Monday, February 29, 2016

Bear Is Confused By Mercy

"Greetings, Father! Beautiful day," said the Bear upon arriving at their accustomed meeting place in the glade on the sunset side of the abbey.

"You are awfully chipper, my ursine friend," said St. Corbinian. "Have you found a jar of honey?"

"No, Father," the Bear answered cheerfully. "Bear is just enjoying mercy. And failure. Like Bear taught Father about last time. But Bear does want to confess."

"Very well, Bear, I am listening. But something tells me this is not going to go well."

"Father, Bear killed two ponies. And some sheep."

"That's it?"

"Yep."

"It is good to confess your sins. But I am not discerning any contrition. Sorrow for offending God by your misdeeds."

"But Father, you said yourself that when we are weak we are strong in God's mercy. Bear believes in God, and His mercy. And he accepts his failures during Lent because we agreed we cannot help ourselves."

"Oh, my dear creature, how could you confuse God's mercy with his justice? They are not the same thing! Knowing you are going to fail, and accepting that as a fact, is different from not trying to be good, from counting as nothing your sins. To do evil in reliance on God's mercy is called presumption. To fear you will continue to sink into sin no matter what is despair. Both are serious sins."

"Bear is confused by your religion, Father. There is no sense in it. God shows mercy to Bear when he does bad. Yet God is angry with Bear when he does bad. Which is it?"

"Sin offends the Good God who gave you your strength and cunning, and further made you nearly a man, for reasons that remain obscure. That alone should invite you to resist temptation. If you love God, why would you offend Him?

"Sin also makes you dark inside. If you deliberately choose sin, you are choosing the fire of Hell. Yes, you will fail. But sometimes you will fight. It is a bearish business to fight temptation, and you must be every inch the bear! Fight Bear, as for your very life! For something far more precious is at stake: your immortal soul, if you have one.

"What God does about your sins depends on what you do about them yourself, Bear. If you honestly repent and confess your sins -- which includes having the intention of not doing them again -- the Good God will forgive your sins in His mercy."

St. Corbinian held the crucifix he wore around his neck up to the Bear. "This is mercy and redemption, Bear. The Son of God died for our sins. If I were the only person in the whole world, my sins would be sufficient to nail Our Savior onto the tree. Woe is me! Think of all the sins in the world, my Bear! Think of your sins! God's justice is satisfied by the terrible death of His own Son. But for that, we would all be damned. We deserve this death! But Jesus paid our debts for us. If I have ever been a fool in speaking of God's mercy carelessly, may He forgive me."

The old man had become quite animated, and now took a moment to compose himself.

"It is not easy to understand some things, Bear," he continued in a softer voice. "Yes, the Good God gives freely, and shows unflagging mercy. But we can choose to turn our backs on His gifts. Reject his mercy. And we do that when we continue in sin. The burden you bore at my command, Bear. All the way to Rome. Was it heavy?"

"Very heavy, Father."

"Were there times you wished you did not carry it?"

"Often, Father."

"When you think of your sins, remember that burden. But you can put it off through contrition and confession. It will not be me weighing your body down with some trifling burden. It will be the Devil afflicting your soul with great chains. He would make you his slave, Bear. You could no longer stand my company."

"Bear does not want to carry sin or say goodbye to Father for days without end. And now he is truly sorry for the ponies and sheep.  He is afraid to go to Hell, and afraid to miss Heaven, but most of all, he is sorry for being bad to the Good God who made Bear as he is. Father?"

"Yes, Bear?"

"Can I confess my sins? Really, this time?"

So the Bear knelt, his massive paws outstretched before him on the ground, and pressed together, as St. Corbinian had taught him. And he poured out his simple, Bearish, sins with such sincerity that the saint was moved to tears.

"I must leave for vespers, Bear," the old man said. "Lent never seems long enough, because we never seem to improve as we would like. But Easter will be upon us, ready or not. Let us get ready together, Bear, and resolve to make the very best of the time that remains."

Hollywood is Arctophobic

Like a couple of other Americans, the Bear tuned in to the annual ritual of backslapping among rich and attractive people with whom he has absolutely nothing in common: The Oscars. Not to see what was going to win Best Picture. Like a movie about intrepid journalists exposing homosexual abuse in the Catholic Church is not going to win the top spot. No, the Bear tuned in for one reason and one reason only.

To see the anonymous Bear from that Bear movie win Best Actor.

Starting with pre-release buzz, it was all about the Bear. The Bear provided the only excitement in a movie otherwise more boring than Cold Mountain. What do you remember? Tom Cruise or whoever dragging himself across snow for six hours, or the Bear's wonderfully ambiguous touching of Russell Crowe's face with his massive paw before leaving him alive? (Although it must be admitted a mature Bear would never make such a rookie mistake.)

The Bear must conclude that Hollywood is arctophobic. Not in a shooting and killing way. Well, actually, yes, in that way, too. So now who has Number One Victim Status, huh? And when was the last time a Bear got a decent role? In the excellent 1988 French movie called "The Bear." It got nominated for one stinking Oscar. Best Editing. Seriously? That's an award people rush in from the kitchen to catch for sure. And it didn't even win. How about Best Foreign Picture? No. "Babette's Feast," which is as plodding as a three-legged pony, won. A Bear showing up would have taken Babette's feast in a different direction, if you catch the Bear's drift.

All the Bear is saying is that Bears need more and better roles. And enough with the stereotypes of growling and rending. Bears are fascinating and complex creatures, especially yours truly. The Bear would totally be up for a major Hollywood motion picture. They could just be coy about CGI and he could even keep his cover.

So, enjoy your Oscar, Christian Bale. You know you stole it. Just hope he doesn't decide to take it back.





Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Bear Teaches St. Corbinian a Lesson

"Why is there Lent, Father?" The Bear was sitting with St. Corbinian on the sunset side of the abbey. The saint had seldom seen the Bear so low. "Bear has tried, and has listened to Father, but no one can do Lent right. At least no Bear."

St. Corbinian said nothing, and the pair sat in silence as a low, gray, afternoon sky held the threat of flurries, and with them, perhaps, a lukewarm vespers, even in the abbey. Finally, St. Corbinian spoke.

"You know, Bear," he said, "I think you may be onto something."

"Bear said something smart one time?"

"Do not sell yourself short. What I mean is, do not think yourself a dumb beast. You have your own God-given wisdom." Then the saint smiled. "And, you also have a good teacher. You thought you were burdened with that pack? Wait until I pile Latin tenses on top of that furry head of yours! But back to our subject: for once, it is you who has caused me to think."

"What does Father think?" the Bear asked, feeling rather pleased with himself.

"Every Lent is the same," the old man replied. "We decide the particulars of how we are going to observe it, and set out on this great forty-day spiritual adventure of purification. However, we rely on our own determination and emotions. So, not surprisingly, our initial enthusiasm quickly wanes. Soon, not only are we not observing Lent, we struggle with the ordinary practices and dispositions of a Christian. Often, we end up worse than we were at the beginning, just as Our Lord said about a man from whom is cast an unclean spirit. 'Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is made worse than the first.' So perhaps you are right. No one can perfectly observe Lent."

"So why make poor Christians do something that is impossible?"

"Few Christians fail completely, Bear, and that goes for you, too, although you're not quite a Christian. So God is pleased, and men do fast, pray and give alms. But what if the Church really has given us a season of failure on purpose?"

"That would be a stinking trick, Bear thinks, to make Christians be ashamed and discouraged."

"Some lessons are hard. The best lessons are hard, Bear. Perhaps it is not so much that she intends us to fail, but, rather, she just knows her children, and is certain that they will fail. But in her kindness, she allows good to come from our failure. I can think of four such good things.

"One, we are humbled by failure. Humility is the root of virtue. Two, we learn to rely on God, not our own weakness. Three, we are especially aware of our failures, weaknesses, and sins. Four, we learn to seek the medicine of confession and try over and over to do better. So, in other words, our failures teach us that when we are weak, then it is when we are strong in the merciful God and must rely on His grace."

"Bear said all that?" the Bear asked in amazement.

