearance before reading the suggestive and steamy correspondences between the slim arab gbroad and the harpy.

But we drop everything and pick up this?

He and he alone, a deranged sex addict, a meshuganah if there ever was one, may be the undoing of a Presidential campaign (for which a statue in his honor..perhaps a modern David?..should be, erm..erected).  But, for heaven’s sake, does it have to be this way we end what is the most serious threat to civic sanity we have yet faced as a nation.

Back in the 1950’s we all thought we were threatened by a nuclear war with the Russians, and then life changed.  We reached detente, we trusted, but verified.  A few decades after that the enemy collapsed.  It never was much of an enemy, really.  I was in DC for a while and became convinced the Russian bear was a skinny dope in a clown suit; and good thing, because it meant, to me at least, that they were sillier and more stupid than we were.  (Never get too close to the workings of government.  You will see the gears and workings are not working well at all.  It’s a very foolish and hollow place; echoing nonsense)

Now?  Now I think that what was our Bold Experiment has become a form of Improv Comedy, and a bad act at that, an act so bad that one needs to be sloppy drunk to laugh.

Gathered around the polling place, underneath annoying clouds of mosquitoes and reporters, we’ll gather to enjoy the final act.

This is the way the show will end.  This is the way: not with a vote, but a fart!

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I Had A Dream Last Night…

I’m thinking about it.  You see everything that takes place in the dream is exactly like what’s happening right now, even where you are; wherever that is.  This is the craziest dream I think I’ve ever had, because I just know how it will end, and the strange thing is, I’m scared.  It’s a nightmare!

It opens up with me in some big “Music Venue” with about a million thousand skinny tattooed kids, dressed in rags and bits of clothes.  What isn’t tattooed is pierced and buttoned to other parts.  Up on the stage, where explosions take place…real explosions, with real gunpowder and smoke…three or four guys, and what looks like a girl are screaming at each other and breaking things between the explosions while some nearly naked guy with hair..I think its hair and I think it’s a guy… sits chained inside a cage with about a hundred drums he is pounding on; drums and pipes and metal plates.  He pounds them in an increasing frenzy.

And, then he explodes!

The kids in the pit beneath the stage scream their delight as bits of the drummer and drops of his blood spray them.

I know I payed to be here, and I’m sick.  The screaming on the stage stops.  The concert is over.  In the audience people react differently.  Most fight with each other.  Some faint and are trampled.  Others…well others do other things.

I leave the “concert” through lines of police armed with automatic weapons and covered completely in black muscled uniforms.  They look like Batman, every one of them. They are the ushers for the concert.  They check my ID on the way out, wordlessly, mechanically; their glasses, or face plates so dark I can see nothing behind them.  I don’t know if they are even human..

It is daylight outside… around noon on a bright summer day.  I am on a broad square, like the one around the Boston City Hall.  It’s filled with people, all of them signing the National Anthem, as if this was a ball game or a championship fight.  But, it isn’t a sporting contest, and it is City Hall Square in Boston.  I have stumbled into a political rally.

The federal office building is clothed in bunting, red.white and blue.  Across the street from City Hall the FBI offices  are filled with more black clad forms at each window, the roof was thick with artillery pieces, and more black clad eyeless figures.  Gay, red white and blue bunting covers this building, too, and flags are next to each artillery piece.

In the square, the crowd accompanied by another band is finishing .  Every thing is quiet for a moment except for sirens in the distance, and explosions, always explosions.

Then a platform rises up from below in the space between City Hall and the Federal Building.  The explosions end, silence falls across the square.  Below the platform a drum beats, or a heart beats, its sound magnified across the square, and slowly, slowly, the drum/heart beat sound magnifies until you might think the walls would shatter, the buildings fall.  Some people faint, but most begin jumping in time with the beat, and continue as a figure in red mounts from below and is lifted onto the shoulders of two black clad sentinels who walk to the platform center and stand while silence falls.

There is silence.  There is immobility across the square.  After some minutes the figure screams in a woman’s voice, simply screams, screeches, maniacally.  On television screens, giant screens set around the square, set in public places all over the city, all over the nation, on giant screens sailing by suspended from eagles wings, from balloons and helicopters, the face screams down at us, out at us, out at everything, everyone, everywhere.

