Friday, October 30, 2015

The ‘Wait, What?!’ of the Week, October 30, 2015

Back in July 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama said this about the president at the time, George W. Bush: “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents -- number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child.” Candidate Obama characterized President Bush’s actions regarding the national debt as “unpatriotic” and “irresponsible.” And you know what? I agree.

In the 6-1/2 years since Mr. Obama took office in January 2009, the national debt has increased by another 9 trillion dollars; it now stands at $18 trillion. The debt is expected to reach $22 trillion by the time he leaves office.

Wait. What?! When Bush increased the national debt by $4 trillion in eight years, it was unpatriotic and irresponsible. So what would you call it when the debt increases by $9 trillion in 6-1/2 years?

If an enemy foreign power wished to destroy our nation, a sinister and effective tactic would be to saddle future generations of Americans with a crushing debt that can never be repaid. When it finally “hits the fan,” it is not gonna be pretty. Calamities of biblical proportion never are. When that time comes (not if, by the way), you’d better have a good supply of the “Five B’s”: beans, blankets, boots, bullets, and Bibles. 

Just sayin’.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Is Candy Day

Saturday is Halloween. When you mention the word “Halloween,” many things come to mind: carved pumpkins; wild and weird costumes; haunted houses; trick-or-treaters; yard decorations of skeletons, witches, and ghosts; and gathering together to sing the old traditional Halloween carols, such as, um, such as — hey, there aren’t any Halloween songs, are there? I guess “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and “Monster Mash” by that guy impersonating Boris Karloff are the only songs that even come close. Where is Irving Berlin when you need him?

Anyway, if you are a kid, there is one thing above all others that comes to mind when the word “Halloween” is mentioned: candy. On the official Candy Overdose Meter, Halloween leaves all the other holidays in the dust. You could add up the candy you get from all other holidays during the calendar year — Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Arbor Day (with its delightful chocolate-covered tree bark) — and it would not add up to half of what you get in an over-stuffed pillow case after an evening of trick-or-treating on Halloween.

When I was a kid, each of us would amass at least 40 pounds of chocolate, which was enough candy to keep our acne flourishing for months, until we got a chocolate bunny booster shot at Easter.

Let’s face it, if there was no candy on Halloween, the holiday would be about as exciting as National Dental Hygienist Appreciation Day. (And if there was no candy on Halloween, many dental hygienists would be unemployed.)

To the candy industry, Halloween is similar to what Christmas is for shopping malls: it makes or breaks their entire financial year. Depending on whether or not sales are good during Halloween determines if executives at the Hershey Corporation will receive massive cash bonuses, or instead receive small bags of stale Hershey Kisses. (No, I’m kidding. The big bosses always get their money, but if sales are down, right after they purchase yachts with their bonus money they’ll have to announce layoffs at the factories.)

Halloween sales are crucial to the candy industry, which explains why we started seeing Halloween candy on store shelves around Labor Day. (I was about to take offense at seeing Halloween candy during the first week of September, but then I saw Christmas stuff for sale during the second week of September. Yikes!)

Selling Halloween candy in September doesn’t bug me nearly as much as what has happened to the SIZE of the candy bars. You practically need a microscope to see them nowadays. Just recently I peeled the wrapper off a mini candy bar, and I was stunned. “This is a Snickers?” I said. “It’s not even a Snick!” It was like having an individually wrapped peanut M&M. You’d have to squeeze about two dozen of these so-called candy bars through a Play Doh Fun Factory just to get what used to be considered a medium sized candy bar.

Remember the good ol’ days of our youth, when a jumbo sized Three Musketeers bar was about the same size as a meat loaf? Now that was a candy bar!

The mini, microscopic candy bars are simply embarrassing. And I’m going to make sure the trick-or-treaters who come to our house on Saturday get real candy bars, as large as I can find at the store. 
Correction, I just had a brief discussion with my wife, who informed me of the price of chocolate these days. Apparently, jumbo sized candy bars now cost about the same as a Porsche. So, on further review, the trick-or-treaters who come to our house will get a delightful treat. And in case they’re not sure, I’ll let them borrow my microscope.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Is Blindness Punishment For Sin?

