We have had a spate of exciting news these past two weeks. So much good news that I have noticed a certain pattern forming. That pattern usually comes in threes, so I’d like to introduce the Rule of Three theory. The Rule of Three is a theorem that states good news comes in threes.
First we have Pope Benedict XVI having the excommunications on the Society of St. Pius X (S.S.P.X.) lifted on January 21. Then we have rumors that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (C.D.F.) possibly offering the Traditional Anglican Communion (T.A.C.) entry into the Catholic Church on January 29. So there needs to be a third piece of good news percolating somewhere some would think?
Hattip to our commenter Phillip. When Raymond Burke was Archbishop of Saint Louis he was a tireless advocate of the unborn and also tireless in taking to task those who supported abortion. His elevation to be head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in Rome has not diminshed his zeal for the pro-life cause. In an interview in October of last year he stated that the Democrat party risked transforming itself into the party of death.
In many ways, I am a natural Democrat. I do not have a problem, in principle, with large government or higher taxes that increase wealth distribution. I was against the War in Iraq. I favor amnesty for illegal immigrants (or at least I favored many of the plans we were assured were ‘not amnesty,’ which looked a lot like amnesty). I favor health care reform, including higher taxes, as long as the policies in question have a strong empirical foundation. While I have concerns about taking on large amounts of debt, I do not have a principled objection to the recent stimulus package (provided it actually is a stimulus package).
But I can’t call myself a Democrat.
Bearing has an interesting post up which I suspect reflects the political experience of many serious Catholics over the last twenty five years. The whole thing is worth reading, but I’m quoting it extensively because I think the point she’s making is interesting and widely applicable:
I entered full communion with the Catholic church at the Easter Vigil in 1993, when I was a freshman in college…. A couple of years after that, I had a second conversion in which I was forced to realize that I could not be simultaneously a believing Catholic and a supporter of legal abortion. (Why it took me so long is another story again. Hint: There were some serious problems in that particular RCIA program.)
So there’s a new You-Tube video spreading around meant to be the final word in exposing the hypocrisy of anti-abortion advocates. In what many seem to believe is highly telling, an interviewer asks a group of demonstrating pro-lifers that, should abortion be declared illegal, if they would punish women who had abortions. Apparently the confused looks, murmured “I don’t know, I don’t think they should be punished,” and the otherwise general indication that they hadn’t thought much on the issue, somehow shows that pro-lifers do not believe that abortion is murder, or even the taking of human life. There is a huge amount of self-congratulatory straining of shoulders, clapping themselves on the back for having discovered this one-shot knockdown argument.
Bravo to the 177 Republicans, every member of the GOP in the house, and the 11 brave Democrats, who voted against the 819 billion Bankrupt the Nation Act of 2009. This pork laden monstrosity may well serve as an example for future historians, along with the Bailout Swindle of 2008, as the culminating acts of fiscal madness that led to the decline, at least temporarily, of the US as an economic power. This also sends a message to the Public: ” You wanted change? This is the change you are getting.” This policy is now owned lock and stock by the Democrat party. If it works, something I think unlikely in the extreme, they will be in power for a generation. If it does not, 2010 and 2012 might be very good years for the Grand Old Party. In either case, the public is going to be given a clear choice next time around.
On January 25, 1959, Pope John XXIII announced his intention to call a Church Council. This is a good time to consider the results of Vatican II.
October 20, AD 2009, New Developments: Vatican Announces Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans! To read more on this click here.
Updates at the bottom of the post ? (‘nothing’s been decided’ & ‘unlikely’)
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is reportedly recommending that the Traditional Anglican Communion (T.A.C.) be offered the status of personal prelature. The Traditional Anglican Communion is a group of approximately 400,000 Anglican’s that have broken away from the Anglican Communion seeking to preserve their Anglo-Catholic traditions. They formerly requested entry into the Catholic Church in 2007. These reports are emanating from an Australian Catholic weekly called The Record.
Due to the unprecedented volume of traffic it can be difficult to access The Record website. I can only surmise this is because of the excitement that this bit of news must be generating among Traditional Anglicans as well as faithful Catholics and various observers from Canterbury.
Again, this has just been reported within the last two hours (1:50am Central Standard Time). Here is the following posted information from The Record:
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.
