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

  • I think this type of rudeness is disappointing and counter-productive, particularly coming from a Bishop.

  • I think John Henry that we need a lot more blunt talk against people like Jenkins who make a complete mockery of the Catholic Church.

  • The world would be a better place if more bishops had the candor of Bp. Bruskewitz.

  • As I noted on my own blog, Deus caritas est, but God is also Truth.

    I fail to see any “rudeness” in His Excellency’s letter.

  • I think this type of rudeness is disappointing and counter-productive, particularly coming from a Bishop.

    Pardon my rudeness, but stuff it. While you might think moderate tempered mealy-mouthed reactions are what’s going to suddenly make people see the light, the rest of us applaud the fact that some Bishops have suddenly found their voice and are willing to call out those who aid and abet the culture of death.

    I’m frankly more disgusted by people who wag their fingers at those who raise their voices above a whisper.

  • The problem with the letter is

    1) Notre Dame has not lost its Catholic status, so the letter itself is mirepresenting the status of the university. If it had lost its status, this would be a proper letter to make. When it has not, then it only hurts the point the Bishop makes. It is always important to be honest and not misrepresent the situation by exaggeration.

    2) It’s also dishonest in saying President Jenkins is indifferent to abortion or the beliefs President Obama has on abortion. It’s over-the top.

    3) Should we use this line of reasoning, as exemplified in the letter, it would turn on upon the Catholic Church and end up calling the Church not Catholic for its historical mistakes and indifference to many crimes against humanity which it turned a blind eye to when regimes did them (such as the Spanish Inquisition). It’s really absurd, and poor ecclesiology.

  • Sorry to draw your ire, Paul(s). As I’ve said before, I am glad that bishops are addressing the issue, particularly Bishop D’Arcy and Cardinal George. The question is how to address it, and perhaps by temperament or whatever I prefer a lighter touch than the episcopal version of ‘I can only pray for you, you miserable quisling.’ I don’t like that style in com-boxes, and I’m not a fan in public discourse.

    Furthermore, I think he overstates his case; I don’t think accusing Fr. Jenkins of ‘absolute indifference’ is entirely fair, although I do think Fr. Jenkins has shown he does not place a high enough priority on the protection of unborn life. And Notre Dame is not a ‘formerly Catholic University,’ as much as it is one that is struggling with what it means to be Catholic. I’m not sure such harsh dismissals aid it in that endeavor. At a general level, I’d say there are different models for engagement; the prophetic is a legitimate model, but it’s not the only model, and I’m not sure it’s the best one here.

  • I agree that any indifference charge is unfair. But what is really “over the top” is conferring an honorary law degree on the legislator who led the effort to stop Illinois’ protective born alive legislation.

  • The bishop’s letter is unfortunate, both in its unbecoming tone and its untruth. Any productive point he could have made is lost in gross exaggeration and seemingly foul temper.

    What puropose can it now possibly serve, other than a personal, narcissistic one? Is this what prophetic witness entails or constists of? I too think not.

  • To preface my comment, I think his book “A Shepherd Speaks” is one of the best books out there. In many ways I think he has been a model of a bishop, providing clear leadership in exhortation and practice. If I’m not mistaken, he has been responsible for setting homes for unwed mothers and has done good things with the education system. I think this letter though is a pretty clear example of why he hasn’t been moved beyond Lincoln despite his many gifts.

  • When conservatives speak, people always worry so much more about how a thing is said than about what is said.

    But let liberals riot, and we’re asked to “understand.”

    It gets old.

    I disagree that the letter is over the top. Notre Dame has set itself at odds with Church teaching, and Fr. Jenkins has refused the correction offered him by scores of bishops, and the superior of his own order.

    If I had 30+ bishops telling me publicly that I was wrong about something, I would surely be moving to correct my error, not releasing statements to justify it.

  • That is why you have recanted your support of the Iraq War, ended your crusade against illegal immigration, and myriad of other things I take it.

  • Fr. Jenkins is a grown man and the President (or whatever, not sure of exact title) of a major university. I seriously doubt he is stupid. Which leaves the impression that he is indifferent to O’s views or at least does not feel strongly enough against them to withhold the honoray degree and opportunity to speak.

    Overly nuanced approaches are what have gotten us to this point in the first placed.

  • Unbelievably rude, condescending, and untrue.

    Where did you find the text of the letter, out of curiosity? It’s, in fact, so rude my immediate reaction is to suspect that Bill Donahue (or Donald McClarey!) wrote it!

  • And we all know how scrupulously Michael avoids any trace of rudeness and condescension in his own comments.

  • Michael,

    You’re so shocked by what you consider rudeness that you immediately accuse two people, by name, of forgery?

    What tender sensibilities you do have…

  • That is why you have recanted your support of the Iraq War, ended your crusade against illegal immigration

    Yes, because all those things are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Oh wait, no. That’s only what you told yourself to convince yourself that voting for Obama was a-ok. Whatever. Some people on this thread have clear consciences. Others, well, less so.

  • Unbelievably rude, condescending, and untrue.

    Wow, like every comment that michael has ever made. Bishop Bruskewitz must be a personal hero of yours.

  • Paul,

    The standard the other Paul gave was, “If I had 30+ bishops telling me publicly that I was wrong about something, I would surely be moving to correct my error, not releasing statements to justify it.”

  • And we all know how scrupulously Michael avoids any trace of rudeness and condescension in his own comments.

    I can be rude, and yes, condescending. But I don’t lie.

    Wow, like every comment that michael has ever made.

    Show me a comment in which I have lied.

    You’re so shocked by what you consider rudeness that you immediately accuse two people, by name, of forgery?

    T’was a joke!

  • No Catholics are ever neutral about Bishop Bruskewitz. One of the reasons he is a hero of mine is that he does not speak in ecclesi-speak, which tends to be rambling, vapid and full of weasel words. Bruskewitz always tells the truth as he sees it with the bark on. I concede that it is much easier to find this quality endearing when you agree with the substance of what is being said.

  • Bruskewitz always tells the truth as he sees it with the bark on.

    Sounds like Rush Limbaugh with a mitre.

  • Show me a comment in which I have lied.

    As I am sure you are clever enough to know, this is something of a tricky thing. To show that you have lied I would have to show that you said something untrue, knew it was untrue, and intended by saying it to decieve people.

    So for instance, while I recall you on various occasions of having said that I don’t care about the poor, don’t care about people after they are born, worship war rather than God, etc., it would be hard to make the case that you didn’t believe these to be true at least in whatever rhetorical sense in which you meant them.

    However, in this same sense, it is doubtless the case that Bruskewitz is saying that Notre Dame is “formerly Catholic” and that Jenkins does not give sufficient priority to abortion in a sense which is true in regards to what he believes to be the case. He is not, for instance, trying to decieve people into thinking that Notre Dame is not accredited as a Catholic university. (That would be lying.) He is stating, we must presume accurately, that Notre Dame’s actions represent an abandonment of its Catholicity and a lack of interest in the unborn.

    So basically, if you don’t lie in your comments, then Bruskewitz is not lying, and if he is lying, then you often do.

  • The bishop did not say Jenkins “does not give sufficient priority to abortion.” He said “absolute indifference.” He’s out to deceive.

  • Rush Limbaugh? No, actually he reminds me more of the gentleman who wrote this :

    “I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. 7 Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. 9 As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

  • “As I am sure you are clever enough to know, this is something of a tricky thing. To show that you have lied, I would have to show that you said something untrue, knew it was untrue, and intended by saying it to deceive people.”

    Quite right —

    This is something that even the great St. Thomas More himself had spoken quite eloquently in its regard during his unjust inquisition at Westminster, noting Aquinas own thoughts on the matter — in particular, the interoribus mortibus which no man is able to judge.

  • Also, when a Bishop says “X is not Catholic,” that has implications which are different from when you or I say it. Since a Bishop is the ultimate authority within their own jurisdiction, if they said that about an institution within their own jurisdiction, I would say it would have an effect, just like an excommunication or an anthema has had. Obviously there would be canonical issues, and could sometimes work to show a Bishop over-stepped their authority in doing so, but that would be decided under review, and their Bishop’s stand would have relative authority. However, when they try to say X is not Catholic to an institution not in their own jurisdiction, they are undermining the authority of another Bishop, and indeed, causing ecclesial scandal. This is, for example, caused great division throughout the ages when a Bishop acts beyond their proper authority (look, for example, to the ordination of Origen as an early example of where such mistakes can lead).

  • Donald – I see no resemblance whatsoever. One involves a pastor being firm with his congregation, but speaking the truth. The other involves a relatively obscure bishop taking advantage of a shallow, buzzing news story in order to gain attention, attempting to out-do his fellow bishops in rudeness.

  • Let’s see:

    Fr. Jenkins certainly hasn’t claimed the high ground here. He’s shown no qualms whatsoever about honoring and giving a free political podium to a man whose actions and words demonstrate a commitment to increasing the death rate of unborn (and even recently-born, the horror of it) life.

    Moreover, he employs reasoning in defense of his actions that can’t be dignified with the term “casuistry” and refuses to engage the opponents of his actions in dialogue after promising to do so.

    In other words, where exactly is the evidence that he does care about abortion? As in concrete actions, and not the usual attempts at verbal disinfectant and empty reassuring noises. If someone can point to a pro-life initiative by Fr. Jenkins as President of ND (or even before), then the Bishop’s accusation will be unjust, and the Ordinary of Lincoln should be presented with this evidence.

    If not, well, President Jenkins got himself into this mess, and he shouldn’t have expected plaudits.

  • Mr. Lafrate writes:

    “The other involves a relatively obscure bishop”.

    A relatively obscure bishop? Where have you been for the last two decades?

    That Fr. Jenkins had some sort of connection with the diocese of Lincoln surely gives Bishop Bruskewitz “standing”, as the lawyers call it to reprimand him.

  • A relatively obscure bishop? Where have you been for the last two decades?

    Well, I have not been intimately involved in the irrelevant circles of the Catholic Right, nor have paid much attention to whoever their episcopal heroes might be. Has Bruskewitz been a newsworthy figure in some way? I’ve not heard of him.

  • Mikey Mikey. So cute when you’re mad. Bishop B has been bad bold and boisterous for well unto a generation. Cries aloud and spares not. His comments about Father Jenkins were bang on the money. Funny how you get SOOOOO jumpy and personal on this that or other thing. Might wanna check your own self. Meanwhile Bravo Bishop B and keep on laying down smack.

  • Mad? Jumpy? Personal? If you say so. Merely pointing out the obvious. Other than than, I’m chillin’ like Bob Dylan.

  • Should read “other than that.”

  • A google search would quickly disabuse anyone that Bishop Bruskewitz has been obscure. Controversial? Yes. Ordaining more priests per capita in many years than any other bishop in the country? Yes. Contentious? Frequently? Obscure? Anything but!

  • I bet most Catholics in the United States don’t know who he is, Donald. Just because he is popular within a certain internet crowd doesn’t make him non-obscure. People might know what their local ordinary is doing, but beyond that? Not necessarily.

  • The diocese of Lincoln is ranked 131st in the nation by Catholic population, having 89,000. ( http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/country/scus1.html ) The See has no historical importance and is one of the least important in the country.

  • Iafrate is obscure. Bruskewitz not so.

  • The American Catholic is obscure, as is Koss Nova. The diocese of Lincoln is obscure if you are a protestant living in canada.

  • “The See has no historical importance and is one of the least important in the country.”

    Wasn’t Jerusalem likewise an obscure and insignificant province of the Roman Empire?

    Yet, somehow this obscure backwater ended up being historically monumental.

    Go figure.

  • Koss Nova

    Eh!!! Did you come up with that one on your own? Wow! I’m so impressed!!!

  • MZ,
    As a matter of fact, I did, several months ago. But its formation was undeservedly obscure.

  • The diocese of Lincoln is ranked 131st in the nation by Catholic population, having 89,000. The See has no historical importance and is one of the least important in the country.

    I’m not really clear where all this argument about whether Lincoln is an “obscure” see is supposed to go — other than that some obviously agree with Bruskewitz’s opinions in re Notre Dame and others don’t.

    The diocese itself is, as MZ points out, rather small. However it is known for having consistently high numbers of vocations, and I’ve heard about Bruskewitz off and on in national Catholic publications like OSV for a good fifteen years. I imagine that if one did a citation count of National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, OSV, Commonweal, This Rock and America one would find significantly more mentions of Bruskewitz over the last 15 years than of anything going on in my own see of Austin, even though we have far more Catholics.

    So aside from not seeing the relevance of the “obscure” accusation, I don’t really see that it’s true either.

  • I doubt Mr. Karlson if most Catholics know the name of their local bishop, just as most Americans do not know the name of their representative in Congress. This fact does not necessarily make either the bishop or the representative obscure. Compared to the other bishops in this country Bishop Bruskewitz is not obscure as the length of this thread both condemning and supporting his letter indicates. That we have so many visitors in this thread from Vox Nova indicates quite clearly that you and your colleagues are well aware of who Bishop Bruskewitz is.

  • A google search would quickly disabuse anyone that Bishop Bruskewitz has been obscure.