In John’s gospel, chapter 9, we read the fascinating story of a man born blind who was healed by Jesus. At the very beginning of this episode, Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The conventional wisdom back in biblical times was that illnesses and birth defects were inflicted by God as punishment for sin. Stop and think about that for a minute. Imagine that you have a disability, such as blindness or a missing limb or the inability to walk. Even if you have loving family and friends to assist you, your day-to-day life is a real struggle. But then add to that scenario the fact that everyone in your community is convinced your disability is punishment for something terrible you’ve done. Whoa! Talk about miserable!

Can you imagine how awful that must’ve been back then? I suspect the physical difficulties were dwarfed by the heartache of receiving zero empathy or understanding from all of the villagers.

In answer to the disciples’ question, Jesus explained that neither the blind man nor his parents sinned. Then He miraculously restored the man’s sight, and the subsequent interplay between the healed man and the Pharisees is fascinating. Go read it sometime.

But let’s get back to the idea of assuming physical disabilities are divine punishment for sin. As Christians living in the modern, scientific world, we know nowadays that God’s awesome creation is filled with a lot of uncertainty and randomness. God created the world “good,” but once sin entered into the picture, physical corruption and death followed. So we live in a wonderful yet fallen world, and our understanding of genetics, probability, and statistics makes it clear that accidents do happen. These accidents have nothing to do with a person’s moral character. It’s just, well, bad luck.

In God’s mysterious plan for the world, bad stuff happens to good people and we are called to rely on God’s mercy and grace to deal with whatever problems confront us. This would be quite depressing if our life on earth was all there is. However, the reward of eternal joy in Heaven will make all the struggles here seem minor.

So, living on this side of eternity, here in our fallen world, certainly can be filled with pain and suffering. But at least nowadays we no longer blame afflicted people for their disabilities.

Or do we?

Consider these scenarios: 1) Someone looks at a poverty-stricken single mother and thinks to himself, “Hey, if you didn’t get pregnant in your teens, you wouldn’t be broke today.” Or maybe the thought is: “Hey, if you didn’t nag your husband all the time, he wouldn’t have left you, and you wouldn’t be in this situation.” Very compassionate, huh?

2) How about the many people in our society who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction? They lose a job or lose their driver’s license, and people quickly mutter to themselves, “Hey, if you just had some willpower, your life wouldn’t be such a mess.” No thought, of course, is given to what it’s actually like to struggle with a chemical addiction, nor the fact that some people are genetically predisposed to become addicted more easily than others.

3) Here’s another one: people who get diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes. No doubt many people think to themselves, “Hey, if you didn’t eat like a pig for the last 40 years you wouldn’t have gotten sick.”

Yes, we modern people are very understanding, aren’t we? We’re nothing like those hard-hearted folks in the first century. Yeah, sure. 

Maybe it’s time to be honest about our supposed “enlightened” attitudes nowadays. Maybe it’s time we show a bit more compassion and mercy to those who struggle with various afflictions. Because you never know, God might strike us blind as punishment for our sinful and hard hearts.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The ‘Wait, What?!’ of the Week, October 25, 2015

Bernie Sanders is running for president. He trails only Hillary Clinton in the polls for the Democrat party nomination. During a televised debate last week, Sanders offered the most memorable sound bite of the entire evening when shouted this about Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal: “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”

Wait. What?! The man says he wants to be the President of the United States, and the person ahead of him in the polls is being investigated by the FBI for possible crimes committed when she used a secret, unauthorized, unsecure email server, and then deleted tens of thousands of messages before investigators could review them. And Sanders effectively takes this issue off the table by claiming (wrongly) that everyone is sick and tired of hearing about it?

Something is very fishy here. That is simply not what a candidate does if he truly wants to win the nomination. I have a feeling Senator Sanders took a dive to clear the way for Mrs. Clinton. He is only pretending to run for president and is now engaged in running interference for her. When he spouts far-left Socialist ideas, by contrast her Socialist-Lite views seem moderate. 

