Archive for August, 2008

I don’t know that Maclin will get this posted anytime soon, with Gustav breathing down his neck there on Mobile Bay, but I wanted to let you all know that my blooming bride, Michelle, is having contractions as I type and that at any rate she is scheduled for induced labor Sunday morning.

This has been a difficult pregnancy. She has developed gestational diabetes. Because of this she cannot have a midwife for delivery, like she had for the other five babies, but must have a doctor present. She became increasing uncomfortable with the doctor that her midwife recommended, and her discomfort peaked when she visited his home office, in her ninth month, and realized that he specialized in fertility. That is, he fertilizes eggs in petri dishes and sticks the chosen ones in the wombs of women, freezing and probably discarding embryos on the way as if they were so many consumer products. We got the creeps and knew we had to move on.

So we switched doctors two weeks before her due date. She is very impressed by her new doctor and very relaxed in his presence, thank God. Then he was hospitalized last week with heart problems. He is alright and out of the hospital and is going to deliver this baby, but that development will give you an idea of the way things have gone with this pregnancy.

So I ask for your prayers as we prepare for this little one. Pray for a smooth and safe delivery and a healthy baby.

People who intentionally limit their family to two kids think we are crazy, but they don’t know what they are missing. Every new person brings such richness to the family; every one makes it a new family again, with a new dynamic.

I can’t wait to meet this new baby.

Daniel Nichols

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Taking a Chance on Love

Maclin Horton

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After Maclin recently expressed his boredom with this site, where not much has been happening lately, I posted an apology for not writing more. I noted how busy I had been, teaching iconography, getting hit with expensive car repairs, etc. I also noted that I was in a bit of a dry spell, that our religious discussions have developed a predictable impasse, and that politics had become depressing.

Depressing, yes, but surely worth one big blowout post.

Call it catharsis.

I mean, look around you. We live in a nation in terrible crisis. We are mired in two wars against native insurgencies, historically a losing proposition. Evidence mounts that these wars were engineered by a criminal political cult, the neoconservatives, who distorted intelligence to achieve their ends. We torture our enemies. Anyone, even an American citizen, can be plucked off the streets and held without charges or legal counsel for years, if the President orders it. Said President openly declares that he will not abide by limits to his power, even as he signs them into “law”. The economy is in free fall, a collapse triggered by greed and predation.

All of this should provoke outrage but no, the price of gas is shaping up as the big issue in the presidential campaign.

The price of gas.

I once had dinner with an elderly Hungarian couple, refugees from communism, and the woman said it best. She talked of how they had come to America, thrilled at the idea of living in a free society, and of how they had gradually become disillusioned with the American people. “Zeez Americans”, she said, “Give zem beer, television, and hamburgers and zey are as happy as peegz in sheet”. Change the formula to chardonnay, foreign films and brie; the point is the same.

If things were not grim enough, I was apparently wrong about John McCain. I said last spring that McCain would not be the Republican nominee, that he would collapse under the scrutiny that would focus on him after the Barack and Hillary Show was over.

But it didn’t happen.

The details of his sordid behavior in destroying his first marriage are well known, and as he has expressed a modicum of regret, it is a non-issue.

There are questions about his military record, but any attempt at pursuing them is met by near-universal hostility. Catholic blogger Mark Shea, who is usually good on questions of war, titled his response, in his usual irenic tone, something like “Leftist Scum Attacks McCain’s War Record”.

Contrast the off-limits status of McCain’s record with the “swiftboating” of John Kerry. I am no fan of Kerry’s but he was treated abominably in the last election. Right wingers wore band aids to his rallies, mocking the wounds he received in battle. Whether his wounds were minor or not, he received them while risking his life. The Right is granted this latitude, apparently, because they supported the war, while Kerry famously became the voice of the disaffected veteran.

And while it would be politically disastrous to raise the issue with the American electorate, who by vast majority have no problem with Total War, so long as it is waged by America the Righteous and not, say, by Muslim extremists, to those Catholics who approach war with the same moral rigor as they approach abortion, McCain’s record is alarming. He was not, as is often misreported, a fighter pilot. Rather, he flew bombing missions over North Vietnam.

Twenty three of them.

Some estimates say as many as a million Vietnamese were killed by the American bombing campaign. While it is impossible to know how many civilians were killed in McCain’s 23 missions, it is safe to say that if elected he will have directly, by his own hand, taken more human lives than any other president.

If Catholic principles are applied with any rigor John McCain is a war criminal.

And one with a particularly nasty sense of humor. He thought it great fun to sing “Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran” to the Beach Boys tune, and he found it funny to joke that American tobacco exports to Iran can be justified because hey, at least we’re killing Iranians.

Ha ha. He’s like a stand-up mortician.

And he should have been shown the exit when he claimed that Iran was funding and arming Al Queda. Such appalling ignorance about the Sunni-Shi’a split should have disqualified any aspiring commander-in-chief. His approach to foreign policy is in general reckless and trigger-happy. I consider the man a grave threat to world peace.

And if that is not depressing enough, consider the alternative, Barack Obama, a man whose initial good impression wears off quickly. I had, for example, when he was new on the scene, assumed that his prochoice stance was the standard liberal one. You know, the bone thrown to the feminists with barely a thought, sort of like the bone conservatives throw to prolifers, a mere formality with little conviction behind it. But no, it turns out that he is an appallingly fervent advocate of killing the unborn.

And while Mr Obama is busy jettisoning his other principles in the name of expediency- who knew that is what he meant when he said that “change” would be the theme of his campaign?- I doubt that this one is going overboard any time soon.

And while I think that a lesser-evil case can be made for a vote for Obama- I mean really, besides the fact that the guy could bring about world war, do you really want a president whose youthful nickname was “McNasty”?- I don’t know if I could bring myself to do it, and if I did it would be with a sinking feeling.

Like I said, it’s depressing. Barring some unexpected development I doubt I’ll have much more to say about the matter in the near future.

Daniel Nichols

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A Crack in Everything
This is getting boring. Maybe I’ll post something that will make people mad.
Maclin Horton

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A Few More Notes on Ayn Rand

—Maclin Horton

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Ayn Rand, Crank

Maclin Horton

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Just A Note

This week I am again teaching my annual class on iconography at St George Romanian Catholic Cathedral in Canton.

Teaching people to write/paint icons is one of the few spiritual acts that is almost wholly pleasurable, even if it can be exhausting, especially in the later stages of the process, when everyone seems to need you at once. My bride, the mother of 5- soon to be 6- shrugs at this and says “Now you know how I feel all the time”.

So I won’t be posting much this week, if at all. Not a bad time to take a break, really. No big theological or ecclesial or political controversies going on here at the moment.

Which is just as well; I sense we are all a bit burnt out on these things, even if there is still much to be said.

And the political scene has gone somewhere beyond parody. It is getting dirty already, and the conventions haven’t even been held. I am torn. Should I turn from the sorry spectacle in disgust? Or achieve new levels of sarcasm? Sad, really, as it started with great hope in Ron Paul’s campaign, which proved to be great on enthusiasm and not so great in numbers. And it seems to have evolved into a band of shady characters muttering about the Jews and the International Monetary System.


But for now, a week of holy work, painting in silence broken only by the sound of sacred music, of the angelic strains of Rachmaninov and Tallis and the ancient chant of east and west.


See you all next week.

Daniel Nichols

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