    I see. Because obscure persons and things tend not to show up on Google searches, right?

    Wasn’t Jerusalem likewise an obscure and insignificant province of the Roman Empire?

    Well, M.Z. and “e.”, I didn’t say anything about the man’s diocese being “obscure.” Most people have heard of Lincoln, Nebraska after all. But this bishop seems to be an angry, obscure one who is just looking for the latest “newsworthy” item to be outraged about so he can appear prophetic. I mean please; sending a priest that he doesn’t know a letter saying that he will pray for his conversion is pretty low. Who does he think he is? A combox participant at Vox Nova?

  • “That we have so many visitors in this thread from Vox Nova indicates quite clearly that you and your colleagues are well aware of who Bishop Bruskewitz is.”

    I hate to break it to you, but that in itself doesn’t prove or pull the good bishop out of obscurity just because certain Vox Novan visitors happen to know him; unless, of course, such persons are representative of the entire Catholic population of the United States.

    (The fact that this isn’t actually the case is, quite frankly, a relief.)

  • That we have so many visitors in this thread from Vox Nova indicates quite clearly that you and your colleagues are well aware of who Bishop Bruskewitz is.

    Why? We simply saw the latest hateful letter by a u.s. bishop and wanted to comment. Doesn’t mean we have a clue who this guy is.

  • e., the fact that they are also the same individuals contending that he is obscure rather disproves their point by the vehemence with which they are arguing about the letter from an “obscure” bishop. Bishop Bruskewitz is well known by those who follow the actions of the bishops in this country, and the Vox Novniks are in that category.

  • Catholic Anarchist, disingenuousness does not become you. A google search of Iafrate and Bruskewitz reveals that you are quite familiar with Bishop Bruskewitz.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    “e., the fact that they are also the same individuals contending he is obscure rather disproves their point by the vehemence with which they are arguing about the letter from an ‘obscure’ bishop.”

    Well, that wouldn’t actually be the first time that certain Vox Novans happened to engage in arguments that were, in fact, self-refuting! ;^)

    Yet, to be fair though, although the Catholic crowds that roam around various Catholic foras may actually know of the good bishop doesn’t really give any actual indication that American Catholics in general would happen to know of him.

    (About your last comment though about Catholic Anarchist, are you really surprised?)

  • Donald,

    I have known of him for quite some time, but I am also not your average Catholic in what I know or do not know. If I judged how obscure something or someone was based upon what I know, I would say the debates about who and what the icchantikas are must not be obscure to anyone.

  • e., when we say that a bishop is obscure the only proper comparison is whether he is obscure in regard to other bishops. For example, I doubt if the general public knows who General “Pap” Thomas was, a Union general from the Civil War. However, no one who has a working knowledge of the Civil War would ever call the “Rock of Chickamauga” an obscure Union general. To people who pay attention to events pertaining to the Church in America, Fabian Bruskewitz is not obscure.

  • Fair point and duly noted.

  • A google search of Iafrate and Bruskewitz reveals that you are quite familiar with Bishop Bruskewitz.

    Haha. Good one. I can’t find it, though, so you must be lying, right?

    Or wait. is he my long lost uncle or something?

    Interesting, too, that you always fall back on war comparisons. Always.

  • The Cure d’Ars and his parish was quite obscure. As was Lourdes. Likewise Lisieux.

    What is amusing – because pointless – is a discussion about whether Bishop Bruskewitz and the Diocese of Lincoln are obscure, rather than the matter of his letter.

    Just as an oddity, Fr. Jenkins was born in Omaha. That is a city in Nebraska, just like Lincoln. Lincoln and Omaha are a but a few miles distant. Thus Bishop Bruskewitz was correct in referring to Fr. Jenkins’ Nebraskan roots.

  • “Obscurity” is relative. A person may be very well known in a particular field of endeavor (art, sports, law, finance, technology, etc.) but not be well known to people outside of those circles.

    Bishop Bruskewitz may be “obscure” to the average Catholic whose only exposure to Church teaching comes from a 10-minute weekly sermon and who does not carefully follow news or trends within the Church. He doesn’t get a lot of mention in the secular media. He is, however, definitely NOT obscure to other bishops, Catholic journalists, and others who regard him as a champion of orthodoxy/conservatism/traditionalism (whatever term you prefer to use). In those circles he is very well known.

Where's Jesus?

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

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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6 Responses to Where's Jesus?

  • I had to read this a few times before I got it,
    “I approve! Whenever this President speaks at a Catholic college, anything related to Christ should be covered over!”

    I still think we should be praying for him, even as we disagree with his polices and viewpoints. Work within the legal bounds to curtail, slow or block some of the actions his administration wish to implement, but we all ought to be begging the intersession of our Patroness, Mary of the Immaculate Conception, the intervention of the Holy Spirit and the compassion of Our Risen Lord.

  • Well said Sandra.

  • This is the university which removed crucifixes from the classrooms.

    It is also the university, like Fordham, which was first financed by the sale of slaves.

  • I agree. In fairness to Obama, it is possible that the Notre Dame controversy has sensitized his handlers such that they did not want to make it look like Obama’s speech had some type of Church imprimatur, or more specifically, give ammo to those who would accuse him of making it look so. For this pro-abort President to give a speech in front of explicitly Catholic symbols runs the risk of being inflammatory in a way that is not helpful to his presidency. It was a good political move, I think. In a way, the question is which is worse, Obama giving a speech in front of Catholic imagery or Obama asking that the imagery be removed before he gives his speech? I agree with Don that the first is worse, and I suspect that Obama’s handlers worried that enough Catholics would feel that way that they understood where the better part of valor rests

  • O think that the Catholic Church should withdraw the status of “Catholic” to Universities like Georgetown or Notre Dame

  • Mike- you are too clever by half. Please do not employ nuance where knuckleheadedness is more applicable. Of course, Georgetown is Catholic to the same extent that say Terrell Owens is a team player. Only when useful. Then the image comes down. As yet another DC Establishment Player, it was more than willing to cooperate with the White House’s wishes. Thus earning derisive scorn in this Obama To Notre Dame period. If Dear Leader was scheduled to address students virtually in this section of his backyard, yawn and double yawn. A few years back, took the dedicated K of C chapter on campus to put crucifixes back in classrooms. Mere covering of IHS is just more of the same. 30 pieces of silver and all.

Tea Parties, Principles and their Application

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

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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15 Responses to Tea Parties, Principles and their Application

  • or more on this — especially some concrete examples of such an application — I heartily recommend Grand New Party by Ross Douthat

    Sorry, but that was one of the most tedious bores of a read. The funny thing about that book was that I was actually prepared to disagree with many of the book’s arguments, but what disappointed me was not that their arguments were incorrect, but that they simply didn’t make many arguments. It was 150 pages of questionable history followed by about 50 pages of the most generalized policy prescriptions.

    Douthat and his ilk remind me of the underwear gnomes from South Park.
    Step one: appeal to the middle class.
    Step two: ?
    Step three: Win elections.

    What’s missing from step two is any suggestion about substantive policy that would actually address the middle class. It seems at times as though they’re content with an “I feel your pain” approach to politics that is bereft of any meaning. And when they do offer up specific policy, its manifestly unworkable. If you add up all the tax credits they suggest in the book I think the average American would wind up getting triple their annual salary back in refunds.

    Furthermore, while I would agree that tax cuts are not necessarily an inherent part of the conservative philosophy, resisting the urge to believe that government can solve most of the problems hat we face is. Therefore, opposition to ridiculous government spending is in fact part and parcel of conservatism in the sense that is the practical application of the anti-utopian current within the conservative philosophy. And while it may be true that many Americans want greater government intervention, the prescription should not be for conservatives to simply wave their hands and succumb to the bad policy, but rather we should redouble our efforts and inform and persuade the public as to why that course of action is a bad idea.

    After all, we’re Catholics. Aren’t we supposed to resist the urge to simply follow the whims of the crowd?

  • the prescription should not be for conservatives to simply wave their hands and succumb to the bad policy

    I think that’s the heart of this disagreement, Paul… I certainly agree that opposition to ridiculous government spending is a common application of conservative anti-utopianism, but that doesn’t mean that all government spending is utopian and therefore to be avoided… that’s libertarianism more than it is conservatism. The question is, exactly how ought the government play its appropriate role in support of the common good? I think too often conservatives reflexively presume that no such appropriate role exists, but that’s certainly not the Catholic position.

  • but that doesn’t mean that all government spending is utopian

    No, it is not, but certainly a huge chunk of what we do spend is. Is there any conservative justification for the bloated stimulus package that was just passed, or the even more bloated budget being debated?

    I think too often conservatives reflexively presume that no such appropriate role exists,

    That’s a bit of a straw man, and one that’s been debated here on this blog recently. Personally speaking, I am not an anarchist nor am I opposed to all government spending and/or activity.

  • Is there any conservative justification for the bloated stimulus package that was just passed, or the even more bloated budget being debated?

    No, but that wasn’t the point of my post (or of GNP, as you know). My reference to the tea parties and the focus of their ire (overspending) was merely a contemporary event I used to contextualize my larger point… as I noted, I agree with the sentiment of yesterday’s rallies. My concern is that “lower taxes, less spending” has become an ideological mantra.

    That’s a bit of a straw man, and one that’s been debated here on this blog recently. Personally speaking, I am not an anarchist nor am I opposed to all government spending and/or activity.

    Acknowledged. I didn’t mean to imply that *you* held that view… as I noted, I do that that too many of our fellow conservatives hold it, though. Or at least, that’s the implication of their rhetoric.

  • The tea parties are representative of the Joe The Plumber-ization of America. All the complaining about how the government spends money from people that pay little to no federal income tax. (If you are paying under $10,000 in federal income taxes, you aren’t paying much in my book. FTR, I don’t pay a federal income tax because I have children, and most people with children don’t pay a net tax.)

  • This posting was, indeed, one of the most tedious bores of a read. Don’t you have an editor? Don’t you have a wife?

  • Thanks for the comment, Gabriel… I appreciate your willingness to engage in a thoughtful conversation.

  • all the complaining about how the government spends money from people that pay little to no federal income tax.

    But that, in and of itself, is part of the issue. Nearly half of Americans pay no net income tax, and yet we’re spending trillions and trillions of dollars that will have to be paid back by someone. Well, I’m 32, so I sure as hell have something to worry about because I plan on living quite a while longer, and my 8-week daughter will sure as heck be straddled with paying this back.

    What people seem to be missing is that these protests are as much about spending as they are about taxes. These folks recognize that if we continue to spend as we are currently doing, then inevitably we’re going to be paying a lot more to Uncle Sam. It’s either that or declare nation-wide chapter 11.

  • MZ,

    All the complaining about how the government spends money from people that pay little to no federal income tax. (If you are paying under $10,000 in federal income taxes, you aren’t paying much in my book.

    Not to be combative, but doesn’t that essentially boil down to, “Shut up and enjoy the oligarchy, you plebs!”

    Extrapolating from the amount of taxes I pay now with four kids, I think I’d have to make around 150k in order to pay 10,000 in federal income taxes. Now, I wouldn’t object to making 150k, and it could certainly happen, but I’m not sure that we want to say that only the top 10% of families get to even discuss whether taxes and spending are too high. (And if we did, someone else would probably chime in that they’re too rich to be allowed to have an opinion on whether they should be taxed.)

    Chris,

    I’m not sure that if the general feeling right now is so much that more needs to be spent overall, or simply that more needs to be spent on “essential things”. But I would tend to say that the very basic, “lower taxes, less spending” cry is too simplistic to work very well for conservatives at this point. Or at least, it isn’t enough to rally more than 20-30% of the population.

    The problem to a great extent is probably that conservatives have been so successful in scaling back taxes since 1980 that for a majority of Americans the income tax is no longer all that real a burden. And while some people are willing to get worked up about taxation in general even if it doesn’t hit them very hard, a great many people are willing to sit back and say, “not my problem.”

  • The problem to a great extent is probably that conservatives have been so successful in scaling back taxes since 1980 that for a majority of Americans the income tax is no longer all that real a burden. And while some people are willing to get worked up about taxation in general even if it doesn’t hit them very hard, a great many people are willing to sit back and say, “not my problem.”

    Exactly, Darwin… I wonder how many people remember how much higher income tax rates were back then.

    I concur with your first point… I think of health care, for instance… many (most?) working families find the costs of medical care burdensome, and are looking for help (not necessarily handouts). I think it’s incumbent upon us as conservatives to try to address these real concerns, but from our principles, not a statist approach.

  • Not to be combative, but doesn’t that essentially boil down to, “Shut up and enjoy the oligarchy, you plebs!”

    Not really. The sentiment is more of “My masters fights aren’t mine.”

    I’m not sure that we want to say that only the top 10% of families get to even discuss whether taxes and spending are too high.

    Discuss away. It is akin to men discussing labor and delivery though. As I’m sure you are aware, the wealthy tended to vote for Obama and also tend not to think taxes are too high. The idea that we can’t afford this spending is a nonstarter though. It just isn’t the case that the income tax burden is high by any measure. Conservatives would do better to argue that the spending is imprudent. One can at least make a legitimate argument there.

