Various and Sundry, 3/4/15

Is winter over yet? Supposedly we’re getting somewhere between a centimeter and a foot of snow tomorrow.

– Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the Obamacare subsidy case. It looks like Anthony Kennedy stuck his finger in the air and it was blowing the government’s direction today. We’ll see if the Court determines that words do, in fact, mean things.

– Stop the presses, David Brock was spinning on behalf of Hillary Clinton. His performance on MSDNC this morning was so outlandish that even co-host Mika Brzezinski was forced to sigh, ““Oh my God. I’m not sure what planet I’m on right now,” in response to one of Brock’s evasions. To paraphrase one of the commenters at NRO, when Miza Brzezinski is the voice of reason, oofta.

Looks like Brock’s gonna have his interns working double tonight to produce another 17-page document that is largely a giant tu quoque argument.

– Michele Obama’s attempts to brainwash our kids by feeding them tasteless junk is well underway. I cringe when I read things like this:

Under the complex “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” legislation, which has long been a signature issue for the first lady, participating schools take federal money but must stringently limit the number of calories and the amount of sugar, fat and sodium in every morsel of food sold at schools. Also, in what presumably falls outside the hunger-free aspect of the act, there are calorie caps.

A Maryland lawmaker is also pushing legislation that would require fast food restaurants to offer water, 100% pure juice, and low fat milk as the default beverage option for kids’ meals instead of water.

You know I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of government promoting healthy nutrition. What I do take issue with is them issuing mandates based on outmoded and discredited nutrition concepts. Evidently the only way children are eating healthy enough for the government is by eating tasteless vegetables and low-calorie foodstuffs.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to have children who actually like eating vegetables. I also try to prepare said vegetables in a manner that will make them more prone to eating them. If you have to add a little fat to the veggies to make them a bit tastier, so be it. There’s also no need to force feed them stuff when they might prefer other foods that have high nutritional value.

Four lessons from the fourth season of Downton Abbey. Not sure I completely agree with all of the interpretations, but certainly some interesting food for thought.

Catholicism Has Rules?

 

 

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Church so frequently that I have name him Defender of the Faith, has a look at a “Catholic” who is outraged that teachers who teach at Catholic schools should be required to lead Catholic lives:

You know what would really be nifty, asks Christine Haider-Winnet.  If Catholic bishops would just quit running the lives of every single person in the entire world:

For several years now, we have seen a troubling trend in Catholic places of employment. Bishops are overstepping to meddle in employees’ personal lives. Firing competent, beloved teachers for same-sex marriages, requiring whole staffs to agree to statements calling contraception evil, and forbidding discussion of women’s equality in the church are now being included in morality clauses that administrators, teachers, and staff must sign.

The Reformation?  What the hell is that?

New contracts, like the most recent one in San Francisco, now govern whom one can marry, use of birth control and other reproductive choices, and in the most egregious of cases, what events one can attend and whom one can and cannot associate with. Attending your nephew’s wedding to his husband, or posting a congratulatory message on Facebook, could now cost you your job.

Hey, gang!  I heard that some German monk named Martin Luther just nailed 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Haven’t read ‘em yet but I hear that they’re pretty spicy.

Perhaps the most disturbing part is the hierarchy’s claim that this is for the good of children. What our children need are good teachers and safe, affirming environments in which to learn and grow. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender role models and open, accepting communities are essential not only to the safety of our children, but to their growth and overall well-being. As research indicates, kids who are LGB or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity are up to four times as likely to commit suicide as their straight peers. Being in a community that rejects them increases that risk astronomically.

Yeah, but here’s the thing.  The ONLY job of Catholic bishops is to tell the truth.

What are Catholic school students to think when they see a beloved teacher fired for getting married?

That they forgot to find out where he/she was registered?

Or hear she lost her job for getting pregnant using alternative methods?

That Christ and Zeitgeist are not the same thing?

When it comes to employment, should not the focus be on professional competency? If a teacher can teach, shouldn’t he or she be applauded for this dedication and quality as an educator? Sifting through one’s private life in order to gauge doctrinal orthodoxy as a measure of job performance is disturbing and dangerous. Is this what our Catholic faith has come to? Is this the precedent we wish to set?

Well, yeah, insofar as the Catholic Church

ACTUALLY BELIEVES STUFF

and shouldn’t be forced to employ anyone whose life choices undercut its beliefs.

Let’s go at this bass akwards there, Chrissie.  If I ever went to work for your little group, “Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Catholic organizations committed to LGBT equality,” and started writing about how homosexual activity was a sin, how long do you think that I would I keep my job?  So “morality clauses” are nothing new.

Folks just have to have the correct “morality.”

 

Continue reading

PopeWatch: Cupich of the West

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Christ told us by our fruits he shall know us.  In regard to Popes it is by their appointments that they tend to be known:

 

It’s being called the “Cupich appointment of the West,” and not without reason – resolving the highest-profile vacancy on the current US docket, at Roman Noon tomorrow the Pope is slated to name Bishop Robert McElroy, the 61 year-old auxiliary of San Francisco known as one of the Stateside bench’s most outspoken progressives, as the sixth bishop of San Diego and its 1 million Catholics in the nation’s seventh-largest city.

