Taking the Knee Cuts Both Ways

Show of hands – are you as fed up as I am with the recycled media story about NFL players “taking the knee” to protest how bad (racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Canadian, fascist) America is?

A few thoughts from a non-American who deeply loves this country. (To borrow from the 80s band Men At Work, I come from a land up over.)

First, I’m aware that the phrase “take a knee” is something a coach might say to the team for a pep talk. But this new iteration, “Take the knee” (with defiant definite article) means something different. It’s a hashtag-inspired statement, a form of virtue signaling via body language.

Forget that these millionaires in tight uniforms succeeded primarily (although, obviously, not solely) because they live in America, and that 99% of cops would willing protect and serve them, too. Forget that President Trump has spent inordinate amounts of time and energy weighing in and dousing the flames with jet fuel on Twitter. Forget the spun-off talking head cable TV debates. What started with the antics of the unemployed Colin Kaepernick has ended by…not quite ending.

The thing to focus on? How meaningless this story is.

So some liberal football players want to virtue signal, guilt-drenched fellow travelers jump on the bandwagon du jour, and ESPN gives the spectacle 24/7 adulation. This is news?

So little is at stake, compared to other things that happened during the Take the Knee frenzy. While the sports media noise machine went into hype mode over some footballers posing to show alleged heroism (remember, ESPN gave their 2015 Arthur Ashe Courage Award to…Caitlyn Jenner), Puerto Rico was still getting violently assaulted by Hurricane Maria, Christians in Iraq were being persecuted by Islamic terrorists, the martyr Father Stanley Rother was beatified in Oklahoma (the first US-born male now closer to sainthood), and thousands of brave men and women in law enforcement across the country were protecting the innocent and apprehending the guilty.

It’s depressing to behold, but once a sidebar story like this is fruitful and multiplies — and attains hash tag status — the media piles on and squeezes every last drop of juice from the long dry lemon.

This knee-taking kerfuffle is the latest manifestation of the politicization off all things. It’s conflict for conflict’s sake. Want to talk about courage? How many of the knee-takers would protest a rainbow flag at the start of a game or the singing of “Y.M.C.A.”?

No. Sitting out (kneeling out?) the collective musical symbol of the United States is as gutsy as they get. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought real men knelt when they pray and stood while they sang. It’s obvious why serial kneeler Tim Tebow is lampooned while Colin Kaepernick is lauded.

No matter. Certain laws of economics are already kicking in with predicable consequences: most NFL fans don’t appreciate the sliming of their beloved game by political posturing whether by players or owners, and, while they didn’t need the Commander-In-Tweet to hector them, have already begun to vote with their feet and viewers with their remotes.

How many football fans are thrilled to see ESPN become CNN and lecture to them over how to think?

About as many moviegoers are thrilled to be lectured by celebrities during the Hollywood Award season.

“Taking the knee” indeed cuts both ways.

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#42: How Fake News Abets Fake Science—Austin Ruse 


#42: How Fake News Abets Fake Science—Austin Ruse 

There’s a new high priestly caste in the cultural worship space whose function is to spout a new ideology, replacing what was once called “science.” The new ideology is a form of propaganda and political control, and you deviate from it at your peril.
From the statistics relating to the proportion of homosexuals in society, to the “facts” about global warming (rebranded as “climate change” when the oligarchs saw that too few were buying the old brand), to the realities of abortion, population control, genetically modified food — for starters!
Austin Ruse has compiled an impressively researched array of counter facts to push back against the purveyors of quasi-scientific fakery in his new book, Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data
If you want a comprehensive summary of the major fiefdoms of fake science and how fake news aids and abets it, this interview is the place to start.
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Cameraderie Is Not Looking For You

I’ve been thinking a lot about the need for strong friendships and supportive communities to sustain good mental health. Men in particular are in dire need today for a camaraderie that goes deeper than sports scores and fishing gear. (We men excel at looking at and talking about external stuff together but do not excel in sharing our hearts aloud.)

From the eminently quotable Peter Kreeft: If you love, you will suffer. The only way to protect yourself against suffering is to protect yourself against love – and that is the greatest suffering of all, loneliness.

On October 1 at 7PM, by the way, Dr. Kreeft will be my guest on The Patrick Coffin Show, in the first live iteration of the podcast, at St. John’s church in Costa Mesa (click here to register if you live in Orange County). We’re going to be talking about the need to really listen to and understand our separated brethren as we engage in the culture war against the “isms” new and old, not just fundamentalism, but indifferentism, atheism, and relativism.

