17 Responses to Theology, Sanity, and Homosexuality

  • We are not to conform to the world but conform to the kingdom of heaven which Jesus preached as love, care, concern for one another. If same sex couples are called to love care and concern for one another then they must follow their truly formed consciences. Sin occurs when we turn away from love. Christians must follow Jesus and Jesus is not made in our image but we in is. Follow love and allow otehrs to do the same. Love is AND not OR.

  • Ryan,

    an excellent post!

    Ken,

    actually Christ also called us to sexual fidelity in marriage, or celibacy. He defined marriage as one man and one woman. There’s no loophole for “loving same sex couples”.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Ryan,

    Thank you for explaining the role of the Holy Trinity. That is one aspect that I am still a novice at understanding how the family roles are to be understood.

  • Tito,

    Glad you liked it, though I wonder if I truly did it justice. There’s so much to say on that one particular topic, especially in addressing concerns of how we can compare such a physical, material action with the spiritual nature of God, and how the condition of man as both matter and spirit applies. In addition, I still feel like a novice myself about it.

    My wife suggested that I glossed over a lot of things in my post that would have made it better, especially with leaving out statistics. For example, I could have (and maybe should have), for example, linked in to Catholic Answer’s tract on gay marriage, or searched out the studies themselves to cite the negative consequences of homosexual acts. She also felt I more or less wimped out (PC style) in denouncing homosexual acts as sinful. Any thoughts?

  • Great post. I’ve enjoyed the whole series, especially this one.

    Maybe you could write more about infertile couples and how a love that is “open to life” even when it is not likely to occur is still sacramental and valid. I get very irritated when people compare infertile married couples to homosexuals. Like you wrote, love is not more important than procreation. But sometimes we can be made to feel inferior because of our infertility. We want to be both unitive and procreative. I’d like to have a short but effective position statement on why male and female are still important, even when procreation is not possible.

    Are there any good Church documents that explore infertility and adoption in more depth?

  • Ryan,

    Good post. I think a sincere and candid discussion about the nature of homosexuality is so vital and yet so far away with the politicization of everything in society.

    It is very, very difficult to grasp the understanding you have presented with a poor understanding of metaphysics and how things relate to one another. The Theology of the Body which is fundamentally what you’re arguing is a metaphysical presupposition of a certain ordering and arrangement of things.

    I’ve heard it argued and in the past, have argued that homosexuality is natural. What occurs in nature, by definition, is natural. There are actually documented cases of homosexual behavior in hundreds of animal species. However, this is not the Christian theological connotation of the word “natural.” God creates objectively, that is, toward an objective, toward a goal. We have a purpose, a meaning, our being—our human nature—is aimed toward some objective, an end that we must achieve that will “fulfill” our human nature. Our nature is how God designed us, so what is “natural” for human beings is clearly not what you find some animal doing; it is only what fulfills our design. Cows are different from dog. The nature of a dog is different from that of a cow. A cow cannot live a life as a dog and still be a cow. What is natural to a dog is not natural to a cow. It does not fulfill the cow’s nature. Cows do not go about sniffing and burying things. So, it follows what is “natural” to animals is not necessarily “natural” to humans. In fact, some animals can change their sex. Male seahorses bear life. This is not the case for humans; hence, animals should not be the objective point of reference for human behavior. But with a reductionist mentality and with little sense of Christian metaphysics, it is rather difficult to get people to see this point though to us it seems self-evident.

    In my own life, I came to a startling realization and it is clearly based on Christian metaphysics. The sexual design — which goes beyond sexual activity — is wired into our very nature and to participate in its fulfillment by the act of free will is to flourish and be human.

    However, when I became suspicious of whether or not — and I’ll say it is my view that there is a genetic predisposition to homosexuality, but I don’t believe it to be the sole cause — God actively intends homosexuality rather than “passively” allows it. If the latter is true, which I’ve become convinced of, to act on homosexual desires is destructive because it’s an attempt to abolish the very order written into human nature and thus harmful at every level.

    One can begin with the most obvious — the physical — it seems curious as to how it is so readily never considered how it could not harm a man to suffer rectal trauma by being penetrated repeatedly through an opening clearly designed for a radically different function.

    Emotionally and spiritually, the harm is not as self-evident, but I think, more pronounced. Consider the emotional harm: if God designd the male-female pair to complement and balance one another, then it follows that same-sex relationships drive each partner to extremes — instead of balancing, the two reinforce one another.

    If one considers — presupposing one actually believes this — the fact that because men are more inclined to be promiscuous than woman because a difference in physiology as childbearers that makes women more conscientious, unbalanced by women (this is not considering contraception) such inclinations ca lead to anonymous no-brakes promiscuity of men who have sex with hundreds of other men. On the spiritual level, through homosexual acts one is seeking union with someone that is one’s own mirrior image; in other words, yov are still trapped in Yourself and I think this is the ultimate manifestation of the self-indulgence and pride behind homosexual desire. It is a ‘no’ to martial sex that takes you beyond Self and allows you to know someoe who is really Other. I think this in many ways confirmed by the fact that among homosexuals, typically one person plays the more masculine role and the other adopts a more feminine role in regard to sexual activity. In that way, homosexual acts are less like marital love than like masturbation with another body. Same-sex sexual activity is fundamentally an imitation of marital love, but can never be it and that’s the real moral frustration.

    I think much sociological evidence confirms such notions not to mention basic concerns of health — active male homosexuals on avg. have a lifespan 20 years shorter than that of heterosexual males from a variety of reasons.

    I think even if a couple is not capable of giving birth to physical life, there unity is life-affirming and giving in emotional and spiritual ways. The union and activity of marital love in an infertile couple does not directly contradict the very design of the sexual order. They have a magnificent cross and will suffer a temptation not shared by many others; I read about a Catholic couple who can’t procreate because of natural reasons and to protect themselves from impurity, they practice NFP as penance. So I think there is much possibility there; at least, I don’t think it is immoral as long as the intentions are correct.

  • On the spiritual level, through homosexual acts one is seeking union with someone that is one’s own mirrior image; in other words, yov are still trapped in Yourself and I think this is the ultimate manifestation of the self-indulgence and pride behind homosexual desire. It is a ‘no’ to martial sex that takes you beyond Self and allows you to know someoe who is really Other. I think this in many ways confirmed by the fact that among homosexuals, typically one person plays the more masculine role and the other adopts a more feminine role in regard to sexual activity. In that way, homosexual acts are less like marital love than like masturbation with another body. Same-sex sexual activity is fundamentally an imitation of marital love, but can never be it and that’s the real moral frustration.

    Eric, it’s amazing how you can articulate so much better than I can the points I want to make! Thank you.

  • Eric,

    What occurs in nature, by definition, is natural.

    I don’t think that is the proper definition of “natural” as it’s generally used. Would anyone describe a Siamese twin as “natural”?

    From Merriam-Webster:
    occurring in conformity with the ordinary course of nature

    Just because it occurs in nature does not mean it’s “natural”.

