Monthly Archives: August 2009
I recently posted a link to a short essay I wrote explaining why I reject leftism. It was rather broad in scope and abstract in content, but now I have a more particular and concrete example to reinforce what I originally wrote. It pertains to news of Hillary Clinton’s recently declared opposition to “sex selective abortion” – that is, abortion that specifically targets the female unborn.
The moral confusion that reigns on the secular left and even significant parts of the pro-choice religious left never ceases to amaze me, though by now, it really ought to. For decades the overwhelming majority of secular liberals have supported abortion rights in the name of women and their “liberation”, their social advancement. As it turns out, however, in countries such as China, India, and even the United States, the majority of aborted “fetuses” are female. There are both practical economic and cultural reasons for sex selective abortion, but those aren’t really relevant here.
The glaringly obvious point is that there is a terrible contradiction at the heart of modern feminism, between unconditional support for abortion rights and a desire to stop the extinction of women through female abortion and infanticide. In the irony of ironies, a “woman’s right to choose” more often than not means a choice not to bear a girl that will become a woman. The social consequences of sex selective abortions in countries such as China will be devastating as the male population vastly out-numbers the female population, reducing the pool of potential wives and increasing the number of alienated and frustrated bachelors.
The past week has given me pause for thought on the Kennedy Mystique and what it means in Catholic circles today. I’d intended to remain silent on the topic of Senator Edward Kennedy, he wasn’t someone I had much admiration for, but death is a great equalizer. While it certainly doesn’t put someone beyond criticism, it’s polite not to take the opportunity to attack someone while those who loved him are mourning. And yet, in the end I made some rather strong comments on the topic. Why?
Ted Kennedy isn’t himself the sort of figure one would expect to arouse more than normal political feelings — a sometimes boorish and boozy character, but a party loyalist able to bring a fair amount of rhetorical power to pushing his party’s line and able to bring a self effacing charm into play (when he tried) which softened his partisan edges. The the sort of person I’d tend to admire, but also not someone I’d feel called upon to rail against.
I think the issue is that the combination of the Kennedy name and the Democratic party-line positions holds a certain place in American Catholic history which causes strong reactions among various Catholics depending on how they reacted to that period in Catholic history in this country. JFK was elected at a point when it seemed Catholics had finally “arrived” in the US. They’d made it out of the ethnic ghettos, through college, and into mainstream American society. And while public schools were heavily Protestant, and Catholic “smells and bells” still looked very strange to WASP eyes, Catholicism had become a large and mainstream religion in the US complete with famous converts and Fulton Sheen as a major TV personality. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
As has been pointed out, Senator Kennedy was pro-life at least until late 1971. Like Jesse Jackson, Al Gore and other prominent figures on the left, his stance changed as “abortion rights” became a major plank on the Democrat Party platform.
What happened? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I’ve started a new personal blog which I hope to update from time to time. I still plan on writing for TAC extensively in the future; my personal blog will be for pieces that are, well, more personal.
Here is one I think TAC readers will appreciate: Why I Reject Leftism. Though I’m sorry to say, it is far from an embrace of the platform of the Republican Party circa 2009.
Robert Schindler,Sr., the father of Terri Schiavo has died. National Right to Life has released this letter:
“NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE MOURNS THE LOSS OF ROBERT SCHINDLER, SR.
WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest pro-life group, today joined with pro-lifers nationwide in mourning the passing of our dear friend Robert Schindler, Sr., the father of Terri Schindler Schiavo. Mr. Schindler died this morning in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“Bob Schindler was an extraordinary father, husband and friend,” said Wanda Franz, Ph.D., National Right to Life President. “His death is a profound loss for all of us in the pro-life movement. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife, Mary and their children, Bobby and Suzanne.”
Despite facing legal setbacks at virtually every turn, the Schindlers, with their children at their side, fought unceasingly to defend the right of their daughter, Terri Schindler Schiavo, to receive food and fluids. Their brave struggle ended on March 31, 2005, when Terri died from a court-ordered withdrawal of nutrition and hydration.
Following Terri’s death, the family began advocating for other medically dependent and disabled patients facing similar circumstances through the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation.
In 2007, the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund honored the Schindler family with the Proudly Pro-Life Award for their dedication and public witness to the cause of life.
“In life, Bob, and his wife Mary, never sought the spotlight. They only wished to care for their beloved daughter, Terri. Through their selfless dedication to Terri, they showed the nation and the world what it means when someone says they are ‘pro-life’,” added David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., National Right to Life Executive Director.
The National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest pro-life group is a federation of affiliates in all 50 states and 3,000 local chapters nationwide. National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.”
