Pope Francis has given yet another interview, this time to Viva in Argentina.
The Pope also spoke about environmental issues and how mankind continues to waste the bounty given by God. He also appeared to voice his opposition to extracting wealth from the earth at the expense of the environment. This has been taken by many to imply fracking — a controversial method of extracting gas that opponents say risks contaminating water supplies.
“When, for example, you want to make use of a mining method that extracts more than other methods, but it contaminates the water, it doesn’t matter,” he said, according to Vatican Radio’s report on the interview. “And so they go on contaminating nature. I think it’s a question that we are not facing: Humanity, in its indiscriminate use of and tyranny over nature, is it committing suicide?” Continue reading
When looking at the battle of the Crater, it is a study in contrasts. The digging of the tunnel and the explosion of the mine at dawn on July 30, 1864, go here to read about the tunnel construction, was a tribute to the ingenuity and sheer compentence of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants and his men of the 48th Pennsylvania, who, with almost no help from the rest of the army, gave the Army of the Potomac a golden opportunity to take Petersburg and bring the War to a rapid conclusion. That this opportunity was missed was largely attributable to criminal incompetence on the part of the generals involved.
Here are the generals who contributed to the debacle:
1. Grant and Meade-Burnside, the commander of the IX corps making the assault, had trained a division of United States Colored Troops to lead the advance after the explosion of the mine. The day before the battle Meade, concerned that the attack would fail and that their would be political repercussions if black troops incurred heavy casualties as a result, ordered Burnside to assign a white division to lead the attack. Burnside protested this decision, but Grant backed Meade up.
2. Burnside-Burnside had the white division chosen by lot rather than picking the best division. Burnside made no effort to make certain that his attacking divisions had access ways cleared of debris and fortifications so they could rapidly advance after the explosion. He made no effort to inform the new white division leading the assault that it was to go around any crater created by the explosion instead of going down into it, which is precisely what the attacking divisions did, making themselves sitting ducks at the bottom of a large hole when the Confederate counter-attack began. Rather than calling off the attack after it became obvious that no breakthrough was possible, Burnside kept feeding troops into the Crater with the only effect being to lengthen the list of Union dead and wounded.
3. James H. Ledlie-Brigadier General James H. Ledlie earned a notable distiction during the battle. It was not unusual for Civil War generals to make bad decisions, and to not infrequently show a distinct lack of common sense, however almost all of them were very brave men. Ledlie was not. In addition to being a very bad commander as indicated by his failure to inform his division of what was expected of them after his division was chosen by lot to lead the assault, he spent the battle drunk and well behind the lines, safe and secure as his men went into the meat grinder. He richly earned his dismissal from the Army after the battle.
4. Edward Ferrero-Brigadier General Edward Ferrero was the foremost dance instructor in the country prior to the War. He should have stuck to that trade. The commander of the black division involved in the battle of the Crater, he spent the battle in the same bomb proof dugout behind the line as Ledlie, and he shared Ledlie’s bottle with him. Ferrero’s behavior is somwhat incomprehensible as he had shown extreme valor in other battles. Astonishingly he was not cashiered from the service, and in December of 1864 he received a brevet promotion to Major General of Volunteers for “bravery and meritorious services”.
With this type of leadership it is no wonder that the attack failed. The initial mine explosion killed 278 Confederates and wounded hundreds of others. For 15 minutes the stunned Confederates did not fire at the attacking Union units. Union troops went down into the Crater and within an hour were receiving heavy fire from Confederate troops at the top of the side of the Crater facing Petersburg. Confederate Brigadier General William Mahone, in charge of the Confederate counterattack, called it a turkey shoot. Instead of calling off the attack when it became clear that the Confederates had sealed the breach caused by the explosion, Burnside kept sending divisions, including the black division, down into the Crater where they were quickly slaughtered. Some Confederate troops murdered black troops who were trying to surrender. When General Lee heard of this he supposedly sent a message to General Mahone telling him to put a stop to this or he would be removed from command.
Union casualties were 4000 to 1500 for the Confederates. The whole debacle was the subject of a lengthy investigation by the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.
Here is Grant’s assessment of the fiasco from his Personal Memoirs: Continue reading
A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week — he thinks it was on Monday, August 3rd. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”
Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary in 1914
Pope Francis yesterday apologized for persecutions suffered by Pentecostals under Fascist Italy.
The pope made his second visit in as many days to the Mafia stronghold near Naples, this time to meet evangelical pastor Giovanni Traettino, whom he befriended while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.
By far the most unusual event during the siege of Petersburg was the attempt by Grant to take Petersburg by a huge mining operation.