    God actively intends homosexuality rather than “passively” allows it

    Don’t you think that this would be accusing God of doing evil? It seems to me that this is dangerously close to the anathema addressed by the Council of Trent regarding Calvinism (props to Peter Park on pointing this out):

    Canon 6 on Justification:

    If anyone says that it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God works as well as those that are good, not permissibly only, but properly and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.

    It follows that, if God actively wills homosexuality then does it not follow that the behaviour inherent, is a work of God as well. We do not believe that concupiscence is the active will of God but a consequence of original sin, how could this particular temptation be actively willed?

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • I don’t think that is the proper definition of “natural” as it’s generally used. Would anyone describe a Siamese twin as “natural”?

    Don’t you think that this would be accusing God of doing evil?

    Matt, I think you missed the point here. Eric was stating that these are the arguments put forward by people trying to justify homosexual acts. He then goes on to explain why those arguments are wrong. For example, he states:

    However, this is not the Christian theological connotation of the word “natural.” God creates objectively, that is, toward an objective, toward a goal. We have a purpose, a meaning, our being—our human nature—is aimed toward some objective, an end that we must achieve that will “fulfill” our human nature. Our nature is how God designed us, so what is “natural” for human beings is clearly not what you find some animal doing; it is only what fulfills our design.

    This clearly refutes the proposition that you (rightly) denounced but (incorrectly) attributed to him. He also goes on to state that he has examined the argument of whether

    …God actively intends homosexuality rather than “passively” allows it. If the latter is true, which I’ve become convinced of…

    Latter, here, refers to the passive permission as opposed to the active intent. Eric is fully stating that he believes that God passively permits people to struggle with same-sex attraction, not that God actively intends people to deal with same-sex attraction and act on it.

    We appreciate your comments, but I would ask that you carefully consider what someone actually says before rebutting his arguments. (On the other hand, don’t for a moment think that I haven’t been guilty of the same many times before!)

  • Ryan,

    I’d appreciate if Eric explained his intent here, it’s quite possible that I’m misunderstanding, but your response only adds to the confusion. I certainly wouldn’t want the apparent contradiction to be left unclarified.

    Matt

  • Matt,

    I was making a distinction between the world “natural” as used in modernity in reference to anything that has a genetic cause — directly wired into one’s behavior via genes — or biological, which refers to things inborn that are not necessarily genetic. Some extend the connotation to things that frequently occur, e.g. sayings like it’s a “natural” temptation or it’s “natural” to feel that way. I clarified that this is not what Christians, in theological language, mean by the word “natural” — the word in theology implies what something’s place is in the creative order and respects God’s design. The nature, is practically synonymous, with the very essence of something. Thus, I was implying that this reality if taken to be true, redirects one’s opinion of homosexuality as acceptable to be expressed to a inclination toward a grave sin. The latter being my conviction.

    In regard to God’s will, I was making a distinction. God from a purely metaphysical basis is the First Cause, therefore, he literally holds everything in existence even creatures with free will that can choose to do evil — God wills actively that we have free will with the full knowledge we may misuse it. I once had the challenge of explaining to someone how a good and loving God could somehow be involved — don’t misunderstand my language — in creating at every moment of it’s existence, the planes that were crashed into the twin towers because any existing things hinges upon God’s creative act, which is not a one time thing, but rather creation is an ongoing activity and God is participating in it with an incomprehensible divine plan that we humans struggle to learn.

    Now in regard to homosexuality, I do believe that God allows homosexuality to exist. Nothing can exist without God allowing it. However, the question I asked myself before I converted to Catholicism, as a person who is homosexual was whether God actively intends it — that is, he creates it and intends it, or is it the fruit of moral disorder or physical evil that God only passively allows to exist though it is not something he intends, but rather permits as it were. I personally believe — and this isn’t at all infallible — that there is a genetic or biological basis for homosexuality. I don’t think it’s the sole cause or the cause of it for everyone. I don’t believe this reality — a physical evil — changes the very essence of human nature or implies that man should re-write his metaphysical place in creation to accomodate homosexual acts. Homosexual acts are fundamentally against the natural law and in Christian terms it is a sin.

    I didn’t think I was in anyway ambivalent on the matter, seeing that I was praising a post that made zero accomodations for morally accepting homosexual behavior.

  • Eric,

    I think I understand what you’re saying, but could you clarify that you what you are saying is that it is God’s “passive will” to allow homosexuality to occur? I guess I’m just too simple, but you seem to keep leaving that question open.

    a. active will – God actively intends it — that is, he creates it and intends it, or

    b. passive will – is it the fruit of moral disorder or physical evil that God only passively allows to exist though it is not something he intends

    I think the only orthodox answer is b, wouldn’t you agree? While “a” doesn’t necessarily justify homosexual acts, I believe it is contradictory to Catholic teaching on God’s nature.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Yes. Point “b” is the position I hold and was expressing.

  • I personally believe — and this isn’t at all infallible — that there is a genetic or biological basis for homosexuality.

    Just for what it’s worth, I thought I’d add my thoughts on the issue, though I’m by no means an authority.

    The question is: is homosexuality a matter of genetic predisposition or is it a psychological phenomenon? Or I should say, this is how people pose the question, and I think it glosses over a huge number of important factors, the first and foremost being that “both” is as a legitimate answer as either.

    Part of the problem, as I see it, is that we do a lot of training and conditioning of ourselves in matters of sexual attraction, especially in bad ways. There are many, many “fetishes” out there that people wouldn’t normally ever consider sexually arousing, but with exposure and a disordered desire for arousal and sexual gratification, these fetishes become very sexually charging.

    This is exemplified in the largest plague of sex crimes in Wyoming: child pornography (possessing, not producing, thankfully). Therapists and offenders themselves both will tell you that most people who get heavy into child porn don’t do so because they were naturally inclined to pedophilia or anything like that; rather, in their usage of pornography, and their ongoing drive for new ways to stimulate themselves, they came across child porn, and developed an association with it. Through repeated exposure (and willingness to expose themselves to it), they eventually trained themselves to be aroused by children.

    Of course, that’s on the extreme end of deviancy, and many people will protest that those people are latent pedophiles, anyway. They’ll also claim that people who go for the weird fetishes are latent perverts, as well. I disagree, for the most part, but where I do agree will wait until I hit the biological portion of this reply.

    Part of the problem of following this line of thought is that many will jump down my throat for comparing homosexuality to child porn, but I feel there’s a connection. Christopher West said that humans aren’t necessarily programmed for homosexuality or heterosexuality, but instead are programmed for sexuality, and the natural (as in the Christian “natural” that Eric defined) development of that is in opposite-sex attraction. Various influences in a person’s life lead them towards and away from properly ordered desire (positive influences like a strong, committed, loving family; negative influences like movies, TV shows, magazines, etc). Some of these influences can occur very early in a person’s life so that they’re not even aware, years later, that they even had an influence. Others are recent enough that it is easy to track back how a person ended up with a particular sexual desire.

