Pro-life Ending for Jay Leno's Tonight Show

Saturday, May 30, AD 2009

As I prepare for some surgery this coming week to dig out some melanoma or pre-melanoma (docs still aren’t sure) from my back, I caught the last Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I haven’t watched late night talk shows regularly since Letterman back in the 80’s- but I like watching end of an era type programs because everyone seems to be in a more profound mood.

Jay Leno apparently caught that spirit. In his final moments in thinking of his legacy, he said his first reaction was something like- hey I tell jokes, make people laugh- what more do you say. But then he related how one of the band member’s had a child born shortly after he began as the Tonight Show host- and the child was featured briefly on the show. He then brought out the child who was now 17, and this led to his end game. He pulled back the curtain after describing how so many of his crew members met, married and had kids while being part of his show. The curtain revealed 68 kids and young adults, and Jay was beaming at how his show had a big part in bringing people together and making these children a reality.

I am quite certain that there was no political message embedded in this curtain call and speech about legacy- but it was hard to miss that what is of ultimate value is not all the temporary laughter over the years, it is the eternally significant lives of human beings, who may be mysteriously connecting in even the most insignificant of settings. If Jay Leno gets that, then God bless. I think God is always hiding in the most natural and normal of circumstances- the natural family is the greatest supernatural boost to many people’s spiritual growth. Maybe Leno missed out on that while focusing on his career, with no children of his own- or adopted- he and his wife apparently thought they were fine without children at home. But now he seemed to be finding his larger purpose in the children of his employees- which is a good development I think.

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17 Responses to Pro-life Ending for Jay Leno's Tonight Show

  • Best of luck with your surgery–we’ll send up some prayers.

  • Just found you today—great pro=life article on Jay Leno. You should feed into FACEBOOK—I would have like to have shared this article.

  • Some folks make great aunts and uncles, even though they don’t/can’t/didn’t have kids; Mr. Leno seems like he’d be pretty good for that role.

  • You call that a pro-life ending? You can’t be serious. This has absolutely nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose what do do with her body, and your hijacking Leno’s piece to suit your own political agenda is nothing short of idiotic.

  • I, too, was watching Leno’s last show, though I would not call myself a Tonight Show ‘regular.’ I actually happened upon it in the last few minutes and was glad I did. It was really quite poignant how he introduced the 17-yr-old young lady, then revealed all the other children of his staff. I will admit, it moved me very much, but then I thought, “What a shame he and his wife are not prolife.” (I know this from their own WORDS, not because they are a childless couple, by the way.) It’s true that Natural Law is written upon every man’s heart. Let’s continue to work to change minds and soften hearts. Maybe Leno is coming around, even if only through (literal) ‘baby steps.’ 🙂

  • Ian-
    There is more to being supportive of life than the pro-abortion side’s obsession with absolute power over the lives of those who may be an inconvenience. It’s no coincidence that those who support abortion also tend to support killing those with lives “not worth living” and eugenics. (although they usually find a nicer way to say eugenics– such as “public health” or something)

  • Ah, so go google George Tiller if you’ve not heard the news, will you? Now that’s how much pro-lifers respect life.

  • Ian-
    Go check out how often Planned Parenthood covers up rapes, to see how much they respect choice.

  • Great article. Leno was just happy about all the families gathering together and how he was a part of their lives. It is more than the temporary laughs of the Tonight Show. Sadly Ian in Hamburg cannot see the goodness of marriage and children as Western Europe is almost extinct of Europeans and the Muslims take over. I hope Ian is ready.

  • I too enjoyed that Tonight Show airing. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed it.

  • You people think you have a lock on marriage and family just because you go to church.

    For your information Fr Eric, I’ve been married for 15 years and have a child. We wanted more children, but it didn’t work out for us.

    BTW, replace “Jews” in your bigoted statement and you have Germany in the 1930s.

  • Ian-
    On what, exactly, do you base your claim on our thoughts?

    From the folks whose philosophy I know who post here, they draw their definition of “marriage” and “family” from some three thousand years of history, not from their religious faith; they generally believe that the path their faith promotes is the most effective for the health of the family and marriage.

    If you paid attention, I did mention “can’t” in the options for being childless– and the one person who says the Lenos are not open to children says they are going from the words of those people, not from their lack of a nice herd of children.

    As for your claim about “replace Jews”– replace what with Jews? (I’m assuming that’s what you meant, since the word “Jews” doesn’t show up until your post.) Were you trying to respond to my pointing out that those who are vocal supporters of “choice” tend to also support killing off the old and those ill or physically imperfect?

    Are you perhaps responding to a different post? This one is basically: “How touching! He brought out the kids of all the folks that work to make his show happen–isn’t that sweet? This kind of appreciation of children is rather open to life.”
    For that matter, you do realize the Nazis were not open to children not of the Master Race, right? And that they killed off the ill, the deformed, the inconvenient, the “useless eaters”?

  • Shooting a doctor is pro-life, too, I guess.

    Ah, a troll. Never mind my last post– just another idiot gleefully grabbing on a murder to slander those they disagree with.

  • I deleted Ian’s comment where he made that statement Foxfier and Ian is now banned from this site.

  • Ah. *bow* Feel free to delete my quote of it, then, please.

  • Not at all Foxfier. Your eloquent statement saved me explaining why Ian was now banned from this site.

  • It appears people here aren’t familiar with Jay Leno or his aesthetic Catholicism.

    To put it bluntly, Jay Leno is hardly Catholic and from much of the shows I used to catch, he often ends up decrying and, indeed, mocking the Catholic Church and its beliefs (e.g., see the final show with the Governator) than anything else.

    He only starts — in very rare occasions — taking a positive spin on Catholics when the crowd itself is seemingly comprised of Catholics who ends up booing him on an off-color joke that pokes fun at whatever Pope or other clergy is currently in the spotlight; it is then that he’ll act repentent and say something positive about the Church in order to redeem himself.

    At any rate, both he & Conan, though both purportedly Catholics, are yet as much a Catholic as Santayana was; deplorable, really, but I guess that’s the only way one can be so popular in the world of entertainment where anti-Catholicism is often a big hit.

Christopher West's Defenders

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

Christopher West came in for some criticism recently, much of it deserved, for his appearance on Nightline. In one sense, I sympathize with the critics. I have heard West speak, and found the simplification (bordering on sensationalization) of certain aspects of Theology of the Body somewhat off-putting. In a perfect world, people would read the writings of John Paull II and others to acquire a sophisticated, nuanced grasp of the subject matter. Nevertheless, that is not the world in which we live. That being the case I think, on balance, West’s work is valuable, difficult, and necessary.

And so I was somewhat surprised to see Dr. Schindler take the recent brouhaha as an opportunity to rather harshly criticize all of West’s work. The tension between academics and popularizers is nothing new (even writers as brilliant as C.S. Lewis and Chesterton had and have their academic detractors); but one would hope for a more restrained and sympathetic treatment given the difficulty of presenting the Catholic understanding of sexuality in the modern United States. I think the following defenses by Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Michael Waldstein help provide a better context for understanding West and his work:

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17 Responses to Christopher West's Defenders

  • Both Doctors may have themselves jumped the gun in criticizing Schindler. I wonder if there are ulterior motives for their quick defense immodesty?

  • Tito,

    I agree that Mr. West occasionally exercises poor judgment with his illustrations, but I think it is unfair to identify a defense of him with a defense of immodesty. Even Dr. Schindler recognizes that his intention is to win as broad a hearing as possible for the Church’s teachings on sexuality.

  • Additionally, I think it is worth noting that Drs. Smith and Waldstein are some of the top scholars in this area. Dr. Waldstein was the translator of JPII’s Theology of the Body lectures and is on the Pontifical Council for the Family. Defenders of immodesty they are not.

  • I thought Jimmy Akin’s response to the Christopher West debate was both evenhanded and on target.

  • Bret,

    I agree. For those interested, it is the first link in the post above.

  • I just wish that West would abandon his claim that what he teaches is Theology of the Body, it’s not, except perhaps in the broadest sense. No way can you reason to his rather gross and immodest conclusions from what the Holy Father taught.

    That said, I don’t think a sweeping negative criticism is called for, more like fraternal correction. West does do a lot of good I think in trying to bring people to greater interest in the Church’s teachings. I think he’s a lot like Scott Hahn in that sense, definitely some problems but overall a good representative.

  • I love Scott Hahn. The Lamb’s Supper, Hail, Holy Queen, and Lord, Have Mercy — though simplistically written — are phenomenonal in their assertions and many of the points.

  • Eric,

    there’s much to said about his story and his presentation, and he provides a great starting point. Helped me a lot when I was ready to start getting serious about my faith.

  • John Henry,

    I agree with your statements.

    I was making a rhetorical statement as to why they would publicly come out as they did. Considering that they are frowning upon how Mr. Schindler has done.

    For me, I appreciate the passion that Christopher West brings to his seminars. I have been fortunate enough to have attended two of his seminars and have come away impressed with how he explains the Theology of the Body. With the exception of his promotion of questionable sexual practices, I find his work very informative which has brought me into better insight in how we can and are capable of behaving when sex is involved.

  • I have heard of Christopher West but never had a chance to read any of his books or attend any of his seminars. Obviously some of the criticism West is getting comes from people who latched onto the sound bite about Hugh Hefner and ignored the context.

    A similar thing happened years ago, when Pope John Paul was giving the series of audience talks that introduced the Theology of the Body concept. Anyone remember the media flap about his alleged claim that it was a sin for a man to “lust after” his wife? Of course he didn’t mean it was wrong to feel ANY sexual desire for one’s spouse; he meant it was wrong to treat one’s spouse as a sex object without regard for their own dignity or feelings. But, that got lost in the mainstream media.

    West has a really difficult job in that he’s preaching to people who aren’t necessarily converted or well catechized. All the “average” person knows when it comes to Catholic teaching on sexuality is that you’re not allowed to have sex before marriage, you’re not supposed to practice birth control, and you’re not even supposed to have “impure” thoughts about anyone.

    To most people who aren’t well versed in Catholic history and doctrine, this sounds very much like a Puritanical approach to sex — an assumption that it’s basically evil and tolerated only for the sake of having children. West has to really go out of his way to overcome this idea and it sounds like he does a good job of it.

    As for West’s alleged immodesty, while that is a legitimate concern, we have to remember that he’s addressing people who have spent their entire lives immersed in a culture of immodesty far worse than anything he promotes. After two generations of Playboy, MTV, Dr. Ruth, Donahue/Oprah/Springer et al., daytime/prime time soaps, Monica Lewinsky, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, etc., etc., most people aren’t going to be shocked by anything Christopher West talks about.

  • Also, I am sure that West’s audiences probably include a lot of married couples who are at different levels of understanding or acceptance of Church teaching on sexuality.

    I’m guessing that at least some of the men who attend are non-practicing or less than observant Catholics dragged there by committed Catholic wives who have tried everything they can think of to steer their husbands away from porn, questionable sexual practices, contraception, etc., without success. West’s approach can at least reassure these guys that if they adopt the mind of the Church on sexuality, it’s not going to “spoil” or take away all their fun, and could make their marriage even better.

    Or the audience might include Catholic men who have tried and failed to convince their non-Catholic or lapsed Catholic wives that the Church doesn’t expect them to spend their lives barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Again, West’s approach might get through to them in a way others can’t.

  • Elaine,

    That doesn’t make sodomy a moral act even if between husband and wife. You just can’t justify suggesting immoral behaviour is acceptable. Finally, while SOME of his audience is in serious sexual sin, many of his audience are committed Catholics who are being scandalized by elements of his teachings.

  • Also, it is a much bigger danger when such errors are taught by a Catholic apparently reflecting the views of a pope, than known sexual deviants.

  • Elaine Krewer writes:

    “All the “average” person knows when it comes to Catholic teaching on sexuality is that you’re not allowed to have sex before marriage, you’re not supposed to practice birth control, and you’re not even supposed to have “impure” thoughts about anyone.”

    And what else does the “average” person need to know about Catholic teaching in order to save their soul and live a holy, sacramental life?

    Your comments drip with disdain for the “average” person who is not an intellectual encumbered with all the ins and outs of dogma and doctrine parsed by self elevated experts like C.W.

    So if you haven’t “bought the book” and “attended the seminar, or cruise” you’re just an “average” person. And I still don’t understand what is so bad about that? This very “average” person is married to a nice Catholic husband and has 8 beautiful children sent to us by God. Rather than horrifying me in its intensity and vulgar graphic nature, I have yet to understand how my life could possibly be improved by subjecting myself to anything that C.W. stands to profit by, or Janet Smith for that matter. Dr. Smith is involved with the Theology of the Body “ministry” or cottage industry depending upon your point of view. She stands to profit directly from the success (I’m speaking financially here) of that ministry.

  • I admit to not being very well versed in Christopher West and am hardly a ‘fan’ of his ministry. I’m also sympathetic to the concerns expressed by Dr. Schindler — his endorsement of anal sex, even as a prelude to ‘normal’ intercourse, in West’s book is understandably controversial (howbeit not without precedent).

    Unfortunately, Dr. Schindler also takes some liberties in presenting an eclectic mix of anecdotes about West out of context — as John Paul II’s original translator Dr. Waldstein notes, “the fact that he cites no texts from West’s work on which to base his four main objections also makes a response difficult.”

    That many of the anecdotes cited contain no further documentation as to their source speaks poorly of Dr. Schindler and doesn’t help his case at all. As one who has benefited from Schindler’s writings, I would have expected more from him.

    [Mary Alexander] I have yet to understand how my life could possibly be improved by subjecting myself to anything that C.W. stands to profit by, or Janet Smith for that matter. Dr. Smith is involved with the Theology of the Body “ministry” or cottage industry depending upon your point of view. She stands to profit directly from the success (I’m speaking financially here) of that ministry.

    Mary — I quite agree that what ‘the average Catholic’ knows about sex (presumably by way of the Catechism), is sufficient unto itself for one’s salvation.

    But I wonder how much if anything you actually know about Janet Smith, to dismiss her work so easily while simultaneously conveying with confidence how much she benefits from West’s writings on ‘Theology of the Body’?

  • Mary, I apologize for having offended you. When I say “average” I don’t mean in the sense of general educational level, income, material possessions, or intelligence. Nor did I mean to imply that being average in this sense is evil or worthy of contempt.

    I mean average in the sense of representing the majority of Catholics whose religious education stops at the grade school level, who do not practice their faith to its fullest extent if indeed they practice it at all, and who spend much of their life immersed in secular culture. I do not mean it as a term of disdain but as a realistic appraisal of where the majority of Catholics are coming from.

    With all due respect, the mere fact that you have “a nice Catholic husband” to whom you are still married, and “8 beautiful children sent to us by God” means that you are NOT “average” in the sense that I use the term. The size of your family puts you well outside the “average” right there. If you and your husband BOTH attend Mass faithfully every Sunday and go to confession frequently, that puts you in the minority as well.

    If you BOTH accept Church teaching about sexuality 100 percent, and do not practice any form of contraception, or even think about doing anything “vulgar” with one another — that is wonderful, and you are greatly blessed. I mean that sincerely. In fact I envy you. But, let’s face it, it does not represent the majority of Catholics.

    Nor does it represent the very real dilemmas faced by couples in which one or both is or has been addicted to or confronted by those things you find so horrifying, and is trying to either overcome them or persuade a resistant or reluctant spouse to do so.

    I realize that we don’t want to encourage a sort of gnosticism that implies that only people with certain “inside” knowledge or resources can attain holiness or virtue. I myself wonder how young struggling families with lots of kids who really want or need to hear someone like, say, Scott Hahn could possibly afford to go on a week-long apologetics cruise! I sure can’t afford to.

    Frankly, whatever “inside” knowledge I have stems from the fact that I once worked for a Catholic newspaper. At that time it was my job to attend seminars and know about this stuff, and we got free copies of a lot of these books. Then I lost my job there and had to go find one in the “real”, i.e. secular, world.

    Everything I know about people like West, Smith, Hahn, etc. today comes off the internet or from books checked out from the library for free. I can’t afford to “buy the book” either. My only other routine exposure to Catholic teaching right now comes from attending Sunday Mass, which by the way, I have to attend ALONE with my daughter because my husband now refuses to go.

    Yes, there was a time when I prided myself on being in the know about all things church related. Today, however, I’m lucky just to make it to Sunday Mass on time and decently dressed. So to some extent, Mary, I kinda know where you’re coming from, and again, I apologize for coming off as some kind of self-appointed expert.

  • While on the subject of Christopher West, Father Angelo Geiger, a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, has a guest post on Dawn Eden’s blog which captures my impression and concerns:

    West is easily interpreted as suggesting that without TOB Catholics have never had any clear vision of what God’s intention for human sexuality was from the beginning. Otherwise, would he not make a greater effort to teach chastity with a hermeneutic of continuity instead of concentrating almost exclusively on a very narrow part of magisterial teaching on human sexuality? It seems he is suggesting that our past has been clouded by puritanism because we did not have TOB, and our future will be the age of the love banquet because we do.

The Narrow Atlantic

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

UCLA professor Peter Baldwin pens an interesting priece for the UK’s Prospect in which he argues that the differences between the US and Europe are not as great as is often claimed. Baldwin’s point of view strikes me as left of center, but his argument (mainly a comparison of statistics to see how the US really measures up to various EU countries on questions like poverty, education, environmentalism, etc.) is fairly non-ideological and the overall result is interesting.

Left open ended (though he provides a few thoughts on the matter) is the question of why both Americans and Europeans like to perceive such strong differences between themselves, and what exactly that means about the two cultures.

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One Response to The Narrow Atlantic

"Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues?" — A discussion with Robert P. George and Doug Kmiec, moderated by Mary Ann Glendon

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

Robert P. George and Doug Kmiec engaged in a discussion of the topic, “The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues? What is the Right Response by ‘Pro-Life” Citizens?” at Washington, D.C.’s National Press Club, Thursday, May 28, 2009. The discussion was moderated by Mary Ann Glendon.

You can watch the video on CUA’s website here; or on C-Span here.

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8 Responses to "Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues?" — A discussion with Robert P. George and Doug Kmiec, moderated by Mary Ann Glendon

  • You can find the transcript of George’s opening remarks at Public Discourse: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2009.05.29.001.pdart

  • I’m into the first 20 minutes and Kmiec is clearly showing his true colors by believing in the farce of global warming and embracing the radical environmental agenda. He’s now belly-aching about being denied Communion.

  • Kmiec is complaining about Chaput and Burke and accusing them of not being Catholic. He’s sounding more and more like Deacon Kandra where he holds his conscious above that of the teachings of the Church.

  • 30 minutes into the “discussion” he is still belly-aching about being denied Communion.

    He finally stopped. He finished with pretty much saying he’s still a good Catholic.

    He doesn’t even believe his own lies.

  • Robert George just finished a very well articulated pro-life position for opposing Obama’s anti-life policies. Unlike Kmiec, he spoke confidently, he didn’t belly-ache, and he spoke with purpose.

    Kmiec on the other hand spoke as if he had the wind knocked out of him. You could plainly see the difference between the two in how they spoke and carried themselves. Kmiec has obviously felt the burden of supporting evil. Kmiec’s speech was that of “intent”, ie, his intentions are pro-life even if he supported Obama.

    George spoke with substance on where we can find common ground and where we differ. Completely different from Kmiec’s narcissistic diatribe.

  • Kmiec just denied that science supports that life begins at a very early stage. He’s clearly gone off the deep end. I believe he’s so vested with the most pro-abortion president that he has reconciled himself to his fate.

