One Response to Tiller the Killer Goes on Trial

  • Don, you have dug out one of the factors that will bring revulsion and ickiness to the abort industry. Not just that Tiller The Killer is on trial. But also one of his prime specialties- abortions for underage females due to pressure from their older boyfriends. Let the feminists wiggle out of that little trap. Let a few of these girls cry on Oprah’s couch or get special treatment on a newsmagzine program. Then the whole It’s My Body issue gets turned inside out. Not to mention how the T-Man operates during the trial. Whether ideology will get in the way of a likely long prison sentence. And no Kitty Kat Sibelius or other highly-place lib to bail him out this time. I could complain about the highly biased AP story- biased toward Georgie- that made the rounds over the weekend. But people have better things to do and it hides in plain sight. Have fun, Georgie. Be nice to large men named Bubba in the slammer.

Easy on the Ears, Easy on the Eyes

Sunday, March 15, AD 2009

While we’re discussing classical music and objective beauty, it is perhaps time to address the phenomenon of the “babe violinist”. No, I’m not talking about some kind of Vanessa Mae type with an electric violin and a wet t-shirt. I’m talking about women with real God-given gifts, musical and otherwise.

My own personal favorite is Hilary Hahn, here playing Franz Schubert’s Der Erlkonig:

This is a perfect show-off piece, which allows you to hear just how good Ms. Hahn is. Her albums with Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending and her various Bach performances are all worth hearing.

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24 Responses to Easy on the Ears, Easy on the Eyes

  • A welcome change from violinists who look, well who look somewhat like me actually! The appearance of the violinist of course has no impact on listening to the music, but it certainly has an impact on viewing the performance.

  • Beautiful! The fiddlin’ ain’t that bad either.

    😉

  • Don’t forget Viktoria Mullova:

  • When it comes to fiddle-playing babes, I’m partial to Allison Krauss and Natalie MacMaster.

  • And here’s Natalie MacMaster:

  • Jay,

    Sorry for the delay in your last post, our spam filter caught it. It’s a ‘smart’ filter, so it shouldn’t do it again whenever you yourself post any links from here on out.

  • Jay…Dude. Those two are really smokin’. I sort of feel guilty, or at least stupid, for having used to joke about the Band Camp girls. 😉

  • I suspect that in the years to come an increasing number of industries will come to be dominated by beautiful women.

  • I suspect that in the years to come an increasing number of industries will come to be dominated by beautiful women.

    It’s all about the value add?

  • “I suspect that in the years to come an increasing number of industries will come to be dominated by beautiful women.”

    Only if they have the brains and determination to deliver a profitable end of the year statement. Looks can only go so far for a CEO if the bottom line resembles the Titanic post iceberg.

  • I suspect that in the years to come an increasing number of industries will come to be dominated by beautiful women.

    They already have a lock on the lingerie modeling and nudie bar businesses, let’s hope they get a lock on the hardware, sports franchise and brew-pub businesses next.

    😉

  • I suspect that in the years to come an increasing number of industries will come to be dominated by beautiful women.

    Any particular reason why? Certainly, beauty is always helpful in entertainment, regardless of gender (although the standards are usually tougher on women as they age). And being good looking almost never hurts. But why would that be increasing?

  • One more…younger, so she may qualify as “babe.” She’s a Catholic and freshman at Juilliard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLvsH_SxhuU (Full disclosure–she’s also my daughter).

  • You have much to be proud of MacBeth!

  • In a service based economy, an increasingly large number of jobs depend (in whole or in part) on either the ability of a person to be persuasive (think sales, or lawyering) or on the perceptions of other people (be it clients, customers, or employers). There is a growing body of literature that suggests physical attractiveness, particularly in women, is very helpful in this regard (see, for example, this study, finding that people tended to give larger amounts in charity when solicited for donations by attractive women).

    Even where physical attractiveness doesn’t improve job performance directly, it’s likely to function as a tie breaker in cases involving comparably talented (or even slightly less talented people). The Laura St. John case is one example of this. The fact that she is beautiful neither improves or degrades the quality of her music. Nevertheless, it would seem that she sells a lot more CDs when she puts a provocative picture of herself on the cover than otherwise. Similarly, both Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin are obviously very intelligent individuals. But it would be naive not to think that at least part of the reason they have been so successful is that they are so good looking. This doesn’t mean that Coulter would still be popular if she were a no brained bimbo. But given her talent in other areas, the fact that she is gorgeous is a big advantage.

    As for why this is happening now, I think part of it has to do with the move to a service based economy, but mainly I think it’s due to the increased prevalence of women in the workforce.

  • MacBeth: a lovely girl playing a lovely piece! Thank you for posting that!

    I am not in good health these days and that cheered me up greatly!

  • My prayers for the recovery of your health Donna.

  • Thank you, Donald. And I have to say that a debate over whether or not Holst belongs in the top 10 is much more elevating than the still-memorable war I got into on the playground of St. Frederick’s grade school circa 1966 or so. The topic was “Who is better, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” I got into serious trouble for throwing a rock at a classmate who said the Stones were dirty boys. (My classmate was a better critic than I was at 7.)

  • Of course, I’m referring to the thread about Holst. You gentlemen seem to be in perfect agreement here about the “babetitude” and genuine talent of the lady violinists. 🙂

  • On my playground in the Sixties Donna I was noted for my utter indifference to anything having to do with Rock. Of course I was a marked boy for various reasons, most especially my habit of reading a book, so one more oddity was hardly worth talking about.

    In regard to the female violinists, they are a welcome change from the elderly maestros who tended to dominate that field of endeavor up until fairly recently.

  • My Dad relays a story of himself in grade school confidently telling his classmates that the Beatles were a fad when they first came out, and that no one would remember them in 10 years. He had read that in Time or Life or some similar organ of respectable middle-brow opinion. Conventional wisdom can be very, very wrong.

  • Black Adder,

    Somehow our spam filter caught your comment (must have been the link).

    We didn’t catch it until early this morning. I pulled it out and posted it for you. There wasn’t anything wrong with your comment, our spam filter sometimes is a little bit to sensitive.

  • Wow, what an impressive young lady. Her musical talents are quite impressive. She was home-schooled and could have graduated from College at the age of SIXTEEN! She deferred graduation taking several more years of elective courses in foreign languages, art, and history in addition to continuous training with masters.

    Phew!

5 Responses to From Skinhead to Catholic

  • I have read three of Pearce’s books (C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile, and Small is Still Beautiful: Economics as if Families Mattered). Pearce is a lively writer, clearly in love with his subjects, which makes his books a joy to read, though the lack of critical distance does detract from them a bit (the lack of economic knowledge also hurts Small is Still Beautiful). The Solzhenitsyn book is probably my favorite of the three.

  • I haven’t read the last two. I will have to get his book on Solzhenitsyn, one of the great figures, and not just literary, of the last century.

  • I’ve read the C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, and Tolkien books; of those I thought the one on Lewis was the best. I’ll have to check out the Solzhenitsyn book. He is a lively writer, although his book on Shakespeare led to some exchanges over at First Things in which I thought he had the weaker argument (but I have no expertise to speak of in Shakespeare studies). Interesting post.

  • I enjoyed his book on Tolkien and Literary Converts, which is an incredibly enjoyable read for anyone into British novels from the early 20th century.

    While other Tolkien biographers (noteably Humphrey Carpenter) are more scholarly, Pearce seemed “get” Tolkien in a way Carpenter did not.

    Though I did think he came off a bit poorly in the Shakespeare exchange on First Things. It sounded like perhaps as someone used to dealing with questions regarding modern literature, he wasn’t aware of the textual issues that come into play with Shakespeare, and thus had neglected whole are of homework for that book basically because he was coming at it from a reader’s (as opposed to a scholar’s) perspective.

  • Shakespeare biography is a minefield into which I would encourage few to tread. The facts are frighteningly few and the theories frighteningly many. The passions that are engaged in this area also have to be seen to be believed. I agree that the First Things exchange was not the finest moment of Mr. Pearce.

4 Responses to Biden Was Right

10 Responses to Jupiter and Jollity

  • Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, Dvorak, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky,and Mahler are clearly above Holst.

    That’s saying nothing about Shostakovich, Elgar, Wagner, Rossini, Verdi, Grieg, Sibelius, Rachmoninov and many others.

  • Personal taste Mr. DeFrancisis. Arguing the relative worth of musical compositions, especially when the music being compared is of a high order, is as fruitless as trying to determine which actor has given the best performance of Hamlet over the centuries.

  • Cows have taste.

    I’d say there are objective criteria here– albeit, elusive ones.

  • Mars is better than Jupiter.

    That’s why it is the Quatermass theme.

  • Actually Mr. DeFrancisis I once had the task of picking best cow in show at a county fair. There were criteria to use in judging, but once all but the three best cows in show had been eliminated I felt choosing the best one was a fairly subjective process on my part, since all three of the cows were prime specimens. The owner of the winning cow disagreed with me and thought the process by which I chose her cow was completely objective. The owners of the other two cows did think the process had been subjective and were quite ready to share with me their subjective opinions of the quality of the decision I had made.

  • I’m not sure I’ll “go there” on whether Holst is a ‘top ten’ composer, though without question I really enjoy The Planets, but just to keep the apple of discord rolling I’ll note that I read a while back that Holst actually got really tired of The Planets’ popularity, thinking it wasn’t his best work.

    Whether he was right on this I can’t judge, because the only Holst music I have is The Planets. So from his point of view, I’m clearly part of the problem.

  • I am just contented that my old record player and my newer, yet apparently becoming more obsolete by the day, CD player, are willing to accept and play a variety of types of music, especially classical music, which has moved to near the top oof my favorites.

    My favorite will always remain good old Rock and Roll from the 50s-early 60s and Buddy Holly will always be my most hallowed musician, although Mozart is right behind him. In my advancing years I have come to better appreciate a wider variety of musical styles.

    Now I will have to listen to the various planet, pieces, to see if I have a preference. Most likely I will simply enjoy them, all, as they play.

    Thanks for this post.

  • I love this piece of music, I failed to mention.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Deciding which is better, Mars or Jupiter, is a rather apples to oranges comparison..

    “Mine’s the SUN. I like it because it’s like the King of Planets!”

  • Ah…the Planets. Great music, played it in high school. Though I think Saturn and Mercury are underrated pieces.

    Congrats, Don. What you lack in taste when it comes to presidents you make up for in music. 🙂

Palin, Steele, & Populism

Friday, March 13, AD 2009

Daniel Larison on why conservatives have been critical of Michael Steele, but defended Sarah Palin:

Steele does not have the benefit of a verbose, mistake-prone counterpart to distract us [like Palin did with Biden], but even if he did the reaction to Steele would have been nothing like the response to Palin. In other words, Steele’s blunders on substance are treated as badly damaging and activists insist that they require immediate correction, while Palin’s blunders were spun as imaginatively and desperately as any politician’s answers have ever been spun. This is a bigger problem than pushing unprepared leaders into the spotlight–it is a clear preference for one kind of style, namely the combative pseudo-populist act, over whatever style Steele has at the expense of any consideration of the merits of what these leaders say. The takeaway is that Steele is being ripped apart for making statements that are not terribly different from Palin’s campaign statements on the very same issues, and somehow she is still considered a rising star by the very activists who are ripping Steele.

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15 Responses to Palin, Steele, & Populism

  • I think John Henry’s explanation is much better and more substantive than Larison’s. As John notes, these are very different circumstances. But more importantly, Sarah’s “flubs” were essentially awkward moments during interviews, whereas Steele’s flubs indicate that he holds positions at odds with pro-lifers. It’s not just style, it’s substance.

  • Precisely, Paul. First he says we’re getting tough and pushing the mooshy moderates out. Then flubs bigtime on this CNN show quickly cancelled because no one watching but host and immediate family. But enough to cause ruckus. Specifically- he was baited to dump on Rush. Bad idea to The Base. Then this Catholic school grad started weebling and wobbling on abortion. Now backpedalling and What I Really Meant-ing and oh dear if GOP can’t strike it rich in 2010 why open the doors in the morning. Sarah’s gaffes come from not being accustomed to scrutiny by chattering classes. Next time around she’ll handle it better. Steele is still questionable.

  • John Henry, Paul, and Gerard may be on to something.

    I am just trying to hide my face whenever Mr. Steele stumbles in an interview. Maybe he isn’t polished when answering questions on his feet. Maybe he is just getting adjusted to being under the spotlight.

    Probably we should give him the benefit of the doubt. Stop piling on him and defend him to the hilt. Hopefully Mr. Steele will get his sea legs while being under the spotlight.

    He is human so mistakes can happen. Maybe he’ll be a stud-GOP-Pro-Life-Catholic and deliver both houses of Congress to the Pro-Life camp.

    He should be given the benefit of the doubt. He’s articulate, educated on the faith, and photogenic. All powerful variables that we need to advance the pro-life agenda.

    We should definitely circle the wagons around him, rally to his side, and fight like Macabees. He’s one of our own and we shouldn’t stand idly by while others rip him apart.

  • Possibly, Tito. But the flubs have got to go. Saw Jim Cramer defending his very existence to Jon Stewart last evening. By the 20 minute mark was getting painful. Was prepared to yell at screen see what your lib New York friends think of you now Jim and imagine what Rush endures every single day so knock off the mea culpas and go back to work. Memo to Mr. Steele- no more interviews. The GQ piece was done by Lisa DePaulo- tabloidy journalist who worked her way up from Philadelphia magazine by making current Gov. Fast Eddie Rendell look dopey. And he’s a Dem. Mr. Steele and Mr. Cramer- they do not like you. And they never will. Get over it.

  • I think John Henry nails it:

    People would be defending Steele a lot more if he had been drafted as a national candidate in the middle of a high stakes campaign; and he would be forgiven a lot more if he seemed inarticulate but sound on principles rather than potentially fudging on principles.

  • I don’t entirely buy that Steele is flubbing. In the sense that he isn’t clearly articulating what he wants to say – maybe he is flubbing. But that depends somewhat on what he wants to say!

    It seems pretty clear to me that Steele believes that the fiscal and economic policies of the GOP are ‘winners’ and that the ‘values’ positions are losers. So he is doing his best to soft pedal values and reach toward the middle. Steele clearly wants to put all value issues aside. He only wants to give them just enough lip service to not lose votes he thinks the GOP owns anyway.

    Any hope we might have ever had for the GOP should be promptly forgotten. It is time to seriously work on finding another way to move forward!

  • GNW_Paul,

    I think you’re probably right about Steele, although even he seems confused about what his real position is. That said, I find your conclusion puzzling. Here’s the sequence as I understand it:

    1) Steele sounds squishy/incoherent on pro-life issues.
    2) Steele is widely denounced by the GOP rank and file.
    3) Ergo, you argue, pro-lifers should abandon the GOP.