    So yes, I do believe that there is a “nurture” component to same-sex attraction. I’ve seen too many people “nurture” themselves into a particular sexual deviancy not to believe that. And yes, I feel I’ve seen people “nurture” themselves into same-sex attraction. In some of the more “socially progressive” areas of high school and college (I’m thinking the liberal arts here, specifically theater), the pressure to be openly homosexual or at least openly supportive of homosexuality was strong enough to lead some to experimentation and to the struggle with sexual identity. Of course, one can simply say that in such a homosexual-friendly environment, homosexuals would naturally drift there, especially those who had hidden it away for so long (even from themselves). But as I said, this whole reply is a matter of personal opinion, not a scholarly treatise.

    But I also believe that there is some genetic propensity towards homosexuality, as well. This belief comes from two lines of thought. First, I believe that there is a biological imperative to see the opposite sex as sexually desirable, and if we are to believe that, then I think we must be willing to admit at least the possibility of the wires getting crossed in some people. Second, while I hold that training has a lot to do with what we find sexually appealing, I also believe that some people are more prone to various forms of sexual behavior than others. Some people naturally have a huge sex drive, others barely have a sex drive at all. Some people very easily slip into (or readily embrace) sexual fetishes, others continue to be repulsed no matter how often they come across it. Thus I believe that no only can wires get crossed, but they can cross in a spectrum of degrees.

    So, to sum up, I believe homosexuality originates first in a biological predilection (very strong in a small number of people, less strong in a few more, and weakly in others), but after that, it depends on influences and training. Some people, a very few, need practically no influence or training at all; others need only a nudge, and others still require some traumatic experience. People with only a weak predisposition (or even no predisposition at all) can still train themselves into same-sex attraction.

    So there’s my theory. It squares with what I know from my limited exposure to homosexuality (I have had a couple friends who are homosexuals, but we’ve almost never talked about it) and from my struggles with my own sexuality. However, it may not square with anyone else’s experiences, so I’m willing (and perhaps eager) to hear what others think.

    As a note, when I say that I feel people are trained or conditioned into homosexuality due to particular influences, that is not to say that they chose to do so of their own volition, or that they would have agreed to it if they knew what was happening. Indeed, my theory of influences and conditioning tends to lean towards early life experiences that perhaps aren’t even remembered. But in any case, my belief that there is training, influence, and conditioning leading to same-sex attraction does not in any way imply that anyone is culpable for his homosexuality.

  • Ryan,

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Studies by the Catholic Medical Association find very similar conclusions. This a very strong argument indeed, for the dangers of the homosexual indoctrination that is being foisted on our children.

    Frankly, the attempt by gay activists to push for the genetic origin is simply a red herring. It really doesn’t matter whether this propensity is purely genetic or purely learned, it is still disordered in a moral sense, and in a biological sense.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Excellent thread.
    If some genetic material carries a ‘homosexual’ component, Why is the homosexual act described as an ‘abomination’ in Scripture?
    i.e God creates the process for this genetic material then condemns His creation…we’d better call Plantinga on this one!
    Could it be that homosexuality is not a psychopathology but rather a pneumopathology?
    Scripture also says that homosexuals will not gain heaven, but then neither will liars, whoremongers, ect., an indicator that we all require forgiveness and salvation.

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Voluntary Human Extinction

Tuesday, January 13, AD 2009

save-plantet-kill-yourself1

 

When I first came across this group, I thought it was a joke.  Well it is, but they are serious.  The humorous side of me wants to say, “Great!  I am very happy that people with your views will not be having kids!”  The more serious side of me thinks it a calamity that any group of people can seriously call for the extinction of humanity.  Needless to say, although I will say it anyway, this group supports abortion.

This ties in with a particularly foolish blog entry by a woman who believes the path to social progress is to end human reproduction.

Pope John Paul II was fond of speaking of “a culture of life”.  If we don’t have a culture of life in this century I think we will most certainly have a culture of death that will dwarf the body count of the last century.  Silly groups like Voluntary Human Extinction and the deluded blogger are merely ludicrous manifestations of a culture that increasingly views human life not as a sacred gift from God, but rather a disposable commodity.  As Catholics we face no greater challenge than rekindling in our society a respect for innocent human life, and an optimism that life, with all of its challenges and pain, is to be embraced with joy.

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10 Responses to Voluntary Human Extinction

  • At least they’re honest about it. Not buried in p.r. jive like the thugs at Planned Parenthood or spouting the jive about empowerment at NOW. They just hate people. Pretty much the final collective bundle of similar groups- PETA, Greenpeace, other organizations populated by folks with deep- seated issues. Probably hate themselves. Would be fun to see one in a debate with Pope JP Superstar. Nope. Would be like Alex Rodriguez at bat, facing a little league pitcher. Maybe they could arrange an audience with Benedict XVI. Then would be like Ryan Howard to a little leaguer. In the meantime keep an eye on these woowoos. Bad ideas can fly around like computer viruses these days.

  • Well, I don’t know about honest. The woman holding the sign is telling you to kill YOURSELF. She obviously hasn’t killed herself….

  • Well, the messenger needs to persist until everyone else has killed himself, or some might stubbornly insist on self-preservation after the annoying prophet has gone.

    But this just lends credit to what many have said. Once you throw out any notion of God, and man a creation of God, and the dignity of man, you can embrace any stupidity around, especially the materialistic view that somehow the earth should be freeze-framed so that temperatures and climates never vary, and animals never go extinct, and urban sprawl doesn’t mar the beautiful landscaping, and forest fires never ruin the beautiful trees….

    It may sound a little arrogant to say, but the earth was made for man to inhabit it. The earth, like man, has no inherent right to exist in and of itself, and someday–assuming God permits things to progress this far, the world will be a charred cinder before a rapidly expanding sun. Granted, we should be good stewards of the earth, but that doesn’t mean we should view ourselves as such a blight on the planet that we should destroy ourselves.

    But then, the message of the evil human spread across the globe has be pounded quite often, in the media and in our entertainment. I’m thinking specifically of the Matrix when Elrond–I mean, Agent Smith describes humanity to Morpheus as a virus infecting the world. Granted, it was a “bad guy” making the monologue, but the message is still clear.

  • Ryan: PETA has now launched an ad campaign directing us all to think of fish as “kittens of the sea,” which is supposed to make them less appetizing, I suppose. More than a few bloggers have had a great deal of fun mocking PETA (one poster at Tim Blair’s noted that his land kitten enjoys eating sea kittens and thus is guilty of cannibalism; another expressed concern for the day when his sea kittens share a plate with hush puppies), but although these groups are easily ridiculed your point remains:

    Once you throw out any notion of God, and man a creation of God, and the dignity of man, you can embrace any stupidity around,

    PETA and the human extinctionists are jokes now, but for how long? Groups and ideas which would have been laughed off the planet 50 years ago (or met with a shocked silence) are mainstream now.

  • Humanity is (has always been) seventy to a hundred years away from extinction. Why do these morons want to hurry the process? The least they could do is lead the way if they’re THAT adamant about it. We’ll follow, of course (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge…)

    BTW, if we make the change from fish to “Sea Kittens”, I can modify my “cats are cheaper than dog food” schtik to “Sea Kittens are cheaper than catfood”.