As reports of the appointment quietly circulated for much of last week, three Whispers ops appraised of the move confirmed the news over the weekend. Coming just shy of six months since the premature death of Bishop Cirilo Flores after a brief struggle with cancer, as reports here at the time indicated, the succession was indeed fast-tracked given both the relative freshness of the consultations leading up to Flores’ own selection in early 2012 and the diocese’s still-unsettled state from its 2007 bankruptcy amid a torrent of sex-abuse lawsuits, which was settled for $197 million.

Go here to read the rest.  Robert McElroy is no stranger to PopeWatch.  This from October 21, 2013: Continue reading

Various and Sundry, 3/3/15

I’m bringing back an old feature, which I will hopefully be able to bring back nightly. Please feel free to use this as an open evening thread for anything you’d like to share, including news and prayer petitions.

– I’m beginning to feel a lot like Ace here.  The argument that Congress is limited in its ability to push back against the President only goes so far, and certainly collapses when you actually do have the power to tie his hands. I also agree with AllahPundit that we shouldn’t be too impressed with the number of Republicans who voted against the leadership, as many of them would have voted for the funding bill if their votes were really needed.

This isn’t even purely a partisan issue. At some point the legislative branch has to be willing to stop the continuing overreach of the executive. The checks and balances of our form of government is arguably the quintessential element of the republic. As these checks are eroded, so too is the notion that we are, in fact, dwelling in a republic.

– Party over, whoops, out of time, it looks like we’re living through the 90s again. Hey, the ability to totally ignore the Constitution without consequence is now an essential trait in any would-be President.

– Curt Schilling tweeted some words of pride and congratulations for his daughter, and naturally some individuals decided to take the opportunity to exemplify everything that is wrong with the internet, including tweeting some rape threats against his daughter. Schilling took to his blog and outed these fools, one of whom (at least) was fired, while others face other forms of discipline.

This incident is interesting as it gets to the idea of public shaming for internet comments. There was a story recently (that I’ve unfortunately misplaced) following rather infamous internet celebrities who lost jobs and any sense of privacy due to ill-advised tweets. The article made the point that the “grab the pitchforks” mentality can really go way overboard, and people have their lives ruined over 140 unwise characters. On the other hand, public shaming does have the effect of silencing the worst and most obvious offenders, and in this case I will cry no tears over someone losing their job because they tweeted their rape fantasies.

– Speaking of public shaming, I would like to do that the dolts employed by the Montgomery County (MD) Child Protective Services who found some local parents guilty of “unsubstantiated child neglect,” their sin allowing their 10-year old and 6-year old to walk home by themselves from the park. Now they will be “watched” by CPS for the next five years. As one of the commenters put it:

I think we need to start lobbying state legislatures for reasonable laws that provide some clarity and security for families in these situations. As I understand it, this is the law the Meitivs were accused of violating: “A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.” How does letting your kids walk home from the park even trigger an investigation under this statute? It is unacceptable that CPS has the authority to interpret the law so loosely in order to bring a family into the system.

I was happy that most of the callers into the local radio show this morning were as perturbed by this decision as I was, but one person would just simply not accept the fact that kids are in no more danger of abduction today than they were 30 years ago. Some people just can’t let fact get in the way of unsubstantiated fear mongering.

– Rebecca Taylor is right: the UK has just made a frightening decision to allow the creation of three-parent embryos, and Catholics have largely been silent on this abomination.

Even more infuriating is that fact that, at the very same time that the UK approves the genetic engineering of the next generation (and the next, and the next), Hershey’s has been so hounded by food purists on social media that the confectioner has given into the pressure to remove any ingredients that come from genetically-modified organisms.

Great. We will be eating GMO-free chocolate (reading about the spread of Dengue fever) while we blissfully ignore the creation of genetically-modified kids.

– Kevin Williamson is just awesome. But you already knew that.

Here he is destroying Politifact for, as usual, not getting its facts straight.

And here he is, defending Archbishop Cordileone’s “scandalous” decision to uphold Church teaching.

And here he is one more time, once again writing about the good Archbishop.

The people who have the strongest feelings about Catholic teaching tend to be the people who know the least about it. That the archbishop is a fallen creature, a sinner like the rest of us, is not a challenge to Christian teaching—it is a vindication of Christian teaching. Of course the archbishop is called to a life of greater holiness—just like the rest of us—and of course he is going to fail—just like the rest of us. That’s the weird tough nut at the heart of Christianity: “Here’s an impossibility high standard that you have to try to live up to as part of a faith based on the understanding that you are not going to do that.

We Are Being Sold Out

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Winston Churchill

 

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Congress today that President Obama is selling us out in regard to the proposed treaty with Iran which will inevitably lead to a nuclear armed Iran.

