The Nativity

Friday, December 25, AD 2009

The thatch on the roof was as golden,
Though dusty the straw was and old,
The wind had a peal as of trumpets,
Though blowing and barren and cold,
The mother’s hair was a glory
Though loosened and torn,
For under the eaves in the gloaming
A child was born.

Have a myriad children been quickened,
Have a myriad children grown old,
Grown gross and unloved and embittered,
Grown cunning and savage and cold?
God abides in a terrible patience,
Unangered, unworn,
And again for the child that was squandered
A child is born.

What know we of aeons behind us,
Dim dynasties lost long ago,
Huge empires, like dreams unremembered,
Huge cities for ages laid low?
This at least—that with blight and with blessing,
With flower and with thorn,
Love was there, and his cry was among them,
“A child is born.”

Though the darkness be noisy with systems,
Dark fancies that fret and disprove,
Still the plumes stir around us, above us
The wings of the shadow of love:
Oh! Princes and priests, have ye seen it
Grow pale through your scorn;
Huge dawns sleep before us, deep changes,
A child is born.

And the rafters of toil still are gilded
With the dawn of the stars of the heart,
And the wise men draw near in the twilight,
Who are weary of learning and art,
And the face of the tyrant is darkened,
His spirit is torn,
For a new king is enthroned; yea, the sternest,
A child is born.

And the mother still joys for the whispered
First stir of unspeakable things,
Still feels that high moment unfurling
Red glory of Gabriel’s wings.
Still the babe of an hour is a master
Whom angels adorn,
Emmanuel, prophet, anointed,
A child is born.

And thou, that art still in thy cradle,
The sun being crown for thy brow,
Make answer, our flesh, make an answer,
Say, whence art thou come—who art thou?
Art thou come back on earth for our teaching
To train or to warn—?
Hush—how may we know?—knowing only
A child is born.

G. K. Chesterton

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One Response to The Nativity

Pope Benedict XVI Wishes Us All a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, AD 2009

Here is the text of Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters! “A child is born for us, a son is given to us” (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”. No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?

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A Proclamation

Friday, December 25, AD 2009

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.

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One Response to A Proclamation

  • This was read at Midnight Mass.

    Being a man of history this really makes my skin turn into chicken skin. To think that the entire scope of history came to pass for this very moment, the birth of the Child Jesus.

    So profound was His birth that He split Time in half!

Celtic Woman Singing Little Drummer Boy

Thursday, December 24, AD 2009

Little Drummer Boy is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time and I surprisingly stumbled across the Celtic Woman version of this song.  Celtic Woman is an all-female musical ensemble which I came across on YouTube earlier this year and they are delightfully good!

This version of the popular Christmas song has Gregorian chant in it, I’m not sure who scored this, but it works very well with Celtic Woman’s version of Little Drummer Boy.

Here is the original music by the Harry Simeone Chorale:

And finally here is the Vienna Boys Choir rendition of this song:

My favorite line of the song is “then He smiled at me“.

Gets me every time.

Long live Christ the King!

Have a blessed Christmas.

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Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Thursday, December 24, AD 2009

Something for a Christmas Eve.  Hark the Herald Angels Sing combined with Renaissance Masters praising in paint Madonna and Child.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

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A Daley Sees Disaster Looming For the Democrats

Thursday, December 24, AD 2009

As an Illinois Republican I have little love for the Daley clan of Chicago.  However, I have always respected their political acumen.  William Daley, Commerce Secretary under Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s campaign chairman in 2000, where he was much too effective for my comfort in what should have been a big Republican year, and brother of Richie the Lesser, current Mayor for Life of the Windy City, has an interesting column today in the Washington Post:

But now they face a grim political fate. On the one hand, centrist Democrats are being vilified by left-wing bloggers, pundits and partisan news outlets for not being sufficiently liberal, “true” Democrats. On the other, Republicans are pounding them for their association with a party that seems to be advancing an agenda far to the left of most voters.

The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.

Witness the losses in New Jersey and Virginia in this year’s off-year elections. In those gubernatorial contests, the margin of victory was provided to Republicans by independents — many of whom had voted for Obama. Just one year later, they had crossed back to the Republicans by 2-to-1 margins.

Witness the drumbeat of ominous poll results. Obama’s approval rating has fallen below 49 percent overall and is even lower — 41 percent — among independents. On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008, according to Ipsos. Gallup’s generic congressional ballot shows Republicans leading Democrats. There is not a hint of silver lining in these numbers. They are the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.

And, of course, witness the loss of Rep. Griffith and his fellow moderate Democrats who will retire. They are perhaps the truest canaries in the coal mine.

Despite this raft of bad news, Democrats are not doomed to return to the wilderness. The question is whether the party is prepared to listen carefully to what the American public is saying. Voters are not re-embracing conservative ideology, nor are they falling back in love with the Republican brand. If anything, the Democrats’ salvation may lie in the fact that Republicans seem even more hell-bent on allowing their radical wing to drag the party away from the center.

All that is required for the Democratic Party to recover its political footing is to acknowledge that the agenda of the party’s most liberal supporters has not won the support of a majority of Americans — and, based on that recognition, to steer a more moderate course on the key issues of the day, from health care to the economy to the environment to Afghanistan. (end of column)

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9 Responses to A Daley Sees Disaster Looming For the Democrats

  • No matter what, I will still always and everywhere and at anytime vote AGAINST the Democrats. Ever since the Democrat Congress cut funding off for the South Vietnamese government, thereby causing us to lose the Vietnam War, they have proven themselves to be the party of treason and death. Now today because of their actions, not only is the Catholic Church persecuted in communist Vietnam, but we have wholesale infanticide of the unborn here in the US.

    The best Democrat is the defeated, muzzled and emasculated Democrat. Period.

  • Paul,
    I raise a toast to you.

  • I raise a toast as well.

    We need to remember the Democratic Party started the War of Northern Aggression, Jim Crow Laws, and actively supported the KKK.

    They are a party of racists and still they have a KKK Grand Dragon as Senator from West Virginia.

    They are aptly called the Party of Death by Archbishop Burke.

  • Let’s not get carried away. A lot of good men and women have been Democrats over the years. I hope for a day when the Democrat party will once again be led by statesmen like Harry Truman, who, while a fierce partisan, was also a patriot first and a Democrat second, and that on abortion the Democrat party will eventually celebrate the memory of Bob Casey, Senior, a liberal who was also an ardent defender of the unborn.

  • Donald,

    Couldn’t help myself. What I wrote is true, but you are correct that there are many, many, good people within the Democratic Party.

    I hope for the same as you do, that they return more to the principles that are more in alignment with God’s plan.

  • Donald,

    Frankly I’ll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, Catholic Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Patrick Leahy, Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry, et al., are the ones in charge of the party, not the good ones to whom you refer, and until the Bishops publicly deny them reception of Holy Communion, there is NO hope for the Democrat Party. This in large measure is the fault of the Bishops for getting the public so confused between the false gospel of social justice and peace at any price and the True Gospel of Life.

  • Harry Truman dropped not one, but two atomic bombs on the Japanese people, thus giving these United States the distinction of being the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons against their fellow human beings. Whatever virtuous policies he may have had before and after are rendered fairly irrelevant to my mind thanks to that decision.

    If actions like that make a man a “statesman” worthy of praise and admiration, then I admit to not knowing the definition.

    The GOP may indeed have some sort of comeback in 2010. However, it will be a hollow one that only results in helping Obama secure a second term in 2012 ala Clinton in 1996.

  • Anthony,

    Armchair quarterbacking…

    My grandfather fought in Europe and was bound for the Pacific when the bombs fell. Given the absolute fanatical resistance that the Japanese had already shown, the government’s predictions on the cost of defeating Japan through conventional means seem quite credible.

    My grandmother once remarked that those who chastised America for dropping the bombs fail to understand the dangers of fascism.

    I think that, had my grandfather come home from Korea, he would have agreed and I think you should do some research before you make such a bold statement. It could be that Truman did, as he believed he did, saved millions of military and civilian lives by that decision.

  • Gentlemen, my views on the bombings are that, although the human carnage was horrific, they were justified under the circumstances. However, we are not going to have an a-bomb debate on Christmas eve, and therefore I am closing the comments on this thread.

5 Responses to To Be Pitied More Than All Men

  • Hello,

    You say, “You also are not going to feel compelled to hold back on poking fun at the “Believers” who are pretty silly taking ‘tooth-fairy’-like beliefs into adulthood.” I’m not sure about this. Is it true that, if Christianity were not true, it would be not only false, but silly? I don’t, for example, believe that Islam is a true revelation, but it doesn’t strike me as unreasonable to believe that it is. Reading the Koran, I certainly feel that it’s a message that deserves to be taken seriously. I could say the same thing about a number of other religions and philosophies I don’t hold.