    Setting aside other legitimate grievances for the moment, could it be that Steele, rather than the GOP base, needs to go?

  • John Henry,

    If only it were just Steele. Looking back to the primaries, it is clear that a large portion of the power structure (money) in the GOP is right there with him. If they are upset with Steele, it is only because he hasn’t managed to not make it obvious that values voters are considered a liability.

    Besides, I don’t think our association (in the public view) with the most extreme elements in the GOP (anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-regulation – again the extremes) does Catholic and family values voters any favors.

  • The GOP is the only game in town for pro-life voters. That is not an opinion but simply a statement of fact. Third party options are an exercise in futility and the Democrats are a lost cause on abortion.

  • Donald,

    You are right.

    Which is exactly why the GOP figures they can sideline us and our issues without losing our votes.

    We need to change the game. Not saying it is easy. But the first thing is the acknowledge that the GOP leadership doesn’t give a rip about us or our issues. They just like our votes.

  • GNW_Paul,

    It depends on what happens the next 4-8 years, and who the candidates are. As bad as Bush was on many issues, I think Roberts and Alito were good picks (time will tell). If so, pro-lifers are one vote away from returning abortion to the states, which in turn creates more opportunities for more restrictions on abortion and ultimately less abortions.

    If the GOP nominates McCain/Steele-style candidates, then pro-lifers have little incentive to turn out for the GOP (a large part of the enthusiasm for Palin in many circles was her perceived strength on pro-life issues). But if it’s someone like Huckabee or Jindal who appears to be genuinely concerned about pro-life issues, then I think pro-lifers have good reasons to support the GOP. In the meantime, even some Congressional Republicans might be useful to oppose piecemeal implementation of FOCA-type legislation. To be clear, I don’t think FOCA is going to pass, but I think some aspects of FOCA may be included in other legislation.

  • The answer is clear. WE can not let the GOP meander into the pro-death camp, it is not time to “wait and see” what the GOP will do… it is time to stand up and LEAD the GOP to be more strongly in the pro-life camp. Get involved in your precinct, district and county. These are relatively small organizations, it only takes a few of us with loud voices to move them into a stronger pro-life position.

    When the primaries come around help the most pro-life candidate in each position from dog-catcher to POTUS any way you can. With a 100% pro-life leader and the evidence of Obama’s pro-death position laid bare, go after your liberal Catholic friends, confront them on the hypocrisy of supporting Obama after his evil actions.

  • Agreed with all of the above, but adding that we should also do everything in our power to keep the highly endangered species of Pro-Life Democrat from becoming completely extinct.

    Pro-life is an issue that CANNOT be allowed to become the exclusive “property” of a single political party. At the very least, there should be as many pro-life Democrats as there are pro-choice Republicans.

    I do not think the Democratic Party is necessarily a lost cause on the abortion issue, at least not in the long term, especially with Hispanic voters (who tend to be either Catholic or evangelical Protestant) becoming more and more of a force. One thing’s for sure, writing off the Democrats as a lost cause isn’t going to improve things.

    Please note that I am NOT talking about the wishy-washy Doug Kmiec kind of “pro life” Democrat, I mean genuinely pro-life Democrats, like the late Bob Casey Sr., and Glenn Poshard. (Imagine the grief we Illinois residents would have been spared for the last 10 years if only we had elected Poshard governor!) Yes, I know Casey is dead and Poshard is out of politics, but all the more reason to start working on getting more people like them in the game!

    Although I consider myself Republican, if given a choice between a Bob Casey Sr. type of pro-life Democrat vs. a pro-life Republican, I’d choose the Democrat, because I think pro-life Democrats are in greater need of support.

  • That’s a good point Elaine. As I’ve written elsewhere, I would be happy to vote for a pro-life Dem; unfortunately, there is frequently some false advertising involved (e.g. the current Sen. Casey). Still, it’s important to support genuinely pro-life Dems whenever possible. As the African-American experience with Democrats and urban education shows, it’s never good for a political party to not have to worry about your votes.

  • Pingback: Daniel Larison, Talking Sense « The American Catholic

This May Explain His Position on Abortion

Friday, March 13, AD 2009

Fertilizing embryos?  You know, I never thought much of the intelligence of ex-President Clinton, although I stood in awe of his political skills, but I did think, based upon his colorful history, that he had the facts of life down pat.  For his future reference, and the edification of anyone who agrees with him about fertilizing embryos, this video might be helpful.  The fellow not correcting Clinton?   Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the nominee of President Obama for Surgeon General until Gupta abruptly withdrew his name from consideration.

Update: Father Z is all over this story.

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3 Responses to This May Explain His Position on Abortion

  • I think that Clinton’s clear message was that the American people will support the killing of human beings for the purpose of harvesting their body parts as long as those human beings are deemed useless. Clinton correctly pointed out that the key to keeping the support of the American people is emphasizing the uselessness of the embryos.

  • Don, I’m sorry to stick this here in the comments section.

    We’ve got huge problems and are desperate for some help getting it out there. Catholic periodicals are refusing to to publish the story because it exposes a Cardinal in a series of lies that will ultimately lead Catholic physicians, nurses and healthcare workers in Massachusetts and eventually other places from losing their conscience protections.

    He has opined that Catholics may speak to women seeking abortions putting abortion in a positive light in a primary healthcare setting, they may provide referrals to abortion hotlines and even provide the woman with transportation. He has agreed to have planned parenthood monitor healthcare workers to be in compliance with this contract. One healthcare worker is suggesting that monitoring be done directly in the examination room with pregnant women. This, the Cardinal says, is completely consistent with Catholic ethics and the Gospel of Life.

    Boston Catholics organized a large contingency of opposition which forced the Cardinal asked for a second opinion from the Bioethics Center but the Bioethics Center’s opinion will remain confidential and with the dishonest tenure of Cardinal O’Malley who has permitted Bryan Hehir to run the diocese, we do not trust that the opinion will be released in a timely manner or the be honest about the the contents of the opinion.

    In response, the Cardinal is circulating communications that are dishonest about the facts and maligning faithful prolifers as people who are doing a disservice to the Church.

    http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/

    To be perfectly clear, Caritas Christi will never do anything to promote abortions, to direct any patients to providers of abortion or in any way to participate in actions that are contrary to Catholic moral teaching and anyone who suggests otherwise is doing a great disservice to the Catholic Church. We are committed to the Gospel of Life and no arrangemt will be entered into unless it is completely in accord with Church teaching.

    Details from the Boston Globe:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/13/mass_regulators_ok_joint_caritas_centene_healthcare_venture/

    The Connector Authority board, which oversees the Commonwealth Care program, voted unanimously in favor of the joint venture proposed by Centene Corp., a St. Louis-based health organization, and Caritas Christi Health Care Network.

    The vote followed several closed-door sessions in which officials from Centene and Caritas, the minority partner in the joint venture, assured regulators that women will have “ready access” to family planning and reproductive services, an issue that sparked concerns from abortion foes and reproductive rights activists.

    Among the written assurances are a pledge that medical staff operating under the Centene-Caritas insurance plan, known as Commonwealth Family Health Plan, will inform women of their healthcare options, including abortion. The insurers will also provide a toll-free customer service line, available around the clock, to inform women about where they can get contraception, sterilization, and other family planning services not offered in the immediate setting. In an emergency, a service representative will arrange transportation to the nearest appropriate facility, officials said.

    The regulators promised to watch closely. “We will certainly monitor their performance,” said Jon Kingsdale, the authority’s executive director. “We will not allow them to start up or continue if they are not in compliance.”

    As a measure of the underlying tensions, four board members emphasized the need for oversight.

    “I remain somewhat concerned about implementation,” said Nonnie Burnes, state commissioner of insurance and a former Planned Parenthood board member. “I am willing to support this as long as we have some way to monitor this” in doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities.

    When Caritas let the cat out of the bag the plans at the hospital level, he had to cease and desist saying there would be “no abortion referrals”. His most recent statement implies that while he appreciates the opportunity for Caritas employees to serve poor woman by providing her with abortion information, resources, phone numbers and sending her by taxi for the abortion, he’s waiting for the Bioethics Center to render an opinion on whether this is honest to God Catholic credo.

    While I appreciate the opportunity given to Caritas Christi to serve the poor through this agreement, I wish to reaffirm that this agreement can only be realized if the moral obligations for Catholic hospitals as articulated in the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are fulfilled at all times,O’Malley said. “To assure me that this agreement will provide for the integrity of the Catholic identity and practices of Caritas Christi Health Care System, I have asked the National Catholic Bioethics Center to review the agreement and to assure me that it is faithful to Catholic principles.”

    This is a news release from Boston Catholic Action League.

    NEWS RELEASE

    THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2009

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    CONTACT: C. J. DOYLE

    (781) 251-9739

    CATHOLIC ACTION LEAGUE DENOUNCES CARITAS CHRISTI DEAL WITH COMMONWEALTH CARE

    The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today criticized the Archdiocesan hospital network, Caritas Christi, for accepting a state contract, in conjunction with the Centene Corporation, to provide Commonwealth Care health insurance, which includes abortion coverage. The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority Board awarded the contract this morning after Caritas/Centene assured the panel that women will have “ready access” to timely family planning services such as abortion, sterilization and contraception.

    The Catholic Action League called the contract “a significant defeat for the pro-life movement, inflicted not by secular society, but by the Catholic Church in Boston.”

    Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle stated: “What remains of the Catholic character of Caritas Christi has now been fatally compromised. The partnership in which Caritas Christi is one of the two principals will provide ‘ready access’ to abortion, which the Catholic religion condemns as ‘an abominable crime’. ”

    “It is now clear that the Archdiocese of Boston has spent the last week cynically misdirecting Catholics and the general public with empty assurances that Caritas Christi would not collaborate in abortion. If a woman with a Commonwealth Care card walks into a Caritas Christi hospital seeking an abortion, she will be directed back to her health plan — the Caritas/Centene partnership — which will not only arrange for the procedure, but if necessary will provide transportation to the facility which performs it.”

    “With Caritas Christi now thoroughly embedded in the culture of death, we are now facing the end, in Massachusetts at least, of Catholic medical resistance to abortion and contraception. This tragic state of affairs is the personal responsibility of the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who not only failed to stop this contract, but who endorsed it while making unsupportable assertions implausibly denying what everyone else knew — that the contract required participation in the deliberate killing of innocent unborn children.”

    Please help us get it out there – Carol McKinley
    http://votingcatholicin2008.blogspot.com/

  • Never thought I’d see the day Bill Clinton needed to have where babies come from explained. 🙂

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-12-2009

Thursday, March 12, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  The Catholic Newman University College Chapel in Birmingham, England is celebrating the birth of Mohammad.  Yes, that Mohammad who formalized Islam and spread it throughout the Arabian peninsula by forced conversions of Jews, Christians, and pagans.  What is even more outrageous is that Archbishop Nichols where this chapel is located is supporting this 100%.  And he’s considered orthodox.  You know what I think about these types of bishops.

For the article click here.

2.  Speaking of England rumors are that an announcement will be made today that the next primate of England and Wales, ie, Archbishop of Westminster, will be Bishop Bernard Longley.

For the article click here.

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139 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-12-2009

  • Can you elaborate (intelligently) on the problem you have with item #1?

  • Syncretism.

    It will confuse the faithful as to why Muhammad is being celebrated in a Catholic chapel.

  • God forbid that the world’s major religions enter into associations that may lead to more understanding, peace and even eventual communion.

  • Mark,

    I’m all for ecumanism as is the next guy. I have many Jewish and Muslim friends and they agree that to celebrate the life of Mohammad in a Catholic chapel is inappropriate. A more secular setting would suffice, better yet, an Islamic Center or Mosque.

    Point take.

  • In today’s world where many in the west have a relativistic attitude towards religion–whatever works for you is okay–this sort of thing helps reinforce the thought that which religion you belong to–if any–doesn’t matter. I’d say that celebrating Muhammad is a scandal that strikes at the faith of believers. Ecumenical efforts are one thing, acting as though there is approval of Muhammad and Islam is something else.

    But then, this is always an ongoing debate, isn’t it? How much scandal does silence create? If we simply say nothing about some evil, how complicit are we with it? On the other hand, this is more than silence. Maybe we should ask the following question. Why is it even a good thing to celebrate, in a Catholic setting, the birth of a man who drew large numbers of people away from the message of Christ, either through siphoning off those who harbored some doubts, or through direct conquest? Why should we celebrate the man who birthed a world religion that is continually a threat to the Catholic Church?

    And no, before the typical response comes, I’m not suggesting that the Church will ever be wiped out by Islam or any other force, no matter how hard they try. But it is a real and visceral plight to the faithful everywhere, and it ill becomes us to grow complacent.

    And remember, the ultimate hope of ecumenism is not just to get everyone to play along nicely (though that’s a sub-goal, if the greater goal cannot be reached): it is draw everyone into the Church. And that means ultimately the hope that people will abandon the false aspects of their religions and embrace the truth of the Church.

  • Tito, what is “syncretistic” about it? Would you be opposed to celebrating a Presidents’ Day Mass in a Catholic chapel?

  • The proper way for Catholics to “celebrate” the birth of the man who made up Islam is to pray for the conversion of all Moslems to the True Faith. They, no less than the rest of sinful humanity, need the light of Christ.

  • Michael,

    Not to speak for Tito, but inasmuch as there have been presidents that have led people to the light of true faith, or who have defended the Catholic Church when they had no need to, then a Presidents’ Day Mass might be acceptable. In general, I personally feel uncomfortable with the idea.

  • Donald – Good thing most Catholics don’t hold the backward views that you do.

    Ryan – Are you suggesting that Islam cannot lead human beings to true faith? You might want to review what your Church teaches about other religions. As for Tito, I have a feeling his fear of “syncretism” does not apply to other, much more problematic, areas.

  • Catholic Anarchist, what part of “Go ye therefore and make ye disciples of all the nations” is beyond your reading comprehension?

  • Tito, what is “syncretistic” about it? Would you be opposed to celebrating a Presidents’ Day Mass in a Catholic chapel?

    It seems to me the big difference here is that the US Presidency is not generally seen as a religious office.

    Frankly, I don’t think that having a “Presidents’ Day” mass is appropriate, though if one wants to pray for wisdom for the current president or the repose of the souls of dead presidents during the Prayers of the Faithful of a mass which happens to be celebrated on Presidents Day (which is a stupid, made up holiday as it stands) I wouldn’t see a problem with that.

    I suppose to be sure if I objected to this event, I’d have to know more than that it consisted of “two talks of an interfaith nature” in the chapel, but in general it would seem to be inappropriate for a Catholic organization to actively celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, in that in that the prophet founded a false religion which has historically kept from and drawn people away from (sometimes by force) the True Faith.

