Monthly Archives: June 2009

Jesuitical 7: Jesuits and Polarization

Father Drew Christiansen, SJ-Current Editor in Chief of America

Part 7 of my continuing series commenting upon the follies of modern day Jesuits.  None of the following of course applies to Jesuits who are orthodox in their faith and are often among the harshest critics of the antics perpetrated by their brethren.  An editorial in America, the Jesuit magazine, expresses concern about the dangers of polarization in the Catholic Church in America.   Father Z, the Master of the Fisk, in one of his finest efforts, gives the editorial a fisking to remember here.

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Wasting Gas to Save the Planet

This afternoon found me spending my lunch break (or being non-hourly, a period of time in the middle of the day) driving in circles for no reason other than to save the planet.

You see, I have been so unsporting as to own a 1996 Toyota Camry, which despite looking a bit dirty gets great mileage and has 118k miles on it. Most people would think this was a keeper — except, it seems, my state’s environmental regulations. You see, 1996 was the first year during which the current type of ODB II emissions monitoring system was required, and the one on my car, being a first year out attempt, is rather flaky. It doesn’t help that my car was originally manufactured for the California market, which has it’s own totally unique set of emissions monitoring requirements, which don’t match the rest of the country and which Texas mechanics don’t seem to be very good with.

So while my car invariably passes the actual tailpipe test, it frequently has a check engine light on, which constitutes an automatic fail on our emissions test here in Texas. Over the years I’ve spent plenty of money (indeed, almost all the money that I’ve ever had to spend on care repairs) on getting the car to pass emissions, though last time around I learned that since I always pass the tailpipe emissions anyway, I can just reset the computer sixty miles before going in for my state inspection, and I’ll usually be fine.

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On Vacation

On Vacation

I’m on vacation this week with my family.  Yesterday my wife and I took the kids to Brookfield Zoo, something we have been doing since 1998 when the kids were quite young .  I hope that my three sophisticated teenagers still enjoy it and are not just humoring dear old Dad.  My wife and I certainly still love going to the zoo.  A few observations:

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Letterman Apologizes, Palin Accepts

Governor Sarah Palin accepted David Letterman’s sincere apology which he gave last night on his CBS show regarding his crude joke at the expense of Governor Palin’s 14 year-old daughter:

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Viewing the video I am impressed by his sincerity as well as his apology.  Anyone willing to continue to berate Mr. Letterman are probably doing it for political reasons as of now.  I for one appreciate that he took the time to say it during his show.

Others such as James Poniewozik of TIME magazine, Michael Russnow of the Huffington Post, and others continue to play political games and see in it more than a man expressing regret and contrition.  It is unfortunate that there are those still caught up in this scenario playing out their perceived grievances and political agendas.

Governor Palin has accepted and so should we, I do.

You Mean Running Up Trillions in New Debt May Not Be Good Politics?

Obama Broke

The Washington Post reported Sunday here, hattip to Instapundit, that the White House is getting nervous about the political fallout from the unprecedented spend-and-borrow binge upon which  Obama has placed the country.

“Results from a Gallup survey released last week show that although more than six in 10 Americans approve of Obama’s overall job performance, fewer than half say they approve of how he is handling the deficit and controlling federal spending. The poll also shows a decline from the previous month in the percentage of Americans who approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, although a majority still does.”

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Free Iran

In the proud tradition of news photos of beautiful women protesting against political oppression, the Boston Globe provides a series of photos of the protests over Iran’s apparently rigged presidential election, but the first is this one:

Free_Iran
(In all seriousness, this is some of the best photo journalism I’ve seen in a long time, go check it out.)

There’s some reasonable dispute as to whether it would help or hurt the protestors for the Obama Administration to break silence on the issue and speak in support of the protestors. Given Iran’s history and the fierce national pride across the political spectrum, if Obama openly supported the protestors it might give Ahmadinejad the ability to paint Mousavi’s supporters as stooges of the US. However, the US and the rest of the world should make it clear that a violent crackdown ala Tiananmen Square would be absolutely unacceptable.

