Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quick Question About "The Da Vinci Code"

I suscribe to a service called "Quick Questions" that sends out a daily e-mail answering questions about the Catholic Faith. Todays question addresses the topic of The Da Vinci Code, the highly controversial-- and still, widely read-- novel by Dan Brown. I thought the staff apologist that answered this question did a good job in addressing the main issues of why Catholics (and anyone interested in truth) have problems with Browns book-- and, by extension, any work or literary or cinematic fiction that distort or play loose with serious historical facts and religious truths:

Q: “I have just read Catholic Answers' report on the novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I have to say that the Church seems very flustered about the book. Surely the Church has nothing to fear from a work of fiction, no matter what the view of the author.”

A: Actually, the Church as an institution has had no comment, one way or the other, on The Da Vinci Code. The book has not been placed by the Vatican on any "forbidden books" list nor have any "official" sanctions been placed on it. Those who are concerned are faithful Catholics, clerical and lay, who have seen the book confuse Catholics and other Christians about the character of people in the early Church, the relationship of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, and orthodox Christian doctrine.

Although many have claimed that Christians shouldn’t be concerned about the novel because it is fiction, Brown himself has touted the book as the fruit of factual research. He opens the novel with a "Fact Page" that purports to be unvarnished truth. In other words, he wants people to believe that his conclusions in the novel are true.

Even had Brown not advertised his book to reveal hidden "truths" about Christianity, the device of fiction does not grant authors the right to disseminate historical untruths. Analogously, a novel that purported to reveal that the Holocaust never happened and that Adolf Hitler was really a great guy would be (quite properly) discounted by people of good will everywhere as anti-Semitic agitprop. Indeed, in this day and age, such a book would likely never see publication, at least by mainstream publishers. If such a book as that could not be defended with the disclaimer "It’s only a novel!" then other books that spread historical untruths also cannot be defended as "only fiction."

You can subscribe the "Quick Questions" by going to the Catholic Answers website and clicking on the banner that says "Quick Questions E-Letter FREE."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

SB 1070: What Do I Think About It?

This has got to be the hot button topic of the day. Virtually everybody has an opinion on it, some informed and some not so informed. And there are some who are completely misinformed and are running on pure emotion or political posturing. I'm asked about this law a lot, so I am going to try and explain my views here.

As you may or may not know, I am a "third generation" American of Mexican extraction. I put that in quotes because my family was settled in California before it was the United States. I love my heritage and am proud to be what I am. My wife is Filipino and, like most of those who come here from foreign shores, her family worked hard and sacrificed to play by all the rules to come to this country. I was born and raised in California, but have lived happily in Arizona for the last fifteen years. I was in the military, so I've seen some of the world, and I'm now a fire code enforcement official, so I see a fairly wide spectrum of the community--the good, bad and the ugly.

Having said that, let me say this: Those who are against this law and do not live in Arizona need to step back and look at reality.

First of all, this law is NOT about racial profiling-- in fact, language within the law prohibits it. It simply is an enforcement of existing law. If I thought it was going to profile people with brown skin (including me) I would be against it.

Secondly, this law does not-- repeat does NOT-- give police the legal right to stop people whenever they feel like it just to ask their legal status. It does give them the right to ask about their legal status if the person is being lawfully detained for the commission of a crime AND does not possess common ID, like a drivers license. So if you don't commit crimes or get arrested and you have ID, no problem.

So let's stop with the mischaracterizing the law. Instead, lets look at some facts.

Fact: Illegal immigration (note the word 'illegal') is draining Arizona. The emergency room system here is collapsing, the state social welfare system that are meant for American citizens in need are over-burdened and are on the verge of being cut. The public school system is hemorrhaging red ink. Cops and regular citizens along the border are being threatened and killed by violent gangs. The law enforcement system is going broke because of both non-violent and violent crime committed by non-citizens.

Answer me this: Who's going to deal with this and pay for all this? People on the liberal coasts? Who is now paying the price in treasure and blood while the rest of the country wrings their hands and the POTUS makes jokes? What would you have Arizona do--allow itself to be drained of resources? Other than open the borders or grant blanket amnesty, what would you do? I have asked this question many times in many venues and have never received an answer-- only silence.

What about all the American kids in Arizona who can't get jobs because the entry-level jobs that traditionally go to young folks are going to cheap illegal immigrants? Who is dealing with this? Arizona and Arizonans, that's who! We are the Gondor of the US taking the brunt while everyone else sits safely in their ivory towers. If the Feds or no one else will help us, we will do it ourselves. If you have a better plan that you're willing to help pay for, let's hear it.

Finally, let's be clear on this: those self-anointed Latino 'leaders,' activists and celebrities that are now screaming "RACISM" over this law do NOT speak for me. They only speak for themselves and for those who are similarly misinformed, paranoid and politically motivated. I can speak for myself.