A Culture of “Non-Judgmentalism”

Rod Dreher of the American Conservative has a video up of a fight at Wal-Mart between two women (white trash) over shampoo.  While amusing in the absurd Jerry Springer kind of way, it’s disheartening for many reasons, and any one of those could be fodder for further inquiry.  However, I’m going to focus on the reaction of those watching the fight – everyone stood there and watched and a few even enjoyed the “spectacle”.  No one tried to restore order by breaking up the fight or even stop the little boy from hitting the woman in the head.  A woman was being punched and choked, and no one did anything about it.  Why the inaction?  I think it has something to do with our culture of non-judgmentalism (a manifestation of the Enlightenment) in which we’ve come to embrace the notion that there should be no boundaries to a person’s behavior.  We’ve developed a laissez-faire attitude towards EVERYTHING – sexual ethics, drug/alcohol abuse, violence, etc.  It’s hard to see this as anything other than a result of exercising freedom as the ultimate – perhaps the ONLY – virtue.  This is what we get, a freakshow, when there are no chains to bind us.  What about the four Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance?  St. Thomas Aquinas once said prudence was the primary cardinal virtue because it was concerned with the intellect.  Prudence is knowing the ability to distinguish what is good or bad and taking the appropriate action.  Justice demands we give everyone exactly what is due to them.  Fortitude is the courage to overcome our fears and push forward.  Lastly, temperance pertains to restraint and moderation in our desires for pleasure (food, drink, sex, etc.).  A prudent minded person who saw this fight would have stopped the child from hitting the woman and then break up the fight.  For a smaller woman to do that, perhaps that would require some fortitude, since these women were fat (as are most white trash women).  That didn’t happen; the bystanders didn’t want to “judge” the women or even the boy.  To the bystanders, the women were exercising their freedom by fighting.  This non-judgmentalism is terrible for our culture.  We need to judge; it’s our Christian duty to judge.  I’m not talking eternal judgment – only God can do that.  I’m talking moral judgment.  It’s maddening to see Christians refuse to pass moral judgments on people they know they should make.  Damn it! Don’t damn them, but judge them, and then react accordingly.

 

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/pugilism-of-walmart/

News Flash! Women are not the same as Men

Recently, in an attempt to placate feminists (really, liberals in general) who think women are systematically denied opportunities, the Department of Defense allowed women to serve in combat roles.  We all rolled our eyes when that happened; no one seriously thought women were strong enough to hack it.  Even if they were, traditional notions of gender roles, based on generations of experience, dictated the horrors of combat were no place for a woman.  Well, it seems like the Army is hell-bent on giving it a try.  In the Army, special operators and elite conventional infantry attend Ranger School – a grueling course which tests the limits of man’s mind and body.  To date, no woman has passed the course.  Every woman has failed; generally, it has been the ruck march to do them in – where trainees have to march 12 miles with 80 pounds of gear on them in under a certain time.  For a 200lb man, that proves difficult enough, but for a 120 pound woman, it’s even harder.  Unfortunately, the Army won’t stop with this silly little experiment; they’re talking about changing the standards to accommodate women’s innate weakness compared to men.  This is nothing more than lowering standards in attempt to achieve the bullshit liberal notion of “equality”.  To be fair, it isn’t women clamoring for the change in standards – it’s men!  The Army’s brass (institutional leaders) is pushing it.  Apparently, they’re impervious to a simple fact most second-graders know: men are not the same as women.  There are lots of reasons why…starting with the fact testosterone – a natural steroid which among other things builds muscle – is man’s primary sex hormone.  Women can certainly handle the physical demands of drone warfare, but ground combat is entirely different.  The moral/ethical and normative question of whether they should be involved in any combat is debatable.  I tend to use the “would I want my daughters to do that” rule of thumb in those situations.  No, I don’t want my daughters killing anyone.  I want them to be caring mothers who primarily raise their children, support their husband, and if need be, provide secondary financial support to family.  Evolutionary biology has shown women to better have the traits associated with these roles (emotional intelligence, nurturing, etc.) than with the violent act of state-sanctioned murder.  In this era, that makes me a misogynist and women-hater.  In years past, that would make me a normal dude. The times they are a changing.