Some people are uncomfortable with the concept of a culture war. I say, get over it. The primal culture war, if you will, is the spiritual battle that rages around us between angels and demons for our souls, otherwise known as Catholic teaching (See CCC 391 and following).

In any war, the army itself provides intense camaraderie. Shakespeare’s “band of brothers” speech from the magnificent Henry V bespeaks the power of this level of fellow-feeling and bravery.

But where is this to be found today? We barely acknowledge we’re in a war at all, despite the fact that our freshman-age kids come home by Thanksgiving as atheists, our teens are depressed at alarmingly high rates, and so many of our marriages are secretly hurting. Robert Putnam has describes this sense of isolation and disconnection from the goods of the community in his book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community

The parish setting and the ethnic neighborhood that framed it used to be a powerful matrix of social support. Sniff at the notion of “Catholic ghetto” all you want, but as a network of interdependent supports buttressed by a shared sacramental life, it worked exceedingly well. Almost gone today are the sodalities, the parish sewing bees (which also served as prayer networks), the altar and Rosary societies—all of which formed a kind of loose extended family beyond the four walls of the domestic church.

Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, in an era of low information Catholicism with greatly eclipsed Mass attendance, if you want authentic Catholic camaraderie you have to search for it. It’s rare, so sometimes you have to pray to St. Anthony to find it.

But the finding that comes from the seeking is worth it. Whether it’s Bible study, men’s fellowship groups, the Cursillo movement, a regular monastic retreat, Opus Dei, or your homegrown group of regulars who love Jesus Christ – anyone who takes discipleship serious must intentionally seek these extra sources of support.

The days of “Sunday Mass only” Catholicism are behind us. We have to wake up to the reality. And sometimes we need help a little help from our friends to leave the womb-like security of bed and to tackle the perils of the day.

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41: Answering the Lies about “Hitler’s Pope —Ronald Rychlak


41: Answering the Lies about “Hitler’s Pope —Ronald Rychlak

Venerable Pope Pius XII was the pope from 1939 to his death in 1958, straddling an extremely dangerous and unstable time in modern history. He was universally lauded as a hero after World War II for his brave and often risky strategy to counter the reckless Reich machine controlled by Adolph Hitler. Many Jews in particular wrote glowing tributes to this Pope, born Eugenio Pacelli.
But a funny thing happened in 1963. A mediocre communist playwright named Rolf Hochhuth came out with an off-off-off Broadway play called The Deputy in which the Holy Father was portrayed as the Fuhrer’s lackie.
That was the beginning of a PR campaign to smear the late great pope’s person and legacy. Professor of Law at Ole Miss, Ron Rychlak has specialized in telling the truth and countering the bold lies about Pope Pius XII. Rychlak’s work has been praised by an eclectic array of scholars and leaders, including the Jewish Gary Krupp and Rabbi Eric Silver.
If you’ve ever been tongue-tied when you hear solemn nonsense about “Hitler’s Pope,” this is the interview for you. Professor Rychlak has written or edited books that make good use of his legal mind with lots of meticulous research, including the very readable, Hitler, the War, and the Pope 
No one has a better grasp of the facts, and your grasp will get stronger after hearing this.
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#40: From Ex-Gay Porn Actor to Catholic Street Evangelist—Joseph Sciambra

#40: From Ex-Gay Porn Actor to Catholic Street Evangelist—Joseph Sciambra

Joseph Sciambra says porn made him gay. At least, it was a major causal factor in his dark journey from shy Catholic kid to appearing in amateur gay porn and doing degrading things in leather bars. Joseph has told his story to anyone, any media outlet, willing to listen. Including Howard Stern, on whose raunchy show Joseph appeared as a guest in 2013.
But Catholic media? Not so much. Perhaps that his backstory is so dark and raw, that the redemption part of the story takes longer to land. Perhaps it’s that Sciambra is committed to focusing laser-like on the astonishing inroads made by LGTB activists in parishes and dioceses across the country.
Few writers provide as much brutally candid insights into the homosexualist movement, the bodily, psychic, and spiritual wounds that attend homosexual acts, and the widespread failure of Catholic leaders to acknowledge the room’s neon elephant.
In this interview, you’ll learn a new way to approach the “gay topic” from someone who is committed to reaching those still in the lifetstyle through his street ministry, “Jesus Loves Gay Men.”
Three questions for you to ponder and comment below,
-Why do you think he’s found it hard to get invited to Catholic conferences when evangelicals are willing to collaborate with his ministry?
-What are you thoughts on how the “LGBT” agenda has been so successful in embedding itself at the diocesan level in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Newark, NJ?
-Have you ever thought you faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to success — yet somehow found a way?

