1

Archbishop Fulton Sheen on the Silver Screen

A new documentary on the life of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen will be shown in movie theaters as pre-release screenings.  It will also be available in DVD format (TBD).

A brief synopsis of the film is provided by the distributor (with minor editing):

“Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All” is a one-hour documentary that tells the story of Sheen and the tremendous impact he had on individuals, the Catholic community, the American public, and the world. Divided into five main sections, the film uses still images, video footage and interviews with those who knew Sheen to tell the story of this remarkable man, gifted teacher, missionary, priest, and loyal son of the Church.

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22

The $1 Million Chelsea Clinton Wedding

The estimated cost of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding this evening is $1 million* and that is a very low estimate.

Obscene, simply obscene.

Talk about failing in the cardinal virtues of prudence and temperance.

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9

The Varieties of Civil Disobedience

The 1849 essay “Resistance to Civil Government”, better known as “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”, by Henry David Thoreau is one of the most influential writings of the 19th century. Written to expound Thoreau’s ideas on resistance to a U.S. government that at the time permitted slavery and was waging an unpopular war against Mexico, the essay inspired other famous activists, most notably Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, to espouse the notion of changing unjust laws and government policies through active but non-violent resistance.

In this media-driven age civil disobedience seems to have taken on yet another meaning. Today it most often refers to instances in which activists for a particular cause engage in public lawbreaking (usually trespassing or blocking access to public facilities) designed primarily to attract attention and/or provoke authorities into arresting them.

As a result we have actions such as PETA’s public displays of nudity and their attacks upon fur wearers; Greenpeace’s placement of banners in unauthorized locations; anti-war protesters trespassing upon, vandalizing or defacing military installations or missile sites; abortion clinic blockades; gay activists disrupting Catholic Masses; and pro-life activist Randall Terry’s entering the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last fall and tearing up a copy of the 2,000-page healthcare bill, all being characterized as “civil disobedience” in the tradition of Thoreau, Gandhi, and King.

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39

Anne Rice Breaks Up With Christianity

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

And with that announcement, Anne Rice publicly renounced her identity as a Christian on Facebook.

I’m compelled to wonder, however — who is the more preferable and honest of the two?

  • The “Anne Rice”‘s of the world — who recognize their open disagreement with traditional [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, and agree that they can no longer identify themselves as such because the moral positions they hold are fundamentally incompatible?
  • The “Nancy Pelosi”‘s of the world, who publicly repudiate various traditional moral positions of [Catholic / Orthodox] Christianity, yet simultaneously proclaim themselves “practicing Catholics” (up and including the reception of the Eucharist), and yet relegate their disagreements as “differences of opinion”?
19

Victory! Dr. Ken Howell Reinstated at the University of Illinois!

Dr. Kenneth Howell, the adjunct professor at the University of Illinois who was fired for teaching Catholic doctrine regarding homosexuality in a class on Catholicism has been reinstated by the University.  Here is the press release from the Alliance Defense Fund that represented Dr. Howell:

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana confirmed to Alliance Defense Fund attorneys Thursday that it will once again allow popular professor Dr. Kenneth Howell to teach on Catholicism after recently firing him for explaining the Roman Catholic Church’s position on human sexual behavior to members of his class.

ADF attorneys representing Howell sent a letter to university officials on July 12 explaining that the university’s actions violated his rights protected by the First Amendment and asked that he be reinstated.

“A university cannot censor professors’ speech–including classroom speech related to the topic of the class–merely because certain ideas ‘offend’ an anonymous student. We greatly appreciate the university’s move to put Professor Howell back in the classroom, but we will be watching carefully to make sure that his academic freedom is protected throughout the university’s ongoing process,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French.

A letter from the University of Illinois Office of University Counsel admits no wrongdoing on the part of the university but states, “The School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics will be contacting Dr. Howell to offer him the opportunity to teach Religion 127, Introduction to Catholicism, on a visiting instructional appointment at the University of Illinois, for the fall 2010 semester. Dr. Howell will be appointed and paid by the University for this adjunct teaching assignment.”

The letter then adds that a university committee will continue its investigation of Howell’s situation.

Howell, who had been teaching at the university since 2001, was relieved of his teaching duties based in part on an anonymous complaint sent via e-mail to university officials. The e-mail was sent by the friend of an anonymous student who claimed to be “offended” by a May 4 e-mail Howell sent to students elaborating on a class discussion concerning Catholic beliefs about sexual behavior.

The May 4 e-mail from Howell addressed a May 3 lecture in which he explained how the Roman Catholic Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and homosexual conduct. He accurately stated the church’s teaching that homosexual conduct is morally wrong, framing the issue in the context of natural moral law.