I wonder what high-level cabinet position in the Hillary administration has been promised to Sen. Sanders?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Ultimate Bathroom Reading Experience

In response to my various columns, essays, and blog posts, I get a decent amount of email feedback each week (although some of it is, in fact, indecent).

Some of the email messages make me smile, especially the ones that say, “Hey Bill, your column today about the casket that fell out of the hearse on the way to the cemetery was really funny.” Other messages make me shrug, especially ones like this: “Hey Bill, you ended a sentence with a preposition again, something I cannot put up with.” And still other messages make me cry myself to sleep, especially the ones that say, “If you think that was funny, young man, you’ve got another think coming! Love, Mom.”

However, recently I received an indecent email that caused me to stare at my computer screen with my mouth hanging open. (As opposed to the rest of the time, when I stare at my computer screen while my mouth chews on a donut.) I didn’t know how to react to this particular message.

Here is the actual email note (except for her full name), which unlike the three quotations above, I did not make up:

“Hi Bill, M. here. My husband and I met you at the Main Street Marketplace last year, and I bought a couple of your books. I thought you would enjoy the humor in this. I had not read your book ‘Matter of Laugh or Death — Volume 7’ yet, and Wednesday I had to have the prep for my 5 year colonoscopy (which I know you’ll appreciate since you discuss your own procedure in the book).”

Umm, that is correct. I did write a column about my colonoscopy. No, actually it was two columns.

M. continued: “Trapped in the bathroom for 5 hours straight, and then again the next morning for 5 hours straight, I needed something funny to pass the time. Then I remembered your collection of humor columns. It was the most hysterical thing I’ve ever read. It made me appreciate the absurdity of what I was going through, and kept me laughing for 10 hours. My husband couldn’t believe how good a mood I was in, although as time passed it got a little less good. But I told him it was because of your book.”

Now, please understand, I’m not reprinting M.’s email just to pat myself on the back and boast. I’m reprinting M.’s email to try to sell some darn books! They told me 3,000 people attend the Main Street Marketplace each week. So you’d think a guy would be able to sell more than seven books, even if the book for sale was the 1996 Phone Book. And since the publisher’s minimum order quantity was 500 books, let’s just say I’ve got a fair number of heavy cardboard boxes piled up in my basement. If I could get rid of some of those books, that would be awesome. 

I’m thinking of three possibilities here. First, I can rent a dumpster and toss out the boxes of leftover books. However, destroying books is probably a sin, and besides, the boxes are kind of heavy. For the second option, you can contact me at and I’ll mail you a copy of my book. If you think it’s any good, send me a check. My third idea is to contact the American Gastroenterologist Association, and try to convince them to write prescriptions for my book as a required part of the colonoscopy preparation procedure. But if my humor book becomes an official medical device, in keeping with the healthcare industry’s pricing structure, I’ll have to change the price of the book from ten bucks to $243.86 — with a 20% co-pay.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The ‘J’ Word Can Get You in Trouble

In the gospel reading for the weekend of October 24th and 25th, we hear about a Catholic priest in Manhasset, NY, who gave a blessing during a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and during the blessing he mentioned the word “Jesus.” Immediately, a local politician jumped up and angrily interrupted the priest. The politician grabbed the microphone and, as a stunned crowd looked on, declared, “This is inappropriate!”

Oops, wait a minute. My mistake. We don’t read about that event in this week’s gospel reading. That occurred in the United States a few years ago. It seems that just mentioning the word “Jesus” in public is very offensive, and doing so can get you in a lot of trouble.

No wait, that’s not quite right. It’s perfectly OK to mention the word “Jesus” in public, as long as you do it as part of an angry and profane curse, for example, when you stub your toe or lose your cell phone signal. You can shout out the name of Jesus as profanity and it’s perfectly acceptable.

Or if you are a self-proclaimed “artist,” and you’ve received a taxpayer-funded government grant, you can dunk a crucifix in a jar of your own urine, call it “art” and see your work displayed in the finest museums.

