By Charlie Johnston
We had a great conference last weekend in South Dakota. Frankly, it was more like a joyful family reunion – of a family that actually likes each other. Alas, on opening night I got the first significant neurological episode I have had in a year and a half. When they come, my pain spikes, I get rather nauseous, I feel like a warm cowl has been placed over my head, and I get a bit fuzzy in my thinking. On the good side, all that is required is to take a few days of absolute quiet to resolve it and it is like a reset button: I actually come out refreshed and renewed. But I obviously could not be quiet at the conference, so I managed it by taking little naps between presentations. I don’t like to write when I am fuzzy-headed, so I have been trying to be quiet this week. Just before I left to rest Friday night, I stumbled off the front of the stage instead of taking the stairs. I’m telling MP to make sure that is included in the video package. I’ll write more about it next week along with some pictures. (Those of you who have some great pictures from the conference should send some to me). Meantime, I give you this clip from the introduction on Friday night. MP will have the downloads staggered, so those of you who have ordered them will get them all as they come online – but this one is free to all.
I have been thinking a lot this week about last Sunday’s Gospel reading. In it, the synagogue official, Jairus, asked Jesus to heal his daughter. That is very striking because synagogue officials were the most determined and bitter of Jesus’ opponents. The odds are overwhelming that Jairus was among those opponents – until his daughter got sick. This is striking to me for two reasons. First, bureaucrats and officials are often vested in keeping things the way they are because their power and influence are dependent on it – until they suffer personally and then they come to the water. In that sense, the illness of Jairus’ daughter was a great grace, for it forced him to look to what was true rather than what was convenient to his career. The second thought is that, if Jairus was (as is overwhelmingly likely) one of Jesus’ critics; that he went to the Master as soon as serious trouble set in suggests that, in his heart, he always knew what was true. He simply would have repudiated it because it would affect his status in the system “as it was” to do otherwise. How many people choose what is politically correct to preserve their status in this transient world when they know it is not true – and that the path thereof leads to death? How often have you and I done that – and called our infidelity prudence? Tough questions, but as always, even in the simplest passages, Scripture provides an unfathomable depth to contemplate.
Just before our festivities began, Joe Biden said resistance to federal power is futile, as he has F-15s and nukes at his disposal. Weird stuff. Of course, many protestors from Jan. 6 in Washington who just wandered into the Capitol at the invitation of Capitol police but did not participate in the overly exuberant activities of some, are being held without bail in solitary confinement in jail until they confess and repudiate their thought crimes – unlike BLM and Antifa terrorists who actually broke things and hurt people. The military run by “woke” generals is not much good at winning wars, but great at targeting conservatives and Christians. And of course, the Justice Dept., FBI and intelligence agencies have replaced the Ku Klux Klan as the paramilitary arm of the Democratic National Committee. We are not yet in full concentration camp mode, but we are in the equivalent of late 1934 in Germany, after the punitive laws started pouring forth and all dissenters from Nazi ideology were being labelled domestic terrorists, anti-German traitors or mentally ill. Oh, the mercantile class and even many Jews were saying in 1934 that this was bad, but it will pass. We know what the trajectory was then – and the trajectory now is running at an even brisker pace. If we do not stand now, we will fall later.
One thing that consoles me is that, though Robespierre, Lenin, Hitler and Mao were all evil men, they were smart men who were able to seduce their populations into believing they were making things better early on. This bought them two to six years to consolidate power before fully revealing the true ugliness at the heart of their ideologies. Not one of them started threatening their own populace within the first few months of taking power – for they knew their hold on it was still too fragile.
With the bunch behind Joe Biden, it is all coercion and no seduction right from the start. They are the stupid revolutionaries, more like petulant and malicious children smearing their mother’s make-up on their faces to try to convince us they are all grown up. Thank God for small favors! Already, the racially toxic Critical Race Theory, the huge spike in violent crime, and the rising inflation have triggered widespread pushback in surprising places. Even suburban chardonnay moms are starting to say, “Hey, wait a minute,” as their own children and families are swept into the maelstrom. There will be some casualties, like the political prisoners from Jan. 6, but these guys have been all stick and no carrots – and have not sufficiently consolidated their power for a real takeover. Oh, we may have to divide into free states and woke states for a time to ride out the madness, but this is not going to end like revolutionary France, Russia, China or fascist Germany. The wokesters will take a lot of people down, but mostly on their own side before all is settled. Oddly, the most enthusiastic champions of this stuff among the rank and file will ultimately give thanks for the quick collapse – for in each of the four I listed, as soon as power was successfully consolidated, the top boys started purging the ranks of their own side of anyone that could conceivably become a threat to their own power.
I was startled by Pope Francis’ handwritten letter to Fr. James Martin, supporting and encouraging him in his efforts to promote homosexuality and transgenderism. As orthodox American clerics are being cancelled en masse by heterodox Bishops, it was bizarre to see a Catholic Pope so publicly eager to encourage the repudiation of the teaching of Christ and the Apostles. I think it was actually Pope Francis’ oblique response to the American Bishops’ decisive vote to go forward with drafting a document on Eucharistic Coherence, after the Vatican and top Cardinals in the United States tried to kill it. Clashes coming everywhere, it seems.
People often ask me what the deal is with squirrels on this site and CORAC. Well, for a time, several running jokes grew up on the site around the subject of squirrels. Also, when I was a teenager, we had a couple of pet squirrels my uncle had caught while working in trees. They were hilarious and fun. They’d go chasing each other up my leg, across my shoulders, and down the other leg. They were a hoot.
Beyond that, I think squirrels exemplify many of the characteristics we want to imitate in CORAC. They are not particularly intimidating, but there is no quit in them. If you have ever had a “squirrel-proof” birdfeeder, you already know there is no such thing. Squirrels always find a way. They are always exuberant and playful, which can mask how relentlessly determined they are. As a bonus, if you have ever seen a squirrel with its tail straight up, backlit by the sun, it looks a whole lot like the penumbra behind Our Lady of Tepeyac (commonly called Guadalupe). So that’s the deal with squirrels.
The hoo-hah over UFO’s these days got me thinking. As you know, I think it is almost certainly demonic. Demons are opportunistic, eager to exploit whatever silliness people are culturally inclined to give credence to. That is why, in the Middle Ages, we had all sorts of sighting of elves, leprechauns and such – but no reports of UFOs. People were inclined to believe in fairies and such, so the demons obliged them. Now we are inclined to believe in UFOs, so the demons again oblige us.
I asked my friend the squirrel what he thought. The answer is below (hat tip to Bob Scheich).