  • For your further edification Catholic Anarchist you might attempt to get your brain around this section of the catechism:

    “849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”:339 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”340”

    Terrible that not only I have such “backward” views, but also Christ and the Church He founded. Maybe you should stick with Rock meditations.

  • Are you suggesting that Islam cannot lead human beings to true faith? You might want to review what your Church teaches about other religions.

    Sure it could. All true things can bring people to the True Faith. Reading Homer and Virgil could bring people to the True Faith. So could Bhuddist meditation.

    The thing is, that Islam would successfully guide people to the True Faith if through it someone realized that Islam is not in fact the full revelation of God and His will in the world, but rather an imperfect reflection thereof — and if that person therefore went and became Catholic.

    And, of course, many faithful Muslims do very much love God — though they suffer from the difficulty of belonging to a faith which lacks much truth, though it has some — and so may well instantly embrace God when they encounter him perfectly in the personal judgement.

    But this doesn’t change the fact that Islam is a faith which both contains some beliefs which we as Catholics believe to be actively false and also lacks much of what we believe to be the full truth.

  • Michael I.,

    My thinking of a presidential mass is along the lines of Ryan and Darwin. But I wouldn’t feel right at all for having Mass said for my favorite living president.

    As far as having a celebration of Muhammad at a Catholic chapel, Donald expresses my sympathies quite clearly.

    I too am backwards as is Jesus and the Church He established.

  • “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.” – Chesterton

  • Catholic Anarchist, what part of “Go ye therefore and make ye disciples of all the nations” is beyond your reading comprehension?

    Not one word.

    It seems to me the big difference here is that the US Presidency is not generally seen as a religious office.

    That does not mean it is not, in reality, a religious office.

    in general it would seem to be inappropriate for a Catholic organization to actively celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, in that in that the prophet founded a false religion which has historically kept from and drawn people away from (sometimes by force) the True Faith.

    The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is holy and true in the world’s religions. The orthodox position is NOT that Islam is an entirely “false” religion.

    The thing is, that Islam would successfully guide people to the True Faith if through it someone realized that Islam is not in fact the full revelation of God and His will in the world, but rather an imperfect reflection thereof — and if that person therefore went and became Catholic.

    Well, of course. As a Catholic, I certainly believe that. But I also believe that in order for a Muslim to even feel the slightest desire to become Christian, he or she would actually have to encounter the Gospel, and with “American Catholic” type Catholics running around, it’s awfully hard to be exposed to the actual Gospel.

    But this doesn’t change the fact that Islam is a faith which both contains some beliefs which we as Catholics believe to be actively false and also lacks much of what we believe to be the full truth.

    Of course.

    Tito, as usual, will not speak for himself or defend his dangerous posts himself, but relies on others to do it for him.

  • Interfaith discussion–fine so long as it doesn’t devolve into “I’m ok, you’re ok.”

    Celebration of Mohammed’s birthday in a Catholic chapel? I’m surprised this is even necessary to discuss. The odds of exposing anyone to the Gospel in these circumstances are too low to be meanfully calculated–it’s a big “You’re OK!” statement. Full stop. And given what the Koran and authentic ahadith say about Christianity, conjoined with the radicalism of UK university Islamic chapters, it’s hairshirt/kick-me-sign ecumenism at its worst.

  • I wonder if there’s a masjid in Birmingham celebrating the birth of Christ?

  • If there is, he had best hope that he is not suspected of apostacy and that he is not subject to the traditional sanction under sharia for ceasing to be a muslim.

  • Expressing a certain generosity of spirit and respect for another’s faith is always welcome and something I find easy to practice most of the time. But my fear is that the upside of this kind of encounter with the Gospel is very small, and the downside is rather large. In other words: I doubt many Muslims are moved toward Christ by this gesture, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many Catholics received it as yet another datum telling them that theirs is just one religion among many, and not a particularly special one at that.

  • “It seems to me the big difference here is that the US Presidency is not generally seen as a religious office.”

    That does not mean it is not, in reality, a religious office.

    No, it does not — but in this case general perception is right: the office of President of the US is not a religious office. And as I’m sure you agree, those who imbue it with a religious authority do so at their peril.

    The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is holy and true in the world’s religions. The orthodox position is NOT that Islam is an entirely “false” religion.

    That is certainly true, and I did not deny it. I didn’t say that Islam is an “entirely false” religion. Come to that, even the worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not necessarily “entirely” false, even though it was knowingly fabricated, and Islam is certainly much more true than the FSM. However, saying that Islam is a “false religion” does not mean that it contains nothing that is true, but rather that it is not “the” true religion in the sense of providing in its doctrines both the fullness of truth and nothing false. Islam lacks the fullness of truth and asserts some things that are false.

    So while we should certainly celebrate those essential truths about God, salvation and the moral life which Islam does convey, we should also not muddy the waters by ignoring our differences.

    I also believe that in order for a Muslim to even feel the slightest desire to become Christian, he or she would actually have to encounter the Gospel, and with “American Catholic” type Catholics running around, it’s awfully hard to be exposed to the actual Gospel.

    Would you be interested in expanding on this?

    It is often hard to see the Gospels reflected in the words and deeds of fellow Christians whom we consistently find rude, shallow and abrasive. Is that basically what you’re trying to convey here? I know I’ve certainly experienced that reaction to some Catholics who seem to make it their business to be unpleasant in the online world. Indeed, the temptation to see others this way is one of the best motivations for trying not to be rude, shallow or abrasive.

  • After having read Henry’s link, and stumbling across these quotes:

    “It would be difficult to find a clearer instance of grace-filled, extra-Biblical, general revelation concretized in a specific, prophetic mission than in what God accomplished in Muhammad.”

    and

    “In the cases of both Jesus and Muhammad, God produced a grace-filled moment in the lives of their hearers with an invitation to faith. Those who accepted and believed the prophetic word made an act of faith, and only subsequently sought to comprehend the nature of God, read the facts of their personal and societal lives, and interpret the sweep of human history according to that faith.”

    that I will likely not find two religious propositions I disagree with more in 2009.

    In Islam, that “grace-filled moment” led to armies erupting from Arabia, bearing fire and sword from the Atlantic to the Hindu Kush, the Koran ringing in their ears all the while, with all that entailed for Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and Chinese. If that’s grace, then less please, Lord.

    Missing in the writer’s assertion that Muhammad could be considered a “prophet” according to the Christian understanding of the term is the notion that the prophet emerges from God’s people and calls them back to fidelity and their charism/mission, in line with previous revelation. Muhammad’s revelation essentially dumps the previous revelation on its ear, calling it warped. Especially that little matter of the incarnation we are about to celebrate in a couple of weeks. No genuine prophet ever showed up with “You know, all that stuff before–nevermind.” Leaving aside the prophetic mission of Jesus, which is the ultimate exception.

    It’s a good-hearted effort, but he rides the Rahner train too far into speculation. Moreover, it doesn’t support the claim that we should be throwing parties for Islam’s prophet in our sanctuaries.

  • DP

    You don’t realize the paper and presentation goes back to a medieval Melkite Bishop, Paul of Antioch, who looked at Muhammad as a prophet? He didn’t have to; he was in a kingdom liberated by the Crusaders. But he understood a point which you didn’t see. The abuse of the message but subsequent people does not invalidate a prophet (look, for example, at the abuse done in the name of the Bible!). The question is a much deeper question, and one which even early Christians understood. Others saw Muhammad at least in the “path of the prophets” if not a prophet himself. I would recommend a much deeper grasp at Islam beyond a one-sided, distorted image which ignores the good within the message of Muhammad (Paul of course believed the Koran to be corrupted, and imo, I agree). I’ve even seen some consider Muhammad to be a prophet like unto Balaam — in other words, authentic, but self-serving nonetheless. This doesn’t take Rahner, this just takes traditional Christian modes of thought.

  • “It would be difficult to find a clearer instance of grace-filled, extra-Biblical, general revelation concretized in a specific, prophetic mission than in what God accomplished in Muhammad.”

    No, I think God had nothing to do with Muhammad’s mission. Islam is completely based upon Muhammad and his increasingly “convenient” revelations, which were obviously made up by him from a mish-mash of traditional religious concepts popular among the Arabs of his time, and what little he knew of Christian and Jewish beliefs. That Muhammad believed that what he plucked from his brain was from God is entirely possible. That a Christian would believe it is a subject for either pity or levity.

  • All revelation ended when the last apostle, St. John, passed away. Plus St. Paul warned us of new revelations from alleged angels:

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel– not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.
    –Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians 1:6-9

    This Jesuit is deluded to think that Mohammad is a prophet. Considering that if you ever read the Koran, there is not one instance of any prophecy that Muhammad revealed that Muslims could acknowledge.

  • Tito Edwards

    You conveniently ignore what is being said, and how far back this message goes. You also ignore the fact that prophecy has not ended, and prophets do continue to exist in the church; private revelation has not ceased, only public revelation. God continues to show us his glory, and to lead people to him. More importantly, your words show the ignorance of the Koran, how it was put together, and Paul of Antioch’s own words on the corruption of the Islamic message after the death of Muhammad. Moreover, it seems you not not understand the category of prophecy; but the Church, in her wisdom sees that Muhammad did provide the polytheists a guide to the monotheism of the God of Abraham. That itself must be seen as a prophetic act.

  • But this is on par with Tito; I doubt he even read the document, but just accepted texts out of context to damn the author discussing Paul of Antioch, just as he does with his other infamous condemnations (like Balthasar, or Cardinal Egan just this week!).

  • There was already a movement of monotheism, not Christianity nor Judaism, that mixed many pagan rituals with the forementioned. Muhammad was bright enough to lead this movement and raise it from obscurity. Several epileptic seizures he called ‘revelations’ from God inspired those around him to follow him. When most of the people didn’t follow him he had to resort to the sword by raiding traders to fund his holy war or jihad as he coined. He promised wealth if people joined his new religion.

    Like Donald said, it’s a mish-mash of Christianity and Judaism as well. Being influenced by a heretic Christian, Muhammad wrote in the Koran itself that the Holy Trinity consisted of God, Jesus, and Mary.

    There are so many instances of error in the Koran that I highly doubt that there is any influence by God Himself.

    It’s basic heresy that you would even peddle this Henry.

  • Uh oh. The heresy hunters are out again, [ed.-deleted for uncharitableness].

  • Henry,

    Your uncharitableness knows no bounds.

    You are a vindictive and trite human being.

    Balthasar has no bearing on this argument.

    I doubt you even practice what you know. How dare you call yourself a Catholic when you continue to hammer your fellow brothers in Christ with past mistakes.

    Shame on you.

  • “armed with their glaring ignorance.”

    Mr. DeFrancisis, since this is Tito’s thread I will not delete your last comment. I will merely state that if you wish to debate the history of Islam in this thread, I will be happy to accomodate you.

  • Clearly Titor continues to ignore what I said, and the one who calls people “heretics” and seeks to condemn that which he doesn’t understand is the one who lacks charity. Once more: the Koran isn’t the work of Muhammad. It was created after his death. This brings to question what is and is not authentically his within the Koran; early Christian responses to Islam brought that up, especially those who did see Muhammad as a prophet. So bringing out errors within the Koran is not dealing with what was addressed. Although I agree the Koran does have errors, I would also say much of what is interpreted to be error often end up not being so (those who have studied Islam know distorted images and interpretations of the Koran and Kalam as they are expressed by the orientalist from the West looking to denigrate Islam from outside).

    So what is uncharitable is the fact that people condemn without addressing the issues, and never once show an ounce of humility and try to discern what is even being said before making such declarations public.

  • Mark

    What is sad is when people are looking to be heresy hunters, and do so by ignoring what was said and instead make some strawmen to burn. And then talk about people who point out the error of doing such as being “uncharitable.” It’s quite clear where the lack of charity lies; no sense of humility as they brashly rush in, and cry foul when they are shown to be going the wrong direction.

  • Henry: As I said, I read it. Your presumptions as to my level of knowledge and good faith are grating and best put aside if you wish to continue. If not, well–it’s the ‘net. Let me give you a little of the background of my reading to cure your presumptiveness:

    http://dprice.blogspot.com/2008/04/religion-of.html

    Yes, so the writer finds one 12th century Christian thinker (contemptuously dismissed by his Muslim perhaps-interlocutor)…and Rahner. Not a lot upon which to base his claim for Muhammad’s prophethood.

    Furthermore, Christian principles of thinking also ask that we consider the impact and immediate fruit of the message. Sure, we have the Crusader era with the slaughter at Jerusalem. Eleven centuries after the founding of Christianity.

    But the eruption of Islam into the world isn’t a later distortion. This is the conquest and subjugation of the Christian Middle East and Zorastrian Persia within a generation of his death. If the early Muslims misunderstood his message, it ranks as the greatest warping of a religious leader’s thought–ever. And, again, there is the Koran itself, which is entirely dismissive of the incarnation and the passion. If that is a work of revelation and the Spirit, however defined, our God is Janus, not the Ancient of Days.

    Sure, there are prophets and people doing prophetic work, even in our time. Dorothy Day comes to mind. It is impossible to square the life of Muhammad with that of a Christian prophet. I’m not going to insult Muslims with respect to how they feel about him, but I’m also not going to give the man a rhetorical tongue-bath in the name of dialogue. Some religious disputes cannot be resolved, as the Koran itself wisely notes in sura 109:

    [109:2] “I do not worship what you worship.

    [109:3] “Nor do you worship what I worship.

    [109:4] “Nor will I ever worship what you worship.

    [109:5] “Nor will you ever worship what I worship.

    [109:6] “To you is your religion, and to me is my religion.”

    Sometimes, it’s just as simple as that.

  • Henry,

    I didn’t condemn anyone. I quoted St. Paul. So in a sense you’re now judging the charity of St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians. That’s called the sin of pride. You’re arrogance is getting the best of you.

    As far as humility is concerned, if you had any, you wouldn’t be throwing around ad hominem statements like bringing up Balthasar.

    If you ever were capable of accepting correction, you would know what humility means.

  • Dale Price

    The paper itself is on a discussion of Paul of Antioch, which is why it only addresses Paul of Antioch. Do you seriously think this is the only early Christian witness to the idea that Muhammad could be a prophet? No, it wasn’t. But again, your response is to show “evil later came after Muhammad, therefore, he can’t be a prophet.” That is nonsense. As I pointed out, later abuse does not prove the initial error. After all, the Jews were the People of God, and yet, look to their horrible history.

  • As to the idea that Muhammad was a prophet, I would think that this portion of the Catechism would put “paid” to that particular notion:

    “66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

    67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

    Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such “revelations”.”

  • Henry,

    So I guess the question that spring up for me is: Are we actually doing ourselves or Islam any favors if our method of embracing Muhammad as a prophet involves assuming that the Koran not merely differs from what he himself actually said, but differs hugely and drastically. That is, needless to say, an insupportable if not offensive assumption to most Muslims.

