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"I can assure you of my prayers for your conversion, and for the conversion of your formerly Catholic University."

bishop-fabian-bruskewitz

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, a personal hero of mine, sends a letter to Jenkins that is blunt and to the point regarding Obama Day at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009:

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Where's Jesus?

ihs

When Obama gave an economics speech at Georgetown, the monogram IHS in the background was covered over at the request of the White House.  I approve!  Whenever this President speaks at a Catholic college, anything related to Christ should be covered over!  I will leave to others to debate whether Georgetown is a Catholic college!

Update I: Father Z unleashes one of his unforgettable fiskings on this story here.

Udate II: Excellent commentary here.

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Tea Parties, Principles and their Application

I’m a big fan of the personal finance speaker & author Dave Ramsey… when our oldest was born nearly five years ago and my wife prepared to stay home to take care of her and her siblings-to-come, I didn’t know how we were going to manage on my income alone; Ramsey’s book and radio show provided us with a straightforward, systematic approach to managing our finances, and for that, I am grateful… his is the talk radio show that I still listen to most.

But when it comes to politics, Dave is far too typical of many mainstream conservatives: he confuses principles for their application, just like Limbaugh, Hannity, et al.

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12

Bush, Orthodoxy, & Damon Linker

From the always insightful and provocative Daniel Larison:

As I noted long ago, and as Ross has suggested again this week, it makes no sense to blame Christian orthodoxy or traditional Christianity for the religiously-tinged ideology of the Bush administration and the resulting failures of this ideology’s optimistic and hubristic approach to the world. It is no accident that the most strident and early critics of the Bush administration hailed from traditionalist Catholic and Orthodox circles that make Linker’s bete noire of First Things look like the relatively liberal, ecumenist forum that it is. Mr. Bush espoused a horrifyingly heterodox religious vision, one far more akin to the messianic Americanism that forms part of what Bacevich has called national security ideology than it is to anything that could fairly be called orthodoxy.

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4

Jenkins to Pro-Life Students: No dialogue for you!

obama-and-valentine3

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One of the main defenses of Jenkins in regard to Obama Day on May 17, 2009 at Notre Dame is as follows:  “However misguided some might consider our actions, it is in the spirit of providing a basis for dialogue that we invited President Obama.”

It is therefore richly ironic that Jenkins refuses to meet with pro-life Notre Dame students opposed to the Obama homage:

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8

Spirit of '09

tea-party-map

Yesterday Americans rallied in hundreds of tea party protests against high government spending and taxation.  In my state 3000 people turned out in Peoria alone.  Good coverage of the tea parties is at Instapundit.  Much more at Tea Party online HQ

Elements of the mainstream media were openly contemptuous of the tea parties, perhaps one of the more obvious examples being here at Hot Air.

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Freedom vs. Choice

It’s fashionable at the moment to write conservatism’s epitaph. Such epitaph writing is not my project here, but there is a sort of inherent tension in the recent history of conservatism which I would like to examine briefly.

For the last hundred years and more, conservatives have often found themselves arguing against those in the political and economic spheres who believe that we can achieve a great improvement in society by instituting some sort of centrally controlled state economy. Socialism, communism and fascism all attempted, in different ways, to create new and better societies through assigning people roles and resources rather than allowing their allocation to occur through a decentralized system of millions of individual decisions taking place independently every day.

Perhaps this is the great modern temptation. People looked at the incredibly intricate (sometimes seemingly orderless) organization of society resulting from custom and the summed decisions of millions of individuals and thought, “Now we have the ability to plan all this instead and do it better!” Various sorts of ideologues tried to impose various sorts of new order on society, and conservatives dragged their feet and tried to keep things as they were, allowing people to make their own decision as they saw best whenever possible.

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7

Heee's Back!

kmiec-obama

Our old friend and Obama-phile Doug Kmiec, a subject of a few posts on this blog:  here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here, has come out with a column in defense of the Notre Dame decision to honor Obama on May 17, filled with Obama fawning that would disgrace any self-respecting canine.  Father Z here does the task of fisking the rubbish so I don’t have to.

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Atheism As Fashion Statement

an-wilson1

Mr. Wilson first came on my radarscope when he wrote in 1990 what I perceived to be a fairly nasty biography of C. S. Lewis which I thought was actually much more about Wilson’s dislike of Christianity.  At the time of writing the book on Lewis, Wilson was an angry atheist.  He had been an Anglican, a Catholic, an Anglican, and then an atheist.  In 1991 he wrote a short volume, 53 pages, entitled Against Religion in which he declared that the love of God was the root of all evil.  An interview from his atheist days is here.

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Fantasy Fundamentalism

Over Holy Week some strange force caused the Harry Potter controversy to suddenly break out (like the story of the villagers of Eyam, subjected to a delayed-action outbreak of the Plague when a bolt of cloth carrying the fleas was brought out of storage) on our local Catholic homeschooler email list.

These discussions always seem to have two parts, first an explanation of how reading stories in which characters perform magic tempts children to occult practices, than an apologia for Tolkien and Lewis in which it is explained how these authors were Good Christians and their books are deeply Christian because: Aslan is God, good characters never do magic (unless they’re not human characters, at which point it doesn’t count), Galadrial is really Mary, the elves’ lembas is the Eucharist, etc.

Two things annoy me about this whole set of arguments.

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3

Abortion Pride Movement

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I am not easily shocked after participating in the struggle against abortion since 1973, but this article did shock me.  Taking pride in the deaths of millions of innocents each year?    Jesus wept.  The fight against abortion is the preeminent moral struggle of our time, first to save the lives of the most innocent among us, but second because of the damage that legal abortion does to our moral sense.  If we take pride in abortion, is there any crime that we cannot, and will not, take pride in?

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Middle-Aged and Lovin' It!

This is something I wrote up to put out on facebook to get some attention from former students- to give them a head’s up, and to give them hope for the future- if they give their lives completely over to our Lord. Here goes:

Middle-Age Surprises

I recently turned 46, and I’m surprised by how good it feels. I spent a lot of time in my youth worried over getting old, picturing middle-age domestication as a kind of spiritual death of hope. Man, did I have that backwards.

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Happy Tax Freedom Day Illinois!

taxes

I wish a Happy Tax Freedom Day to my fellow residents of the Land of Lincoln.   Here is a list of Tax Freedom Days by state. I enjoyed working for Uncle Sam and the State of Illinois up to this date, didn’t you?  It isn’t as if a lot of our tax money is being wasted as a result of blatant mismanagement and corruption.  Considering the new taxes on the horizon, certainly on  the state  level in Illinois, and  almost certainly on the Federal level, I suspect may of us will soon look back at our current tax feedom day with fond nostalgia.  Now back to work for me to earn something for my family during the remaining year.

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Should Pope Benedict visit Gaza? – A response to Deal Hudson

In February, a group of Palestinian Christians asked Pope Benedict XVI to call off his planned visit to Israel and the West Bank, concerned that his visit would “help boost Israel’s image and inadvertently minimize Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation.” (Haaretz).

Adopting a different approach, Ma’an News Agency reports that a petition raised by the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, the University of San Francisco, and several other U.S. peace organizations asking Pope Benedict XVI to make a stop in the Gaza Strip has received over 2000 signatures.

In a recent post to InsideCatholic.com, Deal Hudson raises the question: Should Benedict XVI Include Gaza in his Holy Land Visit? — answering in the affirmative:

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7

The Giggle Test

obama-and-valentine2jenkins

In my “real life”, for my sins no doubt, I am an attorney.  Before I raise an argument in court before a judge or a jury, I always make sure it can pass the giggle test.  It has two components:  1.  Can I make the argument with a straight face;  and 2.  do I think a judge or a jury can hear the argument without giggling.  The giggle test has saved me a lot of embarrassment over the years in court.

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"diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is."

bishop-samuel-j-aquila

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota,  takes Jenkins to task for the homage to Obama to Obama scheduled at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009 and also addresses the sophistical defense mounted by Jenkins of his decision:

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An Easter Rescue for Captain Richard Phillips

On this Easter, I would like to join in a commendation of Captain Richard Phillips — profiled here in the New York Times.

According to Reuters, when the U.S. Cargo ship Maersk Alabama was attacked by Somalian pirates on Wednesday, Captain Phillips told his crew to lock themselves in the cabin and offered his own life in exchange for their safety.

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2

Christ Jesus Victor

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Something for the weekend.  To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King.  The hymn was written by a German-American priest, Father Martin Hellriegel, in 1941, specifically to rebut the claims of the Third Reich with the eternal message of Christ.  Here is a great essay with the story behind the hymn.  I find this comforting.  Evil often has its hour in the sun, to strut and parade, but, inevitably, Christ is always the final victor.

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Who Killed Christ

When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.”

And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.
Matthew 27:24-27

These short lines have, through the fallen nature of humanity, caused their fair share of trouble over the centuries. The gospel message, through primarily one of hope and redemption, contains one dark undertone: Christ died for our sins. The one truly perfect being suffered horrifically because of our too clear imperfection.

It is in our nature to shy away from that which is unpleasant, and so it is perhaps no surprise that throughout history some Christians have attempted to assuage their own consciences by pointing the finger of blame at an obvious target: the Jews.

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Passion Narrative

Paraclete Press has done us all the service of making available for free listening on Good Friday a recording of the passion narrative from the Gospel of St. John in beautiful chant tones.

Paraclete invites you to take part in a Good Friday tradition that dates back to the eighth century, with the chanting of the Passion Narrative according to Saint John. Take half an hour apart from the events of the day, and listen to these sacred words, chanted by monastic members of the Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola, in Latin, in Gregorian chant.

[Click the small “Play Passion Narrative” or “download music” links in the top header of the page — they can be a little hard to find.]

fra_angelico_crucifixion

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An Easter Peace

One of our reasons for being here on The American Catholic is to provide a forum for spirited yet respectful discourse on the often controversial intersection of Catholicism and civic life. I know I very much enjoy the controversies here, and I’ve learned a lot from the other writers and commenters here over the last seven months.

However, there is a time and place for everything, and as we enter the most sacred period of the year, there’s been discussion among our contributors about instituting an Easter Peace of sorts. We will not be closing comments, however we would respectfully ask that readers consider adopting a more restrained tone between evening of Holy Thursday and the morning of Easter Monday. (If you find the time to read at all.)

All new posts during that time will be on Holy Week related themes.

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From the writing team: A blessed Triduum and Easter to all our readers.

Triduum

As we enter into the Holy Triduum, I’d like to invite a reading of Pope Benedict’s catechesis given during yesterday’s general audience, appropriately deemed by Sandro Magister “A Handbook for Holy Week”:

Dear brothers and sisters, Holy Week, which for us Christians is the most important week of the year, offers us the opportunity to be immersed in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great mystery of the faith. Beginning tomorrow afternoon, with the Mass “In Coena Domini,” the solemn liturgical rites will help us to meditate in a more lively manner on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord in the days of the Holy Paschal Triduum, fulcrum of the entire liturgical year. May divine grace open our hearts to comprehend the inestimable gift that salvation is, obtained for us by Christ’s sacrifice. [Read the rest]

(The homilies of Pope Benedict XVI for Holy Week 2009 will be made available here, on the Vatican website).

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Now He Tells Us

blood-n-guts-obama1

Hattip to Instapundit.  “Speaking to GIs in one of Saddam Hussein’s old palaces, Mr. Obama ticked off America’s accomplishments in Iraq: “From getting rid of Saddam, to reducing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections — you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement.””

I will leave for others to explain just how Obama’s Iraq policy differs from what McCain would have done, or from the policy of Bush if he were still in office.

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Obama to Push Immigration Reform

This is good news, and probably smart politics:

While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.