  • Kmiec fielded a question about why he calls denial of Communion “intimidation”. Kmiec basically belly-ached that he is pro-life and called those bishops that deny Communion and I quote, “wrong-headed”.

    What arrogance.

  • Wow. Kmiec has admitted that ESCR is ok. WOW! He is a regular Richie Rich. Kmiec is going against Church teaching. He rests his case on “intent” and “conscious”. Pretty sad.

    It was a pretty good panel discussion.

Nat Hentoff takes President Obama to task

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

Nat Hentoff’s characteristically blunt and ‘no b.s.’ columns used to be one of chief attractions of the Village Voice, before they made the foolish mistake of letting him go. Politically he’s not one you can apply a label to — in 2003 he supported the removal of Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship on humanitarian grounds, but as a supporter of the First Amendment and civil liberties, harshly criticized the more excessive measures taken by the Bush administration.

Unapologetically pro-life, he is a staunch opponent of the death penalty and abortion (the latter apparently causing some tension with his liberal colleagues at the Voice) and vigorously opposed the court-ordered murder of Terry Schiavo.

Not surprisingly, he established a rapport with the feisty John Cardinal O’Connor, about whom he wrote an appreciative biography.

A self-described “member of the Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-Necked Jewish Atheists,” he is also one who might merit the attribution: “on the side of the angels.”

Now, he takes aim at President Obama’s faux-support for “dialogue” at Notre Dame:

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5 Responses to Nat Hentoff takes President Obama to task

  • “No matter how much we want to fudge it … the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable”

    – I have to agree with that.

  • We rejoice in seeing that the esteemed Mr. Hentoff has found a place to hang his polemical hat- the Cato Institute, no less. His former employer, the usually Marxist Village Voice, recently terminated his 50-year relationship. So gratifying to see he is not mellowing in his golden years. Also gratifying to see that this Support Pregnant Women Bill is sponsored in the Senate by our own PA Senator Bob Casey Jr. No doubt communing with the ghost of Pop who is saying remember the family tradition and support the women and babies. Not surprising that no record exists of Dear Leader’s support for the bill- tends to shy away from those messier intramural skirmishes, like supporting La Pelosi from the Intelligence Community’s wrath. So bravo to Prof. Dr. Hentoff and ad multos annos and many more years of comforting afflicted and afflicting comfortable. In a word, embarrassing the young sellout whippersnappers holding sway in the MSM these days.

  • Oh might I add that fewer Americano writers have been more insightful on the topic of American Jazz- AKA A Legit Americano Art Form. Also worth examining from the esteemed Dr. Hentoff.

  • Nat Hentoff, my favorite liberal atheist! If one had to give an award for an unending dedication to the pro-life cause in a hostile environment, I would unhesitatingly give it to Mr. Hentoff.

  • The word “Dialogue” seems to be the latest sacrificial victim on the altar of ideological codespeak.

    Dia-logos, opening-words, seems to take for granted a hope in the existence of objective truth buried in the words of another and a sincere desire to find it.

    Doesn’t really apply to what happened at Notre Dame’s commencement, but it sounds really good.

Father Alberto Cutie Leaves The Catholic Church For The Episcopals

Thursday, May 28, AD 2009

Alberto Cutie

Father Alberto Cutié has abruptly left the Catholic Church and has joined the Episcopal church today.  Father Cutié was recently caught in a scandal involving a woman in a two year affair and asked and received an indefinite leave of absence from Archbishop John C. Favalora.  This has come as sudden and unexpected news to the Church.  Archbishop Favalora of Miami has not spoken with Alberto Cutié since his request and has expressed shock at the news.

“I am genuinely disappointed by the announcement made earlier this afternoon by Father Alberto Cutié that he is joining the Episcopal Church,”

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39 Responses to Father Alberto Cutie Leaves The Catholic Church For The Episcopals

  • So, pursuant to his original premise concerning the high regard he had for the Catholic Faith, he effectively demonstrates his loyalty to such principle by yielding to the abhorrent Act of Supremacy?

    Where are the loyal Romanists of today who would, though few in number, rise up and stand bravely & ever the more faithfully to their beloved and ancient Catholic Faith in a modern-day Pilgrimage of Grace?

    Our worst enemies, it seems, tend to come from within than without.

  • (Incidentally, thanks Tito! TAC citizenship finally restored!)

  • Father Alberto Cutié’s actions do not come without consequences. He will no longer be able to celebrate the sacraments and preach or teach on Catholic faith and morals in the Archdiocese of Miami. Archbishop Favalora further added, “His actions could lead to his dismissal from the clerical state”…

    Somehow I don’t think those “consequences” are going to matter much to this priest.

    this “bishop” needs reminding that the Episcopal ecclesiastical community was born and based on adultery

    Reminds me of the Newt…

  • Reminds me of the Newt…

    to Protestant we may now safely add Novatianist to Michael’s pedigree.

  • or Donatist, take your pick.

  • You can’t call me a Donatist. The Donatists lived a long long time ago.

  • Somehow I don’t think those “consequences” are going to matter much to this priest.

    not in this life anyway.

  • The “fiancee” was described early on (when the very first stories about him on the beach with a woman) as “divorced”. Does that matter in his plans to “marry” her once he is laicized?

    What an astounding display this whole thing is.

  • Reminds me of the Newt…

    Really, Michael, you might do well to step back and examine the things you say through a Christian lens. I don’t care any more for Newt than I do any other stranger, but think about what you’re doing. Aside from me thinking your politics bear poor witness to the Faith (my opinion, anyway), stuff like this is giving awful witness in an objective sense. You’re not really condemning adultery here nor are you identifying and calling out wrong or evil actions. What you’re doing is saying that repentance and conversion is futile. There’s no room for mercy and a new start. Ironically enough, it’s that mercy and hope for a new start that usually touches the convert, and how fortunate it is that the Church was built on that sort of encouragement rather than reminding us of our past sins at every opportunity.

  • Our gain is the loss of the Episcopalians.

  • Chesterton once said that journalism largely consists of saying “Lord Jones Died” to people who had no idea Lord Jones was even alive.

  • Now think about this. The Episcopal Church takes within weeks a Catholic Cleric

    (1) That very well might have been living a life of sin outside marriage
    (2) Was in the middle of emotional and public turmoil
    (3) and within WEEKS WEEKS ordained him a Episcopal Priest”

    My God when Anglicans come over there is a huge period of discernment and evaluation.

    What was this Anglican Bishop thinking over there.

  • jh,

    He’s maximizing this for full effect.

    In response to Archbishop Favalora’s statement of ecumenical manners, Bishop Frade basically said “sour grapes”, or more like “na-na-a-boo-boo” while sticking his tongue out.

    Classy.

  • JTBF,

    The “fiancee” was described early on (when the very first stories about him on the beach with a woman) as “divorced”. Does that matter in his plans to “marry” her once he is laicized?

    What an astounding display this whole thing is.

    Unless the Holy Father dispenses his vows of celibacy in addition to laicizing him he is impeded from marriage on that grounds as well.

    While we feel a sense of relief that this is now an Episcopalian problem, there is a tragic consequence… mercifully Anglican orders are invalid so no sacrilege takes place at their services. With an ordained priest, unless there is a defect of form, or intent he is confecting a valid sacrament.

  • 1. “Fiancee.” Always a good reason.

    2. Is he more like Henry VIII? Or the British cat who tossed aside the crown for his American cutie? Or just handsome dude who was caught in really embarrassing picture?

    3. Seems like the Episcopalians owe us something for signing a Free Agent. Cash, or seminarians to be named later.

    4. Think people will follow him on teevee now that he’s switched teams? And just what will we do with those old Padres jerseys with his name on the back? Round here in Philly, public jersey burnings after Terrell Owens left Birds for stinking Dallas Cowboys. Somehow, joining the Fighting Episcopalians doesn’t inspire confidence.

    5. Cheap p.r. stunt by all concerned. Pay no heed and pray for his soul.

  • Gerard E.,

    4. I’m an Eagles fan and I think we can still win the Super Bowl this upcoming season, if only McNabb plays consistent.

    5. Cheap PR stunt by the Episcopal bishop IMO.

  • This is so very sad. I hope the people in his people aren’t terribly confused or distraught by this, especially children.

  • What you’re doing is saying that repentance and conversion is futile. There’s no room for mercy and a new start. Ironically enough, it’s that mercy and hope for a new start that usually touches the convert, and how fortunate it is that the Church was built on that sort of encouragement rather than reminding us of our past sins at every opportunity.

    Well said, Rick. Thank you.

  • Unfortunate, but at least consistent.

    He clearly values his personal actions more than belief in truth. He found a place to match his choices.

  • Naah, MI’s not being a Donatist, at least by the America magazine definition. He’s not “attempt[ing] to keep the church free of contamination by having no truck with [governmental] officialdom.”

  • Alberto Cutie lied to the Roman Catholic Church. He seems not to understand the consequences of his actions. His lack of honesty says nothing good about him. I admired him. Now, I see a man that is arrogant, defiant, selfish, opportunistic…. The woman that he will marry is not a good woman of faith. She is the one who first contacted him and let him know about her interest for him. Bishop Leo Frade apppeared happy to welcome Alberto Cutie(I no longer respect him to call him Father), he will bring money to the new church. It is a shame that this church accepts people of low moral character. Shame on you Alberto Cutie.

  • I don’t know who is more delusional, Cutie or Fade.

  • “I admired him.”

    Cutie is but the 2nd priest on EWTN who, like Fr. Mark, initially professed such a high regard for the Catholic Church and their Catholic Faith on past EWTN broadcasts.

    I will, henceforward, be a little more cautious & skeptical concerning not only clergy but of any person who generally appears there, less these become but another Judas Iscariot and the once fond admiration held by not only myself but by impressionable family members are not only wasted but contributing to final cynicism especially as regarding those whose sincerity for the Faith essentially boils down to not a Calling eminating from Christ but, ultimately, a Calling eminating from the loins.

  • I think JH is onto the bigger story here. A priest leaving the Church is nothing new, but the Anglicans willing to take him after such a turn around is so insulting that it can’t help but to seriously harm ecumenical relations between Anglicans and Catholics, particularly in that area.

  • Michael D.,

    insulting to who exactly? The real setback is not any offense from this, it’s the fact that the Episcopals are really not Christian anymore, and the Worldwide Anglicans are not far behind (with but a few exceptions).

    Time to move this to the “inter-religious” category.

  • The dialogue between Michael Denton and Matt McDonald only proves this already self-evident deterioriation within the ranks of even the Catholic Church herself.

    To actually deplore the heretics in such a way so as to give them credence, as would seem the case in Michael’s own comments, and, even further, to state that “Episcopals are really not Christian anymore“, shows just how accomodating we have become to what was once considered heresy.

    Perhaps what Cutie has done is not so exceptional after all.

  • While I am inclined to agree with Matt that dialogue with the American Episcopal church is increasingly a waste of time and valuable tree pulp that can be put to better use elsewhere (e.g., Charmin), it’s not fair to write off the entire Anglican communion as apostate. Certainly the western branches (North America, England) are “apostate-friendly,” but the African and Asian Anglicans are still a very solid lot who preach Christ crucified.

  • Dale Price,

    While I am inclined to agree with Matt that dialogue with the American Episcopal church is increasingly a waste of time and valuable tree pulp that can be put to better use elsewhere (e.g., Charmin), it’s not fair to write off the entire Anglican communion as apostate. Certainly the western branches (North America, England) are “apostate-friendly,” but the African and Asian Anglicans are still a very solid lot who preach Christ crucified.

    I said not far behind, and the exceptions I’m referring to are the Africans and Asians. I guess I was being a little “euro-centric” in my “but a few”, since they are a pretty substantial portion in reality.

    Additionally, inter-religious dialogue is also important, but it is decidedly different from “ecumenical” dialogue.

  • e. ,

    The dialogue between Michael Denton and Matt McDonald only proves this already self-evident deterioriation within the ranks of even the Catholic Church herself.

    To actually deplore the heretics in such a way so as to give them credence, as would seem the case in Michael’s own comments, and, even further, to state that “Episcopals are really not Christian anymore“, shows just how accomodating we have become to what was once considered heresy.

    Perhaps what Cutie has done is not so exceptional after all.

    I’ve sometimes been a defender of you despite your often rancorous approach, but I have to tell you I’m starting to question your sanity.

    Adherence to a heresy generally does not exclude one from being acknowledge as a Christian, one who departs entirely from Christianity is an apostate.

    The Catechism is a sure norm in understanding your Faith better to avoid such error in the future:

    2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”11

    I doubt one could avoid the sin of calumny if suggesting that Fr. Cutie is guilty of apostasy just yet.

  • Matt: Yeah, it was the “but a few exceptions” part I had a problem with. The solid branches of Anglicanism contain the majority of the adherents (if not the actual monetary resources).

  • Rancorous?

    I suppose that those who hold to a more traditional Catholicism are a deeply malevolent bunch indeed.

    More Luther, Less More.

  • Since when did embracing genuine tradition automatically render one a schismatic?

    There was a time when a person such as that was simply called ‘Catholic’.

    And people wonder why there are the Iafrates of the world; if anything, such folks are but the inevitable products of such an age as this where the Thomas Mores of the world are put to the rack while the Luthers of the world are ultimately heralded as Saint.

    To answer the question put before me, no I am not; I remain loyal to the Church of Rome, though I remain dis-loyal to the modernity that tends to possess a certain of its members.

  • I could only assume since you reject the Church’s understanding our separated brethren since the council of Trent that you were SSPV.

  • Matt,

    I have no personal quarrel with you or monsieur Denton; only with the heresy itself that you and he seem to hold in special regard.

    Ecumenism is a necessarily Christian act in healing a now hideously divided Christendom torn asunder by the innovations of heresy that has hitherto unfortunately fragmented the Body of Christ; what is unnecessary and, indeed, outright blasphemous is accomodating heresy so as to sacrifice our very Catholicism. That does not promote the healing of Christian divisions; on the contrary, it promotes further Christian disfigurement.

  • e.,

    what is the exact expression from either of us that you find so offensive? I fail to see where we have done what you accuse us of.

  • Sad, but really nothing new here. Anybody remember Emmanuel Milingo, the African archbishop a few years back who joined the Moonies, married one of them, and eventually went schismatic and ordained married bishops? Remember Fr. Francis MacNutt and Fr. Brennan Manning, who were both pretty well known in the charismatic movement back in the 70s? They left the Church to marry and eventually went off into their own ministries. Remember Fr. George Stallings, the African-American priest who eventually started his own schismatic church? There are plenty of other examples.

  • I can’t help to see how many Romanists are so clueless about Anglicanism. Just remember Pope Leo XIII only declared Anglicans “Null & Void” in the 1890’s – and that was at the behest of the English Roman Catholic Hierarchy. That means that from the Reformation until the 1890’s, Anglican clergy were “Valid but Irregular,” an amusing Romish comment. Do you want to curl a few more clerical hairs? The Episcopal Church (American Anglicans) has, for well over 100 years – until 1976, had its Bishops co-consecrated by the Bishops of the “Old Catholic Tradition” (Polish National Catholic Church in the USA). It was John Paul II who formally recognized and welcomed back all PNC Bishops/Priests, Deacons and congregations into Full Communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Think what that does to the legitimacy of the Anglican Clergy whose Apostolic Succession can be traced to these PNC Bishops? In the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY alone, our Bishops have always had 2 or more PNC Bishops at Consecrations of our Bishops. I remember PNC Bishop Zilinski and others who shared their Apostolicity with us Anglicans. It’s funny to have so much in common and still have all the backbiting, name calling and finger pointing between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. It was Paul VI who called us a Sister Church. We as Anglicans proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ as Savior, we celebrate 7 Sacraments, Celebrate Holy Mass, which some of us call Divine Liturgy, Holy Communion or Eucharist and we try to teach the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith as is found in the Holy Scriptures and the traditions of Holy Mother Church. But what do we do – we focus on our differences rather than our commonality and faith. Satan loves to see us fight and otherwise have us not hear God’s small voice, “that we all may be one.” I think that things, on either side are not so cut and dry, let alone pure. Our Catholic Christian faith should empower us to practice what we preach and in doing so, always remember that for the people of the world “we may be the only Bible that people will ever read.” In the end – as we stand before the awesome throne of God – it will be our faith in action, our sin repented and a loving and forgiving God who will judge our worthiness to enter into Heaven itself. We strive to “daily die to sin,” for that one day that we will hear from our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

  • The schism between Rome and the Anglican Church is more complex still. Unlike the earlier Henrican schism, not a single serving diocean bishop accepted the new ecclesiastical regime set up by Parliament and all were thus forced to resign. As such, only an extremely partisan and polemic reading of history can portray this (the product of the sidelining of the whole hierarchy and the explicit intrusion of the civil power in Church affairs) as a unilateral act on the part of Rome.

    Even then, the new excommunicated bishops were still invited to participate in the Council of Trent to help resolve the schism. Those disposed to do so where prevented by the Crown. I suspect that it is only at this point that Rome concluded that the matter ceased to be merely disciplinary and entered into the realm of formal definitive schism (to be reinforced by formal heresy under the Edwardian regency).

    But my point isn’t to launch into a historical argument about who did what to whom. A joint, fair, nuanced and intellectually honest reading of history is part of a process reconciliation that involves accepting the other’s “truths” as legitimate, no matter how painful or inconvenient, so long as it has a factual basis. Reading selective history used to score polemic points is just tiresome.

    Unlike my interlocutors, I as well as Rome consider the matter concerning the Anglicans still guilty of heresy and, therefore, remain, as it were, obviously invalid as concerning their purported ‘holy orders’.

The Unattractive Truth About "Heart-wrenching Decisions"

Thursday, May 28, AD 2009

A guest post at the League or Ordinary Gentlemen provides an interesting critique of pro-choice rhetoric from a doctor who is himself pro-choice:

[quoting a pro-choice advocate covering Obama’s Notre Dame address]

Good, I thought. It will be from the parent of the mentally retarded high school student who was gang raped, the doctor of an 11 year old incest victim, or possibly a woman with four kids already whose husband has just lost his job and medical benefits along with it.
Boy, was I wrong.”

The above desired examples of women (or girls) seeking abortion are precisely the kind of examples that do nothing whatsoever to further the purpose of honest debate about abortion in this country. Women (or girls) in such circumstances are chosen as examples because theirs are the stories most likely to evoke sympathy from most people (even if they do not sway the edicts of the Holy See). That Ms. Burk would cherry-pick them is not surprising, but nor does it speak to her desire to see abortion honestly discussed.

My trouble with her examples stems from my own experience as a doctor in New York City. For a few years, I worked in a clinic that provided free care to adolescents and young adults. I saw many, many young women who had become pregnant unintentionally. Many of them went on to deliver and parent their babies. Many opted to abort. (Before moving forward, I should clarify that our clinic did not provide abortions, but did serve as a point of referral.)

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8 Responses to The Unattractive Truth About "Heart-wrenching Decisions"

  • Please- stop this Third Way stuff. Discussing compromise on these matters. Not. Going. To. Happen. The above physician lists very real issues that the pro-aborts in their Rhetorical and Suppositional Wonderland fail to address. As though it’s a Third Rail issue- along with Social Security. The fact that this physician any states some very harsh truths about a real-live medical office shows that he is moving, gently but firmly…..to the pro-life side. If Bernard Nathanson could repent and jump the fence, many more medical professionals may follow. We can anticipate mass migration just from the horrorshow that is Planned Parenthood. We are not Europe. Our collective consciences have not been completely numb. Watch and pray over the next two years. A regular prayer request in my daily Rosary is the reversion of public feminists such as Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell. Time to add pro-abort medical pros to the list. Without them, no baby-killing.