The idea of the tunnel was devised by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants, the 33 year old commanding officer of the 48th Pennsylvania. Pleasants was a mining engineer in civilian life and many of his men were coal miners. He became convinced that his men could dig a tunnel under the Confederate fort known as Elliot’s Salient, then fill a mine under the fort sufficient to blow it to kingdom come, along with nearby Confederate trenches. Pleasants took the idea to his corps commander Major General Ambrose Burnside. He and his men had received permission, but he received virtually no assistance from the rest of the Army in the digging of the tunnel, he and his men having to improvise everything they used. Engineering officers told Pleasants that he was crazy and at 511 feet the tunnel would be too long and his men would die of asphyxiation digging the tunnel long before it could be completed.
The tunnel was elevated as it advanced toward the Confederate fort to prevent moisture clogging it up. Fresh air was pumped in by air-exchange mechanism near the entrance. Pleasants had constructed a ventilation shaft located well behind Union lines, and connected it to the mine with canvas. At the shaft’s base, a fire was kept continuously burning. A wooden duct ran the entire length of the tunnel which protruded into the outside air. The fire heated stale air inside of the tunnel, forcing it up the ventilation shaft and out of the mine. The resulting vacuum then sucked fresh air in from the mine entrance via the wooden duct which transported the fresh air to the digging miners.
The took took a bit over two weeks to dig and the mine fifty feet under the Confederate fort took almost another two weeks to construct. It was filled with four tons of gunpowder. The Confederates attempted some desultory countermining operations, but the Union tunnel troops went about their work undiscovered. By July 28, 1864 the mine was ready to explode whenever the high command gave the word. That word would be given on July 30, 1864.
Here is a portion of an article on the tunneling operation that led up to the Battle of the Crater, written by Major William H. Powell, United States Army, which appeared in volume 4 of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Continue reading
The essence of Judaism and the root of the Jewish soul is expediency and self-interest; the God of Israel is Mammon, who expresses himself in the lust for money. Judaism is the embodiment of anti-social attitudes.
Much of it, well yes. Next question? Brendan O’Neill gives us a bit more detail:
This is a recurring theme in anti-Israel sentiment today: the idea that a powerful, sinister lobby of Israel lovers has warped our otherwise respectable leaders here in the West, basically winning control of Western foreign policy. You see it in cartoons depicting Israeli leaders as the puppet masters of politicians like William Hague and Tony Blair. You can hear it in Alexi Sayle’s much-tweeted claim that the “Western powers” kowtow to Israel because they are “frightened of it… frightened of the power that it wields”. You can see it in the arguments of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their popular book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, which holds an apparently super-powerful pro-Israel lobby in the heart of Washington responsible for the Iraq War and all other kinds of disasters. The claim is often made that Israel has corrupted Western officials, commanding them to carry out its dirty work.
Sound familiar? Yes, this has terrible echoes of the old racist idea that Jewish groups controlled Western politics and frequently propelled the world into chaos – an idea that was especially popular in the early to mid-20th-century Europe. Very often, anti-Israel protesters treat Israel not just as a nation at war – like Britain, America or France, which also frequently launch wars that kill huge numbers of civilians – but also as the warper of policy and morality in the West, as a source of poison in global affairs, as the architect of instability across the globe. Indeed, a few years ago a poll of Europeans found that a majority of them view Israel as “the biggest threat to world peace”. So Israel is undoubtedly singled out by Leftists and others, and even more significantly it is singled out in a way that the Jews used to be singled out – that is, as a sinister, self-serving corrupter of nations and causer of chaos. Continue reading
I hate applause in Church and I never join in applause. Father Z quotes two popes to explain why this is my rule:
Joseph Card. Ratzinger – now Benedict XVI – wrote in his Spirit of the Liturgy:
“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. ” (Spirit of the Liturgy p. 198)
I spotted this today at NLM from my friend Greg DiPippo.
His translation of the Italian in the video, below:
The fourth Sunday of Lent, John XXIII was once again among the crowd, at Ostia. (about 15 miles to the south-west of Rome.) Thousands of people were waiting for him along the street, in the piazza, in the church. They wanted to see him, to applaud him. They did not know that afterwards, he would rebuke them, in a good-natured way, in his simple , spontaneous, familiar way of speaking.
“I am very glad to have come here. But if I must express a wish, it is that in church you not shout out, that you not clap your hands, and that you not greet even the Pope, because ‘templum Dei, templum Dei.’ (‘The temple of God is the temple of God.’)