    Now, since I don’t think God was at work in helping the compilers of the Koran get it right, I don’t doubt at all that there were errors in its collection (and I also don’t doubt that there were errors in what Muhammad himself said) but I don’t see how telling Muslims, “We think that Muhammad was a real prophet, but unfortunately you Muslims recorded his message all wrong,” gets us anywhere good in regards to interfaith dialogue. Just as I don’t see what raprochement can go on with non-Christians (Islamic or otherwise) saying to Catholics, “We think that Christ was a real prophet, but most of what you have there in the Bible is in error and Christ actually taught something pretty much like what we believe.”

    And more generally, while it’s true that private revelation continues, I’m not really sure why it makes any sense to assume that Muhammad really did receive revelations from God via an angel. Other than giving us the broad-minded a warm and fuzzy glow, it seems to make very little sense with the rest of what we know about salvation history.

  • Darwin

    There are many ways one could answer your question. The thing is, it is not about “warm and fuzzies.” It takes concrete work for the Christian to look for and find the rays of truth when outside of the normative domain of Christianity. Yet, once they are found, what good is it to find them? They become points of contact which open up room for dialogue. Does it make it easier? In some ways yes, in some ways no. In the fact that truth, wherever it is found, points to Christ, there is help. But the difficulty is to show, if that truth can be found, why all that is found isn’t necessarily a nugget of truth. Look to the work of St Thomas Aquinas with Aristotle to see both the difficulty — and yet the benefit — of such a practice. Or the patristics with Plato. Or the way even medieval hymns could see the Sibyls as prophets!

  • Darwin

    Beyond that, if this interests you, I suggest you get “Guidelines for Dialogue between Christians and Muslims.” From the Pontifical Council fir Interreligious Dialogue. It deals with your questions in great depth.

  • “The paper itself is on a discussion of Paul of Antioch, which is why it only addresses Paul of Antioch.”

    Way to move that goalpost! Odd that you’d make that claim, given that it devotes all of two of the 12 printed pages to Paul, spending much more time developing the notion of Muhammad as prophet generally, but no matter. Oh, and that quote at the beginning: “He breaks with the Christian polemical tradition by neither attacking Islam nor denying the prophethood of Muhammad…”

    Show your cards on these other early Christian writers–that would certainly move the dispute along.

    But again, your response is to show “evil later came after Muhammad, therefore, he can’t be a prophet.”

    The direct link between the message and the jihad sheds light on the nature of the message and thus, the messenger. It’s a matter of simple historiography, not to mention study of biblical texts. If you don’t care to wrestle with that inconvenient history and behavior, fine.

    Then there’s the matter of his personal behavior in life, which, while I recognize the argument that prophets aren’t sinless, certainly raises alarm bells.

    You, and the writer of the essay excerpt, are effectively arguing for a Muhammad only tenuously tethered to the Islamic tradition. Rather like a Muhammad Seminar, if you will. The burden on is on you to show why this should be so.

  • In Islam, that “grace-filled moment” led to armies erupting from Arabia, bearing fire and sword from the Atlantic to the Hindu Kush, the Koran ringing in their ears all the while, with all that entailed for Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and Chinese. If that’s grace, then less please, Lord.

    What about Christian violence through the centuries? Oh, that’s right: our violence is okay. Theirs is not.

  • Michael I.,

    If you are unable to show respect to your fellow brothers in Christ then don’t comment at all.

    I deleted your last eight comments.

    You’re better than that. I know you’re capable of writing well-formed arguments because I’ve read them in the past.

    Hope you’re having a good Lent.

  • Dale

    Perhaps because it is a part of a bigger text?

  • What about Christian violence through the centuries? Oh, that’s right: our violence is okay. Theirs is not.

    And you derived that from my arguments just how, precisely? And tu quoque is fun, but my beautiful, bright four year old can do it, too.

  • Then give us the rest of it, Henry. And the other Christians, too. A firmer anchoring in the Tradition will be most useful for the discussion. Such as it is.

  • The thing is, it is not about “warm and fuzzies.” It takes concrete work for the Christian to look for and find the rays of truth when outside of the normative domain of Christianity. Yet, once they are found, what good is it to find them? They become points of contact which open up room for dialogue.

    I agree with that, but it seems to me that it’s necessary when dialoguing with Islam to accept Islam’s account of what it is — not create our own version which is offensive to orthodox Muslim sensibilities. (Which I’m pretty sure the claim that Muhammad was essentially a prophet in the Christian tradition whose followers totally screwed up his message when writing down the Koran would be.)

    From what I’ve read so far of your linked article, I think it offends both orthodox Catholic and Muslim interpretations of their respective faiths by suggesting that the Koran is an inaccurate (perhaps highly inaccurate) rendition of what Muhammad taught (offensive to Muslim belief) and that Islam was actually meant by God to be a parrallel faith for pagan Arabs, making neither faith a universal revelation of God to man (offensive to both Catholic and Muslim belief.)

    I just don’t see how this approach gets us to a good place as far as recognizing the real truths the two religions share — any more than a discussion between Catholics and Jews in which the Jews asserted that Christ was in fact a true prophet — but not the Son of God and all of the Bible is pius legend — would be productive. In order to recognize shared truths, we have first to recognize both religions as they truly understand themselves.

  • If you are unable to show respect to your fellow brothers in Christ then don’t comment at all.

    ??

    I see your sense of humor is as erratic as your ability to reason, so, I’ll say it directly and unambiguously, minus the attempt at humor:

    Many of the views expressed here are grounded not in the teaching of the Church and an awareness of the actual teaching of Islam, but in prejudice, ignorance, and at worst, utter hatred for Muslims.

    Have a good Lent.

  • Michael I.,

    I see your sense of humor is as erratic as your ability to reason, so, I’ll say it directly and unambiguously, minus the attempt at humor

    Thank you for that constructive and charitable analysis of me. Your charity and humility exemplify your every word.

    Sarcasm is fine and dandy, especially at my expense, but mocking people isn’t.

  • Many of the views expressed here are grounded not in the teaching of the Church and an awareness of the actual teaching of Islam, but in prejudice, ignorance, and at worst, utter hatred for Muslims.

    I can see why you’d want to think everyone here hates Islam and Muslims, but I see little evidence that it’s actually the case.

    Indeed, it would appear to be Henry who wants to redefine Muslims’ faith for them, a move which I would think would be far more offensive to most Muslims than suggesting that a Catholic chapel should probably not be actively celebrating Muhammad’s birthday.

  • Indeed, it would appear to be Henry who wants to redefine Muslims’ faith for them, a move which I would think would be far more offensive to most Muslims than suggesting that a Catholic chapel should probably not be actively celebrating Muhammad’s birthday.

    Well, it’s a huge mistake on your part to assume that all Muslims believe the same thing. Muslims THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith. Just like us Christians.

  • Muslims THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith. Just like us Christians.

    Maybe leftist Catholics are redefining their cafeteria Catholicism, but the Church herself is timeless and will always teach the unchanging Truth.

  • Tito – Church history. Look into it.

  • Tito – I suppose, then, you reject the “leftist” innovations of just war theory and the celibate priesthood?

  • Michael I.,

    I have, none of the teachings of the Church have changed.

    So you better not hold your breath that the ordination of women (sic) will occur at all.

  • I’m a Christian first, a conservative second.

    Any alleged innovations are not liberal nor conservative.

    Even you know better than that.

  • Michael,

    Muddying distinctions between the essentials of the faith (e.g. the divinity of Christ) and implications (just war) or even disciplines that have arisen after significant reflection is unhelpful here. Suggesting the Koran is inaccurate (as the writer does) is much more like explaining away the Resurrection, than instituting a discipline of clerical celibacy. It’s dishonest to pretend otherwise.

  • Well, it’s a huge mistake on your part to assume that all Muslims believe the same thing. Muslims THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith. Just like us Christians.

    Certainly, Islam is much less centralized (and thus less consistant) in it’s doctrinal authority than Catholicism, and there are wide areas of disagreement. However, as a matter of definition, I think we can safely assume that the number of Muslims who believe that Muhammad was essentially a Christian prophet whose message was hopelessly garbled by his followers, and that all the doctrinal disagreements between Islam and Christianity are thus basically a mistake in transmission, is somewhere between “few” and “none”.

  • John – I am responding exclusively to Tito’s objection to my remark that Christianity has been, and continues to be, reinvented and his claim that Catholicism is unchanging (“none of the teachings of the Church have changed”). You and I know there are distinctions to be made between Tradition and traditions. It is Tito, not me, who muddies distinctions with his claims that the Church does not change.

  • Michael I.,

    Your the one throwing out the examples hence you’re the one confusing the distinctions.

    You can go take your straw and make a nice pile of it, throw a match and have a nice B-B-Q.

    Stop being dishonest in disingenuous. In other words, grow up.

  • Michael,

    Respectfully, I think your analogy muddied the waters. It suggested that positing the inaccuracy of the Koran was exactly the type of redefining that Christians do all the time (e.g. with clerical celibacy). The difficulty is that the accuracy of the Koran is much more similar to the divinity of Christ or the Resurrection; a central tenet of the religion. Contra your suggestion, Catholics are not really re-defining themselves in the same way as the above article suggests Muslims should.

  • John Henry,

    Respectfully, I made no reference to the Koran or to particular teachings of Islam that are being redefined.

    All I did was make the claim that Muslims have been redefining their faith since the beginning (with no particular redefinitions referenced) just like we Christians have been (with no particular redefinitions referenced).

    Tito responded, like the fearful Catholic fundie that he is, that the Church does not change. I replied with two examples of innovations that Tito surely accepts. He continues to claim that the Church does not change.

    It is Tito’s position, not mine, that is not able to grasp distinctions. “The Church does not change” betrays an utter denial of such distinctions.

  • I made no reference to the Koran or to particular teachings of Islam that are being redefined.

    But you did! The very point Darwin was making was that Henry’s article suggested a fundamental redefinition of Islam — and you dismissed it with “Muslims are redefining their faith all the time.” Not in that way, they aren’t. Who’s not grasping the distinctions here?

  • All I did was make the claim that Muslims have been redefining their faith since the beginning (with no particular redefinitions referenced) just like we Christians have been (with no particular redefinitions referenced).

    Then you may have misread the preceding comments, because otherwise your response was a non sequitur. The document under discussion characterized the Koran as inaccurate, which was why Darwin said it would probably be offensive to most Muslims.

  • “but in prejudice, ignorance, and at worst, utter hatred for Muslims.

    Have a good Lent.”

    Catholic Anarchist, you really do have a good future ahead of you as a humorist. Blasting people as prejudiced, ignorant and haters and then telling them to have a good Lent is pretty funny. I assume that Tito shares my sense of humor. I can think of no other reason why he tolerates your inane comments.

  • For the last time, to clarify: My concerns have been 1) Tito’s view that the Church “does not change” and 2) Darwin’s monolithic view of Islam that does not take into account its diversity and the fact that it’s never been standing still. The particulars of Darwin and Henry’s discussion were not a concern of mine.

    Have a good Lent.

  • Funny how some people are much more tolerant and willing to see the good in someone’s religion when the subject is Islam rather than, say, Sarah Palin’s church. Perhaps they think Islam more compatible with Catholicism than Protestantism; or perhaps they let their political biases decide whether they will say nice things about someone’s religion.

  • Darwin’s monolithic view of Islam that does not take into account its diversity and the fact that it’s never been standing still.

    It’s interesting that this is your concern, since I never claimed that Islam was either monolithic or unchanging. However, there are certain ideas which (especially at this current time in Islam’s history) we can be pretty confident perishingly few Muslim’s will agree with — and one of those is Henry’s supposedly ecumenical idea that Muhammad was actually an essentially Christian prophet who was merely misrepresented by his followers when they compiled the Koran.

    If you didn’t mean to suggest that many Muslims could very well accept the thesis which Henry was presenting, then why pop up and insist that Muslims are not monolithic in their beliefs?

    It’s as if I said, “Christians believe that Christ suffered and died for our sins and then rose from the dead on the third day,” and you suddenly replied, “Well, it’s a huge mistake on your part to assume that all Christians believe the same thing. Christians THEMSELVES are redefining, and have been redefining all along, their faith.”

    It is a comment which would be true in a certain context (and with “redefining” defined in a somewhat non-standard way — “developing” would be a much better word, which is why that’s the word the Church generally uses) but in the context of the statement that Christians believe in Christ’s death and resurrection, it would give the strong impression you were suggesting Christians had either made that belief up, or that it was something which a great many Christians had discarded. Either way, it would make no sense, because if one does not believe in Christ’s death and resurrection one is definitionally not a Christian.

  • DC,

    of course Michael is well aware of the distinctions between development of doctrine, which is orthodox, and reversal of doctrine which is heresy. He deliberately uses the terms “change” and “reinvent” to avoid a valid charge.

    Maybe someone should post an analysis of Pascendi, in regard to the current situation? I know that there is discussion on Fr. Z’s blog about bringing back the Anti-modernist oath. I’ll assent, what say you Michael?

    On another note… Michael, it is my belief, that, while Mohammedans may worship the same God as the Jews and Christians… that Islam is a false religion. Would you disagree?

    Wherever would you get the idea that priestly celibacy was EVER an innovation? Christ and St. Paul both recommended it, the only novelty was it’s codification by the Roman Church as a discipline, not exactly revolutionary given it’s near universal voluntary acceptance. Just war doctrine? Since Christians were not in position to make wars of any sort for a few hundred years, it was not much discussed until members of the Church were in political ascendancy. In any event there is no great leap in logic from the sound moral theology which had been applied to individual actions until that time, to the laws dictating the actions of the state. The Church (not individual Christians) will continue to develop her understanding of this and other doctrines, but will not “change” them. Therefore you can forget about women’s ordination and a reversal of the teaching on capital punishment, at least until the gates of hell prevail.

    Thanks,

    Matt

  • Here is the thing. DC’s comments are quite odd, as is the concern I see by many others here that what I said might “insult” Muslims. Why? Two reasons.

    They generally say things which might insult Muslims. Do they care? No. Only if someone suggests that perhaps Muhammad was a prophet, then they say “that might insult Muslims.” Second, how so? I’ve talked to Muslims about this. They are not insulted at all. This demonstrates, to me, people don’t really understand Muslims. They might think I interpret Islamic history wrong, and my view of Muhammad is different than theirs, but you know, when Muslims say Jesus is the Christ, I am not insulted, even if they don’t believe in the Incarnation. Indeed, because they believe Jesus is the messiah, and Mary was a perpetual virgin, both of those issues become good points of contact for dialogue.