"Indeed you did!" St. Corbinian answered with a laugh. "Tomorrow is a new day! Let us both agree to make the most of this wonderful season of failure, Bear!"

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Bear and the Noonday Devil

One day the Bear was fast asleep in his bed, it being late in the morning, when he heard a familiar voice. At first he thought it was a dream, but he woke to find St. Corbinian in his cave.

"So, you're alive after all," said the Bear's friend. "I haven't seen you in awhile."

The Bear got up and stretched. "Has it been long? I'm sorry."

The saint looked at the Bear with alarm. "Bear, let's go for a walk. At the end of the walk, I will show you something you have never before seen."

"I don't know," the Bear answered doubtfully. "Bear feels like going back to bed."

"No," the saint said firmly. "That is exactly what you must not do. You will come with me."

The Bear sighed. "Bear doesn't feel like it. He's tired of all this."

"You have not been saying your prayers," the saint said. It was not a question. "You need not answer. Oh, my dear Bear, what straits you find yourself in, and you do not even know it. Once you carried a pack all the way to Rome for me. Surely you can walk unburdened a short distance with an old friend."

"Bear will go. But only because we are friends. And Bear might find something to eat."

"Oh, we shall find something, but I am afraid you cannot eat it," the saint warned.

Once they started their walk, the Bear knew they were headed in the direction of the abbey. The saint asked, "How many of us are there on this walk, Bear?"

The Bear thought a moment. "Two?"

"You may have a different answer before we're done. I want to talk to you about the Noonday Devil. The name is from a psalm of David. Its effects are sometimes called acedia. But I want you to know what he is not, first. It happens that a monk may fall into melancholia. A feeling of listlessness, and sadness. We treat that as a malady of body and soul. Sometimes singing psalms will help. But in melancholia, nothing is appealing, no activity is enjoyable. Do you understand."

"Yes, Father. Bear has suffered from this distemper before."

"The Noonday Devil is similar, but not the same. Around noon, a monk in the field may grow weary, and hot. A long afternoon still stretches before him. He watches the sun. Oh, how slowly it moves! It seems his work will never end, and he will never get his supper. As day follows day, he begins to neglect his prayers. I have seen monks even disappear before the Opus Dei, the work of God. I must start you on your Latin, Bear! And reading! Oh, we have so much work ahead of us, my old friend!"

The Bear sighed, but said nothing.

"No, of course not," the saint muttered. "To continue, melancholia, the 'distemper' as you call it, affects everything. But the Noonday Devil cares only for your religious obligations. Someone with melancholia might stay in bed for days. But someone under the spell of the Noonday Devil is restless, and may even flee the monastery. It is a very serious matter, Bear."

The Bear did not answer, and they concluded their walk in the glade on the sunset side of the abbey. Unexpectedly, St. Corbinian fell to his knees and raised his eyes toward heaven.

"God, one of your majestic creatures is suffering. I ask you to free him in the name of Jesus Christ, at whose name every creature in the Heavens, and on the earth, and under the earth must bend their knee. But if you grant the prayer of your worthless servant, I ask the additional favor that this Bear's eyes may be opened, that he may never forget that our struggles are with the world, and the flesh, but also, the devil."

No sooner had St. Corbinian finished his prayer, than the Bear felt a powerful tug on his arm. He looked and was horrified to see a richly dressed boy, as black as charcoal, grinning up at him, pulling him away from St. Corbinian with irresistible strength. Suddenly, the fiend cried out with a voice the Bear has never forgotten, delivering a message the Bear has never divulged. Afterwards, he disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Suddenly the Bear felt wrongness in his heart, and sorrow.

"I'll hear your confession, Bear. But first, how many were on our walk?"

The Bear took some time working it out, then said, "Three?"

"Correct. Never forget this, Bear. Devils are real. The Noonday Devil is an especially dangerous threat. Your protection are your prayers, and Bearish stubbornness. When you do not feel like praying, that is the very moment you must pray. When you hear the first whisper of rebellion, sing a psalm, make the sign of the cross, recite holy scripture, work with your hands, er, paws. The Noonday Devil loves nothing better than to ruin Lent for souls. But never give up. You can always beat him if you do what I say. He only wins if you give up."

"I want psalms," the Bear said earnestly.

"Then I will teach you to read," St. Corbinian said with a smile.

"And write," said the Bear.

"A writing Bear," the old man mused. "I will consider the wisdom of that. There is no telling where that might lead."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

DD214 and Sad Anniversary

The precious DD214


It is with great joy during these bleak times that the Bear announces the return of his last son from the Army. Without going into details, he got to spend some time in Korea. He is very happy to be home.

Not so joyful is marking the anniversary of the March 1st, 2012, despicable nighttime ambush of another son's unit in Afghanistan by so-called Afghan Allies in Kandahar Province. Please pray for my son, and the repose of the souls of SSgt Jordan Bear, and PFC Payton Jones; the first his sergeant, and the second his teammate.

2nd Battalion
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment
4th Brigade Combat Team
82 Airborne Divison

American parachutists -- devils in baggy pants are less than 100 yards from my outpost. I can't sleep at night; they pop up from nowhere and we never know when or how they will strike next. Seems like the blackhearted devils are everywhere.
The above was taken from the diary of a dead German officer at Anzio, WWII. He is talking about the 82nd Airborne. They remain extremely effective light infantry, as proven in Afghanistan. Where they go, they walk. What they need, they carry. Their feats of endurance alone are impressive enough. (Then there's jumping out of airplanes.)

And who their government tells them to trust, they have no choice.

The Bear is very proud of both of his sons.

There may be a short break in articles. Somehow the Church will survive, the Bear expects.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

March Pope Video Anxiously Awaited



It's that time again: the much-anticipated new Pope Video for March is just around the corner. Because "of Francis, there is never enough." The intentions are:

Universal: Families in Difficulty

That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.

Evangelization: Persecuted Christians

That those Christians who, on account of their faith, are discriminated against or are being persecuted, may remain strong and faithful to the Gospel, thanks to the incessant prayer of the Church.

Evil North American Capitalist

The Bear can envision all sorts of ways these could go bad. Perhaps the first one will simply feature Pope Francis mugging a banker, then walking through the slums of Buenos Aires handing out wads of money to people. They could squeeze some global warming and arms manufacturing in there, too.

The second is very tricky, since practically the exclusive persecutors of Christians in the world today are Muslims. So the Bear predicts this is going to be pretty generic, with the ravaged faces of the elderly, and some Africans in vague distress. Maybe he's got a picture from his meeting with Kim Davis. What the Bear guarantees you won't see are Christians waiting to be beheaded by ISIS.

Chime in with your own predictions, but be quick, it could come out any day now.

Catholics, Will You Stand Your Ground With a Stubborn Old Bear?

"Radical Catholic Reactionary"
The Bear has been fed sufficient honey to improve his temper, although he does not regret a thing. Nonetheless, the Bear would share some honey with the woodland creatures to restore balance to the universe.

First, the personage treated rather brusquely in the Bear's last post is without doubt the Pope, for whom the Bear offers sincere prayers at Lauds and Vespers, for his health, safety and wisdom.

Second, the Church of which Francis is the supreme pastor is without doubt the Roman Catholic Church. The Bear was amused to find himself described elsewhere as a "radical Catholic reactionary," which is the sort of thing Bears enjoy being called, especially if they are in good company. (Does that mean Catholics can become radicalized through this ephemeris?)

 But let no one doubt that the Bear belongs to the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church, that needs no adjectives or qualifiers. And please, do not call it the "Novus Ordo Church." Like it or not, it's just the Church. The Bear enjoys the perspective of observing the Church for most of its existence and is quite certain on this matter.

Third, Catholics belong to the Catholic Church, not some "more correct" entity they may find. The Bear concedes that there are others who are speaking more clearly in our times, but Catholics belong in the Catholic Church. It's like a family. If you looked around for a better family, you might be able to find one. One that was richer, had sounder political views, possessed more attractive members, and was blessed with a paterfamilias who was a veritable sage. But no one changes families in that way. It would be absurd, if not impossible. So please, stand your ground with this stubborn old Bear, where we belong, in the Roman Catholic Church, brothers and sisters.