Now, if you are pleased to be in this beautiful church, you must know that the Pope is also pleased to see his children. But as soon as he sees his good children, he certainly does not clap his hands in their faces. And the one who stands before you is the Successor of St. Peter.”
Over at the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) the first of a new series of sociopolitical blog posts on issues related to the Middle East begins:
More than 500 people have died in Gaza as of Monday morning. The latest tragedy came with the killing of over 60 Palestinian civilians in a Gaza neighborhood destroyed by Israeli shelling. Add to that 3,000 injured, vital infrastructure and apartment buildings destroyed, and 1.8 million Palestinians trapped in an area the size of Manhattan with nowhere to run from the death raining on them from the skies. On the Israeli side, the death toll stands at 20.
Every innocent death, Israeli or Palestinian, is one too many. All the same, the world has gotten inured to Israeli tactics of massive and disproportionate response to acts of violence. The stubborn, feckless resistance of Hamas gives the Israelis apparent cause for their indiscriminate strikes. Palestinian suffering has become routine. As a result, the international community heaves a collective shrug when they hear about Palestinian deaths. The world is no longer moved to learn of Palestinian affliction.
The blog post continues:
Insidious racism colors perceptions of the conflict and reactions to it. If we had 400 Israeli deaths instead, the world would have been in an uproar, as it should. Giving Palestinian civilians a couple minutes’ warning to evacuate a civilian building where a Hamas member lives or had been a few minutes before when there is nowhere to run is a mere fig leaf disguising ingrained Israeli indifference to Palestinian life.
And, then, it states:
The Arab enemy is necessary to keep the world from looking too closely at Israel’s record of illegitimate acts.
Is there any question about where this particular blog post (or perhaps this series) is headed?
Yes, it’s all about those racist Israelis—the puppets of the Great Satan—and the most vile of them, the Likud Party, before which the world cowers. Due simply to racism, the Israelis will do anything—using brutal force that includes sophisticated weaponry—to smote and eventually drive the Palestinian people into the Mediterranean Sea. Seizing upon the world’s collective guilt in the years following World War II, those racist Israelis commandeered the Palestinian homeland.
Yes, indeed. Those racist Israelis. Absolutely no provocation. Those unjustly besieged Palestinians whose homeland was stolen from under their feet.
Before making a judgment, watch David Prager’s summary of how the conflict came to be what it is today:
Not one word of any of this in the NCR blog post.
Seems the NCR story has it backwards, doesn’t it. Who is really racist? Who has been the provocateur? Who seeks the death of the other?
For a moment, let’s consider one item: The tunnels Hamas has constructed as they are described in an article published by the Journal of Palestinian Studies (JPS).
In 2004, Israel leveled the territory separating Gaza from Egypt to create what was supposed to be a barren corridor. One decade later, the corridor is buzzing with all sorts of activity above and beneath the surface. What happened? The territory’s governing body—the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas—has built and operates a tunnel complex that feeds Gaza’s economy and, through the taxes collected, Hamas’ coffers for its war against Israel.
Pretty good, huh? As one Hamas Gaza leader, Mahmud Zahar, explained, “No electricity, no water, no food came from outside. That’s why we had to build the tunnels.” The tunnels rapidly turned into what one trader described as “the lungs through which Gaza breathes.”
Sounds like the stuff of ancient mythology: “Out of the ashes, the Phoenix rises.”
Perhaps it is. But not quite the way one might think, that is, if one listens only to the supporters of Hamas.
The tunnels Hamas built to keep taxes flowing into its coffers were constructed by teams consisting of 6 laborers whose members worked in 2, 12-hour shifts to dig 10 to 15 meters/day.
Guess who manned those teams?
According to the JPS article, child laborers who “much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies.” While Hamas officials admit that at least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, public outrage indicates that more children died while constructing those tunnels.
Nowhere in the NCR blog post is there even a hint that Hamas has engaged in internationally proscribed conduct. For example, Article 3 (d) of International Labour Organization Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182) defines hazardous child labor as “(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.”
If that’s not good enough, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:
Child labour, in its intolerable forms, constitutes a kind of violence that is less obvious than others but it is not for this reason any less terrible….The Church’s social doctrine condemns the increase in “the exploitation of children in the workplace in conditions of veritable slavery.” This exploitation represents a serious violation of human dignity, with which every person, “no matter how small or how seemingly unimportant in utilitarian terms.” (#296)
Exploiting children violates their human dignity no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to Hamas and its larger political goal of eliminating Israel. To fuel achieving that end, Hamas has used the means of depriving Palestinian children of their childhood years by forcing them to labor in a corrupt and dangerous environment.