  • I wasn’t intending my brief remarks at the end to suggest some sort of “third way” policy, so much as to observe that since even many who consider themselves pro-choice are revolted by abortion as it often exists in this country (when they actually come face to face with the realities involved) we should as pro-lifers be able to achieve a great deal in the way of restricting abortion before we find ourselves pushing against the tide of public opinion.

  • The doctor writes in a fantasy world. How many “back-alley” abortions has he come across? Or is he depending in the rhetoric of the abortion movement.

    I note the condescension of his “The young women I saw, profoundly unready to be parents”. So he will recommend a procedure which will affect them for the rest of their lives.

    I have ever found it particularly bizarre that a man would be “pro-choice”. It is like asking a man if he would vote for brothels. No skin off his nose.

  • This doctor does not seem to recognize his own moral responsibility for his patients’ indifference to the destruction of human life. True, his clinic does not actually perform abortions, but it apparently dispenses contraceptives to sexually active young women, and it points them in the direction of the nearest clinic if they choose to abort. It thereby legitimizes recreational sex and treats the creation of new life as an undesirable side effect. In that way, it makes concrete for these young women the amoral theories expressed in the Roe and Casey decisions.

  • I think it’s important to note that MOST Americans believe abortion should be banned except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. This represents roughly 1% of the cases. So, if the political interests and activist judges would step aside for the democratic process, 99% of abortion could be banned.

    Now, that doesn’t mean we as pro-lifers would be willing to compromise, we would continue to fight until all abortion is banned, but Lord would it be a glorious day when 99% were. The graces that could flow from such a change would be enormous.

  • I think it’s important to note that MOST Americans believe abortion should be banned except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

    That isn’t the case.

  • Yes, in point of fact it is.

  • Well, Matt, the ones on the pro-obortion side act as if they believe most Americans believe abortion should be banned in all but rare, icky cases; why else would the pro-aborts distrust the voters so much and run to the courthouses for their abortion-on-demand legislation?

    I too have long been suspicious of all that rhetorical boilerplate about “heart-wrenching decisions” coming from pro-abortion politicians and activists. Such words don’t fit in with their efforts to make abortion acceptable and no big deal.

    As for those cases that supposedly make choosing life soooo hard, let’s ask the pro-aborts to identify just how many there really are and why abortion-on-demand should be the law of the land in order to deal with a miniscule number of tear-jerker cases.

Miguel H. Diaz Is A Latino, Yeah!

Thursday, May 28, AD 2009

Miguel H. Diaz has been chosen by President Obama, peace be upon him, as the new ambassador to the Holy See.  The Miguel H. Diazsecular media and Catholic Left has been hailing Mr. Diaz as a Rahner scholar and “pro-life” Democrat.  Jesuit Father James Martin of America magazine, who recently claimed that Obama is not pro-abortion, has praised Mr. Diaz for being a Latino, in addition to being a “faithful” Catholic and for receiving a degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey had this to say about Mr. Diaz’s Latino and theological credentials [emphasis mine]:

“He is a strong proponent of the necessity of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural [I guess we need priestesses to be more multi-cultural], to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith [sounds too much like a living, breathing constitution]. Born in Havana, Cuba [Being born in Havana, Cuba is a good start in creating his Latino credentials.], he is a leading Hispanic theologian in United States.”

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22 Responses to Miguel H. Diaz Is A Latino, Yeah!

  • Michael I.,

    What part of “satire” don’t you understand?

    I asked the question if Mr. Diaz holds fidelity to the teachings of the Church not because he doesn’t, but because I want to know if he does. It was a question.

    Your comments will not be approved if you continue to insult people.

  • 1. Bad sign- he wears a t-shirt under his sport jacket. Sorta like the flipside of the aging dissident priest- badly mismatched sport jacket and tie. The Diaz Look- so 2003.

    2. “Born in Havana, Cuba-” on to Abbot Klassen’s glowing review. Only means that Mama and/or Papa had the good sense to raise their offspring outside of a Marxist dictatorship.

    3. “A leading Hispanic theologian-” the good Abbot sets both himself and Prof. Dr. Diaz as butts of jokes here so we will proceed further.

    4.”The need for the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural…..” There’s a ringing endorsement. I would think Prof. Dr. Diaz would understand the need to preach Christ Crucified, in season and out, as both a personal and professional priority. Perhaps I am too insensitive.

    5. So is he pro-life? Or is he the best that Dear Leader can find in an increasingly limited pool of likely candidates- Dear Mother of God, he might have actually considered Caroline Kennedy? Hope Prof. Dr. Diaz- married? Ex-priest? Metrosexual?- doesn’t do the t-shirt and jacket number in official meetings. Might be a little too multi-cultural for the Vatican.

  • Let’s see he worked actively to have the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history elected. He signs on to a letter supporting the fanatically pro–abortion Sebelius, the friend of Tiller the Killer, to be Secretary of HHS. With “pro-lifers” like Mr. Diaz, who needs pro-aborts?

  • TO be honest the least of our concenrs should be his Theology.

    Is he competent!! I am relieved that it is not Kmiec. Kmiec showed in his actions the last couple of monthys he had no business beingan Enoy to the Island Nation of Naru or the Artic for that matter with his temperment

    What sort of strikes me about this pick is that it is much much lower profile name than usual compared to Envoys that we have sent in the past.

    As

  • Question: why would it be that important to Obama for the Vatican ambassador to be a pro-choice or even pro-Obama person? Or a dissident Catholic?

    If he’s really a uniter, why can’t he just take his lumps on this particular position and install a practicing/ faithful Catholic to the job? Is it really that unacceptable?

  • Perhaps, contra some who think otherwise, it is to develop a liberal Catholic and Hispanic voting bloc for the Dems. for the forseeable future.

  • Exactly, Phillip.

    I’ll assume that the Hispanic vote was lacking in his first campaign–as a politician (and nothing more) he always looks to the future; his own.

  • If the Catholic left is hailing him, his ‘Catholicism’ is immediately questionable, and more likely than not, contrived.

  • Is it not somewhat racist to applaud the nomination of Mr. Diaz [as also that of Judge Sotomayor] because they are Hispanic?

  • Is it not somewhat racist to applaud the nomination of Mr. Diaz [as also that of Judge Sotomayor] because they are Hispanic?

    No, of course not. What an impoverished (or ideologically tainted) definition of “racism” you must have. Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

  • Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

    The hard left has found its new bogeyman in the post-Bush era.

  • No, they still use Bush. But even they know they need a new object for division.

  • Tito:

    “Miguel H. Diaz has been chosen by President Obama, peace be upon him…”

    You gettin’ all Mohammedan on us now?

    (On another note, why in heavens name do I yet remain a 2nd class citizen on this here blog?)

  • Be glad for that, I’m a third class. 🙂

  • I haven’t even been assigned a class; my wife says it’s because I have none…

  • Well, it seems even the Ever Infamous Iafrate, in spite of his seemingly horrid presence, retains a much higher standing than we few, we happy few, we Catholic band of brothers so grievously persecuted by The Guardians of this Realm simply because we are, at bottom, classless… oh well.

  • No e., the Catholic Anarchist is continually in moderation.

  • Is it not somewhat racist to applaud the nomination of Mr. Diaz [as also that of Judge Sotomayor] because they are Hispanic?

    No, of course not. What an impoverished (or ideologically tainted) definition of “racism” you must have.

    I thought we moved beyond race. Didn’t Martin Luther King say we should judge someone based on the content of their character and not of there skin? Oh, that only applies to conservatives, while liberals get to be racists.

    Mark DeFrancisis,

    Nonconstructive comments will not be approved.

  • I thought we moved beyond race.

    Who is “we”? How the heck do we “move beyond” race? “Colorblindness” is a false “solution” to racism. We should see and appreciate racial diversity, not “move beyond” it.

  • We should see and appreciate racial diversity, not “move beyond” it

    I’m glad you feel that way. Since Sotomayer believes that Latino’s are superior to everyone else, I hope you recognize my intellectual superiority to you and your race.

  • Michael I.,

    Personal insults will not be tolerated. Keep up your unChristian behavior.

  • Since Sotomayer believes that Latino’s are superior to everyone else…

    She did not say this.

President Obama names theologian Miguel H. Diaz U.S. ambassador to the Vatican

Thursday, May 28, AD 2009

41 Responses to President Obama names theologian Miguel H. Diaz U.S. ambassador to the Vatican

  • Pingback: Miguel H. Diaz Is A Latino – Yeah! « The American Catholic
  • Given who’s doing the applauding among Catholic pundits and journals, we can obtain some sense of what kind of service Diaz will provide to the Obama administration. (Likewise I expect our readers will be sharply divided as well).

    Personally, Diaz’s advisory role to the Obama campaign, his service to a professed “non-partisan” but actively pro-Obama organization ‘Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good’, and his explicit support of Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination for HHS is disconcerting — howbeit not at all surprising.

    In what I think would appeal to various members of Vox Nova, Diaz, in a keynote address for a conference on intercultural ministry, highlighted “the identity of Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society.” 😉

  • “the identity of Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society.”

    That’s straight Rahnerian. Fr. Karl Rahner called it “anonymous Christian”.

    Nice.

  • “the identity of Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society.”

    That’s straight Rahnerian. Fr. Karl Rahner called it “anonymous Christian”.

    That quote from Diaz actually bears little resemblance to Rahner either in general or with reference to his notion of “anonymous Christians.” “Border-crossing” language is post-Rahner. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I’m curious, Blosser, what precise problem you have with the quote you’re slinging? You’re not getting back into your cut-and-paste quote slinging again, are you? I find it disappointing, too, that you’re lowering yourself to guilt-by-association judgments. Lately I have thought you’re above that nonsense. I guess you’re not.

  • I’m curious, Blosser, what precise problem you have with the quote you’re slinging?

    No need to get your panties in a bunch. I was merely alluding to our frequent delightful discussions we had on VN over immigration. (Didn’t you notice the wink and a smile?)

  • You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Your Christian virtue glows with every word you type.

  • I did but I also assumed you were trying making a point but am unclear what that point was. What were you “alluding to”?

  • Seriously, apart from his support of Sebelius’ nomination, advisory role to Obama and work with Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, not much otherwise that stands out as objectionable. Definitely a ‘dark horse’ nominee.

    Overall, a relatively “safe”, liberal run-of-the-mill theologian who’ll, together with Sotomayor, help garner the Hispanic vote for Obama’s second term.

    I wonder if he’ll tangle at all with Archbishop Burke in Rome? =)

  • I did but I also assumed you were trying making a point but am unclear what that point was. What were you “alluding to”?

    I confess when I read his address summarized as “Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society” the (admittedly) knee-jerk impression I had was “oh, great — another liberal theologian’s paean to Jesus in the context of the national debate over illegal immigration’ — quickly followed by ‘Vox Nova would SO totally love this.’ =)

    All in good humor, of course.

    I am actually curious about the content of ‘Hispanic-Latino theology’. Myself being an avid proponent of dead white male heterosexist theology of the Ratzingerian variety. Perhaps you can enlighten me someday, over a beer.

  • Perhaps you can enlighten me someday, over a beer.

    Count me in. I’d be interested in hearing his views over a beer as well!

  • I’d explain to you gentlemen the mysteries of Lawyer Theology, but I’d be compelled to charge you $300.00 an hour while doing so!

  • This strikes me as being similar to Sotomayor appointment – an Obama pick is of course likely to be bad, but this could have been a lot worse. In fact, I’d say there are some real positives to this one.

    1.) The guy won’t be teaching.

    2.) Having more exposure to the Vatican than the narrow clique of enlightened liberationists of academe he’s likely to learn that if anything can be called multicultural it’s the Catholic Church.

    3.) With a transparent and meaningless defense like, “Obama was “committed to working” with people who defend “life in the womb” and deeply respects people who hold positions he does not agree with.”, he’ll reveal much about the nature of his boss – and himself.

  • As I mentioned in the other thread who cares about his Theology. He is the United States Envoy he is not going to be giving talks on Latino Theology at the Embassy

    I am more worried if he is competent for other matters. THis is a muc much less profile name than the United States generally sends and most have had some substantial poltical experience or were old State Dept hands

  • Why don’t you guys just look up his books and check them out?

    Latino/a theology is a very lively part of Catholic theology these days. It shares some concerns with liberation theology but is more about engaging culture than politics (that’s a very very broad generalization though).

    I have the collection of essays he edited w/ Orlando Espin (he has an essay in it) and another book edited by Espin which contains another Diaz essay. Maybe I’ll blog about his work at VN.

    In theologies of culture (and postcolonial theologies), the term “border-crossing” often has so little to do with literal crossing of borders that that never occurred to me, Christopher. It has to do more with transgression of societal norms, such as Jesus’ association with “sinners,” women, Samaritans, etc.

  • Re: “border crossings”

    It was in JEST, Michael. Good grief.

  • No one’s remarking on the fact that we now HAVE an ambassador. Regardless of who he is (I’m not amazingly encouraged or discouraged; he sounds like a carbon-copy Kmiec to me with his parroting of the “politics of hope” garbage, but I think I’ll hold off final judgment…then again, Iafrate owns one of his books-and that’s a joke), America now has one, setting up the stage for an Obama meeting with the pope in Rome this summer that a week ago had looked dead in the water.

    With the rejects, the Vatican made its point to Obama and now begins on trying to have a conversation with this administration. Indeed, the Vatican did win on the point of having a pro-lifer in the post, even if the pro-lifer supports pro-choicers. This is something that shouldn’t be understated in Vatican/US relations. Furthermore, the opportunity for the man of the politics of hope to meet the man who wrote “Saved by Hope” is a interesting event, one that might have important ramifications for American Catholicism and Obama himself.

    Indeed, Obama’s about to get the dialogue he requested at Notre Dame. We’ll see how he and his supporters like it.

  • “Indeed, the Vatican did win on the point of having a pro-lifer in the post, even if the pro-lifer supports pro-choicers.”

    I respectfully submit that this is a contradiction in terms. For example, would we take seriously a statement of someone who claimed to be against racial prejudice and yet actively campaigned for a racist candidate? A pro-lifer who votes for pro-aborts is in no meaningful sense a pro-lifer.

  • …parroting of the “politics of hope” garbage…

    Has it ever occurred to you that Barack Obama does not hold the copyright on “politics of hope” language, and that such images might be very central to theologies coming out of marginalized communities and not be “parroting” at all? Benedict’s second encyclical is about hope too, for Christ’s sake. You going to dismiss him — and the Vatican for that matter who have been very positive about Obama’s “hope” language — as “parroting” just a bunch of “garbage”?

    I suppose that if you’re a young male college student attending an expensive Jesuit university you might not really “get” the idea that the vast majority of human beings on this planet truly need “hope” language and a “politics of hope.” Perhaps the only thing you “hope” for is that your school wins the big game. There’s a bigger world out there, Michael Denton.

  • Obama isn’t the pope Catholic Anarchist, much, I suspect, to your regret.

  • Obama isn’t the pope Catholic Anarchist, much, I suspect, to your regret.

    What do you mean by this? Please elaborate.

  • Quite simple really Catholic Anarchist. When the Pope speaks about hope he is speaking about our hope in Christ. When Obama speaks about “hope and change” he is merely repeating a campaign mantra which gulled people into voting for a man who is well on his way to wrecking our economy for at least a decade, to promoting a pro-abort agenda, and to engaging in foreign policy fecklessness that will leave this country open to attack. To compare the Pope’s Hope with the snakeoil being sold by Obama is ludicrous.

  • I see. Well what you said in your last comment about the differences between various visions of “hope” is painfully obvious.

    So the comment about me wishing Obama was the Pope was just another one of your screwed up nonsensical comments to make you feel better about yourself? Judging from the statistical frequency of the subjects of your posts, you must think Reagan was a former pontiff.

    And how dare you place the economy above abortion in your list of concerns about Obama. Shows where YOUR priorities lie. You care nothing for the unborn.

  • Donald:

    I respectfully submit that this is a contradiction in terms. For example, would we take seriously a statement of someone who claimed to be against racial prejudice and yet actively campaigned for a racist candidate? A pro-lifer who votes for pro-aborts is in no meaningful sense a pro-lifer.

    I agree in the sense that I find it difficult to justify an Obama vote with a coherent pro-life ethic, and I think people unreasonably diminished the importance of his abortion stands and overinflated his commitment to other social justice issues.

    However, just b/c Diaz is not as firm in pro-life as he should be, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t count at all. The Vatican’s preference of that position over the personal pro-life but public pro-choice positions of Kennedy and especially Joe Biden is a clear signal, and the Obama capitulation to that is certainly noteworthy.

    Diaz could be better, but like Sotomayor he’s probably as good as we could have hoped for.

    Iafrate:

    Has it ever occurred to you that Barack Obama does not hold the copyright on “politics of hope” language, and that such images might be very central to theologies coming out of marginalized communities and not be “parroting” at all?

    The quote he gave above: “to moving beyond the politics of fear to the politics of hope.” is a copy of Obama’s exact phrasing. Diaz is not uplifting the marginalized; he’s playing suck-up to Obama. Give me a break.

    Benedict’s second encyclical is about hope too, for Christ’s sake.

    Really? I wouldn’t have known. Not like I talked about that same encyclical in my comment or anything. I really just get all my Catholicism from Hannity and Scalia; I don’t bother mentioning encyclicals.

    You going to dismiss him — and the Vatican for that matter who have been very positive about Obama’s “hope” language — as “parroting” just a bunch of “garbage”?

    I love the continuing vague abstract references to the Vatican. Either way, just b/c the Vatican is hopeful that Obama takes his politics of hope into a truly hopeful vision for America, I’m pretty sure the Vatican isn’t too thrilled about Catholic theologians endorsing Obama’s positions as “the politics of hope.”

    Furthermore, I dismiss Obama’s politics as being truly hopefully

    I suppose that if you’re a young male college student attending an expensive Jesuit university you might not really “get” the idea that the vast majority of human beings on this planet truly need “hope” language and a “politics of hope.” Perhaps the only thing you “hope” for is that your school wins the big game. There’s a bigger world out there, Michael Denton.

    Where on earth did this diatribe against me come from? I agree that the world needs a philosophy of hope and I hope that a powerful member of that world hears it when he visits the Vatican. Obama’s politics do not hope in Christ; they hope in man/government and are doomed to fail. I would think as an anarchist and a strong critic of Americanism would have had strong reservations about associating Obama’s language of hope with the pope’s language of hope in the same way you have strong reservations about the language of sacrifice used on Memorial Day.

    I am going to ignore your snide attacks on my education and background. Suffice it to say you know precious little about that area or why I went to school where I went or how my finances work, etc. Such is not your business, and your laughable caricatures of me need to cease. Besides, having glanced at Wheeling Jesuit’s financial aid calculator ($12,195 tuition and fees per semester at minimum), I don’t quite understand why you think you have room to condemn others on the subject of expensive Jesuit education.

  • Besides, having glanced at Wheeling Jesuit’s financial aid calculator ($12,195 tuition and fees per semester at minimum), I don’t quite understand why you think you have room to condemn others on the subject of expensive Jesuit education.

    I’m not criticizing you for where you go to school. I’m criticizing you for your narrow worldview.

  • I’m not criticizing you for where you go to school.

