Monthly Archives: June 2009
There is one major area of Catholic social doctrine concern, that is consistently overlooked in all the liberal v.conservative American arguments. The proper nature and responsibility of the “Political Community”. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church lays out a comprehensive set of teachings and a blueprint for such interests. I am going to start the process of slowly offering the official Compendium quotations- not just proof-texting a sentence here or there. I believe that a real and profound commitment to these teachings will leave both liberals and conservatives something to seriously consider, and may help to form a unique Catholic worldview, which is something mainstream American politics so desperately needs right now.
One of the concepts in economics that people seem to have difficulty grasping at an intuitive level is how other people’s income affects one’s own income. Many people instinctively ascribe to the “lump theory” of money, in which one may imagine all wealth to consist of a set amount of money, like a dragon’s hoard. If you capture more of it, that means that someone, somehow, has ended up with less.
In certain circumstances, this theory might describe things pretty well, but in most times and places wealth grows and shrinks with productivity. Basically, if I am able to produce more goods and services of value to othe people in the same amount of time, then my income grows.
Joe Biden, Veep-in-charge-of-public-amusement , continues his one man war against national gloom. Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. In regard to a question about the new Hudson river rail tunnel on June 8, Joe said, ““Look, this is designed, this totally new tunnel, is designed to provide for automobile traffic. It’s something, as you know, up your way, that’s been in the works and people have been clamoring for for a long time.” The tunnel is solely for trains.
“But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.
About eight months ago, starting in early September 2008, the Bernanke Fed did an abrupt about-face and radically increased the monetary base — which is comprised of currency in circulation, member bank reserves held at the Fed, and vault cash — by a little less than $1 trillion. The Fed controls the monetary base 100% and does so by purchasing and selling assets in the open market. By such a radical move, the Fed signaled a 180-degree shift in its focus from an anti-inflation position to an anti-deflation position.
Catholic writer Matthew Lickona has the first issue of a graphic novel out, and the topic is an interesting one.
1. An animal, a plant, or other organism having structural defects or deformities.
2. A fetus or an infant that is grotesquely abnormal and usually not viable.
– The American Heritage? Medical Dictionary
Alphonse is the story of eight lives that intersect because of an attempted abortion. Why “attempted?” Because while there are no angels or demons on either side, there is definitely a monster in the middle: Alphonse.
Rendered “grotesquely abnormal” by his unwitting mother’s use of controlled substances, he is both sentient and freakishly coordinated. He is also deeply wounded, twisted by fear and rage after the attempt on his life – and bent on revenge.
But violence begets violence. Alphonse is pursued even as he is pursuing, and haunted by the insistence of his only friend that there is another way…
I love Shakespeare and I love history, so I naturally glommed on to Shakespeare’s An Age of Kings (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III) after it was released by the BBC in this country. The plays are divided into 15 episodes, a total of 947 minutes. First broadcast in 1960, the plays present a galaxy of British actors and actresses who later went on to build outstanding careers. The two standouts are Sean Connery as Harry Hotspur, and Robert Hardy as Juvenile Delinquent turned Hero King Henry V. It should be remembered however that these were originally broadcast in 1960 and the visual quality is often not of the best. Nonetheless, mediocre black and white visuals detract not a whit from the superb performances. This would be a good set for homeschooling parents who wish to introduce their kids to Shakespeare.
To ask some questions is to answer them, and via Commonweal, I see that UCLA history professor emeritus Joyce Appleby has penned a lovely exercise in anti-Catholicism entitled, Should Catholic Justices Recuse Selves On Certain Cases?. Here is an excerpt:
But because of the Catholic Church’s active opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and capital punishment, it raises serious questions about the freedom of Catholic justices to judge these issues. Perhaps the time has come to ask them to recuse themselves when cases come before their court on which their church has taken positions binding on its communicants…
…Recusal sounds like a radical measure, but we require judges to withdraw from deliberations whenever a personal interest is involved. Surely ingrained convictions exert more power on judgment than mere financial gain. Many will counter that views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the death penalty are profound moral commitments, not political opinions. Yet who will argue that religious beliefs and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no bearing on the justices when presented with cases touching these powerful concerns?
