Friday, September 12, 2014

The Medal of Honor comes to the Diocese of Knoxville

Today I received a great honor.

In my volunteer work for the Diocese of Knoxville, I was asked to videotape a very special event today, when Sacred Heart Cathedral School was visited by not just one, but two Medal of Honor recipients.

Please note:  one does not say a person "won" the Medal of Honor.  It is awarded, or rather, earned - literally, with blood, seat, and tears.

Ssgt. Ty Carter and MSgt, Leroy Petry arrived via helicopter, landing on the school's lawn.  As I said, I was shooting video but I also got some still shots, mostly of MSgt. Petry since I followed him into a classroom after a school assembly.  I admit, I wanted to because he is a retired Army Ranger and my Dad was one of the original Rangers.  What a sweetheart he was with the kids.

Man, I met two REAL heroes today!

Let me share some of my stills:

He can make that hand swivel 36 degrees - which really impressed a lot of kids.
Both guys were humble and outgoing.  What ab great thing it is for our kids to meet men like this.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's in name? Why I say ISIS, not ISIL.

Because I don't want to give them a due they believe I owed.

ISIS is the acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  That is how thy started out.

ISIL is the acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.  That is what they are calling themselves now in recognition of their "caliphate."  The Levant is the territory for the entire Mediterranean from Egypt, east to Iran and to Turkey.  They haven't established control there yet.  But they hope to.

The President uses ISIL to emphasize the group's goals.  I would prefer not to give them that honor.

Know your history for 9/11 . . . the 9/11 of 1683

Do you think the men who flew the planes into the buildings randomly chose 9/11 in 2001 to do so?

For Americans, it would be easy to think it was meant to be some perversion of our emergency code 9-1-1.  But it is not.

It is payback time.

Because in 1683, on September 11th, the Battle of Vienna began.

Led by the Polish king, Jan III Sobieski, the Ottoman Empire was repelled at Vienna.  The Muslims had begun a siege of the city in mid-July, but a local garrison held out until relief forces came from the other countries.  Vienna was considered a crucial point, with its access t the Danube River.

If the Muslims took it, all of Christianity in Europe would be at peril.

But they did not.  And the battle marked the end of the Ottoman Empire's attempt to conquer Europe.

And that is something we must understand about the jihadists.  We joke about how "backwards" their society is and how they are living in the 14th century.

Make that 17th century.  Time is of little importance to them since their cause is holy and righteous.  It is a day after 9/11/1683 and lost ground must be regained.  The battle has not stopped - they found a new tactic in gradually becoming the population of Europe, in consuming the resources of public relief, and in convincing progressive politicians that theirs is a religion of peace eve as they demonstrate with signs saying, "Kill the Jews" and "Behead the Infidels," because, after all, they got a permit to march and doesn't that show us they want to be part of our society?

Know your history.  It is time to relive ours.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hate is the new commodity . . .

Watch this video.

A new style Hitler Youth with a hip-hop beat.

"Be the shit, get a shirt?"

You know, maybe it's not the "Black sounding" name that is keeping your kids from being called back to a job interview, as is said in the video. Maybe it is because they are coming across as crass and uneducated with slogans like "FCKH8."

No, it's not about "selling out" if you "sound White" - it's about recognizing who your audience is and adapting your message appropriately.  We all have to do it.  It is what makes for a successful person.

And wow, I buy a shirt for $13 and $5 goes to charity?

I went to FCKH8's website and read that it is a "for-profit T-shirt company with an activist heart and a passionate social change mission: arming thousands of people with pro-LGBT equality, anti-racism and anti-sexism T-shirts that act as “mini-billboards” for change." It wants you to know that it has "shipped almost 200,000 equality tees, tanks and hoodies to supporters in over 100 countries." But keep reading - " has given over $250,000 to the equality cause through directly funded projects and donations to LGBT charities. In 2014 expanded it's anti-hate message with campaigns and tees focused on fighting sexism and racism and supporting those important causes. "

So the anti-racism stance is new - who knows, a cynic might even say that they are using Michael Brown's death and a platform for more sales. But prior to that? 200,000 t-shirts shipped and only $250,000 donated. Okay, their heart is not THAT activist.

Well, no - because if you read even further, the FCKH8 brand was recently purchased by Synergy Media Ltd., a "a boutique design, merchandising and marketing company dedicated to innovative brand building." In short, let's take advantage of trends, make t-shirts that support the liberal status quo that liberals can wear and feel they're being "brave" in doing so even though they know they have the moral high ground in today's society.  Because if you say, "Well, this is an issue that can't be resolved with a t-shirt" - you're the H8er.

This is the same mindset that thinks it's meaningful and "taking action" to have a State Department official tweet a smiling picture of herself with a sign saying "‪#‎BringBackOurGirls‬" in response to the kidnapping over 300 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Hey, where are those girls today? Oh, right . . . well, sorry, ladies, ‪#‎FCKH8‬ is trending now, you've had your moment in the sun as the cause du jour. Now, go back quietly to your systemic rape at the hands of your captors.

By the way, I would like to know the names of the children appearing in the video.  They are presumably from Ferguson, MO.  Or maybe not.  See, they're "#Ferguson Kids" - and sound nothing like this:

Synergy Media - making money off of societal ills and tragedy.