    Interesting. Because when discussing the US Ambassador to the Vatican, randomly throwing out sentences like: “I suppose that if you’re a young male college student attending an expensive Jesuit university you might not really “get” the idea…” and “Perhaps the only thing you “hope” for is that your school wins the big game.” sounds like you’re criticizing me for where I go to school.

    I’m criticizing you for your narrow worldview.

    Fine. You use criticism of my education as a lead-in to criticism of my “narrow worldview,” narrow worldview defined as not buying Obama’s politics of hope as being particularly hopeful from a Catholic point of view.

    Either way, you had no business taking a personal shot at me like that. I didn’t take one at you.

  • “So the comment about me wishing Obama was the Pope was just another one of your screwed up nonsensical comments to make you feel better about yourself?”

    No Catholic Anarchist. I believe that your Leftist politics is effectively your religion as the title of your website Catholic Anarchy indicates.

    As for my priorities, all one has to do is to google Donald R. McClarey and abortion to see what has always been the issue of most concern to me, or to read the well over 100 posts that I have on this blog which deal with abortion.

  • Michael Denton,

    When the Catholic Anarchist starts personally attacking you that is because he lost the argument and is resorting to the secularist left tactic of politics of personal destruction. As Donald says he is clearly all politics and no charity.

  • Michael I.,

    Will you pay for the beer?

  • tito[.]benedictus[@]gmail[.]com

  • Tito – Please email me. I’d seriously like to have a conversation with you, if you can tolerate it.

  • Michael I.,

    No, you’re not banned.

    Most, if not all, of us like you Michael. We have enough patience to keep in dialogue with you.

  • We have enough patience to keep in dialogue with you.

    Inspired by that Obama speech or something? 😉

  • 🙂

    Inspired by St. Joseph.

  • Hi Friends,

    Your interesting conversations prove to me that no matter who the democrats pick for any public post, people among you will oppose him/her because he/she is a democrat, not because he/she is not pro-life. May I ask you a few questions?
    In your view, can democrats go to heaven?,
    Is the Catholic Church and the Republican Party the same organization?, can republicans go to hell?, can Obama overcome purgatory?
    Thanks, I’m interested in your answers.

  • Tony,

    Your interesting conversations prove to me that no matter who the democrats pick for any public post, people among you will oppose him/her because he/she is a democrat, not because he/she is not pro-life. May I ask you a few questions?
    In your view, can democrats go to heaven?,
    Is the Catholic Church and the Republican Party the same organization?, can republicans go to hell?, can Obama overcome purgatory?
    Thanks, I’m interested in your answers.

    You may not realize it, but a substantial number of the posters here are pro-life Democrats. Now, I as a pro-lifer who leans Republican, can’t for the life of me understand why they are so fixated on the Dems, but I don’t question their pro-life bona fides — because of their words and actions.

    Your questions are, to be blunt, idiotic, and beneath any legitimate discussion.

    Let me ask you this, have you ever opposed any politician because they are not opposed to the legal murder of the unborn?

  • I am originally from New Mexico, as far as I can see, Hispanics have always been a large voting block for the Democrats, just one of those things.

    My first thought when looking at this, was the way, Pope John Paul II went to Cuba. Sometimes, it’s not easy going but it’s things that need to be done. I don’t call this appointment but that was what I first thought of.

    I would venture furthermore, that if people say “Oh dear, we Catholics voted in favor of Obama”, Obama and his cohorts I’m sure can look at the data and say as I did right after the election, a lot of the Catholics that voted for Obama were in fact, the Hispanics.

  • Daniel Ortega is one of the pillars of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The Clash had an album called “Sandinista”: Is it true that Daniel Ortega banned bortions again in Nicaragua??

    Here is a good commentary I found coming out of Latin America on the topic. I really thought this was very well written seeing how Abortion is largely illegal in these countries.

    “USA Hypocrisy

    The hypocrisy of the USA is amazing–it promotes abortions for a device to try & spread its feminist colonialism–look at Brasil–where abortion are illegal–or even in NIcaragua–where Presidnt Daniel Ortega just banned abortions—infruiating usa feminists like Gloria Allreds & NOW etc–

    This USA man Tiller who killed many babys in aboritons–was similar to the famous Nazi–Dr Mengele–who was stated to have done abortions in his days as a fugitive–was Mengele a great “humanitarian” like Tiller?? People of South America remember that USA jewish feminist–Lori Berenson & her colonialist crimes–we reject such a disgrace

    The USA can please–keep the Allreds–Berensons–& Tillers–in the USA– we of the South American naitons are happy with our own cultures–without USA Tiller types trying to colonize –gracias por su bondad” – Lejos of XX

    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/erbe/2009/06/04/atlantic-monthly-essay-calls-tiller-murder-ok–that-is-crazy.html

This Is Not One To Fight

Wednesday, May 27, AD 2009

The protests around Obama’s honorary degree from Notre Dame University had many of the more politically progressive Catholic voices complaining that pro-life advocates had moved into a practice of loudly protesting absolutely everything that seemed vaguely positive for Obama without regard for whether it was an important issue.  As someone who cares about the integrity of Catholic education, I think they were wrong in regards to Notre Dame’s decision to give Obama an honorary law degree — it was a big deal and it was appropriate to decry the choice.

However, I think that Jay Anderson and Feddie are right in making the case that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is not something that pro-life groups should be knocking themselves out to contest.

Given how early it is in his presidency and how high his political approval ratings are, Obama could have decided to spend political capital and put a top notch, liberal intellectual ideologue on the court who could work to shift the balance strongly to the left. Instead, he made the fairly bland, identify politics “first” pick which had been conventional wisdom in Democratic circles for some time, despite the doubts of those who wanted to see a more intellectual and ideological pick. As pro-lifers, we certainly don’t need to praise this pick. She is doubtless pro-choice and will work to support Roe and other Culture of Death decisions. But we also don’t need to pick this to raise a stink over. She will be confirmed regardless, given the composition of the senate, and if we can both conserve our political energy and provide Obama with some positive reinforcement that sticking to bland conventional wisdom candidates will be rewarded with a lack of partisan rancor, so much the better.

Again, I’m not saying that pro-lifers need to praise or support Sotomayor, but Obama could have stuck it to us a lot worse — and since kicking a fuss will achieve nothing other than encouraging the administration to play only to their base next time with a strictly ideological pick (and win the pro-life movement more of a reputation for constant shrillness) this would be a good time for us to hold our fire and concentrate on other things, like the next crop of pro-life candidates.

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12 Responses to This Is Not One To Fight

  • Agreed. There doesn’t seem to be much point to fighting this one… and besides, he will likely have 1-2 more opportunities to change the court. Maybe even 3 if Obama wins a second term.

    On the other hand, Sotomayor is just one more list in a long line if judges, both conservative and liberal that typically rule in favor of the state, but that is a larger philosophical debate that has long been forgotten.

  • She needs to be fully vetted. I oppose any attempt to rush this through. From a conservative viewpoint we need to use this as an opportunity for Public Education

    Plus there are large areas where she has been silent on. Such as National Secuirity concerns etc

    Also this points out the talking point that Demcorats and Republicans are all the same is sort of silly.

    Election has hve consuqunces

    However I agree there is not need to go out on this. Especially since we need to be looking to the future and preserving or forming a new bipartisan gang of 14 if the Republicans get back the WHite House in 2012

  • “… encourage the administration to play only to their base … with a strictly ideological prick …”

    Never was a typo filled with so much truth.

    😉

  • You have pointed out one of my primary concerns when you discuss the shrillness of pro-life groups on this pick.

    There is a real risk of “Boy Who Cried Wolf” Syndrome. If pro-lifers cry “WOLF!” over this fairly conventional (albeit liberal) pick, despite the fact that there is nothing in her record to paint her as some sort of radical ideologue on abortion, then no one will take us seriously when a REAL radical ideologue with the intellectual heft to shape the Court – say, Diane Wood – comes along as Obama’s next pick.

  • “Also this points out the talking point that Demcorats and Republicans are all the same is sort of silly.

    Election has hve consuqunces”

    They do have consequences… except that the consequences are all too often exactly the same with both political wings.

  • ANthony

    As to the Court I am not sure how the Consequences are the same

    There is world of difference between lets say an Alito and the current nominee. Heck while many people pile on Kennedy he is no Ginsburg

  • She needs to be fully vetted. I oppose any attempt to rush this through. From a conservative viewpoint we need to use this as an opportunity for Public Education

    I agree 100%, the efforts should be focused demonstrating on the error of the liberal approach to jurisprudence which is very unpopular (activism), and the inherent racism of the liberal worldview.

    They should question her in ways to bring out all of the beliefs about the Constitution that separate liberals from mainstream Americans including the right to abortion, but avoid any sort of reaction, and especially avoid anything resembling a personal attack.

    I don’t think that the Republicans should support her nomination at all though, they should vote against her but no extraordinary or obstructive measures. As you said, focus on a teachable moment.

  • I suspect politicians make bad teachers, especially in public disputes. Their reported comments will be reduced to soundbites not of their choosing. And how much can you teach in a soundbite?

    Movement pro-lifers often wait for political or cultural events to do their thing.

    I don’t think political events teach well. Some Colorado pro-lifers thought a Personhood Amendment would be a great way to educate about the embryo. But politics’ adversarial nature makes lots of people wary and unreceptive.

    Roe can’t be overturned without major public figures prepping the country for a post-Roe world. But are politicians those public figures?

  • Unfortunately I think Kevin’s right. Add to that the fact that the media will distort whatever pro-life message is being taught. All at the same time presenting Sotomayor as a persecuted woman with a “compelling story.” No way to win. But that’s the way it generally is.

  • The one big problem with Sotomayor is that she may not be competent to be on the court:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/sotomayor_overturned_60_of_the.html

  • Phillip,

    I think if the confirmation questions are carefully written without any negativity, just asking her to explain her beliefs and judicial philosophy it should not backfire.

    As to her “competence” clearly all of the liberal sitting justices lack any proper understanding of the separation of powers, so whatever her shortcomings she is in good company.

  • I don’t know. The well written questions won’t be reported by the media or distorted. But perhaps with blogs they can be reported.

    How about we bet a beer on it?

Newt Gingrich Opens Up On Catholic Conversion

Tuesday, May 26, AD 2009

Newt Gingrich

Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report had an interesting exchange with recent Catholic convert Newt Gingrich.  The  former House speaker who converted last March was on his way to Europe working on a documentary* on Pope John Paul II’s 1979 trip to Poland where Mr. Gilgoff asked if “he expected this trip to be different from previous visits”:

I don’t know that it’s much different. That’s part of what led to my conversion is the first time we [he and Callista**] went to St. Peter’s together. It’s St. Peter’s. I mean, you stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached. You think to yourself, two thousand years ago the apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced. And there it is. The last time we were there we were allowed to walk in the papal gardens and you get this sense that is almost mystical.

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34 Responses to Newt Gingrich Opens Up On Catholic Conversion

  • Callista also was the woman with whom he was having an affair when he left his most current wife. There is something sickening about one’s adultress leading one into the Church.

  • I abhor Newt’s past as much as you do.

    Though only time will tell if his conversion is genuine, unlike Tony Blair’s dishonest conversion.

  • There is something sickening about one’s adultress leading one into the Church.

    Have you ever checked out the biography of King David (it’s in the Old Testament)? Adultery AND murder. Yet God seemed to forgive him for some inscrutable reason. Maybe you could figure that out.

  • Callista also was the woman with whom he was having an affair when he left his most current wife. There is something sickening about one’s adultress leading one into the Church.

    Or glorious. Not excusing their previous behavior at all, but if through their relationship they assist each other in sanctity and achieving salvation, then I suppose they would be another example of God turning evil into good. I know I’ve witnessed and personally experienced that great mercy of God.

    Tito, I disagree with Blair on things too, but I don’t think it is just to say it was a “dishonest conversion”. He may be horribly wrong and obstinately so, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that his becoming Catholic was done dishonestly. I’m just sayin’…

  • Rick,

    I was a bit hasty in my comments concerning Mr. Blair. I probably should have said “the poorly catechized Tony Blair”.

    😉

  • MZ,

    Perhaps God can draw good out of evil.

  • Tito, I disagree with Blair on things too, but I don’t think it is just to say it was a “dishonest conversion”. He may be horribly wrong and obstinately so, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that his becoming Catholic was done dishonestly. I’m just sayin’…

    The difference with Blair is that he “apparently” had no intention of reforming his evil behavior (endorsing abortion and contraception), I don’t think anyone would be foolish enough to suggest that Newt and/or Callista plan to engage in adultery. For myself, I was quite hopeful about Blair and even believed we could cut him some slack about not acting against abortion while still in power (with an understanding of the British parliamentary system), his actions since then make it clear that he is back to his old ways if he ever really left them. In my humble opinion, and with due respect to the great wisdom of the Holy Father, I believe it was an error not to demand a public rejection of his immoral policies.

  • Newt was drawn to Roman Catholicism by pomp and by powerful Popes. He sees Roman Catholicism as a fortress to give ideological weight to his atrocious politics.

    More of the same, down through history.

  • Adding mind reading to your charisms Catholic Anarchist? Of course your comment was completely predictable. From your comments over the years it is quite obvious that for you your Catholicism is merely your Leftist politics dressed up in ecclesi-speak.

  • Thanks for sharing your grace with us, Michael. Unfortunately, I possess a curiosity about the goings on in others’ minds and souls, but I actually consider myself blessed to not be able to peer into the souls of others like you and Padre Pio could. It’s too much of a responsibility. I’d likely abuse the gift by revealing things learned to tear dowm others and make cheap political points. Then again it probably doesn’t much matter because as I’ve learned from the Internet in the past couple years, converts are no good for the Faith anyway.

  • Adding mind reading to your charisms Catholic Anarchist?

    The Newt said it himself, quite openly. Didn’t you read the interview?

  • Seems like it would be appropriate to give mad shoutouts to Newt and Callista for joining our family of faith. Seems like some of youze mugs- Mike I, MZ- want to take a banquet meal and treat it like takeout from KFC. Lots of high quality folks have been swimming the Tiber for about a generation or so- shall we name Scott Hahn, Mark Shea, Padre Neuhaus of blessed memory, Laura Ingraham. And so on and so on. Would seem reasons to rejoice as our catechisis among the born bred and buttered shows up kinda shabby. Silly me. Just like Billy Joel- I’d rather laff with the sinners than cry with the saints. Meanwhile hearty welcome to Newt and Callista and stay strong in what youze been taught.

  • I read the interview Catholic Anarchist. Obviously we came to very different conclusions based upon the interview. Gingrich appeared to be paying tribute to the 2000 year witness of the Church to the Gospel of Christ, the joy that Pope Benedict has, the intellectual prowess of John Paul II and Pope Benedict in engaging the secular world, traditional Gothic architecture, and the need for a Christian counterpoise to amoral situational ethics. You can argue Catholic Anarchist that these are not his true beliefs, but that is what Gingrich said.

  • What I find interesting is the deep love and appreciation that Mr. Gingrich has for history. As Cardinal Newman once said, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”

  • Obviously we came to very different conclusions based upon the interview.

    Yes. Obvious.

  • Shame on you, Donald, for imagining that someone could be moved to an appreciation of the divine by something like St. Peter’s Basilica or a Gothic cathedral. Such things are nothing more than worldly pomp.

    Hopefully the truly enlightened can make sure that they’re smashed once the revolution comes and the worldwide proletariat brings about a realization of the True Faith.

  • MI says Gingrich was attracted to “powerful Popes,” implying an attraction to secular power, without noting that Gingrich defined that phrase: “in their intellectual ability to engage the secular world on behalf of Christ.”

  • Have you ever checked out the biography of King David (it’s in the Old Testament)? Adultery AND murder. Yet God seemed to forgive him for some inscrutable reason. Maybe you could figure that out.

    Perhaps you should re-read that biography. David was close with God before the adultery, and then left God’s graces after commiting it.

    More generally,
    To speak of sin being an instrument in one’s conversion is messed up theology. It is one thing for a prostitute to recognize her deep sin and recognize her need for salvation because of it a la Dostoyevsky tale. It is another to claim that God used Newt’s sexual appetite to cause him to leave yet another woman so that he could join the Catholic Church.

  • And yet God used David’s sexual appetite for Bathsheba to bring into being Solomon. The first child born to David and Bathsheba paid the price of their adultery and David’s murder of Uriah. Yet out of these terrible sins God brought into being the Davidic line. To recognize the power of God to bring good out of sin does not condone the sin, but merely states the obvious.

  • Is there nothing you won’t justify?

  • I thought God has infinite mercy?

  • Michael I.,

    Your lies will not be tolerated.

    If you are incapable of behaving as a Christian you will not have your comments approved.

  • To say that God brough good out of an evil situation isn’t to “justify” the evil.

  • The power of God to bring good out of evil MZ needs no justification by me or by anyone else. It is a self-evident fact, or else all of us would be damned.

  • Wow! Gingrich is now David and the Jesus.

    *mutters something about messianism.*

  • Only God knows what is in the hearts of men… and M.Z.

  • Actually MZ my guess is that in the confessional Gingrich was in the role of the sinful tax collector at the Temple. Readers of this thread can determine who is in the role of the proud Pharisee.

  • Um, if I said that “a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany” that Gingrich is a wonderful guy, then it would be OK to point to messianism. But all I did was point out another instance in history where God brought good out of a sinful situation; anyone with half a brain can see I’m not saying that Gingrich himself is akin to David.

  • Aside from the notoriety and the added salaciousness of it being known that he and Callista were having an affair prior to his having divorced his most recent wife — Gingrich’s case doesn’t necessarily sound all that different from some of the run-of-the-mill conversions I’ve dealt with helping out on RCIA team. It’s very common to have someone coming in through RCIA be the spouse or “significant other” of a current or lapsed Catholic. It’s also pretty common for both to have prior marriages or entanglements that need to be sorted out before they can be accepted into the Church.

    In both the Austin and Los Angeles dioceses, where I have experience, the policy is not to let people into the Church until their current marriages or living arrangements have been regularized. Unless things are vastly different in DC, I would thus assume that Newt and Callista’s prior marriages were declared to be invalid and their existing civil marriage blessed prior to his being received into the Church. (If things weren’t done that way, I’d consider it highly problematic.)

    I suppose it’s a matter of taste whether one talks about God “using” such relationships to bring people into the Church or one simply observes that it happens often, but my experience is that it is quite common for people to come into the Church as a result of the influence of someone he or she has slept with in the past outside of wedlock.

  • Pingback: For The Floor « Vox Nova
  • Wow. From MZ’s “response” over at Vox Nova:

    Having been so impressed by his current wife’s piety, he finally joined the Catholic Church and has appointed himself spokesman for all that is good and holy. To this, the usually suspects give an amen and thank God for Newt’s libido finally finding a Catholic girl to satiate it and leading him to the Church.

    Is anyone stupid enough to believe such a ridiculous caricature? Saying that God can bring good out of evil in no way equates to “thank[ing] God” for the evil. That’s a pretty elementary distinction.

  • “That’s a pretty elementary distinction.”

    One would think.

  • I have heard the speeches of Mr. Newt Gingrich for a long time, long before his Catholic Conversion. I always wondered if he was Catholic. I am surprised to hear that he has converted recently. I would like to tell him not to mind the voices of this Godless, amoral generation. If this generation likes him, like it does Obama, he would be worthless. Mr. Ginggrich, be strong, be just, and do everything you can to change this country back to God to Whom it belongs.