Then she stops!  Slowly, slowly, slowly silence falls again over the square.  A cloud crosses the sun, and some people moan, duck away from the brief shadow.  It clears and the figure is down standing in the middle of the platform in front of the immobile dark clad giants.

Fully five minutes pass in silence while she stands there in front of the draped buildings, in front of the dark men, before the silent crowd, her face a rictus of hate, her eyes in the giant screen burning hate.

She speaks.  No, she screams the words, and I am sure she does so without any amplification.  “You want me!  I want you!” The people cheer wildly, “We want you!” Over and over they cheer, screaming and jumping again to the heart beat which has returned louder, if possible, than before.  Some who have fallen to the ground are trampled, their please and screams simply adding to the crowd’s frenzied response.

An old man appears at her side, thin and wasted, leering in the giant screens; mockery plain on his face scorn, disdain and pride visible in every line of his drying dead skin, his empty eyes. He carries something in a filthy sack, something alive and bowing obsequiously before the woman.  He is bare from the waist.

She takes the package he hands her and raises it in her hands.  They stop, everything stops, the heart beat, though, drums on, as if it is coming from the package itself now kicking and squirming above her head.

“Take me!” she screeches!  “Take me and I will give you this!  I will give you all of this!  All of this and more, much more! You have my promise!”  One hand drops to her side, the package opens and something pale falls from it to her feet, squirming, kicking.  The old man naked from the waist, walks slowly over to the object, bends, picks it from the platform and hurls it high over the heads of the crowd to fall into it.  A roar goes up and hundreds where it fell fall on each other in a frenzy, fighting and screaming for possession.

I saw what was thrown and turn away to face one of the black clads.  Without a word, he roughly turns me back to face the platform.  She repeats “All of this and much, much more!”  With those words she turns and is lifted up again.  The guns atop the FBI building roar to life.  They are aimed at Boston’s City Hall which disappears in flame and smoke.  Hundreds of spectators disappear, too.  The rest continue their screaming.

It is a dream I tell myself in my dream.  But, I have been awake now since before dawn and still see and hear it.

 

 

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1948, Gallaher Family Portrait

The Way It Used To Be

 

Below is my gob-smacked reaction to an article in the current issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity.  The article, “Surgical Fantasy”, was written by Robert Hart, who is identified as the rector of St. Benedict’s Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, NC.

Above is my family in the mid-1940’s looking the way the vast majority of families used to be.

The author of the piece in Touchstone announces at the beginning that “a new civil right is being forced on us”.  And it is this “new right” which he discusses.  It is the right to deny natural order and to choose (against fact and reason) what gender (strange and frightening word) we are. That such a right exists.  That people who know it is mad to stand on the tracks while the train is bearing down on them, yet believe this a “right” is where the gob-smackedness of the situation comes in

At a time not so long ago “gender” was a word that was used in grammar when a person wanted to speak or write about which words went with what words; it being necessary for those things to “agree in gender and number” .  Gender had a place in botany, too I think,  during discussions about flowers and their bits and pieces; stamens were one kind of gender and pistils were another.  Stuff like that.

One of the dictionaries Google found for me to consult about gender has it that the word was in use as early as the 14th century in the first sense.  It appeared a bit later in the second.  It only became mixed up (confused?) with the word “sex”, people sex, in the mid 20th century.  Even then the dictionary notes tell me gender applied to differences between male and female people was limited to cultural and social differences, while the word sex was limited strictly to biological differences.  Call what has since happened to it mission creep.

The terms of art concerning the phenomenon of such a sudden strangeness as is written about are, as far as I can tell, “gender identity”, “gender assignment” and “gender choice”; which indicate that no longer is it the case someone’s sex (or gender, the term du jour when referring to all of those parts your grandmother might have called your “naughty bits”, and what one was able to use them for) is something which is decided in our mother’s womb when we are all newly formed zygotes.  We now, or recently, have the right to choose which we want to be; or perhaps in the near future, both, none or an illimitable number.  Ain’t science great!  Off with the old, on with the new!