    No, I think that finding Christianity not only false but ridiculous is a sign of some sort of serious mental deficiency.

  • I agree that there is a range of reaction among non-Christians out there- I do see that much in the entertainment sector involves ridiculing Jesus and modern day wanna-be disciples- look at some of the most popular comedies- The Office, Simpsons, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Daily Show/Colbert, South Park etc.. any character that is explicitly Christian is going to be made to look either simple, ridiculous, or hypocritical- and Jesus is constantly parodied- so this reaction must be reflective of something popular- I absorbed a lot of this over the years to the point where it didn’t really impact me- but lately I’ve taken more conscious notice of it and it is quite depressing to note the regularity. I remember a couple of years ago browsing comedy books and two prominent displays had George Carlin’s book where he is mocking Christ, and the guy named Black from the Daily Show had a cover shot of him mocking Jesus and Mary- now this sort of thing is just so commonplace it has to be a deeper statement on the state of our nation- the fact that we collectively are more likely to be entertained by images mocking Christianity than mocking Atheism is very telling. I would argue that we should expect the hits, and hit back but not in kind- but in a different way- one that reflects The Way- it gives the scorners an opportunity to think about their cruelty instead of just getting into another round of angry attacks back and forth- everyone establishing just how much they hate the other. I would rather pity the non-believer than react angrily- for the fact is that Christ is Real and as such those who mock Him and His Church a la Saul are at great spiritual peril- we needn’t get sucked down to their level, we should be trying to pull these poor souls up by the bootstrings- give them opportunities for conversion, not more excuses to stay on the other side of heaven.

  • One more quick note- for those who are religiously-inclined, it is pretty reasonable that they should demonstrate a measure of respect for other believers of other faiths- especially for Catholics who are taught that religion is a natural virtue, and other religious faiths have rays of truth- even as we believe that Catholicism has the fullness of truth. Someone who is agnostic/atheistic will not have this baseline of generally positive views of Religion in general- and so goes about the mocking and scorning much more intently on average.

  • Tim,

    You mention our most popular comedies in your follow up post: “The Office, Simpsons, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Daily Show/Colbert, South Park”

    The level of criticism and mockery in these shows is nowhere near the same. I don’t watch The Office, so I can’t speak to that. But The Simpsons has always struck me as respectful of Christianity, if occasionally crossing the line – and I think much of that happened in the later seasons as bad writers ran out of even mediocre ideas.

    Consider how Ned Flanders was always portrayed. His family is shown arguing over who will be the first to “anoint the sores” on a homeless man’s feet – its poking fun, but I think, in a good way. It shows the Flanders family going out of their way to live up to an ideal that few Christians actually reach. As Homer says in Ned’s defense in one episode, he hurled endless abuse at Ned, who in response “turned every cheek on his body.” He goes on to say that if everyone were like Ned Flanders, heaven would already be on Earth.

    Now, in later seasons the writers used Flanders as a punching bag, and especially his boys, who were portrayed as repressed weirdos. But Ned still retained his dignity as a Christian for the most part, even if a Protestant. And speaking of that, even the latter-season episode dealing with Catholicism directly was pretty good!

  • I’ll give the Simpson’s writers kudos for this one!

Marriage Improvement

Wednesday, December 23, AD 2009

It seems to me that marriage and family are probably the area in which different sub-cultures of our country have diverged most radically. Reading this New York Times feature about the author’s attempts to improve her marriage is in some ways a more alien experience than reading an anthropological study of some distant tribe. The instinct behind the exercise is laudable:

The idea of trying to improve our union came to me one night in bed. I’ve never really believed that you just marry one day at the altar or before a justice of the peace. I believe that you become married — truly married — slowly, over time, through all the road-rage incidents and precolonoscopy enemas, all the small and large moments that you never expected to happen and certainly didn’t plan to endure. But then you do: you endure. And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse. My marriage was good, utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why. I wanted not to accept this. Dan, too, had worked tirelessly — some might say obsessively — at skill acquisition. Over the nine years of our marriage, he taught himself to be a master carpenter and a master chef. He was now reading Soviet-era weight-training manuals in order to transform his 41-year-old body into that of a Marine. Yet he shared the seemingly widespread aversion to the very idea of marriage improvement. Why such passivity? What did we all fear?

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3 Responses to Marriage Improvement

  • Interesting thoughts. As Catholics, we believe that we were created to know, love and serve God. In serving each other, we serve God. So, in serving our spouse, we serve God. About five years ago, while intensely exploring my faith and trying to understand some things, I decided to stop thinking so much about my needs and try really serving my spouse so as to better serve Christ. Some of the things that were really bothering me, I decided to offer up to Christ for those who were suffering in bad marriages, which mine wasn’t. Somewhere along the way the dynamic of our marriage began to change. As my husband saw me cheerfully serving him, almost no matter what, his attitude changed about a lot of things, and he began serving me more too. Now, about five years later, we have a great marriage, in that we both seem to be able to let the little things go and are better able to communicate about the larger things. When you take the focus off of yourself and just try to serve Christ, amazing things happen. Also – in today’s society, we are so focused on the children that we are spoiling them and often neglecting our spouses. Our order of priorities for our commitments should be: God, spouse, children…when your priorities are straight, a lot of other things fall into place too…

  • Hear, hear. I had the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” playing on my mind as I read. I hope our intrepid authoress doesn’t end up “improving” her union into oblivion.

  • From JP Spear:

    “…if there is a marriage then there is NO maximum required level of commitment to saving the marriage. ALL effort is required because that is the only thing to be done when a real marriage is in trouble.”

Mao On White House Tree

Tuesday, December 22, AD 2009

Now what would Christmas be without a Mao ornament on the White House tree?  Call me provincial, but somehow an ornament of a Communist dictator responsible for the deaths of approximately 60 million Chinese strikes me as a tad out of place.

Perhaps it was donated by an admirer of Mao in the Obama administration?  Maybe Anita Dunn, the former White House Communications Director?

If an image of Mao must be on the White House Christmas Tree, I would suggest this one:


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20 Responses to Mao On White House Tree

  • I’m surprised this WH hasn’t come up with its own secular D.C. version of the Nativity scene, with baby Barack surrounded by Axelrod, Rahm and Ayers. Pelosi and Reid dressed as the Magi and bearing a 1000 plus page healthcare bill as a gift while Matthews and Olberman kneel in adoration.

  • Apparently, you did not know this, but every one of those ornaments was decorated by American school children. The balls were shipped to various schools, the children decoupaged them, and then shipped them back to the White House.

    So, if Mao ended up on one of them, it’s the fault of some 10-year-old somewhere.

  • Yeah, I can just imagine a kid sticking Mao on an oranament. Try again aptly named commenter.

  • It was a student. Some rabid right-wingers criticized the national arts & crafts project as an indoctrination program.

  • If those ornaments were made by school children, it seems they are already well indoctrinated in far-left propaganda.
    Elise B.

  • Nah, those 10-year olds are honoring Mao all on their own. Seriously, any teacher encouraging a student to honor Hitler would be discipled or dismissed, but somehow Mao is different.

  • Seriously, any teacher encouraging a student to honor Hitler would be discipled or dismissed, but somehow Mao is different.

    Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a cover photo of a group of old guard Russian Communists marching in Red Square to honor Stalin. Sure it was a bunch of old fogies hanging on to a discredited ideology, but it just struck me how odd it is that that sort of thing is somehow more acceptable. I doubt a group of elderly Germans would have gotten away with a march in honor of Hitler (actually, I think it is illegal in Germany). Somehow it’s cute to venerate these despicable monsters, as though they were not every bit as evil and cruel as ole Adolph. Unreal.

    I’ll grant that it’s possible that some pranksters created these ornaments, and these were not some school children indoctrinated by a moronic teacher. It is almost Christmas after all, and ’tis the season for unreasoned optimism.

  • I’m with you Paul. I’m going with the clever prank theory in the spirit of the season. And conservatives are pretty clever pranksters.

  • Sure it was a bunch of old fogies hanging on to a discredited ideology, but it just struck me how odd it is that that sort of thing is somehow more acceptable.

    People say history is written by the winners, but with reference to the historiography of the Spanish Civil War, you can divine that history is written by the word merchants. There were precious few in the Anglosphere who were votaries of Adolph Hitler. Those indulgent of Soviet Russia, Red China, and Cuba were common if not legion.

    For a scholarly take, see here:

    For an amusing take on the phenomenon, see here:

    What do you think gets a character like Ellen Schrecker (see here: out of bed in the morning? She identifies with and admires the people she writes about.

  • Owen Lattimore ended his days on the faculty of Johns Hopkins. Ellen Schrecker is on the faculty of Yeshiva University (and former editor of the trade journal of the American Association of University Professors).

