Friday, October 23, 2009

On the Insanity of Modern Life

"...And on the eighth day God invented free time. Humanity could diversify. Each person was no longer tied to subsistence and could now dedicate life to activities formerly too "expensive" to enjoy.

Education flourished, human bonds matured and strengthened, and every individual became a font of wisdom and experience."
Ironic then, that you probably discovered this post on your Facebook NewsFeed—A well-spring of knowledge boasting gems such as:
  • Amber can't stop thinking about his eyes.
  • FML!..., IMAO..., lol
  • Only 12 more days until CHICAGOOO!!
  • ...coming to grips with the dark shroud of life without you...
What convinced modern man that other people cared so much about his melodramatic, pithy self-expression?

Who decided that free time should be best used to wallow in constant introspection instead of the pursuit of additive meaning and the construction of a more beautiful humanity?


If you've ever been married you know that marriage (and especially kids) cuts down on free time and eliminates the waste of this precious resource.

I don't know what it used to be like back in the day ;) but statistics alone demonstrate that the marriage age for both men and women has risen about 5 years over the last 50 years while the divorce rate for first marriages has risen from 25% to 50%. The factors combine to produce a plethora of single adults: bored single adults with lots of free time.

A Little Rant

So, into which vessels does our generation pour its creative energies and time? The following comes from the lips of Brad Pitt in Fight Club, an all-too-apt expression of the meaninglessness of so much of our activity.
    "I see all this potential.
    And I see it squandered.

    Goddamn it, an entire generation pumping gas. Waiting tables. Slaves with white collars.

    Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes.
    Working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.

    We're the middle children of history. No purpose or place.
    We have no Great War. No Great Depression.
    Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.

    We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars.
    But we won't. We're slowly learning that fact.
    And we're very, very pissed off."
Non Serviam

All in all, our decisions suggest an new theology...

The Economy is now God. He seeks profit.

His creatures best serve him through self-transformation into factors of production. They go to school so that they can work for the rest of their lives.

To keep them from achieving the autonomy that could lead them astray he plies them with television, the Internet, meaningless possessions, and any other opium that will occupy their minds without actually effecting true personal formation.

Humanity accepts the Economy's Matrix: the alternative demands too much effort.

I will not serve. The light of humanity has not gone out in my soul. Today will be an investment in the subtle riches of tomorrow. So help me God...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Documentary maker Moore on Capitalism

Capitalism: A Love Story

Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 911, Bowling for Columbine) unveiled his newest film at the Venice film festival this week. The film closes with the warning: "Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil"...

Despite its many failings, consider Mr. Moore, that the system you condemn has the potential to make you very rich indeed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Candid is the new cool

Penn State coach Joe Paterno when asked to comment on the allegations that the University of Michigan has exceed NCAA regulations on summer practices: "I don't read the newspapers."

After a summer in DC, it's a good reminder that some people don't feel the need to pretend to care.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland on whether or not Tigers' pitcher Jeremy Bonderman was ready to play after being recalled from Triple-A baseball: "He better be, or else he could have stayed down there and gone walleye fishing."

All hail candidness. Two points in one night.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Art of Communication

If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully. ~Kahlil Gibran
Pumpkin Spice Latte

At the register:
  • Good morning, welcome to Starbucks can I take your order?
  • Um, yes, I'd like a quad grande pumpkin spice latte, no whip.
  • Ok, your total is $3.79, Cassandra will have that right up for you.
At the bar:
  • Hey, how's it going?
  • Good, how about you?
  • Do you even care?
  • Now, that you mention it, not really, no.
  • I didn't think so. I'm not crazy about you either, mostly because your eyes reveal no intelligent life within. You speak and yet say nothing.
The preceding conversation has never taken place. And yet it takes place every day: People treating people like things. Perhaps its recurrence shouldn't afford the bat of an eye. The Starbucks barista is just like the guy at the tollbooth. He hands you your ticket. You say thank you. Rewind and repeat: 10,000 times a day.

But man (and by man I mean woman) owes it to himself to demand more. Humans have a range of expression that exceeds that of the universe itself. Nuance, passion, undertone, irony, humor, love: The list could go on... We can do all that. For humans, communication can become an art.


Part of communication consists of its words or gestures: its language. Still, even a perfectly crafted message owes dependence to its receiver. Take the famous Japanese game show "Takeshi's Castle." This exquisite show took on a whole new meaning when Spike TV revealed it to American eyes as MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge). Talk about lost in translation.

So obviously it’s also necessary to understand the recipient(s) of a message. Since that’s often impossible, tact is vital. Tact is like smiling: It communicates an idea in a way that everyone accepts and understands.

Good Form

Observe the application of these two ingredients. In the following scene, Don Corleone greets Bonasera in his office on his daughter's wedding day. His communication is smooth, efficient, and effective.