 

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2015/0529/All-8-women-fail-Ranger-School-Some-Rangers-say-standards-should-change-video

The gullibility of the Left

The Left is gushing over the new Wells Fargo ad which features a White lesbian couple trying to learn sign language with their adopted deaf Latino child. (See below for link to video). Ah, what a celebration of the ideal family – same sexes and different races! Although I’d call it a bit unrealistic; after all, how many attractive lesbians are there in this world? It would be very easy to just dismiss such a blatant piece of bullshit, but in this culture, people actually buy in to this nonsense.  We can no longer laugh away what we know to be insane – the notion gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.  A plethora of exhaustive social science research exists showing just how bad having gay parents is for kids. See for yourself in the second link.  Children of homosexual parents are much more likely to be on the welfare tit, have less educational attainment, suffer from depression, get arrested, cheat on their partner, be sexually abused by their gay parents, take drugs, and sit on their ass and watch hours of TV.  Science tells us what we intuitively know – that all children should have a mother and a father. However, if you state such, you’re a homophobe who hates gays and should be banished, boycotted, and blithely dismissed from being taken serious.  Wells Fargo is keenly aware of all of this; they know the Left’s cause-du-jure – slamming the gay lifestyle down our throats. If you don’t play along to their gay song (“gay” not “gay”), you’re going to be boycotted, and since ALL Wells Fargo cares about is generating profits for its shareholders, it plays along. If Wells Fargo wasn’t concerned about such a boycott, this video doesn’t exist.  Consider the case of Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who was forced to resign solely because he once donated his own money to upholding the traditional definition of marriage. Clearly the man hates homosexuals and wants them all to die; his disapproval of gay marriage can only be motivated by animus towards gays….not any belief in biblical teachings or biological complementariness.  There are plenty of cases similiar to Eich, as there are cases similiar to the one involving the Indiana pizza parlor.  Wells Fargo knows the ramifications of vocally supporting the truly ideal family – husband, wife, and children all of the same race. It also know gays have public opinion backing them – with gay marriage all but being decided.  Their video comes with literally zero opportunity cost. They get allies on the Left and lose nothing. Hell, even Wal-Mart and Apple are coming out (so to speak) in support of the cause – issuing statements against the Indiana pizza parlor owner who said he wouldn’t cater a gay wedding.  How can one take any finger waving serious from Wal-Mart or Apple, the companies which pay their workers next to nothing in slave labor factories.  Liberals gloss over this as a minor detail – supporting gay marriage is the only thing that matters right now. Anything else – even massive exploitation of workers – is just a distraction. Count me out; you can boycott me.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/28/wells-fargo-lesbian-couple-asl_n_7163254.html

http://www.frc.org/issuebrief/new-study-on-homosexual-parents-tops-all-previous-research

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/opinion/working-conditions-at-apples-overseas-factories.html?_r=0

Brewing as Soulcraft

Gents/Ladies –

I apologize for the hiatus; it’s been a frenetic transition out of the active duty military, and until recently I haven’t had much time to reflect. My first post in a few months isn’t a reflection on that time, but instead an attempt to analyze the deeper existential joys of homebrewing! These joys are rooted in Catholic tradition and philosophy, tracing their roots back to St. Benedict, the 5th century saint and founder of western monasticism. Long story short, St. Benedict created a series of monastic rules for monks to follow. One of the rules is for monks to live by the work of their hands. The reason for such a rule was a perceived nobility in mastering specific skills, and the other reason was out of necessity – to earn enough money to live off of. The Trappists monks literally took this rule to mean they should brew kickass beer (and cheese and bread). In fact, the Trappists monks brew what many consider to be the best beer in the world – Wesvleteren XII – a quadruple…..with enough alcohol content to drop an elephant. St. Benedict knew a man needed to stand by what he made, and in the post-modern scientific management world where white-collar professionals hammer away at excel spreadsheets, the question needs to be asked – what in the hell are we making? We are so far removed from our work we have no idea if we’re good at what we do. I cranked out those financial reports my boss wanted…woo hoo! This removes meaning and ultimately enjoyment from our work. Brewing beer is different – when one brews a beer, he (brewmaster) or she (brewista) is in direct control of all aspects of the endeavor – not merely a COG in the system. You’re in direct contact with your work – you know when it sucks, and you know when you’ve nailed it! This attachment to work provides meaning and brings joy with it. There are many other endeavors which provide this same type of fulfillment, e.g. woodworking, car mechanic (on old cars), etc., but none as tasty as making beer. Thanks for the brewkit, Nate.

Cheers,

Phil

 

The Digital Generation (a guest post from the wife)

If you were to describe Phil or me, I am 99% sure that technically savvy would not be on the top of the list. Don’t get me wrong, we know how to use the dvd player, we can navigate a computer successfully, and we can tell our moms via phone how to answer the Skype call (sorry mom). However, we certainly are not up to date on the latest and greatest new gadget out there. To be honest with you I kind of take pride in that. Let me run down a little list just to give you an idea. We have an ipod, I bought it in 2006; we have got rid of our iphones for flip phones; and do not have a real computer, instead a tablet and a netbook (that is powered by a very old asthmatic hamster).