Sure, we've got problems. Maybe many of them will soon be resolved, maybe not, After all, if everything was clover honey there would be no need to nail your foot the floor in front of your favorite pew would there? That's to keep you from bolting from some very real problems. A Bear knows. Bears are not naive. In fact, whatever the opposite of naive is, that's what Bears are. We live to bite the faces off of troublemakers.

As an aside, the Bear did not intend to pick a fight with anybody in the last post. This is a tricky subject and there is another side to this. Some, more temperate, perhaps, ephemerists have emphasized the preservation of actual Church teachings and the non-magisterial nature of much of what comes out of the Vatican. This is legitimate. But the Bear thinks it is more important to emphasize the risk to his brothers and sisters in the Lord posed by a pattern of bad teaching from high places.

If there is one thing Scripture teaches us, it is that the way to victory is through fire and blood, and sometimes we seem forgotten by God. When Job asked why, God firmly put him in his place without giving him an answer. Jesus cried "why" from the cross. "Why" is the quintessential expression of the aching heart and exhausted intellect. It is perhaps. the most human of all expressions.

The Bear does not know why the Church is being tortured in our lifetimes, and he won't know this side of the grave. It's happening. It's a mystery. Keep faith. We are all in the invisible hands of our God, and Christ knows what the magnificent victory of His Church will be. The Bear has a hunch it will be a surprise. In this matter, perhaps it is the God of surprises Who will act. Pray. Love.

Pax.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

This Will Get Your Face Bitten Off By the Bear



In the for what it's worth category, notorious arctophobe Michael Voris. Watch the whole thing. Does he sort of say we're to blame for believing what the Pope says?

The Bear will make this short and sweet.

One man is entirely responsible for the papal logorrhea on airplanes. That is currently Pope Francis. Given the confusion he generates, and his helplessness to resist the lure of microphones, the Bear respectfully invites his Holiness' attention to the example of Ulysses and the sirens. The Greek hero was just as helpless against the sirens as Pope Francis is against microphones. Ulysses ordered his crew to lash him to the mast, and not let him go, no matter what.

In similar fashion, Pope Francis must order his security detail to handcuff him to his first-class seat, and not let him anywhere near the microphones, no matter how much he pleads.

Or -- and this is a crazy idea -- the Pope simply does not invite reporters onto his airplane. The Bear is not aware of any provision of Canon Law that requires a Pope to fly around with a gaggle of reporters. Are they some sort of ballast? Have the pilot descend to 10,000 feet, open a door and pitch them into the Atlantic like Jonah. Shouldn't take more than a couple of flights.

And the Bear will virtually bite the face off of anyone who employs the argument that "it's non-magisterial, it doesn't matter." Yes, the Bear has used that argument himself, but he was wrong. (And he can hardly bite his own face off.)

When the Pope opens his yap, HE IS TEACHING. When Fr. Lombardi follows up with a confirmatory press release, the Church is TEACHING. It is completely foreseeable that people will RELY ON MORAL TEACHINGS THAT COME OUT OF THE POPE'S PIE HOLE. And when one of his commissions comes out with a "non-magisterial" press release to much applause, THE CHURCH IS TEACHING. Don't tell the Bear it's not "magisterial." You think the average Catholic, let alone some reporter, knows the difference between "magisterial" and a magistrate? So, whether it's "magisterial" or not, it does count. Big time.

It's the 21st century, people, not the 10th. The neat little lines between magisterial teaching and just standing in the aisle of an airplane making crap up have been erased forever. Frankly, it's prissy to insist on a difference when your difference won't mean crap to 99% of the Catholics who are being infected with lousy moral theology, or junk science. All because we have a pope with a lot of crackpot ideas he just can't wait to share with every single person on the planet. Call the Bear wrong on this.

Pope Francis seems to teach more junk in this way than can reasonably be accounted for by mere ignorance. Not only when he rambles into the beguiling microphones, but we also get slick, professionally produced "intentions videos" that we have all seen and discussed. Every shoe that drops points in the same direction.

Pope Francis has recently carelessly relied on an urban legend about St. Pope Paul VI allowing nuns in the Congo to use contraceptives. Then he stirred in some folk moral theology about the lesser of two evils. Federico Lombardi mixed in the almighty conscience, contained in his confirmation of the nuns story. Which, by that point, can only be called a lie, unless the Vatican press office has no obligation to confirm the hoaxes that it passes off as the truth to trusting Catholics.

Yep, the Pope just improvised doctrine on one of the most sensitive issues in the Church today, and his man in Rome nailed down any objections like the good reptile he is, the serpent being the original model for his function. We are being played for suckers, and no one is the bigger sucker and accomplice than he who waves his hand and says, "it doesn't matter what people believe; it's not magisterial."

SCRUMCH! That was the sound of a Bear virtually biting your face off.

Okay, maybe not so short and sweet, nor very Lenten, but the Bear trusts he has made his point.

In Person Report of Pope's Border Event

Jonah tossed overboard to waiting fish.
On February 17, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass at Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, a symbolic location marking the intersection between Mexico and the United States. Many watched the event on a large screen at the Sun Bowl stadium at the University of Texas at El Paso.

One of them was SCB News stringer "Tom," who shares his impressions (in blue). To begin, ticket prices were halved for Catholics during the week before the event, and the stadium was far from full.

The event was advertised as $10 tickets for parishioners and $15 for non-parishioners. I don’t imagine anyone paid $15 as El Paso is 80% Catholic.

I believe it was Wednesday Feb 10th when it was announced the ticket prices would be $5.  Only for February 10-12, Wednesday through Friday during the week before the event.

The event was from noon to 6 p.m., so the crowd size grew as the 4 p.m. Mass start time got closer. Seats  was nearly full on the shady side of the stadium.  The sunny side was much less full so pictures may be deceiving.  I estimated it was altogether about half-full, but not less, at the peak.  

Later, I heard it was 30,000 so I don’t doubt that number.  I heard that some people who had tickets got last minute tickets to go to Juarez and so went there instead.

It was exactly and everything what one would expect at that sort of an event. It was almost entirely in English where I expected a lot more Spanish used. The simulcast was Spanish, of course, with computer generated near real time English translation subtitles.

The attention of the crowd to the Mass was respectful and attentive.  It was as good or better than the attention paid during a typical suburban Sunday Mass.

It was very nice of Pope Francis to mention the gathering in El Paso.  I read a couple of reports that said the crowd “went wild” when he mentioned El Paso.  There was applause and cheers and a kind of lift feeling, but not "wild" applause, like at a football game.  Decorum was maintained even then.

The complete text of the Pope's homily can be found here. [It is not long, and worth reading.]

Tom said he liked this part the best:
The king listened to Jonah, the inhabitants of the city responded and penance was decreed. God’s mercy has entered the heart, revealing and showing wherein our certainty and hope lie: there is always the possibility of change, we still have time to transform what is destroying us as a people, what is demeaning our humanity. Mercy encourages us to look to the present, and to trust what is healthy and good beating in every heart.
The Prophet Jonah

If a reader should not be quite up to speed on the Prophet Jonah, it is certainly one of the most entertaining stories in the Bible, and not just because of the great fish. The city in question was Nineveh, which is described as a sprawling megalopolis with a huge population "and much cattle." So thorough was the king's acceptance of Jonah's message, of repentance even the livestock were put in sackcloth!

Remember, Nineveh was a country of gentiles; not even God's chosen people, yet He inspired them to repent.

Jonah sulks beneath the shade of the vine.

You would think Jonah would be thrilled with the effectiveness of his preaching, but no. He built a little shelter for himself outside of Nineveh so he could have a front row seat to the still hoped-for destruction of the city. God sent forth a vine that sheltered him from the sun, and Jonah's mood improved somewhat. But then God sent "a worm" to destroy the shady vine, plunging Jonah into bitterness. He even says that he want to die. 

God makes the point that Jonah valued a shady vine, so why shouldn't God value a great city? The Bible does not record whether Jonah ever got over God not destroying Nineveh.

The Bear wonders if the Pope is not making the point that we should rejoice in God's mercy, and not act like it is our possession, to withhold from those we consider too wicked to receive it. Further the Bear saith not.

