Friday, September 07, 2007

Star Wars Kid

This has been out forever, but I still want to fall out of my chair every time. First the original, and then the new and improved:

The "Bottom Billion"

Good review by First Things on a book I need to read called the Bottom Billion.

"One billion of the world’s population are rich; four billion are, albeit at varying pace, on the way to becoming rich; the real challenge is the “bottom billion.” They are caught in a number of “traps” that keep them poor and almost guarantee that they will be poorer in the years ahead, a ghetto of misery, disease, and discontent on an otherwise flourishing planet. The bottom billion are the radically marginalized. Seventy percent of them are in Africa. Although Collier does not discuss Catholic social doctrine, his analysis is remarkably similar to that of John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus: The really poor are poor because they are excluded, or exclude themselves, from the global circle of productivity and exchange."

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

C'mon God, think!

I've thought quite a bit lately about some objections brought up about the theist answer to the problem of evil. For example, its been asked "If God is perfectly good, powerful and loving, then He has the ability to create humans who have free-will yet choose always and everywhere good. Why hasn't He done this?" Put in logical form it would look something like this:

  • God is all powerful
  • An all powerful being can create anything
  • Therefore God can create anything
  • Something is a part of anything
  • To always choose good within free will would be a form of perfection
  • Humans could potentially be perfect
  • Perfect humans are something
  • Therefore God can create humans who always chose good within free will
(not done to Dr. Menzel's standard but it'll work)

The underlying assumption that goes with this argument however is that if something is possible for God to do (i.e.- create perfectly good humans), and we think He should have done it, then He should have done it. Sort of like a five year old telling his mom he should have a cookie before dinner because he could eat it if she gave it to him.

A couple of thoughts on why God didn't create us to choose good all the time:
1) As weird as it sounds, maybe we were. What if we were created in such a way that we chose good every time- every time that is that we encountered the occasion of temptation without outside influence. Though we could never know, who's to say how long Adam and Eve lived prior to committing the first sin with the help of a certain serpent. Just a thought that popped into my head, I couldn't back it up too much without more thought (and I don't know if its something I'd want to back up if I gave it more thought... whatever).
2) Maybe God's perfect wisdom saw it necessary to show us a contrast between real good and real evil. How could we know evil unless we saw it in real life? Anyone who has done any electrical work (or put together anything from Home Depot) knows that the way things should work theoretically and how they really work are world's apart. To copy Dr. Peter Kreeft "you can't appreciate the height of the mountain unless you see the depth of the valley."

To close out this post, I'd like to make mention that there are humans who exist in a state with their free will perfectly aligned to God's- they're in Heaven. A couple of them even walked the earth: Jesus and his mom.

Why we can't just say we won the lotto of existence...

Great piece by Mark Shea on why the materialistic view of the universe where we "just happen to be lucky enough to live in the one-out-of-an-infinite-number-of-universes where all the physical laws happen to be fine-tuned enough to produce us," is wrong. Read it HERE.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Goat sacrifices for air safety

Get the story HERE. Yeah, makes sense to me. I just can't believe they weren't sacrificing goats already. We do that here right? Oh, we don't? That's right, those with more culture sacrifice babies.

Judge Judy and Executioner

For anyone that hasn't seen Hot Fuzz (movie preview here), there is a line where Sgt. Angel tells Danny that his dad "thinks he is judge, jury, and executioner," to which Danny responds "He is not Judge Judy and executioner." While this is humorous it has nothing to do with my point, it just provides a segway to it- we have a judge Judy culture.

If you've seen the show you may know what I mean, if you haven't, don't watch it, take my word for it. It seems that every time I work on a rental property (or my grandma's house, who just can't find quality daytime programming) I find Judge Judy or some show based on the same concept is on and its always the same situation: Someone gave someone else money (usually an insignificant amount) and that person didn't give it back. Occasionally there's a stolen vehicle or a boyfriend/girlfriend living in an apartment not paying rent blah, blah, blah. The thing that you notice is that Judge Judy basically has her mind made up before the "trial" starts. When the plaintiffs walk into the room they're judged and its just a matter of getting through their all too familiar whining for her to make her grand pronouncements on who is a dummy and owes whom money. What you also notice is that should a plaintiff have the chutzpa to bring up the fact that Judge Judy wouldn't really listen to his/her side of the story all heck fire and darnednation breaks loose. "How dare you judge the judge!"

How is this a generational problem (besides the whiners on the show)? Read the headlines on yahoo or any other site. Take for instance these headlines from today at

Latest News
Now pick out the stories pertaining to a celebrity, for instance John McCain being quoted as calling someone "you little jerk." Based on the headline you have an expectation right? You're probably thinking "Surely John McCain's run for the presidency is over, he called someone a jerk and it was overheard by a reporter." Now, even after you read the context of the story (he was joking with a high schooler who made fun of his age) you have a judgment already made. Judge Judy and executioner.

What if you called someone a jerk in a teasing manner and it was taken out of context? "C'mon, that's not what I meant, you weren't listening to what was going on." Judge Judy and executioner.

The popular thing now, as it always is in politics, is to use the label of "hypocrite." Problem is no one seems to remember how the word hypocrite is supposed to be used. For example, suppose John McCain really was angry and called some high school kid a jerk. Prior to his going to the high school suppose he first visited an elementary school where he told the kids to use the "golden rule" and that name calling, hitting, etc. was not right. While inappropriate, if McCain just lost his temper for a minute and later apologized he isn't being hypocritical, it was not his intention necessarily to call the kid a jerk, he just lost control for a little bit, he's human and he screwed up.

On the other hand, take Britney Spears new album which supposedly uses the f-bomb. As a former member of the Mickey Mouse club, and as a concerned parent, suppose she visited an elementary school and told the kids that using bad language was a bad thing. Either she A) really believes bad language such as the F-word is wrong and still used it intentionally making her a hypocrite or B) she doesn't really believe usage of the mother of all bad words is wrong and she was lying to the kids to improve her image. There is a difference between each example, one is intentional and the other not.

All in all, I think I'm going to have to try my best to stop my Judge Judy and executioner act. If I screw up, its just me being a sinner and falling again. Here's to forgiveness.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Beginning Again

With school starting (albeit without me this semester, I'm going to work) its time to get myself back into the blogging rhythm. I've noticed its easier for me to blog when I know I'm procrastinating from something like studying or homework, for this semester it'll just have to be procrastinating from the Playstation I guess. Here we go...