    Nearly half of Americans pay no net income tax, and yet we’re spending trillions and trillions of dollars that will have to be paid back by someone.

    I don’t know about you, but I get about as much benefit from the feds as the taxes I pay. I don’t engage in interstate commerce. I don’t fly overseas. I don’t depend on our navy to defend my ships from pirates. I don’t think the argument that everyone benefits equally (or even proportionately as a percentage of income) actually holds.

  • It is akin to men discussing labor and delivery though.

    We all have a stake in the economy. Regardless of how much in taxes each individual pays, the general sentiment behind the tea parties is that the current levels of spending the resulting taxation will prove ruinous for all. It may be that a minority of the populace feels this way now, but Obama’s approval ratings are trending downward and movements like this have a way of taking off; witness the property tax revolt of the late ’70s and how it blossomed into the tax-cutting enthusiasm of the early ’80s.

  • It probably also has a great deal to do with where one chooses to define having a stake. The total federal income taxes I pay are well under $10,000, but they are slightly over my total takehome income for an average month. Needless to say, that’s a fair amount of money to me. (And that’s with four kids and a mortgage worth of deductions and tax credits.)

    So one can argue that it’s an argument for our “betters”, but while it’s true that “the rich” voted heavily for Obama, if only people who paid more than $1000 in income taxes the previous year had been allowed to vote, McCain would almost certainly have won.

    And while I agree that taxation does not currently rest that hard on modern “average Americans”, I _do_ think average Americans have reason to be concerned about the fiscal position that we seem to be getting ourselves into at the moment, because paying our way out of it (and the long term economic slowness that may be involved) will end up affecting a lot more than the top 20%.

  • Fiscal madness at the federal level obviously has a major impact on the economy. We cannot pile up the debt we are currently adding fecklessly without it eventually causing the economy to completely cease to grow. Unless the Federal government simply repudiates the debt, or pays the debt in vastly inflated currency through hyper-inflation, either alternative being an economic calamity for the average citizen, there is no way that this debt is not ultimately going to be paid largely by tax increases on not only the wealthy, but also the middle class.

    Of course none of this takes into consideration the fact that the tea bag protests also take aim at taxes and spending at the state and local level. I think many of our readers would be surprised at the high percentage of their income that goes for taxes. Looking at the state, federal and property taxes my wife and I pay adds up to 31% of our income for 2008. This does not include “hidden” taxes which include sales tax, tax on utilities, etc. Pointing to the federal income tax alone merely touches the tip of the tax iceberg for the typical American.

  • DarwinCatholic Says:
    Thursday, April 16, 2009 A.D. at 3:08 pm
    “It probably also has a great deal to do with where one chooses to define having a stake. The total federal income taxes I pay are well under $10,000, but they are slightly over my total takehome income for an average month. Needless to say, that’s a fair amount of money to me. (And that’s with four kids and a mortgage worth of deductions and tax credits.)”.

    Do you include in this the 15% that goes for Social Security? The wickedness of the 15% is that is a flat tax, especially hard on the poor. If you make say $20,000 a year, $3,000 goes out in Soc Sec taxes, half paid by you, half by the employer.

    In the discussions about taxes and the debt, the question might well be raised “where is the money to come from to pay the debt?”. Might it not make more sense to tie debt to particular taxes? The governments seem to be working on a charge card mentality.

Bush, Orthodoxy, & Damon Linker

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

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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12 Responses to Bush, Orthodoxy, & Damon Linker

  • Is there anything about Linker to take seriously? As far as I can tell he did an ideological about face in hopes of a fast buck, and that is the alpha and the omega of the analysis needed regarding that gentleman. As for Bush, I doubt if History will be as harsh in its judgment of him as Mr. Larison and his paleocon cronies would wish.

  • Bush was a Wilsonian, and Larison is right to call him “unconservative” and so on. The problem is that in the American context, Bush fits in the mainstream of what it means to be a movement conservative, and that is rooted very much in liberalism. Yuval Levin is good on this:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YjVlZGQ1NDcxOGU3NGQzZWIzYTcyOWQxYTAxNjI5Njc=

  • Agreed, Jonathan… what we mean by a “conservative” today is better described as a “conservative liberal” in the intellectual currents of the last three centuries, as you, Levin, MacIntyre and others have noted.

    Of course, there is a robust conversation among Catholics regarding the degree to which the broader liberal tradition (which would include what we normally call “conservatism” in the US today) is ultimately compatible with Catholicism.

  • I daresay that Burke during the period of the French Revolution with his calls for an all out war against the French Revolutionaries might well have been denounced by the spiritual forebears of the current paleocons who seem to look upon isolationism as a key conservative virtue. Of course, it is always dangerous to take conservatives of one generation and merely assume that they would agree with a particular faction of conservatism in a current controversy. As Burke was fond of noting, circumstance is everything. For most of his career Burke was considered by most of his contemporaries to be anything but a conservative, especially since the term wasn’t used in its modern sense until 1819. As a whig, Burke was normally considered to be in the avant-garde of political thought in England, until his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Of course nothing had changed about Burke or his thinking, but the circumstances of his times had.

  • I guess my question would be: Did the MTD vibe in some of Bush’s major speeches result from Bush being a morally therapudic deist at heart (and forming policies that were “deist” or “gnostic”) or is MTD is a sort of lowest common denominator of vaguelly religious discourse in our country, and thus something utilized by speechwriters on both sides of the aisle in order to draw on religious ideals without being hit with religious divisions.

    While I cracked a smile as Ross Douthat’s description of Bush’s second inaugural address as “moral theraputic deism goes to war”, I think Linker is taking it too far by failing to distinguish between rhetoric and action.

    Bush did lay out a universal semi-theological principle in that he argued that as humans we have a universal longing for freedom, and that as Americans it is both virtuous and in our interests to foster freedom and democracy throughout the world, but for all the hysteria that caused among those worried about “theocons”, this didn’t actually result in the US getting embroiled in any new wars or other foreign policy engtanglements in the second term.

    The big controversial foreign policy engagements of the Bush years were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to an extent the rhetoric used against North Korea and Iran. However, I’d really have to ask if moral theraputic deism was the main driver behind how we dealt with any of those areas. Perhaps the implicit theology of the administration controlled the tone a bit. But the most theology that I’d read into the various Bush commitments was a very general, “We should seek to support regimes we actually approve of rather than taking the old CIA ‘at least they’re our SOBs’ approach.”

  • I guess my question would be: Did the MTD vibe in some of Bush’s major speeches result from Bush being a morally therapudic deist at heart (and forming policies that were “deist” or “gnostic”) or is MTD is a sort of lowest common denominator of vaguelly religious discourse in our country, and thus something utilized by speechwriters on both sides of the aisle in order to draw on religious ideals without being hit with religious divisions.

    Well, I think Linker finds MTD attractive because he believes it is a lowest common denominator, and therefore a good candidate for the American civic religion. I don’t think Douthat and Larison are asserting Bush was a MTD, per se; heterodoxy is not necessarily the same thing as MTD, although they can overlap. They are making the more limited point that whatever Bush’s approach was, it wasn’t orthodoxy.

  • Perhaps I am dense, but what I think I am reading into both the article and the comments is some sort of assumption that President Bush acted as he did on the world stage out of some misguided Gnostic plan of action, in which only he was privileged to know and understand God’s divinely appointed plan for America, and which therefore drove him to foolish choices on the world stage. If I misinterpret, my apologies, and please disregard what follows.

    I would count myself among those Christian conservatives who hitched their hopes to President Bush. However, I feel not tainted in the least by any of his choices; I believe, instead, that President Bush was and is a man of character and integrity, who found himself in a position to be The Man In Charge of our nation’s response to global terrorism. I believe (and the record would seem to support) that Pres. Bush acted as the Just War political leader is supposed to: he analyzed the threats, determined which required what response, and he responded, while keeping just war principles at heart.

    Did he make bad choices? Certainly, because he (like everyone else) was operating from a human actor with human advisors. I don’t doubt his Christian orthodoxy (prosecuting a war fits into Catholic theological constructs); and I think it almost borders on scandal to presume to know his heart, and to denigrate him based on that knowledge.

    As, I think, Doug said, History will not be *nearly* as critical of President Bush as some have been, here and elsewhere. I, for one, am content to remain hitched to his bandwagon for now.

    Peace!

  • I have to admit I am a tad with Darwin on this. I like DOuthat but I think his arguments against Bush and this MTD need to be developed. I mean what is Douthat arguing post 2004 that Bush did that went as to this

    I mean are the Bush Actions in Africa that were incredible a part of this and now shall be tainted.

    If I agree with such things a the Trade pact with India, the Dubai Port deal, and the Columbia Free trade accord am I in some Gnostic heresy

    What about Missile defense.

    Was immigration reform a part of this that Bush tried to do twice?

    I mean besides Iraq what else is there to pin this on Bush?

  • As to Damon Linker I am still baffled how he is at a magazine Like the New Republic. I mean this is a guy that swears up and down there was some plot by Neuhaus and others to make this some Catholic Theocon Country. Even likely allies panned his book

  • John Henry,

    But here’s my question: In what sense is it being argued that Bush was “heterodox” in his theology exactly?

    I mean, as a Catholic I’d say he’s “heterodox” in the way that other Evangelicals are, but frankly I think that people aren’t doing themselves a lot of favors intellectually when they read a lot of serious theological content into mainstream political speeches and then try to analyze whether that theology is orthodox.

    So for instance, those into such things criticized Bush a great deal for talking about “forces of evil” and “evil doers” and an “axis of evil” and “defeating evil”. This, it was suggested, betokened a radical Calvinistic dualism (or Gnostic dualism — or both) and committed the US under Bush’s leadership to both the illusion that people were either wholly good or wholly corrupt, and the duty of fighing everyone judged to be wholly corrupt.

    The thing is, I’m not sure there was ever much evidence outside the minds of these critics that Bush actually believed “evil doers” to be wholly and completely evil, nor did the US in fact proceed to go on some sort of all out world-wide war against “forces of evil”. Rather, it continued plodding along with what it had been doing to start with — attempting to replace two strategically located hostile regines (one theocratic, the other bascially fascist) with friendly liberal-democratic governments.

    It strikes me that much of what was going on here was intellectuals taking marketing as if it were motivation, rather than looking at what was really going on.

  • In what sense is it being argued that Bush was “heterodox” in his theology exactly?

    I think that’s a good point, and jh and Deacon Chip articulated it well also. I should have been clearer in the post. Frankly, I have no idea how one is to evaluate whether Bush himself was ‘heterodox’. First because it’s unclear what that term even means in the contemporary U.S.(is Larison using it to describe any Christian who is not Orthodox or Catholic?). Secondly, because it’s not always clear what support for a specific policy actually conveys about a politician’s theological beliefs.

    That said, I think there is abundant evidence in Bush’s speeches of the ‘messianic Americanism’ Larison describes; a sort of hubristic optimism combined with a facile equivalence of U.S. policy and the forces of good in the world. The same could be said of many U.S. politicians.

    I agree with Douthat and Larison (contra Linker) on the more modest claim that it was not slavish devotion to Catholic orthodoxy that led to Bush’s most glaring failures (e.g. Iraq was opposed by the Pope and most bishops), and that the primary lesson to be drawn from the Bush years is not that orthodoxy and politics should be kept separate going forward.

    Frankly, I do not think orthodox Catholics had much influence in the administration. Bush was happy to use Catholic language when it suited him, but there’s little reason to believe he was familiar with the broader Catholic intellectual tradition from which it arose. As someone who thought the war did not meet just war criteria, I am of the opinion that a deeper reflection on that tradition might have prevented the war. I have a similar opinion regarding the Administration’s use of torture.

    To sum up, I would say Bush’s speeches often expressed a worldview that reflected either little or only a very shallow engagement with orthodox Christianity; I would probably accept heterodox as a description of some of them, depending on how heterodox is defined. That doesn’t mean he personally was heterodox, but it does suggest orthodoxy did not play a significant role in the failures of his Administration.

  • To sum up, I would say Bush’s speeches often expressed a worldview that reflected either little or only a very shallow engagement with orthodox Christianity; I would probably accept heterodox as a description of some of them, depending on how heterodox is defined. That doesn’t mean he personally was heterodox, but it does suggest orthodoxy did not play a significant role in the failures of his Administration.

    Exactly, though I think it goes much further than that; I think Bush is either not smart enough to understand the deeper aspects of his own religion, or he’s using said religion as a political tool, plain and simple. There is nothing orthodox about him or his decisions.

25 Responses to The Ten Worst Supreme Court Decisions of All Time

  • Thanks, Donald. And if we had to do a top 100, I doubt we’d run out of room.

  • I sent a note to the website pointing out that the Dred Scott was correct. Disgusting, but correct.

    The Constitution does permit slavery [which Taney despised]. Slavery became illegal with the passage of the 13th Amendment.

  • I sent a note to the website pointing out that the Dred Scott was correct. Disgusting, but correct.

    And I replied noting that you were wrong, dead wrong. The Dred Scott case wasn’t about whether slavery was constitutional. It wasn’t even supposed to be about Congress’ ability to outlaw slavery in the territories until Taney transformed the case. So your observation about the 13th Amendment, like Taney’s decision, is kind of a non sequiter.