When all of this started, it want by the name of “Sex Change”.  Milder forms of such a thing were known as “Cross Dressing” or that thing called “Drag”; a word whose application in this sense I cannot for the life of me understand.  In the first case one lost some things and had other things sewn on or added in one way or another, and voila, one was a new, umm, thing; sort of like becoming a coupe after starting out as a pick-up or tractor, where mechanics and painters and the odd engineer or two cut and re-assemble what essentially remains the same, but looks like something different.  Only, in the case of the internal combustion machine, it still works as one.

In the latter two cases above it was simply a matter of playing dress up, and pretending to be something you deep down knew you were not, and could never be.  Now???  Now, well now, it’s all for “real”.  What or who we identify as, not who we are is the determinant most valuable.  We, or those who think they must and therefore should, change what we were born to be have, as the author says, a right to do it.  Boy. Girl. Dragon. Turtle.

And everyone’s gotta go along with this at the risk of being labelled an intolerant trans-gender or trans-species bigot.

I am not quite sure I understand what these new terms mean, but, from a number of tales and stories in the press and on the “inter-world”, people who apply the terms to themselves, of whom the terms are used in such places, people who undergo surgeries and hormone treatments and take courses in makeup application, and use different bathrooms, these people have become another kind of person, so they say.  With the skilled cutting and pasting of surgeons and pharmaceutical firms, counselors and the ever present and increasingly more vital counseling services necessary for all of us to become “the best we can be”, they have become the person they were,so they say, “destined” to be, and about whom we are supposed to say, in humble acclamation, the difference is complete.  The change affects everything about the “changed”.  Not just a physical and psychological change has taken place.  It may be thought of as a change on the ontological level.  A new being has been re-engineered, manufactured, re-tooled (no pun intended); in a word, Born!  That’s a change worth thinking about, an ontological change, to use a big word.

Well, no!  All of his, her, its billions of cells, and its single soul are still as they were when sperm met egg and there was only one.  Nothing has changed but the atmospherics; the curtains and the colors of the walls.

When I think about this, I think that the ones undergoing this process must believe that God made a mistake, and they have , or the attending surgeon and the pharmaceutical industry have, fixed it.  God’s roll of the dice in their case, they are convinced, came up, what, snake eyes?  And they’ve got the right to go God one better.  Well, why not!?  We’ve been doing stuff like that since apple blossom time in paradise.

Big shrug.

Or, they could be nuts, completely delusional, Bedlam worthy cuckoos screwing up their lives to a fare thee well.  And, they could be being helped to “develop” their mad delusion, correcting God’s big mistake, not getting treated for it, by quite a few people from incredibly stupid doctors to the dimwitted darlings of the airwaves ready to do anything for a sensation or two.  There’s more than enough evidence for the screwiness of everything concerned with this, and the author deals with that in the first part of his article.

Much more charitably than I do.

Anyway, here’s a link to the article:

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=29-03-025-v

 

 

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The Baby and The Bathwater

The saddest and most depressing place in the world this side of the pits of hell is Divorce Court.  I know.  I’ve been there.

What follows are some recollections and thoughts prompted by hearing about, but not reading, the recent letter to us all from Pope Francis, “Amoris Laetitia”, which translates into English as The Joy of Love; thoughts prompted by listening to and reading (1) what ordinary folks say, (2) what “smart” folks say, (3) what the public talkers say, those whose opinions “make” something for all of us to carry about as if they were ours.  Many people, I think, will read little more than the title  then it will fade like a little white cloud fades from the sky on a dry summer day.

But, the majority of people, I think, will depend on the reports about it given by the “experts” on the 6 and 10, or the interviews with “experts” on The View and Oprah.  Having thus been enlightened they’ll continue to do right as The Media give them to see the right; and walk around humming, if not singing aloud in praise, the title line from the Beatles song, “All You Need Is Love”, written by that dead numbskull,  John Lennon.  They won’t read the whole thing either.  But, they won’t read it because they’re lazy like me.  They won’t read it because they don’t need to.  They really know that all you need is love…the numbskulls.

Thank you, Universe!


TWO STORIES ABOUT HARD CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES

One:

Joey was about a year behind me in school; a quiet kid, small framed, with dark hair, and dark, deep set, and sad eyes.  I didn’t know him well.  He was just another kid on the block, one of a hundred or so spare parts, random particles bouncing around back there in the Bronx a million or so years ago.