Robert Zubrin at National Review Online gives us the details:

 

Iranian centrifuges now have a capacity of 5 SWU per year each. The regime is working on upgrading this to 24 SWU each, a figure that would match American centrifuge performance. Even if we assume that they will remain unable to reach that goal, the 6,500 centrifuges permitted by the treaty will still give Iran a capacity of 32,500 SWU per year. Examining the table above, we see that while producing 17 bombs from 0.7-percent-enriched natural uranium would require a total of about 75,000 SWU, if the first step of enrichment to 4 percent has already been accomplished, then only 17,000 SWU would be required. Thus, after allowing creation of a large stockpile of 4 percent U235, the 32,500-SWU-per-year enrichment capability that the Obama treaty will grant Iran would allow it to transform that stockpile into first-class nuclear bombs at a rate of 32 per year. We should note that the current cost of natural uranium is about $100 per kilogram, while the cost of one SWU is about $140. Therefore, if all Iran wanted was 4-percent-enriched reactor fuel, it could buy the 100,000 kilograms of natural uranium for $10 million, and have France or Russia enrich it for them at a cost of another $8 million, for a total price that is insignificant compared with the cost that current international sanctions are imposing on the country. It should therefore be clear that there is only one reason Iran needs the enrichment capability it is insisting on: so it can quickly turn reactor-grade material into a powerful nuclear arsenal.
In morally saner times, Obama would be currently facing impeachment and trial, with his own party leading the charge.

Beecher Bibles

 

Andrew Klavan does a first rate job demonstrating how much reliance persecuted Christians around the globe can place on the Obama administration.  The answer is quite a bit if the reliance consists of the conclusion that Obama and his gang of merry incompetents would sooner eat ground glass than help them.  However, some Christians in the Middle East are beginning to realize the truth of the admonition of Benjamin Franklin:  God helps them who help themselves.

 

Kino Gabriel, one of the leaders of the Syriac Military Council, an Assyrian Christian militia, said the fight was existential. “[We are] like a tree that you uproot from its land,” he said. “We are a people with a historic lineage. We have been contributing to human civilisation for five or six thousand years, and we can still give.”

The fighters, along with modest Kurdish reinforcements, are trying to defend Tal Tamr, a town that straddles a tributary of the Euphrates river. The Assyrians in the area had taken refuge there three generations ago, fleeing the Simele massacre of their people by the Iraqi kingdom.

The Isis attack on the villages appeared tailored to draw forces away from Tal Hamis, where it is battling a Kurdish push aimed at forcing the group further to the east. The fate of the hostages remains unclear, with some members of the community believing Isis intends to trade them for its own captured fighters, or use them as human shields. Others though, mindful of public executions of Egyptian Copts by Isis militants in Libya, fear a similar grisly spectacle.

“We will defend ourselves,” said Gabriel. “We will not allow another Seyfo to happen to us [in reference to a pogrom perpetrated by the Ottoman’s early last century]. We will sacrifice everything.”

“We want help and support from all the democratic forces in the world that are fighting the extremism in the Middle East, to stop these enemies of humanity,” he said. “Their targeting of our people, the Syriacs, has been ongoing. What they did in Iraq … and [elsewhere in] Syria shows that this is what they want.

“After a couple of generations, the culture will disappear. Nobody will remember us.”

The Assyrians say they deserve support like the Kurds in Kobani, the peshmerga in Iraq and the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar. “We stood with Kobani and supported the resistance there and we are now facing the same thing,” said Gabriel.

 

I hope they will receive support, if not from the feckless governments of the West, then from private Christians.  I recall the “Beecher Bibles” shipped to free soil settlers in Kansas during the 1850’s.

“He (Henry W. Beecher) believed that the Sharps Rifle was a truly moral agency, and that there was more moral power in one of those instruments, so far as the slaveholders of Kansas were concerned, than in a hundred Bibles. You might just as well. . . read the Bible to Buffaloes as to those fellows who follow Atchison and Stringfellow; but they have a supreme respect for the logic that is embodied in Sharp’s rifle.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Miscellania

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has brief reports on various stories swirling about the Vatican:

 

When Sant’Egidio upstages the secretariat of state

On Saturday, February 21, German chancellor Angela Merkel spent 40 minutes with Pope Francis and a full hour with cardinal secretary of state Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher. She talked with them about the next G7, Ukraine, and more.