Today is the feast day of one of the greatest saints of the Church, and one of the greatest intellects to ever walk this globe: Saint Thomas Aquinas. Here is an essay on Saint Thomas written by G.K. Chesterton before he wrote his biography of the Dumb Ox. Amazing what a great mind, and a greater faith, can accomplish in one brief life.
Jim Manzi has a good summary of the major components of the proposed stimulus package at The American Scene. A couple of charts stood out:
Some people think that the most important division is between those who believe in God and those who do not. Others say the true dividing line is between conservatives and liberals. Yet more regard humanity’s separation into men and women to be all important. Rubbish!!!
Apparently Mark Shea, one of the Catholic Blogosphere’s sage’s, has gotten caught up in all the hoopla surrounding President Obama’s ascension inauguration. He has succumbed to change. After six years and eight months of staying faithful to what I believe to be the Sand Dollar template that Blogger offers, Mr. Mark Shea decided to change, in the spirit of bipartisanship, the template he uses for his blog (Catholic and Enjoying It!) from Sand Dollar to Minima Lefty.
Mark Shea, a proficient blogger, writer, and apologist. An insightful and sometimes provocative Catholic with his interminable style of debating has shocked, shocked I tell you, the Catholic blogosphere with this switch to Minima Lefty! In one bold stroke Mark Shea has decided to thumb his nose in the face of traditionalists.
I must confess that when I read yesterday that Pope Benedict had lifted the excommunications against the four SSPX bishops, my first thought was not rejoicing that this suggested that a million semi-schismatic Catholics around the world might soon be fully returned to the fold, but rather, “Oh brother, does this mean that Bishop Williamson is now our problem?”
Though we’ve had our share of loopy bishops in union with the pope, Williamson takes episcopal antics to new levels. He’s been known to issue letters discussing how women have no business going to college, the dangerous modernist threat which the movie The Sound Of Music poses, and more sinisterly has recently flirted with holocaust denial.
Thus, I was encouraged to see that Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the SSPX, has issued a statement saying, “I have forbidden Bishop Williamson to issue any public opinion on any political or historical matter until further notice.”
Now there’s something I can say Amen to. Perhaps we may hope that the SSPX will not only become fully reunited with the Church in the near future, but will fail to embarrass liturgically traditional Catholics in the process. Deo gratias.
There have been reports that in a phone call with the Pope, Obama told the Pope that they would have to “agee to disagree” on the issue of abortion.
Being a contarian sort of creature, I’ve been wanting for some time to write a post on why the progressive instinct is sometimes the right one. I’m quite certain that neither conservatism nor progressivism, properly understood, is the only possible view for the moral and reasonable citizen — and yet I find myself impeded in this by being in fact a very temperamentally conservative person.
First off, I’d like to suggest that as most precisely used “conservative” and “progressive” (I’m avoiding the term “liberal” here because it strikes me as having an even more confusing and increasingly imprecise meaning) are very relative terms. The progressive seeks to change current social structures, attitudes and political institutions in order to make them better. He seeks to progress. Conservative seeks to preserve existing structures and institutions, and when he accedes to change he urges that it be done slowly in order to avoid the disruption which rapid change often results in.
I would argue that there are some times when we should follow the progressive instinct, others when we should clearly follow the conservative one, and many in which it is a matter of debate which should be followed.
Doug Kmiec, the subject of a few posts on this blog, here, here, here, here and here, has indicated , hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia, that he believes he is still in the running to be ambassador to the Vatican, presumably his reward for turning his back on the pro-life cause and shilling for Obama last year. Professor Kmiec has also been apparently been glancing at some of the blogs that have taken him to task, hattip to Jeff Miller at Curt Jester.
Hattip to The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen for bringing this charming and silly video to my attention.
The big news of this week: Obama’s first executive orders were not the reversal of the Mexico City Policy (as every major media source and not a few bloggers had predicted, and for which Obama waited until Friday) but the reversal of notable Bush administration’s policies on the incarceration and interrogation of detainees:
President Obama signed executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year, government officials said.The orders, which are the first steps in undoing detention policies of former President George W. Bush, rewrite American rules for the detention of terrorism suspects. They require an immediate review of the 245 detainees still held at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to determine if they should be transferred, released or prosecuted.
And the orders bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years, a practice that has brought fierce criticism from foreign governments and human rights activists. They will also prohibit the C.I.A. from using coercive interrogation methods, requiring the agency to follow the same rules used by the military in interrogating terrorism suspects, government officials said.