I am perfectly content to be ‘lacking’ in this area because I know that I am more present in my daughters’ life this way. (Other than trying to be frugal this was why we ‘downgraded’ our phones.) We spend our days playing outside, reading books, building blocks, coloring pictures, baking cookies, gardening, knocking on the neighbor’s door to see if they want to play, and snuggling up together to watch a movie.

But here’s the thing. By choosing to live a lower tech (I wouldn’t go quiet as far as saying low tech) life are we giving our daughters a short coming? I don’t care that they don’t know what Angry Birds are or that I don’t have to let my 2 year old play games on my phone so we can get through grocery shopping without a meltdown. But, going into school will it be expected that my child knows how to use a computer? Will she be the odd ball out for not having an ABC Mouse account? What age will it be required that she has her own computer!? I don’t ask these questions out of fear that they will not be able to learn how to use a computer, but more out of a statement for what their generation will be like.

Our goal is to have our children learn and experience life through the real world and to supplement those experiences with technology. Our daughters will know that food does not originate at a grocery store, that meals do not come from a drive-thru window, and that there is such a thing as games that do not require batteries. However, through the internet you can find out how to grow a new crop, a recipe for a new meal, or the lost instructions to the board game found in the back of grandma’s closet. It is our goal to raise “hands on” children who know how to navigate through the real world, not just through their avatar. Because when the zombie apocalypse happens pulling a trigger is a lot more effective than hitting the ‘x’ button.

 

Now, let’s all have a laugh that I am using a blog post to share my musings about being low tech.

 

 

 

The Hobby Lobby Case

The American Conservative’s Patrick Deneen has produced probably the best analysis of the Hobby Lobby / Obamacare case which has met its way to the SCOTUS (link below post).  Hobby Lobby – and the side of religious liberty – is challenging those who believe the government can require employers to provide contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services in their employee healthcare plans.  Deneen, like myself and most Christians, hopes Hobby Lobby wins its case.  At the same time, Deneen sees connections between the economy in which Hobby Lobby operates and a culture which embraces contraception/abortion.  His main argument is that Hobby Lobby is a player in the global economy, employing more than $28,000 people to sell cheap shit made in China.  Sure, it plays Christian music and is closed on Sundays, but it operates in a secular economic world where markets are separated from morality.  The model it embraces is an economy of scale – producing more and more standardized shit oversees (where workers are paid next to nothing).  Hobby Lobby’s retail setting also lacks any particular cultural/local distinction.  It looks, feels, and operates like any other business which is driven purely by profits.  Hobby Lobby embraces an economy which isn’t religious or moral – markets are no longer embedded in a larger moral structure.  Deneen notes:

“On the rare occasion that I enter the store, even amid the Chinese mass-produced crosses and the piped in Christian music, under the endless florescent lighting and displays carefully-managed to optimize impulse buying, I am hardly moved to a state of piety, prayer, and thanksgiving. I am, like everyone else, looking for the least chintzy item at the cheapest price.”

More from Deenen:

“It defends its religious views as a matter of individual conscience, of course, because there is no moral, social, or religious context to which it can appeal beyond the autonomy of its own religious belief. Lacking any connecting moral basis on which to stake a social claim, all it can do…is seek an exemption from the general practice of advancing radical autonomy. Yet, the effort to secure an exemption is itself already a concession to the very culture and economy of autonomy.

Most ironically, its entire business model is premised upon the conception of the disembedded self. Its stores are located generally in the middle of nowhere, in a sea of asphalt, providing the simulacra of ancient craft with goods produced by Chinese and transported by massive container ships, accessible only by automobiles generally by people living in suburbs. They have contributed to the displacing of smaller, local businesses with the extensive assistance of government, especially in the form of free-trade agreements, military-protected fossil-fuel production and transportation along with international shipping corridors, state-sponsored infrastructure that give major advantages to businesses that rely heavily on economies of scale based on trucking, and zoning laws that encourage the evisceration of downtowns in favor of national chains. Purchases in these chain stores result in a net outflow of money from these communities into the coffers of distant and absentee owners”

It’s ironic (and ridiculous) a chain store – which profits off turning people into things – is representing the defense of life.  For as Deneen says, “Our entire economy is an education on how to be ‘pro-choice’.”  Still, let’s hope this aspect of Obamacare is struck down.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/hobbylobby/