Thanks to Tom.

Pope's Plane Zapped While Landing in Mexico City

A laser beam hit the flight deck of "Shepherd One," the chartered Alitalia Airbus A330 carrying Pope Francis, as it was on final approach during its landing at Mexico City last Friday. The captain reported the incident to the tower immediately. The large twin-jet landed without incident.

While theoretically a laser could cause eye damage to the flight crew, the more serious threat is that pilots may be dazzled or distracted during the final moments before touchdown, the most hectic part of the flight.

It is not known if the Pope's plane was singled out, or if it was a random prank. In 2013 the FAA recorded 4000 laser incidents. Federal Law Enforcement takes it very seriously in the U.S. with a $10,000 reward and up to a 20-year prison sentence.

Alitalia Airbus A330

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fredo Lombardo on Creating the Catholic Master Race Through Rubbers

Not Fredo Lombardo.
Vatican Minister for Propaganda Fredo Lombardo took to the podium last night to address a torchlit crowd that packed St. Peter's Square.

"Let me begin by saying that God wants a race of thoroughbreds! He wants strong and beautiful Catholics, most perhaps humble, but some towering above the common strain even as the great cathedrals towered over medieval towns, and even our modern cities. But all fit for their purpose. Those buildings are you, Catholics!"

Lombardo's amplified voice echoed over the mass of people, who responded with cries of adulation. With a theatrically outstretched hand, the crowd grew quiet.

"But, as every common livestock breeder knows, there is only one way to achieve this improvement of our species, my brothers and sisters." Lombardo paused, his face mischievous. "I seem... I seem to have forgotten, and the wind has taken my papers."

There were roars of laughter from the crowd, who took its cues from many agents seeded throughout.

"Perhaps, perhaps, my Catholic brothers, my Catholic sisters, you might help me out?

"More children from the fit! Fewer from the unfit!" the crowd answered as one.

"Thank you! Thank you," Lombardo answered when the crowd died down. "I just wanted to hear it in the voice of the people. Yes, more children from the fit, and fewer from the unfit. And that is why the Church provides pre-nuptial genetic screening, and tests for harmful viruses. Why she screens her children to prevent the misfortune to us all of the unfit, a misfortune most of all to the unfit child itself. Oh, how terrible to see some poor child be born only to a life sentence of idiocy, mongolism, microcephaly and a thousand other conditions that we can now prevent through cautious and sensible breeding. It is the essence of mercy." Lombardo paused to let that sink in. "But, my fellow Catholics, my brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, I must preach for a moment. Can you hear me?"

"Yes!" the crowd roared back.

"In the past, the Church has taught that contraception was wrong. And in those dark days, it was. There was no science behind it. No vision. But we live in a new age, and must adapt the ancient rules.  That is why his Holiness, Francis the Great --"

Lombardo was drowned out by delirious cries, almost as if the crowd could see Pope Francis the Great, up there on the platform. But at another theatrical gesture from Lombardo, they quietened.

"That is why our beloved Pope has brought the rule into the future. Do not listen to those who say this has been changed, or that abrogated. Nothing has changed. It has just been brought into the future. Contraception remains forbidden."

Even though the crowd knew the script, their breath stopped in their throats, so thoroughly were they playing their part. Or maybe they were so caught in the moment that for an instant they believed what they were hearing.

"Contraception remains forbidden," Lombardo repeated softly. "But, you know, St. Pope Paul VI, and St. Pope John Paul II both permitted nuns to use contraception. Yes, it's true. Because it was a simple case of the lesser of two evils. That is our law in this matter. If contraception is the lesser of two evils, then you may use contraception in good conscience, if your conscience approves!"

More cheers from the packed piazza.

Lombardo was silent for a moment, and the crowd also grew silent. Then he continued. "What is the lesser of two evils? The Church directs you first to your duty: produce fit children for the Church. Beyond that, the Church does not intrude upon the inner forum of your conscience. She trusts her children to use their choice wisely, putting aside self-interest. I know, and Pope Francis knows, we can count on every one of our children to make us proud with their sexual choices!"

The crowd went wild at the mention of Pope Francis. Lombardo stepped away from the microphone, turned 180 degrees on his heel, and was instantly flanked on both sides by Swiss Guard in full ceremonial uniforms, bearing halberds. As the crowd behind him burst into applause, he disappeared, a black figure into deeper blackness.

The above is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any character, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fr. Z Smashes Urban Legend, Critic Socci Hears From Pope BIG UPDATE

UPDATE: Rubbergate and Aviate elevated to Big Deal After All.

Antonio Socci's most recent book The Last Prophecy, is quite critical of Pope Francis. In fact, in one book, He Is Not Francis, Socci questioned whether Jorge Bergoglio was validly elected, a position he has since abandoned.

Socci sent a copy of The Last Prophecy to the Pope. The Pope sent him a thank you letter back, saying he had begun reading the book.

It said, in part, "In reality, critics help Us also, to walk in the right way of the Lord."

You can read all about it at Eponymous Flower, although take their translation slowly and carefully.

Another item the Bear thought he read there, was that after the televised signing of the joint agreement in Cuba between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, Pope Francis tried to renege? The Bear always thought the document was more Patriarch Kirill than Pope Francis. If indeed Pope Francis tried to renege, then the Bear's search fu is weak, because he cannot find a separate story.

***

On the plane, clearly suffering the effects of hypoxia or other condition that affects one's intellectual faculties, Pope Francis repeated an urban legend that nuns in war torn areas in Africa were allowed to use contraceptives under Pope Paul VI. (Variations ascribe it to Pope John Paul II and nuns in Bosnia.)

Fr. Zuhlsdorf throughly demolishes Pope Francis' statement. It never happened, not under Popes Paul VI or John Paul II. Pope Francis must have heard it from someone, and believed it, unless a bad adviser took advantage of his credulity. Anyway, the Pope said it, no one will see the correction (if there is one) so the falsehood is perpetuated. It is really inexcusable when the Pope gives out bad dope to justify once again turning the perception of Church teachings upside down. See also excellent and thorough article by the Hound.

This is bad.

Even worse, since it has devolved upon Vatican spin doctors to correct the Pope's mistakes, Fr. Federico Lombardi (who is supposed to be leaving -- now please?) repeated the urban legend and confirmed the Pope was talking about contraception. And the decision should be left to the almighty, impartial conscience.

This officially makes it A BIG DEAL.

Even Crux's John Allen (as of February 20) is now on board with the truth: that it was speculative moral theology published in a Catholic journal in 1961. However, the headline reads: "Pope Takes the Classic Vatican Approach on Contraception and Zika." As if the Pope can pick Coke Classic Church teachings, or New Coke Church Teachings, depending on what he feels like.

The Latin American bishops have taken the lead in pushing back on Francis' comment.

Meanwhile, however, the press reading more like Crux's original headline from the 18th: "Pope Francis Signals Openness to Birth Control for Zika Virus." 

This is what most people will believe, and how many priests will set them straight? This is a disaster. You reach a point where just because the Pope has not officially changed a Church doctrine, he has effectively done so. So sure, nothing's changed, except now everybody believes the use of contraceptives is up to everyone's conscience as long as it is "the lesser of two evils," whatever that may be.

  • If Condoms are Okay for Zika, Why Not Aids, Pope Francis? -- The Guardian
  • Pope Francis Condones Contraception With Zika Virus Threat -- NPR
  • Pope Suggests Contraceptives Okay to Slow Zika -- CNN
  • Francis Says Contraception Can Be Used to Slow Zika -- NY Times
  • Pope Suggests Contraception Can Be Condoned in Zika Crisis -- USA Today
  • Pope Francis Suggests Contraception Can Be Acceptable in Regions Hit By Zika Virus -- Wall Street Journal
  • Pope Francis Suggests Contraception Could be Permissible in Zika Fight -- Washington Post
  • In Zika Outbreak, Contraceptives May Be "Lesser Evil" Pope Says -- Catholic News Service
  • Pope Francis Suggests Tolerance for Contraceptives in Zika Crisis -- CBS News
  • Pope Says Contraceptives May Be the "Lesser of Two Evils" During Zika Virus Outbreak -- ABC News

Once again, damn the press for accurately reporting what Pope Francis said.

