Those who rule the commonwealths should avail themselves of the laws and institutions of the country; masters and wealthy owners must be mindful of their duty; the working class, whose interests are at stake, should make every lawful and proper effort; and since religion alone, as We said at the beginning, can avail to destroy the evil at its root, all men should rest persuaded that main thing needful is to re-establish Christian morals, apart from which all the plans and devices of the wisest will prove of little avail.
Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum-Paragraph 62
The problem with papal encyclicals when they delve into economic and political issues is that they tend to be long and fairly complex. They are also bound by the historical events surrounding them at the time when they are promulgated. People with axes to grind will usually pick and choose rather than reading the entire encyclical in its historical context.
Rerum Novarum was written in 1891 at a time of huge worker unrest and when both anarchism and communism were beginning to take root. The living conditions of workers were often appalling. Pope Leo, while making a full throated defense of property, also wanted to indicate sympathy for the workers and their often legitimate complaints.
In regard to paragraph 36 of Rerum Novarum Pope Leo in his final sentence indicates a concern that the State not take more action than is necessary to remedy an evil: “The limits must be determined by the nature of the occasion which calls for the law’s interference – the principle being that the law must not undertake more, nor proceed further, than is required for the remedy of the evil or the removal of the mischief.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The Pope addressed a gathering of so-called Popular Movements (in PopeWatch’s experience precious few groups call themselves Unpopular) meeting in Rome:
“This meeting of Popular Movements is a sign, a great sign,” Pope Francis told his audience. “You came to be in the presence of God, of the church… [to speak about] a reality that is often silenced. The poor not only suffer from injustice, but they also fight against it.”
The Holy Father also emphasized that it is not sufficient to be content with “illusory promises,” and that anesthetizing or taming problems at hand does not solve them. He called for solidarity amidst trying times. “Solidarity is a word that…means more than some generous, sporadic acts. It is to think and act in terms of the community…It is also to fight against the structural causes of poverty, inequality, unemployment, and [loss of] land, housing, and social and labour rights. It is to confront the destructive effects of the ‘Empire of Money:’ forcible displacements and migrations, human and drug trafficking, war, violence, and all of these realities that many of you suffer and that we all are called to address and transform. Solidarity, understood in its most profound sense, is a way of making history, and that is what the Popular Movements movement is doing,” he said.
Pope Francis spoke about the monopolization of land, deforestation, appropriation of water, and inadequate agrochemicals, which have deprived many farmers of sufficient land. He pointed out that in rural communities, land is ingrained in lifestyle and culture. For these afflicted farmers, separation from land is not purely physical, it is also “existential and spiritual,” he said. Additionally, the Pope said the need for agricultural reform is ingrained in the Church’s social doctrine. “Please,” he urged, “continue to fight for the dignity of rural families, for water, for life and for all that can benefit from the fruits of land.”
Also on the agenda were the problems of housing and employment. Insisting that every family has a right to a home, the Pope said, “Today there are many families without housing, either because they never had it or because they lost it for various reasons.” The Holy Father stressed that this was unacceptable; that in neighbourhoods families grow and plant their foundations. It is a shame, he said, that in large cities there is an abundance of neglect in regards to housing “millions of our brothers and neighbours, including children.”
The Pope went on to renounce the use of euphemisms to soften the harsh realities that plague society today. Specifically, he referred to the use of the term, “street situation,” which is used to describe the homeless. “We live in cities that build towers, malls, and businesses, but abandon the parts where the marginalized reside – the peripheries.”
Lastly, the Pope spoke about the growing problem of unemployment in Europe and around the world. “Today, the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression has taken on a new dimension,” he said. “The centre of our whole social and economic system needs to be about the person, the image of God, created for the universe.” Instead, we live in a world that is largely infatuated with the attainment of wealth, and that the economy is prioritized over the human person. He pointed out that the unemployment of the youth in Italy has reached 40%; and that in some parts of Europe, that number is even higher. “We need to change this,” he said. “We need to return to making human dignity the centre [of society]… and we need to create the alternative societal structures that we need.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Tragic is the only word to describe the life of Vachel Lindsay. Perhaps the greatest of the poets of Illinois, he deserves his appellation the Prairie Troubador, his life was haunted by mental instability and money woes. He committed suicide at age 52 in 1931 by drinking a bottle of Lysol. His last words indicated the paranoia that beset him at the end: “They tried to get me; I got them first!”
