Friday, October 31, 2014

21 years ago today

By Donald Sensing

My third child was born on Oct. 31. I was a principal staff officer at Headquarters, US Army Criminal Investigation Command. The day after, CID's Secretary of the General Staff sent this message out:

Subject: Birth of Major Sensing's Daughter (fwd)
To: ciioza (Chief Public Affairs)
Sender: cicgsgs@fallschurch-acirs

According to cicgsgs@fallschurch-acirs:
From cicgsgs Mon Nov  1 07:17:50 1993
Subject: Birth of Major Sensing's Daughter
To: cicgza, cicgzb, cicgcs, cicgzd, cicgzs, cicgflo, cicggs, cicgpg,
        cicgsgs, cicgdcs, cicghcz, mailcicg
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 93 7:17:44 EST
X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.3 PL11]
From: cicgsgs@fallschurch-acirs
Sender: cicgsgs@fallschurch-acirs

Cathy Sensing delivered her baby on 31 Oct 93 (0129 hours).
The  baby is 7 pounds 12 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long.  Her
name is Elizabeth Lee (the name "Lee" probably comes from
Major Sensing's fondness for the Southern General with the
same name).  Cathy Sensing is expected to come home on 1 or 2
Nov 93.  Mom and baby are doing fine.

From the heart of my soul, Elizabeth, thank you for 21 wonderful years.

"Lee" as her middle name, by the way, did not come from Marse Robert. Lee was the middle name of my mother's mother, Eleanor Lee Burkitt, nee McMurry. She was given the name in honor of her uncle, Lee McMurry, who was born in 1865 just as the Civil War was ending. His father named him after Confederate Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, the youngest lieutenant general in the CS Army, known as the Stonewall Jackson of the western theater. The dad  served during the war on Lee's staff.

It was Lee who in April, 1861, delivered South Carolina's ultimatum to Fort Sumter's commander, Maj. Robert Anderson, to surrender the fort to the state. Lee was an artillery officer who commanded batteries in key battles during the war, notably at Antietam. Lee commanded a corps during the forlorn campaign of the Confederate Army of Tennessee in late 1864 that resulted in its collapse and rout in the Battle of Nashville in mid-December. Lee had been severely wounded two weeks before at the Battle of Spring Hill but refused to relinquish command. It was fortunate for the Confederate troops he did not, for as the Army of Tennessee fell apart under heavy attack at Nashville, only Lee's and Nathan Bedford Forrest's formations maintained discipline. Lee's troops fought difficult rear-guard actions for three days.

A closing thought for Elizabeth:

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to talk to telemarketers

By Donald Sensing

After which the AT&T saleslady looked for another job:

"You mean you'll give me ten cents per minute, 24/7? Sign me up! You're going to give me $52,560 just for signing up for your 10 cents per minutes plan?"

Be this guy!

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What socialists conclude

By Donald Sensing

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And if you don't believe it, just look around

By Donald Sensing

Thanks to Gerard Vanderleun:

A trend seen by prolife activists that frequently engage college students on campuses nationwide is the growing acceptance of post-birth abortion, or killing the infant after he or she is born, campus prolife outreach leaders tell The College Fix.

Anecdotal evidence by leaders of prolife groups such as Created Equal and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust said in interviews that not only do they see more college students willing to say they support post-birth abortion, but some students even suggest children up to 4 or 5-years-old can also be killed, because they are not yet “self aware.”
Wait -- if someone is killed "post-birth," isn't that murder, not abortion?

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Video: The Rise of ISIS | FRONTLINE Online |

By Donald Sensing

Video: The Rise of ISIS | Watch FRONTLINE Online | PBS Video

An excellent, 52-minute documentary. Does not seem to have an embed link or I would have.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When ya got it, ya got it, even at 86

By Donald Sensing

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Afraid of the light?

By Donald Sensing

"Statements by scientists are not always statements of science....Stephen Hawking said, 'religion is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark'. I said, 'atheism is a fairy story for people afraid of the light'."--Dr. John Lennox, professor of mathematics, Oxford University.

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I could make up something easier than this

By Donald Sensing

You know, like Scientology.

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Wisdom from Dr. King

By Donald Sensing

Worth thinking about really hard these days:

“Moreover, we must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Three Paradoxes of Atheism

By Donald Sensing

Three Paradoxes of Atheism:

I want to summarize the paradoxes I believe are inherent to the atheism.

  1. Truth-seeking. If a truth-loving God doesn't exist, then truth-seeking is neither intrinsically good nor morally obligatory. Therefore, paradoxically, the Christian has grounds to urge all people to seek the truth and to claim it is their moral obligation to seek the truth whereas the atheist has no grounds to urge others to seek the truth or to claim it is their moral obligation to do so. 
  2. Moral reflection. Suffering and evil in the world is so prolific and horrendous that we instinctively avoid thinking about it to preserve our happiness. If Christianity is true, then all suffering and evil will one day be destroyed and healed. If atheism is true, suffering and evil are pointless and will never be rectified. So, paradoxically, a Christian gains the emotional resources to reflect honestly on suffering by reflecting on reality (as he perceives it) while an atheist gains the emotional resources to reflect honestly on suffering only by ignoring reality (as he perceives it).
  3. Moral motivation. If Christianity is true, then all of our moral choices have tremendous, eternal significance. If atheism is true, then none of our moral choices have any eternal significance. So, paradoxically, the Christian gains the motivation to act morally by reflecting on reality (as he perceives it) while the atheist gains the motivation to act morally only by ignoring reality (as he perceives it).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Atheist to Catholic, and why

By Donald Sensing

If this never happened, what did happen on Dec. 25-26, 1776?
From Atheist Professor to Catholic: An Interview with Dr. Holly Ordway
There were many pieces of evidence that all fit together to make a convincing case for the Resurrection [of Jesus]; I’ll mention just a couple here. One of them is the behavior of the disciples before and after the Resurrection. The Gospel accounts do not portray their behavior after the Crucifixion in a particularly flattering light. Even though Jesus had predicted his own resurrection, the disciples gave up and went away, assuming that Jesus was a failed messiah. If the disciples had made up the Resurrection story afterwards, why would they have included details that made them look disloyal and cowardly? My academic studies in literature allowed me to recognize that the Gospels were written as history, not myth or parable, and that there hadn’t been enough time for a legend to form. It began to seem like the best explanation for all these events being recounted this way, was that they really happened.

Then, after the Resurrection, there’s a complete turn-around in their behavior, and they become bold proclaimers of the Risen Lord. There were plenty of words that people in ancient times could have used to describe visions or sightings of ghosts, and indeed, such language would have gotten them in much less trouble! But they spoke of a Jesus who was alive, bodily resurrected, and in short order were willing to die for that claim.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence for the Resurrection, though, was the Church itself. If I supposed that the Church had invented the Resurrection to explain its own worship of Jesus, I had to ask, how did that worship arise in the first place? If the Church was not the result of a miracle, it was itself a miracle.
The last point is actually much stronger than people give credit. Skeptics and some self-described atheists (including some I have talked with) dismiss the historical fact of Jesus, claiming Jesus was invented by the Church or was, perhaps, a real man but one who was nothing like the Jesus described in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.

The problem is, as Prof. Ordway points out, that none of those alternative theories of Jesus explain the rapid rise of the apostolic missions and the sudden appearance, at a definite time of history and place, of the Church, which has from its inception declared it was founded solely on the life death and resurrection of one Jesus of Nazareth.

So if not those things, which an atheist must deny, then on what was the Church really founded? The Church undeniably began in the middle third of the first century BCE. It did not exist before then. How then to account for its founding apart from Jesus and the apostolic proclamation?

An analogy I have often used is this. The US Marine Corps was founded at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, on Nov. 10, 1775. On that day, so the story goes, the first USMC recruiter enlisted the first USMC recruits (in a bar, of course, they being Marines after all).

Now to treat the founding of the Marine Corps as do skeptics treat Christianity, a skeptic would say something like this: "The USMC was not founded on Nov. 10, 1775, in Tun Tavern, but much later, perhaps as late as 1840. It probably was still in Philadelphia, though."

But on what basis could he make such a claim? Like the founding of the Church, there is no alternative story of the founding of the USMC that can be imagined to account for all the facts of the Corps' history. There is exactly zero evidence to support the contention that the USMC was founded other than what the histories say, and there is no evidence, either, to support the idea that the Church was founded either (A) at a time or place other than when claimed, or (B) for any reason other than what is claimed, namely, the resurrection of Jesus.

Or another way, if a skeptic were to claim that Washington never actually crossed the Delaware that night to attack the Hessians at Trenton, NJ, then he would have to also provide an historically-grounded  explanation of why and how the Hessians were defeated, killed, captured and plundered that day. Absent such, we will have to continue to adhere that Washington did indeed cross the Delaware as claimed.

My experience with such skeptics (they often love to call themselves "rationalists") is that as soon as you challenge them to produce actual historical evidence that the Church was not founded on the resurrection and its immediately-following apostolic proclamation, but on something else, and would they explain what that something else was and what is it documented historical grounding, they change the subject and start talking about who will win the Super Bowl come February.

Dr. Ordway again:
It’s important to say that there was no single, knock-out piece of evidence that convinced me; I was convinced by the cumulative claim, the way it all fit together. Historical events can’t be proved like a math problem or tested like a scientific hypothesis, and there’s always a way to form an alternate explanation. But just because an alternative exists doesn’t mean it’s is equally reasonable or likely. Speaking within my own field of literature, there are people who claim that William Shakespeare didn’t really write his plays. There are even a few legitimately fuzzy areas: for instance, a few of his plays were co-authored, and it seems likely to me that at least one passage in Macbeth (Hecate’s speech) was a later interpolation. Nonetheless, the evidence taken as whole points to Shakespearean authorship!
This is another key point. Frequently (well, almost always), the skeptics or atheists I have talked with have invariably claimed that science rejects the resurrection and indeed, God himself. But they do not seem to grasp that the founding of the Church was an historical event, not a scientific experiment, and the resurrection of Jesus was a historical event, too, not a scientific experiment. Science can't validate or invalidate historical events: you can neither prove nor disprove, scientifically, that Gen. George Washington led his army across the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, to attack Hessian forces at Trenton, NJ.

Human reason and intellect is much more than mere scientific knowledge. The question is not, I think, is there ironclad, "scientific" proof of God or the Resurrection, but is this: based on the weight of evidence, is Christian belief reasonable? For 2,000 years, reasonable has garnered the votes.

And that is most reasonable, too, as Blaise Pascal explained.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


By Donald Sensing

'Everyday Sadists' Are More Common Than You Think

I won't cite from the post, but will add my own reflections. There are times I cannot understand the destructive actions of others in any way that makes sense. But this comes close:

There is a destructiveness at loose in our world, our country, our communities, our associations and even our homes that cannot be explained adequately by excluding the spiritual dimensions at play.

Such destructiveness always starts with or quickly moves to destructive speech. Usually (but not always) a huge dose of hypocrisy is involved as the "destructor" (to borrow a word from Ghostbusters) almost always conceals her or his slander or libel behind claims of only wanting a higher good. But in fact, their actual desire is self-oriented, selfish and significantly narcissistic: they frequently act as if they have been aggrieved or wounded and are in such psychological, emotional or spiritual pain that others rush to comfort. But the others are being played and only a few ever figure it out.

Understand that demands from destructive persons cannot ever be satisfied. For their real goal is not an actual solution to the putative issue, for as the old SDS slogan explains, "This issue isn't the issue." The real goal, very cleverly concealed behind aggrieved tones of voice and claims of how moral/spiritual/right minded/self-denying/unselfish (the list goes on an on) they are is always the same: "I must get my way, all the time."

But that's not the heart of the issue, either. These persons simply must have an enemy, someone or some group who opposes them. For the "my way" that destructors must get is inextricably linked to triumph over an opponent. That's why anyone who does not agree or assent to their demands is a target: the issue is not the demands, but the opposition.

Every issue is personal for destructors. It is not possible to hold a reasonable, contrary position. To resist a destructor's demand is not mere disagreement. It is to oppose the ordering of the world itself in some sense: the Constitution, human decency, morality, even to defy God himself.

"The issue isn't the issue." Demands are only a pretense to evoke the fight. The fight itself is the goal. It is the only goal. Destructors never consider any issue closed for which they do not achieve total victory. They die in every ditch. Every fight is to the death because their very concept of self is woven into it.

His days of asking are all gone, his fight goes on and on and on. But he thinks that the fight is worth it all.  So he strikes like thunderball.
Title song to the movie, "Thunderball," referring to character Emilio Largo of Spectre
To yield to a destructor's demands is only to evoke others, more sternly expressed and more unreasonable than before.

Here is the hardest part for targets to understand: Destructors are absolute masters in assessing within any organization two things essential for their success:

1. Whom the general membership/board of directors/administrators/managers considers expendable.

There's an old gamblers' saying, "If at a poker table you can't figure out who the patsy is, that means it's you." The corollary here is that to be targeted by a destructor means you are considered expendable by the general group, no matter your own official standing within the group. This is true about two-thirds of the time for your first targeting (which is often a trial run), but if there a second then it is absolutely true.

2. Who their own allies will be.

Destructors spend enormous time building alliances and coalitions among other discontented people. The old saying that "misery loves company" is true but incomplete. Misery does not merely love company, misery requires company. Destructors and any other merely unhappy person must have their discontent, anger or grievances validated by others. These persons are absolute experts at finding one another, and they do.

If you ever find yourself contending with a destructor a second or subsequent time, there are no positive potential outcomes. You will not be contending with one person or even a few, but an entire network that will support the destructor behind the scenes, and a few overtly. They understand that a small minority organized and oriented toward a common will almost always prevail against the vast majority caught by surprise, unprepared to resist. Furthermore, the majority, outside the fray, tends to think that the putative issue is the issue and is mostly accurate in thinking it trivial in itself. They don't see what the fuss is all about and just want the whole thing to go away. Some, but not many, see what is really happening but will not be willing to become targets themselves.

So when you are targeted, you will be alone and isolated. No one will be your ally, although you will get occasional expressions of sympathy. So what to do? Not much, I'm afraid:

1. Maintain your position but understand that the destructor will do his/her best to destroy your reputation as long as you oppose. And the destructor network is already leagues ahead of any defense you can mount.

2. Or just capitulate quickly enough, every time, so that there is no fight to be had with you and the destructor turns her/his attention to someone else. But of course, this almost always requires you to surrender some kind of authority that is rightfully yours. A destructor fights to gain power, so s/he does not target anyone of a lower or equivalent status or authority.

Either way, however, your time in the organization is coming to an end. The countdown clock starts when a destructor starts explaining why s/he is considering leaving the organization (always widely publicized and with as much woeful agrrievement as possible). If the destructor does depart, s/he will have poisoned the atmosphere and slandered your reputation enough so that your effectiveness in the association is permanently damaged. So understand that once a destructor starts threatening to go elsewhere, the question is not whether you will leave (actually, you'll finally be told to leave by the larger organization), it is whether the destructor precedes you. But even if s/he doesn't, you will still leave.

There is such a thing as "creative destruction." But destructors don't know it. They set fires not to clear the way for something better, more useful or more beautiful. They just want to watch it burn.

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