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Sneak Peak At There Be Dragons Movie Trailer

UPDATE at the BOTTOM

The famous director of the movies The Mission and The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe, has just released a trailer teaser to his new film he is producing that encapsulates the early life of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

The film is about a news reporter investigating the life of his father where he discovers that his father was a lifelong friend of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

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17

Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  In modern society those who prate the most about tolerance often tend to be the most intolerant.   Case in point, what is happening to Jennifer Keeton, a grad student at Augusta State College, studying to be a school counselor.  She is a Christian and believes that homosexual conduct is wrong.  Her faculty has decreed that she must undergo “sensitivity” (read re-education a la the Red Chinese) training to alter her views on homosexuality.  It was suggested that she go to a local gay pride march among other activities.

The Alliance Defense Fund, the same group representing Dr. Ken Howell, who ran afoul of the thought police at the U of I, is representing Keeton.  Go here to read about the lawsuit they have filed on her behalf.

Shockingly, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a grad student, Julea Ward, at Eastern Michigan University who was faced with precisely the same situation facing Keenan.  Go here to read the details at the blogprof.  Go here to read the Alliance Defense Fund’s, which represented Ms. Ward, overview of the case and their intent to appeal the decision.

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Obama Zombies

Hattip to Southern Appeal.  Hard to believe that the above video is actually pro-Obama rather than  a spoof.  It is produced by Campus Progress, a George Soros funded leftist group.  An odd thing about the video is the riff on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, a song that came out in 1982, long before most college students were born.  This would be rather like a leftist campus group in 1968 using “Big Band” music from 1940 to make a political ad.  Oh well, I guess it is easier to make a fairly useless video for Obama than dealing with the fact that young people searching for jobs that simply are not there are increasingly soured on the South Side Messiah.

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Margaritaville Christianity; God's Way Or Our Way?

As Europe emerged from the Dark Ages, a growing populace happy for good news and grateful for these positive turn of events in their lives openly and without apology made the Catholic faith the center of their lives. They believed in the Word of God, even if they couldn’t read or write. They hung on to every word of those who could read. Even during the workday, if at all possible those working in the fields would briefly slip into town to see the priest raise the Host during the Consecration at Mass. Though their lives were full of toil and often misery (they weren’t allowed the liberty of attending daily Mass) the people of this era used any opportunity they could to make religion a part of their daily life.

Fast forward a thousand years and we can certainly see that daily life has shifted some 180 degrees. Many of the elite often snicker or poke fun at those who are serious about their faith. Even those who are considered serious in their faith pursuit, often hide the true extent of their faith, for fear of being called a holy roller.

The secular talking heads tell us that we should be more like the modern world we are trying to help and change. Religion should be more like the popular culture they tell us. We should try to glean words of wisdom from thinkers like Voltaire, Marx, Freud and Alinsky and entertainers like Madonna, Lady Gaga or even Jimmy Buffet. Yet, have these secular talking heads ever taken their own advice? Have these leftists ever thought, “why was Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher so popular? What could we learned from them? “ (For more on this read my column, If You Like What The Political Left Has Done To Politics, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters) along with my article, The Construct of Rebellion.

Some might say wasn’t Jesus somewhat of a cultural outcast, like modern day pop culture figures? Well Jesus certainly enjoyed some fun; otherwise he wouldn’t have been at the wedding feast performing his first miracle by turning water into wine no less. However, he was hardly the type of person that endorsed the “its Five o Clock somewhere lifestyle.” He forgave the woman caught in adultery, but told her to “sin no more.” Incidentally, she probably had more clothes on than some who show up at church on Sunday. However, that’s another story.

Our educated world makes excuses for the behavior of those pop stars like Lady Gaga who make edgy and sacrilegious videos and show up in public (at the New York Yankees club house) clad only in undergarments. Those illiterate peoples that lived in Europe one thousand years ago were smart enough to know that despite the corruption they knew existed in the Church, they were far better off listening to the Teachings of the Church than the whims of the world in which they lived. They and their forbearers had witnessed violent feudal warlords that had plunged Europe into centuries of horrific darkness; a darkness that we face today if we listen to the sirens of militant secularism who want us to return to the dying days of Rome.

We often forget it was in those dying days of Rome that many of the elites longed for the days of their elders, when Christianity was outlawed and orgies were commonplace at homes of the movers and shakers of Roman high society, and violent spectacles took place at the coliseum. Today their descendants are gaga over the likes of Lady Gaga, and treat abortion as if it were some sort of coming of age ritual. Continue Reading

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A Story in Graphs

Once upon a time there was a country — it had its problems as any nation does, but it did well enough. Its people prided themselves on working hard, and they were comparatively well off: less so than the UK, more so than Spain and Italy.