Afterward Angela Merkel went to the headquarters of Sant’Egidio, and in this case as well the visit lasted a little more than an hour. But thanks to the effective management of communications for the event, the meeting with the organization founded by Andrea Riccardi trounced the one with the heads of Vatican diplomacy, media-wise. Suffice it to say that “Corriere della Sera,” the major Italian newspaper read in all the corridors of power, gave much more space to Merkel’s visit with Sant’Egidio than to the one at the Vatican, not even making reference to the meeting with Parolin and Gallagher. No small letdown for the heads of Vatican diplomacy, who traditionally see as a smokescreen the encroachments of the lauded “parallel diplomacy” of Sant’Egidio:

> Vatican Diary / Sant’Egidio in supervised freedom (20.12.2011)

On the other hand, however, this coveted media exposure of their competitors may not be unwelcome to the churchmen who work with the pope on his diplomatic initiatives, seeing how the pontiff himself stigmatized this in the homily on Ash Wednesday:

“When something good is achieved, almost instinctively the desire is born within us to be esteemed and admired for this good action, to get some sort of satisfaction out of it. Jesus invites us to perform these works without any ostentation, and to confide solely in the recompense of the Father ‘who sees in secret.’”

*

Malleus (aliquorum) cardinalium

Hard times for the cardinals who are seen as”dissenters” with respect to the guidelines of the current pontificate. An example of this are the three beatings that the ultra-Bergoglian portal “Vatican Insider” has handed out to three cardinals on its blacklist, in the span of a few days.

On February 14 it featured, emphasizing the name of the target, a post from the blog of Washington cardinal Donald Wuerl in which, without naming him, he blasted his fellow cardinal Raymond L. Burke for lèse-majesté toward the pope:

> Cardinal Wuerl’s response to Burke (and dissenters)

On February 16 it reported, with an abundance of exclusive details, on the moves that the pontifical council for legislative texts, with pontifical mandate, has put into action to limit the powers that Cardinal George Pell would like to attribute to himself as prefect of the secretariat for the economy, in the statutes that they are preparing:

> Ma sopra Pell c’è uno “zar” più potente di lui

On February 19, finally, it gave great emphasis to the criticisms, even sarcastic, that a Chinese priest and blogger has lodged against Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, accusing him of boycotting every hypothesis of “appeasement” between Beijing and the Holy See:

> “Cardinal Zen, don’t you believe in miracles?”

*

Big hunt for the “kangaroo” Pell

After the pontifical council for legislative texts (see above), the Vatican pension fund has also taken the field against Australian cardinal George Pell. It has done so with a statement on February 20 in which it offers reassuring data on the situation of the fund itself, to oppose the “alarming data” circulating “for several months” and “even amplified by news in the press”:

> Comunicato…

The statement delves into the figures to demonstrate this assumption. But beyond the accounting aspects, what is important is the “political” side. For some time, in fact, Cardinal Pell has been sounding the alarm on the stability of the medium-term accounts of the Vatican pension fund. He did so in July of 2014, when he announced the creation of a committee of experts – crammed with big names – to study the question. The announcement came in an article published in the “Catholic Herald” in December, and was picked up on February 13 by the website “Crux” of the “Boston Globe”: Continue reading

Rebels and Conformists

Conformism

 

 

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, brings us this story that highlights one of the problems that the Church has these days with precious snowflakes who think they are heroic rebels:

 

 

Northwestern University student Kathleen Ferraro was RAISED CATHOLIC!! and thinks that it’s extremely important for all of you people to understand that fact:

My name is Kathleen and I am a little Catholic schoolgirl. I wore a sweater vest and knee-highs and a skirt that could be no more than two inches above my knees. Rogue nuns wandered the halls of my high school. We “left room for Jesus” at school dances, all of which were supervised by a resident priest. I come from a devoutly Roman Catholic family from a primarily Catholic community largely dominated by Catholic institutions, schools, values and beliefs.

Yet young Katie doesn’t consider herself Catholic any more.

And yet against all odds, I don’t fit into Catholicism. My Catholic upbringing and education seemed the perfect formula for a perfect Catholic. Nonetheless, I’ve developed values and beliefs that significantly diverge from this foundation.

Gee.  Wonder what those might be.

Whenever I think about this question, I always resort to my list-making ways, crafting an inventory of the reasons that Catholicism has not worked for me. Old-fashioned values and traditions, hesitation towards accepting the LGBTQ community and inherent political undertones of church leadership leave me feeling conflicted and uneasy. I will never understand why dressing up in a modest J.Crew dress and sitting in the first pew at church trumps participating in a climate march, or why accepting doctrine on faith alone beats independent thinking, questioning and customizing one’s religious life. For me, religion has been more a culture of privilege than of prayer, a competition of piety rather than a humble quest of personal growth and spiritual connection. These are all examples from my experience with religion that motivate me to reject Catholicism, but as I think about it, are these also reasons that Catholicism rejects me?

No, because that’s just stupid.

I believe it is. Speaking only for the Catholic institutions I come from, I do not fit the prototype of what a Catholic is supposed to be–the by the book churchgoer who accepts Catholicism because that is what is true.

Ya think?!!

I am pro-choice, don’t go to church on Sundays, don’t put stock in the Bible or doctrine, challenge traditional ideas of religion and spirituality and care infinitely more about trying to be a kind, humble person than actively worshipping.

In other words, an Episcopalian.

