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Newt Gingrich is a Big, Fat Idiot (duh)

Alright, admittedly, I made the mistake of clicking on a CNN headline about Newt Gingrich and "atheists".  Atheists is in quotes there because CNN seems to only share that word when it's in quotes.  I know better than going to CNN, and I know better than reading stories about Newt Gingrich, and I really should know better than to read any story about "atheists", but I couldn't help myself.

Ol' Newt is worried that the country is going to become a "secular atheists country"  overrun by "radical Islamists."

Now, I know Newt isn't stupid, he's just a craven ass.  And I'm allowed to say that because we went to the same undergraduate institution.  Newt must know that being an atheist and being an "Islamist" are mutually exclusive positions.  Unless he fears the domination of this country by those fundamentalist atheist Christianists.

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On the other hand, it's refreshing to see how far we've come as a nation to think that being a Catholic is American and not indicative of a political devotion to papistry that will lead this nation into the fiery pits of hell.  Because, as we all once knew, Catholics aren't proper Christians, and Merka is a Kristyen Nayshun.

I'm sorry, it's just the dumb appeal to the lowest common denominator.  It burns.  It burns because I know that it works.  I know that someone is reading that stupid CNN article and thinking, "God, you know, that Newt Gingrich has a point.  This country is under threat of Muslim Atheists.  And hell, the only thing worse than a Muslim, is an Atheist, and the only thing worse than an Atheist, is a Muslim one."

Excuse me while I go weep.

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Michael Hawkins on Luke Vinci’s Anti-Ashley Post

You know what’s even better than writing a blog post?  Having someone else write a blog post you can just link to as though it’s additional content in your own blog.  This is also just a lesson in recursion – linking to a post that links to your post.

Response to a ‘Correction’

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As you all know, I’ve been reporting on Social Media for a website called Social Axcess.  I reported on the iPhone confession app, which allows you to figure out which sins you need to confess, and I got a somewhat heated reply from one of the founders of GSMI, the company that owns the blog. His name is Luke Vince and he felt the need to ‘correct’ my article, call me myopic, and spell my name without my middle initial. Perhaps it is madness to argue with company higher ups, but I’m afraid I’m terrible at resisting the temptation to get into a good online discussion.

Usually when I see the word correction, I must confess, I think that there has been some sort of editorial or factual error in another article, but it seems that what this actually is is simply a difference of perspective.

His first ‘correction’, in response to my claim that it’s been a rough couple of years for the church, is that the current assaults (really?) by the “new atheist” (his quotes) movement are nothing new, the church is growing in some places, and always emerges stronger from strife.  These are non-sequiturs, he is arguing against a point I never made.  Regardless of the history of the church or its ability to bounce back, it has been a rough couple of years for it.

The church is shrinking in the West where the majority of its funds come from, and growing in the East, South America and Africa. It is losing members of the priesthood and interest in joining the priesthood, facing a major shortage of priests. It is facing constant negative media pressure because of the sex scandals. I nowhere claimed that the current problems it’s facing are the worst in its history or impossible to recover from, but it would be myopic indeed to pretend that they didn’t exist.

He also says, in response to my claim that the church is slow to respond to things like changing moral opinions and the AIDS crisis, that it is because the church doesn’t succumb to whims or move quickly and that this has served them well.  Obviously, we also disagree on whether slowness to respond to current problems is an admirable devotion to tradition or a dangerous resolution to keep its head in the sand. But we don’t disagree on the actual fact, which is that the church is slow to change.  The glacial response time in condemning nazis, condemning the inquisition, and addressing the complaints of Martin Luther seem to me to show a devotion to slowness that is neither good for the church nor moral.

His final complaint, excuse me, ‘correction’, is that the confession app doesn’t replace any sacraments but rather is an aide to helping Catholics figure out how they’ve sinned.  Nowhere did I say the confession app replaced anything and we agree on the fact that it is a good move for the church, we simply disagree on how laughable it is.  I can’t imagine belonging to an organization that has so many silly rules that I need assistance in figuring out if I’ve broken them or not.

Perhaps I am most disappointed, however, that the writer felt the need to personalize his defense as an attack on me but proceeded not to make one point in response to anything I actually wrote.

Forgive me iPhone, for I have sinned

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The Catholic Church has had a rough time lately, between sex scandals and dwindling interest in church and the constant onslaught of the New Atheist movement, they haven’t had much good PR in the last decade.  Always a relic from older, simpler times, the Catholic Church is usually half a century behind the rest of the world in adopting any sort of new technology or public opinion.  Despite the AIDS crisis, it took them thirty years to decide that condoms were OK for preventing the spread of HIV, so I was shocked to find that they are trying to keep it real with a new iPhone app for confessions.