A sad life, but a great talent. In 1914, anguished by the outbreak of World War I, he wrote this haunting homage to Lincoln: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
An opening note: Yes, I know that in the book, the Doctor was Frankenstein, and the Monster was to be “a new Adam.” In popular culture, Frankenstein’s Monster became shortened to Frankenstein, and sometimes to Frank. I’m going with “Frankenstein” or just “the monster” from here on out.
The basic story is well worn from use– brilliant scientist tries to create a perfect creature and things go badly. It’s been used in every variation from the original human corpses to clones to robots to vampires. (one of the Blade movies) I could make an argument that the Island of Doctor Moreau is a Frankenstein variation, as is the legend of the Golem and thus the Wizard’s Apprentice. A fairly new movie has the monster fighting demons in modern times, or something. Frankenstein even harassed multiple comedy teams in old movies!
The story-line of “make a better person and/or create a new life artificially and horrible things happen” is so well established that it would be easier to try to list all the examples of times it goes right in movies or others stories, and the iconic caricature of The Monster is recognizable even when he’s bright pink and apparently steam powered.
And yet, somehow, there’s something in the way people are that drives us to the same goal as Doctor Frankenstein; we want to make life, because when we make it we’ll do a better job. We manufacture humans in a lab, test, select and implant some portion rather routinely; at the other end of the spectrum, the Anglicans and Catholics in the United Kingdom actually joined together to protest plans to manufacture cloned humans in animal eggs. (Animal Human Hybrids.) In a modern echo of the original story, we use the genetic material in a human egg, put it in another egg, and then fertilize the resulting cell. This makes the “three parent children” you may have heard about.
Focusing on the human-animal combinations, I’ll just quote the Daily Mail:
This legalised the creation of a variety of hybrids, including an animal egg fertilised by a human sperm; ‘cybrids’, in which a human nucleus is implanted into an animal cell; and ‘chimeras’, in which human cells are mixed with animal embryos.
If you’re not familiar with the process, cloning is done by taking an egg, removing the nucleus and inserting a cell, then tricking it into growing. When it does start to grow, it’s the same as an embryo formed in the traditional manner. Almost all of the resulting organism’s DNA comes from the nucleus, but things like mitochondrial DNA come from the egg’s shell. This means that a human cloned in a cow’s egg and not killed for research, if they managed to reach adulthood, would most likely look and act like a naturally formed human. They would probably have health issues, since there are mitochondrial genetic diseases, but being ill health is hardly restricted to clones. God makes the soul.
This is a really long work-up to saying, as best we can tell, a human clone formed in a cow’s egg would be just as human as a child from IVF, or rape, or adultery, or any of a wide range of offenses to human dignity.
Obviously, a cow with a few human genes inserted (‘spliced’) is clearly not human. Drawing a line– “if more than 27.9835% of identified genes are human, you shouldn’t do it” is rather difficult. I would use a rule of thumb that if the goal of creating the organism is to kill it for human parts or to evade rules against killing humans for parts, you’re doing it wrong. Contrast with, say, gene splicing a pig so that a protein that makes a human body reject a pig heart is replaced by a protein that’s recognized as human by a human body.
Another way of looking at it is along the lines of therapy vs enhancement. To go to my pig example, altering the pig with the goal of fixing an existing problem is one thing; altering the pig to get as close to a human as you can get while avoiding non-moral problems (Why animal eggs? Human eggs are expensive and dangerous to get.)
The old question of “what makes a man” is quite popular, so I’ll end with a very long quote that a writer was kind enough to share, taken from The City of God, Chap. 16, Book 8.
Whether Certain Monstrous Races of Men are Derived from the Stock of Adam or Noah’s Sons.
