Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You know what really grinds my gears?

For those of you that get the "Family Guy" reference above, shame on you for watching such a blasphemous show. For those that don't get the reference...consider this an annoyance post.

You know what really grinds my gears?

- Charities that send me a request for donations that include a nickel. Why would you send me a nickel? What in the world am I going to do with a nickel? It must cost a small fortune to throw a nickel into every envelope you send out, but it means nothing to me. DON'T SEND ME A NICKEL. Send a dollar, then we'll talk. Also, don't send me any more pennies with crosses punched into them or coins with angels on them. (I've started collecting the angel coins to see how many I can get -- my collection of about a dozen drives my wife nuts.)

- "UNRATED!" versions of movies. I mean, come on. It's bad enough that PG-13 movies will sneak every possible bit of sexuality, violence and language in that they can. But have you noticed how many of these movies make it to DVD in an "unrated" format? And in most cases you can't get any other version. I've heard that for several movies this merely means putting back in countless "F-word" usages or topless scenes or the like. As a habit, if a movie boasts that its DVD version is "UNRATED!" it usually gets "UNRENTED!" by me. (Note also that any movie that is unrated gets around that little label that usually appears on movies that explains the rating...parents have no idea what they're getting.)

- Technology driven by money. You know, I've got a cell phone from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis -- you've probably heard of the thing by now: the RAZR. Oh, it's very slim and all that, and it has a really cool program to keep track of the weather, but that's about it. The thing runs slowly and hardly lets you customize anything. Why does it run slowly? Because it is absolutely jam-packed with all sorts of features that you can activate for money. Download videos (for money)! Get online (for money)! Send pics (for money)! Get ringtones (for money)! Watch the news (for money)! And why can't anything be customized? Because they want you to see an ad every time you turn it on or off, and because all but one of the shortcut keys doesn't take you to a function you actually use but something that they want you to use (that costs, of course, money). The use of the phone is impaired by the fact that it seems designed not primarily to be a cell phone, but primarily to be a means to get you to buy other things. It's a battery-powered, flip-style, grey-colored commercial.

- Now that I think of it, acronyms are really starting to grind my gears. Want a cell phone? Get a RAZR or a KRZR or a ROKR! Even the Catholic world is not immune: our Office of Catholic Education has EXCEED and CSW and TAP and SPRED and so on. What's wrong with acronyms? Technically: nothing. Where are they forbidden in the Catechism? Technically: no where. All I'm saying is that enough is enough and that they really GMG.

- Presidential elections that start years before the polls open. That so much time is dedicated to a primary a year from happening sure does grind my gears. I have yet to hear any coherent explanation as to why I should care who is leading the polls at the moment. Each vote is important, but not so important that it takes two years to think about. I guess some people have sports, some politics. In that case, call me next spring on this one. But, but, but! Didn't you hear that Clinton and Giuliani are...hey! No! Not listening; don't care, don't care, don't care.

- You know what really grinds my gears? People that disagree with me about anything. It's just not right. It's a TON of work trying to reason with all of you.

And that, ahem, is what really grinds my gears.

Supporting the Troops (Just War Style)

I was flipping around on the TV last night and came across one of the Christian channels. The talk show on at the moment was featuring an interview with Sen. John McCain, so my wife and I tuned in for a few moments.

One of the things that he and the interviewer (and the audience, apparently) were in agreement about was that neither could understand how you could call the cause of the war in Iraq unjust and still support the troops. This immediately made me wonder: is he saying that even if the war were unjust that we could not say so? Or that an unjust war is not possible given our duty to support the troops?

It must have strongly to do with the time that I was born, but I imagine that many in my generation have a different emphasis when it comes to "supporting the troops." Men and women who are willing to go to war -- to fight and to die -- for this country have a special place in my thoughts and my heart. They are, quite literally, heroes. The same goes for firefighters and all others go above and beyond to do the things that must be done in the defense of life and liberty. But for many people, the duty to support the troops goes beyond this -- it is almost a bit of divine law; a piece of the cultural code that cannot, for any reason, be broken or even seem to be broken.

It is obvious that any President is fallible, and obvious that not all wars are just. So then, if we find ourselves in an unjust war, should we not speak out against it? Can we not call real what is real? Or is our only role to support the troops and vote "the other way" next election?

To say that you honor and support our troops for the sacrifice they make is valid. To say that a war is unjust is also valid. Both can be statements of fact. I suspect that it is more the fickle, divisive, doomsday-predicting nature of pop-protesters that is more at the root of this problem -- people who, in reality, don't like the President and don't need much to ignore his orders. What McCain and others are most frustrating about (WARNING: this is just a guess -- I can't read hearts) is the individualistic tendency of Americans to all want to be little presidents and little popes -- everyone wants to decide what's right and wrong and we want everyone to know. That's why we all have blogs. Like this one. (Ignore my own hypocrisy)

What we need from more protesters is the clear restatement that a President's orders matter and should, in most every case, be followed (or at least tolerated). Sean Gallagher (a reporter for The Criterion and poster on this blog) reminds me as well that oftentimes we don't know all that goes into a President's decision until some time after the fact.

While troops must follow God first, it is the President who orders the use of force and who answers to God for it. It is a soldiers duty to follow orders unless those orders clearly and grossly violate the duty to faithful serve God and neighbor. Therefore, our troops are in Iraq doing their duty while protesters back home do there's by calling the President to reconsider his strategy.

Support the troops? Absolutely. Question the war? Sure -- but it should be done carefully, cautiously, and with every measure of intelligent, civil discourse possible.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The power of the blog and all that

As you can tell by the updates on the post below ("Your own little piece of holiness"), the story regarding the "relics" of the late pope has changed -- and I thought it deserved it's own post again.

Catholic News Service has posted this new story:

ROME (CNS) -- The Rome diocesan office charged with promoting the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul II has exceeded its postage budget because of increased requests for prayer cards and relics of the late pope.

"We were getting about 50 requests a day, but overnight it grew to between 500 and 1,000 requests," a spokeswoman for the office said March 2.

"We could not have foreseen this demand," she said. "It's an avalanche."

Franciscan Brother Chris Gaffrey, who assists the office with English translations, told Catholic News Service that the vast majority of requests in late February and early March were coming via e-mail from the United States.

CNS had published a story about the cards and relics Feb. 26 and dozens of Web sites and blogs, or Web logs, ran links to the story.

The prayer cards and relics, a small piece of one of the white cassocks worn by Pope John Paul, always will be distributed free of charge, but without an increase in donations the office cannot afford to mail them, Brother Gaffrey said.

- - - - - - -

An individual prayer card, relic and copy of the cause's magazine, Totus Tuus, could be mailed to the United States for about $5, Brother Gaffrey said.

You can learn more, apparently, by logging on to, or by mailing the office at: Postulazione Giovanni Paolo II, Vicariato di Roma, Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 6A, 00184 Rome, Italy