I admit that I laughed when I read that.  I did.  I’m not a Catholic, and I’m not sure how mundane one can make the sacred and profound, but from the perspective of marketing the church to younger members, which is what they so desperately need, making it easier to participate on social media platforms is a smart move.  Earlier this year, the Pope said he wanted to reach out with new media, and I think this has to be a step in the right direction.  Although they have a YouTube channel and a Facebook page that lets users send online postcards, this is a major step to creating an interactive relationship through social media.

There are already several apps available that are religious, most of them centered around quotes and full copies of the Bible, but this is thought to be the first app officially approved by the Vatican.  It is, of course, not free, but costs $1.99 to download.  I think it speaks volumes about the importance of social media as a marketing tool that even the Holy See is getting in on the act.  Here’s hoping the Pope starts tweeting.

I seriously can’t believe they’re charging for it, I feel like that’s the most crass thing about it.

Who will vote how on Prop 8; Supreme Court Justice breakdown

So, I’ve been trying to figure out how I think SCOTUS breaks down for the Prop8 vote.  I am going to be fairly optimistic based on the quality of the argument and Olson’s record with SCOTUS up to now.  Argued over 50 cases in front of SCOTUS, has won 3/4ths of them, including the decision today that said Corporations have freedom of speech and therefore can spend as much as they want on politics.  He’s clearly good at getting SCOTUS to expand rather than deny rights, no matter the public opinion.

Of course, there are 6 Catholics on the bench, and the Catholic Church, along with LDS, was responsible for most of the mobilization in support of Prop 8.  Anyway, in my optimism, I think it’s even possible for a 6-3 decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional.  Of course, 5-4 against is just as possible. No means declaring it unconstitutional, yes is saying prop 8 should stay.

And if anyone has any insight, feel free to post. These are mere conjectures based on what I can find on the interwebs.

JUSTICE ROBERTS

Pros: He donated legal to Romer vs. Evans which demanded equal rights for gays in Colorado. Fairly constructionist approach to Constitution, which is how Olson is making his case.

Cons: Catholic, part of the conservative block (though he has broken with them before), really into states rights

Vote: Likely yes, but some foundation for a surprise no

JUSTICE STEVENS

Pros: Staked out the anti-sodomy laws position in the mid-80s as a dissenting opinion, which eventually became the majority position in 2003. Considered part of the liberal block. Not Catholic.

Cons: None that I can find, though there’s nothing suggesting he’s particularly Pro gay marriage either.

Vote: Probably No

JUSTICE SCALIA

Pros: Just the one, he’s a big fan of the Constitution and Olson is making a very very strong argument.

Cons: He hates gay people. He’s the leader of the conservative block. Catholic. And he really hates gay people.

Vote: Burn all gay people at the stake Definite Yes.

JUSTICE KENNEDY

Pros: Kennedy has often taken a strong stance in favor of expanding Constitutional rights to cover sexual orientation. Though considered conservative, often a swing vote. References foreign law for precedence often.

Cons: Conservative more often than not. Catholic.

Vote: Likely No

JUSTICE THOMAS

Pros: None

Cons: Extremely conservative. Extremely into states rights. Performed a wedding for Rush Limbaugh. Even Scalia thinks he’s way too far to the right, “I am an originalist, but I am not a nut.” Super into religion, and thinks that religion should be allowed to be a lot more involved in public life. He also hates the gays.

Vote: Not just Yes, but a Yes to the RIGHT of Scalia

JUSTICE GINSBURG

Pros: She is awesome and my favorite. (Also liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay)

Cons: None

Vote: No

JUSTICE BREYER

Pros: Liberal. Refers to foreign law. Seems to like the gays.

Cons: None that I’m aware of.

Vote: No

JUSTICE ALITO

Pros: Was against anti-sodomy laws well before the court, but also was a student.

Cons: Conservative. Known as “Scalito”, though definitely to the left of Scalia. Catholic.

Vote: Almost certain Yes… but maybe…

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR

Pros: Some of the anti-Hispanic rhetoric exhibited by the yes on 8ers will probably not make her think highly of them. She lives in Greenwich village. Considered an ally, though little to support this.

Cons: Catholic.

Vote: Likely no, little to go on though.

4 extremely likely nos, 1 probable no
3 almost certain yeses, 1 most likely yes