Memorial Day 2009

Monday, May 25, AD 2009

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, let thy protection be upon all those who are in the service of our country; guard them from all harm and danger of body and soul; sustain and comfort those as home, especially in their hours of loneliness, anxiety, and sorrow; prepare the dying for death and the living for your service; give success to our arms on land and sea and in the air; and grant unto us and all nations a speedy, just and lasting peace. Amen.

— Prayer in Time of War

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One Response to Memorial Day 2009

Tortured Credibility

Friday, May 22, AD 2009

It has become an oft repeated trope of Catholics who are on the left or the self-consciously-unclassifiable portions of the American political spectrum that the pro-life movement has suffered a catastrophic loss of credibility because of its association with the Republican Party, and thence with the Iraq War and the use of torture on Al Qaeda detainees. Until the pro-life movement distances itself from the Republican Party and all of the pro-life leadership who have defended the Iraq War and/or the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on detainees, the argument goes, the pro-life movement will have no moral authority and will be the laughing stock of enlightened Catholics everywhere.

Regardless of what one thinks about the Iraq War and torture (myself, I continue to support the former but oppose the latter) I’m not sure that this claim works very well. Further, I think that those who make it often fail to recognize the extent to which it cuts both ways.

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42 Responses to Tortured Credibility

  • I don’t think being “pro-life” will lose credibility because the position is True, but “pro-lifers” who associate with other violations against human dignity might.

    Personally, I do not understand how a thoughtful Catholic can support the Iraq War. I’ve yet to really hear air tight moral justifications for it, and if memory serves the entire run up to the invasion reeked of jumping the gun while post 9/11 emotions still ran high. Not exactly conditions for sober decision-making.

    The decision was not only an act of aggression, it was unconstitutional and a strategic blunder. It put us on the road to bankruptcy and rather than secure our safety I believe it to be contributing to an environment for further violent conflict. The truth is, almost a decade out from 9/11 and we were given Saddam Hussein on a platter instead of Osama bin Laden.

    The fact of this occurring under a Republican administration is rather irrelevant. If party actually mattered the war funds would have been taken away by the Democratic congress at any time after 2006. Now, half a year into Obama’s tenure and the line on withdraw is “give us three years”.

    The fact that this messy war has tainted other Republican “values” is not surprising. Look at everyone suddenly crying out that capitalism has failed!

    I would expect that if Obama does not end the war in a satisfactory way by the next election, or if there is a new conflict in Pakistan or Africa… leftist values too will begin to be dragged down. Voters will become sick of everything he says, just like Bush. The anti-war left would likely be as deflated and the pro-life right.

    If you ask me its the insanity of tribalism at work. If you take the “us vs. them” two party system and combine it with the general ignorance… well what do you expect? And besides, its not as if people on the genuine left and the genuine right really make it into power, is it?

    The war was never about securing the American people. It was however, about securing the American federal government; it dominance and control. Thats something both center-left and center-right can agree on. Ironically, they are losing both bit by bit, British-style.

    To this day I believe that the path to regain power is within Republican hands: all they have to do is repudiate the war. Maybe change their name, too. 🙂

    As far as the pro-Life movement is concerned… I do indeed think it is in their best interest to grow beyond the party. I think they have to if they are looking to build majorities that can withstand the back-and-forth of American politics.

    Most libertarians seem to be pro-choice, which is mind-boggling. There’s room there to grow a little bit.

    Pro-lifers do not need a majority of Democrats on their side. Just enough to make the larger party think twice when it comes to abortion legislation. They have to consider which piper they are going to pay. If abortion were more often argued in terms of the civil rights movement, perhaps left-leaning politicians could be persuaded.

    I guess, Darwin, my broader point is – none of it matters. Its tit-for-tat politics and none of the influential players are interested in moral consistency, just majority-building. By defending the Republican alignment of values or that the pro-life movement is perfectly at home where it is, you’re playing into the hands of pollsters and politicians.

    Or, perhaps I made no sense, even to myself.

  • Personally, I do not understand how a thoughtful Catholic can support the Iraq War. I’ve yet to really hear air tight moral justifications for it, and if memory serves the entire run up to the invasion reeked of jumping the gun while post 9/11 emotions still ran high. Not exactly conditions for sober decision-making.

    Well, I think I can at least claim to have been sober, in that I’d supported forcibly removing Hussein from power ever since 1991. I considered it profoundly immoral for Bush Sr. to have called on the people of Iraq to rise up against their dictator, with the implicit promise that the US would support them, and then leave them to die in the hundreds of thousands instead. I would have supported an invasion at any time since then, and I considered it to be justified, given that Iraq had never satisfactorily obeyed the 1991 cease fire anyway. If Clinton had been willing to get rid of Hussein at any point during his term, I would have supported that.

    I do think that the WMD justification was poor at best. Yes, there was a general belief (even among Iraq’s military) that they had chemical weapons. But they were not a great threat to us. However, given that I’d been in support of deposing Hussein for over ten years already, I didn’t consider the punitive justification a major obstacle to what seemed long overdue already.

    But, I can certainly understand why other Catholics would believe differently.

    By defending the Republican alignment of values or that the pro-life movement is perfectly at home where it is, you’re playing into the hands of pollsters and politicians.

    I don’t know that I’m so much defending the status who as pointing out that it’s hardly surprising to anyone. There are parts of the GOP platform that I absolutely disagree with (I’d support open borders) but I don’t think anyone does himself any favor by getting all worked up over where the current alignments are. It’s ludicrous to claim that the pro-life movement has lost credibility as a result of being associated with the GOP in a way that immigration reform and opposition to the death penalty haven’t as a result of being associated with the Democrats. All are known to be highly partisan agendas with established bases of support, and pretending that’s news to anyone does not strike me as doing one credit. Even if one would appreciate realignment.

  • “It’s ludicrous to claim that the pro-life movement has lost credibility as a result of being associated with the GOP in a way that immigration reform and opposition to the death penalty haven’t as a result of being associated with the Democrats. ”

    I suppose it would depend on how you see credibility. The movement is philosophically credible by being moral and constitutionally correct. But politically I can see how some would say they’ve lost credibility in terms of their ability to win elections, win court cases and influence legislation. If a movement is going to cast its lot with one party, then its goals are inevitably tied to the success or failure of unrelated issues. Only the thick-headed would exclusively equate political success to intellectual legitimacy.

  • Anthony,

    If a movement is going to cast its lot with one party, then its goals are inevitably tied to the success or failure of unrelated issues

    the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.

    You’re not proposing some ridiculous third-party option, are you?

    The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.

  • The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.

    This is due to american historical amnesia, of course.

  • Rather a reaction to the coming Obama Crash. Unless there is a major terrorist attack, and I wouldn’t rule that out, the economy will be the overriding issue in 2010 and 2012 and the signs are not good currently for Obamanomics.

  • Michael I,

    what Donald said. But also, the American people realize that right or wrong the Iraq invasion was a bipartisan decision that most of the people agreed with as well. Their disatisfaction was almost entirely due to the poor state of affairs until it was rectified by the surge which President Bush (R) ordered at the recommendation of General Petreus (R?), and the urging of Senator McCain (R), and the majority of the Republican party. The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over, or that Obama snapped defeat from the jaws of victory, very unlikely since he kept on the Robert Gates(R) to ensure that it wouldn’t happen.

    Donald is exactly right, the issue of 2010 and 2012 will not be Iraq 2003-2008. If I had to predict, sadly, it will be economic malaise, inflation, crushing federal deficits, massive tax increases, and quite possibly devastating terrorist attacks or other security issues (Russia, Iran, North Korea, take your pick).

  • “the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.”

    I think the point is not whether or not the choices, in the short-term, of what seemed best for the survival of the movement is correct. After Roe v. Wade, the Democrats became increasingly dominated by pro-choice politicians, supported by the abortion-minded groups, etc. The GOP was very welcoming.

    I think the point of the criticism (right or wrong) is that possibly unforeseen affects are what we’re experiencing now.

    I think he is saying that the pro-life movement by making itself dependent solely on the success of a single party has made its own success contingent on that party. If positions predominantly accepted by that party are, largely down-the-list, against one’s best judgments of what better achieves justice then despite their pro-life convictions, some will feel disenfranchised and/or uncomfortable or even alienated by the rest of pro-lifers, some, not all, of which give a blind stamp of approval to the platform because of the party’s stance on life issues.

    And because this issue has divided itself across party lines, it appears to be a partisan issue when it really should not be.

    I posted a link from a story in the Human Life Review a while back talking about trouble pro-life Democratic candidates had in receiving funds, despite their records, from pro-life groups; other problems included Republican candidates being endorsed over pro-life Democrats with untainted abortion records — though, as far as I know, this hasn’t happened so much on the federal, rather than, state level. It’s why people — rightly or wrongly — say that some pro-life groups might as well be Republican PACs.

    Another problematic case is the fact that pro-life Democrats are so “diaspora” and not collectively organized at the local levels that it makes it rather difficult, even for principled, pro-life Democrats to actually launch a campaign. They don’t have the resources, even for those who are unequivocally pro-life. Some settle and work in the trenches for pro-life groups or other justice causes. Others simply — and I imagine this happened during the Reagan years — became Republicans.

    As a result, it is very very difficult for the pro-life movement to enter the realm of the Left because fellow pro-lifers are suspicious, perhaps with valid reason, to suspect “double talk” or false pro-life credentials.

    However, this very reality, I think makes the pro-life movement a house divided against itself while the pro-choice movements is moving in lock-step and that’s the source of their temporal victories.

    Now, I’m sure no one is saying that a one-party pro-life party is the way to go to. Some are hesitant, I’m sure for valid reasons, that it is difficult, or even counter-productive, to support self-described “pro-life Democrats.” Perhaps they’re right.

    However, here are my criticisms — some valid, perhaps some not. Everyone will have to judge for themselves.

    When Reagan was the president, the pro-life movement gained quite a bit of ground. Yet, the Clinton Administration quickly turned the direction of abortion and bioethical policies the other way. The Bush Administration was eight years of undoing the damage done by the Clinton Administration and restoring and adding new pro-life policies. Now we’re in another reversal.

    This tit-for-tat can keep going, or the other party can be infiltrated from within. There has not been much ground on this made, necessarily, but the organization Republicans for Choice (http://www.republicansforchoice.com/) are all but invisible. After the election, I’ve read a many articles and seen many people claiming that it was the “values-sector” of the party driving out moderates with their alleged extremism and litmus tests. I’m not making their argument; I am simply stating their assertions. The GOP, as seen, has no problem recruiting pro-choice Republicans to run for office (more than likely in liberal districts) to win office. I suppose the thinking is that it’s better to have someone with you 90% of the time then 0%.

    This reality tried to manifest itself in the 2008 GOP presidential primaries. The pro-life movement responded forcefully — not for the best candidate in my view — but responded nonetheless. Yet, I cannot help but wonder: what if?

    What would happen if the GOP with its new RNC Chair, Mr. Steele, so committed to “inclusion” and diversity and non-application of litmus tests went in a different direction? What if, God forbid, at some point, the pro-life movement split between viable candidates and all pro-choice and socially moderate Republicans concerned with fiscal conservatism, not cultural values, line up behind a single, less-than-pro-life candidate?

    I think that’s the bind. What is a pro-life person to do in this situation? Surely, a hypothetical, cynical GOP strategist might ask: would they really go to the other party? If this did occur: what would you do? Some I imagine would put a protest vote and not vote at all. Others would vote for the GOP, take what they can, and work to change the case next time. But it would surely be a source of division and debate: a house divided against itself. It seems that if voting is a moral obligation, then, one can’t simply sit at home and let good pro-life Republicans lose their seats and more pro-choice seats be taken in Congress by the Democratic party. What about pro-life Governors? What about the Presidency? The latter of two who appoint judges (depending on the State) and can realistically set a judicial seat in the pro-choice camp for perhaps a generation. Right now, that’s the scare with Obama’s SC nominee coming. Surely it would be better — and on this no one disagrees — that power can exchange between the parties and there would be little concern over nominee’s abortion positions.

    It seems that the success of the pro-life movement rises and falls with the GOP. I think it’s problematic.

    I don’t think it’s nonsense per se to envision Republican strategists, pure pragmatists, to realize that abortion is a potent electoral tool and not so much a human rights issue. This isn’t to say that there are several candid and sincere pro-life Republicans serving in public office.

    In the last 40 years, there have been only 2 Democratic appointments to the Supreme Court. Reagan chose two nominees that ended up being pro-choice and so did Bush I. Seven of the nine Justices since Roe have been made by Republicans and the pro-life movement has not garnered the votes needed by the court in order to get a 5-4 majority.

    This goes back to the question of pro-life Democrats. I think many Democrats who are pro-life cannot garner the resources or support to make it to office. The Democratic party won’t fund pro-life candidates, but rather would search for pro-choice candidates — anyone — to run in opposition to such candidates in primaries. That’s the key. A pro-life Democrat might do fine in a general elections against a Republican. In recent decades, they usually win. But rather it is the Democratic primary is an incredible challenge because of a lack of resources to compete against their fellow party-members who are singling them out surely over abortion. The GOP doesn’t hesitate to fund it’s pro-choice candidates: primaries are fair game. Let the voters decide.

    The list of pro-life Democrats who had high political ambitions who realized this reality is growing. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, and many more were all at one point pro-life.

    Now certainly there change of conviction is morally incorrect and a reflection of poor character and courage. Many of such candidates do so for political expediency; others remain “pro-life,” but compromise their position and “moderate themselves” to win some base votes that they otherwise cannot win office without. Some later become explicitly pro-choice; others try to uphold the pro-life facade. Surely, the cooperation in evil doesn’t justify such actions. However, I think the fact that this occurs reflects a support that is not there, not just for cowards who will compromise, but for those who genuinely will seek office and never win it because they aren’t willing to sell out their principles.

    Yet, it just makes me wonder, if a pro-life Democrat launched an exploratory committee to seek the presidency and actually made it onto the ballot for the Democratic primary, how many pro-life groups or pro-life Americans, might actually extend help in resources for such a candidate to survive the assaults of NARAL, Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood which is without a doubt the most organized, financed political movement in the U.S.? I’m skeptical of the number of people who would cross over from the GOP and cast their vote to ensure the pro-life candidate wins. I’m sure they have their reasons for it as well.

    I’m not sure anything I’ve said is valid or just my jumbled, ramblings.

    Perhaps, my most controversial thought is this…

    I won’t say it is a double standard.

    I just will say I dislike the reality. It seems that to be authentically a pro-life Democrat you must support Republican candidates, even with the most strident conviction that these candidates will not work fervently, or even with passion, to curtail the horror of abortion — but are rather giving you lip service. Right or wrong, I believe this to be the case. Yet, if you vote for or support pro-life Democratic candidates, some, again, not all, will see this as a moral compromise and support for “pseudo-pro-life” candidates. To such candidates, much scrutiny is given; but this same critical eye is not extended to the pro-life politicians in the GOP; it seems to me, perhaps, I’m wrong, they get quite a bypass. Nor do such individuals see any sort of necessity in helping such candidates win and defeat pro-choice candidates in a party direly in need of pro-life presence.

    Pro-life Democrats can never achieve leaders seats on committees and roles of leadership if they aren’t greater in number to be a force not to be thrown around.

    So, at the end of the day, pro-life Democrats seem to have a responsibility to ensure that Republican candidates beat pro-choice Democrats; yet, the issue of pushing their party in a more pro-life direction, seems to be an issue that is sort of “their problem” — and I cannot see how this current reality doesn’t lend itself to helping the Republican party politically. It maintains its hold on a crucial voting bloc.

    So, not so surprisingly, I agree, at least, in part with critics that the pro-life movement in some respects behaves like a Republican PAC.

    As it so happens, two parties that are pro-life forces competition, competition produces results. It seems then that pro-life Democrats are a potent tool for pro-life success. Even from 2000 to 2006, not a piece of pro-life legislation could pass through Congress without the remaining pro-life Democrats to neutralize and overcome pro-choice Republican votes.

  • But also, the American people realize that right or wrong the Iraq invasion was a bipartisan decision that most of the people agreed with as well.

    Not true, and also irrelevant.

  • “the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.

    You’re not proposing some ridiculous third-party option, are you?”

    No, I’m proposing that we patiently persuade… a lost art in the United States.

    There has to also be a way that makes the pro-life cause and Democratic political interests better partners. Recall that after 2004, some Democrats began to wonder aloud (perhaps not seriously, but still) of becoming more friendly to the pro-life side of things. I had hoped the “Blue Dog” Democrats might be a moderating force, but not so it seems..

    Though, a third party would always be welcome in my view, however unlikely. It will never happen until enough disillusioned but still caring individuals decided to organize and work to breakdown election rules.

    “The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over”

    I don’t agree. I think people will see it as an expensive mess (fiscally and morally) by Republicans that had to be cleaned up with more expenses by Republicans.

    And in the not-to-distant future they will see that Obama is carrying on that proud tradition, just in a lefty, Oprah-y way with nice posters and logos. Whether they have the courage to see past it remains to be seen.

    “The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.”

    You’re joking right? If they don’t repudiate it then why would those of us who can remember past last week believe them ever again? I used to be fairly Republican 8 years ago. I’ll never vote for either major party again unless there is fundamental changes in attitude. I don’t care how naive or idealistic it is. We’re Catholic, for pete’s sake. We’re supposed to be better than this.

    The Republicans either lied, were incompetent or made bad judgement. All are good reasons to be kept from power as long as possible. “The Surge” no matter how militarily successful is irrelevant to the underlying issues that got us into the situation in the first place. If “winning” in Iraq looks the same as our perpetual “victories” in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Germany, etc. then… no thanks.

    Don’t get me wrong… the Democrats are guilty of all that too!

    “Donald is exactly right, the issue of 2010 and 2012 will not be Iraq 2003-2008. If I had to predict, sadly, it will be economic malaise, inflation, crushing federal deficits, massive tax increases, and quite possibly devastating terrorist attacks or other security issues (Russia, Iran, North Korea, take your pick).”

    The Iraq war is not over, so it is not “2003-2008”, its “2003-present”. Its Obama’s War now, just like Afghanistan and his little games in Pakistan.

    I agree that economic issues are going to be the issue. But gee, I wonder what contributed to this mess… perhaps our ludicrously expensive foreign policy based on principled values like bribery or blowing things up.

    Will inflation be the issue? Of course, thanks to the billions spent, borrowed or created at the start of Bush’s term and exponentially increased under Obama.

    If a “security issue” (real, imagined or just for fun) does come up, you can bet that they’ll sell it as beneficial to our economic woes. Which is like saying WWII ended the Great Depression (it didn’t). Or perhaps they’ll say that this war (presuming its Iran) will be cheaper because the troops are already there! The cannons can be adjusted just a few degrees further east!

    I must say… if there is another “devastating” terrorist attack and the U.S. goes into another post-9/11 funk of spending and shooting…I’m not certain the “Republic” can survive in anyway thats worth describing as free.

  • Anthony, I agree. Despite my own previous assumptions, I’m not so sure I’ll be crossing over and helping the GOP in 2010; maybe not in 2012.

    I might have a straight down the line Pope Benedict XVI ballot.

  • “I might have a straight down the line Pope Benedict XVI ballot.”

    My mind is being tragically torn into a million pieces that the very thought of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome… and POTUS!

    Thomas Jefferson would be very, VERY disappointed!

  • If you say you won’t support pro-life Republicans in 2010 or 2012 for office against pro-abortion Democrats… what’s the logical conclusion?

    If you say you don’t want the Republicans back in power any time soon, and you’re not insane enough to think that somehow a magical third party will take sweep the congress in 2010 and the presidency in 2012, then the only conclusion is you prefer the RADICALLY pro-abortion Democrats.