However, while some cheerleaders for Obama are already hailing an end to the gestapo-inspired “enhanced interrogration techniques”, a review of critical responses — from the political “right” AND “left” — suggests that the President’s gesture is more symbolic and an exercise in moral posturing. It appears that serious questions remain about what is actually accomplished by President Obama’s recent executive orders.
One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of right-leaning Catholics is that they were insufficiently critical of the Bush Administration over the past eight years. According to this criticism, conservative Catholics were too eager to paper over the faults of the Bush Administration, and they failed to object at critical points to the Administration’s policies. While such generalizations can be problematic, I agree with this critique in broad outline. One of the lessons I’ve taken from the past eight years is that this is a temptation that must be consciously resisted.
It’s hard to express my disappointment, then, at the recent post entitled Mexico City? Try Gaza Instead…over at Vox Nova. Here’s the post:
Something for the weekend. Another in my ongoing series of posts related to Lincoln leading up to his 200th birthday on February 12, 2009. The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe. Lincoln loved the Battle Hymn of the Republic. After he first heard it performed, he asked, with tears in his eyes, that it be sung again. Fittingly, it was sung at his funeral.
On the cold and rainy day of October 13, 1917 A.D. in the Cova da Iria fields near Fatima, Portugal, three shepherd children along with an estimated crowd of 100,000 witnessed the Miracle of the Sun. The sun danced and zig-zagged its way towards the crowd for approximately 10 minutes where it then suddenly ceased and returned to it’s natural position. The moment the sun ceased what was previously a wet and soaked crowd became dry along with the grass, dirt, shrubs, and trees in the within the surrounding area. Many miracles were reported as well as sitings as far away as Poland and Italy.
The following is a compilation of photographs taken that very day.
For more information go here.
(YouTube Biretta Tip: Patrick Madrid via Kevin Knight)
A new website: MoralAccountability.com. This is their mission statement:
In the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, a small group of Catholic and Evangelical Protestant intellectuals and activists, while saying that they personally support legal protection for the unborn and oppose the redefinition of marriage, promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama, who made no secret of his intention to wipe out the entire range of laws restricting or discouraging abortion and embryo-destructive research, or of his opposition to all state and federal initiatives (such as California Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act) to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These men and women assured their fellow Christians and other social conservatives that Obama’s economic policies would reduce the incidence of abortion, and they promised that Obama was being honest when he said that he was opposed to “same-sex marriage.”
Despite these assurances, we fear that the Obama administration will swiftly begin an assault on pro-life laws and pro-marriage policies.
There have been some refreshingly candid (if not entirely harmonious) conversations over at Mirror of Justice recently about the blog’s mission as it approaches its fifth anniversary. Mirror of Justice is a great resource for Catholic legal scholarship, and it has a diverse set of contributors with different perspectives on Catholic legal theory.
I have thoughts about many of the issues that have come up, but one topic that I found especially interesting was the discussion of generational differences.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court, and also the day of the annual March For Life. It was also the anniversary of the day on which President Clinton had reversed Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, which denies US funds slated for international family planning services to any organization which provides or refers people to abortions. And the anniversary of the day on which President Bush reinstated the policy.
Given that President Obama had promised to move quickly to rescind the policy again as Clinton had, news organizations ranging from Lifesite News to NPR reported that he would probably follow his predescessor’s lead by issuing an executive order on abortion on January 22nd as well. It was thus mildly surprising when the Christian Broadcasting Network broke the story that Obama would not rescind the policy on the day of the March for Life. A few Catholic progressives got carried away and scolded their anti-Obama bretheren for jumping the gun, and it was more widely suggested this was a sign of the sort of approach Obama would take to moral issues more widely: treading slowly and granting respect to his opponents views.
Jacques Chirac, former president of France, was mauled by his clinically depressed poodle Sumo. I trust that I speak for all of our contributors and readers when I wish Sumo a rapid recovery. Hattip to Instapunidit.
I haven’t seen 22 weeks yet, but I’m going to, and I think all pro-lifers should. It brings home the ugly reality of abortion and the bitter grief and despair that inexorably, in this world or the next, each abortion brings. Here is a review. May God forgive us all for this great evil that flourishes in our land and in our world. Abortion is the ultimate taking of the gracious gift of life, and spitting in the face of He who granted it. Humanity has the capacity for so much good, and this great evil drags us down lower, much lower, than the innocent beasts. I pray that I will live to see the day when abortion will be viewed with the same horror that we now view slavery.