What a great way to treat God’s children!
This exploitation of children is both unjust and unfair, defying international covenants as well as Church teaching. But, not one word of this either in the NCR blog post.
But, then, should anyone expect “fair and balanced” in NCR’s reportage and blog posts?
To read the International Labour Organization’s definition and examples of child exploitation across the globe, click on the following link:
To read the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, click on the following link:
To read the Journal of Palestinian Studies article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
When I was down in Springfield last week, go here to read about my family’s annual pilgrimage to the Lincoln sites this year, I purchased several books at The Prairie Archives. That bookstore is a treasure trove for those interested in the Civil War and/or Lincoln. Two of the books were written by James G. Randall, the first volume of his four volume study of Lincoln as President and his Constitutional Problems under Lincoln. Randall, who died in 1953, was a history professor at my alma mater, the University of Illinois, for three decades. The foremost Lincoln scholar of his day, his body of work on Lincoln demonstrates how historians are influenced by the contemporary history they live through, and how the march of history after they are dead can make their interpretations obsolete, at least until history shifts again.
The formative event in Randall’s life was World War I. He viewed the immense carnage as a huge waste, a war fought over issues that were unimportant compared to the huge loss of life involved. World War II confirmed his belief in the futility of war, as he interpreted that conflict as being brought on by fanatics, this time Fascists, who caused millions of deaths in a completely unnecessary conflict.
In regard to the Civil War, Randall saw it too as an unneccessary conflict brought on by fanatics, fire eating secessionists in the South and, especially, abolitionists in the North. Randall viewed the abolitionists as earning most of the blame for bringing on the War, turning political differences over slavery to be settled by compromise, into a crusade that could only be resolved by rivers of blood.
Randall summed up his argument in a paper entitled The Blundering Generation delivered to the Mississippi Valley Historical Society on May 2, 1940 at a conference in Omaha, Nebraska. Randall’s thesis was that the War largely came about over a controversy over slavery that was merely a phantom. There was never a question that the Western territories were going to be free territories due to the greater numbers heading for the West from the North, and the unwillingness of slave holders in the South to risk their slaves in the West on land not suitable for large scale plantation crops such as cotton and where they would be without the legal protections afforded by slave states to slaves as a species of property.
Randall’s argument found considerable support during his lifetime, but now is rarely presented as a viewpoint held by contemporary historians. Why? Continue reading
“I’m a member and preacher to that church where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.”
Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
I have always been vastly amused by atheists who seek to ape Christian services. These throw the substance out and keep the often banal trappings. If I were an atheist I would sleep in on Sunday mornings, or work, or do something fun. However, some atheists believe, if I may use that term, otherwise:
The service or the “show” (no-one is quite sure what to call it) fairly fizzes along, although there is a long moment’s silence, at which the congregation is invited to “turn down their inner volume knob” and, in a little dig at the idea that only God can bring meaning, “be grateful to this impersonal universe that you have a place, and people in it that love you”.
But mostly the emphasis is upbeat and life-affirming. At one point members of the congregation are literally dancing in the aisles as the band plays a cover of Jesus Jones’s Right Here, Right Now before speakers step up to “share” on a range of topics around the theme of “balance”.
One member talks about coping with depression; then a life-coach talks about the importance of self-knowledge that isn’t narcissism while a third – it being Mother’s Day – talks movingly about his mother’s battle with an abusive husband and his decision to respect, rather than to mock, her Christian faith.
It all ends with a quotation from Albert Einstein – “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving” – before coffee and doughnuts are served, followed by lunch at a local Southern Barbecue restaurant.
Soon the hall is filled with running children, suddenly released from the discipline of having to sit through the service, a joyous cacophony which also points to one unavoidable similarity between going to Sunday Assembly and going to church.
“The kids still moan about it,” admits Craig Mueller, a lapsed Catholic who has four children under 10 and comes to the service because he enjoys the sense of community. “I tell my nine-year-old son, it’s time to go to Sunday Assembly and he’s like ‘Argh, no, boring!’” Continue reading
Pope Francis has spent quite a bit of effort and energy in an outreach to evangelicals. To what purpose this is being done is confusing to PopeWatch since the Pope has disclaimed any interest in converting these groups to Catholicism. Italian evangelicalss have indicated in a recent statement that if the Pope believes he is accomplishing anything by this outreach for Catholicism, he may wish to reassess that belief:
Following a round table promoted by the Italian Evangelical Alliance, the Federation of Pentecostal Churches, the Assemblies of God in Italy, the Apostolic Church and the Pentecostal Congregations held in Aversa on July 19, 2014, at the Pentecostal Faculty of Religious Sciences, on the theme: “Contemporary Catholicism: an evangelical perspective” the above cited organizations, following the evangelical opening on the part of evangelical circles and international and national Pentecostals, with regard to the Catholic Church and her present Pontiff, without expressing judgment on the faith of the individual faithful, remain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that proclaims herself to be the mediatrix of salvation and presents other figures as mediators of grace, given that the grace of God comes only through faith in Christ Jesus without works (Ephesians 2:8) and without the intervention of other mediators (1 Timothy 2:5).