America’s Hypocrisy

The mainstream media (MSM) has been bombarding us with stories regarding the crises in Ukraine, and I have been routinely asked about my perspective on the issue, so I felt the need to present my thoughts – not all of my thoughts, but just a couple on the issue.  First of all, I absolutely disagree with Vladimir Putin’s decision to seize Crimea; it’s illegal and wrong, but there legitimate concerns (whether rightly perceived or not) Russia has at play.  I note this up front because what follows is an indictment of our response to the situation.  President Obama came out and stated Russia needs to respect the sovereign nation of Ukraine – you know, since he’s respected the sovereignty of other nations like Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, etc.  Obama’s fetish for armed intervention far surpasses Putin’s, making Obama’s criticism of Putin hollow.  Not one to bash only one side, the hack Marco Rubio proposed a set of responses intended to “punish” Russia, with most of them meaningless posturing and one of them asinine.  Rubio proposed “fast-tracking” NATO membership to Georgia (a favorite Neo-Con proposal).  In order for countries to become members of NATO, a set of conditions must be met, and fast-tracking allows countries to become members before meeting these conditions.  Under NATO, an attack on one is an attack on all.  This is no small matter when you have two-bit countries bordering Russia (Georgia) picking fights with a much larger and stronger adversary.  If Georgia was a member of NATO, we would have gone to war with Russia in 2008 when Georgia initiated hostilities with Russia.  Who in their right mind wants to send their sons and daughters to die over Georgia, a country of no strategic significance which most people (including myself) can’t even find on a map.  The same can be said of Ukraine.  Yet, the foreign policy elites – never one to serve themselves or make their children serve – are beating the drums for war.  Lord, have mercy.  St Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

Shrinking the Military

Just yesterday large swaths of the media announced the Department of Defense (DoD) will be proposing large cuts to the military in order to maintain the common force’s capabilities in the future.  While this might seem paradoxical – cutting to get better – it makes sense.  Most of the cuts  are in personnel, compensation, and legacy systems.  The Army will likely end up reducing its end-strength by 80,000 members and the Air Force by 25,000.  Compensation cuts include reducing the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), cutting commissary subsidies and increasing health-care fees for retired personnel who have Tricare (the military’s managed health care program).  Lastly, some of the legacy programs to be cut include the U-2 Dragon Lady and A-10 Thunderbolt (or “Warthog”).  Cyber programs and the Air Force’s next-generation fighter, F-35 Lightning, remain untouched.

I firmly support most of the cuts, and think it’s a good start.  As we draw down from Afghanistan, we don’t have a need for our current manning levels, and the notion that by cutting manpower we are less capable is ridiculous.  We still have the world’s most lethal and capable military.  By any measure, our military budget is grossly higher than any other country’s; in fact, we spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined.  Further, it’s about time compensation is finally starting to curtail.  As private sector wages remain stagnant, military personnel have seen their wages continue to rise.  The BAH is a tax-free allowance given to essentially provide free housing for all military.  You, the tax payer, pay my mortgage; here in Florida my BAH is around $1,100 a month.  The more senior a member is, the higher the BAH is, and down here it’s not uncommon for officers to have nice condos on the beach.  We shouldn’t be living that way.  Commissary subsidies allow military members to buy groceries at a substantially cheaper price than non-DoD civilians; my wife and I save hundreds of dollars a year by buying tax-free and reduced price groceries through the commissary.  Also, retired personnel pay some of the lowest premiums in the country for their health-care plans.  The DoD is only seeking to raise fees to the level most Americans face today.

When it comes to cutting systems, I have mixed feelings.  The only reason the U-2 is being cut is because the Air Force is not allowed to cut the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned aerial intelligence gathering aircraft.  Congress, for multiple reasons, will not allow the Air Force to touch the Global Hawk program; the primary reason (IMHO) has to do with parochial interests.  Northrop Grumman, who builds the Global Hawk, knows that if by stretching the production of the Global Hawk into as many states as possible, it will reduce the likelihood of the Global Hawk being killed.  Production means jobs, and if the jobs are strung out over 40 states, it’s extremely hard to kill the program, even if the Global Hawk sucks.  Nearly everyone in the intelligence community prefers the U-2 over the Global Hawk for reasons I can’t discuss.  I understand why we decided to cut the Warthog – it’s a single-mission aircraft (Close Air Support – “CAS”), and that the Air Force wants to save money by having mult-role aircraft which can perform a suite of missions (Close Air Support, Interdiction, Strategic Attack, Offensive Counter Air, Defensive Counter Air, Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance, etc.).  Still, it’s much better at CAS than any other aircraft.  Interestingly enough, this might point to the shifting focus from the Middle-East to the Pacific, where CAS is of little concern right now.  In the Pacific we have potential adversaries with actual Air Forces which can challenge our air superiority and supremacy; this is in stark contrast to the Middle-East, where the environment is completely permissive.  As such, the Air Force isn’t necessarily concerned with supporting the Army via CAS in these environments.  Instead, we care about breaking down the layers of air defense in order to operate.  Before we do CAS, we first must take out their surface-to-air missiles and fighter aircraft.  You can’t do that with the Warthog.

