Monthly Archives: July 2009
I may have to turn in my Catholic Geek card for this admission, but I still haven’t finished reading Caritas in Veritate, I’m only about ten pages in. Though I’ve tried the usual background reading, Benedict’s prose (though more readable than some of his predecessor’s) is not really the sort of thing one can read one paragraph at a time in between working. And while I do usually have 30-60min between 11pm and midnight in which to read before falling asleep, I must confess I’ve mostly been devoting that time to finishing a spy novel rather than turning tired eyes to Catholic social thought.
However, if I may nonetheless take the liberty of addressing some of the general discussion of economics and morality which has been stirred up by the encyclical, there is what seems to me a familiar dynamic coming into play as people discuss whether the Church can or should teach on matters of economics. The situation strikes me as somewhat similar to the argument about whether the Church can teach on matters of science.
On science, I would like to think, the terrain if fairly well understood. The Church does not and cannot teach with any particular authority on scientific theories themselves: Is the universe six billion years old, or only 6000? Is string theory a load of rubbish? Does the Earth revolve around the Sun? Will the expansion since the “big bang” end in a “big crunch” or in the heat death of the universe?
→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Hattip to the ever alert Jay Anderson of Pro-Ecclesia. Because Congressman Tim Ryan (D.Ohio) abandoned his pro-life position, Democrats for Life of America removed him from their national advisory board. This news story demonstrates Ryan’s transition to voting pro-abortion. Interesting that Ryan abandoned the pro-life cause after the Democrats took control of the House in 2006. I suspect that he is ambitious and decided that in a House run by pro-abort Democrats being a pro-lifer was not a career enhancer. At any rate, as a pro-life Conservative Republican I salute the action of these pro-life Democrats. It would have been better to boot him in 2008 after his changed voting record had become clear, but the main thing is that Democrats for Life have acted now. Their action lends credence to the seriousness with which they view the issue of abortion. Bravo! (Two articles praising Democrats in two days by me? I’m going soft!)
Hattip to Rock, Paper Shotgun. Although strategy computer games have always been my first love, in my younger days I would have been a prime candidate for this malady. One of my son’s first words was Doom when he saw the game box in a hobby shop. I don’t waste my time with that type of nonsense anymore. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a blogger disease?
Near tragedy in DC yesterday when a screen of Totus (Teleprompter of the United States), crashed. Rumors abounded yesterday that Totus was no more. Had this, dare I say it, been an assassination attempt against Totus? Was Vice-President Biden involved? There is no love lost between Biden and Totus, but certainly Biden would not stoop to electronicide, would he?
Fortunately Totus announced here on its blog that it is OK. Totus blames Felix its operator. Hmmm, I wonder if there are recent sightings of Biden and Felix together? Stay alert Totus, the screwdrivers, if not the knives, may be out against you!
I wasn’t sure whether or not to post this as an update to my earlier post on John Holdren, but I thought it was interesting enough to warrant its own posting.
I’ve read some of the scanned pages of Ecoscience, the 1977 book co-authored by Holdren that calls for horrifying coercive measures for population control. Interestingly, Holdren & Co. felt the need to address pro-life arguments in their book. Their moral reasoning only proves, yet again, how dangerous (not to mention illogical) some ‘scientists’ can become when they venture into moral philosophy. This provides us an opportunity to take a tour through the inhuman humanism condemned by Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate.
Judging from our posts, I believe it is safe to say that we at The American Catholic are a bookish lot. I think this applies also to most of our learned commenters. I have always loved books, a trait I inherited from my sainted mother who had a deep passion for the printed page. If I were not married to a fellow bibliophile, and a librarian of course !, I can imagine my love of books perhaps having been a sore point in my marriage. “Another bookstore?” “Can’t we go anyplace without you dragging me to a dull bookstore?” “You paid what for that history of the Peninsular War!?!” “The books are in the dumpster. Say a word and you may end up there too!” Instead, both I and my bride of 27 years view bookstores as homes away from home, to the vast amusement of our kids.