  • Mr. Zummo:

    Would you refer to chapter and verse in your comments on Justice Taney? Or try to develope an argument?

    You might read Walker Lewis’ complete account of the case in his biography of Taney: WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOR.

    I am puzzled by your remark about the 13th Amendment. If slavery was not illegal in the U.S., why was the amendment necessary?

  • I am puzzled by your remark about the 13th Amendment. If slavery was not illegal in the U.S., why was the amendment necessary?

    Umm, because slavery was not prohibited.

  • “Not prohibited” seems to mean “permitted”. But I am not a lawyer, nor a graduate of a school in the Jesuit tradition.

    The Jesuits had no problem with slavery. [Taney despised it and the slavers: “those vermin who trade in human flesh”]. Their Georgetown province had slaves until 1828, when Rome insisted that they give up the practice. They did so by selling the slaves into the deep South and using the money to finance Georgetown and Fordham colleges. [T.J. Murphy. JESUIT SLAVEHOLDING…].

  • “Not prohibited” seems to mean “permitted”.

    Yes, exactly. Slavery was permitted. Thus the need for a 13th Amendment. I’m still at a complete lose as to where the confusion is coming.

    But I am not a lawyer, nor a graduate of a school in the Jesuit tradition.

    And neither am I, though I did attend a Jesuit high school.

  • “complete lose” should read “complete loss” above.

  • I sent a note to the website pointing out that the Dred Scott was correct. Disgusting, but correct.

    beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.

    Neither the declaration nor the constitution included this, but that it was believed by Taney that the framers believed this (reasonably). I don’t see how such a ruling could square with a strict constructionist principle of jurisprudence. Do we have to hold that everything the framers believed however proven by science and reason to be false should be upheld as constitutional even though they did not write it in the constitution? Look at the abortion situation, I really don’t know the framers understanding of embryology, but what if they believed that human beings just spontaneously formed in the woman’s womb moments before delivery (not unreasonable in the late 18th century)… would that then restrict the courts from protecting unborn children as “persons” given modern day understanding that the human embryo is fully human from the earliest stages? That the framers were ignorant of the inherent equality of Africans does not mean that this ABSOLUTE fact must not be acknowledged for all eternity without a constitutional amendment?

    No, strict constructionism must acknowledge without amendment any changes in the understanding of the natural order unless they are EXPLICITLY spelled out in the constitution.

    There should have been no need for a 13th amendment nor no need for the Human Life amendment. These laws were necessary because of horrendously bad judgments. Consider how much more powerful the SCOTUS has become since these terrible errors.

  • “Neither the declaration nor the constitution included this, but that it was believed by Taney that the framers believed this (reasonably).”

    Actually that was more a reflection of what Taney and most white Southerners had come to believe by the 1850’s. In his younger days Taney reflected the consensus of the Founding Fathers: slavery was an evil that would eventually die out. By the 1850s the South felt under siege, the slave economy of the South was booming, “scientific” racism was in vogue, and the idea that slavery was a positive good was argued by many Southerners. This was a radical change from the beliefts of such Southern Founding Fathers as Washington, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, etc., who regarded slavery as an evil that would eventually pass away in the relatively near future. That several states at this time period allowed free slaves to vote, including North Carolina, is an indication that no absolute bar to citizenship was held at the time of the Revolution on the basis of race. The evolution of thinking on slavery from 1776-1861 in America is a fascinating subject. The tragedy is that it tended to develop in opposite ways in the North and the South.

  • I believe we are getting away from the decision into ad hominem arguments. Taney was always admired for the precision of his arguments and his knowledge of the legal precedents, He had been a law clerk for one of the Maryland delegates to the Constitutional Convention so had good knowledge of what the delegates believed when they agreed to the Constitution.
    In this respect, the Founding Fathers were not nice people. They were slavers {“Vermin who traded in human flesh”] and no amount of whitewash will cover that. As Samuel Johnson snorted about the DECLARATION: “Virginia slavers preaching the equality of man”. Although there were fine examples of Southern slave owners [Taney among them] who emancipated “their” slaves, none of our slaver founders did so. They could not afford it, they said.

  • Gabriel, Dr, Johnson, brilliant writer though he was, was also a paid shill of King George III, receiving a pension of 300 pounds a year from 1762, a small fortune in those days. Of course he supported King George and villified his adversaries, both in England and in America!

    George Washington freed several of his slaves during his life and freed all of his slaves at his death and left bequests for the education of the younger slaves in trades.

    Founding Father Robert Carter III of Virginia freed hundreds of his slaves during his life and made arrangements to free all of them after his death.

    Most of the Founding Fathers of course had no slaves and were opposed to slavery.

  • Taney was always admired for the precision of his arguments and his knowledge of the legal precedents, He had been a law clerk for one of the Maryland delegates to the Constitutional Convention so had good knowledge of what the delegates believed when they agreed to the Constitution.

    Which is all well and good, but that still doesn’t mean that his decision was based even remotely upon sound legal reasoning.

    Again – the Dred Scott base was simply about whether or not a slave residing in free territory could be declared free. It had nothing to do about the ultimate justice of slavery in the US. NOTHING. Taney’s decision could have been justified had he and his cohorts simply declared that Dred Scott could not be freed, He stepped over the line when he declared Congress’ ability to prohibit slavery in the territories unconstitutional.

  • Donald R. McClarey Says:
    Sunday, April 19, 2009 A.D. at 2:58 pm

    “Gabriel, Dr, Johnson, brilliant writer though he was, was also a paid shill of King George III”

    This is what I mean about the constant use of ad hominem arguments on this site [and others]. Dr. Johnson was an unapologetic Tory. He was granted the pension for his literary work. The last thing he could be called is a “paid shill”.

    “George Washington freed several of his slaves during his life and freed all of his slaves at his death and left bequests for the education of the younger slaves in trades”.

    Why not all of the “men created equal”?

    I repeat my admiration for Roger Taney who regarded slavers “as vermin who trade in human flesh”.

  • paul zummo Says:
    Sunday, April 19, 2009 A.D. at 4:37 pm

    “Which is all well and good, but that still doesn’t mean that his decision was based even remotely upon sound legal reasoning”.

    I repeat, perhaps hopelessly, that it was not Taney’s decision. It was a decision of 8 of the 9 justices. At the time it was accepted quite calmly – indicating probably a majority agreement in the country. Including Mr. Lincoln.

    I repeat my chief point: for nearly a century, slavery was accepted in the United States. One may praise democracy as perhaps the least evil of governments, while remembering that the American democracy accepted the Jim Crow laws until the 1960s.

  • Johnson was a Tory Austin and he was also a paid shill. As long as a Whig ministry was in the good graces of the King he defended the Whig ministry. He was paid his pension because he would enter the lists on behalf of George III, as he did in the 1770’s in four pamphlets. Johnson was touchy about this, and well he should have been. He was no more an independent agent than a soldier in the British Army who took the King’s shilling. If he had spoken out against a policy favored by the King that pension would have grown wings and flown away, as happened routinely to people who fell out of favor with George III.

    Your comment that the Dred Scott decision was accepted calmly by the country is completely mistaken. The decision caused an uproar throughout the North. Here is Lincoln’s speech on the decision: http://www.freemaninstitute.com/lincoln.htm

  • In regard to Dred Scott, the vote on the decision was 7-2.

  • I repeat, perhaps hopelessly, that it was not Taney’s decision. It was a decision of 8 of the 9 justices.

    Seven of nine – one of the concurring Justices disagreed with Taney’s reasoning. And since Taney wrote the decision, it makes it his opinion. But that’s just a technical matter that really has little to do with the merits of the case.

    At the time it was accepted quite calmly – indicating probably a majority agreement in the country. Including Mr. Lincoln.

    Donald beat me to the punch on this. I simply have no clue how you can make that claim.

    I repeat my chief point: for nearly a century, slavery was accepted in the United States.

    Which, AGAIN, says nothing about the correctness of the decision. I don’t know why you have this mental block that prevents you from understanding that the case wasn’t about the moral rightness or wrongness of slavery. Your insistence upon this point is a complete non sequiter.

  • To try to make Samuel Johnson the “shill” of a political party gives but a shallow idea of his great thinking ability. He also had a way with words, teste the precision of his snort about “Virginia slavers preaching the equality of man”.

    As to the facts about the events after the decision, I can but again refer to Walker Lewis’ biography of Taney WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOR.

  • Paul Zummo writes:
    “Which, AGAIN, says nothing about the correctness of the decision. I don’t know why you have this mental block that prevents you from understanding that the case wasn’t about the moral rightness or wrongness of slavery. Your insistence upon this point is a complete non sequitur”.

    I wrote nothing about the morality of slavery. My point is the legality of slavery. The Dred Scott decision is based upon the concept that for the Constitution slaves were property – chattel. And that they were held to be inferior to others.

    This is the chief thrust of the decision.

    Lincoln also thought that blacks were inferior. Taney did not, being a good Catholic. He inherited three or four slaves. He immediately freed with a bourse those who could take care of themselves, and took into his household those who were too aged to take care of themselves. As a young lawyer he defended several blacks against criminal charges and was always generous to black associations.

  • Actually Gabriel by the 1850’s Taney was an ardent defender of slavery as noted here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=E0HS12DV98UC&pg=PA156&lpg=PA156&dq=taney+blacks+inferior&source=bl&ots=X5iwS0tA0U&sig=FMD7525JnV8XnOSlG46cmOmoeuI&hl=en&ei=qAnuSei8GozyMqSn2fEP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#PPA126,M1

    Taney in writing the decision of the Court was acting as a partisan of the slaveholding south. He thought he was resolving the question of slavery in this country, which just goes to demonstrate that Supreme Court justices can be just as susceptible to self-deception as most people.

  • The Dred Scott decision is based upon the concept that for the Constitution slaves were property – chattel. And that they were held to be inferior to others.

    This is the chief thrust of the decision.

    No. It. Isn’t.

    Seriously, read a constitutional law textbook. Or perhaps simply a history book. Your understanding of this case is mind-numbingly insufficient for you to be carrying on this conversation.

  • As to the facts about the events after the decision, I can but again refer to Walker Lewis’ biography of Taney WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOR.

    And no doubt Donald and I can refer to about 20 other books that would refute the idea that the decision went over well with a majority the population. It helps to have read more than one or two books on an issue if you’re trying to educate yourself on a given topic.

  • “I sent a note to the website pointing out that the Dred Scott was correct. Disgusting, but correct.

    “The Constitution does permit slavery [which Taney despised].”

    The only way for Dred Scott to have been “correct” is for the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America to have been incorrect. If ALL men are Created Equal, and Endowed by their Creator with the Unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and ALL governments must be instituted to “secure these rights,” then on what basis can the government of the United States permit the taking away of the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

    BTW, if Chief Justice Taney was such as a foe of slavery, why on Earth did he try to insure the victory of the Southern Slave States in the Civil War by issuing the his famous Ex Parte Merryman decision attempting to release the rebellious Maryland Militia Officer Lt. Merryman?

  • Neal Lang Says:
    Sunday, May 10, 2009 A.D. at 1:26 am
    G.A.: “I sent a note to the website pointing out that the Dred Scott was correct. Disgusting, but correct.
    The Constitution does permit slavery [which Taney despised].”

    “The only way for Dred Scott to have been “correct” is for the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America to have been incorrect. If ALL men are Created Equal, and Endowed by their Creator with the Unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and ALL governments must be instituted to “secure these rights,” then on what basis can the government of the United States permit the taking away of the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?”

    It is one of the difficulties in discussions about the Constitution is that it often confused with the Declaration. Like it or not, the Constitution is the basis of our laws. And it did permit the trade in slaves by “those vermin who trade in human flesh” [Taney] to continue for 20 years; and it did permit slavery.

    Taney is reviled for being the messenger who brought the bad news – that the U.S. was the country of freedom for white men and a few blacks [Indians not included]. Even Father Abraham believed that Negroes were inferior to whites and looked to shipping Negroes to Africa as a solution. Taney defended Negroes in court cases.

    Taney was not a partisan of the South. The decision in ex parte Merriman to suspend habeas corpus was upheld by several other courts, the argument being that only Congress had the power to suspend ex habeas.

    “Lincoln subsequently expanded the zone within which the writ was suspended. After reconvening on July 4th Congress rejected a bill favored by Lincoln to sanction his suspensions. Between 1861 and 1863 several additional federal district and circuit court rulings affirmed Taney’s opinion. Lincoln nevertheless continued making unauthorized suspensions for another two years until the Habeas Corpus Act of March 3, 1863 formally suspended the writ for him.
    “The Merryman decision is still among the best known Civil War-era court cases and also one of Taney’s most famous opinions. Its legal argument holding that Congress alone may suspend the writ is noted for reiterating the opinion of John Marshall and the court in Ex Parte Bollman (1807) and was recently restated by the Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004)”.

    The adulation of Lincoln goes too far. It also raises the question of whether Lincoln assumed to himself sole power to declare war – a power which seems to be assumed by presidents since Truman.