  • Yeah, I read about the movement to call fish “sea kittens”. Perhaps it is cliche to wax Shakespearean, but the line “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” always comes to mind. Call fish what you will, it is still an aquatic animal that people love to catch, deep fat fry, and serve up with chips. Personally, I dislike fish, but I might be tempted to try this new feline of the sea. It could be reclassified as a delicacy and served at the really posh restaurants. “Here is your Indian Ocean tabby with garlic, sah!”

  • All right, everybody, sing together:

    “Ask any mermaid you happen to see:
    What’s the best tuna? Kitten of the Sea!”

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  • “Ask any mermaid you happen to see:
    What’s the best tuna? Kitten of the Sea!”

    Message to self, do not drink soda while reading something this humorous!

  • Oops–
    I hope your keyboard didn’t fare too badly!
    Thanx for the compliment, anyway.

Blagojevich Impeached

Monday, January 12, AD 2009

Blagojevich impeached in a cliffhanger, with the vote for impeachment only 114-1.  Here is the House report on which the impeachment vote was based.  Blagojevich is the first Illinois governor to be impeached which is rather remarkable when you consider some of the public thieves who have misgoverned my state.  Now on to the Senate for the trial.  Blagojevich is vowing to fight on, and I expect his legal team to pull every possible maneuver to delay the inevitable.

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3 Responses to Blagojevich Impeached

  • Yowie zowie. What shall I do? My Iggles continue their magical mystery tour thru playoffs in 23-11 beatdown of New York Football Giants. And yet a new chapter in the Blago Story emerges with impeachment. Combined with tawdry spectacle of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon indicted for doing tacky stuff like using gift cards meant for poor folks. Such quality entertainment on so many fronts.

  • Well, this whole mess is making me feel better about my governor, Doyle, although he’s no treat either.

    Can it possibly be that Blago honestly (I know, I know, those are two words not often seen together in the same sentence) does not think he’s done anything wrong? Does a fish know it’s wet? Well, this is going to get better and better, although my sympathy really does go out to hapless down-staters who are outvoted by Chicagoland.

    I really wish Blago would stop quoting Kipling. As a poster on another site pointed out, if it’s poetry he wants to quote, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” would be a more appropriate choice.

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4 Responses to Shall We Pass the Hat?

5 Responses to The Bold Fenian Men

True Bread

Friday, January 9, AD 2009
ecce-agnus-dei
We all know that there is a global economic crisis and no one can predict how it will play out. Will it be short or will the world seek deeper and deeper into a global economic depression? These questions cannot be answered by any man or woman on earth. Many have lost all hope? We should remember that all economic systems are man made and thus imperfect. During the dot com boom of the late 90’s economists were stating that we had conquered the economic cycle and entered an age of unstoppable economic growth. When that flopped, they looked to housing and real estate. It never goes down, right? Any person who had studied property prices knew that to be incorrect, nevertheless, many fell for the lie. But how many people believe the words of Christ? Seems to me that these economic times call for heeding the words of Christ in Matthew 6: 25-33:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
 
 

Of course, there is some good news that has come out of the financial turmoil and scandal:

“Madoff fallout drains funding of abortion advocacy groups”

 

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2 Responses to True Bread

13 Responses to Shameless

  • Mr. McClarey,

    Did you major in outrage as an undergraduate?

  • No Mr. DeFrancisis, although I would say that Doug Kmiec, based upon his “eulogy” for Father Neuhaus, must have minored in chutzpah.

  • Dr. Robert Royal, editor-in-chief of “The Catholic Thing” and President of The Faith & Reason Institute, will be my guest tomorrow on “Catholic Radio 2.0” to discuss Fr. Neuhaus’ work and legacy. You can either listen live at 11:00 AM ET or download the archive of the show later that day by going to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/CommanderCraig.

  • I suspect that if Kmiec’s conscience was entirely clear on this matter, he simply would have praised Fr. Neuhaus in general terms without having to get in the last word in an argument.

    May Fr. Neuhaus enjoy his reward in heaven.

    And Donald McClarey, it is a pleasure to find your blog. You are a sensible man and an eloquent writer.

  • OK, I’ve just had more of a look-around and I see it is a group blog. Well, this is good news. I’ve just bookmarked it.

  • Thank you Donna V. I hope our comboxes will often be graced with your always insightful comments.

    Kmiec is still desperately trying to convince people that he simply did not switch sides on the abortion issue last year. Perhaps if he repeats it often enough he will believe it someday. I doubt if he will ever convince anyone else.

  • Don’s getting a little desperate. Kinda like Alger Hiss for the last 50 years of his life- No I Wasn’t Stalin’s Sock Puppet. Welcome Donna V. We have big fun at this playground. Y’all come back any ol’ time.

  • Don as in Kmiec. Not the always sensible Mr. McClarey.

  • It is good to see you here as well, Gerard E. and your very unique writing style, which always brings a smile to my face. I look forward to your reports from the city (the one of Brotherly Love, if I remember correctly) and all it’s pomp, works 🙂

  • Here’s First Things Editor Joseph Bottum on Doug Kmiec’s “obituary”:

    Finally, there is Douglas Kmiec’s odd obituary. I’m tempted to say a reasonable response can be found here, but some readers may not appreciate the profanity. Anyway, Kmiec’s attempt to pose himself as a friend and dialogue partner of Fr. Neuhaus may be the saddest and most pathetic of all the responses to this recent death. “It absolutely delighted Father John that the Holy Father gave American Catholics credit for resisting the secular trends of Western Europe,” Kmiec writes—to which the only response is: Who the hell ever called Richard by the name “Father John”? Only people who didn’t actually know him and want, after his death, to pretend that they did.

    Ouch.

  • And I must admit, I did indeed find the linked blog’s assessment to be pretty much all Kmiec’s piece deserves.

  • I concur.

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Uncle Sam Borrower

Friday, January 9, AD 2009

broke-uncle-sam

A look at the credit score of the US government if Uncle Sam had to fill out a credit app.  Hattip to Instapundit.

Update:  Powerline has a depressing look at the projected budget deficit for this year as a percentage of gdp.  We are getting into very dangerous territory, starting with the 750,000,000,000 bailout under President Bush last year, as to the amount of debt that the Federal government is incurring in a very short time.

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2 Responses to Uncle Sam Borrower

  • Obama is predicting trillion dollar deficits for years to come… this is insanity, get ready to start using your dollars for fuel or toilet paper.

    This is a deeply immoral action, as it involves taking money from our descendants.

    Mat

  • I like the way you present the number with all the zero’s… Really helps the size of this thing sink in.

Death Be Not Proud

Friday, January 9, AD 2009
father-neuhaus
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
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The Mythical National Champion

Friday, January 9, AD 2009

Now that the mythical national championship has been won by the University of Florida Gators as per the bowl oligarchy, I’d like to ask The American Catholic readers whom they would pick as their N.C.A.A. F.B.S. national champion.  My pick goes to the University of Southern California Trojans.  They’ve destroyed all non-conference competition by wide margins and play in the toughest football conference in the nation where the Pac-10 went five-and-0 (5-0) in bowl games this year.