On one hand, this rejection validates my personal beliefs and their deliberate divergence from Catholicism. On the other hand, this rejection leaves me unfulfilled. I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers: the very exclusivity that prompts me to reject Catholicism in the first place. Its a perplexing paradox – my beliefs exclude me and define me as an independent. And because my beliefs disqualify me from active participation, I am consequently excluded from a community that I want to engage with, though not necessarily be a part of. I would say “its not you, its me,” but I think “its not me, its you” is equally appropriate.

Told you.

I’m not saying that my beliefs are right,

You are so.

but I am saying that I want to be heard, not just listened to.

Every Anglican in the world knows that means that we keep yammering until the Roman Catholic Church realizes that it’s wrong and I’m right.

For me, this conversation is not about stylizing religion to suit the tastes of young adults;

HAW, HAW HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW!!

it’s about aligning all voices with the process of organized religion and earnestly engaging in different conceptualizations of faith.

Whatever that means.  Katie?  I’d like to tell you a little bit about my mom.

Over and over again, I’m amazed at what a visionary my mother was.  Mom was also RAISED CATHOLIC!! but had some sort of major conflict with the Catholic Church in the 40′s, the nature of which she never disclosed to any of us.

I suspect what it might have been but I don’t know for certain so I’m not going to speculate.  But to those of you whose parents are still with you, a word of warning; you find out quite a bit after they shuffle off this mortal coil.

Mom was always a little bit of a rebel.  She was born and raised in New York City and when she was in college at Adelphi, she vocally stood up for the Jews.  She’d married in the late 30′s, early 40′s, somewhere in there, and had a daughter shortly after that.  Her husband was killed during the war and after it, she was a single mom with a little girl to raise and she didn’t have any money coming in.

So Mom found herself a job.  In Montana.  She left New York City and never again entertained the idea of ever going back.

Anyway, Mom’s got this problem with the Roman Catholic Church.  Know what she did about it, Katie?

She left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopalians.  My mom loved the Episcopal Church until the end of her life.  And as far as I know, she was the only one in her family who ever did anything like that.  Her brother, my Uncle Howard, remained Catholic until the end of his life.

Kid?  The Catholic Church is almost 2,000 years old; you’re not.  Your idea that the Catholic Church needs to conform itself to the bumper stickers beliefs of the Young PeopleTM is too absurd for any intelligent person to even begin to entertain.  So emulate my mother, grow a freaking spine and drop into one of Chicagoland’s many fine Episcopal parishes next Sunday.  You’ll be glad you did. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Because I Would Not Bend to the Marriage!

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Rorate Caeli explains the attacks on George Cardinal Pell emanating from leakers at the Vatican:

Let no one be fooled: the current incessant notes and gossip about Cardinal Pell’s brilliant job in reorganizing the finances of the Holy See/Vatican City State are not really about money… They are about his brave and unbending defense of the very words spoken by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself on marriage, divorce, and adultery. Even the Italian journalists make fun of the sudden “reappearance” of Vatileaks, once again involving the Secretariat of State, and now directed not against Benedict XVI (not a threat anymore since his resignation), or Cardinal Burke, duly demoted, but Pell, who must be forced out.  As Sir Thomas More and Cardinal John Fisher, Pell is in the way and must go.

Continue reading

March 2, 1865: End of the War in the Valley

 

300px-Waynesboro_svg

 

It had been a long and grueling War in the Shenandoah Valley with some towns changing hands some seventy times between Union and Confederate forces.  On March 2, 1865 it came to an end.  Jubal Early’s force, stripped over the winter to shore up Lee’s thin ranks holding the lines at Petersburg, was now reduced to 1500 men.  Sheridan was moving South, initially under orders to move into North Carolina and link up with Sherman advancing into North Carolina.  Not wanting to leave Early in his rear, Sheridan sent twenty-five year old Brigadier General George Armstrong with a division of cavalry, 2,500 men, to find Early.

Custer had graduated dead last in his class at West Point in 1861, making him the class goat.  The “goat” had a spectacularly successful War, rising in rank from Second Lieutenant to Major General of Volunteers. (He had been promoted from Captain to Brigadier General of Volunteers, passing over the intervening ranks, in 1863.)  Daring and combative, Custer had helped transform Union cavalry from lackluster to an able strike force.

Early posted his small force on a ridge due west of Waynesboro, Virginia.  Arriving at 2:00 PM on March 2, Custer quickly saw that Early had fortified his position and that head on attacks would probably not work, but that Early’s left could be turned.  (Early had thought that a thick wood adequately protected this flank.)  Sending one brigade to turn the Confederate left while he attacked frontally with two brigades worked  to perfection.  Virtually the entire Confederate force was taken prisoner with Early and fifteen to twenty Confederates escaping.  Here is Sheridan’s account of the battle from his Memoirs: Continue reading

Catholicism: Works Every Time It’s Tried

Macaulay Catholicism

 

 

Here is a thought.  Do you think that God is trying to tell us something when liberal orders and liberal bishops produce almost no vocations, while orthodox orders and bishops have no problem with vocations?  Father Z gives us an example:

In Madison there has been over the last few years a surge in vocations to the priesthood.  The Madison State Journal has the first part of an article on the phenomenon.

