Monthly Archives: July 2009
The nation (or at least, that portion of it which follows the news cycle) suddenly found itself in one of these “national conversations” about policing this week, after President Obama accused the Cambridge, Mass. police of having “acted stupidly” in arresting his friend and supporter Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. outside his own home for “disorderly conduct”. The police report, minus some privacy data such as addresses, can be viewed here. The short version, is as follows: Prof. Gates returned from a trip to China and found himself having trouble getting into his house, so he and his cab driver forced the door open. A passerby saw this, feared a burglary was taking place, and called the police. Officer James Crowley of CPD arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, saw Prof. Gates in the house as he approached it, and though he looked to be a resident, but knocked, explained the situation, and asked for ID to be sure.
Here the two versions of the story diverge. According to Prof. Gates, Officer Crowley repeatedly refused to identify himself, lured him out onto the porch, and then arrested him. (You can read the Professor’s version in an extended interview here.) According to Officer Crowley, Prof. Gates did provide identification, Crowley was satisfied that he was the homeowner, but Gates had immediately taken an angry tone (repeatedly accusing Crowley of treating him this way because he was black) and that Gates followed him outside, accusing him of racial bias and generally shouting at him, until after a warning Officer Crowley arrested him for disorderly conduct.
Now, I think it’s pretty appalling to be arrested at your own house for yelling at someone, even a police officer. At the same time, the police report rings a lot truer to me that Prof. Gates’. And while even given that account, I don’t like the idea of arresting someone in front of his own house for being loud and rude towards the police, it strikes me that Prof. Gates violated a lot of the very basic rules that everyone knows about interacting with police. Perhaps I can best explain with an example:
“Life with a ‘Quiverfull’ family: the story behind the story” – Reuters journalist Rick Wilking shares his experiences documenting the lives of a Christian “Quiverfull” family who have 15 children due to their belief that all family planning is best left in the hands of God.
Night, February 15, 1898, the American battleship USS Maine lay at anchor in the harbor of Havana. Although tensions were running high between the US government and Spain, the colonial power occupying Cuba, the night was calm. Suddenly, at 9:40 PM, a huge explosion devastated the forward section of the Maine, an external explosion setting off the powder in the magazines of the Maine. Into this vision of hell on Earth strode the Catholic Chaplain of the Maine, John P. Chidwick. Continue reading
In light of Zach’s stellar posting which generated over 240 comments ranging from anarchism to Oscar Romero and which inspired a posting by Michael Denton. These comments, although informative to a certain extent, may have detracted from the original intent of the posting. Henceforth in regards to said activities being done on Zach’s posting concerning Representative Chris Smith, I am starting a new tradition here at American Catholic, the open thread.
So feel free to comment to your hearts delight that isn’t related to any other postings on this website.
The comments policy is still in place so don’t forget to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
In the many discussions about socio-economic matters we partake in here at The American Catholic – not all of them as charitable as I would like – the topic of wealth redistribution often comes up. Clearly some of us hold different views as to the effectiveness of wealth distribution, or the forms it ought to take. Catholic social teaching does not attempt to confine redistribution to one set of particular policies, and it does not support the enlargement of “the welfare state”.
But there is no question that the redistribution of wealth through taxation is in itself a morally legitimate practice for government to engage in.
There’s a conversational dynamic which I’m already getting tired of, though I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more of it in the coming weeks and months, and it goes basically like this:
A: “I see the following problems with Obama’s health care proposal…”
B: “Don’t you understand the Church teaches health care is a right? Do you want there to be 47 million uninsured? How can you stand in the way of the one chance to do this? Do you think the current system is just fine?”
Clearly, just because the Democrats in Congress are patching together a 1000+ page bill which has specific characteristic and goes under the title of “healthcare reform” do not mean that this is the only way in which one might seek to reform healthcare. And although this may be the primary alternative to the status quo available at this moment in time, even someone who considers the status quo to be far from perfect might well consider the proposal currently coming together to be worse than the status quo.
[Updates at the bottom of this posting]
Ecumenism today is in a sorry state. Most Protestant denominations have splintered off to the point that dialogue has become pointless. Only the Orthodox offer any hope of reunion with us, but that is a distant land where we are struggling to navigate towards.
In the meantime too many well-intentioned Catholics yell “Ecumenism! Ecumenism!” yet they know not what they say nor do. Heck, they can’t even explain it themselves.
For example I’ve stopped attending Taizé services because the only people that attend them are other Catholics. If it was intended to bring our separated brothers in Christ together then I failed to see a single one of them attend in the three years that I have been going.
Ecumenism, whatever that means anymore, is a dead cat. It’s going nowhere because it has no idea what it is. Hence the forty years of fruitless labor has produced nothing to celebrate.
Too often, Catholic education, particularly at the high school level, seems to be valued not so much for its moral and religious content as for its prestige in the community, or for its ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on.
In my experience, Catholic high schools tend to be known in their communities as 1) schools rich kids attend, 2) a way to escape poor-quality public schools, 3) athletic powerhouses, or 4) institutions whose graduates enjoy disproportionate wealth and influence — the quality Chicagoans famously call “clout.”
Just today, in fact, I heard someone refer to alumni of a local Catholic high school as a “Catholic mafia” that allegedly dominates local business and politics. Although this characterization is probably not entirely justified, many alums of this particular school do seem to end up in positions of influence in the community.