It is also asked whether we are to believe that certain monstrous races of men, spoken of in secular history, have sprung from Noah’s sons, or rather, I should say, from that one man from whom they themselves were descended. For it is reported that some have one eye in the middle of the forehead; some, feet turned backwards from the heel; some, a double sex, the right breast like a man, the left like a woman, and that they alternately beget and bring forth: others are said to have no mouth, and to breathe only through the nostrils; others are but a cubit high, and are therefore called by the Greeks Pigmies: they say that in some places the woman conceive in their fifth year, and do not live beyond their eighth. So, too, they tell of a race who have two feet but only one leg, and are of marvelous swiftness, though they do not bend the knee: they are called Skiopodes, because in the hot weather they lie down on their backs and shade themselves with their feet. Others are said to have no head, and their eyes in their shoulders; and other human or quasi-human races are depicted in mosaic in the harbor esplanade of Carthage, on the faith of histories of rarities. What shall I say of the Cynocephali, whose dog-like head and barking proclaim them beasts rather than men? But we are not bound to believe all we hear of these monstrosities. But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast. We can distinguish the common human nature from that which is peculiar, and therefore wonderful.
For Halloween, I’m cross-posting slightly edited versions of my C&C monster series from Catholic Stand, one a week. Hope that you folks enjoy them.
Time to renew my Chief Geek of the blog creds. As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a Star Trek fan. (No, I do not own a Star Fleet uniform, let alone worn one to court!) Over the weekend I watched the three episodes thus far produced by Star Trek Continues, go here to their website, an unpaid volunteer group making episodes to complete the final two years of the original Star Trek five year mission. Other Star Trek “tribute” episodes have been produced by other groups, but I have seen nothing that comes as close as Star Trek Continues in capturing the feel, and the fun, of the original series. Judge for yourselves. The video above is the third episode produced: Fairest of Them All, which is a continuation of my second favorite Star Trek episode, Mirror Mirror, which introduced the alternate “bearded Spock” universe where the Federation is an aggressive interstellar empire. Long may Star Trek Continue continue!
Steven Hayward over at Power Line reminds us of why Democrats fight voter ID tooth and nail: because they benefit from vote fraud:
How extensive is voter-fraud, especially among non-citizens? Just bring up the question, or suggest we need to have voter-ID at the polls like every other advanced democracy, and the answer will be instantly supplied: You’re a racist. But as Dan McLaughlin points out over at The Federalist, Democrats seem to win a suspiciously high number of close elections, well beyond what a random statistical trial would suggest.
There’s a bombshell academic study out on this issue right now that the media is mostly ignoring (the only exception being the Washington Post’s very fine wonky MonkeyCage blog), in part because it appears in an obscure academic journal, Electoral Studies, that is behind an expensive subscription paywall, and in part because any reporter who does a story about it will be called a racist. Since I’m an academic these days, I’ve got access to the article, “Do Non-Citizens Vote in U.S. Elections?”, by Jesse T. Richman and Gulshan A. Chattha of Old Dominion University and David C. Earnest of George Mason University.
The conclusion of the abstract alone ought to set off alarm bells:
We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.
Using data from the Cooperate Congressional Election Study, which sampled 32,000 voters in 2008 and over 50,000 voters in 2010, the authors conclude that as many as 14 percent of non-citizens—potentially as high as 2.8 million—are registered to vote. The authors conclude that a mid-point estimate of 1.2 million non-citizens cast votes in 2008: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Father Z reports on comments made by Pope Francis regarding families:
In an audience with members of an international Marian movement, Pope Francis warned that the sacrament of marriage has been reduced to a mere association, and urged participants to be witnesses in a secular world.
“The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” the Pope told those in attendance at the Oct. 25 audience.
He warned against the common view in society that “you can call everything family, right?” [ZAP!]
“What is being proposed is not marriage, it’s an association. But it’s not marriage! It’s necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!” Pope Francis stressed. [Okay! Let's say it! And will the secular MSM pick it up? Will they report that their darling Pope Francis, the first Pope who ever smiled, the first Pope who ever kissed a baby, the most wonderfullest fluffiest Pope ehvur, made it clear that attempts to confuse the concept of family and marriage must be resisted? NEWS FLASH: Pope Francis seems not to think that homosexual unions, even with adopted children, are "marriages" and "families". Will the catholic media report on this? I just went over to the site of the Fishwrap and did a search on the keyword "Schoenstaat". Zip.]