As a Sicilian, Don Corleone cannot refuse favors on his daughter’s wedding day. He’s over the barrel but he leverages the request to get what he wants: respect and family unity. Watch him carefully. Every word he utters works toward his ends. He listens, questions Bonasera’s loyalty, and demands his respect. Words, tone, and body language all flow in unison: The Godfather is a master.

Bad Form

The Internet provides an ideal medium for poor communication. Please observe the result of a message stripped of its artistic value:

  • starfish: worried about dave (stepdad). he had a heart cath today. days like these i wish i believed in a god so i could ask someone to look after him. i hate feeling helpless in these situations : \

  • iamwaldo: Yet you're still happily atheistic?

  • starfish: that's comparable to something ill fated happening to your family & my asking "still happy believing in your god?" sorta tactless
The entire exchange lacks beauty. The Internet lays no claim on lingual accuracy and 'starfish's' reply serves as a fine example. Conversely, 'Iamwaldo' has language down, apostrophe and all, but he has the tact of a staff infection. He doesn’t understand ‘starfish’ and he doesn’t care. His point of view has become more important than the people with whom he shares it.


A master of the communicative form wields a rare weapon. He or she can sense the needs and desires of others and choose to ignore, fulfill, or abuse them. Seduction and manipulation come as easily as kindness and compassion.

Yet regardless of intent, all communication bears the potential to exceed mere information exchange. Treating Cassandra like a person instead of a clever answering machine does more than acknowledge her humanity—It proves your own.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Faith in Science: The Difference between Girls and Boys

"Baby Blues" by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott

Sociology treats gender as a culturally generated phenomenon. Can Wanda and Darryl really teach Hammie his gender role before they can teach him to use a toilet?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tim Tebow is a virgin! What?!

When questioned about his sex life two weeks ago, Tim Tebow told the world that he is waiting for marriage. A trivial fact, except for the 'Virgin Gator's' stats:
  • 6'2", 238 lbs of solid steel
  • 183.2 career QB rating: 65.8% of passes completed for 6159 yards and 67 touchdowns; only 11 interceptions
  • 4.3 yards a carry over 2037 yards and 43 touchdowns
  • Only true sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy
  • Returning for his senior season for a chance to win a second consecutive national championship
Tim Tebow is a stud. But where are all his women?

What possesses this man?

Seriously. From a strictly objective perspective, this man could sleep with ninety percent of college-aged women. The college dating environment is loose and fast. Hookups are plentiful and noncommittal. Why would he not take advantage?

  • He's gay: Then again, it can also be assumed that ninety percent of gay men would sleep with Mr. Tebow.
  • He's lying: It seems a little evangelical praise hardly outweighs the ridicule he is sure to endure.
  • He's impotent: Ha ha.
  • He's been seduced by religion: The man does have strong religious convictions. Still, several major religions condemn pre-marital sex and many of their followers do it all the time.
What could be better than sex?

Sex is the pinnacle of the human experience, it therefore makes no sense that Mr. Tebow chooses to postpone it. The 'Virgin Gator' has clearly found something better than sex.
He has found a better kind of sex.

Even casual sex cannot conceal the incredible intimacy of intercourse. No action more powerfully expresses love. Tim has decided that he won't sell that intimacy on the cheap. He has elected to share himself in that way with only one woman—And he wants to guarantee it to her by marrying her first. A lot of people can't handle that; but it is beautiful beyond words.

Bottom Line

This man is impressive. He does what few people (in his position or otherwise) have the balls guts to do: He acts according to his principles. The plethora of available women and his public stature only amplify the rare conviction he has shown.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Social Norms for New Technology

The winds of technology have unleashed a storm of confusion on the sea of humanity. Texting, sexting, IMing, Facebooking, online dating—I can't handle it! How does all this stuff fit into our established rules of interaction?

Thankfully, Brad Pitt is here to guide our way.

In the July issue of Wired magazine, Mr. Pitt and company spill the beans on surviving in a tech-saturated world. The article, "How to Behave: New Rules for Highly Evolved Humans", provides some of the following gems:
  • Using [your Facebook status] to declare a breakup is like announcing you're going to sleep by pounding the lamp with a hammer: It gets the point across, but you're likely to leave a mess behind.

  • Don't Google-stalk before a first date... Reading your date's Muppet Show fanfic might end a beautiful friendship before it even begins.

  • Friend your boss but not your boss's boss.

  • When your college pals emerge from their parents' basements to litter your Facebook wall with sexist jokes or embarrassing tales of drunken misadventure, people may think you're like them.... Don't be shy about deleting untoward graffiti, eliminating your name from tagged photos, or even asking friends to remove incriminating pics that weren't meant for public consumption.
  • And...
  • Here's a rule of thumb for those of us playing catch-up: Feel free to text while talking or dining with friends.
  • Well, no. More on that topic soon.