In all, I think the cuts don’t go far enough.  Instead of tinkering with personnel strength, compensation, and systems, I would have challenged deep strategic assumptions.  For example, why do we need to be in South Korea after 50 years, why do we need to be in Europe, etc.  These are taken for granted policies we have which are quite costly; maintaining a global empire isn’t cheap!  By having the DoD curtail its mission to actual to defense and not power projection, we could achieve ample cost savings along with a whole host of other benefits.

Moving back to Iowa

The Church calls the Christian family a domestic church (CCC 2204), embodying the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.  There is even a whole chapter in Ephesians dedicated to the importance of family.  Further, the Catechism notes the family is the original cell of social life – the natural society in which husband and wife give themselves to each other in love and in the gift of life (CCC 2207).  The Church is clear it’s referring to the nuclear and not extended family, however it still has valuable guidance about the type of relationships we should have with our extended family. 

 

When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life.  They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. (CCC 2230)

 

Even when children grow up and start their own family, they need to maintain a close relationship with their now extended family, seeking advice, council, and the occasional home-cooked meal.  For this reason, Erin and I are separating from the active duty military and moving back to Iowa to be closer to our family.  Besides our own close kinship with our families, we want our girls (and all future children) to grow up around family.  My uncle spent 20 years in the Air Force – missing the last twenty years of his father’s life.  Additionally, his kids never got the chance to know Grandpa Russell.  I cringe thinking about living that situation out.

 

None of my coworkers have ever shared any sentiment close to that with me; I imagine they think I’m nuts for giving up an $84,000 salary as a 28-year old because of family.  I think this speaks to our individualistic and materialistic dominant culture, where happiness is defined by the “stuff” one owns.  They’re happy with the military lifestyle in which family ties are eroded and a sense of place destroyed as long as they can get that retirement check by the age of 40 and slide right into the revolving door of contractor work.  I’d rather be poor and around family.

My first post!

I decided to start a blog after repeatedly reading my sister-in-law’s own blog. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but decided against it because of my service in the Air Force; many of my thoughts are hyper-critical of the Air Force, and I knew I would get in trouble if the wrong person read the wrong thing. Alas, I will be getting out of the Air Force in June – as such, I no longer care about protecting my career. I hope to write a little about religion, culture, politics, the military, sports, music and food. Yeah, I know, that’s a lot of areas. I hope you enjoy my writing.

Thanks for the inspiration Kiley!

*************************

As the beginning of Lent draws nearer, us Catholics will inevitably be prodded by suspecting Protestants. “I don’t understand why anyone has to give anything up to in order to become closer with God.” “Those Catholics and their crazy traditions!” Well, I’m here to tell all Protestants (Orthodox Christians follow Lent) the Lenten season has deep roots in scripture (Old and New Testament). Lent traces its roots back to the Jewish holiday of Passover, where the chosen people were liberated from slavery and embarked upon their journey to the promised land. Their rescue began with the sacrifice of a lamb and the smearing of its blood on doors. Of course, later on Jesus came to us as the “Lamb of God”, and he was sacrificed. (John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:8). Thus, the Old Testament becomes fulfilled in the New.

While Passover began with Israel’s liberation, it culminated 40 years later when it reached the promise land. That 40-year period was a time of purification for the Israelites – a purging of their sinfulness (worshiping of idols). In fact, the number 40 in the Bible is commonly associated with purification. When the world was lost to sin and needed cleansing, God sent a flood that Noah had to endure for 40 days and nights.

We see this play out in Jesus’ life too; before he launched his ministry he fasted and prayed for 40 days in the desert – not because he needed purification – but as a model for his followers to emulate (like his baptism). Before our Passover, the Resurrection of Jesus, we must be purged for 40 days just as the Israelites were purged before they entered the promise land. This 40-day preparation for Easter was codified at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.

The Lenten custom is fulfilled by fasting from meat on Fridays and “giving something up”, usually a favorite food or activity. We give up the things we enjoy because only good things should be sacrificed to God. This year, I’m “giving up” beer, meat, and dairy. Any Catholic who seeks to give up any sinful habit isn’t following the spirit of Lent. These things should be given up well before we begin Lent. Finally, Lent ends with the celebration of our Passover as Jesus passes over, conquering death and freeing us of our sins in the final covenant.