Here is a sample of part 1, with my emphases and comments:

As number of seminarians surges, Madison diocese seeks $30M to fund priest training

Midway through the Sunday Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dodgeville, the service took a sharp turn toward fundraising.

Monsignor Daniel Ganshert, the parish priest, told parishioners that for years, people in the Madison Catholic Diocese had been praying for more men to be called by God to the priesthood. The Holy Spirit has responded, Ganshert announced jubilantly.

There are now 33 seminarians, or priests-in-training, up from six in 2003 when Bishop Robert Morlino arrived. [!  And the diocesan foundation for seminarians was set up for the 6, not the 33.] But that increase comes with responsibility, Ganshert said.

The diocese needs $30 million to educate current and future seminarians — “a serious chunk of money,” he acknowledged.

Ushers distributed pledge cards. The assembled were asked to dig deep.

The same scene is playing out across all 134 worship sites in the 11-county diocese. The effort, which began last fall and will continue through the end of this year, is the first diocesan-wide capital campaign in more than 50 years. [50 years!]

So far, the faithful have responded with vigor. Although the campaign has yet to expand to all churches, parishioners already have pledged more than $28 million.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Morlino said in an interview, giving immense credit to the diocese’s 110 priests who’ve been rolling out the campaign in their parishes. “They love the priesthood and they love the church, and this is the Holy Spirit working through them.”

A priest’s training, called “formation,” doesn’t come cheap, and the diocese picks up much of the tab.

The diocese declined to pinpoint a per-seminarian cost. But back-of-the-envelope calculations, based on interviews and available data, suggest the diocese spends $250,000 to $300,000 to train each new priest, figures diocesan officials did not contest.

Behind the rise

Priestly ordinations are on the uptick nationally after bottoming out in the 1990s, though there is great variation across dioceses, said Anne Hendershott, who has researched the topic as co-author of “Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops is Revitalizing the Catholic Church.”

The Madison diocese has a “remarkable” number of seminarians for its size, she said.

[Quaeritur…] Why the local success? Morlino has made priestly vocations — the spiritual call to serve — a priority. He increased the position of director of vocations to full time, and he routinely promotes the priesthood at functions.

But there could be more to it. [Here we go!] The very traits that have made Morlino controversial may be the reason he’s successful at recruiting new priests, Hendershott’s research suggests.

[Keep going…] Bishops who are unambiguous about church doctrine and don’t tolerate dissent tend to inspire the greatest number of vocations, said Hendershott, who references Morlino positively in her book. [Notice how the writer worked in the concept of “tolerance”.  It’s not that he defends or teaches sound doctrine, is’s that he doesn’t “tolerate dissent”.  What is the reader supposed to take away from that?  Watch where the article goes next…]
“I’d hesitate to call them culture warriors, but they know what they stand for,” [Remember… amongst liberals it’s a bad thing to be a cultural warrior.] said Hendershott, a sociology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. “If you are considering the priesthood, you’d want to see that. [NB]You don’t want to commit yourself to something that’s backed only halfway.” [Exactly.  It’s common sense.  But wait!  There’s more…]

Morlino’s traits can cut both ways. Members of the Madison chapter of Call to Action, [HA HA HA HA HA!  They had to find someone to sound the sour note.] a national group of progressive Catholics, find him rigidly doctrinaire and lacking in pastoral empathy. [That’s because they have never met him and they are stuck on … probably… sex.] They’ve worried in the past that the seminarians recruited under his tenure will be carbon copies.  [How likely is that?  On the other hand, the men are going to be faithful to the Church’s Magisterium.]

Jim Green, a leader of the local chapter, said by email the group had decided not to comment collectively or individually on the fundraising campaign. He added, “We will not be donating to the aforementioned cause however.”  [Isn’t that typical?]
When asked if he thought the campaign was a referendum on his tenure, Morlino said, “I hope not.” [HA HA HA HA HA!]
Parishioners need to consider the far-distant health of the church, he said, not just one bishop’s leadership.  [Seminarians!  That’s why Bp. Morlino’s tenure in Madison will exercise a profound influence for decades to come.]

[…]

Read the rest there.  And, make popcorn – unless you gave it up for Lent – and watch the combox over there explode into spittle-flecked nutties. Continue reading

Saint Cyril of Alexandria on the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration

 

 

THOSE who are skilful in the combat rejoice when the spectators clap their hands, and are roused to a glorious height of courage by the hope of the chaplets of victory: and so those whoso desire it is to be counted worthy of the divine gifts, and who thirst to be made partakers of the hope prepared for the saints, joyfully undergo combats for piety’s sake towards Christ, and lead elect lives, not setting store by a thankless indolence, nor indulging in a mean timidity, but rather manfully resisting every temptation, and setting at nought the violence of persecutions, while they count it gain to suffer in His behalf. For they remember that the blessed Paul thus writes, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy of the glory that is about to be revealed in us.”