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Obama and Racism: Can't we all just get along?

    The elephant in the room: That's the only way I know how to describe the racial tension that permeates the majority of black and white relations. There is something present of which no one dares to speak.

    I wish I could write off the recent drama involving President Obama, Professor Gates, and Sargeant Crowley as mere miscommunication or foolishness. Unfortunately the root lies closer to ignorance, intolerance, and self-righteousness.

    This issue requires much thought and dialogue. In lieu of a post I am not ready to write, I leave you some words from political commentator Andrew Breitbart. His entire column can be read online at

    Less than a month after being confirmed as the nation's attorney General, Eric H. Holder Jr. called out the American people as "essentially a nation of cowards" for refusing to talk openly about race....

    Americans, especially nonblacks, are deeply fearful that [racial interaction] is predicated on an un-American premise: presumed guilt. Innocence, under the extra-constitutional reign of political correctness, liberalism's brand of soft Shariah law, must be proved ex post facto.

    Think not? Ask the Duke lacrosse team, which had 88 of the school's professors sign a petition that presumed their guilt before their side of the story was known. Even though the white athletes were exonerated and the liberal district attorney who pushed the case was dethroned, disbarred and disgraced, the professoriate that assigned guilt to its own students still refuses to apologize.

    Those signatories constituted 90 percent of Duke's African and African-American Studies Department, the subject-matter domain of Mr. Gates, Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West and other tenure-wielding, highfalutin, iambic-pentameter-filibustering race baiters, and 60 percent of Duke's women's studies department, another hotbed of victimology posing as intellectualism....

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    In the Beginning was Fergal

    The Origin of the Species

    The Blue Anchor was conceived in a bathroom in County Wicklow, Ireland in 2007. This rather unseemly circumstance delayed her birth until May 17, 2009 when Barack Obama helped deliver her on a stage in South Bend, Indiana. She has been slowly growing ever since and has attracted quite an array of admirers. They await her formal début, which has been scheduled for mid-August of this year.

    Meanwhile, allow me to regress a moment to that fateful day...

    In the beginning God created some space

    Apparently the Divine left out the bathroom at Fergal M's modest home in Bray, because there wasn't room to stand. This fact may explain why my mother avoided Fergal's facility—a choice without which Baby Blue would never have been.

    By the time I left the cupboard under the stairs, The Blue Anchor lived within me.


    I didn't even know she was there until I got back in the car after bidding farewell to Fergal and his lovely wife. I'll pick it up as it happened:
  • Mom: Hurry hun, I really have to use the bathroom.
  • Dad:  Look El, I'm going as fast as I can. These damn Irish roads...
  • Me:   Mom, why didn't you just use the bathroom at Fergal's?
  • Mom: I don't know. I just...
  • Me:   You just what, didn't think Fergal's house was good enough for you?
  • Mom: ...didn't really think of it.
  • Me:  (perturbed) Didn't think of it? Did it not occur to you that there are certain benefits associated with using another man's toilet?
  • Mom: (drolly) Like water and a wipe? Son, the hotel has those too you know.
  • Me:   (sputtering) Water and a...No!
  • And then the baby moved inside and the words left my lips:
  • Me: It builds international relations.
  • Horns blared as my dad nearly lost control of the vehicle. My parents' laughter echoed in my head for days.

    The Ultrasound

    A closer look will reveal the wisdom of my statement.

    Relationships are built on commonality. By using Fergal bathroom, I extended the common ground we share. (Case in point: You and my parents now share a common laughter at my ideas. Maybe it will germinate into a conversation some day.)

    But laugh not hastily. Any conscientious housewife should agree: Before a party, women tidy the entire house. Oftentimes this exercise only serves the exasperation of the children. Guests stay on the main floor. They never see whether or not Johnny cleaned out under his bed.

    But on rare occasion, a curious or tired guest may enter the newly-cleaned, rarely-seen parts of the house. In such a case, the guest will be grateful for a tour of the house/place to rest/wardrobe to hide in. In consequence, the housewife will feel as though all her efforts were worthwhile. To some degree she will be grateful that she could provide for her guest. And a bond will be formed.

    The Family

    It is this bond, this common ground, that the Blue Anchor intends to foster.
    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more.
    People talking without speaking,
    People hearing without listening
    Humanity needs to discuss the issues that most haunt us. We need help in answering those questions most intimate to our lives. Such an endeavor demands a great deal of sensivity and forbids self-righteousness.

    I recently commented on someone's blogpost. The response that came back distorted my words and reiterated the argument I had refuted. Clearly, there was no room for dialogue. The dissenting opinion failed to even grant me the accuracy of my own words.

    Unfortunately, 'dialogue' of this nature dominates the public square.

    "And Then One Day, They Learned to Talk"

    All our opinions are necessarily drawn from our human experience. Impressions are projected into beliefs—beliefs then weaved into ideologies. Two persons sharing one experience may end up worlds apart.