Let’s sit down and play a game. I’m sure some of you are familiar with it, but for those who are not, the game may need a little description. First, the game is entitled “I win.” No, no, come back, it is a fun game, I promise! Here’s the rules: I win. No matter what you do, I win. If you follow the rules, I win. If you don’t follow the rules, then you have forfeited, and I win. Pretty simple, right?
Hollywood celebrities inspired by President Obama engage in more expelling of hot air. The indispensable Iowahawk provides us with commentary. (Content advisory: some rough language.)
Continuing in the spirit of good will following the inauguration, I thought I would take this opportunity to emphasize a matter on which President Obama and I appear to agree. Namely, if this video is any indication, he and I have a similar opinion of his Vice President.
One hears rather often that George W. Bush has ended his presidency with record low approval ratings. Some articles I’ve read have said (apparently incorrectly) that they are the lowest ever.
The above was sent to me yesterday, and it provides an interesting comparison. Two presidents left office with approvals as low as Bush’s: Truman, who faced a struggling post-war economy and a increasingly difficult situation in the Korean War; and Nixon, who was in the middle of being impeached when he resigned.
History has been far kinder to Truman, overall, than Nixon. Indeed, I suspect that few people know that Truman ended his presidency as unpopular as Nixon and Bush. Certainly, I hadn’t realized it. It remains to be seen whether, in 50 years time, Bush will be seen as more like the former or the latter.
At the advent of a presidency that has been accused of being the most pro-choice in history, there’s some good news.
Wyoming is now considering jumping on the bandwagon of trying to make abortions more difficult. There are currently three bills before the legislature dealing with the topic of abortion. The first, and one that draws all manner of painful cries from NARAL and other pro-choice organizations, is the requirement that any pregnant woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound performed. The complaints here focus on the lack of equipment in some regions of the state, supposedly barring some women from being able to undergo the procedure. To this, I have to roll my eyes. There are people in Wyoming who have to drive two or three hours to reach a grocery store. You have to spend at least an hour on the road to go from one significant town to the next. I think travelling to Casper or Cheyenne or one of our other “large” towns for such an “important” procedure shouldn’t be beyond most Wyomingites’ ability. Of course, the real point is that if a woman sees her baby in the ultrasound, she’ll be smitten with a bout of guilt and won’t be able to go through with it. There’s a reason why we have the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind.”
A follow up to Darwin’s post. I do not think that the United States is an empire, at least in the manner of past empires, and I do not wish to reopen that debate here. I am more intrigued by the question of whether an empire has to be evil by definition. I think it is an undeniable fact of history that, as is the case with all forms of human government, there have been evil empires, the Third Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union top that list, mostly good empires, the British Empire I think is the prime example, and mixed empires, the Roman and the Spanish empires come to mind. Even a mostly good empire can be hard to live under, as the Founding Fathers and my Irish ancestors would attest, and even an evil empire will have its adherents. Like any human institution an empire has to be judged on its record. The best empires I think are those which bring peace and allow for trade and the exchange of ideas among different peoples. The wisest empires understand that no human institution can last forever and help to prepare by their actions their peoples for the day when the empire will be one with Nineveh and Tyre.
Text of Pope Benedict XVI’s telegram to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
On the occasion of your inauguration as the Forty-fourth president of the United States of America I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that the Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities.
I greatly appreciated Pastor Rick Warren’s invocation | Video:
… Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom, and justice for all.
When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.
And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes — even when we differ. …
On the other hand, is it making too much to note that Rev. Joseph Lowery’s Benediction (Video), in its general indictment (even perhaps in jest) of the white man, closed somewhat on a sour note — as well as contrasting with Obama’s message of racial unity? Continue Reading
44th President of the United States of America
May God bless President Obama, and grant him the wisdom he will need for the trials and challenges of the next four years.
Hattip to Cranky Con. Since there is nothing of real importance going on today, at least nothing that can’t wait for comment over the next four years, I thought this might be a good time to take a look at these reflections by Dirk Benedict on the current Battlestar Galactica show.
Part of my continuing series on Lincoln leading up to his 200th birthday. I thought on the observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it would be appropriate to take a look at remarks about Lincoln made by the foremost black American of his day Frederick Douglass. These were made on April 14, 1876, at the unveiling of the Freedmen’s Memorial to Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln Park in Washington DC An analysis by me will follow the remarks.
