September 2009 Archives

The Limits Of Compassion

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The Limits Of Compassion - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

"I am aware of all the socio-economic forces at work they make black communities more subject to violence. I'm in all for trying to ameliorate those forces. In the meantime, I'm all for doing whatever it takes to protect the rest of us--particularly young black kids--from hooliganism. "

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

That's pretty much the black position. Both-and vs. either-or. But I don't think there is a limit to compassion, it's a sense of justice. These cats need to be punished for doing something wrong and unnecessary.

Snitches Get Stitches

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USB Standards Group: Okay for Apple's iTunes to Block Palm Pre | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD:

"But the USB-IF didn’t quite see things that way. ‘In the view of the USB-IF, Palm’s allegation (if true) does not establish that Apple is using its Vendor ID (VID) contrary to the USB-IF’s policies,’ the group said. ‘Therefore, under present USB-IF policies, the USB-IF does not consider the alleged use, without more, to be ‘improper.’’

Ugly news for Palm, and it only gets worse–because the USB-IF goes on to suggest that Palm itself is violating its Membership Agreement by using Apple’s vendor ID number to disguise the Pre as an Apple device."

(Via Digital Daily.)


Connecting The Dots - Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Connecting The Dots - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

"There's a lot at work here: 1.) Race-baiters have, for the past few decades, repeatedly outfoxed anti-racists. Beck and Cornyn know how to walk up to the line. Carter is from a generation of liberals who never understood why people didn't agree them about Willie Horton. Thus Carter doesn't insinuate, he doesn't calibrate, he just speaks, political effects be damned. 2.) The dominant school of journalism holds that it's safer to talk about the effect of talking about race on Obama, rather than actually talking about its effects, period. That's true for most things though--reporters are generally more interested in gamesmanship, than issues. 3.) A lot of reporters take Beck and Cornyn's race-baiting is taken as a given. I'll be shocked if anyone asks Cornyn about this. I don't think they much care."

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coats.)

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Trust, but Verify

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Finishing up a late night with a good book on Catholic apologetics.

Faith and reason are interdependent. One of the great secrets of the universe is that reason leans on faith every but as faith leans on reason. Rightly did St. Augustine say, "I believe that I may understand." It's not that people who lack Christian faith cannot know anything. But anyone who knows anything must first put faith in principles that are tacit, unproven, and unprovable. We have good reasons to believe such things. But we don't have proof. We believe that we may understand.

Losing Reality

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I have been disturbed lately by the apparent lack in basic common sense in our public discourse. In other words, shit is getting real crazy lately. Between people disputing demonstrable facts and holding positions they undermine in defending said positions, it's like we are debating reality. I'm going to put up a fuller post soon as I think on this a bit more.

AppleInsider | Palm Pre beats expectations, drops WiMo to focus on WebOS:

"Part of that strategy involves dumping any distractions, including both the company's original Palm OS and the Windows Mobile partnership that Palm forged with Microsoft in 2006, a year before Rubinstein arrived. Palm's support for Windows Mobile helped nearly double Microsoft's market share at the time."

(Via Apple Insider.)

I really hope this works out for them. WebOS looks mad cool.

It's Kanye's Fault - Ta-Nehisi Coates

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It's Kanye's Fault - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

"This is history through the veil, again. It's virtually impossible to be a black person and believe that Americans were somehow more humble in the past. Our very exists springs from an act of immodesty."

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

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How To Represent - Ta-Nehisi Coates

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How To Represent - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

"But the portion that always amazed were the black kids (a significant number of them biracial) who hailed from these nice suburbs (River Forest, Walnut Creek etc.), excelled in school, but came to Howard, almost out of a kind of fatigue. The fatigue is exactly what Andrew describes here--the pressure to be a representative, to explain your groups 'position,' the stifling inability to, say, be an asshole and not have it say something about your folks. "

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

Experienced that for a long time in school.

What We Have Seen and Heard, Part 2

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In the previous post we looked at out faith informs our culture and values. Now for a look at Sacred Scripture

African-American spirituality is based on the Sacred Scriptures. In the dark days of slavery, reading was forbidden, but for our ancestors the Bible was never a closed book. The stories were told and retold in sermons, spirituals and shouts. Proverbs and turns of phrase borrowed freely from the Bible. The Bible was not for our ancestors a mere record of the wonderful works of God in a bygone age; it was a present record of what was soon to come. God will lead his people from the bondage of Egypt. God wil preserve his children in the midst of the fiery furnace. God's power will make the dry bones scattered on the plain snap together, and he will breathe life into them. Above all, the birth and death, the suffering and the sorrow, the burial and the resurrection tell how the story will end for all who are faithful no matter what the present tragedy is.

For Black people the story is our story; the Bible promise is our hope. Thus when the Word of Scripture is proclaimed in the Black community, it is not a new message but a new challenge. Scripture is part of our roots; the Bible has sunk deep into our tradition; and the Good News of the Gospel has been enmeshed in our past of oppression and pain. Still the message was heard and we learned to celebrate in the midst of sorrow, to hope in the depths of despair and to fight for freedom in the face of all obstacles. The time has now come to take this precious heritage and to go and "tell it on the mountain." [emphasis mine]

The Bible is everywhere in our culture and community. Even a Muslim preacher can get a church full of Christians to stand up and clap with a little John 10:11-12 and some 2 Chronicles 7:14. Turns of phrase are so ingrained we can repeat them almost automatically when called out. The inevitable response to, "To whom much is given...," is of course, "Much is required." (Lk 12:48) These phrases are like inside jokes, incredibly pregnant with meaning. MLK said, "I've been to the mountain top...I have seen the promised land." Even Tavis Smiley's and Cornel West's Covenant with Black America has no meaning if you don't have a deep sense of the Bible.