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

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

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

  • I never believed that ‘dialogue’ excuse for a nanosecond anyway.

    I remember hearing a few decades back that one way the pro-aborts used to get politicians to ‘change’ from a pro-life stance to a pro-abort one was to threaten to expose the pro-life politicians past involvement in an abortion…

    Hey when there is no logical explanation given for such an outrageous betrayal, one has to start wondering…

  • “conditions for constructive dialogue do not exist”

    Translation: “I didn’t expect 33+ bishops to uncork on me, and as sure as we have a cheesy leprechaun for a mascot, I don’t want to hear you quoting them. When I want input from the episcopate, I’ll send them talking points.”

  • Is this how the leftists in the Soviet Union did dialogue? The elitist masters speak and the masses listen intently with no dissent allowed?

  • Whenever someone to the left of me utilizes the word “dialogue,” I develop itch in various parts of my torso. So it was triggered on the news that Father Jenkins will not engage in it with pro-life ND students. Dialogue By Their Definition = We Will Lecture You More Forcefully. Not to worry. Father Jenkins has more immediate concerns. His job, more specifically.

Spirit of '09

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

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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8 Responses to Spirit of '09

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  • While I think the idea for tea parties is great… they’ve been distorted since the Paul campaign in ’07 had their online tea party that raised millions in one day.

    There’s a lot of great rhetoric going around, but I don’t believe its substantive. Its just the GOP back to its old strategy- give the liberty-leaning, state rights, conservative crowed the speeches they want to hear- then when we get into office someday, we’ll be just like the Democrats.

    Governor Perry sudden turn towards Jeffersonian-style ideas speaks more of his political need to distinguish himself from the current administration than it does on any genuine concern for states rights, the constitution, or local authority.

  • Its just the GOP back to its old strategy-

    It must be emphasized that the tea parties had little to do with the GOP – in fact I think many if not most of the participants have been or are as furious with the GOP as with the Democrat party.

  • I can vouch for what Paul said. I received zero contacts from the GOP on any level regarding the tea parties.

  • I would have liked to attend, but yesterday was a very busy day at work and I couldn’t get away.

    I agree – the sense that I have is that the tea parties are conservative/liberatarian and most protesters are (understandably) as disgusted with the GOP as they are with the Democrats.

    Anthony, it is quite remarkable, I think, that these protests, as small as many of them were, took place across the country. (Also bear in mind that they were not centrally organized, there is no Soros or union money behind them, and protesters were not bussed in from other locales. The left is much more professional when it comes to planning and organizing rallies.) I might be wrong, but I don’t think that a bunch of people just blew off some steam for a couple of hours and now will vanish. The tea parties might just be the first baby steps of something much larger. We don’t know yet, but I wouldn’t dismiss them as insubstantive. In fact, I don’t really think CNN does – hence the blatant attempt to ridicule and marginalize them.

  • Pingback: Spirit of 2009-Part II « The American Catholic
  • Perry fits to a tea that old adage “there go the people; I must rush ahead to lead them”

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Freedom vs. Choice

Wednesday, April 15, AD 2009

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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10 Responses to Freedom vs. Choice

  • Very well said. It’s been a bugaboo of mine for some time as people seem to relish championing bad choices all in the name of freedom. I once commented to a friend of mine about how silly I thought it was to own and operate a Hummer, and he made some kind of comment about the freedom to buy any vehicle a person wants. But I didn’t say anything about regulating hummers out of existence – I merely stated my own personal opinion on the matter. Of course, that brings up a semi-related subject: getting called on the carpet for wanting to suppress free speech when all you’ve done is make a criticism of what another has said, but that’s another matter.

    And here’s a little Edmund Burke to hammer home the point:

    But I cannot stand forward, and give praise or blame to anything which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing colour and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind. Abstractedly speaking, government, as well as liberty, is good; yet could I, in common sense, ten years ago, have felicitated France on her enjoyment of a government (for she then had a government) without inquiry what the nature of that government was, or how it was administered? Can I now congratulate the same nation upon its freedom? Is it because liberty in the abstract may be classed amongst the blessings of mankind, that I am seriously to felicitate a mad-man, who has escaped from the protecting restraint and wholesome darkness of his cell, on his restoration to the enjoyment of light and liberty? Am I to congratulate a highwayman and murderer, who has broke prison, upon the recovery of his natural rights? This would be to act over again the scene of the criminals condemned to the galleys, and their heroic deliverer, the metaphysic knight of the sorrowful countenance.

  • I appreciate this post because I have been coming across this same phenomenon myself – celebrating what is inherently disordered out of spite for those who wish to regulate it.

    People have been doing it to the Church for a long time, celebrating every deviant kind of sex in an effort to annoy. There is something cathartic about spite, it makes us feel like we’ve done something without really doing it. It’s what the feminists and others on my college campus would do, holding public lessons on how to properly put on condoms to spite the Protestant preachers there to give an earful to the kids about the dangers of sexual immorality.

    One conservative friend of mine decided to leave all his lights on during that hour when the environmentalists wanted all lights off as some sort of reminder of the threat of Global Warming. I’m not even sure he is convinced that GW is “fake”, but he was so annoyed by the effort – a purely voluntary effort in this case – that he wanted to “show them”.

    I wish we could do better, but even I like the thrill of spite, though I usually don’t engage in it politically. More on a personal level.

  • One can never have too much Burke! He, the Founding Fathers and Lincoln are my main political guiding lights. Burke put the point succinctly in a phrase I have never forgotten: “The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations,”.

  • One of the best recent theologians on this topic is the Belgian Dominican, Servais Pinckaers, whose _Sources of Christians Ethics_ is one of the best texts on moral theology of the 20th century. In that work and others, he distinguishes “freedom of indifference” and “freedom for excellence” (others have similarly distinguished “freedom from” and “freedom for”); it’s clearly the former notion which is dominant in general American discourse, unfortunately.

  • DC,

    And so it’s easy to find oneself celebrating Hummers to spite the environmentalists, celebrating cigarettes and fatburgers to spite the health regulators, and declaring we have no obligation to help the poor to tweek the social democrats.

    I’m not so sure that the former is really true so much as the Hummer is used a symbol of this particular freedom, I doubt that Laura actually has a hummer. That said, I don’t believe for a SECOND that many conservatives would suggest that there is no obligation to aid the poor, and the evidence is overwhelmingly the other way. Conservatives give FAR MORE to charity even excluding religious contributions than do liberals, we take our PERSONAL obligations to charity very importantly. I really think your comparison is apples to oranges. We can argue deep moral theology about the rightness of ever owning a hummer, smoking cigarettes or eating fatburgers, but there is not question as to the immorality of denying to PERSONALLY aid the poor and most vulnerable. The latter should be taken to heart by the “social democrats” such as Obama, who gave paltry sums to charity until he started running for national office and even then is dwarfed by the generosity of Bush and Cheney.

    Keeping ones lights on as a protest against an act of earth-worship seems like a reasonable protest, and really, relative to the cost of a rich liberals private jet flights to the site of similar protests is really not harmful to the environment (not to mention the environmental harm in promoting the earth-worship).

  • That said, I don’t believe for a SECOND that many conservatives would suggest that there is no obligation to aid the poor, and the evidence is overwhelmingly the other way.

    It’s a fine distinction, but I have heard a number of other self identified conservatives say that they have no obligation to help the poor, but should be left free to choose to do so (or not) as they see fit.

    I would tend to say, on the other hand, that we do have an obligation to help the poor, but that some or all of that obligation should be left up to free action rather than being forced. (In similar terms, I suppose, how we as parents have an obligation to care for our children, but the state doesn’t step in and take care of them for us until neglect becomes severe.)

    The data is, of course, that — whatever the reason — conservatives do have a tendency to give more to charity than their liberal economic peers.

  • We are obliged not just as individuals, but as a society to aid those in need… I think that sometimes we overreact to the statist impulses of some by claiming that no such communal obligation exists, when in fact it does.

  • The government should aid those who cannot aid themselves. The problem is that we have too many people receiving assistance from the government who could work and who are simply getting an undeserved free ride. This of course detracts from aid that should go to those truly in need.

    An all too typical disability scam is reported on here: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2008/10/police_sergeants_9year_fight_f.html

    As the father of a son who, because of his autism, will probably never be able to work outside of a sheltered workshop environment, I have only contempt for healthy individuals who through fraud and scams take tax payer funds that could make life so much better for those unable to work.

  • True, Chris, and I also know that in my own case (because I admit having the “OK, this environmentalist is scolding me? I’m going to run out and buy a steak and turn the heat up, so there!” reaction), it’s also a desire to tweak the left’s puritanism.

    Leftists are not puritanical about sex, so they think they’re not puritanical. However, their prudishness has been transferred to other spheres – eating, drinking, health, and consumption. And as far as turning on the lights during Earth Hour, well, I made no special effort to have my place ablaze with lights, but, like Al Gore, I didn’t turn off my lights either. I agree with Glenn Reynolds on this one when he says he’ll start acting like global warming is a crisis when the people who tell us it is one behave like it themselves.

  • Agreed, Donald. This is another reason why subsidiarity is so important, not just theoretically, but practically as well: if problems are addressed at as small a level of government as possible, there is greater efficiency and more room for the exercise of prudence (as opposed to bureaucratic process; cf. MacIntyre).

Heee's Back!

Wednesday, April 15, AD 2009

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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7 Responses to Heee's Back!

  • That was the most over the top apologetic for Obama Kmiec has done yet

    The Obama administration has assumed the mantle of Catholicism? What?

    I really would like to know what was behind this “conversion” of his on a host of issues. I have a feeling that someone someplace hurt his feelings and he has been on rage ever since

  • JH,

    Kmiec reminds us every chance he gets what event huwt his wittle feewings and caused him to “convert” on a whole host (no pun intended) of issues.

  • Jay

    I suspect it was earlier and had to deal with the Romney camapign. Maybe he is upset that more Catholics dod not see his wisdom and flock to Mitt. Maybe somebody from the McCain group failed to do the necessary adoration to him after Mitt failed to win California.

    I don’t know it is all so bizaree

  • I think it’s a combination. Surely the Romney thing played a role and got Kmiec looking at Obama over McCain. But I believe the Communion thing seems to have almost radicalized him.

    Prior to that, he was at least making an effort to portray himself as a “conservative”.

  • Kmiec’s conversion to caesaropapism is complete.

  • LOL , Dale that is right.

    Perhaps next week Kmiec will be advocating that Bishops be confirmed and approved by Our Emperor

  • Dale,

    When he left us, he was but the learner. Now he is the master.

Atheism As Fashion Statement

Wednesday, April 15, AD 2009

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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8 Responses to Atheism As Fashion Statement

  • I actually liked his biography on Lewis. Yes, it is critical, but it helps one to look at Lewis in a different, non-hagiographical light (and even shows elements of that, too).

  • Wilson first laments how Britain has shorn itself of much of its Christian heretage, then goes on to proclaim that he’s now a Christian. This sounds very much like the “fashion statement” you deride atheism of being.

    Atheists have no illusions that theism or religion will be dying out any time soon, given the growing body of evidence suggesting its natural evolutionary origins. Religion itself evolves; one merely has to note the thousands of Christian sects to appreciate this fact.

    You wrote, “Wilson reminds us of one of the great strengths of Christianity. A habit God has of raising up champions for us among the opposition.”

    Is God similarly raising up opponents of Christianity from among its former champions? The number of such individuals is too numerous to count now. One of them, John W. Loftus, has written an exceedingly powerful and well-received book: Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity.

  • Robert, the answer to your question is no. God is not responsible for the delusion of atheists that matter and energy came into existence ex nihilo and certainly does not provide champions for that position. As with all examples of human folly, humans embrace atheism all by themselves.

  • To clarify my above comment, atheists have to believe in creation of matter and energy ex nihilo without God, unless they believe in some eternal source creating matter and energy out of nothingness which they do not call God.

  • Donald, I’m sorry, but I fail to see how the origins of the universe relates to my question whether God is raising up opponents to Christianity.

  • I answered your question Robert. God does not lead us into folly, rather quite the reverse.

  • Interesting to see Mr. Wilson pop up again! I read his Belloc bio from the ’80s and enjoyed it though it was erratic and not always reliable. (Some of that may have been due to his biases of the time.) Yet the book was sympathetic and he gave Belloc credit on some of the tough issues, like alleged anti-Jewish bigotry. At any rate, this is nice news, especially from the UK where things are a little bleak at the moment!

  • From Anglican to Catholic to Anglican to atheist to Christian once again – that’s quite a bit of hopping around. A.N. Wilson is a very good writer though, and I am glad to see he is back in the fold.

    The UK’s situation does sound bleak. I might get jumped on for saying this, but I wonder if a problem there is that the evangelical movement is much weaker than it is in the States (although the UK is evangelicalism’s home turf) and consequently, a predominately Protestant country is left with what would be called “mainline Protestantism” here in the States. It seems as though such weak tea no longer satisfies or inspires or even interests many Britons. I am sure there are good and holy Anglicans, but whenever I read anything Rowan Williams has to say I thank the Lord for Pope Benedict.