Another segment in my series on the follies of modern Jesuits, with no slight intended to the orthodox Jesuits who soldier on under often grim circumstances. America, the Jesuit publication, has an article by Thomas G. Casey, SJ, an associate professor at the Gregorian University in Rome in which he suggests dumping Latin as the official language of the Church for English. Rather convenient for English speaking Jesuits, and also rather convenient for people who would like to ram down the memory hole the history of the Church up to Vatican II. Father Z does an effective fisking of the article here. The only addition I have is that Father Z is correct as to the Roman soldiers in Palestine speaking Latin at the time of Christ. Wherever recruited, Latin was the language of command in the Roman Legions and auxilliary units. The recruits, if they did not speak Latin, quickly picked up what was often referred to as soldier Latin. That was the language they spoke while on duty. It was a rather meaningless aside in Casey’s article, but he was wrong on that point.
A good friend and long time reader sent along a link to this information several months ago, and I’ve been incredibly remiss in not doing the research to put up this post sooner. However, as I did the research over the last few weeks, I found it very much worth the time. I hope you will too.
It was through a friend in the Catholic blogsphere that I was introduced to the pleasures of studying, collecting and shooting military rifles. The most common and available military rifles are the bolt action rifles carried by the major powers (other than the US, which fielded the semi-automatic M1 Garand) during World War II, in most cases little modified from the versions carried thirty years before in the Great War. This was the last great age of battle rifles with wooden stocks and large cartridges, before the high tech “ugly guns” of the modern world took over.
There are, however, significantly more rare rifles to be found of an earlier vintage, the early cartridge rifles used form the 1860s through 1900, and of these one of the rarest is the M1868 Pontificio, the only modern rifle ever manufactured specifically for the Vatican.
My comments regarding the importance of basing our civil society upon bedrock natural law principles, rather than positivist/originalist theories, drew some fire. I respond here with a fresh entry with relevant quotes from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church regarding the natural law’s role in building up our legal system.
As a matter of first principle, yes. As a matter of law, no, and such compromises are frequently necessary. Ross Douthat explains (is it just me, or does he seem somehow less influential as a New York Times columnist than he was as a blogger):
The argument for unregulated abortion rests on the idea that where there are exceptions, there cannot be a rule. Because rape and incest can lead to pregnancy, because abortion can save women’s lives, because babies can be born into suffering and certain death, there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever.
As a matter of moral philosophy, this makes a certain sense. Either a fetus has a claim to life or it doesn’t. The circumstances of its conception and the state of its health shouldn’t enter into the equation.
Although the subject of President Obama being honored by Notre Dame has quickly cooled in the fast-paced blogging universe- I wanted to weigh in with some comments because I think it is important to hold the President to account on some of the promises he made in his speech, and to offer some ideas for how Catholic universities should approach such political intersections in the future.
“Abortion rights activists” are in a tizzy because of President Obama’s appointment of an “anti-abortion pro-Obama Catholic” Alexia Kelley to the senior position of Health and Human Services Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Suspicion was aroused because Kelley is co-founder of the Soros-funded organization Catholics in Alliance for the common Good.
Maureen Dowd wrote a column last month in which she compared, tongue in cheek, Obama to Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Jeff Greenwald of Salon also sees a resemblance between Chicago’s “gift” to the country and the first officer of the Enterprise. Bill Whittle of Pajamas Media, takes great joy in informing us in a very entertaining video here why having an intellectual in the mode of Mr. Spock as president is very bad for the nation.
[Cross posted from DarwinCatholic]
I have the feeling that readers have emailed me about this site a couple times before, and I left it without comment because some topics seem like shooting fish in a barrel for a blog with the tagline “Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don’t survive.” However there comes a point when fish who choose to live in barrels deserve to come under fire.
Meet the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.
VHEMT (pronounced vehement) is a movement not an organization. It’s a movement advanced by people who care about life on planet Earth. We’re not just a bunch of misanthropes and anti-social, Malthusian misfits, taking morbid delight whenever disaster strikes humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters.
We don’t carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet. That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.
Rather, The Movement presents an encouraging alternative to the callous exploitation and wholesale destruction of Earth’s ecology. Continue reading