  • “People say history is written by the winners, but with reference to the historiography of the Spanish Civil War, you can divine that history is written by the word merchants. There were precious few in the Anglosphere who were votaries of Adolph Hitler. Those indulgent of Soviet Russia, Red China, and Cuba were common if not legion.”

    Quite right Art. Collecting histories of the Spanish Civil War is one of my hobbies. The area is dominated by historians of a Leftist bent, and often a far Leftist bent.

    Certain exceptions include the late Burnett Bolloten, a newsman during the Spanish Civil War, and who did yeoman’s work for decades in collecting and analyzing contemporary spanish accounts in newspapers and magazines printed during the war, particularly in the Republican zone. His Revolution and Counterrevolution stands as an unrivaled account of the infighting within the Republic. A man of the Left originally, by the time of his death he was denounced on the left as being an apologist for Franco, because he told some very unpalatable truths about the totalitarian forces at work within the Republic.

    Stanley Payne is as close as there is to being a truly objective historian of the war and the Franco regime.

    Spain Betrayed is a good examination of Soviet documents detailing the influence of the Soviet Union over the Republic. One of the editors, Professor Ronald Radosh, is a red diaper baby, and a former Communist, one of whose uncles died fighting for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. His journey to being a conservative began in 1983 after he was savaged by the Left for publishing a book on the Rosenbergs which reluctantly reached the conclusion that the Rosenbergs had been Soviet spies.

  • Actor Orson Bean who was blacklisted in the McCarthy period and who now is a conservative, says it is tougher to be a conservative in Hollywood these days than it was to be a Communist in Hollywood during the blacklist era.

  • Should not the question be “Why did the White House accept the decoration?”.

  • Hugh Thomas’ 1961 history of the Spanish Civil War was permitted to be translated into Spanish and sold in Spain during Franco’s tenure. I own and have read that one, and don’t recall any leftist polemic. I haven’t managed to work my way through the 1975 edition, which is considerably longer, IIRC.

  • I think one of the the reasons there is more outrage about Hitler than Stalin and Mao is that Hitler built death camps.

    Yes, Stalin and Mao had gulags, but you could theoretically get out of a gulag. Hitler had a network of camps built for the specific purpose of removing an entire people from the face of the Earth. That, I am fairly certain, remains a unique historical accomplishment.

    Then there’s the fact that the USSR was a US ally during it’s fight with Hitler, that the Red Army did the bulk of the fighting and dying against Hitler, and once Nixon went to China and shot the breeze with Mao it lent the latter some legitimacy.

    Also, it’s arguable – though certainly debatable – that the many millions who died under both tyrants died due to incompetence and not necessarily by design. Stalin’s political purges only (“only!”) killed about 1 million people. I don’t know how many Mao’s killed. But the vast numbers that are associated with their regimes – Stalin, 20 million, Mao, 60 million – are associated with famine. There seems to be good evidence that Stalin deliberately starved the Ukranians, but then, there is also evidence that the man he put in charge of agriculture was a complete moron. A combination of both? As for Mao, the “Great Leap Forward” was a great leap into the economic toilet. Again, incompetence, or deliberate mass murder? It is hard to know for certain.

    But with Hitler we do know. And so that kinda contributes.

    But I will say this – Mussolini the fascist, Franco and Salazar the military dictators and Catholic traditionalists, and what the heck, Tito the communist and opponent of Stalin in Yugoslavia, none of them were even 1/10th as bad as Stalin and Mao and they receive 100 times the vilification. It is because the leftist intelligentsia in this country, though clearly squeamish along the way, ultimately believed that the USSR, China, and Cuba were “progressive” regimes, and that what they did was either justified, rooted in a backwardness that technological development would fix, or both.

    So anything done in the name of progress, in the name of stamping out reaction and counterrevolution, is justified. To say anything bad about it is to display “bourgeois sentimentality.” Communists are materialists; your value is determined entirely and exclusively by what you add or subtract to the revolutionary cause.

  • Dale, I’ve read both of Mr. Thomas’ original history and his updated version. Thomas did attempt to be even handed. His work is now somewhat dated, and it suffers from lack of many of the documents that have come to light, since, but certainly when it came out in 1961 it was the best and most even handed general history of the war.

  • I think Joe, that both Stalin and Mao fully intended to amass the type of body counts they did. Both, especially Mao, viewed themselves as being at war with all segments of their society that were not slavishly loyal to them. The manufactured famine in the Ukraine, for instance had for Stalin the dual benefits of killing off the peasant proprietors, the Kulaks,( people who by our standards would be abysmally poor, but who were considered rich peasants, and therefore a class enemy.), and also punishing the Ukraine which he always regarded as completely disloyal to him.

  • Don,

    Undoubtedly you are right about the personalties of the despots. I think there is a combination of incompetence and malice at work; the Great Leap Forward, I don’t think, was designed to kill tens of millions of people – but on the other hand, I don’t think Mao particularly cared whether or not they lived or died.

    It’s a minor point, really. In the end, I think it really boils down to Mao and Stalin not being racists like Hitler. And you know, whenever we hear about Hitler, we think of one thing only – six million Jews. Hitler also killed millions Christians, many of them because they were Christians.

    It’s in this ridiculous double standard that we see how much influence leftist academics and Hollywood executives have over public perception. Hitler is the ultimate evil – Stalin was a pretty bad guy. It’s not really in vogue right now to be cool with Stalin, but he isn’t as vilified as Hitler, the racist. Hitler might have only killed ten thousand, but if it was due to race, he would still be more hated than Stalin.

    Mao, on the other hand, is a little less known to the American people – a charismatic guerrilla leader. So it’s almost acceptable to be cool with Mao, to quote him in your address to high school students when to do the same with Hitler would mean the end of your career and social life, and with Stalin would raise a few eyebrows and questions.

  • Communism (the dream, not the reality) is universalist, whereas Nazism is brutally exclusive. The Nazi world was divided into Aryans and subhumans, with some subhumans being worse than others. Obviously that limits Nazism’s appeal, since most people on the planet are not blond, blue-eyed Aryans. Communism certainly has had its own categories of subhumans (capitalists, aristocrats, kulaks), but because it is class-based and not racially based, people in many different countries could adopt the ideology of Communism. Ironically, leftists frequently complain of Western cultural imperialism, but what Western ideology has spread to the ends of the earth in the 20th century? One created by a secular German Jew who wrote with the slums of Victorian England, not the jungles of Southeast Asia or Latin America in mind.

    For many deluded people, particularly those who had lost their faith in God, the universalism and promise of a more just and fair world filled the hole left by their loss of faith. I can understand the appeal Communism must have had for people in 1910, or even 1935, when little was known in the West about what was actually happening in the USSR (thanks to Walter Duranty and other useful idiots). It is, of course, utterly ridiculous to continue to cling to those beliefs in 2009. In the West, logically Communism should have lost its’ appeal when Stalin and Hitler teamed up and showed that they were both interested in slavery, not freedom.

    And yet people still cling, and they minimize and make excuses for all the blood shed by Communists in the 20th century – because they still need to fill that God-sized hole. And admitting that it was all a terrible mistake, that all those millions died for nothing, that Communism is bound to fail no matter how many times it is tried, is simply unbearable to many people. They can’t bear that that God failed, because it’s the only God they have.

  • “So we decided to do something just a little different. We took about 800 ornaments left over from previous administrations, we sent them to 60 local community groups throughout the country, and asked them to decorate them to pay tribute to a favorite local landmark and then send them back to us for display here at the White House.”

    No indication there that kids had anything to do with these ornaments, though it’s possible some ornaments fell into kids’ hands. My guess is the Mao ornament was created by hands far less innocent. Depending on which “community groups” were tapped, the only wonder is the whole tree wasn’t done up in old Soviet bloc dictators.

    I recall the Clinton White House having some of its Christmas trees come under similar scrutiny. What galls me is not so much that staff for both administrations failed to understand the inappropriateness of some of the submissions (which I’ve come to expect) as that the presumably friendly “artists” had so little respect for the presidency as to submit the garbage.

It's a Wonderful Life-Updated Version

Tuesday, December 22, AD 2009

In the above video we have George Bailey, brilliantly played by Jimmy Stewart, attempting to stem a bank run during the Great Depression.  Just in time for Christmas the indispensable Iowahawk updates this story.  We join Senator George Bailey attempting to explain his support for ObamaCare to his angry constituents:

It’s A Wonderful Bill

(with deep apologies to Frank Capra)

Scene 14: Christmas Eve, inside Bedford Falls Town Hall. Senator George Bailey confronts an angry mob of constituents protesting his vote on the new health care bill.
MAN #1
Come on Bailey, you can’t hide forever! Let us in!