Observe, therefore, how perfectly beautiful is the method which our Lord Jesus Christ uses here also for the benefit and edification of the holy Apostles. For He had said unto them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross every day, and follow Me. For he that will save his life shall lose it; and he that will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” The commandment is indeed both for the salvation and honour of the saints, and the cause of the highest glory, and the means of perfect joy: for the choosing to suffer for the sake of Christ is not a thankless duty, but on the contrary makes us sharers in everlasting life, and the glory that is prepared. But as the disciples had not yet obtained power from on high, it probably occasionally happened, that they also fell into human weaknesses, and when thinking over with themselves any such saying as this, may have asked “how does a man deny himself?” or how having lost himself does he find himself again? And what reward will compensate those who thus suffer? Or of what gifts will they be made partakers? To rescue them therefore from such timid thoughts, and, so to speak, to mould them unto manliness, by begetting in them a desire of the glory about to be bestowed upon them, He says, “I say unto you, there are some of those standing here, who shall not taste of death until they have seen the kingdom of God.” Does He mean that the measure of their lives will be so greatly prolonged as even to reach to that time when He will descend from heaven at the. consummation of the world, to bestow upon the saints the kingdom prepared for them? Even this was possible for Him: for He is omnipotent: and there is nothing impossible or difficult to His all-powerful will. But by the kingdom of God He means the sight of the glory in which He will appear at His manifestation to the inhabitants of earth: for He will come in the glory of God the Father, and not in low estate like unto us. How therefore did He make those who had received the promise spectators of a thing so wonderful? He goes up into the mountain taking with Him three chosen disciples: and is transformed to so surpassing and godlike a brightness, that His garments even glittered with rays of fire, and seemed to flash like lightning. And besides, Moses and Elijah stood at Jesus’ side, and spake with one another of His departure, which He was about, it says, to accomplish at Jerusalem: by which is meant the mystery of the dispensation in the flesh; and of His precious suffering upon the cross. For it is also true that the law of Moses, and the word of the holy prophets, foreshewed the mystery of Christ: the one by types and shadows, painting it, so to speak, as in a picture; while the rest in manifold ways declared beforehand, both that in due time He would appear in our likeness, and for the salvation and life of us all, consent to suffer death upon the tree. The standing, therefore, of Moses and Elijah before Him, and their talking with one another, was a sort of representation, excellently displaying our Lord Jesus Christ, as having the law and the prophets for His body guard, as being the Lord of the law and the prophets, and as foreshown in them by those things which in mutual agreement they before proclaimed. For the words of the prophets are not at variance with the teachings of the law. And this I imagine was what Moses the most priestly and Elijah the most distinguished of the prophets were talking of with one another. Continue reading

Mr. Spock as Conservative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over at The American Thinker there is an article entitled Why Conservatives Will Miss Spock.  Go here to read it.  I am afraid I found it fairly unsatisfying.  However, there are examples of Spock giving voice during Star Trek episodes to fairly conservative viewpoints.  Here are some of these instances:

 

 

1.  Balance of Terror-Sadly, war sometimes is necessary:

War is never imperative, Mister Spock.

- McCoy, after Spock agrees with Stiles on attacking the Romulans

It is for them, doctor. Vulcan, like Earth, had its aggressive, colonizing period; savage, even by Earth standards. And if the Romulans retained this martial philosophy, then weakness is something we dare not show.

- Spock, responding to McCoy

 

 

2.  Space Seed-Freedom is better than rule by even an able dictator-

Captain James T. Kirk: [looking at a library picture of Khan on viewscreen] Name: Khan Noonien Singh.

Mr. Spock: From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world, from Asia through the Middle East.

Dr. McCoy: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.

Scott: I must confess, gentlemen. I’ve always held a sneaking admiration for this one.

Captain James T. Kirk: He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous. They were supermen in a sense. Stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring.

Mr. Spock: Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is…

Captain James T. Kirk: Mr. Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless.

Scott: There were no massacres under his rule.

Mr. Spock: And as little freedom.

Dr. McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.

Mr. Spock: Gentlemen…

[All but Spock laugh]

Captain James T. Kirk: Mr. Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.

Mr. Spock: Illogical.

Captain James T. Kirk: Totally.

 

3.  Mirror Mirror-Civilization is better than barbarism-

 

Spock:  It was far easier for you as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men. Continue reading

The Temptations of Christ: Part Two

 

[1] Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. [3] And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple,

[6] And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, [9] And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. [10] Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.

Matthew 4: 1-10

Go here to read part one of our Lenten examination of the temptation of Christ by Satan.

The first temptation of Christ by Satan was devilish, of course, clever.  Pretending not to be sure that Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, Satan challenges Christ to turn stones into bread.

On the surface this challenge is simple enough:  Christ hungers and Satan asks for a simple miracle so that he may be sure that Christ is God, and by this easy feat of divine power Christ can appease his human hunger.  However, as Satan knew, the temptation went far deeper than a mere appeal to human hunger.