    The Blue Anchor intends to show Dick the Communist, Jane the Anarchist, and Joe the Plumber Fundamentalist that little can be achieved by ideological contention. Arguments from opposing 'thought spheres' will never meld into a peaceful solution.

    Instead, we ought return to the core of the dispute. The rediscovery of our shared human experience will allow us to walk together on the path to truth.

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Apollo 11: A Bygone Era

    The buzz around the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing puzzles me. Am I the only one surprised at the news coverage this non-event is generating?

    Ha. All conspiracy theories aside, in an age of iPhones and space tourism the moonshoot has lost significance. NASA may not have moved on, but everyone else has. Apollo 11 does still have limited use though: For instance, if someone mentions conspiracy theories, well, it might be time to get out the shotgun and blow that un-American hippie away.

    Friday, July 17, 2009


    I owe you all an explanation.

    Two months ago I started this blog with the intent to deliver a more serious discussion of contemporary issues; to embrace what others might gloss over.

    Things have gone well but the clear difficulty has been in generating sufficient material to sustain interest in the blog.

    We (by that I mean my co-writers and I) are at a crossroads.

    Um, maybe not like that (although, as the Brits used to say, "Clapton is God" and therefore serious enough to mandate a post); but we do face the decision to really run with this or to to let it fade. There will be no middle ground.

    In a nutshell, this 10-day lull between posts will not persist. If all goes well, you can expect new material at least three times a week by mid-August.

    On a final note, if any of you know someone who has the writing ability, philosophical grounding, and emotional detachment necessary to write material for this blog, please drop me a line at blueanchorblog(at)

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    The King is Dead. Long Live the King!

    Rack my brain as I might, nothing about Michael Jackson's death or the ravenous media circus that has followed inspires a post of significance.

    One quick thought.

    That is Michael. The media abuses the memory of that scared little kid.

    This is how we ought to remember the King of Pop. His faults die with him. Let his magic live on.

    The kid was so smooth.

    Monday, June 29, 2009

    What Makes a Religion Good?

    The Stoning of Soraya M: Part I

    I went and saw a movie Saturday night. It made me think...

    The Movie

    A lot of people are going to watch The Stoning of Soraya M and write the film off as insensitive or stereotypical in its treatment of Islam. I disagree.

    All the film's characters are Muslim. Some do terrible things and some do good things, but the film isn't about religion. In a nutshell, it sets misogyny in an Iranian village—Islam just forms part of the cultural fabric.

    Nevertheless, the film is based on a true story and therefore begs the question: What does Islam have to do with it? Does the religion lend itself to violent injustice?

    Never fear to ask the question

    Islam confuses westerners. The European response has been largely aggressive and has focused on Islam's fundamentalist elements. Yet while the months following 9/11 witnessed an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, such attitudes have been largely overwhelmed by the call for tolerance and understanding (reflecting a focus on civil rights).

    Still, few people seem eager to discuss the issue, but not for lack of motivation. Violent protests following the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, hundreds of terrorist cells worldwide, genocide in Sudan, the fallout after Iran's recent elections, rejection of the historicity of the Holocaust... Injustice across the globe can be linked to varied strains of Islam.

    (Please, I beg you, don't regurgitate the same worn-out line that Islam isn't the only religion connected these types of things. In modern times, no other religion can be linked to travesties of such gravity.)

    Of those willing to consider the situation, a plurality seems to conclude that the links between Islam and such injustice are no mere coincidence. They suggest that practicing Muslims perceive Allah as distant and cold. Such a relationship, they conclude, contributes to the development of radical fundamentalism.

    I'm skeptical, and certainly not knowledgeable enough to comment. I'll leave that to the theologians and offer this instead.

    Basic Islam

    At its most basic level, Islam offers human beings another avenue to express their belief in a God or gods. A reflection of a near-universal human experience, only since the Enlightenment have significant numbers of people begun to exclude the notion of the divine from their lives. Nevertheless, even such atheism or agnosticism cannot ignore fundamental questions about life, its meaning, humanity, its direction, and so forth. Islam offers one answer.

    Moreover, my limited knowledge of the Qur'an informs me that the Muslim holy book includes passages concerning charity, kindness, justice, and peace. The review of these elements of that faith doubtlessly uplifts humanity. The same can be said for the positive impact of Islam's moral code.

    The Lovely Zahra

    Only one character in the film has a religious experience worth mentioning. To her, religion transcends the cultural. She longs for God.

    As Soraya approaches death, Zahra stands by her side and demands the dignity due her. Just before her execution, she tells her "Pray, pray with all your might. God and paradise are waiting for you." And in response to Soraya's fear of dying, she offers: "You are innocent. God knows it. He will take care of you. He will give you courage."

