Monthly Archives: March 2009

Religion in the U.S.

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

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

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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

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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The Last Photograph Of Abraham Lincoln?

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)

Victory in Connecticut

christ-victor

Lawlor and McDonald, the two anti-Catholic bigots behind a bill to tell the Catholic Church how to operate in Connecticut, have tucked their tails between their legs, cancelled the hearing on their bill, and their hate note to the Catholic Church, disguised as a bill, is dead for this legislative session.  Massive publicitity worked the trick, and endless outraged calls, e-mails and faxes to the legislators.  Kudos to State Senator John McKinney (Republican, Fairfield) who called 24 hours ago for the hearing on this bill to be cancelled and announced that every Republican in the state senate was against this bill, and that the bill was blatantly unconstitutional.  I am sure the bigots will be back, but so will those of us who oppose them.  A good day in Connecticut.

Update: Hmmm.  The bigots were apparently in alliance with members of Voice of the Faithless.  Surprise!

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-10-2009

Salvete AC readers!

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

1. There seems to be a growing counter-movement in U.S. politics aligning itself against the Catholic Church.  We see it happening in Connecticut where state legislatures want to control Church property.  We also see it in the higher echelons of government where President Obama are using Catholic pawns such as Douglas Kmiec and Kathleen Sebelius.  It isn’t being orchestrated by anyone, but the common theme seems to be to neutralize the effectiveness of the Church.  Dave Hartline of the Catholic Report wrote an excellent column tieing all these loose ends together and explaining the consequences of this growing counter-movement.

For Dave Hartline’s columnn click on counter-movement above or here.

2. Speaking of Connecticut, Archbishop Charles Chaput has this to say concerning SB 1098 that would remove the bishops authority over each parish:

“legislative coercion directed against the Catholic community in one state has implications for Catholics in every other state. If bigots in one state succeed in coercive laws like SB 1098, bigots in other states will try the same.”

The bigots Archbishop Chaput is referring to are Senator Andrew McDonald and Representative Mike Lawlor, who are both homosexual activists that opposed the local Church’s efforts to defend marriage between a man and a woman.

For the article click on SB 1098 above or here.

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Raise Your Hands

In a future time, free of the moral chaos in which we are currently engulfed, people will look back in horror at our age of abortion and wonder why so many people supported it or did nothing to stop it.  In that age groups like Priests for Life will be hailed as the champions of innocent life in a time period when the destruction of innocent children in the womb was celebrated as a “right”.  Here is a video on Priests for Life.  God grant them success.

Anne Rice's "Memnoch The Devil"

annerice

Anne Rice, author of 28 books, which have sold nearly 100 million worldwide is one of the most widely read novelists in modern history. I have read nearly every book she has published. My first inclination was to discuss the themes predominant throughout all of her writing; however, a second thought, has prompted me to focus instead rather on the book that influenced me the most – leading me to the Catholic Church for the first time as Rice herself journeyed home.

Memnoch the Devil describes the vampire Lestat’s encounter with the Devil, who calls himself “Memnoch.” He is taken on a journey through the ‘whirlwind’ into Heaven, Helll, and the main epochs in the evolution of the universe. It is a radical retelling of the entirety of biblical history from the devil’s perspective. The devil’s charge is that he is not evil; in fact, he despises it. Rather, what he opposes is God’s tolerance of the existence of evil and suffering that plagues mankind and that in the beginning God, allegedly, had no interest in inviting man into His company in heaven. Memnoch – in a long story short – becomes the servant of humanity (and God) working to usher lost souls into Heaven. He invites Lestat to join him in the fight against evil and to bring all human souls from the gloom of Sheol to the paradise of Heaven.

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To Further Divide Us

President Obama has signed an executive order lifting restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, as he promised in his campaign speeches.  For anyone who doesn’t see this as yet one more blow in a long string of anti-life policies, consider the chilling words at the end of the article that people are using to justify the research:

“This was already life that was going to be destroyed… The choice is throw them away or use them for research.”