Yeah, what is this mandatory insurance nonsense? Stop cowering behind that podium George! We want answers!

crowd erupts into shouting

Now now now, everybody calm down, see? If you’ll, well, see, just let me explain…

MAN #2
You should’ve explained these death panels before we elected you! Let’s get ’em!

WOMAN #2 (shaking pitchfork)

MAN #3
Hey, pipe down youse mugs, let the man talk. It’ll be 15 minutes before the tar is hot enough to pour. Out with it Bailey!

Well well, thank you for that Pete. Now folks, see, you just gotta understand how Washington works. Remember how you, you sent me there to bring back free things to Bedford Falls, like free heath care and jobs and that new George S. Bailey retractable midnight basketball court for the high school gym?

MAN #4
Hey Bailey, do know how many kids drowned at the prom last year from that stupid thing? 

Well, now now now, Clem, sure a few kids drowned. But look at all the jobs it created down at the Potter Retractable Basketball Floor factory. And that’s my point. Now, see, down in Washington there’s a whole Senate full of regular guys like you and you, and me, and we represent thousands of places just like Bedford Falls. And all of those places want their own jobs and healthcare and retractable basketball courts. And it turns out all of this costs money, so we have to get, well, revenues…

You mean taxes?

Well, yeah, Helen, if that’s how you want to put it. See, we put all those revenues in a, a, a, big pile there in Washington, and then we start making deals and such, to make sure we can all bring some home. Sometimes we run out, and have to make up for it with other fees…

MAN #2
You mean taxes? Why don’t you get it from Old Man Potter?

Yeah! Get it from Potter!

Now, now, I hate old man Potter just as much as the rest of you. Maybe more. He lives in that cold old mansion up there on Beacon Hill, while you’re getting laid off and trying to make ends meet. It just isn’t right, and that’s why I organized the big ACORN march against him last year. But I’m telling you, even if we confiscated every penny he has, we couldn’t pay for your free universal health care. That’s why we have to charge you for some of it, and make sure you don’t use too much. But don’t worry, I sent my top trade representative Uncle Billy over to China to get a payday loan for the rest.

 Go over to Iowahawk here to read the whole hilarious thing.

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One Response to It's a Wonderful Life-Updated Version

2 Responses to Santa Files For Chapter 11

  • Last year National Lampoon posted a pretty funny You Tube video of Santa Claus asking Congress for a federal bailout; you can find it by googling “Santa Claus Bailout Hearings.” Either he didn’t get it, or the bailout wasn’t enough…

  • Here’s the clip (warning: some profanity)

Towards a Proper Appreciation of Liberation Theology, Some Resources from Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, December 22, AD 2009

In a recent post to Vox Nova, Michael Iafrate (aka. “The Catholic Anarchist”) offers a welcome reminder concerning Pope Benedict’s admonishment to the Brazilian bishops of “more or less visible consequences, of rebellion, division, dissent, offense, anarchy are still being felt, creating amidst your diocesan communities great pain and a grave loss of living strength”, stemming from “he non-critical import, made by some theologians, of theses and methodologies originating from Marxism.” To which Michael replies:

No where in this document, nor in either of the Vatican’s other two documents on liberation theology, does the Church condemn liberation theology as a whole. Nor does the Church even condemn all of the ideas of Marxism. John Paul II in fact used Marx very clearly in his encyclical Laborem Exercens. Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Marxian themes can see Marx’s influence on John Paul II. Paul VI affirmed the compatibility of some forms of socialism with Catholicism and used Marxian terminology in his encyclical Populorum Progressio. In fact, by warning against “a-critical” uses of Marxism, the Church implies that critical use of Marxism is in fact acceptable, and this is what most liberation theologians in fact do. Indeed this is what official Catholic social teaching has done since the Second Vatican Council.

Once again, this is not a condemnation of liberation theology. It is merely a warning against certain tendencies. The only way one would know this, though, is to know the history of the disputes and to know the Vatican’s two previous texts on liberation theology neither of which condemn liberation theology in toto.

Finally, it is important to consider not only this message to the Brazilian bishops, but a message to the same bishops delivered by the Venerable John Paul II who insisted that liberation theology is “both useful and necessary.”

Michael is certainly right that the Church has never condemned liberation theology in toto. (Nor has it condemned capitalism or capital punishment or sexual relations in toto, howbeit that is the impression one often receives reading the rantings of the fringe left and/or right, or even many presentations within the mainstream press which abandon, for the sake of a catchy headline or a cheap soundbyte, the carefully-nuanced position of the Catholic Church.

At any rate, as Michael wisely suggests, on the matter of “liberation theology” the remedy here would be a close study of the texts. For our readers’ benefit, a compilation of texts by Pope John Paul II himself.

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18 Responses to Towards a Proper Appreciation of Liberation Theology, Some Resources from Pope John Paul II

  • In regard to the picture of the Pope and Cardenal, here is the story behind the picture:

  • I have been meaning to compile a list of “must reads” for a while now, and at your invitation I will do so sometime over the holidays.

    A good starting point for sure would be Gustavo Gutierrez’ We Drink From Our Own Wells.

  • Michael is certainly right that the Church has never condemned liberation theology in toto.

    The relevant point, however, is that it most certainly (and rightly) has condemned liberation theology as to the ideological ends that michael and his ilk prefer — all of the reinterpreting Christ as a political figure, the constant and small-minded reduction of Christianity so that nothing is left but the hackish promotion of leftist politics, etc.

  • I know such distinctions are difficult for you, S.B., but I’d like to reiterate that Jesus was not merely a political figure but he was indeed a political figure. No time to explain “political figure” at the moment as I’m about to hit the (ice covered) road, but you might assume I mean he was a figure who has political significance. In Jesus’ time, the idea that “spirituality” could be separated from “politics” was unthinkable. And they, unlike us, were correct. This is hardly controversial.

  • Well, that’s just the usual intellectual ju-jitsu in which “political” is used equivocally — Christ is described as “political” in the sense that he sometimes told human beings how to treat each other in a community (polis), but then his teachings are (mis)interpreted as if they gave definite answers to modern “political” issues (meaning governmental and economic policies).

    All of this sort of analysis ignores the crucial fact that Christ never concerned himself with Roman policies at all — with one exception, that being to recommend radical submission to the worst policies! (“If a Roman demands that you carry his stuff one mile, carry it two.”) One could hardly imagine anything more contrary to the spirit of Christ than the sort of “politics” that michael recommends.

  • In a sense the question of whether liberation theology has or has not been condemned is a moot question. Liberation theology is, if not already a spent force, well on its way to becoming so.

  • I like this site. I don’t understand why it sometimes tries to act as a secondary Vox Nova message board.

  • I like this site. I don’t understand why it sometimes tries to act as a secondary Vox Nova message board.

    Well, speaking for myself, on occasion there’s something written on Vox Nova which I want to respond to — but since most of us are banned on that site most of the time, it works better if we issue any critiques on our own turf. 😉

  • It takes a creative mind to ignore this phrase: “certain deceptive principles of Liberation Theology.”

  • By and large Liberation theology is a Christian adaptation and incorporation of Marxism. Insofar as Marx got a few things right, liberation theology gets a few things right. But I think some of the premises from which liberation theology works are flawed. And yes I’m aware that there is not one “liberation theology” – there’s one for every class of people.

    Christ was only a political figure if you mean by “political” that his teaching had social implications. If you mean by political that he was some sort of ruler, or that he described the means by which we ought to order our lives together, then you are wrong.

    The reason there is confusion is because Michael means by political the former, and everyone else means the latter. The latter definition ( that politics is about how we ought to order our lives together) is the common definition, employed by nearly all political philosophers, scientists and also the common man.

    FWIW, Most of my comments at Vox Nova get rejected, too.

    Part of the reason for this website responding to Vox Nova is that disagreement about political means and ends between putatively faithful Catholics, who share common principles, is very interesting.

    I, for one, tend to think that disagreement about means is often rooted in disagreement about principles. The conversation between Vox Nova is an attempt to root out these differences in the way we understand Catholic morality.

  • Saying that Jesus “wasn’t a political figure” seems to be an easy way to justify certain policies without having to worry about their morality.

    I don’t understand this, Zach:

    “Christ was only a political figure if you mean by “political” that his teaching had social implications. If you mean by political that he was some sort of ruler, or that he described the means by which we ought to order our lives together, then you are wrong.”

    Christ is a ruler – he is our spiritual king. That’s why we have the feast of Christ the King; it was specifically instituted to remind men that their allegiance is to an authority higher than man (at the time, Pope Pius XI was targeting Mussolini).

    And he did describe “the means by which we ought to order our lives together” – albeit in a broad sense. Christ and His Church have established the moral parameters for politics. They have outlined what is not acceptable and given us room to experiment with what is.