    If you don’t see the strategy of supporting the Republican party straight ticket, then vote your conscience on each legitimate candidate on his own merits. That’s the ONLY moral option.

  • I said I’d write in candidates.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,

    Not true, and also irrelevant.

    Of course it’s true, 70% of the population supported the invasion, and both parties with a very few exceptions.

    Relevence? It’s relevent to the point of what will happen in 2010/2012.

    Anthony,

    No, I’m proposing that we patiently persuade… a lost art in the United States.

    I agree, we should patiently pursuade the luke-warm to be on fire for pro-life, and for the pro-abortion to be pro-life or at least luke-warm. THis applies to either party of course. Franly though, you can have a much greater influence on Republican platforms that you like or don’t like than you will on dropping abortion from the Democrat platform. THere is just a lot more tolerence for dissenting views in the Republican party.

    “The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over”

    I don’t agree. I think people will see it as an expensive mess (fiscally and morally) by Republicans that had to be cleaned up with more expenses by Republicans.

    I don’t think most people really have as short a memory as you do about the invasion (bipartisan and popular support), if their memory is short they’ll probably only remember that we won (unless Obama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, and that they’ll REALLY remember. Expensive? In 2003-2008 terms perhaps, but it is so small compared to Obama’s spending sprees it will not really factor on the decision.

    You’re joking right? If they don’t repudiate it then why would those of us who can remember past last week believe them ever again? I used to be fairly Republican 8 years ago. I’ll never vote for either major party again unless there is fundamental changes in attitude. I don’t care how naive or idealistic it is. We’re Catholic, for pete’s sake. We’re supposed to be better than this.

    Actually you may not be aware but there are bigger things at stake than a popularly supported invasion in 2003, the Church is pretty clear on this, abortion is a much more serious issue. 40 million murdered innocents and counting… no comparison.

    The Republicans either lied, were incompetent or made bad judgement. All are good reasons to be kept from power as long as possible. “The Surge” no matter how militarily successful is irrelevant to the underlying issues that got us into the situation in the first place. If “winning” in Iraq looks the same as our perpetual “victories” in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Germany, etc. then… no thanks.

    Shame on you.

    The Iraq war is not over, so it is not “2003-2008?, its “2003-present”. Its Obama’s War now, just like Afghanistan and his little games in Pakistan.

    That’s my point, Iraq war, initiated under popular support, waged by the Republicans (poorly at times, but later brilliantly and successfully) from 2003-2008. The wrap-up is Obama’s to screw-up, it will not help him if he lets the job be finished properly, but it will devastate him if he screws it up.

    I agree that economic issues are going to be the issue. But gee, I wonder what contributed to this mess… perhaps our ludicrously expensive foreign policy based on principled values like bribery or blowing things up.

    Have you actually looked at military spending as % of federal spending or GDP? It’s tiny. Other “foreign policy” spending is money that’s been wasted for decades, nothing new here, I’d drop most of it immediately.

    If a “security issue” (real, imagined or just for fun) does come up, you can bet that they’ll sell it as beneficial to our economic woes. Which is like saying WWII ended the Great Depression (it didn’t). Or perhaps they’ll say that this war (presuming its Iran) will be cheaper because the troops are already there! The cannons can be adjusted just a few degrees further east!

    I must say… if there is another “devastating” terrorist attack and the U.S. goes into another post-9/11 funk of spending and shooting…I’m not certain the “Republic” can survive in anyway thats worth describing as free.

    are you a pacifist? I’m wondering, because you seem to make no distinction between just and unjust wars, ie. real = just, imagined, or just for fun = unjust.

  • Eric Brown,

    I said I’d write in candidates.

    let me get this straight. You consider your objections to the Republican platform to be on such a morally equal level to abortion, even when balanced against the alternative’s incredibly immoral policies… that you would vote AGAINST a viable and authentically pro-life candidate in your congressional district, or for president?

    Think about your position here, it’s untennable. If there is a viable and authentically pro-life candidate you have a moral obligation to support him. In the case of two less than authentically pro-life candidates the Church leaves your conscience to measure the best course, but not when one of them is authentically pro-life.

  • Well, I voted for quite a few Republicans in 2008 and not without a lot of hesitation.

    However, the problem is, that I don’t take at face value that the GOP and Republicans are “authentically” pro-life. Better on abortion than Democrats by far, but not per se…

    And I am not sure if it is a Catholic moral obligation to vote straight ticket Republican.

    I might have reservations to cooperate in the scheme, but I’m not opposed to doing it.

    Read my earlier post.

  • “Actually you may not be aware but there are bigger things at stake than a popularly supported invasion in 2003, the Church is pretty clear on this, abortion is a much more serious issue.”

    Killing is killing. Maybe you’re capable of making value distinctions between innocent, unborn children and innocent Iraqi lives (unless you’re convinced none are innocent), but I’m not.

    The “bigger picture” you refer to is only a numbers game. But the result is the same: death, unintended consequences and damage to human dignity.

    “Shame on you.”

    I’m going to explain myself rather than take that personally. This is the internet after all.

    Our intervention in Japan and Germany is not over. We’re still there, in one capacity or another. And we shouldn’t be, regardless of whether the Germans or the Japanese wish us to be. Here it is 60 years after a terrible and bloody war and American treasure is still being sent abroad to places in which the native peoples are more than capable of taking responsibility for themselves.

    Oh yeah, and dropping two atomic bombs? Morally reprehensible. Nothing to be proud of about that. I can’t imagine Christ doing anything other than weeping.

    So sorry, I’m not going to take The History Channel view of American “victory”.

    “Have you actually looked at military spending as % of federal spending or GDP? It’s tiny. Other “foreign policy” spending is money that’s been wasted for decades, nothing new here, I’d drop most of it immediately.”

    Its a trillion dollar war now, Matt. Plus untold losses on the Iraqi side and an incalculable amount lost in terms of productivity. Who cares about percentages at that point?

    If that money had to be spent, it would have been better but towards meeting our burdensome domestic obligations. The bills are adding up…

    By other “foreign policy” spending… do you mean wasted things like… diplomats?! Linguists?! Negotiators?! You know, the guys that try to resolve problems without killing someone. 🙂

    I’ll give you one thing, if you’d get us out of the U.N. I’d back you up. Thats some prime property here in Manhattan I’d love to see sold off.

    “are you a pacifist? I’m wondering, because you seem to make no distinction between just and unjust wars, ie. real = just, imagined, or just for fun = unjust.”

    I don’t consider myself a pacifist. I do however, believe that the threshold for a just war is extremely high and rarely reached. Additionally, in cases where it is justly reached rarely is it justly executed. I have the same attitude towards the death penalty.

    The American Revolution and The Southern War for Independence to my mind were justified. (I also want to include The Texas Revolution, but my memory is a bit faded on it) Our involvement in WWII was justified, but I think we should have no delusions about the politics that lead up to our entering the war. I also believe portions of how WWII was executed were unjust.

    The Spanish-American War, WWI (a special shout-out here), the Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War I and II etc. are unjust wars in my view.

    The current war in Afghanistan should have been formally declared after 9-11, with victory clearly defined. My opinion has been that it should have been declared specifically against Al-Qaeda, since they did the same to us in the late 90s. War against the state of Afghanistan should only have been declared if they chose to continue material support to Al-Qaeda.

  • I think the issue is less guilt by association than it is the fact that association can draw you into defending things that really shouldn’t be defended. Over the past month, for example, folks at EWTN, First Things, Inside Catholic and the American Life League have defended the use of torture (or enhanced interrogation, or whatever they’re calling it these days). They didn’t have to do that, and I suspect that if the sides had been reversed (with Dems largely supporting these methods and Repubs opposed) that they wouldn’t have done so. But there’s something about politics that makes people feel that they need to “defend their team” regardless of the system.

    To some extent this may be inherent in the nature of politics (if it weren’t for this political ‘team spirit’ I doubt you could get very many people to participate in the political process or even vote). And it certainly applies on the left as well as on the right. But the danger is real.

  • Blackadder is correct.

  • In the last 40 years, there have been only 2 Democratic appointments to the Supreme Court. Reagan chose two nominees that ended up being pro-choice and so did Bush I. Seven of the nine Justices since Roe have been made by Republicans and the pro-life movement has not garnered the votes needed by the court in order to get a 5-4 majority.

    In the interests of precision it should be that George Bush – pere made just two appointments to the Court, one of which worked out badly. Please also note that Republican presidents have had to maneuver eight of their last 12 court appointments past a legislature controlled by the political opposition. This reality has been salient with regard to the tenure of Anthony Kennedy and David Souter. One might also note the list of registered Democrats who have sat on the Court since 1969 (one of which was nominated by Gen. Eisenhower):

    1. William O. Douglas
    2. William J. Brennan, Jr.
    3. Byron White
    4. Thurgood Marshall
    5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    6. Steven Breyer

    Not one of them had to run an obstacle course erected by a Republican Senate. Only one of these (White) ever showed much resistance to enactment by judicial ukase of whatever the prevailing ethos was in Georgetown (and it is doubtful that Mr. Justice White’s most controversial acts of refusal would have been regarded as remarkable either in the legal professoriate or among politicians at the time he was appointed in 1962). Seven of the twelve Republican appointments have been failures, in part because of negligence (Gerald Ford’s and George Bush-pere’s), incompetence (that of Richard Nixon, John Mitchell, and John Dean), and in part because (it is reasonable to surmise) of successful deception by the candidate in question (Sandra Day O’Connor).

    What is a more interesting question is why Mr. Brown would have more than a laconic interest in the competition between the two parties with regard to any other nexus of issues. Both parties are promoters of some version of the mixed economy. The Democratic Party is a reliable ally (the Republicans merely acquiescent) in the promotion of the designs of the social work industry, the organized appetite of academia, the teacher’s colleges, and the public employee unions. Certain subcultures within the population appear to be tribal Democrats). Why should these distinctions excite Mr. Brown’s loyalty?

  • Anthony, I think a lot of it depends on whose ox is being gored. Being partly of Cuban ancestry, I would take issue with your statement that the Spanish American war was unjustified–or at least, that element within it that consisted of Cuban citizens fighting to rout their foreign rulers. And while my Southern creds are impeccable, I confess that I remain deeply divided about the legitimacy of the Wah of Nawthun Agression–particularly the nasty little bit of Confederate adventuring in Charleston Harbor that set off the whole powder keg.

    I am glad to see, however, that you have no false illusions about WWII. Though there is no doubt in my mind that it was justified, I have often reflected recently that the brutality inflicted by all sides–Allies included–in that conflict, makes the sturm und drang about the Iraq War seem doubly ridiculous.

  • Art,

    Then it seems then that more careful vetting would be something GOP presidents should work on and pro-life advocates should strongly affirm that they desire anti-Roe judges and won’t settle for compromises.

    Even in the 1980s, the Democratic party was markedly pro-choice, but there were still a few pro-life Democratic votes in the Senate and I don’t think it was filibuster proof. I’d have to look into that; I’m not so sure if compromise and “moderate” candidates was so necessary.

    Agreed, however, that O’Connor was successful. I must say that I’ve been disappointed with the most recent women firsts — Supreme Court Justice, Secretary of State, Speaker of the House, to be particular. They were all pro-choice…so sad.

    On another note —

    I am a Democrat because I agree predominantly with the party’s platform. And I feel that I simply wouldn’t fit in with the GOP. I practically diverge away on every issue.

    In regard to competition, my only point was that if the Democratic Party had a pro-life plank, the GOP couldn’t half-ass deliver on its promises or fail to give abortion the priority it deserves because pro-life advocates could find a home and place in the Democratic Party. Therefore, competition would increase and the party’s would try to out do each other — but the effect of that is real progress in stopping abortion.

    In other words, the tit-for-tat of pro-choice vs. pro-life means one Administration puts in place pro-abortion policies, another Administration rolls it back, then again, and again. Progress is very slow; if this were not the case, then progress would quicken.

    My feeling on this is that the pro-life movement because of the grave evil of legalized murder doesn’t have the luxury to make up strategy as it goes. I happen to think our current strategy is too tied up in one party. People can disagree; but I think my reasons are valid. Thanks.

  • cminor – Wars for political independence usually to my mind are justified. Or perhaps I just have soft spot for people who wish to be left alone and chart their own course. As I’ve argued over in the past – I believe there is great value behind the principle of secession.

    What I object to in my list of unjust wars is the element of military intervention. Its one thing to philosophically support foreigners, or offer them peaceful-oriented material support (food, medical aide, etc. – mostly for civilians). Violent intervention is a bridge too far. I’m one of those guys who think neutrality is a legitimate and respectable response to foreign wars, especially ones at great geographical distance.

    Eric –

    I’m of the personal view that if the Democrats did have a pro-life bench they would be wildly successful and almost impossible to defeat.

    Granted I’m not a Democrat and never will be. The concerns that their platform addresses I might have heart for, but their solutions more often than not have unintended or misunderstood consequences. LBJ’s Great Society, for example, was anything but. FDR’s social security has contributed ironically to making us less financially secure. These policies, sold to the American public as being in line with liberty, over time make the population dependent – and I would even say pawns or slaves – to the state.

    The Democrats are in essence the party of social and economic intervention. The Republicans are a party of moral intervention and militarism. When politically convenient or necessary, both parties will swap philosophies.

  • Wars for political independence usually to my mind are justified. Or perhaps I just have soft spot for people who wish to be left alone and chart their own course. As I’ve argued over in the past – I believe there is great value behind the principle of secession.

    Interesting. In most ways, I think I would tend to say the exact opposite.

    Indeed, one of the American wars I have more difficulty justifying is the Revolution. And my sympathies in the Civil War are definitely with the North.

  • The Republicans are a party of moral intervention and militarism.

    that’s the talking points anyway. In reality, the Republicans as a policy advocate for intervention in the cause of justice, to protect the lives and rights of the citizens. As to militarism, look again, far more military interventions under Clinton than under Bush or Reagan. Regime change in Iraq was a Democrat policy also.

    Eric,

    I am a Democrat because I agree predominantly with the party’s platform.

    Wow. That’s quite a statement since many of their platform items are contrary to Catholic teaching.

    – abortion
    – contraception
    – secularism
    – limiting the rights of parents to educate their children

  • Matt,

    Last time I checked, party platforms are quite long lists.

    National security policies (which covers an array of issues), foreign policy (again an array of issues), health care, public funding of education, energy, taxes, fighting poverty through private and public sector solutions, and the list goes on.

    If you consider the whole of the platform, I agree with the vast majority of the points.

    Lastly, I don’t think anywhere in the party platform does it state we support “secularism.”

    I’m not saying that many Democrats have a wonderful understanding of the idea of separation of Church and State, but that’s flat out not in the platform.

    I didn’t say I agree with every point of the platform.

    If we had a point list and went down the party platform of each party and I had to respond ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ — the Democrats would win. Ask me to vote between candidates and probably not.

    Matt, could you really work on not being so overly aggressive and condescending as a commenter? Seriously. It’s not really in this post, but there are more charitable and engaging ways to address people.

    You could have said quoted my comment and asked:

    “Eric, could you clarify what you mean here? A few tenets of the Democratic platform contradict Catholic teaching.”

    That’s very charitable and not so assuming.

    I’m sure we’re all guilty, but we argue on this blog so much about “good” Catholics and “bad” Catholics, let’s strive to actually imitate Jesus.

  • Darwin –

    Perhaps living in Texas will influence your outlook. Certainly myself having been born and raised in Houston I experienced a subculture in America that took pride in its republican sovereignty as a historical footnote. However, Texas by and large is mostly just ‘bark and no bite’ when it comes to independence. Post-Civil War they’ve been properly beaten into submission and made to feel guilty (like the rest of the South) for ever daring to give Washington the screw.

    In the case of both The American Revolution and The Civil War the ultimate goal was not destruction of the enemy but merely her expulsion. If the South succeeded in gaining independence, perhaps the war would have been known as ‘The Southern Revolution’ or ‘The Second American Revolution’. Had both the above conflicts been genuine ‘civil wars’ I would think the endgame would involve usurping power in London and Washington D.C.

    Thats all I’ll say… I’m already too far off topic.

  • The American Revolution and The Civil War the ultimate goal was not destruction of the enemy

    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.

    As for the second, I think one can argue that secession was permissible as a matter of positive law. The thing is, both the continued subjection of the slaves and the effort necessary to discontinue that involved the use of force.

  • ****
    that’s the talking points anyway. In reality, the Republicans as a policy advocate for intervention in the cause of justice, to protect the lives and rights of the citizens. As to militarism, look again, far more military interventions under Clinton than under Bush or Reagan. Regime change in Iraq was a Democrat policy also.
    ****

    Matt,

    Maybe I’m being dimwitted, but I think you just responded to my ‘talking points’ with your own set.

    The Republican record is atrocious, especially when it comes to the litmus test of a strict reading of the Constitution and following what I can only presume are Jeffersonian principles. On matters of free speech, spending, declarations of war, states rights and social/government programs they have not lived up to their speeches. They pick and choose which rights and which liberties and which kind of justice just as much as Democrats.

    Our politicians are ‘Cafeteria Constitutionalists’ if I can paraphrase.

    Clinton might indeed have more military interventions (Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq immediately spring to mind), but the cost was no where near that of Bush II. My ‘militarism’ reference is more geared toward the current state of the party and the cultural attitudes attracted to it.

    Like I said above, those described philosophies are also quickly swapped depending on the political weather. Right now, for instance, the Republicans have become much better on a variety of issues. The problem is they have zero credibility.

  • *****
    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.

    As for the second, I think one can argue that secession was permissible as a matter of positive law. The thing is, both the continued subjection of the slaves and the effort necessary to discontinue that involved the use of force.
    *****

    I’d love to debate all these points, but it is another topic thread. Unless we have permission to go free-for-all. 🙂

  • Anthony,

    Following the self-indulgent principle of “it’s my thread so I’ll take if off topic if I feel like it”, because this strikes me as an interesting topic:

    I guess the hang-up for me is that as a conservative (and also looking at Church just war teaching) that regional independence (or national self determination, or call it what you will) is not an absolute good. In the case of the American Revolution, it strikes me that the injustices being imposed by the British were arguably very small compared to the evils of a drawn out war. Though the political philosophy of the American founding fathers strikes me as sufficiently far superior to that of the British empire that I an strongly tempted to say it was worth it anyway.

    In the case of the Civil War, I’m mildly sympathetic to states rights, but the stand was only being taken over states rights in order to insist on slavery. In that regard, I would happily have carried a rifle for the Union.

    Still, interesting conversation. I hope you’ll be around next week when I post my review (possibly multi part) of Empires of Trust. That should generate some interesting conversation.

    Blackadder,

    I think you’re right on tribalism. The temptation seems to have been too strong for some pro-life advocates to defend what they should not. Though at the same time — I don’t necessarily see the mistakes of those people as discrediting the movement as a whole. Or at least, it should not do so in the eyes of people who have long been used to swallowing the bitter pill of abortion support in the leaders they look up to on various “social justice” issues.

  • *****
    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.
    *****

    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone argue that the British crown was illegitimate, just tyrannical. The grievance, as I remember, was basically that a.) the crown’s actions were unjust and economically destructive, and b.) there was not sufficient representation in Parliament for the American colonies to voluntarily submit if they wanted to.

    Had those matters been better negotiated I would not have seen much cause for political separation. But they weren’t, so in my view it was justifiable to expel the threat to life, liberty and property and replace it with a better suited form of governance. It was time, as they say, to ‘appeal to heaven’.