I wonder how long it would take before we use such arguments on, say, criminals sentenced to life in prison (or who are on death row, even). Or the elderly. Or the sick. Or the mentally deficient. Or…

They Came For The Catholics

thomas-nast-anti-catholic-bigot

Anti-Catholic bigots are busily at work in the Connecticut state legislature.   Raised Bill 1098 would effectively place any corporation connected with the Roman Catholic Church in Connecticut under lay control.  The sponsors of the bill, Representative Mike Lawlor, ironically a law professor, and State Senator Andrew J. McDonald, a lawyer, generously allow the local bishop or archbishop to serve on such a board of directors but without a vote.

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Childish Mentalities

Here’s a question.  If, when you were a teenager, your parents had taken you aside and explained that sex before marriage is wrong, sinful, against the Catholic faith, carries the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and might end in a pregnancy, but if you intend to do so, please protect yourself, what would your interpretation of that lecture be?  Let’s keep in mind that the intent behind this discussion is not to focus on the contraceptive aspect, but the (limited) protection that some contraceptives (namely condoms) afford against sexually transmitted diseases.

My wife had the fortune of having this lecture and, being the obedient child she was, she understood that to mean, “Okay, no sex before marriage.  No problem.”  Listening to her explain this, though, I realized that as a teenager, I would have interpreted the lecture much differently.  Maybe because I’m male, or because I was already fascinated by sex, I would have translated the lecture into saying, “We disapprove, but it’s okay to have sex as long as you use a condom.”

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The First

BE031319

James K. Polk, President of the United States, had a problem.  The year was 1846 and the US was at war with Mexico, a Catholic nation.  A large fraction of the American army was Catholic, usually fairly recent Irish immigrants.  Mexican propaganda portrayed the war as a wicked onlslaught by Protestants against a Catholic people and appealed to Catholics in the US army to desert to them, promising them land and a position in the Mexican army.  Some troops took them up on their offer, with deserters eventually forming the San Patricios Battalion and fighting for Mexico during the war.  To stem such desertions, Polk wanted to appoint Catholic chaplains to the US Army.  Although Catholic chaplains had served informally in prior American wars, none had served officially in that capacity.  To remedy that, Polk had a quiet private meeting with Archbishop John Hughes of New York.  While Dagger John suspected Polk’s political motivations, he agreed to recommend two priests to serve as chaplains:  Father Anthony Rey, vice-president of Georgetown and a Jesuit, and Father John McElroy, also a Jesuit, who went on to found Boston College and who will be the subject of a future post.

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Twas a Dark and Stormy Cthulhu

Hattip to Smitty at The Other McCain.  A minor vice of mine is a love for old pulp science fiction and fantasy.  One of the authors I treasure is H.P. Lovecraft, best known for his cycle of horror science fiction\fantasy stories centering around the Old Ones, evil supernatural entities that lurk in dark dimensions, waiting to unleash unspeakable horror on unsuspecting humanity.  The best known of these demonic creatures is Cthulhu.  I have always found these stories gut-bustingly funny due to the fact that Lovecraft, in these stories, has to be the worst writer of fiction, at least fiction that does not contain phrases like “Love’s Savage Unending Fury”, “The Davinci Code”, “Based On A True Story”, and “Stephen King”, since Bulwer-Lytton shuffled off to the world beyond.  Some things are so spectactularly bad that I find myself liking them due to how hair-raisingly inept they are.

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Mad Men

Mad Men is an American Movie Classics (AMC) television drama series is set in the early 1960s at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on New York City’s Madison Avenue.  The show centers on Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm), a high-level advertising executive, and the people in his life in and out of the office. It also depicts the changing social mores of 1960s America.  Mad Men has received wide critical acclaim, particularly for its historical authenticity and visual style.  Mad Men is the advertising term for people in the industry that work on Madison Avenue, ie, Madison Avenue Men shortened to Mad Men.

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