In these situations, the name of “Jesus,” along with the requisite vulgarities and scatology, constitute freedom of speech.

You get into trouble saying the word “Jesus” in public only when it’s part of the concept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the founder of Christianity, and—here’s the real offense—in the process imply that you personally believe what the Bible says about Jesus is really true.

Oh sure, there’s stuff in the U.S. Constitution about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, blah, blah, blah. But in our sophisticated modern culture we all understand that the clearly written freedoms of speech and religion in the Constitution take a back seat to the unwritten freedom FROM religion, which is based on the also unwritten constitutional right NEVER to be offended.

In this week’s REAL gospel reading, it is interesting to notice that many people 2,000 years ago also were part of a sophisticated modern culture—that is, they too were offended when someone said the word “Jesus” in public.

A blind man named Bartimaeus sat by the roadside begging. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!”

The next verse in the gospel says, “And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.”

That’s pretty much what happened to the Catholic priest in New York. As soon as he mentioned the word “Jesus” he was rebuked and told to be quiet.

In our country, all believers in Christ have the constitutionally-guaranteed rights both to exercise our faith freely and speak our minds publicly. We all should be more like Bartimaeus, who, when told to be quiet, instead shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have pity on me!” We should take our cue from St. Peter who also was told by people in authority to stop talking about Jesus. Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Act 5:29).

I have an idea. Let’s stop using safe, generic figures of speech. For example, when someone sneezes, instead of saying, “God bless you” (which is usually a mumbled “G’blessya” anyway), say firmly and loudly, “Jesus bless you!” I bet you’ll get some very surprised looks. 

Now of course, when someone sneezes and you respond with, “Jesus bless you,” you really have to mean it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The ‘Wait, What?!’ of the Week, October 16, 2015

Last week President Obama was in Seattle, and he said, “Why are all these Republicans so down on America? Listening to them is really depressing.”

Wait. What?! Why are Republicans “down on America”? Um, this is the man who came into office and said he planned to “fundamentally transform” the nation. Would you want to fundamentally transform something you considered to be good? This is the man who sat in a church for 20 years and listened to Rev. Jeremiah Wright condemn America in the most vile and racist terms, including shouting during a sermon, “God damn America!!” This is the man whose wife (our First Lady) declared in 2008: “For the first time in my life, I'm proud of America.”

I’m pretty sure Republicans are not “down on America.” But they might be plenty concerned about what’s happened to this country during the last 6-1/2 years. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Sound of Disconcerting Music

I discovered something very disconcerting the other day. First, I discovered many people do not know the meaning of the word disconcerting; to me, this is quite disconcer— er, I guess I should say, troubling.

Second, I discovered many people have never seen the classic Julie Andrews movie “The Sound of Music.” And what makes this even more disconcer— um, I mean, upsetting, is where I was when I learned this stunning fact. I was at church choir rehearsal. That’s right, people who have never seen the movie are members of the choir and are very much into music. Whoa! How can a normal American adult, especially one who likes to sing, not be familiar with “The Sound of Music”? It’s quite disconcer— uh, that is, perplexing.

I always thought “The Sound of Music” was such a cultural icon, viewing it at least three times and memorizing a minimum of half the songs were required in order to be an official American citizen. (A movie set in Austria starring British actors is required for American citizenship? Relax, it was written by Broadway superstars Rogers and Hammerstein, and the movie was a Hollywood production that simply dripped with the Stars and Stripes and apple pie — except they used the red and white Austrian flag and apple strudel.)

In fact, the movie is SO American, when my wife and I visited Austria several years ago, we took the official “Sound of Music” bus tour, which traveled to many of the actual film locations is the Salzburg area, all-the-while playing the movie on video screens inside the bus. But here’s the weird thing: the local Austrian citizens are baffled by the phenomenon. Most have never seen the movie, and those who have didn’t particularly like it (not enough Octoberfest style oompah bands, apparently). When the brightly painted tour buses go by, filled with American tourists singing the songs together, the locals shake their heads and scowl, thinking there has to be a better way to infuse a pile of cash into their economy. I don’t know the German word for disconcerting, but these folks feel it on a daily basis.