Fantasy Fundamentalism

Tuesday, April 14, AD 2009

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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53 Responses to Fantasy Fundamentalism

  • Just want to subscribe to follow comments. ^.^

  • DarwinCatholic,

    There’s a big difference between Christian Allegory, where one can see such the correlation between elements of the Christian Faith (in fact, that is why allegory was quite useful in teaching children the faith in certain cultures) as opposed to something that may actually foster a curiosity for and even a devotion to the occult.

    And, on another note, to those who would actually deny the Catholic Allegorical Theme of The Lord of the Rings (contra even Tolkien himself):

    “…But, at the end of the day, we may, with Tolkien’s approval, speak of the saga as a Catholic masterpiece. A postscript to this might be the observation that no Protestant could conceivably have written this saga, since it is profoundly “sacramental”. That is, redemption is achieved wholly via physical means — cf The Incarnation, Golgotha, the Resurrection, and the Ascension — and the tale is sprinkled with “sacramentals” such as lembas, athelas, Galadriel’s phial of light, mithril, etc.”

    Link:
    Does it make sense to speak of The Lord of the Rings as a “Catholic Masterpiece”?

  • Thing is, Harry Potter’s world does have a lot of Christian symbols in it– enough that there’s a Catholic priest making a podcast on the subject:
    http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=10516&cmd=tc

    Sad to say, Middle Earth has been used to foster occult devotion; often by folks who would deny the symbols if you did point them out.
    http://mepagans.proboards.com/index.cgi?
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Middle-Earth_Pagans/summary
    https://www.penelopebokhandel.no/vare.php?ean=9780738715360
    All they see is elves, magic and dragons.

    It’s sad, because what I think they’re hungry for is what the Church offers, at her best– but they never see it, never taste the rich stories, never feel the symbols twine around their minds and emotions or smell the incense while a candle warms their hand at midnight Mass.

  • Foxfier,

    Now that’s weird — although I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Such erratic devotion concerning things as that such as even Dungeons & Dragons was actually the subject of an earlier film of Tom Hanks that attempted to wrestle with an issue as serious (not to mention, psychologically disturbing) as that.

    It’s sadly tragic.

  • The movie was “Rona Jaffe’s Mazes and Monsters”. The title was chosen to avoid lawsuits by TSR, the owner of Dungeon and Dragons. It was a poor movie and demonstrated a lack of understanding of the hobby. It has become a cult classic at gaming conventions. I have been involved in boardgames and roleplaying games for over 30 years, although my wife is the true roleplaying expert. Roleplaying games are basically harmless although like most hobbies there are nut fringe elements. A good lighthearted look at the hobby is contained in every issue of Knights of the Dinner Table:

    http://www.kenzerco.com/

  • …You’re not talking about Mazes and Monsters?!

    Looking to Mazes and Monsters for a look at the “issue” of D&D or even RPGs is like looking at a Dan Brown novel for insight to the Catholic Church’s history.

    That movie was written like someone had done research by sending letters to the Jack Chick subscriber’s list… besides the fact that D&D isn’t LARP (live action role-play).

    That piece of garbage caused several folks I know to turn away from the folks’ faith, because the flat-out lies it offered caused well meaning relatives to go utterly psychotic about kids playing a role playing game.
    I am not kidding about “psychotic”– a chaplain on the Essex also tried to get one of the guys assigned to do her paperwork kicked out of the Navy, entirely, because he played D&D.
    The Captain said no.
    (odd how she didn’t mind committing adultery with the XO, openly… guess a world with strict moral alignments where actions at odds with your morality can have quick, huge effects just didn’t sit well with her)

    The poor kid the movie is based on– James Dallas Egbert III– was royally screwed up. Here’s his story, minus Hollywood:
    http://members.pcug.org.au/~davidjw/tavspecs/maint/d_master.htm
    He was 15, on college, decided he was gay and tried to commit suicide. When that didn’t work, he when and hid with boyfriends.
    News saw paintings done by the SCA and decided it was D&D based.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zng5kRle4FA is a classic, funny but kinda accurate D&D game….minus that the guy did it with funky character models.

  • There’s a big difference between Christian Allegory, where one can see such the correlation between elements of the Christian Faith (in fact, that is why allegory was quite useful in teaching children the faith in certain cultures) as opposed to something that may actually foster a curiosity for and even a devotion to the occult.

    I’d certainly agree that there’s a big difference between those two things. It’s just that I wouldn’t necessarily agree either that Tolkien wrote Christian allegory (Lewis clearly was, but Tolkien insisted that he hated allegory and didn’t mean LotR to be an allegory) or that HP particularly fosters devotion to the occult (any more so than any other children’s novel set in an imaginary world.)

    There is, I think, a certain danger present in any clearly imaginary world that people may decide they like the idea of trying to live in that world better than trying to live a good life in the real one. Escapism is one of the ways that the devil tempts us to channel our energies into something other than cultivating real virtue.

    Now, there are fantasy authors that I’d keep my kids away from until their mid teens, both because I don’t think they’re very good and because I think they have problematic worldviews (Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffery spring to mind), but overall I would not see fantasy as a genre as being overly a temptation to the occult.

    I confess to curiosity as to what some of those who worry about Harry Potter would make of novels such as The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams (a good friend of Lewis and Tolkien) or Last Call by Tim Powers, a devoutly Catholic fantasy author, but perhaps it’s better not to go there.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): I GM role-playing games for 2 of our 3 kids; however, we are very selective about which published modules we play — fall of Constaninople YES, secret Satanic cult at a monastery in Glastonbury NO, f. ex.. In modules with less historical settings, we tend to downplay the polytheism — but keep almost everything else. The kids prefer fighting monsters in dungeons and the wilderness, while I prefer mystery-themed urban adventures requiring talking to NPCs most of the time (but I’m usually the GM, so I get to pick!). With those provisos (and no evil-aligned PCs, by mutual consent), we manage to have lots of enthralling fun without getting obsessed (we aren’t generally able to make enough time to game to have time to get obsessed about it!).

  • Oh my gosh, what a blast from the past — Tom Hanks in “Mazes and Monsters”! I remember when this movie came out. I was just out of high school and dating a guy who was a big D & D player (and a practicing Catholic; we met through Teens Encounter Christ). I watched it and found it actually pretty laughable. His mom belonged to a charismatic prayer group at the time, and took some flak from some of her friends for letting her son play such an “evil” game. Didn’t seem to hurt him any though. The last I heard he was married, had a couple of kids and a nice job in the computer industry. I guess “Mazes and Monsters” has become the “Reefer Madness” of role playing games 🙂

    I also read “The Dungeonmaster” book some years ago. I thought it was a very good book that did NOT in any way sensationalize role playing games. It provided a very intriguing look into the life of a private detective, as well as the troubled life of Dallas Egbert — who did, tragically, commit suicide within a year after his disappearance. Dallas had an extremely high, genius level IQ (he was attending Michigan State full-time at age 16) and had trouble relating to others his age; he may very well have had Asperger Syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism, often associated with high IQs and “geeky” personalities) on top of his other problems.

    Gaming addiction has been around for years, probably generations, and takes various forms. In the 70s and 80s the big thing was D & D; today it’s Second Life and World of Warcraft. I participate in Second Life occasionally and could write quite a bit about that topic, but I’ll save it for another day.

  • I’m a Final Fantasy man myself.

    I like Warhammer too.

    And the Elder Scrolls universe is also interesting in that it actually has an organized Church that isn’t supposed to be evil, but good. Only they have nine “divines” instead of one.

    Fantasy is a good way to present perennial human issues as archetypes and symbols. It is a little silly to think that fictional “magic” is anything like the ritual magic practiced by actual pagans.

    I suppose it could be in some stories, some get quite deeply into the magic, but most of the time we’re dealing with fire balls and lighting bolts, or turning a man into a duck. Most stories have good magic and bad magic, magic associated with virtues that are practically Christian and magic associated with Satanic values.

    Fantasy is a world of imagination, and having magical powers is often a way to have a wider range of imagination. That’s all. It pushes things along, makes certain implausible things more plausible, gives you more options. None of it is meant to pay homage to Satan. Most real Satanists don’t value ritual magic as much as they do the sort of anti-morals promulgated by people such as Anton LeVey. Or Ayn Rand.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

  • Unless a story offers small, simple and easily digestible prepackaged slices of catechesis, I want nothing to do with it. Now excuse me while I go fight Sephiroth.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

    And this, as we know, is the spirit of Vox Nova. 😉 More seriously, I meant to apologize to you Henry for not being more circumspect in approaching that post of yours. I still think your wording was very ambiguous, but I should have asked for clarification before criticizing it.

  • John Henry

    I admit I was annoyed by your response, because I find your responses in general tend to be top-notch (even when we disagree). I originally wrote the post to basically highlight quotes I found from Flannery which I liked, but then put them around in a quick exposition to make it so it is more than just random quotes. I think the point I was making still was put up in the first paragraph, but it’s easy to forget the over-arching context in many an argument (just read Balthasar if you want to see that happen in a bad way from time to time). Nonetheless, I was surprised — but it’s in the past, no? As my Easter post quotes from Resurrection Matins– forgive everything, it’s Pascha.

  • It goes back to Flannery O’Connor who pointed out how untrained most Catholics are in reading books, and how they will judge a book filled with Christian themes (like Potter) as unChristian.

    Though I’m not sure that this is Catholics in particular more than people in general. If Catholics have some tendency towards this, Protestants currently have much more so. And frankly, most people aren’t readers.

    I think O’Connor found the criticism of other Catholics particularly frustrating because she was Catholic, but to a great extent she was criticizing average Catholics simply for being rather average.

  • What I find particular troubling is that I’m learning that so many of my Catholic blogging friends are geeks.

    😉

  • What *I* find troubling is that this post didn’t stir up any anti-HP lurkers… it’s no fun when there’s broad agreement! 🙂

  • I’ve earned my right to be a geek, and I’m proud of it!!!

  • This post is hilarious!

    While I enjoyed reading much of the comments in the thread, it just struck me as spectacularly funny that instead of any substantive discussion dealing with the actual topic of the post concerning Potter or even going so far as provoking the inflamed ire of the HP or even anti-HP camp, we thoroughly went the other direction and indulged ourselves in an enlightening discussion concerning role-playing games, of all things and, for some of us, went to reminisce about former days!

    For those of you still caught up in those role-playing games, didn’t y’all learn something from St. Paul in the scriptural passage that went:

    “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.”
    (1 Cor 13:11)

    ;^)

  • I think that the whole “occult” worry is really overplayed. Even if a story with dragons and such isn’t a particularly good Christian allegory, I don’t really see it as a serious threat to Christianity. I think much of the worries about the occult come from days when sorcery and such were a viable competitor to Christianity. Nowadays I don’t really think that threat exists.

  • What *I* find troubling is that this post didn’t stir up any anti-HP lurkers…

    I know, poor Foxfier thought he’d get to see some sparks fly when he subsribed above; instead it’s an anti-anti-fantasy echo chamber.

  • e., my guess is that even Saint Paul took some time for recreation. If life is all grind stone and no mirth, it is a poor life indeed.

  • She, actually, although with a ‘nim like mine it’s not always clear.

    I wouldn’t consider bloody smiting of horrific evil all that childish…. *shrug*

    Some folks go bowling; I roll dice.

    I was less interested in sparks than in stopping the stuff I’ve seen hurt my friends. Some folks I dearly love are still estranged from the Church because of the actions of well meaning but wrong folks.

  • Well, if any anti-Potter forces want to swarm the post, we appear to have plenty of people with high hit-points ready to stand to the defense…

    E., [what is the preferred punctuation and capitalization for addressing you?]

    Myself, I could never see the point of video or role playing games (though I do enjoy strategy board games and occasionally play Go and chess on the internet) but I’m not sure one can really sort out the rhyme or reason of what people consider a fun way to spend their leisure hours.

    I can never understand how some people manage to spend hours watching sports, and I’m sure that many would question the maturity of my spending an hour or two each day blogging and commenting.

    So long as people don’t let their avocations overwhelm their vocations, I don’t see any harm in it.

  • She, actually,

    Whoops. Sorry!

  • Call me a geek again and I’ll bash ya with my +5 battle-axe!

  • Here, Kyle, use this.
    *tosses a +5 vorpal sword of reason*

    It works nicely!

    JH– no offense taken– and it puts my mind at ease, actually. I spent a lot of time cropping the icon I’m using to make sure it wouldn’t upset folks. ^.^

  • Foxfier (and others),

    My last comments were made only in jest.

    (On the name though, perhaps ‘Sailorette’ (?) might have been a better name to go by ;^) since Foxfier seems to evoke more of a male persona.)

    I really did like going over the comments and found the ongoing discussion about role-playing games rather enjoyable and, in some cases, even interesting, thanks to the sincere participation of folks here & elsewhere.

    I did have classmates in school though who actually participated in a number of these role-playing modules.

    In fact, they not only had D&D but also (and folks can correct me here if I should happen to refer to any of these in error) included other versions such as Marvel World as well as even Star Trek (complete with schematics as well as the popular alien languages, I believe!)!