They’d had the good fortune to have none of their infrastructure destroyed during World War II, and after the war they experienced a boom as an exporter. Things slowed, however, in the late 60s and early 70s. Some said this was because the rest of the world got better at growing their own food and manufacturing their own goods. Others said it was because they allowed too much immigration. Some said it was because the welfare programs they created in the 60s ate away at the motivation to work hard.  Others said it was because unions became weak. Whatever the reason, their average income in inflation adjusted terms grew much more slowly than it had, and there was a good deal of discontentment and disagreement as to what to do about it all and who was at fault. Here’s a graph of their average family income in inflation-adjusted US Dollars.

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3

Take it out of Petty Cash

 

Thurston Howell III John Kerry agreed yesterday to pay 500k in sales tax  on  his yacht Isabel, which, as I detailed here, he had previously moored in Rhode Island in a transparent attempt to avoid these taxes.  Of course, I and the flying pig below are both convinced that Kerry would have paid the taxes even without the resulting furor when his tax avoidance scheme surfaced.

9

The Bell Revolt

Bell, California is the latest flashpoint in a growing taxpayer revolt.  A blue collar, mostly Hispanic town of 38,000, 10 miles southeast of Los Angeles, local residents were in a state of shock, which rapidly turned to blazing anger, after they learned that the Chief Administrative Officer of Bell, Robert Rizzo, “earned” a salary of $787, 637 per annum with annual 12 percent raises, the police chief Randy Adams “earned” $457,000 a year, while the Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia had to make do with a paltry $376, 288 each year.  The part time members of the city council each “earned” almost 100k a year. Continue Reading

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The Vast JournoList Conspiracy

UPDATED BELOW

The vast JournoList conspiracy can be called over-heated rhetoric.

But then again, facts get in the way.

The liberal staff writer for the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz, agrees with me on the left-leaning JournoList:

To conservatives, it is a pulling back of the curtain to expose the media’s mendacity.

To liberals, it is a selective sliming based on e-mails that were supposed to remain private.

But there is no getting around the fact that some of these messages, culled from the members-only discussion group Journolist, are embarrassing. They show liberal commentators appearing to cooperate in an effort to hammer out the shrewdest talking points against the Republicans — including, in one case, a suggestion for accusing random conservatives of being racist.

Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller site, which has been dribbling out the e-mails, drew fresh reaction Thursday with a piece about Journolist members savaging Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor responded with a slam at the media’s “sick puppies,” saying she was confronted during the 2008 campaign by “hordes of Obama’s opposition researchers-slash-‘reporters.’ ” But the people making the most stridently partisan comments in the invitation-only group weren’t reporters at all — they were out-of-the-closet liberals acting like, well, liberals.

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Hobbesian Gun Control

I was struck by a passage out of this recent National Review piece by Keven D. Williamson in reference to gun control:

People have a visceral reaction to guns, which is why the reactions to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago have been so emotional. One extraordinarily telling reaction came from David Ignatius of the Washington Post, whose response was headlined: “The Supreme Court Gun Decision Moves Us Toward Anarchy.” Mr. Ignatius wrote: “My biggest worry with Monday’s Supreme Court decision is that by ruling, in effect, that every American can apply for a gun license, the justices will make gun ownership much more pervasive in a society that already has too many guns. After all, if I know that my neighbor is armed and preparing for Armageddon situations where law and order break down (as so many are — just read the right-wing blogs) then I have to think about protecting my family, too. That’s the state-of-nature, everyone for himself logic that prevails in places such as Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Mr. Ignatius here is remarkably forthcoming: Continue Reading

Motivation and Performance

Hattip to the Acton Institute PowerblogDan Pink, the man behind the video, worked in the White House 1995-1997 as a speechwriter for Al Gore.  I doubt if he and I would agree on much of anything politically, but he is on target in this video.  Money as a motivator is useful only up to a point.  Granting employees as much autonomy as possible, and making them passionate about improving what they are doing at work, is obviously the goal of any wise employer.  How to accomplish this  is a good deal more difficult than Mr. Pink’s well done video indicates.  However, it is a good goal, and I know that with my employees I have always tried to grant them a great deal of autonomy, usually with good results, although some have indicated to me that they really preferred simply being told what to do and how to do it.

Of course there are other schools of thought regarding employee motivation: Continue Reading

Caritas in Veritate 25, By the Numbers

My co-blogger Tim recently highlighted the following statement from Pope Benedict’s latest social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

The global market has stimulated first and foremost, on the part of rich countries, a search for areas in which to outsource production at low cost with a view to reducing the prices of many goods, increasing purchasing power and thus accelerating the rate of development in terms of greater availability of consumer goods for the domestic market. Consequently, the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State. Systems of social security can lose the capacity to carry out their task, both in emerging countries and in those that were among the earliest to develop, as well as in poor countries. Here budgetary policies, with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks; such powerlessness is increased by the lack of effective protection on the part of workers’ associations.