Anyway, the movie is such a classic, and the music is so memorable, I found myself thinking up new lyrics to honor many of the presidential candidates dominating the news right now. Visit this post on the blog for the lyrics:

There are a number of movies that I would consider to be an integral part of American culture. Besides “The Sound of Music,” other musical movies include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Jaws.” In the drama category, there’s “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” and “Caddyshack.” And finally, to keep it light, classic film comedies that must be seen are, “Young Frankenstein,” “Airplane!” and “Gone With the Wind.”

If a person hasn’t seen at least these few films, he or she will be ignorant of so many everyday cultural references and quotes, such as: “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” “A spoonful of sugar,” “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” “Rosebud,” “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Cinderella story,” “It’s EYE-gore,” “…and don’t call me Shirley!” and “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a Spam.” 

As usual, I need help. No, not that kind of help. I need help from my readers (all four of you). What are your must-see movies, the films that people simply need to watch in order to know and understand American culture? Right after you check out my Sound of Music song parodies on the blog, post a comment here or send me an email at Let me know your favorite films and famous movie quotes. And I hope your selections are not disconcer— I mean, confusing.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Are We ‘Childlike’ or ‘Childish’?

In the Bible, Jesus told his followers that they must be “childlike.” He called a child over and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).

However, in his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul said believers must stop being “childish.” He explained, “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Hmm, Jesus said we must become like children, and St. Paul said we must stop being like children. So, who is correct, Jesus or Paul?

Well, when it comes to displaying the attributes of a child, they are both correct. You see, there is a huge difference between childlike and childish.

When Jesus tells us to be childlike, He recalls the aspects of youth that are innocent and pure: unquestioned trust in loving parents; amazement and joy over the wonders of the world; and excited anticipation about the next adventure just around the corner.

Compare this to the mindset of many world-weary adults. A lot of folks these days have an unwillingness or even an inability to trust anyone, mostly because they’ve been disappointed and hurt so often. They also go though life with a resigned boredom and ennui, convinced that life is a tedious chore to be endured rather than an exciting adventure to be cherished.

When Jesus calls us to be childlike, He is telling us to stop being such bitter and cynical and untrusting adults. He is telling us that the mercy and love and parental protections offered to us by our heavenly Father are so amazing, we should never be fearful and jaded about life. The goodness of God far outweighs any problems we encounter here on earth.

St. Paul, on the other hand, criticizes being childish. This is not the wide-eyed joyful wonder of being childlike, but rather the immature and self-centered behavior of a spoiled brat. Let’s be honest, how do most very young children act? They yell when they want something; they cry when they have the slightest discomfort; and they try to grab whatever they can get their hands on, automatically assuming it belongs to them. We expect this behavior from toddlers because they’re too young to understand. But when people who are adults act this way, it’s not nearly as cute. It is instead awful behavior.

This self-centered attitude comes naturally to all human beings, especially when we’re young. As children get older, if they are not trained by their parents to behave with more maturity, they will pout and throw tantrums whenever they do not get what they desire.

To summarize, childlike behavior is trusting and joyful and excited. But childish behavior is self-centered and rude. As with so many aspects of Christianity, the key here is the focus of our will. Are we focused on serving God and our fellow human beings? Then we are being childlike. Are we focused on serving ourselves? Then we are childish.

It’s usually quite easy to determine whether someone is being childlike or childish. If they are childlike, they are joyful and happy (and fun to be with). If they are childish, they are frustrated and unhappy (and other people flee from their presence at quickly as possible). 

So let’s do what St. Paul said and “put aside childish things.” At the same time, let’s do what Jesus said and “become like children.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

The ‘Wait, What?!’ of the Week, October 9, 2015

The school district in Edina, Minn., has hired a consulting firm at a cost of $30,000. This is not unusual, as many consultants are hired all the time to offer their expertise on various subjects. However, the firm hired by the Minnesota school district describes itself as a “Recess Consultant.”