Why not AIDS indeed? Or we just can't afford another child, so contraception is the lesser of two evils for us, right? See, all those priests who were saying contraception was a matter of conscience were right all along. Pope

Francis has squeezed the contraception toothpaste out of the tube and how, pray, will we ever put it back?

The lesser of two evils: the Pope
handcuffed to his first class seat.
And where do we find the doctrine of "the lesser of two evils?" The Bear is a graduate of the Bavarian Culinary Equestrian School of Theology (Class of 73  -- 1573) and he does not remember the "lesser of two evils" doctrine. It sounds like folk theology. As the Bear recalls, one can perform an act that may result in harm, if there is no intent to cause evil, but it is an unavoidable effect of the licit act. A double effect, if you will. For example, a pregnant woman may have an operation to save her life, even though it will kill the baby. Say, an ectopic pregnancy.

Now the Bear is reaching back five centuries, so his memory may be flawed. But, does our dear old St. Thomas Aquinas say that one may perform a positive evil in order to achieve a good? Bear thinks not, but he is only a Bear. Further education would be welcome.

If our wife should ask us, "Does this dress make me look fat?" would St. Thomas approve of us lying in order to keep the peace and avoid hurting her feelings? What would Honest Abe do?



Friday, February 19, 2016

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, Again

The Pope's position on the zika virus and contraception seems to be "extreme circumstances call for extreme measures." You can go to Mahound's Paradise to read more about it. The Hound is quite exercised.

At least Pope Francis gave a clear and adamant condemnation of abortion.

The Hound takes a bite out of Father Z, whom he believes has downplayed the issue.

Once again, we have the Pope of Rome changing perceptions of what the Church believes in casual remarks, without touching the substance of that teaching. The Bear must wonder if the flight deck has a tradition where they reduce cabin pressure to induce hypoxia whenever Pope Francis begins to speak.

Will "Pope Endorses Contraception During Zika Scare" be the headline, or were his convoluted ramblings enough to throw the press of the scent? UPDATE: See Edward Pentin's filing on the issue from National Catholic Register.

Test Pilot Tex Johnson performed a barrel roll in a 707 in 1955. (That's a large, four-engined airliner built by Boeing that inaugurated the jet age.) The Bear would love for the pilot to perform a similar stunt every time any Pope gets near a microphone. A couple of times and that would school everyone.

Pope Francis knows he is no good at these pressers. He has said so himself. So why does he do them? The Bear doesn't think there's anything malicious. He's just doing what he sees world leaders doing. He probably views them as an opportunity to advance Jorge Bergoglio's agenda, which he no doubt believes is what the Church's ought to be. As Father Z points out, he has chosen to travel to one of the most politically charged borders in the world, call the Republican front-runner "not a Christian" and then claim not to be political.

Sometimes the Bear thinks Jorge Bergoglio never wanted to be Pope. He just wanted to be Jorge Bergoglio with the power and prerogatives of a pope.

What he doesn't seem to learn is that they never end well. Or maybe how they end is just fine with him. He is certainly not adroit enough to condense nuanced Catholic teachings -- assuming he knows them -- into sound bytes. He doesn't understand that he could speak 29 minutes of good, Catholic sense, and 60 seconds of idiocy would get all the coverage.

The Bear thinks both the Hound and Fr. Z have points to make here. Fr. Z is correct in that the Pope can't resist putting the faithful into a tailspin, but there is no harm done to the doctrine. There are some things we, as Catholics just have to learn to shrug off during this pontificate. The Bear agrees all of his airplane comments are meaningless. After a fashion.

But that does not mean no harm is done. Where he agrees with the Hound (although he has not explicitly made this point) is that his comments change what people think the Church believes. This is a grave error, because, once upon a time, Christians looked to the pope as the source of authoritative teaching by the Church. What a fairytale that has turned out to be.

Jorge Bergoglio enjoys speaking as Jorge Bergoglio, which has always been an imperfect fit with the Roman Catholic Church. He should take a moment to look at the way he's dressed, put a check on his ego, and keep his papal butt in first class. Unfortunately, he seems to have a morbid fear that if someone doesn't see him or hear about what he thinks for longer than two minutes, he will cease to exist.

Every morning and evening the Bear prays for the health and safety of Pope Francis, and also that he be anointed with wisdom. Two out of three ain't bad.

Lots of content today, so the Bear encourages you to scroll down for new developments in Justice Antonin Scalia's death, and a "sweet" tale in the continuing series of the Bear's first Lent.

More Details Emerge on Scalia Death [Scalia Not Cremated]

Some other items that bring the circumstances of Justice Scalia's death into sharper focus.

UPDATE: The rumor that Justice Scalia's remains were cremated were apparently false. According to CNN, a close family friend, Brian Donato, says he attended Thursday's wake for Scalia. Donato said he saw Scalia "lying in his casket, and he looked like the guy who was just the warm and loving guy he always was." Scalia's cremation was frequently cited by conspiracy theorists as evidence of a coverup of the justice's supposed assassination, while the Bear maintained otherwise, for several sound reasons.

(As of yet, we don't know the final piece of data: whether there was an autopsy once Scalia's body arrived on the east coast. Certainly the fact that Scalia was not cremated puts it squarely in the realm of possibility. That's the other shoe that may drop.) Many thanks to attentive reader of this ephemeris, utubeo.

As this story develops, conspiracy theories are coming apart like a cheap K-Mart suitcase, to turn legal phrase once in currency.

As the Bear has suspected all along, the U.S. Marshals did not sit on their hands as Presidio County Sheriff Danny C. Dominguez went about his business. Judge Guevara says that she spoke with both Sheriff Dominguez and a U.S. Marshal, whom she identified as Ken Roberts. Both her sheriff and the marshal concurred that they did not have a crime scene on their hands and it was appropriate to rule that Justice Scalia was dead over the phone, with their assistance. She has also mentioned that before Scalia retired that evening, he complained of not feeling well.

Judge Guevara said she respected the wishes of the Scalia family not to have an autopsy, given that her sheriff and federal law enforcement personnel were telling her they did not have a crime scene. In addition, she had information from Scalia's personal physician, Rear Admiral Brian P. Monahan, who said that Scalia had chronic health problems, including heart problems, and had recently been declared unfit for surgery for a torn rotator cuff.

Justice of the Peace Juanita Bishop, the first official to get the call about Scalia's death, has implicitly criticized Judge Guevara. (On Infowars, no less. Alex Jones has gotten at least 400,000 views on his conspiracy theory broadcast about Scalia.) Another Presidio County Justice of the Peace (to whom Bishop first tried to pass the case) David Beebe, says "I have no issue with how she handled his death." Bronson Tucker, an attorney for the Texas Justice Courts Training Center, who trains justices of the peace, said:
The huge majority of the time, if you have a 79-year-old overweight person, and you have a statement from the physician, and zero indicators of foul play, then it's not unusual for there to be no autopsy.
Tucker said he didn't see any "red flags." This is from the expert on the subject, far from Presidio County politics.

Approximately twenty law enforcement officers converged at the funeral home, according to Chris Lujan, the owner of Sunset Funeral Home. The Bear wonders if they were sightseers, or if some might have had official duties to perform. Scalia's body was not cremated in Texas, but flown back to Washington D.C. "as soon as possible," per the family's request. U.S. Marshals accompanied Scalia's remains on a private plane that departed El Paso International Airport 8 p.m. Sunday.

Queries to Admiral Monahan about whether he had seen Scalia's body have gone unanswered. While it is certain there was no autopsy in Texas, if the Bear may indulge in his own bit of speculation, Admiral Monahan could put to rest any speculation about an autopsy performed on the Washington end by simply denying it. Query: if you were in charge, would you have a local pathologist conduct an autopsy of a U.S. Supreme Court justice in El Paso, or would you want the body brought back to a state-of-the-art facility at ex-Bethesda Naval Hospital, now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center?

Do you think bodily fluids for a tox screen might have been obtained at some point? There certainly seems to be the opportunity. But the Bear is not stating any of this as a fact.