UPDATED (1-13-2009 A.D.): ESPN crowns the Utah Utes the National Champions of college football.

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11 Responses to The Mythical National Champion

  • My vote goes to watching professional football, where the action is much better and they have this crazy thing known as a playoff.

  • I go with Gators. Tebow took care of business in the second half. Keeping it ahead of an Oklahoma team that handled itself well in regular season but went kaff kaff kaff for the big ugly glass trophy as they often do. Here are some scary thoughts for ’09. Tebow is likely to return. Their other major offensive and defensive starters are mostly sophs or juniors right now. Urban Meyer, probably the leading offensive mind in the sport, is staying put. And from what I hear, a remarkably soft schedule in that replication of the Civil War known as the Southeastern Conference. I see three teams vying for two spots in the 2010 BCS scrum- Gators, Longhorns, Trojans. USC looked comfortably and overwhelmingly better than Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Texas will be snorting for payback over the way the BCS Cartel jobbed them in ’08. Again, Sun Belt Ball whips Frost Belt Ball from here to Pasadena. Cannot wait for next September.

  • Pro football doesn’t hold a candle to the awesomeness that is college football.

    The BCS sucks, but a playoff would be even worse. It would destroy that which makes college football great: the fact that EVERY WEEK matters (by the way, is anyone really paying attention to what’s going on in college basketball – you know, where they have one of those precious playoff thingies – right now?).

    They should go back to the old bowl system and let the voters decide the “National Champion”. There wasn’t nearly as much bitching back then as there is now.

  • I’ll just put it this way. If I had the choice between going to the Kennedy Center to watch an opera performance, or to watch the George Washington University players perform an opera, I wouldn’t be alone in choosing the former. Yeah, it’s elitist, but that’s me. Then again, I admit that growing up in New York city with 6 pro sports teams and zero good college teams (though St. John’s was good in basketball when I was growing up) does color my thinking.

  • PAC 10 best in the country HA!!!

    Florida Baby nothing mythical about last night

  • The AP poll results:

    Florida #1
    Utah #2

    Anyone know what these two programs have in common?

    Clue: he’s named after a pope and Notre Dame wishes they had him instead of Charlie Weis.

  • Pac-10? The best? That has to be sarcasm.

    The SEC had more bowl wins and more bowl teams, with a 6-2 record. USC lost to Oregon State, which got pounded on several different occasions and only beat Big 10 teams Ohio State and Penn State, which isn’t a terribly impressive resume. The Pac-10’s 5-0 might look nice, but 4 of their wins were before New Year’s Day (against a fairly unimpressive lineup, with the exception of OSU). Both SEC losses came on New Year’s Day in the bigger bowls.

    I would take Florida over USC any day of the week.

  • The NASCAR mentality of the SEC at work:

    “If my guy in the Chevy can’t win, I’m going to cheer for some other Chevy driver. Ford sucks.”

    The SEC has proven itself over the years to be the strongest conference top-to-bottom, and winning the “National Championship” 3 years in a row, in addition to its overall bowl record, gives testament to this fact.

    But you’d never know it by the chip-on-the-shoulder SEC homerism mentality of its fans.

  • Or maybe you WOULD know it by the chip-on-the-shoulder SEC homerism mentality of its fans, since they tell you how great they are and how much you suck at every opportunity.

  • Urban Meyer coached Utah to a BCS bowl game and an undeafeted season.

    Don’t get me wrong about USC, I loathe them very much since I’m an Arizona alum. But growing up out west (Hawaii) and attending school in Arizona I have experienced the bias against the Pac-10, WAC, and the Mountain West conferences.

    When the Big East and ACC continue to get unwarranted attention and bids to the BCS while the Boise States and Utahs of the west continue to get the shaft of BCS bids is ridiculous.

    Pile in the fact that the Pac-10 has argueable the best football in the nation then you can see why I chose USC over the rest.

    On a side note, I attended the Sugar Bowl last year when Hawaii got stomped by Georgia. I have to admit the narcissism and self-centeredness of the Georgia fans were pretty ugly (not all just the ones in my section on the 50 yard line). It’s a football game folks, and Georgia won and their fans were still bitter and nasty towards the Hawaii fans.

  • At last, an issue raised on this blog on which I have absolutely no opinion!

One Response to Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus: Round-Up of Reflections

Father Neuhaus on the CBC

Thursday, January 8, AD 2009

Father Neuhaus was instrumental in my conversion. I have to admit that when I was first introduced to him I was a “devout” post-modern liberal relativist and his “conservative, self-rightousness”, as I saw it, really vexed me. Over time I could not deny the power of his arguments, afterall, they were not merely his opinions but the Truth speaking to my heart through him.  Father Neuhouse helped bring me home and I will be ever grateful. His humor, wit and intellect will be greatly missed.

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Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

Thursday, January 8, AD 2009

From Jody Bottum:

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and the next day, in the company of friends, he died.

My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.

I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away.

Funeral arrangements are still being planned; more information about the funeral will be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good wishes.

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6 Responses to Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

  • My prayers for all the friends and family of Fr. Neuhaus.

    Lord, we pray that You bless this humble servant of Yours, and ever hold him in Your embrace.

  • Irreplacable, in his gifts and service to the Church. Below is thread about how Paul Scofield and Orson Welles butted heads in movie version of Man for All Seasons. Father Neuhaus was truly one for our time. May light eternal shine upon him.

  • I have no doubt that he is now enjoying the Beatific Vision.

  • I have been a Catholic my whole life and I have, for the most part, attended mass my whole life. I never really was interested in the intellectual part of Catholicism until these past years. 9/11, wars, and an increasingly antagonistic Left has made me eager to learn more and to become an active defender of the faith. So here I am reading Catholic literature and visiting Catholic blogs. I feel that I missed out in a big way by not learning from Fr. Neuhaus while he was among us. I will read all his works and the legacy of his thinking will affect me and perhaps help me to affect others. RIP Fr. Neuhaus.

  • Well said daledog.

13 Responses to The Saint and the Cardinal

  • Cardinal Wolsey’s last words:

    “Had I but served God as diligently as I have served the King, He would not have given me over, in my grey hairs. Howbeit, this is my just reward for my pains and diligence, not regarding my service to God, but only my duty to my prince.”

    Contrast that sad lament with the almost triumphant words of Sir Thomas More as he mounted the scaffold to meet his martyr’s death:

    “I die the Kings good servant, and God’s first.”

  • Good for Orson. Spent the last 20 years of his life in coasting mode, for the most part. Taking cheap roles. Yukking it up in Dean Martin roasts. Kind of like Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro at this point in their careers. Heavy lifting does take its toll. At least they have Citizen Kane, Godfather I and II, Raging Bull on their resumes. As for St. Tom- always the patron saint of we who work for Somebody or Something Else, always the anecdote for acute political correctness. Did I see in my travels that current Brit comedian/actor Eddie Izzard saluted Hank 8 for the first invented religion. In glorifying atheism. Maybe he didn’t mean what he said. Or maybe he did.