Terri Schiavo of course was judicially murdered by the State of Florida in 2005 at the behest of her “loving husband”, Michael Schiavo. A few comments about that judicial travesty: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral seems to be safe for now from the raging wildfires in Santa Barbara north of Los Angeles and from Orange County which is south of Los Angeles, both approximately 30 miles away. Sadly two firefighters have lost their lives in service to Angelinos.
Maps of the wildfires are temporarily out of service as servers have been overloaded for the Los Angeles Times, Google Maps, and Associated Content.
From the pictures it looks like all hell has broken loose. Smoke continues to envelope major sections of Los Angeles and the fluorescent red light from said wildfires give an eery glow to the landscape.
The beautiful architecture of Our Lady of Angels is at risk of destruction from these wildfires. The Cathedral’s exterior echoes the Famsa Warehouse District with its soaring brownish brick buildings and rectangular gray-stained windows. The Plaze of the Cathedral resembles that of your local community college with directionless paths and no shading.
The treasure trove of art that this Cathedral holds is breath-taking. Where else can you find non-Christian imagery than that on the giant bronze doors depicting images from pre-Christian Europe. These giant bronze doors are conveniently located away from the narthex. Neo-post-Christian artists such as Robert Graham decorated the door with an unveiled Mary showing her bare arms welcoming people to come in for happy-clappy Masses and liturgical dances.
Once your inside and find your way to the “church” you can marvel at the hand-crafted tabernacle sculptured by Max DeMoss. Mr. DeMoss designed the tabernacle to blend with the the rest of the architectural style of the cathedral which is delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.
As you turn around from those three deteriorating pipes sticking out of the ground called the tabernacle you can view the complete interior of the Cathedral of the Angels. Imagine one of those special liturgical celebrations as a Chinese dragon parades up and down the kneelerless rows with Cardinal Mahony waiting in the wings with pitchers of Jesus waiting to be distributed among the faithful.
What priceless treasures that this Cathedral holds that may well be burned to the ground along with the post-neo-Christian architecture.
One can only pray.
All information for this posting was done entirely from the Our Lady of Angels Cathedral website.
Pictures courtesy of Quintero from L.A. Catholic.
During a crisis within the Roman Empire, Emperor Theodosius I slaughtered 7,000 of his own citizens in 390 AD. Shortly after this massacre Emperor Theodosius arrived in Milan where Saint Ambrose resided as bishop. Upon hearing of the emperors arrival Saint Ambrose refused to meet nor offer the Holy Sacrifice to him. Instead he castigated the emperor and demanded he repent for his sins.
Emperor Theodosius quickly obeyed [emphasis mine],
“and, being laid hold of by the discipline of the Church, did penance in such a way that the sight of his imperial loftiness prostrated made the people who were interceding for him weep more than the consciousness of offence had made them fear it when enraged”. “Stripping himself of every emblem of royalty”, says Ambrose in his funeral oration, “he publicly in church bewailed his sin. That public penance, which private individuals shrink from, an Emperor was not ashamed to perform; nor was there afterwards a day on which he did not grieve for his mistake.”
Ted Kennedy was the leading proponent of abortion on demand.
Millions of innocent humans died due to the policies that Ted Kennedy championed.
Ted Kennedy passed away without repenting nor showing remorse for his direct actions in the death of millions.
Saint Ambrose, ora pro nobis!
(photo from WPIX)
 Loughlin, J. (1907). St. Ambrose. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved August 30, 2009 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01383c.htm
Over at Vox Nova, Henry Karlson offers some thoughtul reflections on eschatology (Part I | Part II | Part III), or rather — those who employ the catch phrase “Don’t immanentize the eschaton!” as a cudgel against those “doing the work of Christ”:
How many times do we find these words repeated, time and again, since Voegelin has suggested to do so is Gnostic? How ironic is this claim, when authentic Christian theology believes that the eschaton has been immanetized in Christ. Voegelin, and many of his followers like Buckley, became critical of anyone who would try to connect the supernatural with the natural in a way which understood the eschatological ramifications of Christ have any this-worldly implications. But this is exactly what Christian theology proposes. God became man; the eschaton has been revealed; the world and all that is in it has been affected by the immanentizing of the eschaton that history can never be the same. Christians are called to live out their lives in and through Christ, bringing the eschatological implications of Pascha to the world itself. The world is meant to be transformed and brought to its perfection, and we are to be Christ’s workers in helping to bring this about; of course, our work is not on the same level of Christ’s, but, if we truly become one with Christ in his body, we must understand this is exactly what we are called to do. Anything else is a rejection of the incarnation, anything else which tries to establish an absolute duality between the immanent and transcendent is what really qualifies as gnostic!
In response, I’d like to say a little bit about why I find myself sympathetic to Buckley and company. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path. I want you to know Your Holiness that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination, and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty, and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and been the focus of my work as a United States Senator.