Catholic View of the Political Community (Part 2)

Here I continue with the slow build-up of an authentic Catholic worldview on the true nature of the Political Community- as outlined by the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Chapter 8). This second paragraph contains more of the Old Testament outlook on Kingship, with the earthly kings of Israel finding their deepest fulfillment in Christ the King. But there is more to be said about the political community and responsibilities of citizen(s) and ruler(s). We will see the development in the social doctrine as we go forward through the Compendium’s teachings. We cannot point to one specific epoch in the history of the Church and the Chosen People, and make final assertions about things- we must look closely at how the current doctrines of the Church have developed, so we can see the consistent core principles. Here goes with paragraph 378:

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Capitalism — When People Sell Things I Don't Like

With the garden currently shooting up, I’ve found myself again disposed to read gardening and food related books. I finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma last week, and aside from a few gripes in regards to Michael Pollan’s understanding of economics, I enjoyed it quite a bit. On the last run by the library, I picked up a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. The idea of moving out onto acreage and growing much of one’s own food is something that I find interesting. I enjoy gardening, I enjoy cooking gourmet food, and I think there’s a cultural and psychological value to remaining in touch with the way that humans have gained food for themselves in past centuries.

However, Kingsolver is far more passionate (and less balanced) in her jeremiads against “industrial food” than Pollan, and more prone to denunciations of what “capitalism” has done to our food culture. Indeed, so much so as to crystallize for me a trend among those who denounce “capitalism” and its impact on Western Culture. Kingsolver had just reached the crescendo of a complaint in regards to large seed companies peddling hybrids and genetically modified strains, when she turned to the subject of heirloom vegetable varieties, and her joy at paging through lengthy seed catalogs full of heirloom seeds.

…Heirloom seeds are of little interest to capitalism if they can’t be patented or owned. They have, however, earned a cult following among people who grow or buy and eat them. Gardeners collect them like family jewels, and Whole Foods Market can’t refrain from poetry in its advertisement of heirlooms….

So you see, when large agribusiness firms sell farmers seeds for field corn which are genetically modified to repel pests,
that’s capitalism. But when catalog and internet businesses build a thriving niche selling heirloom vegetable seeds, and Whole Foods ad men wax poetical over $7/lb tomatoes, that’s… Well, it certainly can’t be capitalism, can it? Not if it’s good.

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First Things-First Thoughts

Bloggers are Dangerous

I have been a First Things subscriber for years and therefore I was quite interested when I noticed their First Thoughts section where they have assembled some of best bloggers from Saint Blogs in a group blog.  Our own Christopher Blosser is there, along with Jay Anderson from Pro Ecclesia, Paul Zummo, The Cranky Conservative and Steve Dillard of Southern Appeal, just to name a few.  I have added First Thoughts to my daily blog browsing list and, after you have read The American Catholic each day (We must keep our priorities straight!) I would encourage you to check them out each day.

A Thin Line We Must Walk

Some recent discussions have reinforced my natural disdain for many features of what is derisively called “The Nanny State”. The underlying philosophy of the nanny state, and of the modern liberals that run it, is that the people must be protected from themselves. Instead of viewing individuals as potentially responsible citizens, they seek to deprive them of their dignity as free and moral beings by imposing restrictions on personal behavior.

But there is such a thing as reasonable regulation for the common good. Catholic social teaching has never been libertarian at its core. It has condemned economic liberalism, the doctrine of the “invisible hand” – that the private pursuit of self-interest on the part of each leads necessarily to benefits and prosperity for all. Unlike the atheist Objectivists, we do not believe that selfishness and consumerism are virtues.

We are therefore, as Catholics and citizens, called upon to find a balance between respect for individual liberty and the common good. I am deeply dissatisfied with both lassiez-faire approaches to social problems (including and especially economic problems) and statist paternalism, because in a way they are two different versions of a bad parent.

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A Big Blind Spot (From "Dads Protecting Daughters")

Here is an announcement I wrote for my Facebook Cause “Dads Protecting Daughters”):

In creating this cause (Dads Protecting Daughters) to protect my daughters (and son), I thought of it as primarily addressing the threats from the outside- the political/cultural/economic ones. But recently I had a skin cancer scare (should be ok- surgery is June 17 appreciate your prayers).

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