In this post I am going to list ten books I would recommend. These ten books have all had some impact on my life. I invite everyone who is interested to also give their book recommendations in the comments.
1. The Bible-Since my parents gave me my first Bible, at my request, on Christmas Day 1970, I have attempted, and usually succeeded, in reading a chapter from the Old Testament and a chapter from the New each day. The varied type of literature in the Bible I find endlessly fascinating: novels, court chronicles, proverbs, otherworldly prophecies, military history, gospels, letters, an endless literary and intellectual feast. Aside from the spiritual benefits of the Bible, which of course is the main reason for reading the Bible, no one in our civilization can be considered to be well-educated if they are bone ignorant of this book. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The idea of supporting the troops is not one where you find a whole lot of argument. Of course in the Vietnam era there are the stories of how hippies used to spit on servicemen, calling them “baby killers”. I’ve heard that scenario repeated so many times, I’m starting to wonder if this reaction was really so widespread, or if it got an urban legend boost at some point. I’m sure this type of thing happened, I was too young to take in the riots, the protests against the Vietnam War to fully appreciate the dynamic of the times. But in any case, we are now pretty much united in the notion that while a given war may be unjust, we don’t blame the average man or woman in uniform. In fact, we seek ways to honor or show respect for them, even if we are seeking to end the conflict in which they are engaged. This is a good thing on the whole. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I do not believe I was morally wrong or politically naive to personally give President Obama the benefit of the doubt and, until he proved otherwise, accept his claims of wanting to ‘work with’ pro-lifers at face value. I believe prudent and ethical politics, as well as the requirements of Christian charity, placed such an obligation on me, though I understood why some Catholics strongly disagreed. Even just recently I wrote a blog suggesting that we should not engage in nasty rhetoric against the president – and for the most part, I still believe that.
But with Obama’s selection of Dr. John P. Holdren to “Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy”, among a few other high positions – and with the recent revelations of what this man, along with his co-authors, advocated in a 1977 book called Ecoscience (of which I was entirely ignorant), I believe the benefit of the doubt has just been cut.
Hattip to the ever eagle-eyed Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, ex-Lieutenant governor of Maryland, and oldest of Bobby Kennedy’s offspring, has a screed in Newsweek where she explains how Obama represents American Catholics better than the Pope. As one reads the article it becomes clear that the ex-Lieutenant governor actually means liberal Catholics like her when she says American Catholics, no surprise since she has always been a vociferous supporter of abortion.
Paul Zummo gets to the heart of the matter nicely:
“It really isn’t about whether or not Catholics in America view the Pope or the President more favorably, it’s about a faux Catholic’s outrage that the Church refuses to change its core teachings and mission on the say-so of irate children like Townsend. We’ll leave aside the sheer duplicity in the statement that Obama actually listens to different points of view and focus instead on the shrill cri de couer of another bitter progresso-Catholic who believes she knows better than the Magisterium. I guess when you’re the spoiled child of a family that hasn’t contributed anything to the American polity since her grand-dad built his fortune by exploiting the 18th Amendment, you’re pretty used to getting your way. But here we have the Pope, head of an institution that has the temerity to say “NO!” emphatically to the progresso-Catholics who just stomp their feet in anger over the Pope’s refusal to give them condoms and let their gay friends get married.”
I have long suspected that for some, by no means all, Catholics on the Left in this country their true Pope’s last name begins with an O rather than a B. I therefore have to give KKT credit for honesty if for nothing else.
Update: Good commentary on the Townsend article by Ed Morrissey here at Hot Air.
Here is Archbishop Chaput with a worthwhile reflection on how Catholics should think about the media. A few excerpts:
Most of what we know about the world comes from people we’ll never meet and don’t really understand. We don’t even think of them as individuals. Instead we usually talk about them in the collective – as “the media” or “the press.” Yet behind every Los Angeles Times editorial or Fox News broadcast are human beings with personal opinions and prejudices. These people select and frame the news. And when we read their newspaper articles or tune in their TV shows, we engage them in a kind of intellectual intimacy in the same way you’re listening to me right now….