Find out more at his blog/website, www.josephsciambra.com.

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Small Is Huge and Beautiful

It may be simply that we have fallen natures and therefore tend toward the grandiose. I’m referring to the tendency among so many Catholics to talk about the Culture Crisis and to call for major overhauls, elaborate ideas about how to Turn This Crazy World Around, and dream about plans to fix the macro.

I say we recover the micro, the personal, the small. A former atheist named E.F. Schumacher wrote a slender volume in 1973 titled, Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered. It has been acclaimed time and again as one of the most influential books since World War II. Its premise is applicable to many other areas of culture.

My recent guest on The Patrick Coffin Show  is a former neo-Nazi skinhead who did jail time twice in the UK. We talked about the deadly Charlottesville rally-riot and what it’s like to see the world through rage-fueled eyes. You may have heard of the Catholic biographer and Shakespearean scholar Joseph Pearce. He and the former neo-Nazi are one and the same. You may not have known his violent background! It was Pearce who told me that Schumacher converted to the Catholic Faith later in life.

In the spirit of the beauty of smallness, and rather ginning up glorious global initiatives, why not start small – and hence beautiful – with gestures like saying “God bless you” when a stranger nearby sneezes?

Or when you’re told of a recent death, to mention that you’ll “pray for the repose of so-and-so’s soul”?

Or how about making the sign of he cross in restaurants before eating – and not interrupting your own prayer if the waiter drops by? I’m not talking about dramatic shows of piety. Just a simple expression of your gratitude for the food you’re about to receive through Christ’s bounty. ‘tis all.

Or how about thanking a priest or a religious sister for wearing their clerics or habit in public?

Or walking up to a homeless person with a freshly made sandwich or hamburger combo?

Or calling up an old friend out of the blue to say you were thinking about him or her?

In the quest for big bold proposals it’s easy to forget that the macro is a synonym for the micro. What is the culture but a large set of collective micros forming a macro? Culture is our shared collectivity – the sum of our mores, taboos, unspoken rules, musical tastes, and architectural designs.

Go to Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, or Poland, and pay attention to the design of public buildings, not just the churches. You will find examples on every corner of finessed cornices, lovely brick designs, and a sense of the ornate –simple, not ostentatious. Then come back to America with its functional, post-World War II architecture, typified by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and the flat sterility of the Bauhaus movement.

What’s behind the difference?

The former is an outer manifestation of a culture steeped in Catholicism. The latter, of a secularist, statist worldview. With no God necessarily above, then no need for sweeping upward architectural lines; with no angels, no need for detailed finesses on door frames, lampposts, and foyers.

Buildings, facades, public objects like trash bins, bus waiting areas, parks, manhole covers, and the like, all witness to the underlying

cultural premises of its creators and designers. Whether we believe man is specially made in God’s image and likeness, or is a merely random collection of chemicals, bone, and charm – both beliefs will find their way into the form of the outer environment.

Of course, not everyone is called to be an architect. But everyone who goes by the name Christian is called to radiate beauty. Virtue is beautiful. So is honesty. And vulnerability.

Our divine Savior embodied the deepest depths of Beauty. We often focus on the other transcendentals, Goodness and Truth. Our culture is starving for and would flourish with a devotion to Beauty.

Start small. Small is huge. And beautiful.

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#39: From Neo-Nazi Skinhead to Literary Scholar—Joseph Pearce

#39: From Neo-Nazi Skinhead to Literary Scholar—Joseph Pearce

You would never know it from listening to him lecture or watch him on EWTN, but literary scholar and biographer Joseph Pearce did two stints in the British prison system for his involvement in a violent Aryan-nation style group called The National Front.
The news footage of the recent violent riots at Charlottesville, VA, gave Pearce a serious case of deja vu, and in this remarkable interview, he tells what it’s like to BE one of those activists — angry (mostly young) white men with chaos and anarchy on their minds.
His racism and deep-seated hatred of all non-whites, Jews, and Catholics (“I hated all of the above,” he says) was finally overcome by grace after he discovered the writings of G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Aquinas, and J.R.R. Tolkien. The darkness of his prison cell led into the light of Christ and His commandment to love God and neighbor — and to forgive one’s enemies.
His unlikely story is filled to the brim with providential interventions, ironies, and a cast of characters you normally only see in movies. To find out the full tale, his spiritual autobiography is Race With the Devil: My Journey From Racial Hatred to Rational Love. 
If you want an inside look into the mindset of Antifa and its doppelganger the violent alt-right from a convert to the Faith, this interview is the place to be.

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