Wait. What?! The school system spent 30 grand for expert advice about the subject of … recess? Holy moly! The company is called Playworks, and to quote the news story, they explain that “recess can be more inclusive and beneficial to children if it’s more structured and if phrases like, ‘Hey, you’re out!’ are replaced with ‘good job’ or ‘nice try.’”

Oh my. You’ve probably heard of the term “helicopter parents,” which describes parents who “hover” over their kids constantly, and won’t let them do anything on their own. Well, there’s another term I recently heard: Generation Wuss. It was used to describe the fragile snowflakes attending college nowadays who have a melt-down whenever they face adversity, such as hearing an idea they do not agree with.

Based on what’s happening in elementary schools in Minnesota (and no doubt this will spread across the country), it look like the next generation of college students will be just as wussified, if not more so. 

Man, if our country ever experiences a major crisis, such as a military invasion by a foreign power or the loss of the electric grid, I’d rather be in a foxhole with a gimpy geezer with a shotgun than with a 23-year-old strapping young momma’s boy, who probably will spend the whole time whining that he can’t find a wifi signal.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thoughts About Me And ‘Eww’

In mid-August it was announced that musical legend Billy Joel became a father for the second time. His fourth wife Alexis gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Alexis is 33 years old and Billy is exactly twice her age, 66. The celebrity gossip shows immediately gushed with congratulations for the new parents. When I heard the news, however, I instinctively cringed and said, “Eww!”

And then I immediately felt guilty for reacting that way. It’s none of my business what a famous singer-songwriter — who I’ve never met and will never meet — does in his personal life. So what if a 66-year-old man fathered a child with a 33-year-old woman? In this case, at least the child won’t struggle financially. Good for them. On the other hand, “Eww!”

I guess it just strikes me as a bit abnormal. First, there is the whole phenomenon of the “trophy wife,” when a successful middle-aged man marries a gorgeous woman half his age. I prefer the concept of loving spouses who grow old together. That’s kind of hard to do when one spouse already is a senior citizen on the wedding day, while the other spouse still hasn’t reached the age to be invited to her 10th high school reunion. It seems a little unnatural to me when a guy marries someone who wasn’t even born at the time of his first marriage.

Of course, the whole trophy wife thing is not new; it’s been going on for centuries, especially with kings and emperors. Since we don’t have a monarchy in America, Hollywood stars and musical celebrities have become our culture’s version of royalty.

I think the first historical example of a trophy wife dates all the way back to the origins of mankind. After being expelled from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s relationship soured, and he finally dumped her and took up with a young flight attendant he met during a business trip to San Diego. At least I think that’s what happened. I might be confusing this with the plot of a movie I saw a while ago. I’d better check my Bible.

Anyway, trophy wives are one thing, but becoming a father in your 60s is quite another thing. “Eww!” (Oh sorry, I couldn’t help myself. That just came out. I’ll try to refrain from any more eww outbursts.) To me, it doesn’t seem quite right to be searching for a quality daycare center for your child at the same time you’re searching for a quality assisted living center for yourself.

Just do the math. When Billy Joel’s new daughter is in third grade, he’ll be 73. Those parent-teacher meetings are going to be so weird. When the young girl is in high school, Billy will be in his 80s. And when his daughter is ready to be walked down the aisle, Billy will be, um, most likely long gone.

While pondering this topic, in the back of my mind I kept hearing the words: “Felix Unger.” I had no idea why my brain was telling me that, so I looked up online and discovered that Tony Randall, the actor most famous for playing the character Felix Unger in the TV show “The Odd Couple,” got married when he was 75 years old to a woman who was 25. They had two children together, the second when Tony was 79. “Eee— Eee— Eee— Stop it!” OK, good, I was able to keep myself from saying it. 

Again, I feel guilty that this topic makes me cringe. It’s none of my business. God bless them. Oh, while searching online I discovered author Saul Bellow became a father at age 84. “Eww!”

