Archive for February, 2012

“Oh Come, Let Us Santorum?”

February 17, 2012

I haven’t been accused of being a Republican for quite some time now. Even Junior Froelich didn’t go that far. And I don’t know just what I’d do these days as a Republican watching what has to be an historically confusing series of Presidential Primary elections and/or caucuses from sea to shining sea. Mitt Romney tries to convince us now that he was SEVERELY Conservative in Massachusetts, conjuring images of a modern day Bay State Torquemada.

Tomás de Torquemada, O.P. (1420 -1498) was a fifteenth century Dominican friar and first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition which, over a fifty year period, burned at least several thousand naughty Spaniards at the stake for being sinful. It was for their own good. They had become “impure”.

The churning for ideological “purity” in the GOP has so far rocketed Michele Bachmann to the top (Iowa Straw Poll — August ‘11), then Rick Perry (#1 in National September Polling), yielding to Herman Cain (Florida — December ‘11 Straw Poll), followed by Newt Gingrich (South Carolina Primary) and Ron Paul (maybe Maine), even while Mitt Romney, this season’s designated front-runner, scores wins in Florida (actual January ‘12 Primary), New Hampshire, Nevada and maybe Maine. The main issue in Maine is whether the “final caucus tally” was Romney-rigged or not. Paul’s people say so, especially in Waldo County. Regardless of ultimate resolution, it’s nice knowing where Waldo finally went.

The Purity Police are now rallying with a new hero in hand. Rick Santorum, baffling bettors from London to Lucky Lane, has surged to the forefront with sudden major wins in Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado and even credit for Iowa, where the Republican State Chairman has resigned in disgrace after guaranteeing all that Romney had won on January 3rd.

As a child of ‘50’s Parochial School education — Santorum seems creepy. It’s that “Purity” deal.

We had been told at Cathedral Academy in Syracuse by Sister Cecilia that even listening to Don and Phil Everly’s “Wake Up Little Suzie” might be a Mortal Sin since it implied that “a boy and girl were sleeping together without having partaken in the Sacrament of Marriage”, an interpretation which had never remotely dawned on her students.

This era of Catholic education stressed a highly structured, excruciatingly well-defined philosophy regarding matters sexual in nature. Even the word “sex” was never openly uttered other than in extremely hushed tones and then only after the “boys” and “girls” had been separated for “frank discussion” of “certain private things”.

The tight confines went along these lines:

To have brief “impure thoughts” was a venial sin.

To willingly enjoy “impure thoughts”, let alone engage in “impure acts”, was a Mortal Sin.

Both sins could be forgiven if fully confessed to a priest who was empowered by God to grant penance and absolution.

If you died with venial sins unforgiven, you’d need to spend a certain amount of time in a place called Purgatory before finally going to Heaven. Think of it as waiting in line at the DMV. A Mortal Sin, however, brought a far darker fate. Death’s arrival with an unforgiven Mortal Sin damning the soul would mean burning in the raging, searing, blast-furnace, blowtorch, white-hot fires of Hell for all Eternity.

Then came the “heavy spins”.

“And how long is Eternity in which the soul and body burns forever?”

“If there was a giant steel ball the size of the planet earth suspended in space and if every one million years a small, gentle dove flew past and the very tiniest tip of its feathery little wing just barely touched, by the time that ball was completely severed in two, Eternity will have just begun.”

“And what part of the body burns the hottest in Hell??”

“The part you have sinned with!”

There was a finale.

“Is anything besides committing a sexually impure act a Mortal Sin?”

“Yes!” “Wanting To!!”

There I was being told “wanting to do it” was the same as “doing it” with an identical penalty. And punishment was a stiff one at that. I intellectually came to a painful realization that I was confronted with two mutually exclusive moral positions: Either (a) I was condemned to be a Mortal Sinner throughout life with my only hope for Salvation being a friendly comet nailing me at light-speed velocity just seconds after leaving a Confessional or (b) I could avoid self-deception and explore my God-given conscience.

I dismissed (a) as mathematically improbable — went with (b) — and that’s why I consider Rick Santorum (c) — CREEPY.

“An Oakhurst Connection”

February 3, 2012

Statue of Cuchulainn by Oliver Sheppard in the window of the General Post Office, Dublin, Ireland - commemorating the 1916 Rising.

The December 24, 2009 Christmas issue of this paper featured a front page story by Tiffany Tuell which began with the words, “A small group of Mountain Area residents braved the cold Friday evening, December 18, at the corner of Highway 41 and Highway 49 for a peace vigil, sending a message to end the wars in the Middle East and bring American troops home. Their message was met by a steady stream of vehicles honking in agreement.”

Tiffany quoted me as saying: “I have a cousin who is a Navy SEAL lieutenant commander. I am very much in support of him and the troops, but don’t want to see them throw away their lives for an insane proposition.”

Even as a little boy, he felt a certain calling. Later – as a young man – he followed his dream.

You will meet my cousin shortly on the screen of “The Met” and in an additional 3,000 theaters across the country in a major motion picture four years in the making. Other than normal military pay, all participating SEALS received no additional compensation for their involvement in what started as a training project and evolved into what has become a cinematic achievement of epic proportion.

Still on active duty, he is unidentified by name, as are brother SEALS featured in the film.

I was privileged to witness the final cut of “Act of Valor” just days ago in LA. It made me proud to be an American.

It is the inherent nature of our species. Throughout civilized history, it was and remains only true warriors who have won and preserved extended peace for those they faithfully serve. Not kings. Not presidents. Not priests nor prophets.

The legend of Cúchulainn is one of the greatest in ancient Irish legend. He is noted in mythical sagas for his superhuman strength and amazing deeds on the battlefield. Cúchulainn was heard to proclaim before the Druids in Ulster’s Hall of Heroes: “’I care not whether I die tomorrow or next year, if only my deeds live after me’.

My SEAL cousin includes Irish heritage on his Father’s side of the family, but shares with his Mother, as do I with mine, ancestry dating back to the Mayflower, including one Thomas Newcomb, cited as a “Soldier of the Revolution”, drafted into the American Army under George Washington on 23 August, 1777, at the age of 16.

Tombstone of Thomas Newcomb -- Onondaga County, New York

“Act of Valor” concludes with powerful imagery – those Stars and Stripes – that flag fought for freedom through the years — passing yet further onward to a new generation.

Closing credits display only the names of Navy SEALS who have willingly and unselfishly offered their lives on our behalf since 9/11 — heroes and warriors all. The list is long.

It is to them we owe our deepest gratitude and highest praise.

It is for us to pledge their living brothers are never sent to die for less than the values we profess.

“ It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us— that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” — Abraham Lincoln. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. November 19, 1863.