He lamented that there are so many “new forms” of unions which are “totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage.” ["'new forms' of unions"... hmmm... what ever could be mean?]
Noting that there are many who cohabitate, or are separated or divorced, he explained that the “key” to helping is a pastoral care of “close combat” that assists and patiently accompanies the couple.
Pope Francis offered his words in a question-and-answer format during his audience with members of the Schoenstatt movement, held in celebration of the 100th anniversary of its founding in Germany.
Roughly 7,500 members of the international Marian and apostolic organization, both lay and clerics from dozens of nations around the world, were present in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall for the audience.
In his answers to questions regarding marriage, Pope Francis explained that contemporary society has “devalued” the sacrament by turning it into a social rite, removing the most essential element, which is union with God. [If it is a social rite, then I suppose three or four or more can all "marry", including Spot, the family pet.] →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The fourth in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.
We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose. I like to refer to these as The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity. Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post. We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin, here the Pierced Vermin and here the F-Bomb Vermin. The fourth of the Hamsters is the Texting Vermin.
This is not a bivouac of the dead. It is a colony of heaven. And some part of us all is buried here.
My co-blogger Darwin Catholic has a fascinating post on cemeteries at his blog:
I like cemeteries and I hadn’t had a chance to wander this one much, even though we’ve lived here for four years now. It’s been the parish cemetery 125 years, but the was an older cemetery on part of the land which the parish cemetery has since swallowed up. That old section has headstones engraved in cursive script dated from the 1830s through the 1850s.
One of the things I like about our town is that it hasn’t outgrown its history. The downtown isn’t much bigger than it was in 1910, though the outlying areas have grown a good bit. This cemetery is much different from the more modern ones I grew up with in California, with the land all flat and the headstones flush with the ground so that big riding mowers could move through the whole area easily. Here the grounds rolls in little depressions and rises and nearly all the stones are upright. This has the feel of a place which has quietly seen a lot of people come and go, not an open space that has been tamed for the purpose of conducting burials efficiently.
I suppose sixty-nine counts as an early death these days, but nonetheless I’d feel a certain relief if I knew that I’d have at least thirty-four more years to be with my loved ones and to get things done.
Other sources of perspective are more sobering. We say a headstone from 1910 for a baby who died at 10 months and 19 days. Our youngest, who I was carrying with me, is 10 months and 3 days old. Momento mori. I wrapped him tighter in his blanket against the evening breeze. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
A week from now the midterm elections will occur, and, as usual, The American Catholic will be hosting live blog reports and analysis. After my less than stellar predictions of 2012, I am somewhat reluctant to make a forecast, but never fearing to rush in where all sensible angels fear to tread, here are my predictions.
In the House, the Republicans will gain 15-20 seats.
In the Senate the Republicans will gain 7 seats and capture control of the Senate.
In Governorships there will be no net change.
In legislative seats held the Republicans will equal their net number high mark reached in 2010.
What are your predictions?
Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa describes the role of the Pope at the Synod. PopeWatch would very much prefer that Magister’s assessment was incorrect, but fears that it is all too correct:
ROME, October 24, 2014 – It is not true that Francis was silent during the two weeks of the synod. In the morning homilies at Saint Martha’s, he hammered away every day at the zealots of tradition, those who load unbearable burdens onto men, those who have only certainties and no doubts, the same against whom he lashed out in the farewell address with the synod fathers.
He is anything but impartial, this pope. He wanted the synod to orient the Catholic hierarchy toward a new vision of divorce and homosexuality, and he has succeeded, in spite of the scanty number of votes in favor of the change of course, after two weeks of fiery discussion.
In any case, he will be the one who ultimately decides, he reminded the cardinals and bishops who may have had any doubts. In order to refresh their memory on his “supreme, full, immediate, and universal” power, he brought to the field not a handful of refined passages from “Lumen Gentium,” but the rock-solid canons of the code of canon law.