    In the narrowest sense of politics the Church has no preference – democracy, republic, monarchy, presumably even a dictatorship are all theoretically acceptable (the Church supported Franco and Salazar, after all, against the communists). If this is what you mean by “order” then you are right.

    But “order” implies a lot more, especially when you say “order our lives together” – how we are to distribute resources, what our moral priorities are to be with respect to the law and its enforcement, how we are to engage with other nations, and so much more.

    It isn’t that there is only ONE way to order these things, but it IS to say that there are certain ways in which they must NOT be ordered.

    The Old Testament contains a very specific order for God’s chosen people. The New Testament might free us from the particulars of the old law, but it is rather clear to me based on my admittedly limited studies of Scripture that there is a moral core passed on from the old law to the new, and that much of it is social (compare Ezechiel 18 with Matthew 25).

    It is impossible to speak of what is social without speaking of politics – politics is an expression of social currents, moral ideas, cultural values, it does not stand alone and apart from everything else.

  • In a sense the question of whether liberation theology has or has not been condemned is a moot question. Liberation theology is, if not already a spent force, well on its way to becoming so.

    On what basis do you say this?

  • Joe – Good response to Zach. Zach, your narrow understanding of politics simply does not match up with reality I’m afraid.

  • Joe, you’re probably right. I just meant to say that Jesus didn’t take Caesar’s place. Christ’s Kingdom is, as He said, not of this world.

  • Zach –

    Jesus didn’t take Caesar’s place in the sense of taking over his position, job, seat, etc. Jesus simply wasn’t interested in Caesar’s gig. But the early Christians DID think Jesus took Casear’s place for them in terms of Lordship, authority, allegiance, etc. And they understood it not only “spiritually” but politically.

    What do you think Christ meant when he said his kingdom is “not of this world”? That it is somewhere else? Would that then mean that this world is not part of Christ’s kingdom?

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Monday, December 21, AD 2009

It seems like one thing that nearly anyone on any side of the political spectrum should be able to agree on is that Senator Nelson extracting a provision for the federal government to foot the entire unfunded liability for Medicaid in the state of Nebraska (and for no other state) in perpetuity as the cost of his agreeing to support the current Senate health care bill compromise is reprehensible in the extreme.

One would like to think that such decisions would be made, in a Republic, based on a senator’s understanding of whether a bill was actually good for the country as a whole — not based on bribery. Senator Nelson should be ashamed of himself, and so should the Senate leadership which agreed to provide such a buy-off.

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17 Responses to Bought

  • Senator Nelson has no shame. He will sleep like a baby tonight. As has Fr. Jenkins since last spring.

    Have we finally learned that there is no such thing as a moderate Democrat?

  • While I have respect for almost all of the writers and most of the commenters on this site, DarwinCatholic tends to be the most measured and least hyperbolic.

    That is why this post is a damning indictment of the corrupted manifest in Congress, with a particular regard to the so-called health care reform bill.

  • A few clarifications regarding this “deal” :

    It pays for MedicAID, not MediCARE. It apparently provides 100 percent federal funding for all people CURRENTLY covered by Medicaid in Nebraska (those earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level for their household size) for the next 10 years or so. This includes not only low-income children and families, but also a large number of elderly people in nursing homes who go on Medicaid after they have exhausted their life savings to pay for their care. The 133 percent ceiling is a federal rule that has been in place for a long time so I don’t think this really qualifies as an “expansion” of Medicaid.

    Normally, the feds only provide 50 percent of the funding for Medicaid; the state ponies up the rest. Under the federal stimulus bill some states (Illinois is one of them) are getting up to 62 percent federal match through 2010. I don’t know if Nebraska is one of them; it depends on factors such as high unemployment, etc.

    All that being said, it’s still a blatant sellout and hopefully Nebraskans opposed to this will not forget when Sen. Nelson comes up for reelection.

  • Thanks for the correction, Elaine — my fault for writing a post in the evening based on a news story I’d read in the morning without pulling the newspaper out of the recycle pile in order to get the details right. I’ve corrected the post, so as not to spread mis-information.

  • One would like to think that such decisions would be made, in a Republic, based on a senator’s understanding of whether a bill was actually good for the country as a whole

    That’s not how our system is set up. As a geographically segregated republic, we elect our senators to look out for the interests of our individual states.

    Politics is bribery. Sen. Nelson is hardly the first, the last, nor the most notorious. This stuff goes on every day. Blame the system.

  • I’m shocked, shocked! to hear that there are earmarks in this bill. Oh, wait. “earmarks” was last year’s five minute hate. Didn’t Mary Landrieu get $300,000,000 for Louisiana as her bribe to vote yes?

  • Politics is bribery. Sen. Nelson is hardly the first, the last, nor the most notorious. This stuff goes on every day. Blame the system.

    Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game.

  • I recognize this is a very common way to get support for a bill, but I don’t think its commonality makes it any more excusable. And in that regard, I fully support attempting to shame those who play the game as an attack on the game as a whole.

    Especially when such a major change (to the extent that this debacle even remains a major change at this point) is government policy is being contemplated, I’d like to see it handled on the merits.

  • One of the complaints characters like Eleanor Smeal had against sundry politicians was that they were unwilling to wheel and deal for her pet cause (the ‘Equal Rights Amendment’). I think it was the Governor of Illinois who replied that for the opposition it was a matter of conscience too, and ‘you don’t trade a constitutional amendment for a job or a bridge’. Maybe now you do.

  • It’s kinda like attacking designated hitters as an attack on the DH rule.

  • I figured it was more like attacking someone for holding the record in stealing base the most times…

  • I have to say, while I think RR has a point in general, Senator Nelson’s actions do seem to go above and beyond even what is typical for this sort of political bribery.

  • You might describe it as the difference between a guy who cheats on his wife and a guy who brings his mistress to Thanksgiving dinner.

  • But he only brought his mistress because his wife said he could.

    If anything, the conduct of the other 59 senators should be more objectionable. Nelson did his job. He was just looking out for his constituents. The others are supposed to keep him in check. They didn’t look out for their own constituents.

  • If anything, the conduct of the other 59 senators should be more objectionable. Nelson did his job. He was just looking out for his constituents. The others are supposed to keep him in check. They didn’t look out for their own constituents.

    I agree in part. Thing is, the whole reason Nelson mattered in this was that he had been an advocate for both the unborn and much of Obamacare. If he was convinced that the Senate abortion provision was genuine and effective, he would have no need to be bribed. It is said that every man has his price, but I don’t believe it’s true in the least. Unfortunately, it seems to hold true for anyone with political ambition.

    Worse yet, and I know this isn’t technically fair, now I find myself seriously doubting the efforts made by Stupak and company. How do we know that they’re just not holding out for largess from the public trough? Put less cynically, how do we know that they’re principled stand can’t succumb to the Democratic party’s carrots?

    Also, this highlights why many of us avoid voting for Democrats at any level above dog-catcher. There is such a thing as party politics and they play a big part on what individual members do. It seems there’s a better chance of getting a pro-abort Republican to vote for life than there is getting a pro-life Democrat to. Both have room to vote their convictions as long as their vote is of no consequence to the party. However, when it’s a tight vote and the whips start cracking, the Dems usually turn coat and vote their party’s inhuman line.

  • The difference between a famous golfer’s…um…friends and Senator Nelson is that the golfer’s friends would be insulted to be compared to Senator Nelson.

  • Art Deco — which “governor of Illinois” are you referring to?

    If this had to do with the ERA issue then the governor in question would probably have been James R. Thompson, a Republican, elected four times and in office from 1977 to 1991.

    Thompson was not above wheeling, dealing, and arm twisting to get what he wanted — one of his most famous stunts was literally stopping the clock in the General Assembly chambers at just before midnight on the day they were supposed to adjourn, to insure that a critical vote to fund a new Chicago White Sox stadium (and keep them from moving to Florida) passed “on time”.

    If Thompson really did say that, then it would indicate that even he recognized there were limits to political horse trading, which unfortunately some of his successors have failed to recognize. Or maybe it was somebody else who said that after all.

14 Responses to Charity, Act Not Emotion

  • Did anyone ever say anything about an emotion when talking about love? No. More importantly, my post had nothing to do with being “progressive.” Anyone who has any understanding of the traditional role of government, instead of the free-market liberalsm, will know it is a traditional understanding to see the government enforces justice (which included regulating financial abuses to help society as a whole).

    More importantly, it is rather ironic to try to claim I am one who forgets the incarnation and we are to be incarnational. You entirely ignore the whole point of the post which is to look beyond economic charity — to be truly giving of oneself to another in love (not an emotion; in caritas) — to someone real, in front of you. To point out that real incarnational love is capable no matter what social position or status one is at. One should point out that Bill Gates himself needs charity — in the true sense, not the superficial “I give money to a cause” sense. Love indeed is to be given — and once we move beyond toe false “give money” sense of love (which is truly gnostic), we really can move on to true up-lifting modes of love. Where is the lack of incarnational theology in this? Nowhere. The fact of the matter is it is given to real persons before you — that no matter who they are, there is still room for LOVE for CHARITY– points to this.