    Moreover, even though Muslims do not agree with my interpretation of Islamic history, is the point of what I said for Muslims? No. It’s for Christians. Christians need to know what they think of Muhammad, or Plato, or Aristotle, or many other non-Christians. Coming to terms with their own views on these figures, internally, should affect how we dialogue with others.

    And Dale Price, you see the url? You can use it to get back to the whole text.

  • Thank you, Henry Karlson.

  • Perhaps they think Islam more compatible with Catholicism than Protestantism

    It’s entirely possible (and probable) that some forms of Islam ARE more compatible with Catholicism than some forms of Protestantism.

  • Henry K,

    Maybe the Dalai Lama is a misunderstood Christian prophet? What about Luther? Perhaps Ghandi? No. Not. The followers of these men may be mistaken about them, but the Church most certainly is not. If Muhammad was a Christian he would not have been slaughtering Christians to further his errors, and the Church would have seen him for what he was.

    It’s interesting here, that there is an attempt by liberals to rebrand Islam to be “Catholic” just as there have been attempts to rebrand protestantism as “Catholic”. Once we all maintain our errors but are rebranded by the liberals as Catholic, then the unity that Christ sought is achieved, everyone’s Catholic and hell can be empty? Wrong. THe unity Christ sought is filial, but is most especially DOCTRINAL. Never mind the Mohammedans, very many liberal Catholics are not in communion, though they claim to be.

  • On another note… Michael, it is my belief, that, while Mohammedans may worship the same God as the Jews and Christians… that Islam is a false religion. Would you disagree?

    Entirely false? No. Does it have access to the truth in an imperfect way? Yes.

  • Michael I,

    Entirely false? No. Does it have access to the truth in an imperfect way? Yes.

    That’s what I thought. Perhaps the Mohammedans believe the sky is blue, and therefore, Michael I. can’t bring himself to believe it’s a FALSE religion, which it clearly is.

  • Enough of this liberal claptrap… let’s talk about the pope’s gift to the Church this past week!

    from Fr. Z.

    But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

    Wow! Powerful pill for the liberals to swallow.

  • Matt McDonald continues to show how clueless he is to the whole discussion and the Christian tradition.

  • HK,

    wow! stunning and indepth insight.

    Are you going to mosque today to tell the Mohammedans they are wrong about Mohammad? I doubt it.

    After battling Islam for 700 years both theologically, and literally, you claim it’s founder is a prophet, and I am the one breaking from Christian tradition? Don’t you see the lunacy of your situation? You wish to embrace and make concessions to the infidels and spout bile to the Catholics who oppose such actions? Mohammad may have been a Christian, but Matt and Tito are not, right?

  • Henry – I don’t think Matt is clueless about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about the world’s religions. He just does not accept it, instead preferring the approach of evangelical Protestantism.

    I wasn’t aware, Henry, that you have been battling Islam for 700 years, as he says in his last comment. Are you as old as Yoda? Older?

  • Matt,

    With all due respect (and wrongheaded though Henry is being in this discussion) your current approach is unhelpful in its tone.

    Also, as a side note, the term “Mohammedans” is really not the best ones to use. Although “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet,” is the Islamic credo, they do not consider Muhammad a savior and object of worship in the way that as Christians we consider Christ to be. “Islam” and “Muslims” would be the best terms.

    Henry,

    Well, I’m certainly glad to hear the Muslims you’ve shared your view on the the Prophet with have not been offended. Most reasonable people do indeed know there are far too many silly views out there to bother getting offended at everything that is offensive to one’s beliefs. Thus, for instance, while the activities of the Jesus Seminar are certainly offensive from a Christian point of view, actually getting emotionally offended by their antics is a waste of time and energy.

    However, I think you’ve perhaps misunderstood the basic thrust of my comments, which is not that individual Muslims may find your views personally insulting, but that your ecumenical approach here is deeply problematic because it attempts to turn Islam into something other than what it says it is. You’re priding yourself in your broadmindedness in regards to considering Muhammad a prophet, while failing to take into account that your views are in contravention to Islam, and make little sense in the context of Christianity.

    Now you say:

    [I]s the point of what I said for Muslims? No. It’s for Christians. Christians need to know what they think of Muhammad, or Plato, or Aristotle, or many other non-Christians. Coming to terms with their own views on these figures, internally, should affect how we dialogue with others.

    I’m not sure that I agree with you here. Christians need to know what they think about Muhammad’s teachings, Plato’s teachings and Aristotle’s teachings. Given that they were speaking in a more general philosophic context, I’d say the latter two have rather more to offer us than the former, but it is definitely worth understanding those ways in which each of the three illuminates the truth.

    However, I’m not at all sure that as Christians we need or ought to come to a conclusion as to Muhammad, Plato and Aristotle themselves, and most specifically as to their relationships with God. Did Plato and/or Aristotle receive some sort of a limited revelation from God which allowed them to achieve such philosophical insights, or was it merely their human intelligence (modeled on God’s reason) working on the natural order of the world (created by God) which led them to their insights? Did Muhammad receive some sort of revelation from God which he and/or his followers completely garbled, or was he mad, or did he make it up, or did he receive what seemed to him revelations from some source other than one of God’s angels? Frankly, I don’t think it’s necessarily our place as Catholics to hold strong opinions as to which of these (or perhaps some other that haven’t thought of) is true. Such a conclusion can certainly do nothing to bring us closer to Muslims, and if we’re to pursue ecumenical dialogue I think we’re much better off focusing on those doctrinal and philosophical beliefs which we share.

    Though of all the explanations for Muhammad and his actions which one might advance, the one you’re putting forward strikes me as by far the least likely.

  • Darwin

    Several things.

    First, it is not ecumenical dialogue. It is inter-religious dialogue. Learn the difference. Ecumenical is intra-Christian, inter-religious is extra-Christian.

    Second, Christians, when they dialogue with others, need to be able to do several things, including 1) they need to know their position of the other in relation to how they understand them before the dialogue 2) they need to be able to be open to learn how the other sees itself and not assume what the other believes of its own position but 3) they also need to be able to modify their position of the other in relation to the dialogue itself. #1 is important because a part of the dialogue is relate your own understanding, and if you cannot have some understanding before the dialogue, there is nothing to relate.

    Nonetheless, you are looking at this solely as inter-religious. I am not. I am looking at this also in relation to how we understand the other, because again, without that understanding, we can’t have a basis for dialogue itself.

    While you are right in saying teachings are important, we must realize that the personalism of Christianity also takes to heart the people involved as well. That there is a consistent dialogue within the Christian tradition itself of people such as Plato, Aristotle, Siddhartha, Muhammad, et. al., points very well, there is something within the Christian tradition itself that requires us to look into this. It has to do with a theology of religion, which is not an easy task.

    But what I myself have said in relation to Islam is exactly how the Church looks at the matter, too, according to the book I previously suggested anyone interested in this matter should get. “Instead of these negative judgments which came out of former concern for polemics and apologetics, Christians should assess in an objective way, and in consonsance with their faith, exactly what the inspiration, the sincerity and the faithfulness of the Prophet Muhammad, making their judgment within the framework, first, of their personal response to the commands of God, and then, on a wider scale, that of the working of providence in world history.” Guidelines for Dialogue Between Christians and Muslims, 57. It goes further, even to describe how Muhammad was seen by Patriarch Timothy of Baghdad, another early witness of Christian dialogue with Islam, to be one who traversed the path of the prophets… again, what I say is not “modern” nor is it contrary or odd to anyone who deals with inter-religious dialogue.

  • First, it is not ecumenical dialogue. It is inter-religious dialogue. Learn the difference. Ecumenical is intra-Christian, inter-religious is extra-Christian.

    You’re correct. I was using “ecumenical” in the casual sense in which it so often is used. I think we’re both pretty much aware of what was meant, though, so we can probably move past that.

    Second, Christians, when they dialogue with others, need to be able to do several things, including 1) they need to know their position of the other in relation to how they understand them before the dialogue 2) they need to be able to be open to learn how the other sees itself and not assume what the other believes of its own position but 3) they also need to be able to modify their position of the other in relation to the dialogue itself. #1 is important because a part of the dialogue is relate your own understanding, and if you cannot have some understanding before the dialogue, there is nothing to relate.

    The above is a bit difficult to parse since you’re referring to both disputants (dialogers?) by general terms and after a while you go into pronoun overload. If I follow you correctly, I believe you’re saying:

    1) The Christian must go into the conversation with an understanding of what the non-Christian’s beliefs are and Christianity’s position as to the truth and falsity of those beliefs.

    2) The Christian must be open to changing his understanding of what the non-Christian actually believes during the course of the dialogue, and thus actively listening to understand what it is that the non-Christian is really saying. (This can be especially difficult because we often use the same words to mean different things. One wants to avoid false disagreements – and false agreements.)

    3) Christian and non-Christian both need to be ready to alter their positions on the truth and falsity of each others beliefs as they come to understand more clearly what those beliefs actually are.

    Taking these to be your meanings, I agree with all your points as to how religious dialogue ought to go on — it’s just that I think your analysis of Muhammad is wrong from either a Christian or Muslim perspective.

    While you are right in saying teachings are important, we must realize that the personalism of Christianity also takes to heart the people involved as well. That there is a consistent dialogue within the Christian tradition itself of people such as Plato, Aristotle, Siddhartha, Muhammad, et. al., points very well, there is something within the Christian tradition itself that requires us to look into this. It has to do with a theology of religion, which is not an easy task.

    Here I don’t think I agree with you. I don’t think it’s necessary for us to come to a firm conclusion, as Catholics, as to what the real nature of Muhammad’s religious experience was — or how accurately the Koran in fact portrays his teachings. We need to be able to understand how Muslim scholars understand these topics, and we need to understand to what extent their beliefs do and do not reflect truth as we understand it. But there’s no call, so far as I can see, for us to come up with our version of “what really happened” with regard to Muhammad. In part because while Christian revelation and Tradition allow us to understand in what senses Islam is true and false, we are not given any particular insight into what Muhammad’s real experiences were.

    So while I think we’re definitely called to encounter the teachings of the people you list, I really don’t see that we’re required to produce our own just-so stories of how they came to teach what they taught.

    “Instead of these negative judgments which came out of former concern for polemics and apologetics, Christians should assess in an objective way, and in consonsance with their faith, exactly what the inspiration, the sincerity and the faithfulness of the Prophet Muhammad, making their judgment within the framework, first, of their personal response to the commands of God, and then, on a wider scale, that of the working of providence in world history.”

    I agree with those guidelines that this is how we should go about addressing Islam, it’s just that I strongly disagree with you that it is a reasonable theory, based on the working of providence in world history, that Muhammad was a real prophet in the Judeo-Christian tradition. And while I agree that there are a small minority of Christian thinkers throughout the last 1300 years who have seen him as having been such, it’s equally clear that they have historically been in the minority. And with good reason. I don’t think that idea makes any sense.

    The traditional view has been to see Muhammad as either a heretic or a heathen. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my favorite writers are heathens or heretics — and as the Church clearly teaches: there is much real truth with can be found in their writings.

  • Darwin

    1) We do not go in knowing what the other’s position is, though we probably go in with some background, but it should be one which is able to be modified through the dialogue. The point, once again, is we go in with our own religious understanding of the other, of the placement of the other in our own theology of religions (different religions, and different thinkers within a given faith might come in with different answers here).

    2) There is no “the traditional view” there are many different views in tradition, including the ones of Eastern Patriarchs like Timothy of Baghdad or Paul of Antioch. In this way, I am bringing to the discussion the wider tradition, which you ignore. And this is also included in the work which I referenced. “Christians are inclined to perceive that Muhammad was a great literary, political and religious genius, and that he possessed particular qualities which enabled him to lead multitudes to the worship of the true God. But, at the same time, they find in him evidence of certain mistakes and important misapprehensions. They also discern in him marks of prophethood.” (p.58). Once again, this is not “my view,” this is what you find in documents of those who engage Islam for the Church, who employ the Church’s long history and tradition to do so. That there are some who see Muhammad as a monster, a devil, a heretic, a heathen, etc — I have not denied; but I am pointing out that this is not the only possible position. And, as from the quote I gave before this, the call has been stated for us to discern who he is.

    I truly suggest people read the book I am quoting from. It serves as a sound basis for a Catholic understanding of Islam. Fr Garvey in his inter-religious dialogue text for Orthodox says the same thing; it is, therefore, not just a contemporary Catholic position either. Indeed, you will find a recent Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria (non-Coptic) also calling Muhammad a prophet. There is a Western polemical tradition which some focus on, but again, the Church has also called us to abandon that — and to learn from the greater tradition. This is what I encourage you to do.

  • Henry K,

    can you give a SIGNIFICANT concrete example in history where a non-Christian religious group was approached with the perspective that their founder might have been a Christian prophet? You say this is a “traditional” Christian approach, surely if there’s an example we could all see the orthodoxy of your proposal. Obscure, unauthoritative snippets, possibly taken out of context are not compelling in the face of overwhelming evidence that such ideas are unorthodox. It is not unnussual to refer to religious leaders by the titles they claim for themselves regardless of their authenticity. I can appreciate Bishop Desmond Tutu, while in no way acknowledging that he is a bishop as such.

    As to the question of whether your hypothesis is offensive to Mohammedans, I am quite certain that they are not so different from us. I am much less offended when an atheist denies Christ’s divinity than when one denies He CLAIMED DIVINITY, even worse when one claiming to be Christian does so.

    I completely concur with DC that the Church engages dialogue on a reasoned and philosophical level, it does not flirt with the idea that theologies of false religions are some sort of “alternate” version of the One True Faith, or that they can, in any way be true where they disagree with same.

    Michael I,

    you may not have been at war with Islam (which means obedience, it is not obedient to God, therefore I try and avoid the term, sorry if such frank dialogue is distasteful), but I as a member of the Body of Christ have. I’m sure most people here had no problem recognizing that it is the Church, and Christian Tradition which has been at war with Islam.

    Those so open to the idea of canonizing Mohammed should carefully consider the Holy Father’s recent declaration which I have posted above, but bears repeating:

    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

  • you may not have been at war with Islam (which means obedience, it is not obedient to God, therefore I try and avoid the term, sorry if such frank dialogue is distasteful), but I as a member of the Body of Christ have. I’m sure most people here had no problem recognizing that it is the Church, and Christian Tradition which has been at war with Islam.

    Give me a statement from the post-Vatican II Church that states that the Body of Christ is “at war” with Islam.

    Those so open to the idea of canonizing Mohammed should carefully consider…

    Who said anything about canonizing Muhammad?

  • “you may not have been at war with Islam (which means obedience, it is not obedient to God, therefore I try and avoid the term, sorry if such frank dialogue is distasteful), but I as a member of the Body of Christ have. I’m sure most people here had no problem recognizing that it is the Church, and Christian Tradition which has been at war with Islam.”