On communion for the divorced and remarried, it is already known how the pope thinks. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he authorized the “curas villeros,” the priests sent to the peripheries, to give communion to all, although four fifths of the couples were not even married. And as pope, by telephone or letter he is not afraid of encouraging some of the faithful who have remarried to receive communion without worrying about it, right away, even without those “penitential paths under the guidance of the diocesan bishop” projected by some at the synod, and without issuing any denials when the news of his actions comes out.
This is one of the ways in which Jorge Mario Bergoglio exercises his absolute powers as head of the Church. And when he pushes the whole of the Catholic hierarchy to follow him on this road, he knows very well that communion for the divorced and remarried, numerically insignificant, is the loophole for a much more generalized and radical sea change, toward that “second possibility of marriage,” with the consequent dissolution of the first, which is admitted in the Eastern Orthodox Churches and which he, Francis, just shortly after his election as pope said “must be studied” in the Catholic Church as well, “in the context of pastoral care for marriage.”
It was in July of 2013 that the pope made these intentions public. But in that same interview on the plane back from Brazil he opened a construction site on the terrain of homosexuality as well, with that memorable “who am I to judge?” universally interpreted as an absolution of actions that have always been condemned by the Church but no longer are, if they are committed by someone who is “seeking the Lord and has good will.”
A turning point on this matter did not have an easy time at the synod. It was invoked in the assembly by no more than three fathers: by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, by the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” and by the Malaysian archbishop John Ha Tiong Hock.
Hock supported himself with a parallel drawn by Pope Francis between the Church’s judgment on slavery and that on the conception that the man of today has of himself, to say that just as the first changed so also the second judgment can mutate.
Then, for having inserted into the mid-discussion working document three paragraphs encouraging the “affective growth” between two men or two women “integrating the sexual dimension,” Archbishop Bruno Forte, brought in as special secretary of the synod at the pope’s behest, was publicly disowned by the cardinal relator, the Hungarian Péter Erdõ. And the subsequent discussion among the synod fathers ripped the three paragraphs to shreds, which in the final “Relatio” were reduced to just one without anything new in it, not even reaching a quorum of approval.
But here as well Francis and his lieutenants, from Forte to Spadaro to Argentine archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, have hit their target of getting this explosive issue onto the agenda of the Catholic Church, at the highest levels. The result remains to be seen.
Because this is how Bergoglio’s revolution proceeds, “long-term, without obsession over immediate results.” Because “the important thing is to initiate processes rather than possess spaces.” Words from “Evangelii Gaudium,” the program of his pontificate. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The last significant military operation at Petersburg in 1864, the battle of Boydton Plank Road, was part of the efforts of the Army of the Potomac to cut the Confederate South Side Railroad that supplied Petersburg and Richmond from the west. This was no small operation, consisting of Winfield Scott’s corps, reinforced by infantry divisions from other corps and a cavalry division.
On October 27, 1864 Hancock crossed Hatcher’s Run creek and moved around the Confederate right flank heading for Burgess Mill. General Henry Heth, commanding A.P. Hill’s corps due to the illness of Hill, interposed two divisions to stop Hancock. Hancock made good progress when Meade ordered a hault to the offensive, concerned about a five mile gap developing between the Union left and Hancock.
Hancock retreated to Hatcher’s Run, only to find the ford now being held by Confederate cavalry. Heth now went on the offensive, hoping to bag Hancock’s corps, isolated as it now was from the rest of the Union army.
Hancock kept calm, beat off the Confederate attacks and retreated across Hatcher’s Run during the night. Union casualties were 1700 to 1300 Confederate. Grant in his memoirs summed up this action and the closing down of operations around Petersburg for the remainder of the year: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Fighting against corruption is a major theme of Pope Francis, he even considers it a greater evil than sin. “Corruptionis a greater evil than sin”, and more than “be forgiven, must be cured”. Father Ray Blake, however, wonders about the example of the Vatican when it comes to fighting corruption:
It has been put forward that there has been clamp-down on corruption, some notable dismissals like the ‘Bishop of Bling’, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. Yes, but the expenditure of Cdl Reinhard Marx has gone unnoted, there has been no investigation but he is spending 51 million euros for the beautification of the Archdiocesan Campus and not an eyebrow is raised in the Holy See. In Italy the reputation of the Bishop Albenga-Imperia, Bishop Mario Oliveri is being trashed. In part it appears he has welcomed some FFIs and also because some of his priests have been ‘moon-lighting as barmen, stealing parish funds and getting tattooed’. I don’t know if his response might be, ‘Who am I to judge’ but their behaviour seems no worst than members of the Papal circle, lifts and Swiss army officers come to mind or some of the clergy of the diocese of Rome who reputed spend time in cities gay enclaves. Indeed, who will investigate Rome where so much seems to be swept under the carpet. Remember the ‘Vatileaks’, what has happened to that? What about the diocese of Linz or the Archdiocese of Vienna where according to reports from We are the Church type groups, a considerable number of the clergy are living in either homosexual or heterosexual relationships.