  • I do not have any social statistics on the matter, but I think you need to consider certain qualifications with regard to your portrait of family care for the aged:

    1. It is atypical for the aged to live with their children, but it is not unusual at all for retired parents to move to be near one or more of their children. In my limited circle of acquaintances, I have seen the opposite as well multiple times: middle-aged people taking jobs near their elderly parents as a precautionary measure. The difference between residence with and residence near might perhaps be attributable to the general increase in affluence since my grandfather and his brother took charge of their mother and father between 1945 and 1949.

    2. I think if you investigated matters, you might discover that three-generation households of the sort you describe were typically not long in duration. (In the case above, four years).

    3. Sorry to be a repetitive bore, but custodial care supplementing and supplanting family care is not a novelty. The population of state asylums fifty years ago was 9x what it is today. Among their charges was not only people insane from schizophrenia and tertiary syphilis, but also the senile and the retarded as well.

    4. With regard to the homeless: the Urban Institute offered many years ago that there were 600,000 homeless. Given the increase in the general population since then, perhaps the number is now 700,000. Providing basic subsistence for a client population that size (with much volunteer labor) likely would not set you back more than about $10 bn. I think philanthropic donations in this country are typically around 2% of domestic product, or around $280 bn. Organizations like Covenant House can handle the homeless and might be more likely than public bureaucracies to supply the ministry necessary to move some of these folk back into workaday life.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks for the good post. Referring to Mr. Karlson’s Vox Nova post, I think it is a mistaken to think that the “what about charity?” argument seeks to keep people in poverty so that charity can occur. I really think it operates on the other side of the equation – how does charity occur when the resources that would be devoted to it are confiscated (taxed away)? In a perfect socialist world, the government would provide all basic necessities to those in need; however, I never see us reaching that perfection. The poor will always be among us, and will always require some form of charitable assistance. I hope the charitable among us will still have the means of picking up that slack.

  • “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

    Winston Churchill

    The problem with socialism is that sooner rather than later the socialists always run out of other peoples’ money, as the welfare states in Europe are demonstrating and Obama and the Democrats in Congress will soon learn.

  • The problem with so many responses here: nothing I said was about socialism — bringing out that social justice is the role of the state follows Catholic Social Teaching. To point out that the common good is to be met by the state is not socialism. To say this is not to say that everyone has to be at the same level — it is that there is a minimum level everyone has to be at. Once there, you can and should have a diverse society, but again, those who have more are expected to use it more as stewards, knowing that everything is given to their custody by God.

  • Henry,

    You may not have intended your post to be progressive, but I think it certainly displayed a strongly progressive sensibility in two senses:

    1) While it is true that traditional Catholic teaching holds earthly justice to be the responsibility of the state, it is indeed a new and novel understanding of “justice” to take it to mean assuring through statist social welfare programs that “there is a minimum level everyone has to be at”. In traditional Catholic countries, throughout the centuries, the material help of the poor was addressed primarily by Church institutions, not state institutions. Indeed, statist social welfare programs were initially pioneered in Europe by anti-clerical regimes in the 19th and early 20th centuries, having already done much to dismantle the Catholic institutions which had served a similar function. So at a minimum, I think it’s reasonable to take your reading of this as progressive both on the modern political spectrum and also as an interpretation of Catholic teaching.

    2) The idea, which you hint at (at least in apposition to the current state, whether or not you mean it to be seriously achievable), that it is reasonably achievable to reach a society in which all people truly receive an equal minimum standard of living via the beneficence of state programs, is certainly a politically progressive vision and quite arguably a humanisticly progressive vision as well, in the sense that we have never seen such a society in actual existence in history and positing that one is achievable seems to mean positing a change in basic human behavior.


    I certainly did not mean to suggest (nor have I ever heard anyone suggest) that charity has its only form in providing money directly to people or to some sort of fund. Indeed, I would think the examples I provided (parenthood, providing for aging parents, etc.) made it clear that charity is often expressed through and formed by some other more direct and personal act. However, I think it is very important to be clear that charity is nurtured through acts, not merely through some sort of general good disposition. In that sense, arguing that charity will take place regardless of whether the practical need for it is replaced by statist programs seems to deny the important of actual acts in developing, nurturing and expressing charity.

    For instance, to take your example, it is certainly true that Bill Gates is in need of charity, in the sense that he is, like any person, in need of having love expressed to him in relationship — primarily through acts. Obviously, in his case, the acts through which he needs charity to be expressed to him do not include providing food, shelter, money, etc. But that doesn’t mean that charity towards Bill Gates involves the amorphous good will of those disputing on the internet either. Bill Gates needs charity in that he needs those with whom he interacts to treat him in a loving fashion, though acts. The only way in which I can think of that any of us could provide charity to him would be to pray for him — which people are certainly welcome to do, I’m sure he needs the prayers.


    You say your primary point was indeed this, that charity is expressed primarily through loving acts towards real people whom we encounter, rather than simply proving them with money (often indirectly). I’m sorry that I missed this in the piece, as it’s a point I basically agree with. However, even so, I think it’s important not to draw an artificial barrier between charitable acts which provide a material help to people (food, clothing, shelter, money, etc.) and loving acts of some other sort.

    As I pointed out with the example about rearing children: it is often the providing of necessities which teaches us to love in the first place, and it is only as the love grows that we learn to provide love in other ways as well. When we purposefully sever all of the bonds of dependence within society so that we can live the individualist dream with the help of the state — our livings assured regardless of our interactions with other persons, begin to choke out the very personal interactions which teach us love.

  • Art,

    Certainly, as you point out, the fact that aging parents seldom now actually live with their children doesn’t mean that children don’t have any interactions with the aging parents. And for those with the means or opportunity, people often did seek others ways out in times past rather than providing care themselves. (My wife and I actually lived in a three generation situation for a while with my grandmother in her last months, and I can certainly agree it’s often not fun or easy.)

    Though also to shade the details a bit here: the situations I’m talking about with my Indian coworkers don’t necessarily involve frail parents needing care. It just seems to be standard practice that when a father retires, he and his wife start moving in their their children rather than paying rent. This usually ends up with them providing primary care for their grandchildren, while often both child and in-law work.

    Also agreed that some of the items I mentioned can be tackled quite handily (and perhaps better) by private organizations than by the government. I was just trying to think of a couple of highly visible forms that government “charity” programs often take which one wouldn’t necessarily see vanishing. Unemployment benefits and the FDIC were probably much better examples than food banks or homeless shelters.

  • The FDIC is an actuarial pool. It does not qualify as charity (unless you regard insurance companies as charities).

    It seems my point went by you, so I will re-iterate. I offer that elderly parents live in separate digs from their children because they have the disposable income to do so as part of the general improvement in levels of affluence over the years. The elderly often prefer not to live with their children, even when they are welcome to do so. In 1947, a bourgeois like my grandfather got to work with a mix of public transportation and long walks, owned one car which only his wife knew how to drive, suffered the summer months as he had all his life as a born-and-bred Southerner, heated his house in the winter with coal in a furnace he got up in the middle of the night to stoke, and had seen a good many of his teeth leave him behind. He also had his mother and father stashed in his little suburban house nine months of the year. His counterpart today has everything but those wretched wisdom teeth the oral surgeon took out, drives to work, wimps out with air conditioning, has a gas furnace he thinks about only when the bill arrives – and lives about a ten minute drive from his mother’s ducky garden apartment.

    What cannot be readily replaced by purchases is the labor and individual attention one’s children can offer, which is why you see both parent and child moving to be near each other even when such is not, strictly speaking, a necessity. Both are calculating that there may be (or will be) a time when such is necessary. Also, when your mother is in a hospital or nursing home, she needs an advocate. Which is to say she needs you, even though an institution is caring for her in most respects. It’s easier if you live right there.

  • Art,

    Agreed that the FDIC is not a charity — though I certainly wouldn’t consider other safety net programs to be charities either. For instance, the health care bill, which many liberal Catholics have insisted is a necessity for justice in our country, basically just forces people to belong to actuarial pools.

    I don’t think that any of the government programs which fill the place which closer social solidarity might otherwise cover count as charitable in the least. They’re programs which in some sense or another grant us more security to allow us to lead life individually. The FDIC is perhaps a reach, but I think that at least in how people experience its effects, it’s arguable. Since it guarantees deposits, it makes people far more inclined to save in banks rather than in hard assets such as family held valuables. By getting savings into banks, it helps overall circulation, and allows greater lending. If instead we lived in a world in which only those who thought they knew enough to be sure which banks were “sound” actually put their money into banks, while others hoarded cash or valuables, we’d probably have an economy in which people had to rely much more on extended family for large purchases rather than relying on credit. Etc.