    Zahra's religious faith approaches the furthest reach of human optimism. She stands with those who steadfastly hope in a God of love and mercy; those to whom God cannot be sterile, cold, or apathetic. And it is this faith that carries her when human strength fails—this faith that allows her to stand by Soraya.

    Good Religion

    Even skeptics of religion ought to agree that any faith which inspires human beings to acts of heroic love has real value. In fact from the secular perspective, a religion is only valuable inasmuch as it helps its followers to uplift humanity.

    The recognition of the 'Golden Rule' does not make a religion special. An examination of one's own heart reveals the truth therein. No, a religion is special when it supports the limits of human optimism. A religion has value when it sustains our most desperate hope that love will triumph.

    I doubt Islam is the problem, but unless its doctrine consistently inspires true self-giving it is hardly the solution.

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Detroit Tourism Video

    This is actually not funny... Even though I'm laughing.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    The Lost Lenore

    I really wanted to write a post on Gran Torino but I didn't have time to watch it again last night so I'll have to delay.

    I was going to hold up Carrie Prejean as an example of people/topics that will never be covered by this blog, but there is one detail that bears mentioning.

    Okay, in a nut shell, Miss Prejean supposedly lost the Miss USA title because, when questioned about her stance on gay marriage during the Miss USA Pageant, she replied as follows:

    You know what, in my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.

    Needless to say, the quote has caused quite a stir. The whole controversy has now been seemingly laid to rest with Miss Prejean being 'fired' from her post as Miss California USA yesterday for allegedly 'breaching contract'.

    (That's the stuff I don't get into. Honestly, I don't care what Donald Trump said or who did what. Carrie didn't know anything about it, but her lawyer says she did? What!?! Seriously...? For information of this nature I advise

    Moving on. I need some feedback on this next bit here. This is not the time for my own views on gay marriage, but I do need to air a frustration of mine.

    It really disappoints me that so many people have come down on Miss Prejean for her remarks. I can't stand it when people of opinion (left/right, up/down, I don't care), get up in another person's face for having an opinion on something.

    The logical flaw looks something like this:

    • A: I believe in tolerance and free speech. I think people should be able to say whatever they think.

    • B: I think this about topic X.

    • A: OH… MY… GOSH!! Did you HEAR... what B said? What a bigot/commie/ignoramus. That idiot should keep his mouth shut before that kind of crap escapes again.

    I can't stand that. This is especially true when the person making the comment has no intention of being inflammatory or of offending another person. Miss Prejean spoke her mind. She knew that what she said would not be popular but said it because she held it to be true. That is to be commended.

    But quoth the raven: "Nevermore..."

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    How Pro-Lifers Ruined My Weekend...

    Stupid, stupid, stupid

    I never wanted to write about this subject again. Those of you who read the Obama's Cake post have already been briefed on my thoughts on the pro-life movement.

    ...But then some jackass killed an abortion provider this weekend so I'll have to expand on previous thoughts.

    I would like to think that all those reading this recognize the evil and stupidity behind the shooting of George Tiller yesterday: Evil because Mr. Tiller is a human being; Stupid because the murder of Mr. Tiller fills the mouths of pro-choice advocates hungry for rhetoric to spit in the eyes of the pro-life movement.

    That sums that up. Except there is something far more significant in play...

    The Guillotine

    Pro-life leadership stinks.

    Look, I have been to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. two years in a row. It's cool. 300,000+ people (mostly youth) gather to protest abortion. The event is full of energy and life.

    But somebody, somewhere doesn't know a thing about event planning. It's a damn good thing that the March centers around an issue as controversial as abortion because otherwise nobody would show up.

    Politics has the whole thing by the throat.

    Everyone gathers around 12 for the rally. Ok cool, a rally... No, not cool, a rally... The 'rally' has been emceed since the beginning of time by Nellie Gray, the founder of the March. Don't get me wrong, Ms. Gray's dedication to the pro-life movement is second to none. However, given the average age of the event participants, a new emcee is in order.

    But good-willed old people are fine; boring, but fine. The real problem is that for two and half hours, senator after senator, and representative after representative, fill the air with the same monotone, brow-beaten speech that they've given since they took up politics. Do some them care? Yes. But I'm sure if we could see some of their day-books, the schedule would look something like this.

    • 9 o'clock: Morning Briefing

    • 10 o'clock: Meeting with Senator X to discuss Y

    • 11 o'clock: Respond to emails

    • 12 o'clock: Appease the pro-life voting bloc

    • Et cetera

    The evidence is in the passion the pour (or don't pour) into their speeches.

    The "rally" should run something like this.

    1. Introductory remarks by hip, energetic Emcee

    2. Keynote address

    3. Update on Pro-life successes/battles/legislation

    4. Impassioned speeches by no more than two politicians/leaders

    5. March

    If those involved with the pro-life movement find the courage to let go of their personal agendas and look at the goal, the event will take on the professional, attractive glean that has the potential to push this cause deep into the hearts and minds of this nation.