    With regard to the war between the states its messier and more complicated, but similar to the situation with Britain.

    Let me first say that slavery is as reprehensible as abortion, contrary to any conception of liberty and should be rejected at all times and by all peoples. Were I living in America circa the 1850s, 1860s I would have been anti-slavery, but at peace with Southern secession.

    I often wonder if perhaps by allowing the South to secede, in time slavery could still have been done away with; particularly if Southern states sought to rejoin the Union at a later date. That way we could avoid the half million American deaths and a century of racial and and cultural resentment that is the Civil War’s sad legacy.

    I do not believe that slavery was the exclusive issue at stake in the Civil War. Not every individual fought for the same reason. If truly the war was one of liberation and not one of radically changing our Union’s understanding simultaneously, then permitting secession followed by an invasive mission to free slaves would have made more sense. Abolishing slavery in those states that did not secede would also have been more consistent on the part of the Union. Buying slaves and freeing them would also have made more sense. But both sides dug in… there had to be more to it than the lone moral debate over slavery.

    The South, in my view had a natural and popular desire to dissolve a political arrangement; no matter how imperfect or disgusting their own house could be. (Slavery, if I recall rightly, was enshrined in the CSA Constitution).

    Also I believe there to be legitimate historical and philosophical arguments over Lincoln’s goals at the war’s outset and the role tariffs and taxation played in further aggravating the conflict. Pro-Union historians who concede certain points about Lincoln usually argue that the president grew into being ‘The Great Emancipator’ over the course of the war thus legitimizing the “it was all about slavery” view. But if that is to be allowed then it could also be allowed that for the South what began as a wrong-headed defense of slavery grew into a larger and legitimate cause for political liberty.

    Its a real historical shame that the principle of ‘state’s rights’ – or rather a deference to local government – is tainted by the stench of slavery. Perhaps its only fitting that large, federal government is duly being connected to the stink of abortion, euthanasia, war and economic foolishness.

    *****
    I guess the hang-up for me is that as a conservative (and also looking at Church just war teaching) that regional independence (or national self determination, or call it what you will) is not an absolute good.
    *****

    I’m not certain there is much to say from the Church’s perspective and I only have a few, sketchy thoughts here.

    For one, after life, liberty is a natural and necessary condition in order for mankind to pursue good. I tend to think that if liberty is abridged (either by a state or individual) it further complicates pursuing a moral good via moral means. An individual or a people placed in a desperate situation they’re likely going to react desperately I’d imagine. The slave is legitimate in his revolt against the master, just as the South had legitimacy in its desire to no longer be under Washington’s growing power.

    Second, and perhaps more telling, concerns the general attitude towards ‘the State’. Where as I see the Church as a ‘higher’ form of institution that teaches and loves (however imperfectly some times), the State is considerably lower or lowest in my estimation. Indeed, I find it positively parasitical and unproductive.

    I would note that this does not mean I am not patriotic. I love my country. I love its peoples, my family, my friends, its lands, its culture and even its intellectual traditions. I cannot transfer that love to the State, indeed I find love of state to be dangerous and inescapably competitive with the things I ought to love (my neighbor, my God, etc.).

    Were I to run for office, my platform would likely be to tie the federal government’s hands as much as possible and follow the Constitution to the letter – even when inconvenient.

  • As has been remarked, parliamentary representation in Britain prior to 1832 was quite haphazard – – rotten boroughs, pocket boroughs, dominacy of Lords over Commons, &c. The lack of assignment of representation to the colonies was an aspect of that. (To this day, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and the residuum of overseas colonies do not have such representation). Why a series of excise taxes should spark a territorial revolt is an interesting question, from a sociological standpoint. Excises on paint and paper and tea may be good or bad policy. Such does not ‘tyranny’ make.

    Lincoln’s original motivations are an historical question. My purpose was to make a rough and ready statement as to why I would conceive of the use of force in that circumstance as legitimate.

    Personally, I think the U.S. Constitution is manifestly defective and should be scrapped.

  • I did not know about the sketchy representation in Parliament. Huh… the more you know!

  • Anthony

    As to Lincoln and the Civil War

    As a Southern one hears that often the Victors write hisotry. However as to the Civil War I often find the losers(we southerners) have often wrote it or “rewrote it” with amazing success. This was whiched one of its climaxes when Woodrow Wilson was elected and suddenly that horrid film he screened became the offical line

    First there is no evidence that Slavery would have gone away. It seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds in Texas. That was once a Catholic NO SLAVE STATE. It is without a doubt that SOuthern Leadership wanted a slave empire. Their constant designs on Cuba and Central America a prime example. In fact a slave Manifest Destiny with desgins on California. I suspect if things had gone differently if DC had been captured and even Philly I am not so sure that areas like New Mexico and Arizona to say the least would have been given back. There was consideravle Confederate action in New Mexico for example and the COnfederate recognized a Arizona Seccesionist Govt

    As to the “growing Federal Power” if you look at the Seccession Declarations of the States SLAVERY was the issue. While a few threw in talk of light houses and the occasional tariff this was the prime concern

    Southerners had used Federal Power quite a bit. They imposed a gag rule on Slavery in Congress, the mails could be censured of anti slavery things. Also what they wanted in the end was a Federal Slave Code. That would have been the largest exapnsion of Federal Power ever. In fact it was largely on this that the SOutherners broke with the Democrat party on that fateful day in Charleston at the Democrat Convention

  • First there is no evidence that Slavery would have gone away.

    Counter-factual speculation is somewhat idle. However, it ought be noted that the abolition of slavery in the United States was appended to the abolition of hereditary subjection all over Europe and Russia over the period running from 1789 through 1864. (Admittedly, serfdom is a qualitatively different institution). Also, I believe that the abolition of slavery in Brazil was enacted just a few years after the close of the American Civil War.

  • Well, the boll weevil would have done in the cotton industry one way or another, so retaining large quantities of slave labor would have become considerably less profitable for one major export at least. Importing new slave labor would also have become increasingly difficult and unprofitable, considering that standard practice on the big plantations in immediately antebellum Georgia and the deep South was to work slaves more or less to death over several years and then replace them. Slave escapes would likely have largely emptied border states (maybe we’d have a wall down the middle of the continent!) There might still be slavery, but not to the same extent as before; likely the system would have gotten extremely draconian before finally starting to fizzle, however.

    Currently I live in a South that, all things considered, is in pretty good shape. If a war (that we started) is what it took to bring the abomination that was slavery to an earlier close and my Confederate forefathers had to lose it so that this corner of the country wouldn’t degenerate into a demagogue-ridden third world state, though they haunt me for saying it, it’s just as well.

    For the record, I got the full Southern version of history in grade school. The victors didn’t write it all.

  • BTW Anthony, what other issues governed the decision to secede to anywhere near the degree of slavery? Please.

  • My favorite history of the Civil War was written by Shelby Foote, and the best study of command in the Civil War, Lee’s Lieutenants, was written by Douglas Southall Freeman. When it comes to the Civil War, the Southern viewpoint has produced myriad first class histories.

  • “BTW Anthony, what other issues governed the decision to secede to anywhere near the degree of slavery? Please.”

    I never said slavery was not part of it. My view has always been that the debate over slavery poured into a lager crisis over the meaning of the Union.

    I merely reject the argument that the Civil War was exclusively over that acute issue. The question of both liberty for slaves, political liberty for the Southern States and the Union’s meaning under the Constitution.

    You can’t disconnect the slave issue from its Constitutional aspects, its economic aspects any more than you can its moral ones. I’d also add that as one who leans rather libertarian the lens through which I’m viewing things is liberty itself. Questions of authority are antithetical. Why can’t one believe that slaves should be free and Southern states free? It seems rather “American” to me.

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-20-2009

Wednesday, May 20, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

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

1. In sharp contrast to having the most pro-abortion president in the history of our great nation, my favorite prelate Francis Cardinal Arinze delivered an electrifying speech at Thomas More College which is located in Merrimack, New Hampshire.  His Eminence touched on the importance of a Catholic university shaping and forming solid Christian citizens.  Some highlights include the following [emphasis mine]:

“A Catholic college or university educates students to appreciate that moral rules of right and wrong apply also to science, technology, politics, trade and commerce, and indeed to all human endeavors.”

But what does it profit us if a student is an intellectual giant but a moral baby… if he or she can shoot out mathematical or historical facts like a computer but is unfortunately a problem for the parents, corrosive acid among companions in the College, a drug addict and sexual pervert, a disgrace to the school, a waste-pipe in the place of work and Case number 23 for the Criminal Police? It is clear that intellectual development is not enough.”

Cardinal Arinze doesn’t play the cowardly intellectual game of “nuance”.  That is why I love this man.  He speaks the truth without inhibition and with charity.

For the article click here.

2. In a recent Knights of Columbus-Marist College survey, Pope Benedict XVI is receiving a 59% approval rating from Americans.  The number jumps up to 76% when polling only American Catholics.  One interesting fact from this poll is that Americans want to hear our German shepherd speak out about abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and marriage by a margin of 2 to 1 or more!

Very impressive numbers considering the negative light the mainstream media has put his papacy.  It goes to show that Pope Benedict XVI’s communication skills are highly effective and have found a receptive audience in America.  The constant barrage of moral relativism and biased reporting from the likes such as CNN and the New York Times hasn’t been able to cloud the message of love that our Pope constantly sends out.

This is wonderful news combined with the fact that more Americans identify themselves as pro-life than pro-abortion/pro-choice for the first time since the passage of Roe v. Wade, we are making strides.

For the poll click here.

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One Response to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-20-2009

What does President Barack Obama actually MEAN?

Wednesday, May 20, AD 2009

For consideration: an excerpt from President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame:

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.

The question, then — the question then is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without, as Father John said, demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?

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18 Responses to What does President Barack Obama actually MEAN?

  • I didn’t interpret the president as naively asking us to put aside our differences and just get along. His point in these words was 1) to acknowledge that we do have serious differences – conflicting and irreconcilable differences – in how we understand justice and over what means we advocate in building a just society and 2) ask how we can work through these conflicts without putting aside our differences or demonizing the other. His answer to this question is implied in the first quoted paragraph: we work through these conflicts while recognizing that the other really is concerned for justice, even if we think that the other’s conception of justice is gravely wrong. To be sure, this is a difficult road in our pluralistic and postmodern society. We disagree not only about particular actions and behavior, but over the very meaning of justice and how justice should be applied.

  • The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm.

    this is a none to subtle slur against those who offer their lives to protect our nation. It is implying that the soldier is a war-monger, and the lawyer a peace-monger. Soldiers do not make policy, they do not decide when war is necessary. When war is necessary then all who are able must fight.

    In fact, without soldiers, efforts at peaceful conflict resolution are completely useless.

  • I can see the soldier and lawyer disagreeing on the steps necessary to protect the nation. I just think that when the lawyers mess it up they join the soldiers in the fight. Solidarity and all.

  • Phillip,

    and I can see the tinker and the tailor disagreeing. So what? There’s nothing about the profession of soldiering that makes one pro-war, and that’s what Obama is implying. Lawyers resolve problems “peacefully”, soldier’s resolve them “violently”.

    It’s a false dichotomy.

  • Kyle,

    Thanks for commenting. I comprehend the President’s advice about ‘not demonizing the other’ and call for a civil discussion. Those familiar with my own blog will understand I’ve long been an advocate for a more civil and charitable discussion.

    But I admit what gets to me — not only here but throughout the campaigning — is the talk of “working through these conflicts” and “join hands in common effort”. What does this actually mean with respect to abortion and ESCR?

    Granted, we can perhaps say that our President may want abortion to be “safe, legal and rare’ — but he will maintain that the “right” be preserved to commit abortion and will strive to repeal any legal restriction put up by those who conscientiously stand for protection of life.

    We can concede that those advocating embryonic stem cell research are motivated by a noble aspiration (to end sickness and suffering); but our President has insisted nonetheless that embryonic stem cell research continue — and at the financial expense of those who believe it to be a grave evil.

    What “common effort” can actually be accomplished with respect to these matters, when two clearly conflicting principles are at play?

  • Let’s not forget that this president at the same time as he authorized funding of baby-killing embryonic stem cell research, he cut off funding for actually successful and non-baby-killing adult stem cell research…. common ground? Give me a break.

    While in dialogue we at times must be “diplomatic”, we need to speak truth to power as it were and not allow the opposition to dehumanize the victims by conceding to their erroneous language.

  • I do not believe that Obama has any interest in justice for the unborn. He regards their lives as worth less than nothing if their mothers decide to abort them in the womb. His idea of a compromise is hot air for the pro-lifers and “abortion now, abortion forever” for the pro-aborts. His calls for dialogue on this issue are deeply duplicitous and purely an attempt to divide and weaken the pro-life cause.

  • Matt,

    Chill. My point wasn’t that soldiers were pro-war. Most I’ve known,(and I was in the Navy for seven years active and 14 reserve) are not. My point was that lawyers (and others) are quite capable of screwing up the safety of the nation and that soldiers were then obliged to suffer to restore it. I just wish that those lawyers would have to bear the suffering along with soldiers.

  • Phillip,

    You’re right, but I don’t believe that’s what Obama is thinking.

  • Oh I don’t either. I think he’s a Chicago politician and and first-rate liar. But there you have it.

  • “I think he’s a Chicago politician and and first-rate liar.”

    As an Illinois downstater I was brought up to believe there is no difference between those two categories!

  • I defer to your experience Donald.

  • Chris,

    Good questions. Obama seems to think that we can work through these conflicts while he implements policies that don’t just require us to tolerate what we hold to be evil, but require us to participate in those evils. That doesn’t strike me as a common ground approach. Either we as a society fund ESCR through our taxes or we don’t. There is no middle ground there. Regarding abortion, each side can at least work to reduce the number of abortions, but here as well we see issues with no middle ground: funding abortions, for instance.

    Personally, I think a good place to start is for both sides in these difficult conflicts to approach the conflicts and those involved assuming good motives, namely, a shared concern for justice. I’m of the opinion that legal victories in these conflicts last only as long as there is a consensus in the public to support them, so if we want to outlaw abortion and other practices, then we have to build that consensus. In my view, that consensus cannot be built when we’re demonizing one another and assuming the worst motives.

    Of course, there’s no magic trick to building consensus. I don’t expect it to happen, actually, but I hope for it.

  • Either we as a society fund ESCR through our taxes or we don’t. There is no middle ground there. Regarding abortion, each side can at least work to reduce the number of abortions, but here as well we see issues with no middle ground: funding abortions, for instance.

    Precisely. My concern is that sometimes this “come, let us dialogue together” is, whatever the noble motives of the advocate (in this case our President) is tantamount to an embrace of relativism.

    And it makes me wonder if Obama’s truly considered that the Church’s teaching that “no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” is as absolute as, say, opposition to slavery.

    It’s simply not something that a Christian will negotiate away through dialogue, no matter how civil. We can “dialogue” about this conviction with President Obama or NARAL or whoever until we’re blue in the face, but when it comes down to practical policy — something’s got to give.

    In my view, that consensus cannot be built when we’re demonizing one another and assuming the worst motives.

    I’ll concur with you there. Thanks for responding!

  • Kyle,
    Civil rights laws and the judicial decisions that advanced them were forged without a social consensus. They were necessary anyway, because they were right. While they certainly did not serve to immediately alter hearts and minds, they did contribute to that phenomena over time. Indeed, Roe itself was a lawless judicial decision that flew in the face of laws reflecting popular opinion; and over time it contributed to public acceptnce of abortion. In any event, social consensus is legally irrelevant as long as their is a constitutional barrier, however contrived and phony, to legal change

  • Mike,

    I don’t deny the effect that law can have on shaping people’s beliefs, but for laws to remain on the books in a democratic society, they must, in the long run, have the support of the people. If the people remain divided or against a law, then that law is not long for the world. Consider how easily President Obama swept away recent pro-life legislative gains. On the abortion issue in particular, we are going to see a lot of back-and-forth until the country generally comes to see the issue one way or another.

  • Kyle, the back and forth you describe is minor because of Roe. Roe stacks the deck against the democratic process. While that process would produce very imperfect results, those results would be far superior to those that Roe permits at this time. More specifically, the state of the abortion laws in this country is far more pro-abort than is the state of public opinion, precisely because Roe does not allow public opinion to be expressed in law via the democratic process.

    I fully agree that persuasion is important and that persuasion requires that one normally assumes good faith on the part of opponents. But it does not follow that repealing Roe would be feckless or unimportant. That simply could not be more wrong.

    Finally, it is naive to assign good faith to all. What Obama did in Illinois to sabotage the state’s Born Alive Act cannot be explained away as simply good faith disagreement. He lead the effort to ensure that children born as a result of an attempted abortion procedure would not be entitled to ordinary care unless the attending physician pronounced the child “viable.” In other words born children, who in the eyes of a single doctor are not viable, may lawfully be discarded as trash. He justified this effort by citing his concern for Roe, a concern that in this context is so stupid on so many levels that it must be regarded as insincere. Sincerity is a prerequisite to the good faith you value. It is not universally present.

  • I didn’t say that we should always assign good motives; I said we should assume them when we approach these conflicts. Of course, our assumptions may be later proved or disproved.

    For the record, I don’t think overturning Roe would be feckless or unimportant.

Picturesque and Primative

Tuesday, May 19, AD 2009

From last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, an article on the not-yet-crowded heritage treasures in the world:

As dawn breaks on top of a mountain near the China-Vietnam border, hundreds of water-filled rice terraces reveal themselves, clinging to the mountainside in geometric patterns in every direction. The rising sun, reflecting off the water, turns some of the terraces bright shades of orange and gold. Then solitary figures appear, black against the rising sun — peasants with their water buffaloes hitched to wooden plows.

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5 Responses to Picturesque and Primative

  • I recall riding on a chartered bus tour of the Ring of Kerry 15 years ago … before Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” really took off. The Irish bus driver, who was local to the area, stopped the bus at one particularly beautiful vista and told us that this was to be the site of a new factory.

    Several of the people on the bus gasped at the prospect. The bus driver turned around in his seat, looked at his passengers, and said of the landscape we were viewing:

    “It’s lovely. It’s green. It makes for a nice postcard. But you can’t eat it.”

    He turned back around in his seat and drove us away.

  • That is a breathtaking picture.

    I’d like to visit it when the Communist government in China is removed.

  • Tito:

    I strongly doubt that the Communist government in China will ever be removed, especially given the remarkably considerable power that they now wield and will (unfortunately) inevitably transform their nation into The New World Power.

    Besides, don’t you know these guys hold our currency hostage?

  • I strongly doubt that the Communist government in China will ever be removed, especially given the remarkably considerable power that they now wield and will (unfortunately) inevitably transform their nation into The New World Power.

    The communist government may be around for quite a while, due to their willingness to moderate enough to let their people develop while still holding on as what is these days effectively an oligarchic dictatorship. However, I’d very much doubt that China will ever to a hegemonic power. If the US is to pass that mantle on soon, I would imagine it would do so to India, which is another Anglosphere nation with all the global cultural benefits that entails. I’d bet more on the US remaining the world hegemonic power for a quite a while longer, though.

    Besides, don’t you know these guys hold our currency hostage?

    To an extent. But then, we hold their whole economy hostage, to a great extent. One can’t be an export based economy without having somewhere to export to.

  • I agree with Darwin. China will never become a world power due to their limited opportunities for growth. Combined with their inability to raise the standard of living outside of the coastal regions, we will see huge upheavals in the social structure of China which is already being felt. Throw in the disproportionate amount of males due to their one-child policy, we have a highly turbulent present and future awaiting communist China. Communist authorities will be spending an inordinate amount of time trying to quell their underclass in addition to crushing Islamist movements out in western China as well as Tibetan aspirations for freedom.

    It won’t be a cakewalk for the totalitarian authorities in Beijing. On top of all that mess they want to upgrade their military capabilities to match the United States and pursue the boondoggle of space travel.

    I won’t be surprised to see communist China collapse within my lifetime a la the old Soviet Union. China is not a homogeneous nation. They have competing ethnic groups (besides the Muslims and Tibetans), they still have Mongolians, Koreans, Cantonese, and various assortment of other peoples that don’t like being second fiddle to the dominate Hans.

The Culture of Death and Consumerism

Monday, May 18, AD 2009

Contributor Joe Hargrave posted a link to an interesting new essay of his today on the topic of the Culture of Death and its connections to consumerism. It’s an interesting essay, and I encourage people to read it. I do not pretend to similar length or erudition in this piece, but in formulating some thought about Joe’s essay I realized that it would be very long for a comment, so I’m writing it up as a post here instead.

There are a lot of things I found interesting and wanted to discuss (or dispute) in your essay — perhaps in part because I get the impression that our areas of historical knowledge are somewhat non-overlapping (I know most about 3000 BC to 400 AD, you seem to be most expert on the last two centuries), and the person who imagines himself an expert in anything invariably has all sorts of quibbles with what the “outsider” writes. However, I’m going to try to stick to what I think is my most central critique.

Joe finds at the root of the culture of death the materialistic and individualistic phenomenon of modern consumerism, and about consumerism he says the following, beginning with a quote from Pope John Paul II:

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7 Responses to The Culture of Death and Consumerism

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for taking an interest in my article. I appreciate the time you took to respond to it. Here I will address some statements regarding my positions.

    You write,

    Joe seems to see the evil of consumerism as being that of reducing the human person to its exchangeable value.

    It would be more correct to say that I see that as one of the evils. The very passage you quoted before making this observation shows what I think is perhaps more crucial; consumerism consistently appeals to our ‘lower nature’, to what is base and selfish within us, whether in the form of commercials, entertainment, eating, public events, etc. Our lower natures are easy to ensnare and enslave to addiction, ensuring repeat business. Our higher natures take years of patient guidance to cultivate properly.

    After describing some rather mundane pettiness in modern society, you go on to to say,

    Yet this is not, I think, merely a product of a cash economy or a capitalist society. Rather, it is a sinful tendency which is much deeper in our fallen natures.

    My response is that I would not try to isolate one cause, but to show which cause exerts the most influence at a given time. Our sinful, fallen nature is a constant throughout history. On this you and I will agree. The question is, how will it express itself? Humans have always had selfish tendencies, but in previous forms of society, and in non-Western forms of society, these tendencies have consequences that people want to avoid. Part of the problem of consumerism is that it not only removes consequences for selfishness, but encourages it. That makes a pretty big difference, I’d say.

    The next point I would address is this:

    For instance, modern capitalist society is much less violent, on a daily basis, than many previous societies. Not that wrath itself is necessarily less, but that wrath is less often expressed in physical violence.

    I suppose, in times of relative peace, this is generally true within such societies – though I don’t recall any previous society where school children took a sword to school one day and started slaughtering classmates in a fit of existential angst.

    That said, modern capitalist society is most certainly sustained through violence – in other parts of the world. We’ve been down this road before; cheap third world labor is brutally exploited to make modern capitalist society a reality. Workers are denied their rights to organize, to political protest, to form unions and parties that will advance their interests. Repression means cheap labor which the West has not only taken advantage of but sought to preserve through policy.

    The sanitized world many of us inhabit is an illusion propped up by blood and dirt and violence of every sort. So I do reject this notion of a more peaceful society.

    This is perhaps the more important point to address:

    I don’t necessarily see that people working for a collectively owned firm would be less inclined to treat others as objects than those working for a publicly traded corporation — just as I don’t necessarily see that those who belong to a credit union would be less likely to use their money to buy porn than those who use for-profit banks.

    I don’t think cooperative economics is going to necessarily cause people to stop looking at others as objects. That is more of an end goal to be reached after generations of living and thinking differently. What I do believe, however, is that we have to start somewhere. What cooperative enterprises do is take the individual, isolated atoms and links them together, at first only materially. For it to succeed, everyone must be concerned with everyone else’s performance and well-being. One person’s problem quickly becomes everyone’s problem.

    Over time, these enterprises must cooperate with one another as the people within each one cooperate amongst themselves. And then, these enterprises cooperate with all of the other institutions in the community. A material sub-structure of cooperation is created, and our daily habits have undergone a transformation. A corresponding transformation of thinking and perceiving develops. Combined with a Catholic moral philosophy, ever-present in the life of the community, a new respect for others is developed.

    My main point is that consumerism is as much a complex of unconscious social programming as it is conscious reflection and activity. Our daily routines take on an ideological life of their own and influence the way we think about everything. Our Christian values can serve as a strong buffer against evil influences but values can only go so far. A rearrangement of the daily routine is also required so that our physical brains are in sync with what the mind and heart want.

    I probably should have said all that in the essay. If I decide to include it, I will credit you for it!

  • Original sin.

  • Joe,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and irenic response to my response. As I was writing, and as usual finding myself to run long, I was hoping that I wouldn’t come off as brash or aggressive. I hope I didn’t — but if I did I’m thankful that you took it in your stride.

    Hoping to continue in this vein:

    consumerism consistently appeals to our ‘lower nature’, to what is base and selfish within us, whether in the form of commercials, entertainment, eating, public events, etc. Our lower natures are easy to ensnare and enslave to addiction, ensuring repeat business.

    I agree that in the modern world the satisfaction of our baser instincts becomes a major temptation — specifically that emphasis on consuming which provides the illusion which we can satisfy our deeper human needs by owning or consuming some material thing.

    However, I’m not clear that this is the result of a capitalist economy so much as the natural reaction of our fallen nature to a wealthy society. Throughout history, we see those in a given society who are wealthy acting in much this way. The lure of consumption seems to be a constant in any society with enough material wealth to consume, regardless of its economic system. In this sense, I’m not sure that anything other than becoming significantly more poor would “solve” the problem, and then only via lack of opportunity.

    By this I don’t mean to ignore those teachings which have to do with moral behavior in the business realm, but rather to argue that this doesn’t represent a “move to his economic model and this will fix everying” prescription but rather an attempt by our popes in the last 140 years to provide us with a moving target idea of how to treat our brothers and sisters with the human dignity they deserve in whatever economic conditions we happen to find ourselves in at this time.

    Humans have always had selfish tendencies, but in previous forms of society, and in non-Western forms of society, these tendencies have consequences that people want to avoid. Part of the problem of consumerism is that it not only removes consequences for selfishness, but encourages it. That makes a pretty big difference, I’d say.

    Here I would disagree with you on two points:

    1) I don’t think it’s accurate to characterize previous and non-Western societies as having provided greater negative consequences to prevent selfishness than our modern society — except to the extent that these societies were poorer and lacked welfare and charitable institutions such that one had a greater incentive not to offend those in one’s community enough that they wouldn’t help you in need. However, even just looking at the Bible (parable of Dives and Lazarus, parable of the talents, parable of the treasure in the field, etc.) it seems to me pretty clear that people exercised selfishness to the maximum that they believed they could get away with.

    2) The characterization of our modern economy as encouraging selfishness strikes me as taking a somewhat self-defining view of what free exchange is. One can say that the principle of free exchange means that everyone will be best off if everyone has the maximum of selfishness, but one can just as well (and I would actually argue more accurately) describe the principle of free exchange as meaning that one many not expect to take any benefit from another person without providing that person with a benefit of equal value. In that it’s called “mutually beneficial” exchange, one might as well characterize it as consisting of making sure you always give as much as you get, as making sure that you get as much as you give.

    That said, modern capitalist society is most certainly sustained through violence – in other parts of the world. We’ve been down this road before; cheap third world labor is brutally exploited to make modern capitalist society a reality. Workers are denied their rights to organize, to political protest, to form unions and parties that will advance their interests. Repression means cheap labor which the West has not only taken advantage of but sought to preserve through policy.

    To the extent that this is true (I tend to think that you over-emphasize this element a bit, taking the worst excesses of developing world abuse and extrapolating them as if this was the universal experience of the deloping world), is that necessarily different from other societies. Within the medieval European world that I know a fair amount about, there was a long history of incredibly bloody peasant revolts. And even during “normal” times, the social order was maintained through what we would see as very repressive laws.

    For all that developing world industrial workers are kept from unionizing, feudal serfs could be flogged or worse simply for the offense of trying to leave their land and seek a better living somewhere else. (And never mind the slaves who formed the analogous workforce in much of the ancient world.) And for all that pay is often low in the developing world, serfs often lived on landed estates where not only was the amount of food left for them after the lord to his share small, but if they dared to “steal” the wild fish and game that could be caught on the land, the punishment was anywhere from flogging to hanging.

    Indeed, it seems to me that the primary exit from this kind of societal violence and repression is when a society becomes sufficiently developed that there is plenty of material wealth to go around.

    What cooperative enterprises do is take the individual, isolated atoms and links them together, at first only materially. For it to succeed, everyone must be concerned with everyone else’s performance and well-being. One person’s problem quickly becomes everyone’s problem.

    Over time, these enterprises must cooperate with one another as the people within each one cooperate amongst themselves. And then, these enterprises cooperate with all of the other institutions in the community. A material sub-structure of cooperation is created, and our daily habits have undergone a transformation.

    I know this is something we’ve bumped up against a number of times in the past, but I remain skeptical of this development path because my experience of the business world is that it already requires this kind of cooperation — and while I would certainly say it is possible to follow a path towards holiness in the modern capitalist economy, it doesn’t do the work of guiding us there for us. But I certainly cannot succeed in the absence of my coworkers and those who work for me doing so. Nor can a company succeed without helping those other companies it works with to prosper. It’s good, and pleasant, and that interconnectedness is one of the things that I enjoy about the business world, but I certainly don’t see it as necessarily guiding people towards a personal transformation away from consumerism.

    It strikes me as harder and easier than that — more work for us personally as we seek holiness and right-orderedness, yet less work in that these things do not require a re-ordering of economic institutions from the ground up.

    Not that I object to the employee owned enterprises that you admire (though I do suspect that they must end up running more top down than you imagine on a daily basis — or else they would have to be based on very non-complex business models) it’s just that I don’t necessarily see them as solving the problem that we’re discussing.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks again for responding.

    You write,

    However, I’m not clear that this is the result of a capitalist economy so much as the natural reaction of our fallen nature to a wealthy society.

    I think we should dispose of the phrase ‘capitalist economy’. I don’t think I once used the word ‘capitalism’ in my entire essay, or in my response to you. To me the major conflict in economics is between democracy and oligarchy. Democratic, cooperative firms based upon private property and marketplace competition would by most definitions be called ‘capitalist’.

    Next,

    this doesn’t represent a “move to his economic model and this will fix everying” prescription but rather an attempt by our popes in the last 140 years to provide us with a moving target idea of how to treat our brothers and sisters with the human dignity they deserve in whatever economic conditions we happen to find ourselves in at this time.

    I must say, neither of these are correct. No one is suggesting that ‘everything will be fixed’ – it is not a fair representation of what I believe.

    More importantly, however, the Popes have passed clear moral judgments on both economic liberalism and communism, and more recently on consumerism. Catholic social teaching is not, and cannot be made into, a guide for individuals to cope with unjust social structures. It is a guide for Catholics who do, or seek to, play a role in shaping society in various ways. I truly mean no offense, but I honestly cannot see how one can read a social encyclical or the Compendium and interpret them in the way that you do. Pius XI did not say, ‘when you find yourself in a society gone mad with individualism do a b and c, and when you find yourself in a communist dictatorship, do x, y, z” – he sharply condemned both ideologies, declared that they were unacceptable for Catholics, that they were in error, immoral, out of control.

    Regarding the dispute over past and present societies, it is clear to me that consumerism is a new breed of selfishness. Without disputing the basic idea that people have always been selfish, the point here is that they are now expected and encouraged to be. We are not expected to marry, bear children, participate in civic life, or any number of things that were expected of a person before. These things are now simply one among many choices at the great buffet of life. And now we see with fertility treatments, genetic manipulation, and transhumanism, attempts to reduce every aspect of the reproductive process itself to a consumer act. A nearly 70 year old woman even 100 years ago could not indulge a selfish desire to bear a child, but today she can – it is suicidal madness and a gross injustice if a being can even be born to a woman so old, but they will try because the technology is here.

    As you say people will push the limits, and the deal is that the limits have been pushed, further and further. Technology has made it possible remove natural restrictions on selfishness.

    We will agree to disagree I suppose on the amount of violence it takes to sustain the ‘American way of life’. 1.5 million dead babies a year through abortion is violence enough.

    As for the work situation, I don’t know exactly what kind of work you do, but I do know that the typical American business is not a ‘community of solidarity’ in any meaningful sense of the term. Workers are often interchangible parts in a money-making machine. Unless you are particularly skilled, you are expendable. 80% of Americans work for a wage.

    It should be clear that what I am talking about goes far beyond what passes for cooperation in America today. The culture of death finds a powerful impetus in social atomization – in the belief that one is essentially to be left alone to deal with one’s problems. In yet another contrast with the pre-modern world, this is something new. With the breakdown of family even that refuge is gone. JP II recognizes all of this in Evangelium Vitae – it is not only a tragedy but a moral indictment of this entire civilization.

    We do not see ourselves as our brother’s and sister’s keepers. We see them most of the time as competition. Maybe this has, again, always been true – but never before has it been a cherished and widely accepted dogma, promoted by official propaganda.

    So what the cooperative does is link our fates and fortunes together in a way that necessitates closer cooperation, the Christian ideal of civic friendship. It is not a quick solution to all problems, it is only intended to be the first step in breaking the cycle of consumerism, atomization, demoralization, and mass murder.

  • Joe,

    I must say, neither of these are correct. No one is suggesting that ‘everything will be fixed’ – it is not a fair representation of what I believe.

    More importantly, however, the Popes have passed clear moral judgments on both economic liberalism and communism, and more recently on consumerism. Catholic social teaching is not, and cannot be made into, a guide for individuals to cope with unjust social structures. It is a guide for Catholics who do, or seek to, play a role in shaping society in various ways. I truly mean no offense, but I honestly cannot see how one can read a social encyclical or the Compendium and interpret them in the way that you do.

    Well, I’ll be honest: I’ve never read Quadragesimo Anno. I read Rerum Novarum some years back, and I’ve read a number of John Paul II’s encyclicals as well as Benedict XVI’s two thus far, but that’s about it.

    I have read a number of sections of the Compendium of Social Doctrine, and to be honest (braces for possible condemnations from all sides) it really annoys me as a document. I can see what is being attempted, but when one dives into the footnotes it quickly becomes clear that a lot of observations and comments being made by the pope (mostly John Paul II, of course, his output having been so high) in various addresses, greetings and travels. However, these are served up in a format that strikes me as purposefully similar to the Catechism, thus often giving the impression that observations or judgements regarding a particular time and place (and not necessarily beyond question or with long track records in Christian doctrine) are given the impression of being absolute doctrines of the Church. This strikes me as symptomatic of a particular modern form of political ultramontanism which will pick out a papal statement on a given topic, however passing or predicated on assumptions which may or may not be correct, and pass that statement off as “the Church’s teaching on X”.

    Thus, I’ve been told at various points that, “The Church teaches that global warming is one of the greatest threats in our modern age.” Or “The Church teaches that greed is the primary cause of the financial crisis.”

    But I digress…

    How’s this for a good faith offer: I’ll commit to reading and systematically blogging through Quadragesimo Anno this summer — though because of existing writing commitments it may not be till around July — and blogging through it as I go. If you’d be interested and have time, we could even do it as a series of co-written posts. If nothing else, I’m sure that I’ll learn something.

    We will agree to disagree I suppose on the amount of violence it takes to sustain the ‘American way of life’. 1.5 million dead babies a year through abortion is violence enough.

    As a toss out thought: I would very much question whether a complete elimination of abortion (and the resulting million plus extra births each year) would actually decrease the US standard of living at all. Indeed, in the long run it might well increase it.

    As for the work situation, I don’t know exactly what kind of work you do, but I do know that the typical American business is not a ‘community of solidarity’ in any meaningful sense of the term. Workers are often interchangible parts in a money-making machine. Unless you are particularly skilled, you are expendable. 80% of Americans work for a wage.

    I certainly wouldn’t consider the massive corporation I work for right now as being a “community of solidarity”, but then, I’m not sure that any organization of much more than a dozen people can have tight solidarity — and by the time you’re in the hundreds it seems quite impossible. And I do work for a wage, though not an hourly one. (Like many skilled US workers, I’m classified as “exempt” which means that so long as I get my allotted work done my employer is not legally able to fuss to much about whether I do it in 45 of 55 hours, and pays me the same regardless.)

    I would, however, describe my team as having a strong sense of solidarity. The one I’ve been on for the last two years consists of ten people. We work together on a daily basis, help each other as needed, know each other personally, and cover for each other when we’re out. Our manager is very open with us in all decision making, and has an open policy that he doesn’t keep track of vacation and sick time so long as we give him a couple days notice and don’t abuse the privilage. (So for instance, two members of the team who have had significant health problems over the last year were both simply covered for rather than having to go on disability.)

    I would see this as being pretty much how things ought to work. And although I recognize that most people are not so lucky in their current situations as I, in many ways I don’t think it’s at all unattainable in our existing economy.

    I do, however, want to see small enterprise grow much larger. Currently there are 20 million small businesses in the US that have no payroll — which means they are one or two person enterprises where all the income goes straight to the owners. They accounted for $970 Billion in sales in 2006, an average of 46k per company. There are another 5 million companies with twenty employees or less, employing 21 million Americans. There’s certainly been a major growth in this small business over the last few decades, but seeing more would of course be better.

  • Ok, quick reply:

    1) On the Church’s social teaching – having read most if not all of the encyclicals that the Compendium references, I think it is a faithful representation of a consistent line of thought, developed in each new historical era by the popes. What some guy tells you is one thing; what the teaching actually says is another. Usually, I don’t reference the Compendium, or if I do, only once – the rest of the time, I go to the source.

    2) Your proposal: I like it – I would only suggest that we then read Mater et Magistra and Laborem Exercens. It can be an ongoing study, however long it takes.

    3) It doesn’t matter. That abortion is an essential requisite for the social mobility of women is an article of faith among feminists and most leftists in America, not to mention the millions of women who get the abortions and the men who also participate. You know you can’t even win the statistic wars when it comes to currently existing phenomenon – forget about it when it comes to projections into the future.

    On the rest: I’ll save it for Laborem Exercens.

  • Even quicker:

    On the Church’s social teaching – having read most if not all of the encyclicals that the Compendium references, I think it is a faithful representation of a consistent line of thought, developed in each new historical era by the popes.

    I’m sure it is accurate on the encyclicals. My beef with it (and maybe this was the particular sections which I read, which as I recall involved living wage, unemployment benefits, welfare and environmental restrictions) was that the footnotes for the concrete policies which I had criticisms of all sourced minor talks and addresses, not encyclicals. I didn’t like that these fairly minor venues were being used to back up very definite policy prescriptions as if they were required by Catholic doctrine. I’d certainly agree they’re compatible with Catholic doctrine, but I don’t think they’re the only policy prescriptions which Catholics can support.