    Who else do you think we are at war with, Matt?

  • Michael I,

    Give me a statement from the post-Vatican II Church that states that the Body of Christ is “at war” with Islam.

    I’ll repeat it for your benefit:

    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

    As St. Pius V said after the defeat of the Muslim fleet at Lepanto:
    “A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which He has just given the Christian army”

    Mark D.,

    we are at war with all that is evil. Lies are evil, satan is the father of lies. Christ is truth, He is at war and so are we.

    Matthew 10:34 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword

  • How did Christ fight the war, Matt?

  • Mark D.,

    He lived, He died.

  • He resurrected….surely you know this much?

  • On a related note:

    ROME (CNS) — Christians must distance themselves from anyone or anything that insults Islam’s prophet Mohammed and should come to a greater appreciation of his role in bringing millions of people to recognize the one God, said a German Jesuit scholar.

    But Christians cannot share Muslims’ recognition of Mohammed as the last and greatest prophet, said Father Christian Troll, a professor of Islam and of Muslim-Christian relations at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany.

    Writing in La Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), a Jesuit magazine reviewed by the Vatican prior to publication, Father Troll was responding to a question asked by many Muslims: “We Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet and we venerate him. Why don’t you Christians accept Mohammed as a prophet in the same way?”

  • We cannot recognize him as a prophet period in other words.

  • Christopher

    Which does not say they can’t recognize him as a prophet; saying we cannot believe him to be the “last and greatest prophet” is entirely correct. He isn’t.

  • Christopher:

    I suspect the CNS article has problems, look how it says this, “For Christians, Jesus was not a prophet, but the word of God made flesh, he said.”

    I am sure he said “prophet according to Muslim standards” because Christians MUST view Jesus as a prophet (and not just a prophet, but a prophet nonetheless). But again, it is nice, isn’t it, to take articles, and quote words which don’t engage the discussion, and leave it there. You would have done well if you did some exegesis of the text itself, so I know what it is you were trying to say.

  • Tito

    If you could read, it does not say that. It says we can’t look at Muhammad and understand him the say way as the Muslims do. We don’t see Muhammad is the last, greatest prophet. That’s basic. It is also basic that we don’t have the same understanding of prophethood as Muslims (which would explain the quote I gave above). But that does not answer, can Muhammad be seen as a prophet, according to Christian standards. Not as the “last, greatest” one, but as one nonetheless.

  • Matt – You’re a nut case!
    .
    .
    .
    Tito
    If you could read,

    Wow. Let me ask: Do you think this is a strategically sound way to win people over to your arguments?

  • J. christian

    Have you seen THEIR comments? Interesting to see what you take out of that whole conversation.

  • Yes, and whatever the strengths or weaknesses of their remarks, I don’t recall them engaging in ad hominem attacks against anyone here. So again: Do you think you’re winning converts?

  • J. Christian

    You don’t “recall”? Go back up there and read. But I suspect you will ignore all the insults. Fine. Talk about “do you think you are winning converts,” do you think you are going to convince me you are right by saying I engage them in ad hominens (which I did not do)?

  • Henry, It’s late and this is a long thread. I see that the personal attacks have gone both ways, and I stand corrected. Yet…

    You don’t “recall”? Go back up there and read. But I suspect you will ignore all the insults. Fine.

    …now you’re casting aspersions on my motives. I wasn’t intentionally ignoring some insults over others; I made an honest mistake based on a few cutting remarks in the last several posts.

  • j. christian

    Perhaps then you should have said nothing.

  • No, I wanted to call you on it. Because until that point, I was interested in what you had to say.

  • j. christian

    How could you be interested in what I had to say, if you didn’t read the conversation and therefore, didn’t read what I said? See, getting in at the end and just ridiculing certain people, ignoring the context, says much about you. Sorry. No go. And you talk about me casting aspersions!

  • j. christian

    In other words, the one who just engaged an ad homimen is you. Classical one. “You are rude, therefore, what you have to say is of no value.” Typical. Very typical.

  • Henry, I did read what you said. I honestly didn’t recall the whole episode about 50 posts up. I wasn’t trying to ridicule you; I was genuinely bothered by the fact that you’d made that remark about Tito when otherwise (as I remembered it) you were presenting an interesting case. I did not “ignore the context” — in fact, I thought it was rather out of context. That’s why my comment was directed to the strategy of your word choice, and not to you personally.

  • I can call Mohammad a prophet. I can call Joseph Smith a prophet. I can call David Koresh a prophet. They believed they were prophets (presumably), and other believed they were, so in conversation with some one who believes them to be prophets I have no issue with saying, “the prophet Mohamed”, i.e. asking “Well what did the prophet Mohamed say about x?” However, I don’t believe for a moment any of those were truly prophets of God; that as Catholics we should not consider them prophets in the sense that God used them to speak to us.

    I’m a little confused by Henry’s comments. At times I think he’s essentially stating what I said, other times it seems like he’s stating that as Catholics we should accept Mohamed as a prophet – as someone who was indeed sent by God to teach us something (i.e. Isiah, John the Baptist, St Bernard, etc.) . If the latter, I disagree.

    Henry, are you willing to assign your thoughts to one or the other broad categories?

  • It’s spelled “ad homineM.”

  • Henry, are you willing to assign your thoughts to one or the other broad categories?

    “Either/or” alert.

    Wow. Let me ask: Do you think this is a strategically sound way to win people over to your arguments?

    Having dealt with Matt’s nonsense for a while now, I am not optimistic about the possibility of “winning him over.” If he refuses to listen to the Church’s teaching, he sure as hell ain’t going to listen to me.

  • In other words, the one who just engaged an ad homimen is you. Classical one. “You are rude, therefore, what you have to say is of no value.” Typical. Very typical.

    One of the things it actually might help you to consider, Henry, would be not assuming so quickly that people are “the enemy” and lashing out against them. Also, it helps to watch the subtext of how one chooses phrase things. If your subtext is almost always, “I’m smarter and more educated than you are,” you’ll tend to come off poorly with people.

    All other things being equal, one generally does better in online conversation (as in person) if one attempts to be _more_ polite and reasonable than one’s opponents.

    Back on the original topic of conversation:

    Would you say that Muhammad is, to your mind, unique as a real prophet (as in, actually receiving revelations from God) who was not a Christian (and presented a non Christian message) or are them other examples you would name. Perhaps other examples would help people see what you’re trying to get at here.

    Also, even while understanding that this is an attempt at a Christian theology of religions, which the Christian would then bring into inter-religious dialogue, I’m still confused as to the utility (and the reasonableness) of this theory. The two things that strike me are:

    1) If we can only justify the claim that Muhammad was a real (though perhaps at times self serving or misguided) prophet by theorizing that a great deal of what was recorded in the Koran was not in fact an accurate representation of Muhammad’s teaching — do we really have any way of knowing what Muhammad’s teaching was, or are we simply creating an area of doubt into which we can read whatever we like.

    2) Doesn’t this actually give us a more difficult inter-religious dialogue situation than simply remaining agnostic to where Muhammad’s revelation came from (or holding it to have been madness or fabrication) in that we’re essentially attacking Muslims’ faith on two fronts: First asserting truths other than those traditionally asserted by Islam, and secondly claiming that the Koran does not in fact even represent the real teachings of Muhammad.

    If one takes the more traditional path of accepting that the Koran is an accurate record of Muhammad’s teachings, exploring and affirming those truths which we hold in common, and explaining and arguing for those truths which Islam lacks, we have a relatively simply situation. If we say, “Muhammad was basically a real prophet, but he may have added some things for self serving reasons and then his followers went off the tracks and recorded everything wrong so the suras you know so well probably aren’t really Muhammad’s teaching anyway” then it seems to me that you make any real dialogue nearly impossible, and instead put your Muslim dialog partner into apologetics mode.

    The only sense in which I can see this working is if one then goes on to take the untenable (from an orthodox Catholic point of view) that Islam represents some sort of “separate but equal” revelation and thus Muslims _ought_ to remain Muslim while Christians remain Christian. I can see why it would be a good defensive measure for Christians in certain places and times in history to have reached such a view, but it does not seem to be at all compatible with our understanding of the commission Christ gave to His Church.

  • Michael I,

    <u<Michael J. Iafrate Says:
    Sunday, March 15, 2009 A.D. at 12:51 pm

    Henry, are you willing to assign your thoughts to one or the other broad categories?

    “Either/or” alert.

    Wow. Let me ask: Do you think this is a strategically sound way to win people over to your arguments?

    Having dealt with Matt’s nonsense for a while now, I am not optimistic about the possibility of “winning him over.” If he refuses to listen to the Church’s teaching, he sure as hell ain’t going to listen to me.M.

    Calumnythe unjust damaging of the good name of another by imputing to him a crime or fault of which he is not guilty. The sin thus committed is in a general sense mortal, just as is detraction. It is hardly necessary, however, to observe that as in other breaches of the law the sin may be venial, either because of the trivial character of the subject-matter involved or because of insufficient deliberation in the making of the accusation. Objectively, a calumny is a mortal sin when it is calculated to do serious harm to the person so traduced. Just as in the instance of wrongful damage to person or estate, so the calumniator is bound to adequate reparation for the injury perpetrated by the blackening of another’s good name. He is obliged (1) to retract his false statements, and that even though his own reputation may necessarily as a consequence suffer. (2) He must also make good whatever other losses have been sustained by the innocent party as a result of his libellous utterances, provided these same have been in some measure (in confuso) foreseen by him.

  • Matt,

    Your views of Christianity’s relation to Islam ARE at odds with Catholic understanding and teaching of/on the matter.

  • Mark D.,

    Your views of Christianity’s relation to Islam ARE at odds with Catholic understanding and teaching of/on the matter.

    cite an AUTHORITATIVE document and my statement which is contradiction to it, or refer to the above post on calumny.

    This is typical liberal behavior. They cry “ad hominem” when someone demonstrates their view is in error, and then promptly make unfounded accusations.

  • Matt,

    Cite me an official Church document ( and not a saying of a centuries ago pope) that declares that we are at war with Islam. If you find one, square it with VII statements.

  • I’ll not do your research for you, but I’m sure you are aware of the crusades, the battles of Lepanto, Vienna (1 & 2), Tours, the Reconquista of Spain, sacking of Rome by the Mohammedans… etc. etc. These are military examples. The theological ones are numerous as well. Read any pope from 8th until the 20th century and you’ll see.

    In fact my statement is not even doctrinal, it is simply an assessment of reality. My tone may be out of step with current rhetoric from the Vatican, but that is not a matter of “faith and morals”.

  • Mark,

    Cite me an official Church document ( and not a saying of a centuries ago pope)

    oops. Missed that one, so you only consider post-Vatican II popes and documents authoritative? That sir, is clearly not in line with Church teaching (or Vatican II itself), you may not have read all of the above posts, so I’ll repeat it for you:

    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

  • Just a friendly reminder, in case some of us forgot, the Church did not begin after A.D. 1962.

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  • Matt,

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Christianity has been at war with Islam from the beginning. Though it is the case that majority Christian countries have often been at war with majority Islamic countries/populations from 800-1700.

    On the Christian side of things, there is not really a Christian “holy war” tradition at all. The Crusades and similar wars over the course of Christian history were essentially cases where Church leadership said that a particular war was just (under just war theory as it existed at the time) and that soldiers who participated with the right intentions and spirit could expiate sins through the act of fighting injustice via that war.

    So Christianity is certainly not necessarily “at war with Islam”. However, Christianity does clearly lay out the right (and sometimes the responsibility) to respond with defense force against aggression — and so during those periods of history in which Islamic leaders have drawn on the Muslim understanding of Jihad to attack Christians, Christians have certainly fought back. (And similarly, in examples like the reconquesta, Christian rulers have sought to regaint territory which had been taken from them during earlier religious wars.)

    All of which is to say: I don’t think we should say “Christianity is at war with Islam” because from a Christian perspective we have no need to be at war with Muslims unless they attack us. And since I don’t think that the Muslim doctrine of Jihad (which has been subject to a wide variety of understandings and emphases in different places and times by different Muslims) is actually true, I certainly don’t think that they _need_ to be at war with us.

  • DarwinCatholic,
    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Christianity has been at war with Islam from the beginning. Though it is the case that majority Christian countries have often been at war with majority Islamic countries/populations from 800-1700.

    You’ll note that I said military and theological. So by definition, as soon as that lie was told the Church fought it. I don’t think it’s fair to distinguish between Islamic countries and Islam itself, the Mohammedans don’t, why should we? We need to examine the distinction between Christianity and Christian nations in the case of Islamic invasions, when the key demand is to submit to Islamic rule, I think it’s fair to say it is Christianity itself which is at war.

    On the Christian side of things, there is not really a Christian “holy war” tradition at all. The Crusades and similar wars over the course of Christian history were essentially cases where Church leadership said that a particular war was just (under just war theory as it existed at the time) and that soldiers who participated with the right intentions and spirit could expiate sins through the act of fighting injustice via that war.

    I never said “holy war”, so don’t apply it to my statement. I think you are under representing the EXHORTATION to fight in the crusades, and the organizing of Crusades by the Church.

    So Christianity is certainly not necessarily “at war with Islam”. However, Christianity does clearly lay out the right (and sometimes the responsibility) to respond with defense force against aggression — and so during those periods of history in which Islamic leaders have drawn on the Muslim understanding of Jihad to attack Christians, Christians have certainly fought back. (And similarly, in examples like the reconquesta, Christian rulers have sought to regaint territory which had been taken from them during earlier religious wars.)

    All of which is to say: I don’t think we should say “Christianity is at war with Islam” because from a Christian perspective we have no need to be at war with Muslims unless they attack us. And since I don’t think that the Muslim doctrine of Jihad (which has been subject to a wide variety of understandings and emphases in different places and times by different Muslims) is actually true, I certainly don’t think that they _need_ to be at war with us.

    You’re completely ignoring the theological aspect of my point. We have not always been in military conflict with Islam, there are times when it stepped back to regroup before it attacked again, when relative peace existed (aside from individual Christians living in muslim lands who have been harassed always). Theologically, we have never stopped fighting Islam, nor can we.

    You’re also making it sound as if the muslim invasions and Christian responses were about the kings territory, this is just not the real situation. Christianity depended on the physical protection of a Christian king to prevent Islam from violently forcing conversion or submission.

  • Matt,

    You are a nut case.

  • Mark D.,

    Matt:
    I’ll not do your research for you, but I’m sure you are aware of the crusades, the battles of Lepanto, Vienna (1 & 2), Tours, the Reconquista of Spain, sacking of Rome by the Mohammedans… etc. etc. These are military examples. The theological ones are numerous as well. Read any pope from 8th until the 20th century and you’ll see.

