Monday, March 26, 2012

Bourgeois Murder Is Okay

When the Republicans gained complete control in Wisconsin, one of their first acts was to enact a law called the "Castle Doctrine."  The law has been cited as the justification for the cold blooded murder of a 20-year-old man.  A homeowner had called police about an hour prior to the shooting complaining of a loud, underage drinking party nearby.  When police had come a second time the party, the underage drinkers fled.  One hid on the porch of that homeowners house.  That homeowner got his weapon, didn't attempt contact with the police, and shot the youth in cold blood.  More of the story can be read here.

For reasons I cannot understand, they weren't releasing the cold blooded murderer's name.  His name is Adam Kind.  Of course gun nuts will claim that they are all responsible and don't seek out people to kill in cold blood.  And to be frank, I really don't have a big hang up with guns.  I have had a loaded gun pointed at me.  I do however think cold blooded murderers should be punished.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Organization of Children

Continuing from a past week's theme on marriage, today I will go more in depth on children.  First I must confess that the title seems a bit preposterous, but it makes up for it in its aptness.  The best way to describe the interaction of the court system with families is the social organization of children.  The root of the preposterous nature is of course that we like to think that children are spontaneously organized.  This fits the dichotomy of things being planned or spontaneous.  Perhaps some examination on what seems to be an obvious question is in order.

For starters, the dichotomy should be explored and credence should be attempted to be given to it.  On the spontaneous end, there is a nontrivial number of children brought about by unions that fill a spectrum from the partners completely not knowing each other to vague familiarity.  The children of these unions have variously been raised by grandparents, other relatives, placed for adoption, raised by one of the parents, and raised by both parents.  On the planned end of the spectrum, we have the children brought forth in marriage.  These marriages have been arranged, romantically voluntary, or spontaneous, those being shotgun or voluntary.  These children have predominantly been raised by both parents or by one parent with the support of the other, with or without divorce.  Mostly depending on poverty level or premature death, the introduction of grandparents or other relatives has been been known.

I think the historical record would support there being a distribution.  I have had the tendency of wanting to romanticize about a time and place where all children were planned, but the older I get, the less I'm able to support those fantasies.  Several big changes have occurred in the past two generations.  The first is that the orphanage system has collapsed over night.  The second change is that women are able to support themselves without resorting to prostitution.  The third change has been the ability to obtain and enforce court orders.  Specific to the last change has been DNA profiling.  That has turned ascribing fatherhood to a nontrivial task.  As far as the orphanages went, we should keep in mind that society became horrified by them.  I say that as a caution to those who would have us move immediately back to them.

Whether we are no longer victims to our biology and whether this is a good thing are both interesting questions.  I'm afraid I won't quite get to them here.  As a father, I kind of like having a system that ensures I can see my children without a court order.  Perhaps I would be happier being able to have sex with whomever I wanted.  Of course this system was already in place.  Adultery has had varying levels of tolerance in different times and places.  If statistics are to be believed, a third to have of all married partners have had adulterous relations today.  At least in that respect, it does not seem we are being held captive to our biology.  There is the question of maintaining relationships that aren't otherwise desired.  Even here, we are just talking about the state (society) putting their thumb on the scale and making one choice more attractive than the other.  In the end, I'm going to come down on the side of stability for children.  I think when spontaneous organization occurs, it is prejudiced toward that end, and so I am more likely to support it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Church As Cult

Over on Deacon's Bench, an article was posted on the increasing trend of people drafting friends to officiate weddings.  To this I made the observation that this should be posted alongside the posts that demand greater confrontation with the laity under the guise of "catechesis."  This produced the interesting response that the Sacraments are a great time to confront people, except they used the catch term "re-evangelize."  I noted that this is little more than the selling of Jesus to which the host proclaimed Jesus a salesman.

Sitting here today, it is very difficult to see Catholicism as developing into something other than a cult.  In some respects this is unfair to cults.  With cults, the members at least make Dear Leader responsible.  If Dear Leader has a small harem, they can at least expect support from Dear Leader.  If Dear Leader asks the followers to do things, the followers do expect to be given some fulfillment.  Catholicism is doing it on the cheap.  It demands a lifestyle supportable only by the moderately wealthy in this country.  Its diocesan priests are all moderately wealthy.  It promotes deacons from the class of the wealthy.  What the cult members get in return is absolution from their sins of materialism and concern trolling over the abortions of wealthy daughters and gay marriage.  The marriage one is a bit humorous considering that the Church in America can't seem to effect a valid marriage whenever the matter comes under examination.

This all is rather peripheral to the actual ministry of Jesus.  Jesus didn't found a country club.  If one is of the clericalist bent, and I am, one believes that Jesus founded a Church.  The Church was founded to serve the people.  The people served were to be throughout the world.  While it is well and good to speak of the laity's responsibility, it seems to have become a bit of a cop out.  The clergy have a specific obligation to the people.  That is the difference between a salesman and a minister.  For the salesman, the product is the thing.  If no one buys the product, the product dies, and the salesman is out of a job.  For a minister, the product is ancillary to the well being of the person.  The minister should act in the way he does because he believes the person will be benefited.  In the case of the Sacraments, the minister believes the person will benefit from the encounter with the Divine.  This is the sentiment behind "if X is Christianity, then to hell with it."

In the end this is what makes the whole idea of ordaining one's own minister interesting.  The idea that the minister should serve the people is almost a revolutionary concept today.  The whole attitude of you need to play by my rules is quite amusing.  As we fast approach the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, perhaps the people who call themselves ministers will once again recall that theirs is an ordination of service, not merely of  power.

Monday, March 5, 2012

No Post

No post this week.  Unfortunately life happens, and this place isn't first on the old priority list.  I am trying to maintain a Monday at 8:00 AM CST schedule.