  • Wolsey, More, Wolsey, More–didn’t anybody notice Rumpole of the Bailey standing outside the door!?

  • Well said Scott. Leo McKern’s classic role. I roar with laughter whenever I put on one of my Rumpole of the Bailey DVDs. Additionally, I have always thought that show gave one of the more realistic portrayals of the life of most attorneys who do trial work.

  • One of Jim Morrison’s posthumous records — there were many of them — consisted of his spoken-word poetry backed by music from the surviving members of The Doors. On a track whose name I forget, he pantomimes a dialogue in which an inquisitor sneers, “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!” I have no doubt that a boozy Morrison was hazily recalling the Wolsey-More scene in A Man for All Seasons.

  • And Jay, Wolsey’s words, spoken sincerely, may have been enough to say him.

  • The Doors song you are looking for is “The Soft Parade.” Morrison seems to be trying to impersonate a Bible thumping Southern preacher.

  • Well, I had a soft spot for the Doors in my hazy-dazy youth, but think the best comment about Morrison was that his principal inspirations were Jim Beam and Johnny Walker. How else does one come up with screaming butterflies? Of course, that’s true of many poets in general – but if they’re good they usually rewrite. No need for that in the stoned ’60’s.

    I had the great pleasure of seeing Scofield playing Othello in London in 1980. The exchange rate was dreadful ($2.40 to the pound) but it was still possible to get very cheap tickets priced for students and see marvelous theater there. I wonder if it still is.

  • Thanks, DMinor. Perhaps I’m mistaken or thinking of something else. I used to love the Doors; listening that track is rather embarrassing now.

  • Well, Ray what’s-his-name played a mean keyboard, and Jim had a smooth baritone (and was a rather handsome fellow before he ruined his looks with booze and drugs – which took all of 3 years to do). I still turn up the radio when “Light My Fire” or “Riders on the Storm” comes on. But whenever I hear my fellow boomers talking about what a fine poet Morrison was, I have to wonder if they’re ever actually read any poetry.

  • It would seem that thing that keeps the Doors legacy running is that many young people, even today, become intrigued and go through a Doors phase. Just a phase because there isn’t the depth there that one suspected to find. I’ve always considered L.A. Woman to be their greatest work even though it has quite a commercial appeal. In a bar this past summer, the band played a number of Doors covers (even had Jim Morrison look alike – or wannabe – sing those songs). They were well received by the whole crowd (well mixed – ages from 20’s to 60’s), but when they played L.A. Woman it was like the place became electrified. It was like each person was listening to their favorite song ever.

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Nationalism and the Problems of the Middle East

Wednesday, January 7, AD 2009

One of the books I’ve been reading off and on over the last year has been Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. Shlaim is a one of the Israeli New Historians, which is essentially a “post-Zionist” revisionist school of Israeli history, who criticize the “old historians” of Israel of being too personally involved in the 1948 war and its aftermath, and thus writing history which is essentially apologetics for Israel.

There are places where I get the feeling Shlaim is leaning too hard in the other direction (for instance he spends a good deal of time on the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel in 1948, but glosses over the expulsion of Jews from surrounding Arab countries.) However, given that you know where his leanings are, it’s a fascinating read because it’s closely based on documented sources, and it focuses on the very real problem of Israel’s relationship with the Arab world. Among the things it made me realize, however, was how alien the modern sense of nationalism is to citizens of the US.

This may seem a strange conclusion at first,

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16 Responses to Nationalism and the Problems of the Middle East

  • Excellent post Darwin and much thanks for the background history.

    (Coincidentally I’m (re)reading Benny Morris’ Righteous Victims: History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict and covering similar territory).

  • Benny Morris is well worth reading. His 1948 is first rate.

    http://www.amazon.com/1948-History-First-Arab-Israeli-War/dp/0300126964/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231384700&sr=8-1

    Starting out as a historian of the Left, Morris has developed into a very objective historian. Here is his take on Gaza:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/30/opinion/30morris.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&ref=opinion&adxnnlx=1230648024-PpvQR0cg9ySWyd4MjvUvcg

  • Darwin. I’m afraid I might agree with you.

    Donald,

    I’m just being nit-picky and jokingly so. But if a person starts out on the Right, but doesn’t remain there, can they too qualify to be a “a very objective historian?”

  • Eric,

    since objective truth is a principle of the right, and anathema to the left, the answer is “by definition” he would no longer be objective.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Thanks for the informative post Darwin.

  • Actually Eric yes! In past times I can think of historians who started on the right in their analysis and then adopted what I lovingly refer to as the “Jack Webb, “Just the facts, Ma’am”” school of history. Interpretation will always be influenced by a historian’s world view, but the best historians work against their own biases. However most historians, in this country and abroad, start out firmly on the Left at the beginning of their careers, due to the strong Leftist sympathies of most academics post World War II.

    We also now have a large divide in this country between academic historians, often writing in a deconstructionist\post-modernist gibberish who are usually unread, and popular historians, like Victor Davis Hanson, often academically trained themselves, but who produce histories that eschew both the fashionable Leftism, the jargon, and the subject matter, “Patriarchy, Feminism and Peruvian garbage collection 1765-1767” would be a typical title for an academic historian of today, and whose books are often very widely read, at least in comparison to the histories of academia which tend to “fall still-born from the press”.

  • Eric,

    With some of the Israeli “New Historians” in particular, I think the change that has taken place in their writing over the last 15 years is pretty much a “mugged by reality” one. One of the main tenets they started with was that if only Israel would make some effort to engage with the Arab community peacefully, the Arabs would be glad of it and be eager to work with them. (Though I’m probably simplifying unfairly here.) Following the progress in the peace process under Clinton, and the loss of nearly all of that progress afterwards, I think they’ve mostly backed off to a more realistic view — retaining their understanding of how things came to this pass, but with less of a political sense that it could all be fixed easily.

    Generally, I’d say that any time you have people starting with a narrative and applying that to events in order to understand them, you often end up with poor history. Because so many of the academic trends in the last 50 years have been of the left in some sense, most of these can be pinned on “leftist” history, but I can think of right-leaning historians who have fallen into the same traps with their own narratives.

    At the risk of kicking off controversy, I think Paul Johnson falls into this a bit when he writes about communism in his histories, and I’ve been a bit concerned at some of Victor Davis Hanson’s more recent writing (although I really, really like some of his earlier stuff) in that I think he’s slipping into a bit of a “titanic struggle between East and West” narratives which does not do full justice to either the past or the present.

  • Matt,

    I think over reaching generalizations like that are really unfair and unfounded. People hardly fit into the rigid ideologies of “left” and “right” and what some say certainly don’t speak for the whole, and perhaps, not even the majority.

    I’m not sure relativism isn’t a problem on the right. It simply wears a different mask, namely as consequentialism and utilitarianism — not the natural law.

