Sage

While perusing through today’s headlines, I may be reminded of some ancient or recent adage that reflects an appropriate understanding or analysis to the news as shown below:

News HeadlinesWisdom and Analysis
Health officials make their final pleas for holiday caution as coronavirus cases spike. 
Washington Post

Weekend air travel hits pandemic-era record, despite health officials’ pleas to stay home
CNN
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
George Carlin
Man leaves $3K tip for a beer as restaurant closes for virus 
AP
Wishing good, merely, is a lukewarm charity; but doing good is divine. 
James Lendall Basford 
Fresno bishop warns Catholics against stem cell-based COVID vaccines, including Pfizer’s
Fresno Bee
All religions promise a reward for excellence is of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding.
Schopenhauer

Why I Am Not a Catholic and My Non-Religious Objections to Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court

As part of full disclosure, I was baptized a Catholic, received the sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Communion and confession. I attended a Catholic grade school, a Catholic high school and one year of a Catholic university. I was married 43 years ago in a Catholic church ceremony. My wife is a devoted Catholic who attends mass weekly. I have friends and family who are devout Catholics and continue to attend church services. I have friends of other faiths and I respect their religious beliefs. I just don’t share them…

The Bible tells of the story of Paul who was converted on the way to Damascus after being blinded by a bright light. Unlike Paul, I experienced a deconversion but it was not very sudden and not as dramatic as his experience. It occurred over years. I experienced some qualms about the Catholic faith as early as age 12 when I heard priests say that those who were not baptized in the Catholic faith would not see the kingdom of heaven. That claim did not seem very fair to me but I also understand that many other religions preach the same doctrine. I also was not very comfortable about a belief in the existence of God. One of the priests in my high school started off the class by saying that he was going to prove the existence of God. Basically he promulgated the first cause argument, that if you go back into history and rewind the time machine that God was the cause of everything included creation. I remember the priest being very satisfied with his lecture until I asked, “In that case, who created God?” Was there some thing or someone in existence prior to God? 

So while Paul may have been on his way to Damascus, I was on my way to Doubt. But while my questions about the existence of God were not settled, my doubts about the Catholic Church were settled. I did not agree with their positions on birth control, abortion, divorce, women’s role in the church and papal infallibility.

I was also sickened by stories of abuses of children by priests. In my particular diocese, there were numerous cases of these abuses and worse, coverups by Bishops, Cardinals and Popes. Abuses of children by priests were worldwide. I found it very hypocritical that the Church thought it had a moral voice given the atrocities it had committed over centuries. While I recognize the good works of many priests and nuns as well as many Catholics, I found that the Church as an institution was very corrupt and should have no role in saving souls.

I would have expected some type of reform and housecleaning but little has changed. Old white men continue to run the Church as they have for centuries, poorly. There have been reports of various financial irregularities. I also spent some time learning of the Church’s dismal history, particularly Pope Pius XII’s activities or lack of in protecting Jews from the Holocaust.

I’ve never been comfortable with the Church’s position in politics. I remember when John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he made a special point that he would not integrate his religious beliefs with his duties as President of the United States. In other words, he was not going to take any advice from the Vatican or the pope. I can’t say that all Catholic politicians or Supreme Court justices have followed Kennedy’s example.

Of course the hot button issue for Catholics is abortion. However the Church’s position on birth control made this so much more problematic. The Church’s position on birth control also promoted poverty, hunger and crime in many countries. In 2016 Catholics preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton by 23%. Many Catholics believed that Trump had a respect for life. I question where this respect is for the 200,000+ people who have died from COVID-19 and for the many more that will die from Trump’s lack of attention to the disease.

The Church also came out within the past few weeks with their opposition to euthanasia. Described as “poisonous to society,” the church is prohibiting the distribution of sacraments to those who wish to end their lives. Two years ago, I watched my mother struggle and literally wither away from dementia. When I visited her nursing home, I had absolutely no sense that there was a divine presence in her building that gave a damn about her suffering. This is part of what the Church believes is there respect for life. I see it as unnecessary suffering and loss of personal dignity.

So in a purely partisan move to help his declining political campaign, Donald Trump has nominated Amy Connie Barrett for Supreme Court justice. Mrs. Barrett possesses some outstanding personal characteristics. At this point, her character appears impeccable. There are some who are concerned about her Catholicism. I may share some of that concern myself. But my opposition to Mrs. Barrett is based on other concerns:

First, I don’t believe that she should’ve been nominated unless Donald Trump is reelected in six weeks. In 2016, the Republicans blocked Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court despite the fact he was nominated in March to replace Judge Antonin Scalia. Republicans said that the next Supreme Court nominee should come from the winner of the November election. The same protocol should’ve been applied to Mrs. Barrett’s nomination.

Second, Mrs. Barrett has been nominated by an inept and incompetent man. His Administration is strewn with men and women who have been unable to perform their duties in the Cabinet or other areas of government. These men and women are people that Donald Trump has chosen. I have no confidence in any man or woman that Donald Trump chooses. I also have little confidence in any man or woman that would accept a high-level government position from Donald Trump.

Can anyone find an appointee of Donald Trump that is doing a good job?

Aphorisms for the Pandemic

“The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.” Osho

“When one does not know how to convince, one oppresses.” Anne-Louise-Germaine Necker, Baroness de Staël-Holstein 

“The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence.” —Elbert Hubbard

“No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices.” —Edward R. Murrow, of Senator Joseph McCarthy

“Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.” Robert Orben

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  George Orwell

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”  Anne Lamott, 

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Groucho Marx

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”  Voltaire

“The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” H.L Mencken

“God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button to get things done.” Harry Emerson Fosdick

Aphorisms

I am a collector and writer of aphorisms. Aphorisms are short, pithy sayings that express concisely an observation, opinion, wisdom or truth. Aphorisms, like many ideas, come to me when I’m not sitting at a desk or with pen and notebook. They often spring up as I am walking, taking a shower or daydreaming. Listed below are some of my latest aphorisms:

  • Older people are like older cars without gas gauges. Both have traveled many miles and not sure how much gas or life is left in the tank.
  • If you make the same resolution year after year, it’s no longer a resolution but just wishful thinking. 
  • One can spend 15-20 minutes seeking, finding and purchasing an appropriate birthday or Hallmark card that the recipient skims in 5-10 seconds.
  • We’re always one tear away from joy or tragedy. 
  • What turns a woman from attractive to beautiful is her smile.
  • A woman can lose her youth, her beauty and her figure but as long as she can maintain her arts of making pleasant and interesting conversation and being a good listener, she will never lose her attractiveness.
  • Is there a more uncomfortable question than to be asked by someone to guess their age? Is there a more uncomfortable answer to the question of how we are old we are that estimates us much older than we are?
  • At 70, you are in the homestretch of life with the finishing line in sight.
  • When charity begins at home, it rarely leaves it.
  • At most churches, the faithful pray with their ministers; at some churches, the minister preys on the faithful.
  • The books in one’s library or bookshelf represents the portfolio of their intellectual investments.
  • Sitting quietly in an empty church generally is a more moving spiritual experience than sitting through a church service.
  • The worst personal rejection comes from those who mean so much to you when they show how little you meant to them.
  • Marathon running…times that try men’s soles.