The Philadelphia Eagles will be playing for a spot in the Super Bowl today. Being a life-long Eagles fan I have to admit that I am biased, but I believe this could finally be theiryear to win it all. With all due respect to the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles should destroy them and have the game wrapped up by the 4th quarter.
The song is “Gonna Fly Now”, the theme from (the) Rocky movie franchise. Composed by Bill Conti with lyrics by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins. Appropriately set in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
If the Eagles don’t win, it was a very thrilling and exciting ride this season!
Courtesy of the most reliable source for news on the net, the Onion. You know, the odd thing is that I have seen stranger Congressional hearings. It is hard to satirize Congress. Rather like attempting to satirize chaos. An institution has to have some standards before satire is effective.
Something for the weekend. As we approach the 200th birthday of the Great Emancipator on February 12, 2009, I intend to be submitting various posts regarding Lincoln. The above tribute is to the tune of Ashokan Farewell, a modern composition now forever linked with the Civil War due to its use in Ken Burn’s Civil War. I think Lincoln would have found the music moving. He also would have found the use of his image howlingly funny. Lincoln considered himself ugly, as did most of his contemporaries, and I can imagine him saying that although the tribute was well intended that it should focus instead on those he regarded as the true heroes of the war: the common Union soldiers and sailors.
In the comments on a post on another blog, I was challenged with the following question, which while fringy in origin strikes me as being the sort of thing which requires a post-length answer if it’s going to be answered at all. (I’ve put together the content of a couple comments in the following summation.)
Given the statement by president-elect Obama’s incoming Attorney General that waterboarding is torture, shouldn’t one want to see “everyone in the Bush administration who authorized torture” sent to the Hague to stand trail for war crimes?
My short answer is, “No.” And I think there are a number of interesting reasons for saying this.
Most of us are familiar with some concept of artificial intelligence, be it Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, C-3PO and R2D2 from Star Wars, HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Skynet from The Terminator, or Joshua from War Games, to name a few popular examples. We’ve long been introduced to the notion of the struggle to determine if artificial intelligence constitutes life whether these beings, which we have created, deserve rights. We’ve also come across the notion of whether we need to restrict these beings so that they cannot turn and extinguish human life (think Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, and movies like The Terminator and The Matrix, where the artificial intelligence has turned on humankind). Yet we very rarely hear the debate as to whether such artificial intelligence can ever be a reality. In fact, and partially due to the promises made in the 50’s and 60’s, many people think that super-intelligent machines are destined to occur any day now.
Why would Sanger accept an invitation to address the Klan? Perhaps a more interesting question is why would the Klan want to hear her speak? Her Negro Project demonstrates why.
This is a thesis that could use far more development than I can give it at the moment, but I hope I can lay it out clearly enough that to generate some interesting discussion and perhaps revisit it later.
It’s frequently complained that the US is in danger of becoming a global empire. Traditionally one elaborates on this by quoting Washington’s farewell address if one is of the right, and by citing the evils of colonialism if one is of the left.
I’d like to suggest that the imperial horse has pretty much left the stable a long time ago. The US has been a global empire since World War II, and since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been the sole global power. Although, like the later Roman Republic, the US has not actually taken direct political control over countries beyond its traditional borders (nor does it collect tribute from abroad) it has a sphere of influence covering much of the known world and is repeatedly involved in exerting pressure or deploying force to ensure regional conflicts do not spin out of control.
This in itself is perhaps not a terribly unusual thesis.
Ricardo Montalban, may you now be enjoying the Beatific Vision. First the unimportant stuff. Montalban was an actor of immense talent.
Hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia and The Catholic Report. Eric McFadden was the founder of Catholics for Kerry, a group which proudly proclaimed that Catholics should support John Kerry notwithstanding his support for abortion.
Via Ross Douthat, I ran into this Slate article about the Letter of Last Resort:
At this very moment, miles beneath the surface of the ocean, there is a British nuclear submarine carrying powerful ICBMs (nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles). In the control room of the sub, the Daily Mail reports, “there is a safe attached to a control room floor. Inside that, there is an inner safe. And inside that sits a letter. It is addressed to the submarine commander and it is from the Prime Minister. In that letter, Gordon Brown conveys the most awesome decision of his political career … and none of us is ever likely to know what he decided.”
During the campaign Obama was adamant that he would close the terrorist holding facility at Guantanamo.
Now, well he says he will still close it, but it won’t be done quickly.