    In fact my statement is not even doctrinal, it is simply an assessment of reality. My tone may be out of step with current rhetoric from the Vatican, but that is not a matter of “faith and morals”.

    Mark:
    Cite me an official Church document ( and not a saying of a centuries ago pope)

    Matt
    oops. Missed that one, so you only consider post-Vatican II popes and documents authoritative? That sir, is clearly not in line with Church teaching (or Vatican II itself), you may not have read all of the above posts, so I’ll repeat it for you:

    Holy Father:
    be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

    so you disagree with myself and the Holy Father to the extent that you consider us nutcases? Please be specific, which of the Holy Father’s statements do you find nutty?

    I know, you’re being scriptural (1 Cor 1:18-25):
    For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

    21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. 22 For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: 24 But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

  • Darwin – I’m happy to see you distance yourself from the disgusting, unChristian views of Matt and Tito. If only more of the American Catholic bloggers would do the same.

  • Leverating what I say to turn around and insult them is not a way to encourage me to do that, Michael.

    If I want to call someone “disgusting” or “unChristian” I’ll do so — but I’d rather not have people invoke me to do so.

    As it stands, I think we’d all be better off without using that kind of terminology so often. More heat than light and all that.

  • if only more of the American Catholic bloggers would do the same.

    That’s just silly; sometimes we have time to comment, sometimes we don’t. Matt no more speaks for me than you do. While on this issue I agree with you, I think you’re both unnecessarily rude. That in itself is a reason not to wade into your back-and-forth.

  • Michael I,

    so you think it’s a Christian action to call me unChristian for acknowledging that we have engaged in theological and/or military war with Islam since it’s inception? Do you consider St. Pius V “unChristian”? What about St. Pius X? Leo XII?

    Note that we have only 2 canonized popes since the 1500’s… Pius V and Pius X… both used strong language in dealing with those who attack the Church.

  • I meant to say Leo XIII, I’m sure Leo XII is a good pope, just not that familiar with him.

  • so you think it’s a Christian action to call me unChristian for acknowledging that we have engaged in theological and/or military war with Islam since it’s inception?

    I think calling what is unChristian by name is one of the most Christian things we can do sometimes. What you said was that the Church is at war with Islam. That is what I take issue with.

  • Michael,

    When you make statements which other Catholics believe to be clearly and obviously wrong, I doubt that you appreciate it if they simply announce that you’re being unChristian. What makes civility work is erring on the side of it even when you feel it’s not deserved.

    Matt,

    I agree with you that the Church very strongly exhorted Catholics to go on crusade (and I didn’t mean to imply you had asserted a principle of “holy war”, I was just pointing out what I saw as the distinction between Catholicism and Islam on the topic.) However at the same time I think it’s important to recall that although this was based strongly on religious feeling, it was also made possible by the fact that the papacy and the Church in general were a strong secular power as well a religious power at that time. Byzantium appealed to the pope as both a secular and a spiritual power to come to its aid with military force.

    I don’t think it would be accurate to say that “we have engaged in theological and/or military war with Islam since it’s inception”. We’ve asserted that Islam is false since it’s inception, and we have fought against Islamic forces as necessary over the centuries when their teaching of Jihad has caused them to invade Christian lands or oppress Christian populations. But I don’t think that Catholicism is necessarily in a state of theological (or military) war with Islam any more so than with any other world religion.

    Also worth keeping in mind, I think, is the nature is the nature of the doctrine of Jihad. Jihad means struggle, and traditionally Muslims have talked about the greater jihad (greater struggle) which is one’s inner striving for virtue and obedience to God, and the lesser jihad, which is the attempt to protect and spread Islam by military means.

    Since Islam has no central doctrinal authority (and since in my opinion as a Christian it isn’t true, and thus need not be one way rather than another) some Muslims have at some times and places very heavily emphasized the lesser jihad (modern Mujahideen often go so far as to claim that the greater jihad is impossible except when you’re actively engaged in the lesser jihad) and in other times and places practically ignored it. It seems to me that if Muslims are willing to ignore the lesser jihad, then the Church’s only quarrel with them is that, like other non-Christians, they do not have the fullness of Christ’s saving message.

  • Rick

    At the start of my discussion, I pointed out a document. It would help answer your question if you read it. At least it would help put us on the same page in this discussion itself.

    But I will make some brief statements here now. Prophecy: pro + phesi. To speak for/in behalf of/in front of/etc. A prophet is one who does pro + phesi for God.

    Now many Christians through the centuries, when looking at Muhammad (such as Paul of Antioch, who I have mentioned, and who was under consideration in the document I gave a link to), saw that he brought a sense of justice and also the monotheism of the God of Abraham to them. They see that because he spoek of and for God to them, and got them to believe in the true God, he was a prophet. They also think his mission was to bring the Arabs together, and if his mission was not subverted, it would have brought them to the Gospel (either in Muhammad’s lifetime, or soon after); so they saw Muhammad a prophet preparing for the Gospel.

    Now, even if one says that is a failure, they would point out that many prophets have had failed missions. But partial success, and the longevity of the movement itself, says something about its origins (just like Christians were shown to be of God in the Acts of the Apostles).

    Now even if one acknowledges this, as many Christians did and do, there are still questions. Does this mean Muhammad was holy? Not necessarily at all; many (not all) think he would have been a prophet like unto Balaam. Now Balaam truly spoke for God, but look to how self-serving he was in his life? Now of course, Muslims would not like this, but again, the question is from the Christian perspective and how we understand him. And this is an example to show the extremes we find, even in the normative tradition, of how prophets can act. Which is why, as the links above again show, Christians and Muslims have a different notion of what it means to be a prophet.

    I’m not saying an individual has to believe he is, but all I am saying is it is within the Christian tradition to allow for this perspective. And even by saying it, it does not answer all the questions as people assume.

    And we can and do see Christians looking to various figures as prophets which might seem surprising, from the Sibyl and Vergil (his glorification of Caesar was read Christologically by many), to Zoroaster, etc. Things are not as neat as people might realize.

  • Michael I.,

    There’s no need for those ad hominems towards Matt and I.

    Debate the points with charity.

  • Thanks Henry. I think you clarified your position well – at least to my mind. For me this is one subject I don’t care to try to divine the truth in all it’s nuances, so I didn’t ask as a means of being argumentative. I just saw what I thought was an argument going on that may have been averted if there were more clarity. Contra the dismissive remark but another commenter I wasn’t trying to trip you up or squeeze you into a neat little box.

  • Michael I,


    I think calling what is unChristian by name is one of the most Christian things we can do sometimes. What you said was that the Church is at war with Islam. That is what I take issue with.

    Then respond to it with reason and evidence.

  • And we can and do see Christians looking to various figures as prophets which might seem surprising, from the Sibyl and Vergil (his glorification of Caesar was read Christologically by many), to Zoroaster, etc. Things are not as neat as people might realize.

    Please don’t take this as merely cynical, because I am of course very sympathetic to the Medieval ideas about Virgil and other pagan figures having been in some sense prophetic. However I think there are two reasons why seeing those figures as occasionally prophetic from a Christian point of view sat better with people:

    1) The argument was made in the context of their religious traditions already having “lost” or during the course of an overwhelming push to convert the remaining pagans who recognized them as authorities. So one might either tell pagans, “Christ is the savior sent to all of us, look even the Sibyl prophesied his coming.” Or you might, in retrospect, look at Virgil’s 4th Eclogue and reflect that he had prophesied Christ’s coming, as a way of reflecting on how all of creation (even the non-Jews) had been in anticipation of Christ’s coming. What we do not see, however, is exchanges along the lines of:

    “Paganism is false, and pagans must convert and be baptised.”
    “Well, it’s not entirely false, and many consider the Sibyl to have been a real prophet. We should not be so harsh in our judgement.”

    I think it’s safe to say that pagan figures were only pointed to as prophets from within an understanding that paganism was a false and soon-to-be-vanished religion.

    2) Virtually all the examples I can think of were explicitly pre-incarnation. The only exceptions I can think of (and I can’t think of a specific example right now but I’m sure I’ve seen this) are when you have stories about the conversion of pagan peoples in which some sort of prophecy of a new god coming who will overthrow all the other gods is received by a priest or oracle shortly before Christian missionaries show up.

    Either way, Muhammad as prophet doesn’t really seem to fit the mold. I guess it’s possible, according to the description of what you mean by prophet, but I don’t find it a very compelling explanation.

  • I’m happy to see you distance yourself from the disgusting, unChristian views of Matt and Tito. If only more of the American Catholic bloggers would do the same.

    After the Gerald Campbell incident, after any number of VN comments from folks like digby, etc., you’re not exactly in a position to demand that bloggers have an obligation to write up a disagreement with every inaccurate thing that appears on their blog.

  • Then respond to it with reason and evidence.

    No one here is defending your statement that Christians are “at war with Islam,” so it must be self-evident.

Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

Thursday, March 12, AD 2009

cardinal-egan

Outgoing Archbishop of New York Cardinal Egan demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.  In comments made to a radio program in Albany two days ago Cardinal Egan [may have] insinuated that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.  Cardinal Egan openly admitted it was his “greatest” failure in bringing in more seminarians.

[I am using the Cardinal’s own words in describing the issue of raising the number of vocations]

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23 Responses to Cardinal Egan's Inability To Raise Vocations

  • Pingback: Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-12-2009 « The American Catholic
  • As a NY Catholic I have my own opinions on Cardinal Egan, but in all fairness if you actually listen to the interview, he DID NOT “that because priests aren’t allowed to marry was the cause of his inability to raise the number of vocations.”

    First, he was asked about diminishing vocations across the nation (concurrent with the general decline of religion) and he noted that, while the visit of Benedict XVI did indeed provoke a rise within the diocese, overall the number is down.

    Secondly, he was asked about the matter of priestly celibacy and he stated that it was a perfectly legitimate discussion (it is) — since there are other rites which permit married priests he did not think an ‘across the board’ determination in one direction or the other was desirable. This is a perfectly legitimate point.

    He did NOT, however, tie his second opinion with the first, and I think you go too far in accusing him of such.

    (However, I’m more sympathetic to your basic point about catechesis and doctrinal orthodoxy).

  • Christopher,

    That is why I used the word ‘insinuated’ in reference to connecting the lack of vocations to the discipline of celibacy in the priesthood.

    I sensed an escape valve that Cardinal Egan was trying to paint as a possible cause to his lack of success in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

  • “Insinuated” implies intent. My point is that I don’t think intent can be substantiated by listening to the interview.

    One question followed the other from the interviewer and Egan responded to both in succession. But in addressing the second question, he did not refer back to the first.

  • The definition of “insinuated” is to suggest indirectly by allusion, hints, or innuendo.

    Why would Cardinal Egan bring up his inability to raise the number of vocations after the question of celibacy came up. So clearly the lack of vocations was on his mind when answering the celibacy question.

    Hence why I used the word “insinuated”.

  • Probably it would have been better to use “may have intended” or “may have insinuated” instead of just “insinuated”.

    You have a point.

  • Tito,

    If I were you (and I am not), I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. I see your concerns, but think you may have made a mistake here and read into his words.

    As Pope Benedict said yesterday, the Church is in too much danger of devouring itself within, in its hypercritical mode.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for the advice.

    It stands because he represents what many bishops around the country do and that is nothing when it comes to enforcing Catholic teaching.

  • Egan? Please consider if you are being a tad bit harsh here. Again, I understand your alarm over the “vocations-crisis” and your desire for good shepherds to tend to the flock. But matters may be a bit more complex than you are leading on here.

    Remember, this is a brother in Christ who sacrificed his life in service to the Church, and is generally seen as pretty solid.

  • Mark,

    I understand where you are coming from.

    I was careful to criticize is lack of success in raising the number of vocations, not the man himself. He does a very difficult and time consuming job that most men would fold deep into this process.

    He is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

  • Tito,

    OK.

    We’ll just agee to disagree about the post.

  • The best we heard about him was- he balanced the books. And brought New York’s Hispanic community into full prominence within the diocese. Nice. My own problem with His Nibs was in the weeks following 9/11. When he spent quality time at the Vatican, no doubt enjoyin those lovely trattorias with his old buddies. While Rudy Giuliani- who His Nibs accurately called out for the multiple matrimonies- was hustling to two to three Funeral Masses daily for police officers and firefighters killed at WTC. In all fairness, most of the old skool sees have trouble bringing in young men to the seminaries. I quote the most faithful Father Shane Tharp in Oklahoma, schooled at our own St. Charles Seminary. That the local lads turned up noses as in ew you hayseed hick residing in our mansion. Sharp from Father Tharp- yeah and without guys like me your little mansion would be bulldozed and the property sold to build a shopping complex. Or something like that. In any event we pray new Archbishop Dolan makes the molding of Melchizideks a higher priority than outgoing His Nibs.

    (Oh, the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM- largely sponsored by NY Diocese- is pretty spiffy.)

  • I like many of the successes of Cardinal Egan, the Catholic Channel being one of my favorites!

  • I agree with Mark. It is certain that many of the Bishops may not enforce Catholic teaching as well as they could; we certainly don’t know the extent in which they try — all we see is end results and we look back in retrospect with criticism.

    I’m not sure of the criticism offered here is constructive.

    Why does Bishop Bruskewitz have an (over) abundance of priests in his little diocese? Probably because he actively leads by example and enforces Catholic teaching. I know many good bishops who are as orthodox as they come, where they fail is in their utter disregard to bring in line dissident priests, parishes, and laymen. Bishop Bruskewitz is the only bishop in the United States that still doesn’t allow female altar servers, has most of the tabernacles behind the altar (where they belong), keeps his priests in line in following the correct rubrics of the liturgy, crushes dissident when they rear their ugly head, and has strict guidelines for teaching catechesis. Are there armies of mini-skirted extraordinary ministers giving Communion during Mass anywhere in his diocese? I doubt it, rare if any.

    St. Paul himself wrote to several churches admonishing theological and ecclesial error. But the existence of errors doesn’t necessarily insinuate that Paul was not demanding orthodoxy to the Tradition or that there were no people of good faith in the communities trying to maintain that Tradition. I think it’s too simple to criticize someone and to the level of comparison to another Bishop as if the only factor influencing the difference in the two dioceses are the Bishops. I’m sure there’s a myriad of other factors and perhaps a lot of bad in the diocese that seemingly has less problems because we’re so far removed from the problems, cannot possibly know the ins and outs of every aspect of each parish in a diocese.

    This seems like a gloss over the principle of subsidiarity. It’s like saying the whole of economic prosperity during the Clinton years was solely the result of good leadership on behalf of President Clinton. Perhaps, God has graced the diocese with well-catechized, faithful priests who promote orthodoxy not just in their preaching, but by living good lives and many of the problems don’t reach the Bishop as one would think. I’d suppose from your reasoning that the Bishop is almost Superman, going everywhere in the diocese quelling the slightest problems. I know that’s hyperbolic, but that’s how, from my view, your wording presents itself.