The impression that is given is that Justice in the Church is itself corrupted, indeed, that it is actually about settling scores and has nothing to do with truthfulness which was once considered a Christian virtue. Rather than being consoled by accounts of these investigations I become increasingly alarmed, it seems as if some religious orders or diocese that seem to produce fruit and are orthodox are subject to investigation whilst others which are barren and often highly unorthodox carry on in their own sweet way, especially if the have powerful or wealthy friends at court. The problem is that Justice appears to used as a robber baron or some New World dictator might use it, as a means of intimidation and threat, not to bring the Salvific Light of Christ to bear on dark and hidden corners. It is as if some are above the Law and others crushed by it. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I became a conservative by watching this speech on television a half century ago in 1964 at the age of seven. Barry Goldwater’s campaign was doomed ab initio, but this speech of Reagan on behalf of Goldwater launched Reagan’s meteoric political career that would see him elected President sixteen years later. What he said in that speech still defines American conservatism for me, and, I think, the vast majority of conservatives in this country. As the intellectual godfather of the modern conservative movement in America, Russell Kirk said:
Ronald Reagan will be remembered as the President who gave hope to the American people — even great expectations. Old sureties that the ritualistic liberal had mocked were unshaken in Ronald Reagan’s mind; and President Reagan’s reaffirmation of those ancient convictions began to arouse the nation from the discouragement of twenty years or more.
Contrary to some truly misguided individuals, conservatives do not “worship” Reagan. Reagan was simply a man, who made mistakes and had his share of human foibles and flaws. However, he has never been surpassed for his ability to articulate conservatism to the American people and to convince vast swathes of the American people to embrace conservatism. Reagan was the greatest conservative statesman in American history, and I pray that I will see a leader as great as him again in my lifetime, although I do not expect that I, or the country, will be that fortunate. Here is the text of what has become known as The Speech: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations.”
LeBoeuf: The force of law! This man is a notorious thumper! He rode by the light of the moon with Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson!
Rooster Cogburn: That men was patriots, Texas trash!
LeBoeuf: They murdered women and children in Lawrence, Kansas.
Rooster Cogburn: That’s a G-d d—-d lie! What army was you in, mister?
LeBoeuf: I was at Shreveport first with Kirby-Smith, then…
Rooster Cogburn: Yeah? What side was you on?
LeBoeuf: I was in the army of Northern Virginia, Cogburn, and I don’t have to hang my head when I say it!
Rooster Cogburn: If you had served with Captain Quantrill…
LeBoeuf: Captain? Captain Quantrill indeed!
Rooster Cogburn: Best let this go, LeBoeuf!
LeBoeuf: Captain of what?
Rooster Cogburn: Good, then! There are not sufficient dollars in the state of Texas to make it worth my while to listen to your opinions. Our agreement is nullified.
LeBoeuf: That suits me!
Charles Portis, True Grit
Our Civil War was a relatively clean war in that the mass murder of civilian populations that are often a feature of civil wars was mercifully absent from that conflict. However, some atrocities did occur, and many of them were in the ferocious fighting that raged in Kansas and along the Kansas-Missouri border. There the Civil War had begun in 1854, with a brief truce in 1859-60.
Anderson, born in 1839, came from a family of horse thieves. Residing in Agnes, Kansas in March 1862, his father was shot by a local Judge in regard to a stolen horse. Bloody Bill and his brother Jim took revenge by shooting to death the Judge and his brother-in-law. Bloody Bill left Agnes, Kansas with his family and moved to Western Missouri.