Martyrdom At the Hands of the Self-Righteous

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger
When the recent case about religious objection to one provision of the Health Care Act was decided against the State religion, the Huffington Post (June 30, 2014) raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” This is not the voice of the nativists who first fought against Catholic immigration in the 1830s. Nor is it the voice of those who burned convents and churches in Boston and Philadelphia a decade later. Neither is it the voice of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s, nor of the Ku Klux Klan, which burned crosses before Catholic churches in the Midwest after the civil war. It is a voice more sophisticated than that of the American Protective Association, whose members promised never to vote for a Catholic for public office. This is, rather, the selfrighteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as “progressive” and “enlightened.” 
The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics. Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day. 
Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.
Francis Cardinal George writes bravely and truthfully in his column this week.  I urge you to read it.

I think he is being especially insightful when he compares the fines imposed on Christian owners of bakeries, photography studios, and B&B's to the jizya of Shariah law.  Except there is a difference; unlike the Islamists and even perhaps the once crude, now quaint mafiosi of the past who wanted such businesses to remain open so that they could be a source of shake down money, the militant members of the LGBT community want these business closed and, even more so, the lives of their proprietors ruined.  How can I make that last claim?  Research the hate mail received by these people by those not simply content with a court process, but wishing them them and their families harm, even death.

That there are two churches is true.  I recall a conversation with a priest in my own diocese, in which he lauded Planned Parenthood for their "educational programs."  I asked him if he did not find any truth in the encyclical Humanae Vitae and he answered, glibly, "Oh, well, I'm not going to say that there is no truth in church documents . . . but Paul VI was a defeated man after he wrote that and wished he hadn't."  He then tried to solicit an agreement on his statement from a seminarian sitting nearby, who refused to answer and just turned away.  I see that as representing the disconnect in our faith - no, it is more than "modernist" vs. "traditionalist," it is more about the difference of truth versus compromise.  Does Father want to "lead all souls to Heaven," as the Fatima prayer goes - or be liked?  The time is coming where Catholics will have to take a side, sadly.  I did and it cost me a friendship but hopefully the other person is better for it.  If not, well - I hope to see him in Heaven.

Do I support same-sex marriage?  I do not.  Do I wish unhappiness on gay people?  I do not.  I wish happiness for all people and my years have led me to conclude that (1) for a greater quotient of happiness, a strong society is needed, and what makes a society strong is not everything for everybody, but recognizing that the family - man, woman, child - is its basic unit and that must be protected, since from that comes the continuation of the species and from that comes things like art and commerce because there is a reassurance that there is a future for the society, and (2) not everyone will be happy or can be.

God bless this brave and holy Cardinal.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thought o' the Ding Dong Day


Who else is happy to see football back?

Photography as the cure for my Araby Syndrome

I could not find any sixpenny entrance and, fearing that the bazaar would be closed, I passed in quickly through a turnstile, handing a shilling to a weary-looking man. I found myself in a big hall girded at half its height by a gallery. Nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognized a silence like that which pervades a church after a service. I walked into the centre of the bazaar timidly. A few people were gathered about the stalls which were still open. Before a curtain, over which the words Café Chantant were written in coloured lamps, two men were counting money on a salver. I listened to the fall of the coins.

     -- "Araby", by James Joyce

I hate being at fairs and amusement parks after 9 o'clock.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography

I remember the first time in high school when I read Joyce's collection of short stories, Dubliners, and encountered "Araby."  In short, a young man wishes to go to a local bazaar in order to purchase a trinket for a love interest.  Despite his best intentions, he gets a late start and arrives, just before 10 pm, as it is closing down.  I became angry when I read it, thinking fool, you're leaving the house at nearly 9:30, of course it is going to be closed.  I could feel the young man's frustration in trying to make it on time and getting there, only to see the lights were going out.  It's too late.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography

When I read it, I could picture the headache-inducing glare of a tungsten light bulb still burning at the end of a long day, illuminating the sodden sawdust on the floor, a day's accumulation of trash nearby.  I was always reminded of "Araby" whenever I stayed too late at Disneyland, and especially if I found myself in the line for the Indiana Jones ride:  to recreate the atmosphere of a jungle site in the 1930's, there is a noisy generator that powers the lights and an old record player, but it surges and occasionally the lights dim and flicker.  I am watching the people in line: children are cranky with fatigue and are whining to their equally tried parents who are lugging bags of merchandise, while obnoxious teenagers raucously laugh, the girls wearing too much makeup and ridiculously long fingernails while the boys are dressed in baggy clothes emblazoned with the colors of their favorite local sports franchise.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography

Call it my Araby Syndrome.

But last night I went to the Tennessee Valley fair and discovered . . . I still hate fairs and amusement parks as the night grows late.  The same people are there, you know, it doesn't have to be Disneyland.   However, I realized the cure:  to go NOT as a fair goer, but as a photographer.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography

Why?  Because I am not part of the crowd.  I am not standing in line with a friend, trying to have a good time and keep a conversation going.  I am a voyeur - in it, but not of it.  The people around me are no longer annoying - they have become my subjects.

I was with friends last night, but fellow photographers - that makes it fun because after the initial socializing, we are there to shoot, specifically pictures of the rides at night with a slow shutter.  I have dragged my tripod with me so I could play with the lights.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography
I am not waiting in a long line.  I am free to move about, sometimes drifting over to a friend to exchange some words, look at what they're shooting, get some advice, give some advice - ad then it is okay to find a spot by myself and look at people and angles and perspective.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography
As the night grows late, I don;t care - it means the light changes and I can look at things differently.  If people start growing tired and the desire to keep the good times rolling becomes a twee bit hysterical, well, I am not part of it.  I am too busy with my camera.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography
I realized last night that it was a cure for my Araby Syndrome.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography
Who knows . . . if I return to visit Southern California, maybe I could even enjoy Disneyland again.

Copyright 2014 - Stephanie Richer Photography
Anything is tolerable when viewed through a lens.