In July I always take a three day mini vacation with my family. Since it opened in 2005, one of our destinations is the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, adjacent to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Yesterday we traveled down to the Museum for our latest dose of Lincolnia. Continue reading
Salvete AC readers!
Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:
1. I want to welcome Blackadder to American Catholic. Yes, it’s belated, but needed nonetheless. He has been an excellent addition to our fledgling website. He’s written many exceptional posts over at Vox Nova and we are glad to have him here with us. He also writes at the fine political group blog, Southern Appeal.
2. Meaningless word of the day, Ecumenism.
A close second, Interreligious Dialogue.
…which dovetails very well into my third pick…
From Divini Redemptoris:
55. To give to this social activity [that which was recommended in Quadragesimo Anno — J.H.] a greater efficacy, it is necessary to promote a wider study of social problems in the light of the doctrine of the Church and under the aegis of her constituted authority. If the manner of acting of some Catholics in the social-economic field has left much to be desired, this has often come about because they have not known and pondered sufficiently the teachings of the Sovereign Pontiffs on these questions. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to foster in all classes of society an intensive program of social education adapted to the varying degrees of intellectual culture. It is necessary with all care and diligence to procure the widest possible diffusion of the teachings of the Church, even among the working-classes. The minds of men must be illuminated with the sure light of Catholic teaching, and their wills must be drawn to follow and apply it as the norm of right living in the conscientious fulfillment of their manifold social duties. Thus they will oppose that incoherence and discontinuity in Christian life which We have many times lamented. For there are some who, while exteriorly faithful to the practice of their religion, yet in the field of labor and industry, in the professions, trade and business, permit a deplorable cleavage in their conscience, and live a life too little in conformity with the clear principles of justice and Christian charity. Such lives are a scandal to the weak, and to the malicious a pretext to discredit the Church. (emphasis added)
Divini Redemptoris is an excellent supplement to Quadragesimo Anno and yet another example of the brilliance of Pope Pius XI.
An oldie but a goodie from the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion. Life without the Internet. What would we do? We might have to “gasp” talk to one another! Bloggers would have to post their missives on their doors for passers-by to write comments! What would we do with the several hours freed up each day from not browsing the internet? The Horror, the Horror!
I imagine all of us blogging heroes believe that our outpourings of information and wise counsel, is having at least a minor impact in changing the world for the better. And I do believe that promoting the social doctrine of the Church is part of the evangelizing mission of the Church. But there is something that we must keep in our hearts as we continue fighting the good fight with our mighty pens (or flashing fingers upon key boards). And I cannot put it better than Pope Benedict XVI- so I will quote him here- and recommend the web site BenedictEveryday.com, where you can sign up for daily bits of Pope Speak delivered to your email address. Here is something to ponder as we prayerfully continue our political activism:
Many recent developments in Iran, all of them bad for the Iranian regime of Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader, with apologies to Fearless Leader of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Khamenei. Huge demonstrations rocked Iran on Friday with crowd estimates ranging from 100,000 to over a million in Tehran. Repression, brutal as it has been, is simply not stopping the Resistance from taking to the streets once a week.
A few days ago I was speaking with a good friend of mine about Margaret Sanger, the founder of the American Birth Control League, which was renamed Planned Parenthood. The conversation shifted to Sanger as my friend, who is pro-choice, and I debated the issue of abortion. Sanger was quite relevant because we’re both African American and the founder of Planned Parenthood was, as is often pointed out by the right-to-life movement, an unequivocal white supremacist who saw eugenics as the means to weed out less “desirable” populations.
I forwarded my friend information about Sanger and the woman’s own words about a variety of matters. That is not why I’m writing this, however. Certain statements by Sanger are absolutely striking because they were statements I did not expect. Continue reading
In honor of America landing a man on the Moon forty years ago, the indispensable Iowahawk has a column here in which he suggests sending Congress to the Moon. I’d like to be among the first to climb on board this rocketwagon. I suspect we will never get our budgetary house in order until Congress is sent to the Moon, and I believe that most Americans have long thought that Congress and a full Moon go together. However, as the above picture indicates, I can think of a few officials from the Executive Branch who should go along for the ride!
It is one of the interesting contradictions of politics that political factions sometimes rely on the problems they seek to eliminate for their existence. For instance, it has been widely noted that while it is generally part of the Democratic set of ideals to reduce economic disparity, while Republicans tend to be accepting of it, Democrats are most successfully elected in areas with high economic disparity and Republicans are most successfully elected in areas with economic homogeneity. One might imagine that this is because those who actually experience inequality see the folly of their actions and switch to become Democratic voters, and perhaps there’s some level of truth to this, but still it seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.
I was reminded of this reading an article this morning about a group of newly elected Democrats in the House who are from some of the nation’s wealthiest congressional districts. (Democrats now control 14 out of the 25 richest congressional districts in the country.) These congressmen are worried about a provision in the pending health care legislation which would fund much of the new spending with a tax increase of 1-5.4% on income groups making $350k/yr or more.
I don’t have an objection in principle to taxes that hit the rich harder than the poor. As was observed about the reasonableness of robbing banks (if one is going to be a robber): That’s where the money is. Continue reading