    I surely would not voluntarily place myself on the “right.” I would and do place myself on the “left” and I am very much interested in objective truth.

    Moreover, I think the nit-picky classification of things as either “left” or “right” is really unrealistic seeing as to how these two schemes really don’t exhaust the fullness of reality and are both majorly lacking.

    Here’s a fact, the objective truth is the principle of the Catholic Church and people of good will who can be found on both the left and the right. Thank you. God bless.

  • A great leftist historian: Eugene Genovese. Genovese’s “Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made” is an excellent account of slave life in the antebellum South which relies heavily on interviews conducted in the 1930’s with elderly ex-slaves. Genovese was a Marxist in the late ’60’s when “Roll, Jordan, Roll ” was published, but he was quite balanced in his treatment of Southern slaveowners. “Roll, Jordan, Roll” recognizes the evil of slavery, but recognizes the complexities of the humans, black and white, who were emeshed in “the peculiar institution.”

    BTW, Genovese did not remain a Marxist. Several years ago, both he and his wife, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, converted to Catholicism.

  • Eric,

    I’m making generalizations precisely because I know that not everyone on the right is objective, but that objectivity is a “principle” of the right. Subjectivity is a principle of the left (that doesn’t mean nobody on the left is incapable of objective reasoning), would you not agree?

    Utilitarianism and consequentialsm are much more asso
    ciated with the left. These philosophies are not typical of the right at all. What might be confusing you is the distinction between what government must do, and what we as Christians must do for others and what people must do for themselves. Christianity opposes socialism, it demands charity.

  • Matt,

    I don’t think that it is necessarily a principle of the right, just as I don’t think that subjectivity is a principle of the left. I don’t think it’s so clear-cut. Though, I would agree that liberalism more manifestly embraces modernism.

    I think utilitarianism and consequentialism more describe the moral ethics of many conservatives I’ve ever encountered and debated. Even among evangelical conservatives, it is not as common as we’d like to think — at least from my experience — to find natural law thinking. But by and large, I’ve heard arguments more from the right in justification of evils such as torture on the basis that the ends justify the means or as I believe, cloaking preemptive war behind the “just war” doctrine and the natural law when it really is consequentialism, imperialism, militarism, nationalism, and many other “-isms” of modernity. Does the left make such errors? Sure. You’ll find hyper-liberal environmentalists supporting abortion as a means of human population control to protect nature’s resources as if population growth is really the issue.

    In all charity, I think the politicization of the Christian faith into a ready political view that is largely and predominantly conservative is profoundly mistaken. For one matter, I don’t believe that liberalism and socialism are synonymous nor do I believe that the alleged alternative — conservatism — is the only solution.

    I’ll agree with you on one point: Christianity demands charity, so in good charity, I respectfully disagree. Thank you for your dialogue.

  • Eric,

    I don’t think that it is necessarily a principle of the right, just as I don’t think that subjectivity is a principle of the left. I don’t think it’s so clear-cut.

    Ok then, what are the principles of the left?

    I would use this list as the principles of the right as described by Edmond Burke.


    1. “Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience.”
    2. “Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems;”
    3. “Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and the Leviathan becomes master of all.”
    4. “Faith in prescription and distrust of ‘sophisters, calculators, and economists’ who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs.”
    5. “Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.”

    What are the principles of the left? I can’t seem to find a good reference, perhaps you could provide one.

    Though, I would agree that liberalism more manifestly embraces modernism.

    like a hand in a glove.

    I think utilitarianism and consequentialism more describe the moral ethics of many conservatives I’ve ever encountered and debated. Even among evangelical conservatives, it is not as common as we’d like to think — at least from my experience — to find natural law thinking. But by and large, I’ve heard arguments more from the right in justification of evils such as torture on the basis that the ends justify the means or as I believe, cloaking preemptive war behind the “just war” doctrine and the natural law when it really is consequentialism, imperialism, militarism, nationalism, and many other “-isms” of modernity.

    So, based on your unfounded belief that splashing water on a person’s face is torture, or your belief that enforcing a truce agreement designed to protect the neighbors of a past aggressor is a “pre-emptive” war violating just war doctrine you impute these errors to conservatism?

    You can mischaracterize any argument you want, but it doesn’t make it reality.

    Does the left make such errors? Sure. You’ll find hyper-liberal environmentalists supporting abortion as a means of human population control to protect nature’s resources as if population growth is really the issue.

    abortion is the sacrament of the left, it’s not just found on it’s fringes… surely you’re aware of this?

    In all charity, I think the politicization of the Christian faith into a ready political view that is largely and predominantly conservative is profoundly mistaken.

    So opposing moral evils such as abortion is politicizing the Christian faith? What really happened is the Christian faith re-asserted itself in the political spectrum. Remember how this happened when the left completely abandoned it’s own Christian roots, and attempted to shift the nation deeply to the left, first in economic policy, then later in morality.

    For one matter, I don’t believe that liberalism and socialism are synonymous nor do I believe that the alleged alternative — conservatism — is the only solution.

    They aren’t synonymous, but they are inter-related. What is your solution? I never said conservatism is the “only” solution, just that (as a principle for government) it most complies with the teaching of the Church on the role of government.

    It may be that what you oppose is not conservatism at all but a lefty-mischaracterization of conservatism?

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    While I myself would be interested to hear Eric’s formulation of liberal principles (not because I don’t think liberalism has principles, but because “liberalism” has meant a number of different things over the last 200 years and I’d be curious to hear how Eric approaches the matter) I’d like to encourage you to maintain a less aggressive tone.

    Though it’s sadly rare to see a liberal/progressive approach to economics and politics paired with traditional Christian morality these days, that doesn’t necessarily mean that such a pairing is impossible — and I think if you’ll look back at Eric’s post during the election you’ll see that he takes the moral issues very seriously. Indeed he came out strongly against Obama despite agreeing with him on many economic issues.

    There are many aspects of modern progressivism that I do not agree with, but one should disagree with them on their own, not dismiss them by tying them to false moral beliefs and practices which in this case Eric doesn’t hold with anyway.

  • Matt,

    The virtue of charity would be appreciated. I can understand that debate can easily impact emotions, but the condescending nature of your arguing really isn’t appreciated.

    Admittedly, I profoundly disagree with many points you made particularly in regard to torture. I wouldn’t call my belief unfounded nor that of many Catholics, who call themselves conservative, who oppose it just as ardently as I do.

    I don’t think the Christian faith is exhaustively conservative. These stringent labels hardly have any meaning given their constant evolution.

    Nevertheless, at this time, I don’t see it best to continue trying to present my point because it seems to be taken, from my perspective, as an absurd attempt to argue to frame the so-called inherently evil “liberalism” as consonant with Catholic beliefs. I think your view is misguided just as you surely think the same of me.