    At any rate, I think the comments from Darwin Catholic as well as Mr. McClarey remain the more relevant even insofar as the Potter matter (as well as role-playing games) is concerned — less we descend into some deleterious Walter Mittian condition from which there may be no escape.

  • Jeez,

    I just play Civ III. Haven’t even gotten into Civ IV. Guess I’m getting old.

  • Phillip, get it with all the expansions. There is no finer computer strategy game on the market, with the possible exception of Europa Universalis III (There, I’m sure I have raised the blog’s geek quotient by at least 2% with this comment!)

  • Donald, I’m glad to hear that you and your wife are gamers. My wife and I are, too.

    I’m still playing D&D 20 years after I started, and I get to introduce my kids to it, too.

    As I said on a gaming board (Knights & Knaves Alehouse) some months back: trad gamer, trad Catholic…looks like I’m just a trad.

    LOL!

  • Flambeaux we grognards have to stick together!

  • Haven’t even heard of Europa Universalis I or II let alone III. I think you’ve just pegged the geek meter.

  • Phillip I cannot leave you in the dark on such a vital subject:

    http://pc.ign.com/articles/881/881636p1.html

  • Let’s ask an exorcist.

    A quote from Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International and an exorcist:

    “I’m very set against Harry Potter,” he said. “It’s pumping into our children’s minds the language and imagery of the occult. It’s extremely spiritually dangerous.”

    http://thebulletin.us/articles/2009/02/03/news/local_state/doc4988101b9f018743172734.txt

    Let’s be prudent and take his advice.

  • If that quotation is accurate, Euteneuer is wrong. End of story.

    I know witchcraft. I practiced witchcraft. And neither Harry Potter nor D&D has anything on real witchcraft.

    Avoid it if you feel you must, but don’t slander it out of ignorance.

  • Thank goodness “set” of an exorcist isn’t binding!

    I rather doubt he’s read the books, or even has any idea about what’s inside of them– since he lumps them with Wicca and New Age practices.

    From the sound of the other select quotes– which can be very easily edited to give a false impression, so who knows what the facts are– he’s of the “It has witches? Bad. It has vampires? Bad. It has dragons? Bad.” school.

  • Donald,

    Looks good. Of course I lived too many years in New England and became quite a Yankee (the cheap kind.) That’s why I’m still on Civ III. So it might take a while before I feel comfortable parting with the cash for Europa. 🙂

  • Donald,

    I’m honored to be considered a grognard. 😀

    If you get a chance, drop by the Alehouse. I use the same handle there as here.

  • A long while back, I got a bit annoyed and went into a D&D spellbook to show folks what the “magic” is like– I think it was some idiot “magik” or “magick” or whatever user claiming that D&D was accurate to reality-based magic.

    http://sailorette.blogspot.com/2006/02/oh-irony.html

    I looked into the augment spell “Bear’s Endurance” and the possibly inflammatory “Augury.”

    I also did a long-winded overview of alignments.

  • Being an exorcist does not in itself make one competent to speak on literature or even on the symbolism of evil in literature.

  • Phillip, imagine the library fine! I hope that I would have been honest enough to return the book, but volume I of Napier’s Peninsular War would have been very tempting to retain!

  • Flambeaux, I’ll drop by the Alehouse sometime. It sounds like fun.

  • Connie

    There’s a worse book for people to study. Here, I have a post all about it: http://vox-nova.com/2007/11/01/beware-the-danger-of-wheelocks-latin-grammar/

    As I point out at the beginning, “Wheelock’s Latin Grammar: just the mere mention of this book should send shivers down the spines of good Catholics everywhere. It’s a deceptive little book, trying to convince good, faithful Catholics into reading pagan literature which glorifies the evil pagan gods of Rome.

    Good Christians died so they didn’t have to praise Jupiter or Pluto. Such worship, they believed, would jeopardize their very souls. And what do we have here? A book which an unsuspecting Catholic might use to teach themselves Latin. It convinces its adherents to write out long, detailed praises to the those gods which we all know were in reality bloodthirsty demons. Christians, the martyrs died so we could abandon the ways of pagan Rome, so why do you go back and fall for this blatant piece of pagan propaganda? If you question the seriousness of this, just look at what kinds of books are put next to it: Virgil’s Aeneid, Cicero’s On the Nature of the Gods, or Apuleius’ Golden Ass. Can any good come from a book associated with such evil? Of course not!”

  • I’ve used the Wheelock book to study Latin. It doesn’t strike me as a form of idolatry to translate such texts, but rather the use of what we call classical Latin.

    I’m curious as to what text of quality Latin one would have us translate. The majority of Romans at the time happened to be pagan, therefore, it should show up in their work. I’m not sure that a ‘good Christian’ would be afraid to read the words of a pagan, if the ‘good Christian’ is educated enough in their faith to follow the errors of paganism.

  • Eric

    I suggest you read the post.

  • *big grin* Not quite analogous, but nice.

    It does bring up another point– almost everyone does “world mythology” by fourth grade. For that matter, Stargate: SG1 has a lot of “gods” and powers. (Heck, I even named one of my cats after the worst bad guy!)

    SG1 is also in a similar situation as Harry Potter– it’s a hidden project. Additionally, there’s a lot of rejection of authorty, generally without much of a result.

  • FF, while I’ve seen episodes of SG1 here and there, I just watched the first season in order on Hulu… it’s an enjoyable show (I’m waiting for additional seasons to be posted), but it definitely earns an occasional eyeroll for the various manifestations of the superficial materialism and faith in progress which informs its worldview.

  • Just wait until you get to the Ascended.

  • Darwin:
    “Yes, Tolkien’s work is deeply Christian, but not because he has direct correlaries for the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist in his story, but rather because Middle Earth works in the way the way that Catholics see the real world as working in certain key ways.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh, and I’ll cheerfully take up my husband’s epee (hey, those things can leave some welts!) and help man the barricades against anti-Potterian prejudice.

    e:
    Ditto what Darwin said above: Tolkein denied that his work was Christian allegory. I prefer to think of it as implicitly rather than explicitly Christian.

    Donald:
    Why am I not surprised to learn you’re an ex-RP gamer?

  • Anyone watch the trailer for HBP last night? I’ve been generally happy with the film adaptations, and this one looks to be of the same quality.

13 Responses to Maybe I should turn myself in?

  • Very predictable. Overreaching. Smearing righteous God-fearing Americans as potential troublemakers. Probably had the imprimatur of Dear Leader. But leaked to WashTimes, Roger Hedgecock, El Rushbo. Somebody who knows somebody e-mailed the document to the wrong people and bammo. White House disavows it conveniently. Ms. Napolitano- one of the Administration’s pet pro-abort Catholics- has egg all over face. And so convenient before the Tea Parties. Better, funnier signs will be ignored by MSM teevee outlets on Wednesday. Another Administration experiment went poof. Like Fairness Doctrine. Or FOCA. Or other potential threats to health, freedom, bank account, sanity, religious rights. Might limit the octopus-like reach over life in this great country. More inflammatory documents please, Ms. Napolitano.

  • To be fair, Alex Jones has been documenting this sort of thing for a long time now, under administrations both Republican and Democrat.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Jones is a little nutty most of the time but on his website I’ve seen links to official “anti-terrorism” guides distributed to police that identify both right-wing “patriot” groups and left-wing “subversive” groups.

  • Jeff, the same card has been played against groups on the left in the past, and it was just as despicable. There is a world of difference, for example, between a group which opposes the war in Iraq by peaceful protest and a group seeking to carry out terrorist attacks against targets here in the US. These types of fliers from Homeland Security are also a waste of time. There is nothing in this one that would be of any use to law enforcement from my experience of dealing with various law enforcement agencies over the years as an attorney. They want precise information as to local threats, not vague speculations.

  • At the risk of generalizing, it strikes me that Democratic administrations like to worry about domestic right wing threats, while Republican administrations like to worry about foreign threats. In both cases, these threats best fit their worldviews.

    As I recall, there was all sorts of worrying about “right wing militias” under the Clinton administration well before the OKC bombing. Indeed, in a sense, the paranoia about them was one of the things which led to the Branch Davidian snafu, which was McVeigh’s putative cause in the OKC bombing.

  • Yeah, I remember the same type of stuff during the Clinton years. I wasn’t sure which was more irritating at the time; the Clinton administration’s paranoia or the paranoia of people on the right in response to the Clinton’s paranoia.

  • Hush. When you talk I can’t hear the black helicopters…

  • heh. I will say it doesn’t take a cynic to notice there is strategic value in associating one’s ideological opponents with fanatics prone to violence.

  • Americans by and large have always historically been suspicious of government. We would not have a nation now but for the extreme suspicion by the colonists of the actions of the British government after the French and Indian war. Some suspicion is a good thing; too much suspicion and you stay up all night listening to Art Bell and trying to scratch itches under your tin foil hat. This document will definitely increase the suspicion level as to the Obama administration among conservatives, hopefully not to absurd levels.

  • An FBI member who infiltrated the Weather Underground tells of how the WU planned to purge the country of their enemies if they were successful in overthrowing the government. Bluster no doubt, but it goes to show where their thinking was. Our president chose the leader of the WU as a friend. I cannot get around this, and I cannot ever trust 0bama. He is a bad person. A bad person cannot be a good president.

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Abortion Pride Movement

Tuesday, April 14, AD 2009

18-week-unborn-child

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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3 Responses to Abortion Pride Movement

  • But Donald! Donald! How can this be? I’ve been repeatedly assured that no one is pro-abortion!

    And Barack Obama wouldn’t lie about thing like that, would he?

  • Not surprised at all. Pro-abort movement is spectacularly shameless. But they show their coldness. Their addiction to the quick buck. Tough to make a legitimate argument beyond It’s My Body And I’ll Cry If I Want To (Lesley Gore 1964, produced by Quincy Jones.) The time is growing for a severe and fundamental revulsion against this ghastly practice. With or without support of Official Political or Chattering Classes- note their laffs over April 15 Tea Parties. No matter. Rachel will bewail her children.

  • “Like Appel, describing abortion as safe, legal, and rare” has always deeply offended me…the rare part, that is. Should women be rare? Should our sexuality and sexual expression be rare?”

    See what it always comes down to?

    Here is what I think, though – if even Obama is talking about “safe legal and rare”, about “abortion reduction”, the abortion movement loses moral ground. He and others like him have no choice. To promote abortion as a “good” thing would end up hurting abortion – but to promote it as a thing that ought to be “rare” doesn’t really help it either. I think we can thank those in the pro-life movement who have forced millions to see the graphic and brutal nature of abortion for this. All you have to do is tell the truth about abortion for people to reject it.

    On another note, I thought it was really interesting that at Rev. Walter Hoye’s arraignment (he was arrested for sidewalk counseling outside the “free speech zone), his supporters were young, multi-racial, equally composed of men and women.

    The supporters of the abortion clinic, by contrast, were old white people. And this was in San Francisco.

    And this article is written by another old white boomer, or maybe closer to gen X, its hard to tell from the picture.

Middle-Aged and Lovin' It!

Monday, April 13, AD 2009

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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5 Responses to Middle-Aged and Lovin' It!

  • A beautiful reflection. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, but suspect you are right to suggest it is an avenue of grace and growth.

  • 46 Tim? Try 52 on for size! By my standard you are still a kid. Oh well we are only as old as we feel. Some days for me that is around 28, but I also I have days when 84 seems the appropriate age!

  • Jonathan- there is something in the grief of a child lost in very early stages of pregnancy that I would imagine is more than a bit different from losing even that same child very late in the term, and especially sometime after birth- it isn’t that one can avoid grief because we believe that a life began at the beginning- the fertilization/conception, but when something happens early into a pregnancy, there is a sense that nature is playing her role. For something to happen that quickly, one can believe that this child really stood no chance of survival, and it stings less when you have only imagined what that child would have looked like, or imagined holding, hugging and kissing that child. There is a great hole in the universe, but when I contemplate losing one of my three children here with us now- it is an unbearable thought- only God’s grace could pull me through- with Talitha, there seemed that ‘severe mercy’ in “her” passing, so quickly- the mercy being perhaps for us- for my wife, just like in a full-term pregnancy the physical burden is truly hers as much as I’d like to enter into that with her. And just like with giving birth, the loss in a miscarriage is really experienced to the core by the woman- and her grief has been more intense than my own- I’m sure that’s why. The fact that it happened earlier rather than later seems like the severe mercy- and the fact that our son was conceived and is here now at this time would not be the case if Talitha had made it through. The children are amazing in how they have embraced this lost sister, it is like second nature for them to draw pictures of her as part of the family- with her in heaven. They ask about her sometimes and it really helps to give straight answers, and not have to lie- which I imagine would be the case for those who don’t believe in heaven, or believe that life begins at conception. For us, the child-like faith is real, my daughters and I connect spiritually over Talitha, and over what is to come in our future when we start passing over into the heavenly realm. We pray for Talitha and we ask her to pray for us every night. We just have to trust God with all of this- where else can we turn- to paraphrase Scripture. There is God and there is cause for hope, or there is no God and thus no hope. I choose life and hope, and faith is the link to both.