I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field, and I’ll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.
Excerpt, Letter of Senator Edward Kennedy to Pope Benedict XVI, which President Obama delivered to the Pontiff in July, 2009.
* * *
While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized — the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old. [...]
I share in the confidence of those who feel that America is willing to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society’s problems — an inadequate welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.
When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.
Excerpt, Letter of Senator Edward Kennedy to Thomas E. Denelly, August 1971.
Doug Kmiec, betrayer of the pro-life cause, future ambassador to Malta and spiritual descendant of Richard Rich, the subject of few posts on this blog, see here, has taken the opportunity of the death of Ted Kennedy to engage in some predictable spaniel like fawning over Obama and ObamaCare. The ever cogent Erin Manning at her ever readable blog and sometimes tea, fisks the resulting mess here, so you don’t have to.
Canon Lawyer Ed Peters has some thoughts here on the Ted Kennedy funeral. Distressingly the funeral had on full display the tendency of modern Catholic funerals to have eulogies that “canonize” the deceased. I prefer the traditional Catholic practice of banning eulogies and merely requesting prayers for the soul of the deceased. There are other venues to praise the deceased. The funeral Mass is not for praise, but rather for the sacrifice of the Mass and for prayers. A good post on the subject is here.
Adolph Hitler’s evil twin in terror, Joseph Stalin, once remarked “How many divisions has the Pope?”. This was done in response to the future saint Pope Pius XII’s disapproval of his policies.
Well it wasn’t a mocking tone nor was it a sarcastic remark in reference to the Vatican. It was a serious concern to the ‘meddling’ of the Catholic Church in thwarting Communism’s attempt at world domination. Stalin was well aware of the tremendous moral power that the Vatican wielded and Vladimir Lenin implemented the full power of the KGB and the eastern bloc spy agencies to monitor and undermine the mission of the Catholic Church.
A new non-fiction book by John Koehler titled, Spies in the Vatican, has recently come out that documents the final twenty years of the Cold War and how it played out as the Soviet Union and their allies infiltrated the Vatican.
“On the right to choose abortion, he was fully pro-choice. He supported the right of women who got their medical care from the government whether they were federal employees, in the military or on Medicaid to the same right of conscience that women with their own money or private insurance have. And, on every other issue related to reproductive health and rights, he voted for women.
Something for the weekend. The unforgettable Vera Lynn singing the White Cliffs of Dover. Ah, Britain during the war years of World War II, a fascinating place. A hilarious comedy set during those years played on the BBC in the sixties and seventies, Dad’s Army.
To say that Sen. Kennedy was flawed is to say that he was a human being. To dismiss his career because of his stance on abortion is to be ignorant of the complicated way the issue of abortion manifested itself in the early 1970s: I think Kennedy got it wrong but I do not find it difficult to understand why and how he got it wrong. If the pro-life leaders would stop ranting for a second and study that history they might become more effective at advancing their cause. Besides, Ted Kennedy got many more things right than he got wrong.
Honestly, what does it mean to say that Kennedy “got many more things right than he got wrong”? I cannot tell that it means anything other than, “Kennedy is one of my political tribe, and so I find it easy to forgive his faults.” What, surely Winters does not propose something so trivializing as a weighted check list: “Kennedy was in favor of expanding welfare, and we’ll weight that at an 8. He was in favor of increased immigration, and we’ll give that a 10. Unfortunately, he was in favor of abortion, we’ll weight that at a 4. So far a +14 total, what next?”
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Over at the First Things blog, Joe Carter highlights an excerpt from an article by Randal Rauser, a professor of theology at Taylor Seminary, Edmonton, Canada:
At the end of his tremendously irritating film “Religulous”, Bill Maher states that “Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.” With this strange definition Maher summarizes a notion of faith which has become enormously popular in recent years, particularly with the rise of the new atheists. (Consider Richard Dawkins who dismisses religious believers as “faith heads”.)
Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is one of my favorite novels, and unquestionably my favorite Catholic novel. (Spoiler warning for those who haven’t read it — this post has to do with events which take place at the very end.) Not only does Brideshead give powerful and beautiful expression to Catholic themes, but having read it in my late teens, not long before leaving home, it represents one of those crystallizing experiences for me through which Catholicism became not merely something I was brought up in, but something deeply my own and at the root of my understanding of the world.
And yet, there’s a key element of the plot which clashes with the modern experience of joining the Church — as I was reminded tonight when attending the opening RCIA meeting as a member of this year’s team. Near the very end of the novel, Julia (a cradle, though intermittently lapsed, Catholic) tells the man she has been living with for several years (they’re in the process of divorcing their estranged spouses so they can marry): →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading