Monthly Archives: April 2009

Lesser of Two Evils or Worthy of Honor

Since the Notre Dame controversy has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party, I’ll attempt one more brief comment on it.

It is a disappointment to me, though hardly a surprising one, that just about everyone in the Catholic blogsphere who advocated voting for Obama in the first place (or sympathized with those who did) now find so much to object to in those Catholics (including quite a few bishops — all who have address the topic to my knowledge) who are upset at Obama being made the commencement speaker for Notre Dame and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

The argument, which was made frequently enough during the election, was that while Obama was far from perfect (and, we were always assured, the speaker was indeed deeply troubled by his positions on abortion) he was the better of two distinctly poor alternatives available on the ballot.

If such was one’s true position, I disagree, but with a fair amount of respect.  Sometimes both options available are very bad, and choosing the lesser of two evils is quite the judgment call.

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Catholic Democrats Come to the Defense of Notre Dame

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Catholic Democrats come to the defense of their leader in regard to Georgetown and Notre Dame and run into a buzzsaw named Father Z here.

Update:  Good analysis of why Catholic Democrats and other Obama-philes are so concerned about the fallout from Notre Dame is given here by the always readable Damian Thompson across the pond at his blog Holy Smoke.

On The Question of Inequality

There’s been some discussion of inequality in posts and comments here recently. I have ambitions to write a series of the particular challenges I believe our country is facing in regards to inequality in a modern high-skill-based economy, but given recent discussion I’d like to open with something fairly open-ended.

John Henry pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the question of equality to some extent in its section on Human Solidarity:

1935 The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:

Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.40

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The Rejected Ambassadors: The Plot Thickens

A couple weeks ago, Tito posted on the Washington Times report claiming the Vatican has rejected several candidates for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. It appeared the report had been satisfactorily debunked by the Catholic News Service, which quoted a statement by Father Federico Lombardi to the effect that the rumors were unreliable. Now, however, the Times Online has received confirmation of the story from “Vatican insiders”. This confirmation reconciles the two statements to a certain extent: no candidates have been officially rejected, but apparently informal rejections have taken place. Ultimately, this type of story is of little significance, but it’s always interesting to watch the interaction of the Vatican and the media. Here are some excerpts from the Times Online story:

Caroline Kennedy, the Roman Catholic daughter of the assassinated President, has been rejected by the Vatican as the next US ambassador to the Holy See because of her liberal views on abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, according to Vatican insiders.

Andrea Tornielli, the biographer of Pope Benedict XVI, said that at least two other potential ambassadors put forward by President Obama have also been blocked because they did not share the Vatican’s views on “pro-life” issues. A Vatican spokesman said that no candidates had been formally submitted “and therefore it is not true that they have been rejected”.

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Where's Jesus?

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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.

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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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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The Ten Worst Supreme Court Decisions of All Time

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The Cranky Conservative has two first rate posts on his site here on what he regards to be the ten worst US Supreme Court decisions of all time.  Having read hundreds of Supreme Court decisions, I have to salute Cranky for narrowing them down to ten.  So many appalling decisions to choose from!

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

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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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Spirit of '09

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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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Heee's Back!

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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.

Atheism As Fashion Statement

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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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