Now in this passage, the Pope makes a number of factual and causal claims. First, he claims that the global market has led countries to “attempt to attract foreign businesses” by adopting “favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market.” Second, the Pope claims that these reforms (i.e. adopting “favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market”) have led to “a downsizing of social security systems” and “cuts in social spending.”

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Real Sex vs. the Contraceptive Mentality (Part 4 & Conclusion)

[Continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3]

NFP and the Contraceptive Mentality

In concluding this series, I’d like to address the question which originally set me on on this overly extended journey: Is it possible for users of Natural Family Planning to have a “contraceptive mentality” and if so what does that mean in the context of NFP?

I’ve described the contraceptive mentality as: The idea that having sex and reproducing are two activities with no necessary connection, that having sex in no way suggests a desire or willingness to have children with the person you are having sex with.

At root, I think that NFP is formulated in such a way as to be in direct opposition to the contraceptive mentality. According to an understanding of sexuality rooted in human instinct and biological reality, the way to avoid conceiving children is to not have sex. This is also the means of avoiding conception which is considered acceptable by the Church in the context of its understanding of the moral nature of sexuality. NFP is considered morally acceptable by the Church for the reason that it consists of avoiding pregnancy by not having sex, with the modern refinement of allowing the married couple to understand with a certain degree of confidence when it is that they need to avoid having sex in order to avoid conception. Rather than abstaining all the time in order to avoid pregnancy, the couple can abstain for between a quarter and half out of the woman’s cycle, and achieve the same result with relative certainty.
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Civil Dialogue Between a Darwin Evolutionist and Natural Law Theorist

On Blogging Heads TV, Robert Wright discusses how we reason about the human good with Robert P. George of Princeton University, a leading scholar of modern natural law theory (with whom readers are no doubt familiar).

Subjects discussed:

  • Chapter 1: Natural law vs. utilitarianism (12:01)
  • Chapter 2: Why exactly is friendship good? (14:03)
  • Chapter 3: Euthanasia and human dignity (7:22)
  • Chapter 4: Natural law and conservativism (5:02)
  • Chapter 5: What can be done in the name of the greater good? (12:28)
  • Chapter 6: Just war theory (6:17)

Robert Wright is the author of The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, and The Evolution of God.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a member of the Task Force on the Virtues of a Free Society of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His books include In Defense of Natural Law and Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis.

I’ve watched a few episodes of ‘BloggingHeads’ — video debates between leading bloggers/authors — but this was the first with Dr. George, who is very adept at getting right to the point and crystallizing the respective positions of each side. Likewise this may serve as a good introduction to viewers who aren’t generally accustomed to analyzing moral situations from a (Catholic) natural law perspective.

9

Dr. Kenneth Howell-Update

Back on July 9, here, I wrote about Dr. Kenneth Howell who was fired by the University of Illinois for setting forth Catholic doctrine on homosexuality in a class that he was teaching on Catholicism pursuant to a contract between the University of Illinois and the local Newman Center on campus.  On July 14, I reported here that the firing was under review by a faculty committee of the University of Illinois.  The committee hasn’t completed its review, but there have been a few developments that I thought our readers might find interesting.

1.  An interesting story here by the News-Gazette, the local Champaign-Urbana paper, detailing how Dr. Howell went from a Presbyterian Minister to a lay Catholic.

2.  The Alliance Defense Fund which is representing Dr. Howell, sent a letter to the University of Illinois on July 12, demanding his reinstatement.  Read the letter here.  The Alliance Defense Fund highlights the absurdity of this situation rather well with this statement:  “A university cannot censor professors’ speech–including classroom speech related to the topic of the class–merely because certain ideas ‘offend’ an anonymous student,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French. “To fire a professor for teaching the actual subject matter of his course is outrageous. It’s ridiculous that a school would fire a professor without even giving him a chance to defend himself when he simply taught Catholic beliefs in a class about Catholic beliefs.”

3.  One thing I have learned while examining this controversy is just what a nice guy Dr. Howell is, and how open to argument and debate he is.  These characteristics are both noted by atheist John Loftus at his website here.  Dr. Howell is a model of what a university Professor should be:  knowledgeable as to his subject and willing to discuss and debate with anyone in an atmosphere of mutual respect and open inquiry.  That a man of his calibre has been subject to this type of politically correct firing is a total travesty. Continue Reading

5

Awkward.

A lookalike of the Protestant Reformation leader John Knox will welcome Pope Benedict to Scotland. Mike Merrit reports for the Daily Record (UK) July 25, 2010:

The actor has been hired by the Catholic Church to play the leader of Scotland’s Protestant Reformation in a pageant of the country’s historical figures. …

Knox’s surprise inclusion by Catholic Church leaders follows accusations that this year’s 450th anniversary of the Reformation is being ignored by the Scottish Government.

The Reformation of 1560 revoked the Pope’s authority in Scotland and banned Catholic Mass. …

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “It is a sign of a healthy nation that diversity within the Christian community is something to be celebrated as opposed to a source of division and struggle.

“It is a gift to those of us of a Protestant persuasion that by including this figure, the Catholic Church is contributing to the celebrations of the Reformation.”

(Regular roundups of news relating to Pope Benedict’s September visit to the UK may be found here).

25

Inception's Leap of Faith: Christianity v. Neo-Conservatives

My wife and I went to see Inception this weekend and I’ve been mulling over it the past two days. I’ve been looking through the internet to find a good analysis and, not finding one fully to my satisfaction, look Tolkien & Lewis’s advice and just wrote my own. If you haven’t seen the movie, I don’t know why you’re reading this but rest assured you will be lost. For those who did see it, I’ll see you after the break.

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On Not Having Sex At Harvard

From the New York Times:

There was a time when not having sex consumed a very small part of Janie Fredell’s life, but that, of course, was back in Colorado Springs. It seemed to Fredell that almost no one had sex in Colorado Springs. Her hometown was extremely conservative, and as a good Catholic girl, she was annoyed by all the fundamentalist Christians who would get in her face and demand, as she put it to me recently, “You have to think all of these things that we think.” They seemed not to know that she thought many of those things already. At her public high school, everyone, “literally everyone,” wore chastity rings, Fredell recalled, but she thought the practice ridiculous. Why was it necessary, she wondered, to signify you’re not doing something that nobody is doing?

And then Fredell arrived at Harvard.

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5

Three Cheers for a Partisan Media

Americans often complain about how dirty and mudslinging politics have become.  This complaint demonstrates the lack of knowledge of their own history that many Americans today display.  As the imaginary attack ad by Adams at the beginning of this post illustrates, politics tended to be much less restrained in political attacks in the early days of our Republic.  During the campaign of 1800, Jefferson and Adams, two of the primary Founding Fathers, were called every name imaginable.   Jefferson was called, among many other things, an atheist, a weakling, a coward, a libertine, mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, and the son of a half-breed Indian squaw sired by a Virginia mulatto.    A few of the insults hurled at  Adams included  fool, hypocrite, criminal, tyrant, and that he was possessed of a hermaphroditical character which had neither the force or firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of  a woman.  The passions that were roused in that campaign are shown by gentle Martha Washington, the widow of George, telling a clergyman that Jefferson was one of the most detestable of mankind.  The press were at the forefront of this battle, with the papers of the day wearing their political affiliations emblazoned in their headlines.

And so it remained in America until after World War ii.  Up until that time, most  papers adhered to a set of political beliefs determined by the owners of the papers, and they were very upfront about it.  It was only in the postwar era, with the attempt to instill professionalism into the always somewhat disreputable ink-stained wretches, that the concept of objective journalism came to be prized as a goal and embraced by most organs of the media.  Papers that wore their ideological hearts on their sleeves, the prime example being the New Hampshire Union Leader, were viewed as survivors of an earlier stage of journalism that the press had outgrown.

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From Harvard To Her Religious Calling

Mary Anne Marks graduated from Harvard University at the top of her class.  You may have heard of her, she is the one that gave the salutatory address all in Latin.

She received a standing ovation.

In addition to graduating with a Classics and English double major with honors, she will be entering the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

You may remember these nuns from their appearance on the Oprah Show earlier this year in February and how they dazzled the audience as well as Oprah Winfrey herself with their simple devotion and love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The following video is Mary Anne Marks being interviewed by Net New York‘s Outstanding Anchor Francesca Maximé on the Currents program.

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And The Money Kept Rolling In

Something for the weekend.  And the Money Kept Rolling In from the musical Evita.  I have always loved Evita, a rousing extravaganza that warns of the dangers of electing charismatic clueless demagogues who then bankrupt a nation with hare-brained policies.  The 1996 film version managed the major miracle of being the only film featuring Madonna Louise Ciccone that I can watch without brain cells dying en masse. Continue Reading

4

The Secrets of Irish Music

Regular commenter cminor, at her blog The Minor Premise, reveals to us how Irish ballads come to be:

The Evolution of an Irish Ballad

Being the surmises of a musical amateur who has lately spent entirely too much time online trying to track down folk music lyrics.

Gen. 1. The Irish take on the British in a battle somewhere on Irish soil. Being seriously outnumbered, they are defeated utterly with great loss of life. Anonymous Irish balladeers compose lyrics honoring the courage of the dead, with individual verses devoted to units from each county involved and to fallen leaders. The result is about 40 verses long, though only six or seven are actually remembered by anyone after the debut.
[Alt. Gen. 1. A minor Irish nobleman takes to the hills after a dustup with British occupiers. Anonymous balladeers compose a mercifully brief ditty depicting the outlaw as a romantic hero and emphasizing his revolutionary cred and sheer heartthrobbiness.]

Gen. 2. The simplified lyric becomes a popular drinking song. Continue Reading

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All That Is Necessary For The Triumph Of The Same Sex Agenda Is That Good Men Do Nothing

All that is necessary for the triumph of the same sex agenda is that good men do nothing.  The fear of reprisal, both materially and physically, can cause good men to do nothing.

Having not experienced this form of intimidation, I am still disturbed by the tactics that are utilized by the more militant arm of the same sex marriage agenda.  This exposure to such violence is almost non-existent for me.

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6

Only Little Yacht Owners Pay Taxes

 

Thurston Howell III  John Kerry (D. Taxachusetts), is drawing flak for mooring his 76 foot sloop Isabel in Rhode Island rather than in Massachusetts.  By keeping his ship in Rhode Island, Kerry is avoiding paying taxes to his home state of an estimated $437, 500 in sales tax and $70,000 a year in excise tax.  Go to the Boston Herald here to read all about it. Continue Reading

4

Half Girl-Half Wolf Blitzer!

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.   In my law practice I am sometimes called upon by judges to act as Guardian ad Litem in juvenile and dissolution cases when the question of custody of minor children comes up.  In that capacity I represent the kids in court and give my recommendation to the judge as to who should have custody.  I have often been involved in cases where I thought the kids would be better off being raised by wolves than either parent.  However, being raised by a journalist?  We must draw the line somewhere!

Christ Rises in the East

A stunningly good story here at NPR on the growth of Christianity in China.  I stand in awe of these Chinese Christians who risk everything for their faith.  Official persecution seems to only spur their growth.  They are worthy children of Matteo Ricci, and countless other missionaries down through the centuries, and generations of Chinese Christians, who, in the face of the most savage persecution under Mao that any Christians have ever faced, have persevered and are now on the verge of triumph. Continue Reading

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You Write Like (Fill in the blank)

 

Hattip to Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings.  Go here to have your writing style analyzed.  To my chagrin I was advised that I write like the late David Foster Wallace.  Oh well, I’ve never given up my day job!

My second go round I was told that I write like Margaret Mitchell.  Now admittedly that was from one of my Civil War posts, but even so!

Third time around I was told that I write like Cory Doctorow.  I think I will quit while I am behind.

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Jesuitical 11: Jesuits and Drag Shows

Hattip to Creative Minority Report.  Strong content advisory as to the video at the top of this post.

 Part 11 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.  Santa Clara University, a Jesuit University in Santa Clara California, describes its mission:   “As a Jesuit, Catholic university, we are committed to faith-inspired values and educating leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion who will help fashion a more just, humane, and sustainable world.”   

Santa Clara, I assume as part of that mission, has long hosted annual drag shows on campus hosted by a recognized student group sophomorically calling itself GASP (Gay and Straight People for the Education of Diversity).  Here  the group is listed under the Women’s and Gender Studies Program of the Santa Clara website.   The video at the start of the post was taken at the 2010 drag show.

These events are not obscure affairs, but are celebrated on campus.  Here is a story about the 2007 drag show which appeared in The Santa Clara, the official student newspaper:

May GASPED and GALA have your attention, ladies and gentlemen — or ladies dressed as gentlemen — or gentlemen dressed as ladies? The 6th annual Santa Clara Drag Show will be breaking down gender stereotypes left and right, say participants and organizers, tomorrow, May 4, at 8 p.m. in the California Mission Room.

Downstairs Benson Center will be transformed into an eccentric staging area full of students dressed in drag. Along with the usual lip-syncs and dances, there will be some new elements that organizers hope might make you think.

Representatives from Gay & Straight People for the Education of Diversity and Gay and Lesbian Alliance, as well as from Santa Clara Community Action Program, say they have worked hard to ensure that this year’s show incorporates more elements of education about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual/two-spirited and queer/questioning communities. This year, skits and interviews about the history of transgender prejudice that will be incorporated into the show.

Though James Servino, program coordinator of GASPED, said Santa Clara has a history of support for the LGBTQ community, the support is not absolute. “Santa Clara students are aloof to this community unless they actually know and associate with a gay or lesbian person,” he said. Continue Reading

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The Klan and Progressivism

(Guest post by Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  This post orignally appeared here at Cranky Conservative.)

Michael Zak does what all too many on the left fail to do:  crack open some history books and take a real look at the history of the Ku Klux Klan.  Zak correctly notes that when the Klan was at its zenith during the 1920s, it was a terrorist wing of the Democratic party, and that since its inception, Republicans were at the forefront in trying to take it down.

It would have been far more truthful for the congresswoman to have admitted the fact that all those who wore sheets a long time ago lifted them to wear Democratic Party clothing.  Yes, the Ku Klux Klan was established by the Democratic Party.  Yes, the Ku Klux Klan murdered thousands of Republicans — African-American and white – in the years following the Civil War.  Yes, the Republican Party and a Republican President, Ulysses Grant, destroyed the KKK with their Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.

How did the Ku Klux Klan re-emerge in the 20th century?  For that, the Democratic Party is to blame.

It was a racist Democrat President, Woodrow Wilson, who premiered Birth of a Nation in the White House.  That racist movie was based on a racist book written by one of Wilson’s racist friends from college.  In 1915, the movie spawned the modern-day Klan, with its burning crosses and white sheets.

Inspired by the movie, some Georgia Democrats revived the Klan.  Soon, the Ku Klux Klan again became a powerful force within the Democratic Party.  The KKK so dominated the 1924 Democratic Convention that Republicans, speaking truth to power, called it the Klanbake.  In the 1930s, a Democrat President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appointed a Klansman, Senator Hugo Black (D-AL), to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the 1950s, the Klansmen against whom the civil rights movement struggled were Democrats.  The notorious police commissioner Bull Connor, who attacked African-Americans with dogs and clubs and fire hoses, was both a Klansman and the Democratic Party’s National Committeeman for Alabama.  Starting in the 1980s, the Democratic Party elevated a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), to third-in-line for the presidency.

I have one quibble with all this.  It focuses too much on the partisan aspect of the KKK and not enough on its ideological drive.  After all, modern day Democrats could just claim that the Klan represented the conservative wing of the Democratic party.  This would be an error.

While most members of the Klan held what would be termed conservative views on social issues, they were hardly purveyors of Burkean conservative values.  In fact the Klan typified the Progressive/Populist movement to a tee: “conservative” socially but decidedly left-wing economically and politically.  They supported government intrusion into the economy and were backers of the New Deal.  Jesse Walker explains some of the areas of overlap between the Progressive movement and the Klan: Continue Reading

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Prayer at an Abortion Mill

Rockford, IL July 16, 2010 – Before the Northern Illinois Women’s Center opened on Friday morning to end the lives of children in the womb, four Catholic Priests firmly stationed themselves at all four corners around the abortion mill and began praying the powerful prayers of the Church found in Fr. Thomas Euteneuer’s book Exorcism and the Church Militant.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12

Almost immediately upon the Priests’ beginning their prayers in unison, the landlord of the abortion business came out of the building like a shot.

He wandered back and forth around the parking lot. Then he roamed the sidewalks, calling the Priests and pro-lifers names.

It certainly seemed that while the Priests were surrounding the abortion mill with prayer, the landlord, who is well-known for his dislike of the Christian religion and Catholic Priests, could not stand to be inside the building….[Read the rest!]

Prayer for the Closing of an Abortion Mill
Priests for Life

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Are The Rules Changing?

 

Jonah Goldberg has put into words what I have been thinking and feeling since the financial meltdown of 2008.  We have turned a page and entered a new era in American history.  He wonders if, as a result, the political rules have changed.

But what about when the rules change? For nearly a century now, the rules have said that tough economic times make big government more popular. For more than 40 years it has been a rule that environmental disasters — and scares over alleged ones — help environmentalists push tighter regulations. According to the rules, Americans never want to let go of an entitlement once they have it. According to the rules, populism is a force for getting the government to do more, not less. According to the rules, Americans don’t care about the deficit during a recession.

And yet none of these rules seem to be applying; at least not too strongly. Big government seems more unpopular today than ever. The Gulf oil spill should be a Gaiasend for environmentalists, and yet three quarters of the American people oppose Obama’s drilling ban. Sixty percent of likely voters want their newly minted right to health care repealed. Unlike Europe, where protestors take to the streets to save their cushy perks and protect a large welfare state, the Tea Party protestors have been taking to the streets to trim back government.