  • I like your post.

    Though only thirty, I’ve been passing for early middle age for several years. (Having four kids helps.) Somehow when I turned 30 last year the news leaked out at work what age I was, and there was general disbelief as I’d been giving the impression I was “in my thirties” for the last five years. I could never understand why people were so down on middle age. Having got there early, I intend to stay a long time.

  • Would never under any circumstances return to so-called good old days. I wear the paunch, the baldness, the sixth pair of bifocals proudly. Assembling a pictoral autobiography for another program- Landmark Wisdom Course, dontcha know. Found a treasure trove of kiddie pix. Many sports photos of course- will certainly include our beloved Harry Kalas who passed away before Phils-Nats afternoon game in press box. Even music- could not conceive of 1967 without Sgt. Pepper or ’73 with Roe V. Wade. Found humongous pic of Second Vatican Council bishops underneath rotunda. Will provide ample tribute to my dear saintly Irish grandmother and heroic uncle/missionary priest. Then get on to the next adventures. Thanks be to God.

Happy Tax Freedom Day Illinois!

Monday, April 13, AD 2009

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

Monday, April 13, AD 2009

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

  • Well- here is the problem I have with the case made by those American Catholics who pretty much toe the pro-Israel line in these type of discussions. The 800 lb. gorilla in the room is the Palestinian Catholic and Christian community point-of-view. This is the point-of-view I champion because first- these are my brothers and sisters in Christ- many American Catholics act as if the mostly secular Jews of America and Israel are their spiritual soul mates- this smacks of the distorted theology of fundamentalist Christian Zionism.

    Secondly, I took up the challenge of coming to a position on events in Israel-Palestine, by going to live in Galilee with a Palestinian priest who started a school for children- Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim. I spent about 3 months in this community, and travelled with some of the high school studentsand teachers around the region. The history teacher kept pointing out where former Palestinian villages were destroyed or taken over by Israelis and given new names and new residents. The bitterness was palpable. I also was offered work as a teacher for U.S. AID, in Hebron, West Bank- I went to scout it out and found a nightmare. About 500 Jewish settlers took over some buildings in the downtown of a town of around 100,000 Palestinians lived. They were supported and protected by the Israeli military- they even have holidays where the Jews are allowed to march down the streets shouting racist tripe while the military keeps the Arabs off the streets at gunpoint- sounds like something American Catholics should be rallying against, not supporting to the hilt. Needless to say I turned down the job because I felt that I would be a legitimate target for Arab violence, representing the U.S. government who sponsers and supports Israel like it was a U.S. state, not a foreign country.

    I really just don’t get how American Catholics can so easily overlook the obvious best source of information on the Israel-Palestine conflict- the local Catholic community. I suspect it is because most Americans go to the Holy Land as tourists seeking personal spiritual fulfillment, not as comprehensive truth seekers. And of course, American Catholic poll just the same as all other Americans on every major issue, seemingly, so it is apparent that most are not doing much homework to dig into Holy See viewpoints, let along the Holy Land’s Catholic Hierarchical views. And so, the AIPAC/CAMERA narrative wins the propaganda war, dominating both major parties, all the major media, and with strong footholds in Christian Zionist and conservative Catholic niches, it is a slam-dunk for Israel, All-Israel- all the time. The Palestinians are ignored during long stretches of relative non-violent resistance- with no attention given to the checkpoints, the land and resource grabs by extremist Zionist settlers until some Palestinian resistance turns violent, then the idea that Palestinian lives are anywhere equal to an Israeli life is completely rejected- the Palestinian civilians are not even equal to an Israeli military personnel- any attack from the Palestinian side is terrorism no matter the target, and the Israelis can indulge in assassinations of Palestinian leaders and attack civilian centers and call it unfortunate collateral damage. It is all such a sham.

    The only way to see this dark story more clearly is to actually listen and learn from the one community in the area that should be our natural go-to partner- the Palestinian Catholics. That’s what I did, and that is the basis for my confidence in my own position- and because I made it personal by staying with actual Palestinians, and actual Israelis, I don’t have any truck with the propagandists and those with anti-Arab prejudices, and see Islam only through the lens of 9-11- Where have you been? I will take every opportunity to defend the Catholic community in the Holy Land- it seems that the American Catholic community is bent on a self-fulfilling prophesy that pits Palestinian Muslims in a holy war against Palestinian Christians- that may end up happening thanks to U.S. and Israeli power politics, but it will be mostly on the souls of Americans and Israeli apologists- I am convert to Catholicism, so maybe I’m missing something- I thought that it was the first responsibility of the Pope to help nurture and cultivate the seeds of the Church, the small oppressed Catholic communities- I would think the Holy Land Catholics would qualify- but it seems the interest in their plight- like that of Iraqi Christians, is really not a high priority for the American Catholic community- I, for one, won’t just sit on my hands fearing the accusation of anti-Semite. I will stand with the jewishvoiceforpeace.org forces within the Jewish community, I know that Jews are very much conflicted about the politics of Israel, just as patriotic Americans are very much conflicted over American wars and foreign policies- for very good reason.

  • Tim,

    I’d agree that it’s important to listen to the voices of local Christian populations, but it can hardly be the only factor. The obvious counter-example would be the situation ten years ago in Bosnia, where the US intervened against Milosevic and the local Christian populations in one of the very few US military actions in the last 30 years which the Vatican specifically endorsed the justice of.

    Yet having been in Greece at the time I can assure you that the local Christian (Orthodox) populations were absolutely livid, and thought that the Bosnian Muslims had simply been getting what they deserved. Being Christian does not save one from having one’s viewpoints poisoned by nationalism.

  • It also has to be said that Palestinian Christians will collaborate with whatever terrorist regime they have to, even their own persecutors, if they believe it will redound to their material benefit.

    It’s the same for our Catholic brothers in Iraq. They spend decades actively collaborating in Saddam’s genocidal regime, putting their stomachs before their souls, and then they’re shocked, SHOCKED!, that once that government is toppled their Church is revealed to be decrepit, irrelevant, and dwindling.

    If Palestinian Christians are oh-so concerned about the dwindling nature of their communities, they have none but themselves to blame. Arab Catholics, and their leaders, are ALWAYS going out of their way to protest how strong they DISCOURAGE conversions and REFUSE to evangelize their Muslim neighbors. Bishop Hinder of Saudi Arabia and Patriarch Delly of Babylon are two major examples of prelates who publicly and explicitly dissent from Christ’s Great Commission, and I read interviews ALL THE TIME from Christian leaders (mostly Catholics!) in Muslim countries who say all they want are Muslims to be better Muslims, that they TURN AWAY people who come to them asking for baptism.

    There’s also the issue of long-standing anti-Semitism, some Christian and some Islamic, which Arab Christians by and large have failed to shake off in the years since Vatican II.

    I don’t do tribal politics, and neither I suspect does Mr. Blosser. A cause is not just and right, and neither is a perspective accurate, just because it happens to be embraced by someone who calls themselves Catholic. Palestinian Catholics are wrong to embrace Hamas and Fatah, just as American Catholics were wrong to embrace Barack Obama and the Democrat Party. Blind tribal politics are for the uninformed and the ignorant, and to pretend that Palestinian Christians do not act out of base, selfish motives, and even out of a kind of cultural Stockholm syndrome, is VERY naive.

    Shame on Dr. Hudson for his LATEST hackjob report on Arab Christianity, failing to take even the smallest steps toward reporting in an objective and balanced manner. We are all dhimmis now.

  • Agreed on the point that the local Catholic community is not to be the only point of reference- but the problem here in the U.S. is that I hear almost no mention of the Palestinian Catholic viewpoint on this important U.S. foreign policy concern. I found that having a view from the ground of the Holy Land really helped me to get some clarity- no one in their right mind wants to risk being labeled anti-Semite- and since I grew up in a suburb that was heavily Jewish, I didn’t want to offend people I grew up with, and a really close Czech Jewish friend who I spent a great deal of time with during my year’s stay in Czech. But all of the evidence from my stay with Palestinian Catholics, and also a couple of weeks with an American married to a Russian Jewish emigrant- combined with a lot of reading from multiple perspectives- led me to see a convergence of evidences- as is the path to our certainties as taught by Father Dubay.

    I just wanted to point out that we should be doing all we can to get the perspective of brother/sister Catholics whenever there is a big conflict going on where we are neck-deep with our tax monies and powers of state and commerce- I don’t want anything to do with supporting the oppression of Catholics anywhere in the world- we must be extra-aware, and extra-cautious.

  • Mr. Shipe:

    It’s Islamdom which is oppressing our Catholic brothers and sisters, both directly and indirectly. Everybody would live happily ever after if only Palestine would accept a two-state solution and stop behaving like savage barbarians. It really is THAT simple.

  • Benedict XVI simply repeats the itinerary of John Paul II. “There will be bad consequences for the Church if he does this,” Abu Zuluf told me.

    This smacks of Stockholm Syndrome, and might at least partly explain the attitude of many Palestinian Christians. They are powerless against the Islamo-fascists who couldn’t care less about world opinion, so they seek to turn world opinion against the Israeli’s, essentially trying to ransom themselves by spreading their tormentors propaganda.

    Tim,

    many American Catholics act as if the mostly secular Jews of America and Israel are their spiritual soul mates- this smacks of the distorted theology of fundamentalist Christian Zionism.

    Can you tell me where you read this in the above posting? This is not responsive in any way to the posting, it’s simply a liberal talking point.

    The history teacher kept pointing out where former Palestinian villages were destroyed or taken over by Israelis and given new names and new residents.

    Did he point out any places where Jewish villages were destroyed or taken over by Arabs? Just curious, it seems you’re only interested in one side of the story.

    I felt that I would be a legitimate target for Arab violence,

    Sounds like you suffered from a little Stockholm Syndrom yourself. It seems to me that unarmed civilian workers sent to AID THE PALESTINIANS are not “legitimate targets” by Catholic doctrine.

    the Palestinian civilians are not even equal to an Israeli military personnel- any attack from the Palestinian side is terrorism no matter the target, and the Israelis can indulge in assassinations of Palestinian leaders and attack civilian centers and call it unfortunate collateral damage

    Since Palestinian attacks rarely successfully target Israeli military personnel, they’re successful attacks are overwhelmingly terrorist in nature. When they are successful in killing Israeli troops it’s usually at a border crossing. Interesting, the very place where IDF is vulnerable is the place that they allow goods to travel into the Palestinian territories… Do you think Israel provides for these goods to benefit some Zionist goal? It would certainly be safer for the IDF to simply wall them up permanently. Remember these attacks are the work of the legitimate government of Gaza, they can’t be blamed on some isolated group of extremists.

    This argument is getting tired. If Israel was bent on genocide they would simply get it done, nobody doubts their ability to make a clean sweep. Does anybody doubt that if Hamas had the power to do a clean sweep of Jews from all Israel/Palestine it would wait 1 hour before doing so? Try and look at things more objectively.

  • I strongly agree with both Matt and Lex. Might does not automatically make right, but that does not mean the weaker party automatically has moral superiority. If the Palestinians laid down their arms, they would have peace – and their own state. If the Israelis laid down their arms, they would perish.

    The Hamas charter specifically calls for the destruction of Israel. The Palestinians, and the Arab world in general, have stated openly time and time again that their ultimate goal is to drive the Jews into the sea. Why is it so hard for so many people to take them at their own word?

  • A good article here as to how Palestinian Christians are often treated by Palestinian Muslims.

    http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=381&PID=470&IID=2406

    Blaming Israel for the plight of Palestian Christians ignores the simple fact that native Christians are usually treated as third class citizens throughout the Arab world. The best assistance that native Christians in a majority Arab muslim culture can receive from their fellow Christians in the West is a one way ticket to the West. 35% of Palestinian Christians have emigrated in the past four decades. They are the fortunate ones.

  • If the Israelis suddenly left life wouldn’t be any better for the Arab Christians. Indeed, the Palestininas would just have more time to persecute them.

  • The Holy Father doesn’t need to go to Gaza. A symbolic gesture of solidarity such as allowing a little Catholic child from Gaza to visit the Pope in the Holy Land would suffice. The persecuted and suffering members of the Church Militant are spread throught the world, not always telvised and without lobby groups, from the gang-infested barrios of East LA to the terrorist-infested slums of Southern Philippines.

  • I actually live in Israel and work as an interfaith represenative in Haifa. Most Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Israel live together in peace. Most people on both sides of the border have been unfairly stereotyped. The Pope should have the right to go anywhere that he chooses without the political hot air getting in the way. His visit could help promote peace; but I did not know that he represents the United Nations? He is the leader of The Catolic Church

  • How can Catholics of the world show such utter disdain for the brave Catholics of Palestine? They’re suffering terribly from the failed state they’re living in (including attacks from their traumatised neighbours). But they’re trying to hang on, trying not to be forced from their homeland by the occupation. The Catholic father in Gaza, running his mixed school, is Manuel Musallam, a courageous man indeed. If he ever leaves his flock, Israel has told him he’ll never be able to get back in. He goes months with no visitors able to come and see him. Shame on the Pope for deserting a man of the cloth in such need!

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