Anyway, there's just some counter-speculation for those who keep raising a hue and cry about the lack of an autopsy, nothing more.

But perhaps the scene and medical conditions were clear enough that the family's wishes prevailed. It would be nice to think so. By all accounts Antonin Scalia was granted the gift of a peaceful death. Praise God. Are you abiding by the family's wishes to pray for a great Catholic, a great man, and a great jurist?

The Bear and a Gift of Honey

The Bear's cave was commodious, with a comfortable nook in the very back for sleeping. In all but one particular, it might be any ordinary Bear's home. But, as usual, St. Corbinian had to have his say. "If we're going to make a man out of you, Bear," the saint had informed him, "you need a proper home."

The result of St. Cobinian's plan had been apparent after the Bear returned from a long walk ordered by St. Corbinian, "all the way to the Bald Knob." Not a soul was present. But the Bear's cave was, as if by magic, filled with Bear-sized furniture. On the table was something flimsy with black marks on it. No doubt the industrious monks, whom he had often observed from afar, had constructed the furniture on orders of their abbot. The Bear had wondered what St. Corbinian had told them. Maybe monks didn't ask many questions.

At first he felt silly, aping men, but by Lent, the Bear had learned to enjoy his chair and his comfortable bed, and tried his best with the table, although it was impractical for most of the Bear's dining.

This Lent, the Bear found himself sitting at his table, staring at the only object on it. A large jar of honey. It was a recent present from St. Corbinian. Oddly, the saint had given it to him after telling the Bear to give it up honey for Lent. The old man must have forgotten.

Now, as a matter of fact, the Bear had no honey to give up, but how could St. Corbinian know that?

"Another lesson," the Bear grumbled. St. Corbinian and his religion were relentless.

He stared at the jar of honey in silence. He suddenly seized it and was about to break open the jar on the table, but put it back gently. "Bear said he wouldn't eat honey," he muttered. "Plenty of fish, and game. What does Bear need honey for?" He could taste it in his imagination: the thick golden sweetness of it. Honey was the most perfect of all things.

Once again he seized the jar, but he got up and put in on a shelf in his cupboard. (St. Corbinian and his monks had been very thorough.) Then he went to bed and pulled the covers over his head. But he could not get the jar of honey out of his mind, nor go to sleep.

He got out of bed, took down the jar of honey, and left.

On the outskirts of the village lived a man and mate with many cubs. They were very poor. Under cover of darkness, the Bear crept silently toward their house. He imagined their surprise when they found the honey jar at their front door.

A sudden shift in the breeze brought the strong scent of man very close. The Bear froze. Presently,  he saw a very small child in ragged clothing walking toward him. One cry and the whole village would be after him with dogs.

The Bear forced the corners of his mouth upwards, bent down, and extended the honey jar toward the child. "Take it," he whispered.

The child, completely fearless, took the jar, which was quite a burden for his skinny young frame. He turned around, and returned the way he had come. The Bear ran back to his home swift as the wind. During the journey he wondered if small children were not afraid of Bears, or if the lad had not quite seen a Bear.

"There was quite a stir in the village," St. Corbinian related a few days later, as they sat in their usual place on the sunset side of the abbey. "Reports of a talking Bear handing out honey."

The Bear said nothing. He felt he would get in trouble no matter what he said.

"The villagers decided it was a forest demon. They put the honey jar in a hole in the ground and smashed it. Then they buried it."

"That is stupid," the Bear replied. "All that honey wasted."

"I don't know," mused the saint. "Perhaps it wasn't wasted after all. By the way, how goes your giving up honey for Lent?"

"Bear thinks it better not to speak of such things."

For once, St. Corbinian did not have anything to say.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Scalia's Son: Conspiracy Theories "Hurtful Distraction"

Appearing on the Laura Ingraham Show, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's eldest son, Eugene Scalia called conspiracy theories about his father's death "a hurtful distraction for a family in mourning," He asked for prayers for his father, instead. The younger Scalia said his family has no doubt that Justice Scalia died of natural causes. The family declined to have an autopsy in Texas.

Could that have factored into the decision not to have an autopsy? With the U.S. Marshals on the scene, is it possible they could have said something like, "Your Honor, we would prefer to do this in Bethesda?" Do we know Justice Scalia's body was cremated in Texas? This is rank speculation, the Bear admits, but the fate of Justice Scalia's mortal remains is shrouded in mystery.

Justice of the Peace Bishop Speaks to Infowars

In other news,  Presidio County Justice of the Peace Juanita Bishop implicitly criticized Judge Cinderela Guevara for not viewing the body herself before pronouncing the death of Justice Scalia, and for not ordering an autopsy. Both won contested elections in 2014, with Guevara unseating one-term incumbent Paul Hunt.

Bishop claimed Presidio County "usually" does autopsies when the deceased is not under medical care,  but was unable to provide Infowars numbers. The Bear finds it unusual that a justice of the peace would publicly question the professional decisions of a judge in the same county. However, he is unfamiliar with the politics of Presidio County, Texas, or Justice of the Peace Bishop's ambitions, if any.

Of course, Alex Jones, head of Infowars promises to "delve into the apparent assassination of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia." If that were not sensational enough, he's also going to talk about a CIA-developed dart gun that gives you cancer or heart attacks.

Bishop Gets the Call, Tries Twice to Hand it Off

Bishop had received the initial call, but she was two hours away.  She called Justice of the Peace David Beebe, and informed him only that there was "a dead body." Beebe demurred because he was busy at a political forum. That's when Bishop called Judge Guevara. She, like Bishop and Beebe, was unable to drive to the scene. (She has also reported that a U.S. Marshall discouraged her from coming to the ranch by phone. The Marshall's had been called, and were heavily involved.) Then, according to Texas law, she conducted her inquest by phone, relying on Sheriff Danny C. Dominguez to assist her from the scene.

Two hour drive or not, the Bear wonders why Justice of the Peace Bishop, who was first called, did not proceed to the scene, especially since no other official was in any better position. He also wonders why she did not provide Justice of the Peace Beebe with the name of the deceased. Bishop told Infowars that she "always wants to see the body," and "that's my job." The Bear supposes just not that night.

So you lujack a dead Supreme Court Justice on another official, then tell the press how you would have done everything differently. Interesting.

Pillow Clarification and Summary

Meanwhile ranch owner John Poindexter clarified his statement about the pillow, saying it was on Scalia's head, "against the headboard," not near his face.

See Slate for a short article on the circumstances surrounding Justice Scalia's death.

The Cremation Question

There are persistent reports that Scalia's body was cremated. They seemed to have originated as a joke by Democratic Underground types, saying that he would be cremated but 100,000 women would decide what should be done with his body. The casket will be closed when Scalia lies in state. But the Bear was unable to find any reputable source that said Justice Scalia was indeed cremated. Or was cremated after an autopsy conducted by pathologists with significantly more resources than a Texas county. There is no evidence to support this. The Bear merely shares his frustration that he does not have a chain of custody for the deceased U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Bear may have missed something, of course, If so, he would appreciate better information.

While the Church "earnestly recommends" burial, the Code of Canon Law (1983) permits cremation unless it has been chosen for reasons contrary to Christian teaching. Supposedly, Scalia had indicated in his will his desire to be cremated, which many have found unusual, given Scalia's traditionalist Catholic orientation.

Conspiracy Theories

Research on anything related to this story on the internet gets bogged down in hundreds of websites that have dedicated their bandwidth to conspiracy theories, most of them implicating the President of the United States who now gets to appoint a liberal justice, some adding the United Nations' Agenda 21 or other favorite threats of conspiracy theorists.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Bear Fails Lent

"Bear is done with Lent," he announced with determination. "It's too hard. No one could do all those things."

"What things are those, Bear?" They were sitting in their old familiar glade on the sunset side of the abbey. St. Corbinian pulled his cloak around him more tightly against the cold. Their breath fogged the afternoon air. Soon it would be time for Vespers.

"No flesh. No fish. No honey. What is Bear supposed to eat? Trees like Beaver? There aren't any berries, even."

"Well, my old friend," began St. Corbinian in a kindly tone, "who imposed that discipline on you?"

