How can I not be a Captive Audience?

TV everywhere, and not the TV of one’s choice!   Today I took my wife to a pain intervention clinic at our local medical center.  In the waiting room I was forced to listen to a tirade by Ellen deGeneris about Trump letting an 11 year old mow the White House lawn (plus much more liberal/left spouting).  I won’t mention all the other stupid things on the program–Megyn Kelly in a fat suit dancing through the audience.   There was no escape, nowhere to sit  where I didn’t have to look at her or listen to the audience wildly cheering every anti-Trump remark.  (Let me note:  By no means am I one of Trump’s biggest fans.)

I recalled another time, again when I was a captive audience, in a recovery room after a colonoscopy.   Appropriately enough for that occasion, I was forced to watch “The View”, and to listen to tirades by Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and other shrill, adenoidal voices grinding  their liberal axe.

How can we escape this?  In the pain clinic waiting room, I had to stay with my wife until she was called.    In the recovery room, the nurse refused to change the station, saying it was hospital policy that this was the channel to be shown and no other.

Any suggestions, other than to throw stones at the screen?    Or perhaps, I should get one of those noise cancelling earphones–pricey as they are–and take those to my next Doctor’s appointment.   But why should we have to do this?   Why should we be a captive audience?  Why, in a public setting, should we have to partake of what the Cultural Elite considers appropriate fare for the masses?



The Death of Cassini

There’s a beautiful article by Paul Greenberg on the death of Cassini, the Saturn explorer–I can’t add much to it, other than these few thoughts on AI (artificial intelligence).   Despite the intelligent and benevolent (sometimes) robots and androids of science fiction (Asimov’s, HAL 9000, etc.), no artificial intelligence could have written that self-obituary.   It is man who celebrates Psalm 19A, “The Heavens declare the glory of God” and only man.



The Lord’s Prayer–Sung, Chanted or Recited?

For the fifth Sunday in a row, the Lord’s Prayer at our Church’s Mass was sung, a version put out by the Notre Dame Folk Choir.   This cranky old physicist (with pretensions to musical and liturgical taste) finds the melody  banal, the whole song elevator music for liturgists,  and offputting from focused prayer.  I will dispute the argument that this is the sort of stuff that’s needed to bring young people into the Church.

The ICEL chant has beauty, dignity and supports a prayerful disposition.

And then of course there’s always the old standby, just praying the “Our Father”.

Maybe I am out of touch with what the modern liturgy should be, and should find a time machine to go back 60 years or so ago.   Let’s do a poll (even though the sampling for readers of this blog is not going to be unbiased).    Please comment on which version of the Lord’s Prayer you would prefer at Mass:

  1. the sung “Our Father” (Notre Dame Folk Choir version);
  2. the ICEL chant;
  3. spoken prayer



Wise Words from Cardinal Sarah

Some may object that I am paying too much attention to the small details, to the minutiae, of the Sacred Liturgy. But as every husband and wife knows, in any loving relationship the smallest details are highly important, for it is in and through them that love is expressed and lived day after day. The ‘little things’ in a marriage express and protect the greater realities. So too in the liturgy: when its small rituals become routine and are no longer acts of worship which give expression to the realities of my heart and soul, when I no longer care to attend to its details, when I could do more to prepare and to celebrate the liturgy more worthily, more beautifully, but no longer want to, there is a grave danger that my love of Almighty God is growing cold. We must beware of this. Our small acts of love for God in carefully attending to the liturgy’s demands are very important. If we discount them, if we dismiss them as mere fussy details, we may well find, as sometimes very tragically happens in a marriage, that we have ‘grown apart’ from Christ—almost without noticing.–Cardinal Robert Sarah, Talk: “Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy“, 14 September

Ipse Dixit.


Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”–Lewis Carroll, Alice through the Looking-Glass

  1. Stephen Hawking, Sean Carroll, and Lawrence Krauss enter RCIA classes, preparatory to entering the Church.
  2. Madonna is admitted to a cloistered Carmelite Nunnery.
  3. Nancy Pelosi, Richard Durbin, Andrew Cuomo and several other Democrat politicians join a demonstration against abortion at a Planned Parenthood Clinic.
  4. President Trump cancels his Twitter account and engages in a two-week silent retreat.
  5. Pope Francis invites 10 “climate change deniers” to Castle Gandalfo, to tutor him on how science is done.
  6. Dear Reader:  you name the sixth.



Hello, my name is Bob, and I’m a climate change denier.

Pope Francis, in an interview to the press (9/11/17) opined that “Humanity will ‘go down’ if it does not address climate change”.   Now, despite the title of this post, I don’t deny that climate changes.   It has changed and will change.  There was the Medieval Warm Period, when the Viking colonized Greenland, and there have been glacial and inter-glacial changes.    I will deny that man-made production of CO2 has much to do with such climate change, and I’ve justified that in a number of blog posts (see here, for example), as have other scientists.

What concerns me is that the Church, in the person of the Vicar of Christ,  takes a  position on unsettled science;  and, despite some of Pope Francis’s statements–the verdict, in terms of model predictions being empirically justified, is not proven at all.

Let me go to a different case, where the science was more established.   Abbe LeMaitre (and the Russian mathematician Friedmann) had shown that Einstein’s General Relativity Field equation yielded  a time dependent solution with a singularity at the beginning of time, t=0, an expanding universe.  And lo, and behold, the galactic red shift relations shown by Hubble were in accord with that expanding universe.    And thus we knew about the “Big Bang”.    Supposedly Pope Pius XII wanted to use this science as evidence for the doctrine,  Creatio ex Nihilo, but was dissuaded from doing so by Abbe LeMaitre, who argued that science changes but faith does not.  (The incident is discussed in much greater detail here.)

My point is that the Church is not competent to judge whether science is good or bad, and science can not say whether Doctrine or Dogma are true or false.  The Church can certainly weigh in on the morality of  applications of science–for example, Designer Babies, fetal cell research–but it can’t and shouldn’t make judgments on what science is true and what is not.