    I don’t disagree with your point about living with parents. It’s something a lot of people don’t prefer to do if given the choice, so the simple increase in wealth would probably make it less common even without social security and medicare. That said, given that many people are not actually all that great at planning for the future, I would imagine that without those programs a lot more people would end up falling back on three generation familial arrangements, or a lot more money transfers within extended families.

    Though, of course, if those programs had never existed in the first place we might have a much heavier cultural emphasis on saving which would result in most people being in the same or better shape by retirement either way. Maybe the programs breed improvidence more than isolation.

    I wonder how one could try to examine the question…

  • Henry Karlson, above, seems to have said a lot of true things, while failing in the end to come to the correct conclusions because he neglects that force and charity are antitheses; that love which is forced is not love. Since government does absolutely nothing without exercising force (sometimes directly and strongly, sometimes indirectly and softly), much of what he’d advocate under the banner of incarnational and communal exercise of love turns out, in practice, to look a lot like a crowd of nine wolves and one sheep voting on how best to feed the hungry.

  • R.C. I have not argued that the government is acting in charity, only in justice. Justice IS the domain of government.

    DC actually, the state throughout history was also gave all kinds of help and aid to the poor, and enforced a level of justice which got undermined with the change into a capitalistic system. For example, they had rules such as one could “eat off the land” as long as one only took what one could eat and needed to eat from the land. That wasn’t a Catholic institution giving to the poor, it was the government forcing landowners to give. This is just one example among many. Again, Catholic Institutions, as always, and in any situation, would and should give in charity according to the time and place, so that it gives over and above what was being done by the government. This would always be the case, even in a more just society.

  • The FDIC is not an income transfer program either. It is a receiver of insolvent institutions. Its funds, as a rule, come from assessments on member banks, and it usually expends little from its funds. It typically administers haircuts to the creditors of the bank not subject to its guarantees and marries the bank off to a healthier institution.

    Social Security and unemployment compensation are income transfer programs and Medicare and Medicaid are collective consumption schemes. They are not actuarially sound pension and insurance programs. So they count as ‘welfare’ (though not, strictly speaking, charity). Military and civil service pensions may aspire to be actuarially sound programs predominantly financed by the contributions of their beneficiaries. They are, however, typically subsidized defined-benefit programs. You would not call that ‘welfare’, however. ‘Rent extraction’ would be a better term.

    Programs such as Social Security and Medicare induce people to save less than they otherwise would. I have never attempted to make a bibliography of the literature on this topic. IIRC, Martin Feldstein made his bones as an economist studying just this question.

    You do raise the point that time horizons vary according to social stratum. Edward Banfield built much of his interpretation of contemporary urban life on this observation and Gloria Steinem has also written on the question, but I do not think much discussion of this makes it to general audiences and no politician is likely to acknowledge it. It is the variation in time horizons over the community that (I think) makes a measure public provision of certain services (medical and custodial care) advisable. With regard to just about anything else, the circumstances of the impecunious can be improved by rectifying perverse features of the tax code. (Tax relief is not charity either).

    One thing you make a glancing reference to is the decay in relations between shirt-tail and collateral relatives. I think this is a much more severe change than that between elderly parent and adult child.

  • I was reading Aristotle’s Politics, and came across this passage which seems remarkably relevant (not just to this post, but in response to the ill-educated folks who claim that private property is a creation of the Enlightenment):

    Property should be in a certain sense common, but, as a general rule, private; for, when everyone has a distinct interest, men will not complain of one another, and they will make more progress, because every one will be attending to his own business.
    * * *

    And further, there is the greatest pleasure in doing a kindness or service to friends or guests or companions, which can only be rendered when a man has private property. These advantages are lost by excessive unification of the state.

    The exhibition of two virtues, besides, is visibly annihilated in such a state: . . . liberality in the matter of property. No one, when men have all things in common, will any longer set an example of liberality or do any liberal action; for liberality consists in the use which is made of property.

    Such legislation may have a specious appearance of benevolence; men readily listen to it, and are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody’s friend, especially when some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries of rich men and the like, which are said to arise out of the possession of private property. These evils, however, are due to a very different cause- the wickedness of human nature. Indeed, we see that there is much more quarrelling among those who have all things in common . . . .

60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

Monday, December 21, AD 2009

By a vote of 60-40 early this morning in the Senate, the Democrats, with not a Republican vote, voted to cede power to the Republicans in 2010.  The Democrats thought they were voting to invoke cloture on the ObamaCare bill, but the consequences of the passage of this bill, assuming that it passes the House, will likely be to transform a bad year for the Democrats next year into an epoch shaping defeat.  As Jay Cost brilliantly notes here at RealClearPolitics:

“Make no mistake. This bill is so unpopular because it has all the characteristics that most Americans find so noxious about Washington.

It stinks of politics. Why is there such a rush to pass this bill now? It’s because the President of the United States recognizes that it is hurting his numbers, and he wants it off the agenda. It might not be ready to be passed. In fact, it’s obviously not ready! Yet that doesn’t matter. The President wants this out of the way by his State of the Union Address. This is nakedly self-interested political calculation by the President – nothing more and nothing less.

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26 Responses to 60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

  • Possibly.

    The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done. Continuing the delay would do little more than look like defeat. And since the GOP never had any alternatives, keeping the status quo would, in fact, also be painted as defeat.

    So we move ahead, as it were, and as you say, corporate America is well-positioned to benefit in some way from all this. Surely they weren’t going to stand to be put out of business with government insurance.

    As for the 2010 elections, they are still a long way off. If we had a solid third or fourth party option, I’d join you to say the Dems should be tweaked. But voting for do-nothing, sit-on-their-hands Republicans? Please. They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. The GOP is standing pat with their hand as dealt. Let’s see how that plays out before handing the election to them eleven months ahead of the fact.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge.”

    Todd, the Stupak Amendment only passed because every Republican in the House but one voted for it. The Democrats in the House as well as in the Senate are overwhelmingly pro-abortion as the forthcoming battle over the Stupak Amendment in the House will reveal.

    As for Republican alternatives, they have had several including this one.

    What the Democrats are about to do is massively unpopular with the American people, as has been so much of what they have enacted this year. Rarely has a political party so quickly stepped off into a political abyss as the Democrats have been in the process of doing throughout this year.

  • And since the GOP never had any alternatives,

    I guess if you repeat a false assertion it eventually becomes truth.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. ”

    Uh What about Cao?

    That being said no one is going to pay attention to what GOP Prolifers say. We (as a party) are pretty much poiwerless right now. That is why the action is the Democrat party and it segments

  • Todd,

    Apparently you didn’t follow the House. There was a GOP Alternative that the CBO scored as cheaper and more efficient at reducing the deficit. The GOP Alternative included an actual exchange allowing for the purchase of health care policies across state lines (thus creating greater competition), enacted tough Medical Liability Reform (TORT) that would reduce inefficiencies in the practice of medicine caused by defensive medicine, and it would increase some of the privatization of Medicare seen in the popular Medicare Advantage Program (a program that now only will exist in 3 counties in Florida).

    The fact you declare there was no GOP alternative indicates in fact that you are just taking your talking points from the DNC.

  • The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done.

    Start that truck and drive it into the ditch. You’ll be getting something done!

  • Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles – also blame Bush for tens of thousands of small businesses that go bust because of this requirement and the excess taxes they will impose?

    “The Democrats’ government takeover of health care will increase premiums for families and small businesses, raise taxes during a recession, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, add to our skyrocketing debt, and put bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors. The bill also authorizes government-funded abortions, violating long-standing policies prohibiting federal funding of abortion. That’s not reform. My message to the American people is now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to fight harder. When the American people are engaged, Washington listens. Now is the time to speak out, more loudly and clearly than ever, against this monstrosity.”
    John Boehner (R-OH) 21 Dec 2009

  • In true Jacksonian fashion, the country fired the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 because they bungled the war in Iraq and allowed the economy to sink into recession. They might soon have another Jacksonian moment, and fire these equally useless Democrats for hampering the recovery, exploding the deficit, and playing politics with health care.

    The big difference is that Americans saw the death toll mounting in Iraq and the economy going down the toilet. Americans won’t see the effects of ObamaCare in 2010. In fact, a not-yet-implemented ObamaCare should be an electoral asset. “You get health care! You get health care! Everybody gets health care!” The GOP may see gains in 2010, but it won’t be because of ObamaCare.

  • With only 34% of the people saying that passing ObamaCare is better than doing nothing restrainedradical, I think this bill is an anchor which will take Democrat electoral prospects straight to the bottom next year.