"I don't know," the Bear answered gruffly.

"Bear," warned the saint.

"All right, Bear made up stupid rules for himself. But this is the first time he Lented. He didn't know. You should have warned Bear."

"The lessons we teach ourselves are learned best," the saint replied. "Although I have to admire your sheer excess, it is not uncommon for unwise men to bite off more than they can chew. Their intentions are good, but they are just setting themselves up for failure and discouragement. That's why the abbot approves each brother's plans. Yours, I approved for a different reason, To teach you a lesson."

"Your religion is one lesson after another," the Bear complained. "Bear won't learn them all should he live ten more years."

The saint burst out laughing. "Bear, you never stop learning the lessons. For one thing, you're never the same person from year to year. Do you remember the parable of the tower I recited to you last time?"

"Bear didn't understand. Bears don't build towers." He was still grumpy.

"Think about your experience and see how it fits with the parable. I'm confident that you can do this. Soon we'll have you reading scripture on your own."

The Bear sighed deeply. "The man did not look down the path and make sure he could finish the journey he started. Bear did not make sure he would be able to Lent with his stupid plan. Bear left himself with nothing at all to eat for forty days. The poor villagers didn't get their fish because when they were in the Bear's mouth he just ate them. But he was hungry!"

St. Corbinian clapped his hands. "Well done, Bear! It is better to be faithful in something small, than to promise some great thing and fail. I see men who run from one devotion to the next. How I wish they would pick one and do their very best! That is why here at the abbey -- oh, goodness, it's almost time for Vespers -- everyone does the same things. It keeps pride in check, too. Now, as your spiritual advisor, may I suggest that you give up honey for Lent? It's something you enjoy, but you don't need it to live. You may still eat flesh and fish, since you are a Bear. That's wild flesh, Bear. You're coming along nicely, my great, lovable pupil." The old man reached his arms as far as they would go around the Bear and hugged him.

The Bear was surprised, but felt warm inside. The corners of his mouth went up. That had never happened before. "Yes, Father," the Bear called after the fleeing figure of St. Corbinian. "I will give up honey!"

"And don't forget to save something for the poor villagers!" St. Corbinian called, his voice now nearly swallowed by the freezing distance.

The Bear turned and lumbered into the gloom of the forest, being careful to take a different way, as St. Corbinian had reminded him. How could he forget basic Bearcraft like that? The Bear suspected that in some ways he was already less of a Bear than when St. Corbinian began instructing him. He was not sure how he felt about that.

Then he began thinking about honey. He could practically taste it. No honey for forty days!

Was Scalia Killed? Nope.

If anyone has any evidence that Justice Scalia was murdered, they should first call Presidio County, Texas Sheriff Danny C. Dominguez at (432) 729-4308, then post here.

1. Judge Cinderela Guevara declared Scalia dead without seeing him.

Yes, she did. She says she was starting for the ranch when she was turned away by a U.S. Marshall on the phone. Texas, like some other jurisdictions, allows officials to declare death without viewing the body. In this case Judge Guevara relied on her Sheriff, Danny C. Dominguez, who was at the scene, to help her make that call. It is very likely that Sheriff Dominguez could recognize a dead person, and not at all likely that Judge Guevara was more competent to do so. (Although it just isn't hard once some time has passed.)

2. Judge Cinderela Guevara did not order an autopsy.

No, she did not. Again, she relied on her Sheriff at the scene, who told her it did not look like foul play, but like natural causes. (Sheriff Dominguez has been Sheriff in Presidio County for 23 years, by the way.) Having been informed there was no homicide, she did not order the incredibly destructive procedure of an autopsy. Why would she? Because, contrary to the opinion of her trusted Sheriff, her Spidey senses were tingling?

A crime scene looks like a crime scene. Could an expert assassin kill someone without making it look like a crime scene? The Bear suspects so. But the fact that it does not look like a crime scene is not evidence of murder, except in the most twisted logic.

Furthermore, Judge Guevara says she spoke with Scalia's personal physician, who told her that the Justice suffered from more than one chronic condition, including heart disease, and was considered "too weak for surgery" for his torn rotator cuff. Someone who is too weak for surgery is not a healthy person.

Others say Scalia was fine on a trip, and was fine that night. That might discount some conditions, like ALS or CHF or COPD. It would not discount most. An example would be a heart attack, or stroke. A large plaque breaks loose and blocks a coronary artery, and you have come to your earthly end. The Bear is not impressed with these objections. At all.

Finally, if Obama's super secret team of assassins, or Masonic ninjas are really behind Scalia's death, do you really think they're going to use something that can be detected in any autopsy? The question is thus moot.

3. There was a pillow over Scalia's face.

Did it look like a pillow that had been used to smother Justice Scalia? Was it on his face, or on his head, which is an entirely different matter? Why rearrange everything to eliminate all signs of struggle, then leave the pillow on the victim's face? Why leave the pillow on the victim's face at all, unless you wanted to advertise the fact that Scalia had been murdered? What about that pillow led Sheriff Dominguez to believe he was not looking at a murder scene? He was there; Bear was not.

If somebody bagged and tagged that pillow, forensic scientists could search for evidence of secretions from mouth and / or nose. That's one reason it's a bad choice as a murder weapon.

A pillow is an iffy choice for an elite assassin. It can leave characteristic paleness around the nose and mouth due to pressure, as well as cyanosis of the face. There might be other indicia of asphyxia. A pillow equals amateur hour. If the global elite wanted Scalia gone, the Bear promises you they would not send some goober with a pillow.

This is not to say you can always detect homicide by smothering with a pillow. It is to say that an assassin can't count on getting lucky and leaving behind no evidence of homicide. Remember, an assassin would have no way of knowing there would be no autopsy, unless Judge Guevara and / or Sheriff Dominguez was in on it. The Bear is not going there.

4. This benefits Obama because now he can tilt the court to the left with one appointment.

This is true. It is also not evidence. You look for motive once you have a crime to solve. You don't look for motive, then jump to the conclusion that a death is homicide because someone benefits. Presumably, the people who believe Scalia was assassinated believe President Obama is behind it. Who would the President send to assassinate a Supreme Court Justice? CIA? DOJ? IMF? Bo? Do we really believe a president would give such an order and someone would follow it? Even if that's an easy "yes" for you, there is still the problem of no evidence whatsoever of a crime.

Coincidence: King Umberto I of Italy, Meet Umberto the Pasta Restaurant Owner

On July 28, 1900, Italian King Umberto I had dinner in a restaurant. The owner's name was also Umberto, and the owner's wife had the same name as the Queen. An anarchist shot King Umberto the next day. The restaurant owner was also shot that same day. Probably as he was telling someone the story of King Umberto eating at his ristorante. Now, that's a coincidence.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand Coincidenced to Death and Starts WWI

Everybody knows Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo, on June 28, 1914. What few know is that the gunman was just one of a series of assassins. The first assassin had a bomb, but failed to act. The next assassin had both a pistol and a bomb. He also failed to act. Further down the Archduke's route, another assassin had a bomb. He threw it, but it bounced off the folded down top of the Archduke's car and rolled under the following car and exploded.

What was left of the motorcade sped by at high speed, and three more assassins failed to act. One of them Gavrilo Princip, decided to wait in a deli for another opportunity. The Archduke went on to make a speech. Unfortunately for Princip, and fortunately for the world, which would be spared WWI, a new route was devised, and the Archduke would come nowhere near the deli where Princip waited with his pistol.

But WWI seemed destined. The driver of the Archduke's car did not get word of the change of route. Once they realized they were on the wrong street, the cars stopped right in front of the deli to turn around. The Archduke was a sitting duck. Princip merely stepped forward, and shot the Archduke through the jugular vein, and his wife in the stomach. Both died.

Scalia's Death: Not Even Close

Examples could be multiplied. The point is that history is full of coincidences, and they can be quite fascinating to read about. As far as Justice Scalia's death, however, the fact that a 79-year-old Supreme Court Justice happens to die when a lame duck president still has nearly a year in office doesn't even come near to making the list. It's not even a coincidence, so you can't say, "Isn't it coincidental that..." There's nothing suspicious that we know now, so you can't say, "Don't you find it suspicious that..."

