Thursday, September 18, 2014

A comment in the post below reminded me of the following piece which was published on a few years ago. Being lazy, I repost it instead of writing something original.

The text is below with the original link being: Original Article .

Randians Left and Right are Wrong by Jim Curley
There was a piece on National Public Radio (NPR) a week or so ago charting the influence of novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand in today’s politics, specifically in economic policy touted by certain Republicans in Congress.  Ayn Rand was a proponent of “objectivism,” that is quoting from the NPR piece:
It is, she says, a system of morality “not based on faith” or emotion, “but on reason.”
Rand wholly rejected religion. She called it a weakness, even a parasite — one that convinces people their purpose is to work for the betterment of others. In fact, she says, for man, the truth is just the opposite.
“His highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness,” she says.
“One of the principal achievements of this country in the past 20 years, particularly — I think most people agree — is the gradual growth of social, protective legislation, based on the principle that we are our brothers’ keepers.”
“I feel that it is terrible that you see destruction all around you, and that you are moving toward disaster until and unless all those welfare state conceptions have been reversed and rejected,” Rand answers.
“I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy.”
NPR proposes that Ayn Rand’s influence is strong on Capital Hill today among Republicans.  NPR quotes Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) (my Rep) who has read her books “6 or 8 times,” Allen West (R-FL), Speaker John Boehner, Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Steve King (R-IA) who either give favorable reviews of A. Rand or who seem to speak her message.
There is no doubt that Republicans often decry the Welfare State and numerous regulations.  And true, some Republican Congressmen have been enthusiastic about Ayn Rand’s philosophy.  This is troubling, especially when practicing Catholics show their enthusiasm without some caveat on her general philosophy.
I would also venture that while in general conservatives do decry entitlement programs and the “regulation state”, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are all Ayn Rand enthusiasts.  One can certainly stand for smaller government and subsidiarity principles without agreeing that man’s highest moral purpose is achieving his own happiness.  Further, I would argue that most Republicans only differ in their preference in size of government and regulation by a matter of degree from Democrats.  We don’t see many radical proposals on the size of government and regulations gaining traction even when Republicans hold the majority; mostly we see skirmishes on the edges.
But this isn’t by far the whole story.  There seems to be many on the Left in Congress who subscribe to Ayn Rand’s objectivism on social issues in a much more committed way.  The push for the homosexual agenda, abortion, and contraception by the Left is based on the flawed philosophy of pleasure without responsibility, which is very close to Ayn Rand’s “highest moral purpose”.
It seems Ayn Rand’s objectivism has influenced both sides of the aisle in government and in the general populace, and most dangerously in the social issue sphere.  We are constantly bombarded by the message that the purpose of life is simply a hedonistic pursuit of our own happiness, and some of us have bought it.
Man’s highest purpose is to know, love, and serve God.  This is the only philosophy that will make man happy.  It is a philosophy of being our brother’s keeper in a personal way.  It is a philosophy of self-sacrifice which paradoxically makes man happy.  Only when we seek the happiness of others do we ourselves have peaceful joy.
We are our brother’s keeper.  The government’s attempt to preempt our personal role as our brother’s keeper has unfortunately been accepted by many.  When, as a society, we let the government do our charity, we rob ourselves individually and as a society of the opportunity and obligation of doing God’s work.  Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker Movement decried this trend of letting government do our charity.  In a conversation with Stanley Vishnewsi on their first meeting, Peter Maurin said:
The purpose of the Catholic Worker is to create a society where it will, be easier for men to be good. A society where each person will consider himself to be his brother’s keeper. A society where each one will try to serve and to be the least. God wants us to be our brother’s keeper. He wants us to feed the hungry at a personal sacrifice. He wants us to clothe the naked at a personal sacrifice. He wants us to shelter the homeless. To serve man for God’s sake, that is what God wants us to do! (from Wings of the Dawn by Stanley Vishnewsi and reprinted in The Catholic Worker, May 1976-The Catholic Worker Movement website at
It would seem to me that Congress and the American people would do well to think about Peter Maurin’s words rather than Ayn Rand’s.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Once a week I travel to a client's facility about 70 miles away. This fall I am also teaching a course at a technical college about 60 miles away. While I am news junkie, I finally got sick of it and started getting audio books from the library for my treks.

Actually, the trend started during Lent when I gave up listening to the news on the radio. During that time I listened to CD's on spiritual topics.