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A Catholic Narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A Catholic Narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Over a decade ago, I read the story of a Palestinian priest living in a small village in Galilee. His name was Father Elias Chacour, and the book’s name was – Blood Brothers-. I made pilgrimage to the Holy Land and volunteered at Fr. Chacour’s school for some months, and traveled into the West Bank as well. What I saw and heard during my experiences there changed my life forever. I realized then that the Palestinians truly are the “victim’s of the Victims”, as Edward Said so eloquently phrased it, referring to the fact that the Jews, who were the biggest victims of World War II, were now in the position of the oppressor with respect to the Palestinian people.

From a Catholic vantage point, the American policy of pretty much one-sided support for the Israeli State is both detrimental to the cause of Holy Land Christians, and is a primary root cause of Middle Eastern anger and terrorism directed at otherwise innocent Israelis and Americans.

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Obama Appoints Anti-Catholic Bigot to Advisory Council

harry-knox

Hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia.  With a sense of irony I would admire under other circumstances, President Obama has appointed anti-Catholic bigot Harry Knox to the Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  Mr. Knox is a gay-rights activist and detests the Catholic Church.  These stories here, here, here, and here have some interesting quotes from Mr.  Knox.

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The Real Sermon on the Waterfront

Hattip to the ever reticent lads and lasses at Lair of the Catholic Cavemen.    Probably the most powerful sermon ever placed on film, Father Barry speaks of Christ and his crucifixion on the docks.  The best performance Karl Malden ever gave.  Elia Kazan’s masterpiece, On the Waterfront  (1954) was also his response to the criticism he received for naming names before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952.

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Charity and Knowledge

Charity is one of those words which, in Christian discourse, is often in danger of meaning everything and nothing. We use it in certain very concrete senses (“giving to charity”) and also in very broad senses (Faith, Hope and Charity). At times it is taken to mean simply giving something to someone — and some even take it in a negative sense in that regard: the rich giving some few spare pennies to the poor. At other times, drawing on the Latin root of caritas, it is taken to be love as a whole in all its senses.

Because as Christians we identify God as being love, love is clearly meant to encompass a wide range of Christian action and experience, and comes in many forms. Right now, I’d like to talk about love of neighbor, and specifically, that love of neighbor which involves providing for the physical needs of others. So for the purposes of this post, I’m going to call the use of “time and treasure” to perform the corporal works of mercy “charity”, and let’s leave aside the other meanings of that term for now.

Now to me, one of the interesting things about the virtue of charity is that it says a great deal about the sort of relationships we can have as human beings. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10, 25-37) we see a scholar of the law (quidam legis peritus) who cheerfully parrots back the great commandments of “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” but then wants to know “Who is my neighbor?”.

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Vatican Rejected Three Obama Candidates For Ambassador

Today the Washington Times is reporting that the Vatican has rejected at least three candidates for ambassador.  Could one of those candidates been Doug Kmiec?  Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago?  Caroline Kennedy? 

The Headline Bistro is reporting that Senator John Kerry is pushing for Caroline Kennedy for the position.  A left-leaning Italian daily, Panorama, is speculating of the ‘glamorous’ benefits of having Miss Kennedy as the Holy See’s ambassador.

Caroline Kennedy?  You’ve got to be kidding me!  What is interesting to note is the sheer lack of understanding on behalf President Obama of what the Catholic Church stands for.  It is not a political entity, but Christ’s church on earth.  Abortion is not one of a myriad of policy differences that can be pushed under the rug when it comes to appointing a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

The U.S. has a right to appoint whomever they want, but the Pope has the right to reject any ambassador that will not “improve relations” with the Vatican.  If President Obama appoints a pro-choice (pro-abortion) candidate, one who promotes the death of innocent children, how can this candidate  improve relations with the Holy See that defends the rights the most vulnerable among us?  Logic and reasoning seem to be lacking in finding a candidate from the Obama administration.

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Biden Was Right-Take II

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Well, somewhat to my chagrin I have to use the phrase “Biden was right” again.   With North Korea launching a missle that traveled 1900 miles before it crashed into the Pacific, Biden’s prediction of an international crisis early in the Obama administration is coming true again, and this time I doubt if doing nothing will probably work either short term or long term.