When the Bear reads that 79% of Americans believe Scalia was assassinated, he just has to shake his head. Once again, it's that criminal lawyer that is looking for a little thing called evidence.

Of course, the Bear's opinion won't mean anything to people determined find find a conspiracy. It's kind of like a delusion that sane people have. Or "pure applesauce," as Justice Scalia once wrote.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bear's Lenten Ambitions

"Bear," said St. Corbinian, "Lent is upon us. It is a time when we fast, pray and give alms."

"Bear is very fast," he answered innocently.

The saint chuckled. "Don't make me laugh with Lent so close, my big clown. To fast means not to eat."

"How long does this Lent last," asked the Bear.

"Forty days and forty nights. That's how long Our Lord Jesus fasted in the desert."

The Bear thought it over. "Bear could go forty days without eating when he takes the Winter Sleep, but he just finished that."

"Of course you can still eat! But you must not eat as much, or eat certain things that you give up. Your sacrifice pleases the Good God and makes you stronger inside."

"Bear would like to please Our Lord Jesus," the Bear said. "Very well. Bear shall give up flesh."

"That's what men do, but I though it might be too hard on a bear," the saint answered.

"And fish."

St. Corbinian looked slightly amused. "Anything else?"

"Honey. Bear likes honey very much."

Then the old saint closed his eyes and recited from memory.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build, and was not able to finish
"A parable of Our Lord Jesus from the Gospel of Luke."

The Bear snorted with impatience. "Bear never understands those parables."

"I think you will this one," St. Corbinian replied with a twinkle in his eye. "It is customary for the abbot to approve each brother's Lenten discipline. I approve yours, Bear. May you learn much. And what alms do you intend to give? Help to those less fortunate?"

The Bear thought for several minutes. "I will give wild flesh and fish to the poorest of the villagers," the Bear announced proudly.

"Very well, Bear, meet me back here in one half month. Then we'll find out how well you're doing. And don't forget to pray. Fasting without prayer is the Devil's fast."

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Bear Kills Seventy Times Seven Ponies

Once the Bear found St. Corbinian in his accustomed place, in the woods on the sunset side of the abbey. Before he could speak, however, the saint held up his hand.

"And the Lord God called Adam and said to him, 'Where art thou?'"

"Bear doesn't know where Adam is, but Bear is here, Father."

"At least you didn't hide like Adam, Bear. But I see by your purpled muzzle that you have been up to mischief. Allow me to guess. You killed a pony."

"Yes, Father."

"How many does that make this year, so far?"

"Bear cannot count that high."

"I can. Twenty. Do you think we have an unlimited supply of ponies to make up for your depredations?"

"Bear does not know. He stays away from Father's ponies. But Bear is ashamed. When he confesses he is truly sorry, and means not to be bad again. But, even so,  he keeps coming back to tell you about the ponies, and he keeps going out to kill them. He thinks this is to no purpose. Perhaps Bear should just leave and be a Bear, and not disappoint Father."

"For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again," St. Corbinian said. "In other words, when you fall, you must be sorry, and come to me. No matter how many times. You should feel bad when you kill a pony. But you must never fear to come and confess, no matter how hard it is. I promise you, I do not think badly of you. It takes sincerity and courage to confess our sins. The Good God is merciful."

"But what if Bear cannot stop? He thinks, No ponies forever, and feels hopeless."

"Then don't think that," the saint said. "Think no ponies today. Or no ponies just this afternoon. Or for  an hour. A quarter of an hour if need be. If you resolve not to give in for a quarter of an hour, and ask the Good God to help you, then you can worry about the next quarter of an hour, and so on. And don't stand there looking at a pony! Flee! Bears are very weak. But  bears are very fast! Outrun the devil!"

"Everyone has one or more temptations that they are especially subject to," St. Corbinian continued. "If a man never fell, he would be perfect, and there is only one perfect Man. Do your best. Avoid near occasions of sin. But always, always come back and confess your sins, Bear. Often. Will you promise me that?"

"I guess, Father."

"I can see there is something else on your mind, Bear. What is it?"

"Bear is Bear. But sometimes he has a man's heart. It is confusing."

St. Corbinian studied the Bear for a long time, fur matted with blood and all. "I would like to quote from the best of books. St. Paul, from his epistle to the Romans."

"Rome," said Bear with a glint of recognition in his eyes. "That's where Father freed me. Although it seemed more like being bound to leave you."

The saint closed his eyes and recited from memory:
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
"There is always a conflict, a fight inside of us. Between our own bearishness, or flesh, and our man's heart, or mind. Every day, you must try to become more of a man and less of a Bear. Just day by day. A heart that can be ashamed of its sins, yet courageous and faithful enough to confess them, no matter how hard, or how often, is a good heart, whether it is a Bear's or a man's."

"Bear thanks you, Father. He wants to go to Heaven with you."

St. Corbinian's eyes misted over. "I am going to teach you a new prayer. There is nothing in it a Bear shouldn't be able to pray. It's to the Good God. Our Father. Go back to your den and pray it, Bear, after you have learned it."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Pride Goeth Before a Bear

One afternoon, the Bear met St. Corbinian in the woods on the sunset side of the abbey, where the saint liked to spend time alone. However, he also seemed to enjoy frequent visits from his ursine friend. On this particular occasion, the Bear was very pleased with himself, and knew that St. Corbinian would have kind words for him.

The Bear found the saint sitting on a stump, reading a book.

"Father," the Bear said excitedly, "Bear saw a fat pony today!"

"Um-hmmm," the saint responded.

"Bear wants you to know he didn't kill it!"

"Is that right?" the saint observed mildly.

"Yes. That is right." The Bear waited for praise, but St. Corbinian just kept reading.

After several minutes, St. Corbinian asked, "Do you think it will rain tomorrow, Bear?"

The Bear wondered if he had heard his good news. "No, Father. Did you hear what Bear said? He didn't eat the fat pony!"

"No," he replied after he had read some more, "I didn't think it would rain, either. Well, I must be going Bear. Good evening." And with that he got up and left.

The next morning, the Bear wandered near the same pasture he had seen the fat pony the day before. He looked at it for a long time, for it was very fat. When he returned to his den, his muzzle was covered in blood.

The Bear did not seek out St. Corbinian's company for many days. When he did, he found him just as before, sitting on the same stump, reading a book. Neither spoke for a long time.

Finally, the Bear began, "Father--"

"You killed the pony," St. Corbinian observed, without looking up from his book.

"I am sorry, Father, but that is true. How did you know?"

"When you visited me last, you proudly took credit for not doing something bad," the saint answered, finally looking up.

"First, if you do not do evil, you should thank the Good God for his grace, not take credit for yourself. Second, if you are pleased with your efforts today, I can promise you that tomorrow you will fall. This is how God teaches us not to be proud, and not to take credit for the grace he gives us. He will wound us with a thorn to keep us from being too pleased with ourselves. If the Good God has permitted you not to displease Him too much, fear the morrow. Fast and pray. For you can be sure the Devil will be laying his snare."

"Why does the Good God punish us with the Devil when we have a good day?" the Bear asked?

St. Corbinian shut his book and rapped the Bear on the muzzle with it. "Are those hairy round ears of yours deaf? The Author of all the good you do is the Good God. The author of all the bad is you. And another thing. Why did you go back to the pasture with the pony?"

"Bear, um... thought it would do no harm just to look."

"Are you really so wonderful that you can ignore temptation?"

"No, Father."

"That's called a 'near occasion of sin,'" St. Corbinian explained. "Avoid deliberately putting yourself in the way of temptation. That is very foolish and will end badly. If you weren't near the pony, you could not have harmed it.

"I hope you've learned your lesson from this sorry incident. Now, the abbey has a pony to spare to replace the one you killed. But as for you, eat what the Good God has provided in the wild. Except bring all the honey you find to me for the next three months."

"That is hard, Father," the Bear complained.

"And you have a special weakness for ponies, not to bring up ancient history. You must be extra careful about this vice."

The Bear lumbered off deeper into the woods, thinking, No honey for three moons and no ponies forever.

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