…The media’s power to shape public thought is why it’s so vital for the rest of us to understand their human element. When we don’t recognize the personal chemistry of the men and women who bring us our news – their cultural and political views, their economic pressures, their social ambitions – then we fail the media by holding them to too low a standard. We also – and much more importantly — fail ourselves by neglecting to think and act as intelligent citizens…
From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion. One of the difficulties of being a parodist in rather absurd times is that reality tends not to be that far removed from parody. Such is the case with this video which might be easily mistaken for a “news” show where pundits are doing their best, or worst, to adjust to new technology.
Hattip to Notes on the Culture War. A follow up to this earlier post. Eric McFadden, founder of Catholics for Kerry in 2004, a Democrat political operative, former director of Democrat Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s Faith-Based and Community initiative and head of the Catholic outreach of the Clinton campaign last year, pleaded guilty on Thursday in a plea bargain to two felony counts of pimping for prostitution a 17 year old girl on the internet. Sentencing will occur on August 20.
Here is a good portion of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis written in 1987 and is followed up by Pope Benedict’s most recent. It is a relevant passage because it deals directly with the subjects dealt with in the ongoing discussion on “Guatemala” et al, on the debated need for apology/examination of our American conscience for abuses- or some would argue not- by our American leadership and elite interests, in regard to other nations- particularly poorer, weaker ones. There seems to be the idea floating around in conservative political circles that Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan were cut from the same cloth. I do not believe the approach to foreign relations by those who praise the Reagan/Bush years, holds up to Catholic scrutiny. But here are the words of our previous Holy Father- and no I do not accept the argument that we can distinguish where the Peace and Justice crowd at the Vatican is speaking and where the Pope is- that sort of treatment of these official Encyclicals is beneath my contempt. I will offer commentary on the latest encyclical after I have time to digest it, I refuse to rush my judgment on such important Church offerings. : →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Something for the weekend. A departure from my usual selections of Irish songs against the English! I have always been a sucker for the Age of Fighting Sail, and Heart of Oak , written by David Garrick in the Annus Mirabelis of 1759, captures the spirit of that age when the Royal Navy transformed the seas into an English lake. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Rerum Novarum Revisited
With the publication of Caritas in Veritate, I think it is timely to take a look back on the encyclical that gave birth to Catholic social teaching nearly 120 years ago, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum. Part of the reason I believe it is timely is that Benedict himself noted a tendency among certain commentators on the Church’s social doctrine to divide it up into “pre” and “post” Vatican II ways of thinking, and rejected this analysis. He stressed instead the consistency of the Church’s social teaching over time.
Another reason is that the publication of Rerum Novarum forces us to make one of two conclusions about the history of “capitalism” (an ever dubious phrase that I am reluctant to use at all) and that of the Church: either capitalism was deformed to the point where only a serious moral correction would render it acceptable to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, or the Papacy was either the victim or the perpetrator of a great hoax. This has direct implications for the debates we continue to have today amongst ourselves. Is this thing called “capitalism” self-correcting? Or does it require an external moral critique to advance the correction?
During the 30 minute meet and greet audience today at the Vatican, the Pope pressed Obama on abortion and embryonic stem cells. The Pope gave Obama a copy of Dignitatis Personae, which I hope he will read. He indicated that he would.
Here is the statement of the Vatican on the meeting, hattip to Catholic Key Blog.
“This afternoon, Friday 10 July 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in Audience the President of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Barack H. Obama. Prior to the Audience, the President met His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and also His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
In the course of their cordial exchanges the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.
Reference was also made to immigration with particular attention to the matter of reuniting families.
The meeting focused as well upon matters of international politics, especially in light of the outcome of the G8 Summit. The conversation also dealt with the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was general agreement, and with other regional situations. Certain current issues were then considered, such as dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, and the problem of drug trafficking. Finally, the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted.”