    If Cardinal Egan would have even bothered to visit many of his parishes would he have put his foot down on these many abuses? Would he have disciplined priests who wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday and allow women to lead the homilies? Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.

    This comes across almost as an ad hominem attack. It is not so much the point that the Bishop should exert more effort in living out his vocation — and we all can heed that message — but it is the wording and the tone of it that seems very judgmental and presumptuous, as if this little bit would yield the almost perfect diocese described previously.

    In good charity, I’ve found lately that rather than expounding blatant criticism of someone else’s failures and shortcoming, not that they should never be expressed in good and charitable ways, but I took the opportunity to render some of my judgment on myself and observe my shortcomings and how they influence the Church and those outside of it and whether or not they are shown the light of the Gospel as preached by the Church through me. Now there is a clear role of a Shepherd, but I think in emotional frustration — especially given the widespread theological dissent in the Church right now — can easily lead us to blame much of the Church’s problems on a particular person, especially a Bishop. Not that I’m saying he does not have a pivotal role and a responsibility to promote and teach the faith; but I think your case here does not present itself well.

  • ‘Would he have cleaned up his seminaries of limp-handed, left-wing professors who dissent from Catholic teaching? No, no, and hell no.’

    Why the gratuitous homosexual slur?

  • “I would out of charity to Archbishop Egan simply erase this post. ”

    I absolutely agree. And the above comments are pertinent. Personally speaking, if this is the tone that American Catholic is going to take w/ regard to bishops, I will reconsider following this blog.

  • Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

  • demonstrates why he is a complete failure in raising the number of vocations in his archdiocese.

    I think this is unfair to Cardinal Egan, as are the comparisons with other bishops. New York is a uniquely challenging diocese, and the population of Catholics in the Northeast as a whole has been shrinking. While there may be valid criticisms of the Cardinal, I think they should be offered in a gentler tone, and without the assumption that everything is his fault. Cardinal Egan comes in for a lot of criticism; but he was in a difficult diocese, and we should applaud him for being willing to serve as the bishop of New York even if we disagree with some of his decisions. There are Cardinals who are far more deserving of criticism than Cardinal Egan who, from all appearances, is a faithful bishop who was doing his best.

  • “Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.”

    I found this post to be more of a spewing rant than an honest and thorough critique. But you are a blogger here, so it’s your prerogative what you choose to post. Peace be with you!

  • Eric,

    Very eloquently put.

    Part of my post, or rant as Alan put it, was to explain the difference between an orthodox bishop who leads by example and an orthodox bishop who leads as well as takes action.

    Yes, I am personally frustrated by the rampant disregard to liturgy and catechesis. That is why I saw in Cardinal Egan’s comments an excellent example of someone choosing a straw man, priestly celibacy, as part of the problem to a lack of vocations, rather than the obvious solution so well exhibited by Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska.

    All,

    Again, where are the St. Ambrose’s of this country?

    I admit that I was a bit over the top on my criticism and I’ll rectify the situation on this particular column because hey, I don’t want Alan to be bored during his lunch break while boycotting AC ;~) .

    Thank you all for the constructive criticism.

  • It is Lent, after all – but my contribution to all of this will be to buy you a beer.

  • [Egan] is solid, but I wanted to make the point that there are many orthodox bishops that practice their faith very well, but don’t take the necessary steps to enforce Catholic teaching.

    [and]

    Again, I am criticizing his poor record on raising vocations, not the man himself.

    Seeing as you have sought to amend the content of the post, I would amend the title as well, which repeats the charge. IMHO.

  • For this New Yorker who was originally happy to see Cardinal Egan come to here:

    Come on tax day!

Prince of Foxes

Thursday, March 12, AD 2009

It is rare that a swashbuckling movie can also be a suitable Lenten meditation, but Prince of Foxes (1949) accomplishes this difficult feat.  A magnificent portrayal of Renaissance Italy at the time of Cesare Borgia, the film is also a compelling indictment of treachery, deceit and the lust for power.  The realpolitik of Machiavelli is matched against the True Faith of Christ, and found wanting.

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Gun Control and School Shootings

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

Politicians are already considering how to tighten gun control laws as people respond with shock and horror to a school shooting spree which took the lives of 15 victims and the 18-year-old shooter in a small town today in Germany. The problem is, Germany already has some of the tightest gun laws in Europe, a continent of tight gun laws.

In 2002, in the wake of a school shooting which killed 17 plus the shooter, Germany went so far as to require a permit for airsoft guns and starter pistols. Under current German laws, someone must have a gun license for each gun he purchases, and licenses expire and must be renewed at least every three years. To get a license, you must a 18 for an airgun or .22, and 21 for larger calibers. Applicants are subjected to a criminal and psychological background check and must demonstrate ability and safety knowledge.

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3 Responses to Gun Control and School Shootings

  • The one thing I’m willing to concede to the anti-gun crowd is that a gun allows a person to do a whole lot more damage in a shorter period of time than a lot of other weapons. Even the pro-gun crowd is willing to admit this implicitly, since they claim that a gun is a much more effective weapon of defense than a can of mace, a knife, or other such things.

    The problem as I see it is this. Even if we wanted to ban guns, we can’t really do that. We’re in an arms race against criminals, essentially. If we disarm, the criminals will be able to walk all over us with their illegal weapons.

    But how, then, do we deal with incidents such as these? I know most people I’m friends with would simply arm other students and let them drop the perpetrator, but I’m not so certain that’s the best idea. Simply shrugging and saying “well, it’s inevitable terrible things like this would happen” is not the greatest of ideas, either, though I tend to believe that statement.

    I think once again the problem is that the government is trying to micromanage the situation in a poor way. The responsibility for handling these things needs to be at a more local level. Neighborhoods and families. With incentive (somehow, not that I have any great ideas on that) to watch out for neighbors. Not spy, but know the neighbors, know if a kid is troubled enough to commit a crime like this, and try to lend an ear, a shoulder, or a swift kick in the butt, whatever is needed.

  • I wouldn’t remotely consider letting high school students have concealed carry to be a solution to this kind of thing — but it does strike me as underlining that national regulation is simply not a very good tool for assuring that massive tragedies will never happen. If one could wish all guns in the world out of existence, that would prevent such things, but gun control laws do not wish all guns in the world out of existence — which is a fact I think sometimes escapes advocates. A law may have the intent of keeping irresponsible people from getting guns, but that doesn’t mean that the specific measures take will be successful in that.

  • Where I work, we have registered first responders. These are folks trained in the use of first aid, including the defibrillator.

    Why not have adult concealed carry “first responders” designated by the school in case something like this happens. These people are volunteers, trained and permitted by the state who must take additional tactical training courses for the permission to carry concealed in the school.

Congress Kills DC School Choice Program

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

Obama’s pledges to reform schools and stand up to teacher’s unions are sounding pretty hollow. Via MOJ:

In the spending bill that President Obama will sign today, the D.C. voucher program will be effectively killed, as Democratic leaders in the House had desired.  A proposed amendment in the Senate to strip this measure from the bill was defeated on a vote of 39-58 (you can check here to see how your Senators voted on school choice for the disadvantaged in Washington, D.C.).  This is not an auspicious beginning for educational reform and opportunity in the new administration.

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3 Responses to Congress Kills DC School Choice Program

  • Educational reform- ha ha and ha. Simply bowing to the authority of the public school teachers’ unions. And many of our powerbrokers who send their own youngsters to private schools. While those unfortunate children in DC schools are forced to endure horrific conditions. Hope and Change, y’all. (Iafrate and company strangely quiet on this one. Interesting.)

  • The vindictiveness of this administration is appalling towards the less fortunate and poor. What President Obama is doing is cold calculated politics. He’s caving in to his special interests, power brokers, the elites, and the rich who infest his advisory corps.

  • Choice only applies to killing the unborn.

Religion in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

According to a recent study, the percentage of Americans who profess no religion has been increasing over the last 20 years:

The Catholic population of the United States has shifted away from the Northeast and towards the Southwest, while secularity continues to grow in strength in all regions of the country, according to a new study by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College. “The decline of Catholicism in the Northeast is nothing short of stunning,” said Barry Kosmin, a principal investigator for the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). “Thanks to immigration and natural increase among Latinos, California now has a higher proportion of Catholics than New England.”

In broad terms, ARIS 2008 found a consolidation and strengthening of shifts signaled in the 2001 survey. The percentage of Americans claiming no religion, which jumped from 8.2 in 1990 to 14.2 in 2001, has now increased to 15 percent. Given the estimated growth of the American adult population since the last census from 207 million to 228 million, that reflects an additional 4.7 million “Nones.” Northern New England has now taken over from the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34 percent “Nones,” leading all other states by a full 9 points.

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5 Responses to Religion in the U.S.

  • In regards to question 2), I think the immigration does in indeed mask a similar hemorrhaging of members from the Catholic Church. While I think there’s a solid core of faithful Catholics, I think it is much smaller than the numbers suggest. I think in the near future, we’ll see an even greater loss of membership as the realities of the Church teaching and governmental policy butt heads.

  • Ryan, I agree with you that we are very likely to see the Catholic faith tested in America by the exact mechanism you suggest. I pray that God will change people’s hearts and that all Catholics will open themselves to the truth. I fear that large percentages of Catholics will formally depart the Church in the next 20 years. It is hard to say how big the faithful core is or will be in the end. I think the core is stronger in Faith than given credit for, but in numbers? I find reasons for hope, but certainly seems likely that we could lose up to 90% of the self- identified Catholics.

  • Point #4 deserves further scrutiny. In period when political/economic elites avoids all things religious, will be not only greater estrangement from the faithful but legislation like that swatted down in Connecticut. Could extend to our nation’s largest fudge factory. Note all the DC insiders who frequent Sunday morning chat shows. Not likely they will slip away to their house of worship. Thus the estrangement showing up in broad scale following the Porkapalooza Bill. Might be presenting the ultimate dilemma- God or Gummint as Ultimate Source of All That Is True And Good.

  • That unbelief is plateauing while membership in most churches is fallen suggests to me that part of what we’re seeing is a failure of established churches to reach people with anything compelling. There can be a laziness and self absorbtion to people who are “religious but don’t belong to a church right now” but I think a fair amount of it is also that far too often one can go to a church for years (sadly this would seem to be as true of many Catholic parishes as of protestant churches) without getting much to hold you in the way of real teaching, and explanation of what life means other than “community” or compelling liturgy. And so people often drift away into their own home-grown, wishy washy religious belief combined with non-practice.

    I suspect it would take a significant cultural shift to break this paradigm, because while at the same time people drift away from churches because they’re not compelling, there’s also a strong cultural prejudice against evangelizing and judging — which precludes most of the compelling things that could be said.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-11-2009

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1.  There are massive leaks all over the Catholic blogosphere concerning a Papal Letter in regards to the SSPX.  Pope Benedict XVI will release a statement expressing his disenchantment of the reaction among Catholics over the lifting of the excommunications of SSPX.  His Holiness also explains that he will connect the Ecclesia Dei commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  He also states clearly that the Church is not frozen in 1962, so the SSPX will need to embrace Vatican II.  In addition Vatican II also “brings with it the the whole doctrinal history of the Church”, ie, the Church didn’t end at Vatican II either.

For the story click here.

2.  The Pope’s trip to Israel will entail a visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque otherwise known as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.  That’ll be interesting.

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Sunday in Paradise

Wednesday, March 11, AD 2009

aloysius-h-schmitt

Lieutenant j.g. Aloysius Schmitt had just finished morning mass aboard the USS Oklahoma.  Acting chaplain of the Okie, a Sunday meant a busy day for him, a relaxed day for almost everyone else on board the ship.  Since they were in port and the country was at peace a Sunday was a day of rest.  Besides,  the port was a tropical paradise.  Life was good for the crew of the Okie.

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Serious Musicians

Tuesday, March 10, AD 2009

Since the blog has, of late, become the site of intense discussions on the quality of rock versus classical music, I think it’s important that I as a classical music partisan take a music appreciation moment and recognize that while rock may in some ways be a limited genre compared to classical music, it is none the less capable of evoking deep and powerful human emotions, and many rock musicians are in fact very talented and deeply influenced by the classical masters:

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9 Responses to Serious Musicians

  • I have been disappointed by Spinal Tap’s infrequent use of the cowbell. That said, if you want to crank the music up to 11, these guys are the best.

  • Cowbell lovers rejoice!

    Mahler knows its virtues and expressive potential (Symphony 4, 1st movement):

  • It’s good to see Spinal Tap get the recognition they deserve. They should also be taken seriously as philosophers:

    “Well, I don’t really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It’s like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how – what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what’s stopping it, and what’s behind what’s stopping it? So, what’s the end, you know, is my question to you.”

    If you didn’t know any better you would think you were reading Saint Thomas Aquinas. Well, at least if the Angelic Doctor had been drunk and a member of a rock band.

  • And of course, they deserve credit for recognizing that, “There’s a very fine line between clever and… and stupid. A very fine line.”

  • Not to mention the awareness that Boston really isn’t a college town.

    While all of those songs are important, I really think you are missing the significance of the agrarian themes in “Sex Farm Woman.” It adds a dimension to their work that is often overlooked.

  • Any discussion of Spinal Tap must include the political commentary of their “Smell the Glove” album. Clearly it was meant to be an indictment of the rampant misogyny within the musical industry. Their original album cover design was meant to be a critique – not a celebration – of the objectification of women.

    While it is unfortunate that their record label did not appreciate Spinal Tap’s progressive ideals, at the very least they did inspire Metallica’s Black Album cover, and helped launch the latter into the mainstream.

The Last Photograph Of Abraham Lincoln?

Tuesday, March 10, AD 2009

Ulysses S. Grant VI, the great-great-grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, stumbled across these pics in the family photo album.

Lincoln Photograph Uncovered

 

Lincoln Photograph Uncovered

The 6’4″ figure is alleged to be Abraham Lincoln himself.

Ulysses S. Grant VI, had seen the picture before, but didn’t examine it closely until late January. A tall figure in the distance caught his eye, although the man’s facial features are obscured….

Grant carefully removed it and was shocked to see the handwritten inscription on the back: “Lincoln in front of the White House.” Grant believes his great-grandfather, Jesse Grant, the general’s youngest son, wrote the inscription.

[Photography expert Keya] Morgan recalled the well-documented story of Warren’s trip to Washington to photograph Lincoln after his second inauguration in March 1865. Lincoln was killed in April, so the photo could be the last one taken of him.

Good stuff.

(Biretta Tip: Brian Saint-Paul of The Inside Blog)

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5 Responses to The Last Photograph Of Abraham Lincoln?