Monday, October 5, 2015

Time For The Terrific Catholic Men’s Conference

Have you noticed how difficult it is to be a faithful Catholic man nowadays? The values of our culture have changed drastically in recent decades. Things that were unheard of not too long ago are now commonplace. Our society is awash in pornography and casino gambling, and few people think it’s a problem. We don’t allow living children to be born, and then call it “comprehensive health services.” Selfishness and dishonesty, narcissism and instant gratification are promoted as the keys to happiness. And the foundation of all strong civilizations—the intact family—is crumbling right before our eyes, and few seem to notice or care.

To be a Catholic man in our modern world is to be completely counter-culture. These days a guy could walk down Main Street dressed as Marie Antoinette and get fewer puzzled looks than if he told people he’s a faithful Catholic who loves Jesus and prays the Rosary. Go ahead, reveal THAT about yourself at the next cocktail party or business seminar, and see just how quickly people move away from you.

Even within the Church there are many obstacles. A lot of folks who go to Mass say it’s fine to be Catholic, as long as you’re not a fanatic. Of course, “fanatic” to them is defined as anyone who actually takes Church doctrines seriously.

It really is hard to be a faithful Catholic man in this day and age.

So, have I got a deal for you! On Saturday, October 24th, the 8th annual Connecticut Catholic Men’s Conference will be held at Goodwin College, 1 Riverside Drive in East Hartford, CT. It begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with Mass at 4 p.m., celebrated by Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair. The head of the Office of Radio & Television, Fr. John Gatzak, will be the Master of Ceremonies.

The conference is fabulous. There are great speakers, great food, and great fun. The keynote speaker is well-known author Patrick Madrid. Also, many priests will be there hearing confessions. So you know what that means, guys: it’s the perfect opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation with a priest who doesn’t know who you are! How great is that?

But beware, a few years ago, the director of the Men’s Conference was in line to go to confession, and just as he expected, the next available priest was in fact someone who did not know him: the Archbishop himself! The guy said afterward he was so nervous, his mind went blank when it was time to say the Act of Contrition. So the Archbishop prayed the prayer with him. When it was over, he realized it was a wonderful and memorable experience, his best Confession in years.

Besides the inspirational speakers and the opportunity to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (and I suppose if you’ve never been baptized, one of the priests will be happy to throw you into the nearby Connecticut River—no, just kidding!), the best part of the Conference is simply being together with four- or five-hundred other faithful Catholic men.

It’s nice once in a while to be reminded that you’re not the only guy in the world who loves Jesus and the Church He founded. There are other men in the world who have not completely succumbed to the secular and selfish spirit of our age. 

So here’s my great deal: go online and register for the Conference, at: It’s only $40, and that includes lunch. And if it turns out you think the Conference was a complete waste of time, I will personally refund your money. (Oh brother, what am I saying? Wait till my wife hears about this. She runs our family checkbook, and I could be in big trouble!) See you there, guys!

Friday, October 2, 2015

The ‘Wait, What?!’ of the Week, October 2, 2015

A couple of weeks ago presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson said he would not support a Muslim for president. He explained that Sharia Law is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, and anyone who puts Sharia Law ahead of the Constitution would not be a good president. Carson was immediately excoriated by the media for being “anti-Muslim,” “bigoted,” and even “un-American.” Many pundits demanded that he drop out of the race because of his “hateful” comments.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, said this during a 2003 radio interview: “If Muslims ever become a majority in the United States, it would be safe to assume that they would want to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law, as most Muslims believe that God’s law is superior to man-made law.”

More recently, a poll conducted in May of this year by the Center for Security Policy showed that 51 percent of American Muslims preferred that they should have their own Sharia courts outside of the legal system ruled by the U.S. Constitution. 

Wait. What?! Now tell me again, what exactly did Ben Carson say that was wrong?? Muslims in the U.S. freely admit they prefer Sharia law over the Constitution, therefore Ben Carson is a bigot who must drop out of the race because he told the truth? Um, anybody besides me see something odd here?