Then on two long car trips to New Hampshire and Virginia this spring, I got audio books (one with my son-so we listened to one of my all-time favorites: Treasure Island. It was good to 'read' it again after some many decades.)

More recently I have listened to 2 Louis L'Amour novels about Barnabas Sacket, the patriarch of his Sacket novels.

I wish I could find Allen Eckert books (The Frontiersmen and Court-martial of Daniel Boone) audio, but am settling for actually reading them.

Just now I am listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Some good information so far, but she is a bit preachy and probably not a great choice for younger ears as she seems to linger on comparisons between human and plant reproduction quite a bit, I think for humor value-they are only functionally related.

I really need to add in some good spiritual audio here. I listened to Chesterton's Everlasting Man on tape on a long trip many years ago.

What I have found is that when listening to the news, my mind wanders and I sometimes ponder many things. When listening to a book, I tend to stay focussed on the book. My imagination is more static. Sometimes that is good, sometimes bad.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, September 12, 2014

multiplication of pumpkins

On this feast of the Holy Name of Mary - Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Short Takes

This Sunday's homily was one which should have been heard by some of our bishops!  I know they heard the Gospel on the duty for fraternal correction, but I do hope they put it into practice more than they have.
Of course, this is always the temptation-to hear the Gospel (and homily) and apply it to someone else instead of yourself!
The two previous Sundays (at 2 different parishes) I heard in both homilies a variation "Pray for what God wants to give you, instead of what you think you need." This is something I need to hear almost every day!

If I were to take the picture of the pumpkins around the woodstove which appears below, today, it would show 9 pumpkins. There are plenty more to pick in the coming days, but not as many as I hoped for.
Summer garden is about done except for the okra, a few eggplants, and a Jalapeno pepper plant. Am trying to get the fall garden in.
It looks like the peanuts will ready sooner than expected. I pulled a few plants over the weekend and they look pretty ready. We have about an acre of peanuts. With the downpour of rain yesterday and today, I probably need to get the peanuts out of the ground sooner rather than later so that I don't have them rotting in the ground.
Finally, for a while I thought we wouldn't get any syrup from our small sorghum crop. The weather has been spotty with drought conditions for a few weeks followed by deluge, then drought again. But it looks like the sorghum will produce something. I should have a few weeks before harvest.
Now really finally, I have a couple new links on the sidebar. Good friend has moved to Chile and reports his adventures (Our Chilean Adventure). Also, Those Catholic Men is a new site (disclaimer, sometimes they carry my writing) with some good articles for men.
Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 29, 2014

So here it is on my 22nd wedding anniversary and what am I doing? Killing a hog!  I married well!

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pumpkins and Peppers

Picked our first pumpkins today. We have a bunch, and some are huge. However I am fearful about them making it. This year we had no squash bugs on our zucchini, but it looks like they've found the pumpkins at this late date. I am hoping for the best.

Anyhow, pictured below are 3 pumpkins we picked today. These are the baking kind. We do have a patch of the "jack-o-lantern kind also, but we mostly planted these from last years' seeds. I believe the largest would weigh between 30 and 40 pounds. There are some even larger ones out there-some so large I can hardly believe it.

We like pumpkins, not just for ourselves, but the seeds are a great natural wormer for livestock and the pumpkin itself is highly enjoyed by the pigs.

Also in the picture note the drying cayenne peppers strung on the stove pipe. We had a bumper crop and probably won't even plant them again for a couple years. After dry, we grind the peppers and store them to add to sausage, etc.

On this feast of the Queenship of Mary - Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Canoeing down the Lynches River

Update: We actually took only one picture on this trip as we were too busy working the river. However, here is the picture. It is Nick preparing supper riverside. (Its not that great, taken with my stupid-phone.)