    I’m not going to answer you point by point because this is my last response on the matter. But it seems self-evident that the loud minority on both sides of the political spectrum do not even speak for the majority on that side because people tend not to be as monolithic as political idealogues make us out to be. There are probably as many “conservatisms” as there are “liberalisms.” Many aspects of both side speak to our Christian belief and many tendencies are incompatible with Christian belief; this is hardly surprising. In regard to one comment you made, being Christian does not mean only opposing abortion nor does opposition of abortion indicate a Christian political party. I think the Christian faith cannot be exhaustively be politically translated nor is it confined to express itself on one side of the political spectrum.

    I am a believing Catholic and I also frequently refer to myself as a “liberal” or “progressive” because I politically identify with Democrats moreso than Republicans; my subjective convictions in regard to such matters makes no statement on what other believing Catholics should do aside from abide by Catholic moral teaching.

    I believe as a “liberal” that society has a committment to protecting the weakest and most vulnerable among us. In the past election, my assessment was that the Democratic Party continued to ignore its historical committment to this fundamental principle in regard to the poorest of the poor — unborn children — and I voted against Barack Obama. My vote for John McCain was really a vote against Barack Obama because Sen. McCain and I had very few agreements on both policy and political philosophy.

    I fervently believe — rightly or wrongly — that the Republican Party under the label of ‘conservatism’ employs Christian moral themes in its rhetoric and panders to Christians as a whole because we are an active, powerful voting bloc. This is not to say that there are no sincere and authentic Christian conservatives. But I do believe much of the talk about traditional moral values and building a “Culture of Life” occurs during an election cycle and not as much in governance. This comment won’t be popular, but Ronald Reagan loved dearly by the religious right never went to church nor did he help the pro-life cause by appointing Kennedy and O’Connor to the Court. Seven of the sitting nine Justices post-Roe have been appointed by conservatives yet only four of them are pro-life. It does not take an appointment of a whole court to get a 5-4 majority. It s makes suspicious of whether the GOP really takes its rhetoric seriously. It’s one reason I’m not a “conservative.” If we’re going to end abortion, I think we would be better positioned to get principled Christians on all sides of the political spectrum. That’s my two cents.

  • Darwin and Eric,

    I meant no offense, I’m just trying to get resolution on Eric’s retort to my original statement “objective truth is a principle of the right, and anathema to the left”.

    Eric suggested that objective truth is not a principle of the right I responded with my best understanding of conservative values. Eric introduced a number of attempts to divert the conversation by alluding vaguely to some anecdotal arguments about torture without making distinctions on what torture is.

    In charity here are 4 expressions from Eric’s first response:
    “over reaching generalizations”
    “really unfair and unfounded”
    “nit-picky classification”
    “unrealistic”

    I don’t think it’s fair to accuse me of being overly aggressive in light of this.

    Matt said: unfounded belief that splashing water on a person’s face is torture

    Eric said:
    I profoundly disagree with many points you made particularly in regard to torture.

    Well support your point then. There is no basis in Catholic teaching for declaring the practice of “water-boarding” for the purpose of extracting intelligence from a known terrorist to be torture. Prove me wrong.

    Here’s a handy reference from the Catechism:
    Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.

    Gathering intelligence does not fall under any of these categories. And by intelligence we mean information which can lead to the prevention of future attacks that have been planned or participated in by the subject, or to locate the names and whereabouts of his accomplices who are likely to be preparing such attacks.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    I’m sure you didn’t intend to cause offense, but I saw a danger of things going down hill fast when hitting a committed Catholic who is politically progressive on some issues with statements like “abortion is the sacrament of the left”. Certainly, a lot of people who are leftist treat abortion in that way, but I don’t think that one could turn around and say that political leftism must necessarily do so. (To my knowledge the various Christian Democrat parties in Europe do not make this pairing, though they trend at least as far left on economic issues as the Democratic Party in America does.) It strikes me that making that statement in this particular context could be just as antagonistic as when someone like Mark Shea starts shouting at us conservatives that torture is a sacrament of the GOP.

    I’m just trying to get resolution on Eric’s retort to my original statement “objective truth is a principle of the right, and anathema to the left”.

    Eric suggested that objective truth is not a principle of the right I responded with my best understanding of conservative values.

    Well, I’m not a progressive, but I’ll give it a shot in the interests of intellectual fairness. It seems to me that one of the most basic principles of progressivism is that communal action should be taken to change existing political and social norms in order to right injustices and improve the overall lot of society. As such, progressives are often quick to see the evils of the existing social and political order, and demand change immediately in order to right perceived wrongs.

    This can be a source for good in society, when progressives have a proper understanding of what “the good” is. The abolitionist movement, which I tend to think of positively for obvious reasons, was a highly progressive movement in its outlook and rhetoric. Early campaigns for better working conditions and an end to child labor, universal education, etc. were also progressive movements.

    The danger, of course, is that since progressives are eager to boldly go in new directions in order to improve society, they are often in danger of causing new problems because they aren’t aware of all the possible side effects of their actions. And if their ideas of what “the good” is, we get all sorts of trouble. So especially in a time in which much of society is highly confused in its ideas of what is good, I think conservatism is a much safer philosophy.

    However, since progressivism is directional (trying to improve society) I’d tend to argue that it at least implies in its overall model some sort of objective good — though as Christopher Dawson argues, in modern secular versions of progressivism this direction is really a vestige of a religious sense now continuing without justification.

    Well support your point then. There is no basis in Catholic teaching for declaring the practice of “water-boarding” for the purpose of extracting intelligence from a known terrorist to be torture. Prove me wrong.

    Here’s a handy reference from the Catechism:
    Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.

    Gathering intelligence does not fall under any of these categories. And by intelligence we mean information which can lead to the prevention of future attacks that have been planned or participated in by the subject, or to locate the names and whereabouts of his accomplices who are likely to be preparing such attacks.

    I’m not sure what moral difference you’re positing between “gather intelligence” and “extract confessions”. I’d tend to see the two as interchangeable. But if it’s the fact that we’re gathering intelligence rather than “to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred” that makes waterboarding acceptable, then by the same argument wouldn’t it be okay to “gather intelligence” by ripping out fingernails or branding with hot irons or cutting off thumbs or what have you?

    And if the reason why gathering intelligence by any of those means would be wrong is that they inflict severe pain, damage and humiliation contrary to human dignity on the person being interrogated, then I think that if someone concluded that waterboarding did they would be justified in saying that waterboarding was torture.

    Myself, I’m not one of those who freaks out that we’ve become a “torture state” or some such. I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising in our history of the history of nations that we did what we did to a dozen or so people in Guantanamo in an effort to protect our nation. But while it doesn’t necessarily strike me as shocking or surprising, it does seem to me at this point that it caused us more harm than good. And while I think the administration acted in good faith, I’d prefer others to be more hesitant in the future.

Fr. Neuhaus Update

Wednesday, January 7, AD 2009

Kathryn Lopez at the Corner reports that Fr. Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things, received Annointing of the Sick last night, and is not doing well:

His friends and family are keeping vigil and he was administered last rites shortly after midnight. Fr. George Rutler, who gave him the Catholic Sacrament, says that “he is not expected to live long” and suggests “that it is appropriate that prayers be offered for a holy death.”

Please keep Fr. Neuhaus and his friends and family in your prayers.

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