    Where's my head?

    The murder of George Tiller has epic consequences because no one who has the potential to unify the pro-life movement has risen to the task. As long as people like Randall Terry are featured in leading news stories about events like the Tiller murder, pro-life causes will suffer. The same dearth of leadership (or at least lack of self-awareness) allows bill board-sized pictures of aborted babies to litter the sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue along the March's route. Someone, maybe a politician, but someone worthy of representing this cause needs to step up and take control.

    It's obvious and it should be easy. Young people respond to attractive messages and young people have the necessary energy to drive this movement forward. Only when pro-lifers learn to cater to their greatest hope can change be effected.

    The Blue Anchor Vol I: 2

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Hey! How'd Obama get cake?

    Dirty Faces, Bloody Feet, and a Mouthful of Cake

    So, as all of you know, Obama went to Notre Dame, got an honorary degree, and gave the commencement address, the entirety of which caused a medium-level ruckus and led to thirty-odd arrests.

    The whole event was actually pretty cool. It brought a lot of issues to the table and finally convinced me to start commenting on current affairs.

    Dirty Faces

    These belong to the Holy Cross fathers/Notre Dame board of directors that orchestrated this event. I understand academic debate and openness but if the university calls itself Catholic out of one side of its mouth—a religion in which abortion is titled an 'intrinsic evil'—and invites a pro-choice speaker to give the most important speech of the year out of the other; something is clearly amiss.

    The Catholic Church does not 'prefer' that abortions not take place. They see it as the taking of innocent human lives. Whether or not you agree, I think the inconsistency should be evident.

    Bloody Feet

    These belong to all those who found it appropriate to disruptively protest the President's appearance. Not included in this group are those students who attended the commencement wearing 'baby feet' pins or white flowers in silent protest.

    The bloody feet belong to the thirty-odd people who were thrown in jail or those who interrupted Obama's speech with shouts such as "Stop killing our children." And they are bloody because they shot themselves.

    It absolutely blows my mind that people think demonstrations such as those seen over the weekend will have an impact on public opinion, the university, or Mr. Obama himself. Apparently, the blood foots forgot to check the nation's pulse before they swung into action, or anytime during the last thirty years.

    Ok, quiz time: What do Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama have in common?
    Easy: The ability to speak to and inspire a majority of the nation. (I know, Mr. Reagan is dead, but the cases are really hard to match otherwise.)

    Misters Reagan and Obama command the attention of the nation because they can connect to her people. They feel the country's pulse, meet her where she is, and attempt to move her in the direction laid down by their personal ideologies.

    The Blood Foots fail. I don't care if they stand up for unborn babies. They sound radical, insensitive, and completely out of touch with their intended audience. In order to communicate with the modern world, it is first necessary to understand where the world is coming from.

    Mouthful of Cake

    Ha ha, Mr. Obama got that.

    Let's continue where that last rant left off.

    The President told a little story in his commencement address. It dealt with a meeting between all the members of the Civil Rights Commission tasked with coming up with a common approach to civil rights legislation. They couldn't meet in the segregated South so Fr. Ted, a former president of Notre Dame, had them up to Notre Dame's "retreat" in Wisconsin. Once there, they discovered a common love of fishing. They fished awhile, broke the ice, got to talking, and hammered out the points.

    At face value, the anecdote may ring slightly trite but the message is of vital importance. It is impossible to dialogue without the presence of common ground. Neither I nor the President asked anyone to compromise their beliefs. He himself declared that "at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable". And what he did ask is that we stop "demonizing" one another and attempt to engage in dialogue.

    And damn it, I don't care if you think the President was insincere. His words are still of immense value. The story he told about his decision to change the phrasing of his stance on abortion after a doctor wrote to tell him it was inflammatory is a sign of great hope for me.

    Yesterday and today, millions of Americans are reading about President Obama's speech. The score should be obvious: Obama 1: Pro-Life America 0. The problem is inconsistency. As an impartial observer, I would look at yesterday's events, see one side confidently delivering its message while the other side snarled angrily, and I would say "how can those crazy people be right..." The pro-life cause will only move forward when the goodness of its message matches the goodness of its delivery.

    Perhaps the first step is to admit that the President gave a great speech yesterday.

    He took the cake.

    The Blue Anchor: Vol I;1

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    Newest Letter about Father Maciel

    Thy Kingdom Come!



    September 1, 2009

    To Regnum Christi Members and Friends
    Atlanta and New York Territories

    Dear friends in Christ,

    In Atlanta, we recently enjoyed a visit from our General Director, Father Alvaro Corcuera. He celebrated Mass for Regnum Christi members and friends at the Pinecrest Academy chapel. During his homily he touched on important points in reference to the difficulties we have all experienced during these past months, shedding light upon them from the Gospel. He invited us to discover God’s mysterious design also within the realities we are living, which we never would have expected to experience. It was an intense moment of prayer and unity, gathered around Christ.