He had two older sisters, Barbara and Marie.  His mother was a nice enough woman; but what does a kid know about things like that? She had her own sad face with her own sad and gentle smile.  She came and went by herself, saying hello, and, just as quickly, but politely, saying goodbye.  His sister Marie was never around.  His sister Barbara was what might have once been called neurasthenic.  But who knew such things, then?  She was just thin and different; a kind of worn out version of the mysterious and older Marie, of her mysterious and already worn out mother

Perhaps, I wonder after all these years, if that was the reason there was “that thing” about him, you know?  He just wasn’t at his ease, it seemed, anywhere.  His eyes, I hadn’t the brains then to notice such things, told the story.  And, over the years, the small, sad eyed kid just got smaller until one day, he finally disappeared.  I never found out where he’d gone, never knew what had happened to him.  He just went.  Not that I missed him, I mean.  We weren’t pals.  He was just another kid on the block.

I was about thirteen when I learned Joey’s mother and father were divorced; actually divorced.  The interior reaction I had to learning that there was actually someone whose parents were divorced, that there were children who lived near me and never saw one of them was , not to put too fine a point on it, tumultuous.  We had our own troubles in our own family.  Dad drank too much, and would get worse.  Mom took up the habit in her own defense.  They argued.  We worried. The rent was late.  Bills piled up.

But divorce?  Become like Joey?  Mom asked us one day, during what my sister and I sometimes refer to as our own family’s long day’s journey into night, if we thought she and Dad should get a divorce.  All I remember doing in response is crying. Thank God, it never happened.  But, truth to tell, it was no bed of roses.  Thorns, sometimes would have been a softer place, and sometimes were.  Nevertheless, she loved him.  He loved her.  We loved them.  And so, life went on.  We were, I thought, in a tough place; but, we were a whole family, and that fact was protected and assured by Mom being Mom and Dad being dad until death parted them.

Besides, we weren’t strangers to the kind of combat family life was.  You hear a lot living in an apartment house, especially in the summer when all the windows are open.  besides, kids, all of them except Joey, I think, share their stories.


Two:

We called her The Big A, and her daughter was, of course, the Little A.  Her “husband”, I never knew he was anything but a husband until I was in my mid-teens, was a fellow named Sonny, a friend of my father. He was Little A’s father, and later on the father of a little boy, Robert.  When Robert was a baby, I took care of him while his mother went to work as a book keeper in some nearby business.

Sonny worked, too, for Con-Edison, the power company in The City.  He had a bad back, injured, so we believed, during the war, World War II, for which he received a discharge.  He was a pugnacious little guy, someone who probably lost a lot of fights, but kept on trying anyway.  The fights he always won, though, were with The Big A; another fact I only found out much later in life.  I might have guessed had I cared to.  But I was engaged in being a full time kid which was not easy work.

The Big A was younger than Mom or Dad, and younger than Sonny.  She was a blond, and beginning to look puffy.  But, she loved a good time.  I suppose that was how she met Sonny and became his “wife”; even though, as I learned much later, she was already a wife to some guy I never met who was away in the Pacific on a big gray boat.  One of those good times led, as they often do, to her becoming Sonny’s “wife” and the Little A’s mother.

When I was younger, and less kind, I would have called Little A a “piece of work”.  And, I often did.  Now that I know, I realize she didn’t really stand a chance.  My first wife, may she rest in peace, had a term for children like Little A.  She called them “walking abortions”; killed before birth, and still among us.

On several occasions when I was a kid, I remember hearing snatches of conversations between my parents about their “friends”; conversations about the problems they were having.  It was from those “overheards” that I learned of Big A’s hospitalizations from time to time, and her broken nose, and their trips to see a priest for counseling.  And always Mom and Dad wondered what would happen next. And he talked to Sonny.  And she talked to Big A.  And the music went round and round.

When I was in high school there began a series of extended stays on our couch by Big A; once for about a year.  Later on her daughter became a guest for months at a time.  She eventually drifted away across the “highway of life”; like a bit of tumbleweed I suppose, aimlessly bouncing off the rocks.  One of the tales coming back about her in later years was that she had decided she was a lesbian.  And, I have sometimes thought, if anyone had a reason for it, she did.  But, life on a rock in the middle of the ocean would have been my own solution did it come to that.