Moreover, they remain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that assumes the responsibility of adding dogmas (like the Marian ones) to the faith once and forever transmitted to the saints (Jude 3; Apocalypse 22:18).
Finally they remain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that has its heart in a political state, a legacy of an “imperial” Church from which it assumed titles and prerogatives. Christian churches must be careful about imitating the “princes of nations” and follow the example of Jesus Who came to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:42 – 45).
Therefore, they maintain that the apparent similarities with the evangelical faith and spirituality from sectors in Catholicism are not, in themselves, reasons to hope for a true change. Considering that irreconcilable and absolutely divergent theological and ethical differences still persist, they maintain they are unable to start and follow-up any initiative or ecumenical opening with regard to the Roman Catholic Church, inviting all evangelicals at the national and international level to exercise sound biblical discernment (1 John 4:1) without giving way to unionist anxieties contrary to Scripture, but rather renewing the commitment to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.
Aversa (Caserta), July 19, 2014 Continue reading
One of the more ironic developments during the past half century has been the transformation of most colleges and universities from places of learning into citadels of indoctrination. Examples abound. Here is a recent one:
An Ohio State University (OSU) class has apparently determined another fundamental difference between Christians and atheists: their IQ points.
An online quiz from the school’s Psychology 1100 class, provided to Campus Reform via tip, asked students to pick which scenario they found most likely given that “Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125.”
The correct answer? “Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.” Continue reading
Unbeknownst to the Confederates, on July 27, 1864 the Union forces around Petersburg were putting the finishing touches on a huge mine under a fort in the Confederate defenses known as Elliot’s Salient. To divert Confederate attention from this sector of the line, Grant ordered Hancock and Sheridan to cross the James River at Deep Bottom and make a lunge towards Richmond. Grant assumed this would cause a weakening in the Confederate defenses around Petersburg and he was correct in that assumption. Lee in response to Grant’s move pulled some 16,500 men out of the Petersburg lines and into the Richmond fortifications.
In fighting on the 27th and 28th which resulted in 488 Union casualties to 679 Confederate, Hancock and Sheridan’s drive toward Richmond was stopped, but Grant had achieved his goal of drawing Lee’s men to the north side of the James, as Grant noted in his Memoirs: Continue reading
There exists a cottage industry among leftists to attempt to blame the assassination of JFK on “right wing hate”. The latest, and I would say most delusional, example of this historical revisionism run amok is a Salon piece by Heather Digby Parton in which she never gets around to mentioning the fact that Kennedy was gunned down by self-proclaimed Communist Lee Harvey Oswald:
Three weeks before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a concerned citizen from Dallas named Mrs. Nelle M. Doyle wrote a letter to White House press secretary Pierre Salinger. She was worried about the president’s visit. This is what she wrote:
Although I do not consider myself an ‘alarmist’, I do fervently hope that President kennedy can be dissuaded from appearing in the city of Dallas, Texas as much as I would enjoy hearing and seeing him.
This ‘hoodlum mob’ in Dallas is frenzied and infuriated that their attack on Ambassador Adlai Stephenson on the 24th, backfired on them. I have heard that some of them have said they “have just started.”
The right-wing hatred for John F. Kennedy was in some ways as extreme as the hatred for Barack Obama and nowhere was it more energized than Dallas in 1963. Three years earlier, right-wingers in the city had signaled their anti-Kennedy zeal by turning on its native son, Lyndon Johnson, after he accepted the nomination for vice president. He and his wife, Lady Bird, were accosted by a shrieking mob of conservative women in front of their hotel armed with signs saying he’d sold out to “Yankee Socialists.” It was downhill from there. Over the next three years the simmer burst into a full boil as various luminaries of the John Birch Society such as millionaire oil man H.L. Hunt and the anti-communist fanatic Gen. Edwin Walker, a zealot so far to the right that he even believed Eisenhower was a communist, fanned the flames of anti-Kennedy hatred. Continue reading