    He has also traveled to Cheshire, Connecticut, to preside over the ceremony of the profession of vows of a group of novices and religious on August 29. With this important step, these brothers continue their path to the priesthood in the Legion of Christ, at the service of the Church, by dedicating themselves to a mission that “is of fundamental importance and is worth devoting oneself to with broadmindedness and an unsullied heart…” (Letter of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to Father Alvaro Corcuera, March 10, 2009).

    We are grateful to God for the gift of his leadership, full of Christian prudence and charity. We are confident that the Lord assists him with his grace in the difficult task he has at this time.

    With this letter we would like to share with you some of the thoughts and recommendations that he has been offering to members of the Legion of Christ and consecrated members of Regnum Christi through his talks, homilies and letters over these past months. We are sure they can also be of help to you.

    We also hope to remedy some of our shortcomings in communication –for which we are sorry–, so that together we can continue walking what will surely be a long path of healing and reconciliation with those who have been hurt by the misdeeds of Father Maciel.

    As priests, our hearts go out to all those who have been harmed or scandalized by his actions. To all we extend a special apology on behalf of the Legion and our General Director, Father Alvaro Corcuera, who has, in fact, begun to reach out personally and in private to those he knows may have suffered most, offering his heartfelt apology and consolation, and will continue to do so. As he wrote in his March 29 letter: “We are deeply saddened and sorry, and we sincerely ask for forgiveness from God and from those who have been hurt through this.” We also regret that our inability to detect, and thus accept and remedy, Father Maciel’s failings has caused even more suffering.

    In the recent past, after Father Marcial Maciel had retired, we came to know that he had had a relationship with a woman and fathered a child. Even more recently, there have been allegations of other relationships and other children. Given the partial nature of the information available and the impossibility to evaluate immediately and in a definitive manner these complex allegations, the Legion of Christ cannot, at this time, make a statement regarding them.

    All this leads us to value even more the wisdom and pastoral approach of the Holy See concerning the allegations of past sexual abuse against Father Maciel that had surfaced. As it as stated in the communiqué published on May 19, 2006, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith investigated these issues and invited him to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing all public ministry.

    As an institution, as a family and as individuals, this unexpected turn of events has been traumatic. Being weak humans, even if reacting with Christian virtue, many of us have gone through experiences of shock, anger, disbelief, denial and fear, both humanly and spiritually. These emotions, the vast tangle of information, supposition, speculation and opinion, the different cultural sensitivities, and the Christian duty not to publicize the sins of others, have made it difficult to publish the sort of direct statement that many expected of us.

    Added to this, is the fact that we did not know the whole truth, we may not know it yet, and new information may well continue to come to light. What we do learn, we will address, respecting the privacy of those who request it of us.

    As Legionaries, consecrated members of Regnum Christi and Regnum Christi members of all walks of life, we too have been experiencing a deep struggle. We are all wounded by this news, and need the comfort and support of each other. We want to thank all those who have understood the depth of our suffering, and offered their understanding and kindness. As we have just mentioned, we wish to be close to anyone who has suffered in any way, and at the same time ask them to live the Christian virtue of pardon from the depth of their hearts.

    1. This brings us to a key point in relation to you, our friends. It is clear that all these facts lead us to think about the past, the present and the future. Many of you have rightly asked if the Legion has made or will make changes in its life. Yes…we have, we are and we will. Some examples:

      • One of the questions that come to mind refers to the “safe environment and child protection” measures in our communities and apostolates. Our Constitutions, other norms and many elements of our discipline have always helped us to be particularly careful in the dealing with minors. More recently we are in the process of accreditation by Praesidium, a risk management organization now helping a great number of religious institutions in North America. Praesidium is conducting a full review of our internal rules and policies, as well as our training of all those who deal with minors. They will shortly be conducting on-site visitation of several of our institutions to verify that what is on paper is being applied. There are twenty-five accreditation standards to meet, covering the areas of prevention, response and supervision. Here in the U.S. we have also set up an external review board so that in the event of allegations of sexual abuse, we have the advantage of “outside eyes” to weigh the evidence, issues and provide us with recommendations. Praesidium accreditation is being promoted by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which links all the male religious orders in this country.

        We also fully comply with all diocesan standards, which vary from place to place.

      • On the financial side, for a long time now we have had yearly audits done by outside accounting firms. We could not have acquired the loans we needed to purchase our seminaries and found the many works of apostolate undertaken during these years without systems in place of strict accountability and responsible financial management. In recent years, due to the growth of our operations, we have put in place a still more professional system of business management through the services of Integer Group. Staffed by lay professionals, Integer has further improved our operating and management processes to ensure the integrity of all our operations.