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US Ambassadorship to Vatican Difficult for Obama to Fill

According to a Newsmax article from last Thursday, the Obama administration is having difficulty staffing the position of ambassador to the Vatican:

According to Massimo Franco, author of “Parallel Empires,” a recently published book on U.S.-Vatican relations, the Obama administration has put forward three candidates for consideration but each of them have been deemed insufficiently pro-life by the Vatican.

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Make Mine Freedom

Darwin’s Progaganda Post has inspired me to post Make Mine Freedom, a cautionary tale from 1948 of what can happen when people exchange freedom for promises of endless government largesse.  Interesting now as a cultural artifact from the forties, I think it also makes fairly shrewd observations of how different segments of society can be quite willing to make a faustian bargain with government if the promises made by snakeoil salesmen running for office are grandiose enough.  Obviously anti-Communist and pro-capitalist propaganda it does tell one glaring truth:  the bigger the government the smaller the freedom over the long run.

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God or Government Spending: Choose One?

Correlation isn’t causation. That said, I thought this from the Wall Street Journal was interesting:

A recent study of 33 countries by Anthony Gill and Erik Lundsgaarde found an inverse relationship between religious observance and welfare spending. Countries with larger welfare states, such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark, had markedly lower levels of religious attendance, affiliation and trust in God than countries with a history of limited government, such as the U.S., the Philippines and Brazil. Public spending amounts to more than one half of the GDP in Sweden, where only 4% of the population regularly attends church. By contrast, public spending amounts to 18% of the Philippines’ GDP, and 68% of Filipinos regularly attend church.

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Vatican: Knights Templar Hid The Shroud of Turin

Breaking news emanating from the Vatican today concerning the missing years of the Shroud of Turin.  It seems that the Knights Templar, after the sacking of Constantinople in A.D. 1204, held the Shroud of Turin until the dissolution of the order by Pope Clement V in A.D. 1307.

Dr. Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives, wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano:

However her study of the trial of the Knights Templar had brought to light a document in which Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to “a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access”. There he was shown “a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man” and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times.

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Propaganda

Various sides of our modern political spectrum often thrown around the term “propaganda”. I’ve had it explained to me by those on both the far left and far right that our news media is nothing but propaganda. In the process, we perhaps forget what real propaganda looks like. While looking up vintage Donald Duck cartoons for the kids, I ran across this little gem about the importance of paying your taxes. (The IRS did not yet have the power to do withholding during WW2, and so government revenues relied upon people actually handing over money to the government at intervals through the year.)

Of course, this is incredibly mild compared to the propaganda put out by communist and fascist regimes during the 30s and 40s. But next time someone tells you that the Bush era was dominated by knee jerk patriotism and propaganda, consider the FDR era by comparison.

In Defense of Notre Dame

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In the Land of Lincoln, when we have any great moral question to address, we often turn to the Daley clan who make their pronouncements from the Duchy of Daley, motto Ubi Est Mea, sometimes mistakenly called Cook County.  Now the brother of the current Duke, Richie the Lesser, William M. Daley, has come to the defense of Notre Dame and lambasted Francis Cardinal George for his statement taking the administration of Notre Dame to task for their planned adoration session with Obama on May 17.  Father Z has given this statement the fisking to end all fiskings, so I will let him do the honors.

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Symbolic Action

Symbols mean things, but they do not necessarily accomplish things in concrete fashion, so they often seem to be a prime source of argument and misunderstanding in the political arena.

Last week, environmental activists throughout the US participated in a “green hour” in which they all committed to turn off all electricity-using appliances in their possession for one hour (from 8-9pm, as I recall). This was supposed to express to the leaders of the G-20 nations the importance of moving to implement regulations to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

Not being a major devotee of the global warming cause (I don’t think the kind of restrictions that could realistically be passed would do much good if global warming is in fact a man-made phenomenon, so I would be more interested in putting resources into mitigation than regulating power production) this gesture strikes me as a bit silly. If you really thought that reducing power consumption was important, it seems to me you should reduce your power consumption. Permanently, that is, not just for one hour and then go back to normal.

In the same sense, I suspect that the continuing controversy over Notre Dame University honoring President Obama looks silly to outsiders.

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