My final memory of them all was a short conversation with Mom not too long before my poor wreck of a father died.  She told me that her friends were on their way to see another priest for another time.  She wasn’t too sanguine about the outcome.  And, I thought, what else?  How many times can a nose be broken?  What could a priest say?  “Just stop it?”  “Grow up?” “Always wear a catcher’s mask?”


THE EXPERTS WEIGH IN, TRUTH IS EXPLAINED AND THINGS ONLY GET WORSE

Someone sent me a link to this article the other day, and after taking my medications against stomach upset I read it.  You who take the time to read it will learn what the author, James Carroll, says.  For those who don’t, I’ll tell you briefly.  He thinks what the pope wrote would have been a wonderful thing to have when he was a priest, but, alas for him, the cavalry arrived too late.

The thing I like about this guy Carroll is that at least he left the priesthood. The thing I don’t like is that he parlayed that into a comfortable living biting the hand that once fed him. There is a small industry in that kind of thing.

But he, at least, had the “nads” to go, not like so many others, termites one might call them.  These were the guys who stayed and played with the souls of folks they were supposed to shepherd. That job really isn’t too hard, you know. A well trained dog can do it; and that’s all they are, because the Shepherd calls the shots, and sometimes, he does that from as much as a half mile away with a sharp whistle and a wave of the staff. Of course, the dogs keep the flocks out of the thickets, away from tall cliffs, deep holes, swift and dangerous waters. That’s all Slim, and says the Shepherd, “And, I will lay you down to rest when your work is done. Tend my sheep.”  How hard can that be?

But not a few of them decided they weren’t dogs; they were shepherds. And these guys (Robert Drinan comes to mind) said: ” Swift waters invigorate! Tall cliffs expand ones horizons!  Deep holes, if entered carefully, should be explored, and perhaps will provide shelter in dangerous times…. Who knows? Life’s an adventure, and The Shepherd of the flock whom I know personally can’t stop lovin’ you. He’s made up his mind!”

Horsepatties!

Don’t just take my word.

Here’s another article you may want to read.  The fellow analyzes Carroll’s analysis and uncovers some serious misunderstandings by someone who passes himself off as an authority; a case, perhaps, of going too far out from sure and getting carried away by the ocean currents you never knew were there.  As I mentioned to someone else solipsism is a bad word.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Pope Francis for a lot of things, but not this, and not for the reasons you may think.  He should have seen what was coming.  He’s had more than fifty years experience of, and time to understand, it.

We’ve had bad popes before. We’ll have more again. The good thing about bad popes is that they ain’t permanent.  And, I’m not saying that Pope Francis is a bad Pope.  But, I think, there are bad, or at least seriously mislead and misleading people out there.  In the first category are people who one might call the sheep of the flock.  In the second category are those who identify themselves as shepherds..  They fill the pages of things like The New Yorker.  Perhaps they are the theological equivalents of men who identify as women, or gossamer winged fantasies, or real shepherds, and want us to pay them the respect normal people, or normal fantasies, or real shepherds, get.  And then there’s the ones, we all know them, who would like nothing better than to see the last of this whole sheep, shepherd, and flock thing go away.

And, finally, the last word on Mr. Carroll, and his views, the fellow who might have been called a “spoiled priest” in another, more enlightened, age from a fellow who, I think, describes him accurately; Carroll and the majority of the people the numbskulls at places like the New Yorker turn to for “expert” advice.  Remember, they are legion.

My author introduces his piece by saying James Carroll “has made a career out of attacking the Catholic Church and Christianity in general. And like many of the most prominent anti-Catholic authors he is also an ex-religious–in this case an ex-priest. I’m not sure whether even he would still call himself a Catholic, but others have called him a Catholic “liberal” or “reformer.” I think the fairest term would be “dissident.”

And this is the kind of fellow most folks who “read” Pope Francis will turn to for advice, confirmation and support.

You see, that way “It’s Easy.”

There’s nothing you could do that can’t be done

 

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