  • “Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles …”

    With insightful analysis like this, I feel confirmed that conservative Catholics have as much of a sense of a pulse on the nation as they do when they feel a coconut. When you can’t distinguish between voting while holding nose or political worship (we sure had a lot of that with Bush II) we might as well turn to tea leaves than attend carefully to your analysis. Not everybody thinks like you guys do, comprende?

    The president invested a lot–and some might rightly say too much–in health insurance reform. One might even say he backed himself into a corner on this. By your account, Mr Obama was a loser any way he tried to put a face on this. Alternate proposals aside, he had no incentive whatsoever to caucus with the GOP on this. None.

    As for congressional elections next year, get serious. The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election. I can’t see the GOP taking back the Senate, especially if the economy recovers in any way, and the Afghan surge remains a non-disaster.

    2012 is another story, but the GOP has yet top surface a viable national candidate.

    Interesting that you picked Jackson as your theme. Wasn’t that when the Whigs ascended to major party status? They had to wait till 2016–I mean 1840, right?

  • “The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election.”

    Wrong on both counts Todd.

    The Democrats are defending quite a few vulnerable seats in the House which McCain carried last year, and many more which Bush carried in 2000 and 2004. Traditionally Republican districts will be swinging back to the GOP next year. Incumbency after the fiasco this year I doubt can be regarded as a positive in competitive districts. The Democrats are also beginning to be plagued by retirements from Congress, a sure sign of a party in trouble in the next election cycle.

    In the Senate I see the Republicans taking Senate seats in Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, New York (Gillabrand’s seat), North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware and either Washington or Wisconsin. I see them holding all their seats and Lieberman caucusing with the GOP in 2011. If Linda Lingle, popular Republican governor of Hawaii, gets into the Senate race she might topple 85 year old Inouye who has served in the Senate since I was 5 years old in 1962. It is hard to imagine Evan Bayh losing in Indiana, but if the political winds are gale force against the Democrats I think there is a small chance he might.

    The Whigs Todd first gained control of Congress in the election of 1834, the year after it was formed. The Whigs were formed as a reaction to the policies of Old Hickory.

  • I don’t know about the Senate, but it would be surprising to see the GOP pick up less than 20 seats in the House. That doesn’t net them a majority, but that’s a worst case scenario. It’s folly to make a firm prediction, but at the current course I think many of the Blue Dogs better start looking for alternative employment. As for the “incumbentia,” that’s funny in light of the recent spate of Democrat retirements. Perhaps they lack Mr. Flowerday’s acute political acumen, but I suspect that might have a better sense of where the country is heading.

    I don’t see a ten-seat pickup for the Senate. There are a couple of very shaky GOP-held seats at the moment, and even considering the possible voter backlash against the Dems, I wouldn’t bet the house on the Republicans holding on to them.

  • I see three Republican seats as offering the Dems possibilities for a switch: the open seats in Missouri and Ohio and Burr in North Carolina. I think 2010 is going to be a strong GOP year in Ohio. Ohio went strongly for the Dems in the last two election cycles and buyer’s remorse has set in. I’ll be shocked if the GOP doesn’t hold the seat. Burr is a weak incumbent, but I think the GOP will have a great election night next year throughout the South. Missouri will be a battle, as open seat elections in that state tend to be. I think the GOP will hold on, but I think that is their shakiest current seat.

  • Don’t know about the comment on politiucal acumen–aside from local politics, I try to stay as apolitical as possible. I wouldn’t say that eleven months with a volatile economy, and who-knows-what on the international front makes for an easy prediction of what is to come.

    The Dems still have eleven months to make a case to stay in power. If some third party in Iowa wants to make a case for my congressional seats, I’m willing to listen. I’m not inclined, like some other progressives, to stay home to make my point next Election Day. I’ll continue to hold my nose and pull the blue lever, but not because I think they’re generating the best ideas.

  • Must correct Mr. McClarey.

    The Republican Party in New York has suffered a secular decline in the calibre of the people they run for about thirty years now. It has left Upstate, conventionally a Republican preserve, represented in Congress almost entirely by Democrats. One exception is a fellow from Buffalo who is a man of genuine accomplishment in private life. (By what accounts have appeared in print, the Republican State Chairman, Stephen Minarik, was partial to him as a candidate because he could ‘self-finance’. The late Mr. Minarik always had his priorities).

    I will offer better than even odds the Republican sachems will arrange for the nomination of some seedy lush who has been making cruddy little deals in Albany for 25 years, because that is who they know and that is their idea of a normal person. Kristin Gillibrand will then eat him for breakfast.

  • I always hesitate to disagree with you Art, but I think that next year it will be anything but politics as usual. As the uprising in New York 23 indicates, there are plenty of Republican voters fed up with precisely the type of machinations you describe.

  • Evidently former Governor Pataki seems poised to make a run at Gillebrand. Yeah, good luck with that. Had Rudy run, he probably would have won that seat, but evidently the Senate was too low a prize for the guy who still seems to have some delusion that he will be president one day. Pataki might be viable, but that would be a race where I would weep few tears if the Republican lost.

    I can see the GOP holding onto the aforementioned seats if it’s a real good year, but it will be tough. They have to hold serve, then win pretty much every toss-up state currently held by the Dems. That’s a tall order, though that’s basically what the Democrats did in 2008.

  • If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.

    Giuliani ought to retire from political life and attend to mending fences with his children. Putatively, he has told intimates that positions in legislative bodies look unattractive after you have sat in the mayor’s chair producing actual ‘output’. The thing is, as Mayor of New York, he has been among the most accomplished political figures of the post-war period. Most of the presidents we have had over the last sixty years are men of lesser significance. He is 65 years old now and should quit while he is ahead.

  • “If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.”

    I am certain the dog would do less harm than either Pataki or the incumbent, and would probably have more charisma.

  • That is one cute canine!

  • Parker Griffith, Democrat Congressman from Alabama, is switching to the GOP. He is the first Blue Dog to do so this Congress; he will not be the last.

    Some Democrats can clearly see the electoral ice berg their party is careening towards.

    Merry Christmas Speaker Pelosi!

  • That’s fairly major news. These retirements/party switches are usually a good indicator of significant electoral upheaval – they certainly were in 1994, 2006, and 2008.

  • I don’t think Arlen Specter’s switch indicates an upheaval.

  • It indicated that Specter knew that Toomey would clobber him in the primary. Now Toomey will clobber him in the general.

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

Sunday, December 20, AD 2009

The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835.  Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.

In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ.  In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution.  In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith.  It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ.  The last century brought to reality these words of Newman:  “Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.

This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon:  “Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world’s life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe.  Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ.  Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime.  Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps merely one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.

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3 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

  • Actually (if I’m not mistaken), the sermons as they exist now were published as #83 in Tracts For The Times in 1838, but they are a development of a series of sermons preached in 1835.

    Are you familiar with the short postscript Newman wrote for their publication? It’s rather interesting.

  • Thank you for the info DB. I have corrected my posts to indicate 1835 as the year of delivery. I was unfamiliar with the postscript. Bishop Horsley’s letter quoted in the postscript is stunningly prophetic.

  • The passage of the letter of Bishop Horsley quoted by Newman:

    ‘The Church of God on earth will be greatly reduced, as we may well imagine, in its apparent numbers, in the times of Antichrist, by the open desertion of the powers of the world. This desertion will begin in a professed indifference to any particular form of Christianity, under the pretence of universal toleration; which toleration will proceed from no true spirit of charity and forbearance, but from a design to undermine Christianity, by multiplying and encouraging sectaries. The pretended toleration will go far beyond a just toleration, even as it regards the different sects of Christians. For governments will pretend an indifference to all, and will give a protection in preference to none. All establishments will be laid aside. From the toleration of the most pestilent heresies, they will proceed to the toleration of Mahometanism, Atheism, and at last to a positive persecution of the truth of Christianity. In these times the Temple of God will be reduced almost to the Holy Place, that is, to the small number of real Christians who worship the Father in spirit and in truth, and regulate their doctrine and their worship, and their whole conduct, strictly by the word of God. The merely nominal {108} Christians will all desert the profession of the truth, when the powers of the world desert it. And this tragical event I take to be typified by the order to St. John to measure the Temple and the Altar, and leave the outer court (national Churches) to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles. The property of the clergy will be pillaged, the public worship insulted and vilified by these deserters of the faith they once professed, who are not called apostates because they never were in earnest in their profession. Their profession was nothing more than a compliance with fashion and public authority. In principle they were always, what they now appear to be, Gentiles. When this general desertion of the faith takes place, then will commence the sackcloth ministry of the witnesses … There will be nothing of splendour in the external appearance of their churches; they will have no support from governments, no honours, no emoluments, no immunities, no authority, but that which no earthly power can take away, which they derived from Him, who commissioned them to be His witnesses.’