My oldest son, Nick bought a used aluminum canoe this summer. He went 43 miles down the Wateree River with Connor in about 10 hours (overnight trip). He went 45 miles down the Congaree River with Matthew in about the same time. It took Nick and I 8 hours to go 15.5 miles down the Lynches River-and it didn't take so long because I am now an "old man". Basically we encountered 20-25 if not more log jam blockages like the one pictured below (not our picture).
We got on the river at Highway 15 landing at about 6:00 PM on Thursday night. We paddled for about 2 hours and then found a campsite for the night. It is lucky we didn't move on, it was probably the best looking campsite we encountered the entire trip. I hadn't been on a river in almost 30 years, but there are some things you never forget how to do. I manned the back of the canoe and Nick was the lookout. The log jams came immediately. We either had to lift the canoe over, portage, or do gymnastics with the canoe and our bodies to get by these obstacles.
In days gone by, cotton was floated down the Lynches River to Charleston (via the Great Pee ). I have to imagine that they must have had river clearing crews keeping the Lynches clear. Nothing like this today. I wonder how much SCDNR would pay me to go down the Lynches with a chainsaw and cut channels.
So we camped for the night riverside. Nick cooked us a rice, cheese and sausage meal. Very tasty and filling. The student became the teacher. Nick made all the decisions on the trip and made the calls on how to get around the jams. (I did veto one of his ideas once when there was a clearly better option.)
On day two, early out, I saw a head or eyes moving perpendicular to the river. Once we got close, the gator dove to the depths. The river level varied from over 6 feet to less than a foot. Certainly if the river had been 8 inches higher, some of the log jams could have been passed easily. On the other hand, a few would have been more difficult, if not impossible, to navigate under with higher water.
There were times we had to go to the left bank to avoid a tree and then immediately go to the right bank to avoid the next obstacle, in a matter of feet. A few times we went under a log and had to lay flat to get under. Once when we were stuck on a log, Nick was under some branches. He cried "wasp!" and dove into the water. I asked him why he dove out of the boat just because of one wasp. He told me there were many! He had swatted at the wasp right under its nest in the branches and 10 or more attacked him. When I saw the nest (being still in the boat) I told him to drag me out of there!
Earlier we had just gotten around an obstacle where the current was pretty strong and we got slammed into another jam. It knocked me right out of the canoe, with Nick to follow. The canoe filled with water. We managed to get the canoe over to a small sand bar in the middle of the river and empty the water. It was actually refreshing. In fact the most boring part of the trip was toward the end when we actually had some 15 minute stretches with no obstacles.
By the time we hit the boat landing at 401, my back and bad shoulder were on the way out-me being an old man.
The whole time on the river we only saw 1 other person-a man by the river bank-probably on his own property. We saw (and in fact followed down the river) 4 of what appeared to be snowy egrets. Nick saw a bald eagle, but I missed it. No snakes, no wild boar, and just the one gater-and oh yes, wasps!
I am so glad Nick bought this canoe. The trip was fun and very challenging-a great way to end Nick's summer as he goes back to Wyoming Catholic next week.
Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, August 01, 2014

I mentioned a few post down about the fabulous cantaloupes we've been blessed with this year. Just to give you an idea:

And they are all sweet.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Warren Carroll noted in The Crisis of Christendom that a major peace (essentially 100 years of peace in Europe) ensued after the Napoleonic Wars. However the peace was not all it seemed. While major powers did not engage in war, revolution (and its accompanying violence) was rife throughout Europe.

I am wondering if we are seeing the same thing today. The 20th century was a century of war, including the proxy wars of the Cold War. Now, the major powers are not at war, but we see a multitude of civil wars throughout the Middle East and now in Ukraine.

During the 100 years’ peace mentioned above it seems that realignment of governance and ideology within European countries set the stage and the enemies for the violent 20th century. I sense that the ideological and governance realignment going on in regions of the world today is setting the stage for major wars in our future.

It is tragically sad to note that the periods of so-called peace are no less violent than the periods of major wars.

Oremus pro invicem!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I mentioned below I have been reading Chesterton's America. The editor, Mr. Bennett, has done a very interesting thing. While Cecil Chesterton's text forms the backbone of the book, he brings in commentary on each period of history from other Distributists' writings; for example, we find passages from G.K. Chesterston, Hillare Belloc, Herbert Agar, and other intertwined with the main text.
It is interesting to read an outside view (an English view at that) of American history. I have read several things already which we never heard in school. Just to name three: That New England relied heavily on slave trade for their economy at least until the mid-to-late 1700's. Related, that the view in the South that the African slaves were somehow sub-human was not introduced and not widely held until into the 19th century. And thirdly, the whole "No taxation without
representation" rationale for the American Rebellion was somewhat of a sham. In fact some 80% of British subjects were taxed without representation at the time. The matter was more complicated ....
But MOST surprising to me is that fact that I am reading Cecil and GK side-by-side and finding I like reading Cecil more than GK. Who would have thought?
Oremus pro invicem!