That has become the rallying cry of our times, the gloss over all deeds, the excuse for practically any sin. It is the banner of the sexual revolution, the fallback position of those confronted by the “narrow-minded” religious in society. After all, who does it really hurt if teenagers have pre-marital sex, as long as they play it safe? Who does it hurt if two consenting adults decide to have a one-night stand? Who does it hurt if two men or two women decide to sleep together? More importantly, how could one possibly claim anyone is harmed if someone masturbates?
Not really. This New York Times article contends that my home state of Illinois is not the most corrupt state in the Union. However I note that two of the three methods by which they obtain their rankings focus on convictions. In a truly corrupt state, convictions might lag because the engines of law enforcement are often part of the problem. Based upon spending my entire life in Illinois, except for three years, I believe FBI Agent Robert Grant is correct, if Illinois is not the most corrupt state, it is a strong competitor for the title.
Update I: Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of the State of Illinois, is attempting today to have the Illinois Supreme Court strip Blagojevich of his powers as Governor. I agree with this article that her brief is extremely weak and would draw a “C” as the effort of a first year law student. At any rate I doubt if the Illinois Supreme Court will step into this briar patch. If the House acts swiftly to impeach him, Blagojevich may resign, but I do not think anything short of this will work. To add to the banana republic quality that is part and parcel of current Illinois politics, Lisa Madigan is the daughter of Michael Madigan speaker of the House who has a long-standing blood feud with Blagojevich. Lisa Madigan herself has long been thought to be hungering to be Governor. Illinois politics frequently consists now of hereditary political fiefdoms that are passed down through the generations. We have the reality of a largely feudal political system with none of the entertaining trappings.
Update II: As usual, John Kass of the Tribune has a brilliant column on the farce that is Illinois politics.
Update III: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has an excellent look at the behind the scenes machinations of this mess. I wholeheartedly agree with his conclusion: “Calling this sewer “The Land of Lincoln” is a bad joke. If Illinois voters aren’t inclined to make the kind of necessary changes, can they change the license plates to read, “The Land of Capone”? It’s certainly a more accurate description.”
Why did God come to us, as one of us, in the Incarnation? Why this particular path for our salvation? Great saints throughout the history of the Church have sought to answer this question, and perhaps the best answer is one of the earliest, that given by Saint Athanasius of contra mundum fame:
“I was irresistibly prompted to go out into the open air … The slush of melting snow formed a deep mud along the banks of the River Charles, which I followed down toward Boston … As I wandered aimlessly, something impelled me to look contemplatively at a young tree. On its frail, supple branches were young buds … While my eye rested on them, the thought came to me suddenly, with all the strength and novelty of a revelation, that these little buds in their innocence and meekness followed a rule, a law of which I as yet knew nothing … That night, for the first time in years, I prayed.”
Probably because of my skeptical bent, most apparitions (including those approved as worthy of belief) are things I can take or leave. I don’t disbelieve in them, but they’re not something I give much thought or spiritual focus to. The great exception to this is the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has been dear to me ever since I was a child reading Tommie dePaola’s outstanding The Lady of Guadalupe.
The story of Our Lady’s appearances to Juan Diego is simple and moving on its own, and the significance of her appearance in emphasizing the truly universal nature of Catholicism cannot be underestimated.
Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a new Instruction entitled Dignitas Personae, On Certain Bioethical Questions. You can find it along with a Vatican summary as well as a Q&A and press release from the USCCB here.
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”
One of the big criticisms of free market economics is that markets are driven by greed. “Why would you want to allow markets to set the price of [health care, wages, basic housing, food, education, etc.],” the argument goes, “when that means subjecting a basic humanitarian necessity of the dictates of unfettered greed?” I think this represents a basic misunderstanding of how markets work, and I’m going to try to address that in this post — though I approach the attempt with some trepidation given the difficulties of the subject matter and the limits of the medium.
I’m going to start by conceding a point which those making the assertion I describe above may consider to prove their case: The economic view of market dynamics tends to view individual actors within a market as value maximizing agents. In other words, a market consists of a number of actors each trying to get the most possible value for the least possible expense.
Doesn’t this mean that markets are driven by greed? Don’t we need to encourage people to be something other than value maximizing agents?
Well, certainly, there is much more to life than what you can buy and sell,
My inspiration for starting this post and continue the topic through several other posts is the “Day without a Gay” protest, which is supposed to inspire homosexuals and those in support of homosexual marriage to take the day off and perhaps commit to volunteer work (to take a little bit of the sting out of the strike). Whenever issues like this come up (as they do at least annually here at the University of Wyoming with the Matthew Shepard Symposium), I find myself reflecting on human sexuality, the importance it plays in our lives, and the great detriment its misuse has caused, both to the nation and to myself personally.
President-Elect Obama used the word audacity a lot in his rise to the presidency but how much audacity does it take to be a liberal state senator, representing a liberal district, in a liberal state? True audacity is going against the odds and against the consensus on pundits. That is exactly what Joseph Cao did in Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Cao is a devout Catholic Republican Vietnamese immigrant in an overwhelmingly African American and Democrat congressional district. Although his opponent is undoubtably corrupt politician facing serious indictments, he was still not given a chance at winning. Unfortunately, voters, especially it seems African American voters, often overlook these flaws in the name of some sort of racial solidarity. Nevertheless, Cao won! Let’s pray that he can help rebuild the wonderful city of New Orleans and provide true opportunity for its amazing people. Cao, like Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin, is already getting attention from Republican leadership as the future of the party.
Although Cao probably hasn’t even had a chance to organize his staff, yesterday I heard Al Sharpton say that he would be working to “fix” this situation. Seems for Sharpton and his ilk working with a person who cares about the district and its people is trumped by partisan and racial politics.
Discussing history is a surprisingly contentious activity because to a great extent we define who we are (and what our institutions are) by our past actions. Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that when Chris Blosser posted the fascinating (to me at any rate) story of Mitsuo Fuchida, who went from living the samuri-derived Bushido code of behavior to becoming a Christian missionary as the result of seeing the lived-out Christianity of Westerners after World War II, one of the first comments was:
And yet how many of you would still defend the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not to mention the bombs he have dropped repeatedly on Iraq?
This is, I think, indicative of a certain approach to discussing history, one in which discussing historical events must always involve ritual denunciations of specific wrongs, or perceived wrongs. Thus, for instance, a discussion of America’s founding documents must, according to this school of thought, always include a statement that, “Of course, this was written in the context of minorities and women having no rights at all.” Any discussion of WW2 where the Allies are treated as having been better than the Axis must result in a denunciation of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden. Any discussion of the medieval Church must be accompanied with denunciations of the crusades, clerical corruption and anti-semitism. And on, and on.
While it is certainly important to bring our sense of moral judgement to our understanding of the past