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Race Is A Factor But... - Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Race Is A Factor But... - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

"There's a tendency to lump anti-black racism in with all the serious problems presented when you try to make a democracy work. There is always a danger of becoming single-minded, of bringing to bear a myopic analysis which sees one thing in everything. Moreover, watermelon jokes are a long way from red-lining, and in seeing how far we've come, the temptation is to dismiss how far we have to go.But from a black perspective, it's a temptation you can ill-afford. Racism cost us dollars a half-century ago. Today it costs us quarters--but it still costs."

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

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Rational Lies

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This weekend was a good one spiritually. Saturday, Bishop Steib from the Memphis visited and gave us a Word that had people rushing for his autograph. Today at Mass, Father gave a great homily on authentic Christianity. Both had me pondering on how I saw my own faith. Was it something I should defend against attack from the Jehovah's witnesses at my door on the one hand to the subtle (and often not so subtle) condescension of my atheist friends and the likes of Bill Maher on the other? For a long time I, in fact, thought so. Well, no longer. I am willing to evangelize and to explain, but I'll no longer defend. To do so is to accept the premise for attack. I don't apologize for loving my wife. Why in the hell should I for loving Jesus? Rationally, neither makes any sense.

I remember a good friend asking me essentially why I was a man of faith, "You're so bright," he said. He went on with the usual old saws about how religion is good to get your through a tough time or if your are weak mentally or emotionally but not for the serious minded and intelligent. And I explained, patiently, where I was coming from.

Such thinking is ironic to me. It demonstrates a strong faith in one's senses. If a man born blind denies the existence of color, what argument could convince him? His senses tell him nothing about the existence of color. In fact, every argument that I know of made to convince him could easily be employed to "prove" the existence of God!

Faith like love or art is a part of the human experience that is not subject to argument. It is ineffable and undeniable for those who experience it. To quote St. Thomas Aquinas:

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

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"One of the great tragedies of the past half century or so, is how patriotism has been coopted by people who claim the Confederate flag, while black leaders, from King to Obama, are dismissed as communists/socialists and now Hitlerite. These are people whose heroes routinely flouted the federal government and assaulted black troops carrying the Union flag."

Ta-Nehisi Coates


The President's Indoctrination Speech

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Media Resources Prepared School Remarks:

"Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best."

(Via The White House.)

Yep, liberal propaganda as predicted.

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Obama's speech to students has a precedent -

"‘We've been working to take an economy that was in bad shape and get it moving and growing again; take our national defense and make it first-rate again after a long period of decline; and to restore reason, respect and reality to our foreign policy,’ the president says. ‘And I think it's fair to say that we've made a good deal of progress.’

You [Constant Reader] were also right about [Obama] trying to indoctrinate the children of America into his cult of personality. Listen to this: ‘We want to make your future better, because tomorrow belongs to you. And since you're the leaders of tomorrow, I wanted to talk to all of you as a friend about the things you'll have to do to ensure a prosperous nation and a peaceful world.’

So in conclusion, it's clear that President Obama – wait a second. This isn't President Obama.

It was President Ronald Reagan, back in 1986."

(Via The Charlotte Observer.)

Once again we have clear evidence to ignore the right. Talk about double standard!

Out of Context

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My Mom and I were talking this morning about the Bible, of which I am proud to say she has become quite the student. We got on about how people interpret it and the necessity of knowing the context of Scripture in order to truly understand it. We also spoke ruefully how people will refuse to do that homework, esp. if it might threaten their understanding of Scripture. I found it is ironic that my Mom learned this from a converted Catholic biblical scholar.

I related to her how that argument plays out among my Protestant friends: not well. I'm frequently told that because I take the time to understand its socio-historical context, I might know about the Word but I don't know the Word. In other words, don't let the context change the "true meaning," i.e. their understanding of its meaning of Scripture. My challenge to that is this: how can you understand anything written or said when it is taken out of context? If you are incredulous, just look at the healthcare "debate" and those infamous death panels.

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What We Have Seen and Heard, Part 1

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Very soon a Black Catholic Bishop named Steib will be coming to speak to my parish about a pastoral letter on evangelization he co-authored titled "What We Have Seen and Heard." Because my parish is considered to be one of the 800 or so in the country that are predominantly African American, we are reading the letter in preparation for his talk, discussing it and it's implications amongst ourselves. It has been very fruitful so far and I have been reflecting on it daily. The letter is pretty long so this will be a serial post. Let's begin.

Part 1 of the letter is titled "The Gifts We Share" and talks about our call as black people to share our gifts. It enumerates them all. The first is our culture.

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Roger Keith Coleman - Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Roger Keith Coleman - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

"I came up in an era where young boys thought nothing of killing each other over cheap Starter jackets. I don't have any illusions about the criminal mind. I don't believe in the essential goodness of man--which is exactly why I oppose the death penalty."

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates.)