By the spring of 1863 Bloody Bill and Jim had joined up with William Quantrill and his Confederate guerillas.
Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr., the commander of the military district which comprised Kansas and Western Missouri, ordered the arrest of relatives of the members of Quantrill’s band. 12 women among those arrested were housed in a three story house in Kansas City, Missouri. The house collapsed on August 14, 1863, killing four of the women. Anderson’s sister Josephine was killed in the collapse and his sister Mary was rendered a permanent cripple.
Anderson went crazy with grief and rage when he heard the news. In retaliation, Quantrill raided Lawrence, Kansas on August 21. 200 men and boys were murdered by Quantrill’s men, with Bloody Bill living up to the nickname by which he is known to history. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Somewhere beneath the radar screen, college-age American men as a group aren’t doing so well, especially when compared to today’s college women and men of the halcyon era of U.S. higher education long past, according to Rocco L. Capraro, who wrote an essay published in What Works: A Book About Raising Boys, Engaging Guys, and Educating Men.
As compared to college women and previous generations of college men, the sad facts:
- they read less;
- graduating from high school, they are not prepared for college;
- many are simply not attending college; and,
- those who matriculate aren’t graduating in large numbers.
These sad facts translate into the reality that if college admissions were gender-blind, then the majority of students at the nation’s most selective colleges would be women.
Of those men who do attend college today:
- they are less engaged in studies and student life;
- they receive lower grades and fewer academic honors (men in STEM courses–i.e., science, technology, engineering, and math–being the exception);
- they exhibit higher rates of alcohol and substance abuse and commit more social conduct violations; and,
- they use fewer student services and are more reluctant to seek help and attend support programs.
In sum, men are getting less out of their college experience, and they are not taking it upon themselves to do something about it.
So, what’s to be done? Capraro’s answer: “Men’s studies” that will enable college men:
- To get at the underlying causes of the lack of success of college men, what’s needed is to take a cue from feminist, critical race, and other explanatory systems to understand differentials in power to explain to college men the experience of college men, why they are struggling, and what they can do about it.
- To understand men’s experience, identity, and development throughout the life course—understanding men as men, not as generic human beings—will assist college men to know who they are (the social reality), what they think (stereotypes) and what they would like to be (the gender ideal). In short, to study “masculinities” so as to be able to discuss male students as males.
Capraro is optimistic, writing:
At bottom, what men’s studies teaches us, and where it can play a role in improving the lives of college men, is the fundamental insight that the totality of men’s experience cannot be explained by men’s power alone. True, objectively speaking, men as a group may still have power over women as a group; however, subjectively, individual men do not necessarily feel powerful, or behave as if they were in control. That is because many men engage in harmful, self-destructive behaviors linked to messages about manhood, or feel they do not measure up to the gender ideal, or are burdened by harmful stereotypes of what it means to be a man.
They are also socialized not to express their feelings, report symptoms, reveal their vulnerability, or otherwise deal in healthy ways with their emotions. And when it comes to learning, they learn at an early age that “school is for girls.” Masculinity leaves men feeling shamed and disempowered, suffering the negative consequences of their own notions of manhood and their own aversion to female identified values and attributes.
Worse yet, after steering men in the wrong direction, masculinity—insidiously and tragically—interferes with help-seeking behavior. No wonder so many men struggle in college. On campus, college women more likely to be sober and involved and men are drinking more—and more often—and are more distracted. College women in distress are more likely to seek out counseling centers or are referred by a friend, while college men become silent or act out. Informed by men’s studies, we can better design programs and services for college men, with men in mind.
If Capraro is to be believed, teachers and administrators in the nation’s K-12 schools are causing boys to become confused about what it means to be men so that, by the time high school graduation rolls around, they have absolutely no sense about their identity as males. Today, college men are “victims” who need to attend college to learn what who they are not only as men but also be educated in the various forms of “masculinities.” All of this will empower college men to be men, in the same way that college age women have been empowered through K-12 schools to seize upon their college experience to be equal and, it seems, surpass all of those poor, confused college men.
“Male studies.” The panacea for confused college men?
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