How to tempt God?  The very concept is blasphemous, of course, but Satan is blasphemy incarnate.  I suspect that Satan’s answer to this puzzle was by appealing to God’s love.  As Christ would note, God marks the sparrow’s fall.  He loves each man, as if there were no other.  How He must pity us in our travails here below, our struggles against poverty and all the other ills that our fallen state and our fallen world present to us.  How many an atheist, bringing up one of these ills, has thrown back in the face of believers the taunt, “How could a just God allow this!”

Thus the Father of Lies appealed to Christ to use his divine power, not just to appease His hunger, but as a sign of how He could use His power to end hunger and all the other ills that Man is heir to.  Satan tempted God by appealing to His mercy, to place sinful Man back in the Garden and satisfy all Man’s material wants, ending human physical suffering with the slightest exertion of the divine will.  Temptations to evil are the most difficult to resist when the sin proposed is being utilized for a good end.  Satan, no doubt, who fell from pride, felt a surge of it when he suggested the clever bread temptation to Christ. Continue reading

Lee Ponders the Coming Campaign

 Lee Ponders Defeat

One hundred and fifty years ago, Winter still held the nation in its grip, but all knew that Spring was coming, and with Spring an inevitable push by Grant against Lee to end the War.  In a letter of February 22, 1865 to Longstreet, Lee considers the options of the Army of Northern Virginia in the coming campaign.  Like a master chess player who is losing a game, all the moves are clear to Lee, but a path to victory for the Confederacy is not.  At best Lee can contemplate his Army either striking Grant or Sherman’s army but leaving unsaid what Longstreet already knew:  that either Grant or Sherman’s forces were strong enough to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia in open battle.  Here is the text of Lee’s letter: Continue reading

A Few Quick Hits

A few noteworthy news items:

– One of the key opposition leaders in Russia was assassinated randomly killed.

A leading Russian opposition politician, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, has been shot dead in Moscow, Russian officials say.

An unidentified attacker in a car shot Mr Nemtsov four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police say.

He died hours after appealing for support for a march on Sunday in Moscow against the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder, the Kremlin says.

President Putin has assumed “personal control” of the investigation into the killing, said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Undoubtedly this will be the most thorough murder investigation since O.J. Simpson hunted down Nicole Brown Simpson’s murderer.

– Scott Walker is already living rent free in the heads of the far left. Now they’re just throwing whatever they can at the wall to see what sticks. Unfortunately for them there’s been this invention called Google that exposes their misinformation attempts. RS McCain explains.

Jezebel’s “senior political reporter” Natasha Vargas-Cooper gotBreitbarted, exposed as a dishonest and corrupt partisan hack, by a guy who did 20 seconds of Googling. Darleen Click:

Here’s Darleen’s post.

Long story short, Vargas-Cooper posted a story about how Governor Walker had allowed Wisconsin universities not to report sexual assaults. What she failed to mention that this was a request from the universities, who already have federal filing requirements to comply with.

Naturally when Vargas-Cooper was confronted with all of the facts she retracted the story and apologized.

Ha ha ha. I slay me. No, she doubled down and basically said that facts don’t matter. Because narrative.

– Here’s a local story about how Montgomery County, Maryland is investigating the pros and cons of getting out of the booze business. County Executive Ike Leggett is having none of it.

The News4 I-Team reached out to County Executive Ike Leggett for comment. His spokesman pointed us to the Chief Administrative Officer’s official response in the report on page 107, stating, “In our opinion, local liquor control has served Montgomery County well. We have lower alcohol consumption and higher revenue for public purposes than other jurisdictions. There are not liquor stores on every corner.”

I highlight this because it demonstrates something that has been manifest for some time to anyone paying attention: the real social scolds are on the left. While the popular narrative is that social conservatives are the ones looking to run everyone else’s life, time and again, story after story, we see examples of left-wing busybodies seeking to interfere with private behavior. Now Leggett might actually have a good argument in defending the liquor stores on these grounds*, but make no mistake, the man is making social policy motivated at least in part in a desire to control behavior.

*: Though as my wife points out, Leggett’s shot at liquor stores is misplaced. I’ll take places like Speck’s in Houston over the dreary state-run stores in Maryland any day.

– This is a few weeks old, but as relevant as ever: fat is good for you. No really, eat your eggs and butter.

New research claims that official warnings against the consumption of saturated fats should never have been introduced

The article in BMJ’s Open Heart journal argues that the advice was based on flawed data and “very limited evidence”.

The warning, adopted by British authorities in the early 1980s, was based on research that focused only on unhealthy men, with the reports authors arguing: “it seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens.

“Dietary advice does not merely need a review; it should not have been introduced.”

Yeah, so pretty much most nutrition advice over the past five decades or so was based on seriously flawed research, and the dietary guidelines have been counter-productive. And yet people still insist on low-fat diets. Whatever. More bacon and eggs for me.

 

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