      • A further area of adjustment which has begun and continues in process is the way we refer to Father Maciel in the Legion and Regnum Christi. While we cannot deny that Father Maciel was our founder and did much good, neither can we deny the reality of what has recently come to light and his grave human failings. We have taken progressive steps to make sure that there is no inappropriate reference to Father Maciel (we have, for example, removed pictures of him from our center; we have extensively edited our websites; we are in the process of reviewing new editions of other writings, brochures, etc.). All this has led us to what is most essential: to center our life, even more, in Jesus Christ.

        This is an ongoing and difficult process given the need to discern his person from the solid Catholic doctrine that he transmitted and the legitimate institutional aspects of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christ. This discernment is not something that can be done lightly or overnight. Father Alvaro has and will seek the advice and guidance of learned and prudent men of the Church to enlighten this difficult question seeking not to lose God’s gifts to the Legion and Regnum Christi.

    2. We are also receiving enormous help from the Church, especially from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to whom we are truly grateful.

      • You know that he has mandated an Apostolic Visitation of the Legion. Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput of Denver has been appointed as Visitor for the Legion in the United States and Canada. Archbishop Chaput will visit our seminaries and religious houses, see our life up close and interview whomever he wants. His mandate will be to question, probe and assess with depth and objectivity. Legionaries are free to speak and write to him with all their comments and questions. He sets his own timetable and the points he wishes to probe, and he will present his findings and recommendations directly to the Holy See.

        For the moment, the Legion cannot make any specific statements regarding the content or development of the Visitation, since this would interfere with the work of the Visitors.

      • Questions and comments have also been raised regarding the “private vow of charity” that was professed in the Legion. The rationale of this vow was to ensure that the grievances one could have with his superior were brought to those who could resolve them and thus avoid irresponsible criticism or internal factions that degrade unity. This vow had been in place since 1957 and was approved by the Church. Pope Benedict XVI, who has the power to bind and loose, asked the Legion to remove it, which we did two years ago.

      • In the past two years, also following the indications we received from the Holy Father, we changed our general practice of superiors being the spiritual directors of their subjects. This practice was based on one of the century-old monastic traditions that view the superior as Spiritual Father and Mentor of his community. We are seeing positive fruits from this change of practice.

      • There also have been changes in the Legion regarding sacramental confession. In the past, members were free to go to the Ordinary or Extraordinary confessors (assigned by the General Director for each community). They were also free to go to any other Catholic priest with faculties for confession. Members often asked to go to confession with their own superiors.

        Following the instructions of the Holy See, today superiors are no longer habitual confessors for those under their authority.

      • We would finally like to mention that our general director is in frequent contact with our superiors in the Holy See and also with the Apostolic Visitors to speak about these and other complex issues.
    These are some of the significant steps the Legion of Christ has taken. And as we said, we expect more will come in time, with judgment and prudence.

    Understandably, in the midst of the present circumstances there have been a few of our members who have felt that they can serve God better by separating themselves from the Legion and Regnum Christi; others have opted temporarily to step aside to see and evaluate, waiting also to see the outcome of the Visitation. The vast majority has opted to continue doing as much good as they can from where they are, knowing that our time here on earth is limited, and trusting that with the guidance of the Church whatever needs to be corrected in time, and whatever is good will be confirmed. Each one has made his or her choice before God, moved by their love for him and their desire to serve him to the best of their ability, and for no other consideration. Let us have great Christian understanding and respect for all. Each of us must presume the best and purest intention in the other, pray for each other, and recognize that each one of us suffers and recovers in different ways and at different times.

    As Father Álvaro told us in his homily, in Cheshire, St. John Chrysostom teaches us five ways to reach reconciliation: asking for pardon, forgiving others, prayer, almsgiving and humility (cf. ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Homilies, PG 49, 263-264). Let us ask the Lord to grant us the grace to walk this path, inasmuch as each one of us needs it, for his greater glory.

    Loving, serving, and building together –that has been our life in the Legion and Regnum Christi. As tragic as the failings of our founder are, they should not cause us to diminish our efforts to bring souls to Christ, and to serve him and the Church selflessly in all our brothers and sisters.

    You have worked so hard to create apostolates, build schools, run youth clubs, form people in the Catholic faith – and those efforts are good and real. Let nothing distract you from loving and serving God in your neighbor. We enter now into a new chapter of our history which must be focused on the pursuit of holiness and love for souls.

    May we take inspiration from our Blessed Mother who “meditated all these things in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:51). She will lead us along the path of God’s will and help us to respond as she did: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

    May Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians inspire us during these challenging times:
      “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
    You remain in our prayers, and we depend on yours.

    Yours in Christ our Lord,

    Fr Scott Reilly, LC
    Territorial director
    Atlanta Territory

    Fr Julio Martí, LC
    Territorial director
    New York Territory