Go here to read the rest at Townhall.  When Obama won election there was much talk among his giddy acolytes in the media that he was the second FDR and that Obama would usher in a Second New Deal.  The cover of Time magazine that graces the top of this post is a prime example of the millennial fever that gripped the Left in this country at the beginning of the Obama administration.  Now it has all turned to dust and ashes for a large section of the Left.  In exchange for years of effort on their part they have an administration that has roused an angry electorate against it.  This bemuses the Left since many of them view the Obama administration as a failure because it has been too moderate (Yeah, I do find that hilarious), as noted by Eric Alterman in The Nation: Continue Reading

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Lincoln and Under God

As readers of this blog know, History is quite important to me.  Nothing makes my blood boil quicker than the misuse of the historical record in order to fight current political and cultural battles.  The latest issue of the magazine First Things has an article by Robert George entitled God and Gettysburg which explores such a misuse.

George relates how a pamphlet has been issued by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, a liberal group, which contains the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.  Perusing the pamphlet, George noticed that the phrase “under God” was omitted from the Gettysburg Address.

When, from 2000 to 2004, the atheist Michael Newdow was challenging in court the inclusion of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, he and his supporters pointed out that the words were not in the original pledge created in the 1920s. They were added by Congress in the 1950s in the midst of the Cold War, in response to a campaign led by the Catholic men’s organization the Knights of Columbus. The words were introduced into the pledge to highlight the profound difference between the United States, whose political system is founded on the theistic proposition that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” and the atheistic premises of Soviet Marxism.

Newdow has cycled back into the news in recent months with a new case that was appealed to the Supreme Court in March 2010, but what he and his supporters have avoided mentioning is that the pledge’s words under God were not pulled from a sermon by Billy Graham or a papal encyclical. They were taken from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The pledge, as amended, simply quotes one of our nation’s founding texts.

This fact is more than a little inconvenient for those who hold that government must be neutral not only among competing traditions of religious faith, but between religion and atheism—or, as it is sometimes put, “between religion and irreligion.” The constitutional basis for their claim is the Religion Clause of the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Their evidence for the claim that these words were intended to forbid such things as descriptions of America as a nation “under God” in official government documents is that the founders (allegedly) sought this “strict separation” of church and state.

But this puts the American Constitution Society in a sticky position. In assembling their pamphlet, they were eager to include Lincoln as a founder—the author of one of America’s founding documents, the Gettysburg Address. But the Great Emancipator’s characterization of the United States as a nation under God appears to undermine the strict separationism that the American Constitution Society wishes to promote. What to do?

The answer they hit on was simply to make Lincoln’s inconvenient words disappear. Now you are thinking: How did they imagine they could get away with it? The Gettysburg Address is the opposite of an obscure document. Millions of Americans can recite it by heart. Continue Reading

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Stonewall Jackson’s Way

Something for the weekend.  Stonewall Jackson’s Way, sung by the endlessly talented Bobby Horton who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences.

Of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, nicknamed Stonewall by General Barnard Bee at the battle of Bull Run, it was said he lived by the New Testament and fought by the Old.  Certainly throughout his life he was a convinced Christian.  As a young man he would attend services of various Christian denominations.  In Mexico, during his service in the Mexican War, he attended mass, although sadly he did not convert to Catholicism.  Instead he eventually became a Presbyterian.  His Bible was his constant companion, and he would often speak of God and theological matters in private conversation.

Jackson in his professional life was a soldier.  Just before the Civil War he was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy (science) and artillery instruction at the Virginia Military Institute.  As a teacher he made a good soldier.  His lectures were rather dry.  If his students seemed to fail to grasp a lecture, he would repeat it the next day, word for word.

His home life was a mixture of sorrow and joy.  His first wife died in childbirth along with their still-born son, a tragedy that would have crushed many a man less iron-willed than  Jackson.  His second marriage, like his first, was happy, but heartache also haunted it.  A daughter died shortly after birth in 1858.  A second daughter was born in 1862, shortly before Jackson’s own death in 1863.

He and his second wife established and taught a Sunday school for black slaves.  At the time it was against the law in Virginia to teach slaves to read, but apparently that is precisely what Jackson and his wife did.   One of the last letters he ever posted was his regular contribution he mailed off throughout the war for the financial support of the Sunday school for slaves he and his wife had founded. Continue Reading

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Brother Can You Spare a Sign?

From the “you can’t make this stuff up” files, comes a story of those great champions of the American working man, unions. It can be tough to ask union workers to take time out of their busy days to picket businesses who hire non-union workers, but not to be deterred some unions have followed their arch nemeses in the business world into the realm of outsourcing: hiring non-union low-wage workers to do the protesting union members won’t do.

Billy Raye, a 51-year-old unemployed bike courier, is looking for work.

Fortunately for him, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is seeking paid demonstrators to march and chant in its current picket line outside the McPherson Building, an office complex here where the council says work is being done with nonunion labor.

“For a lot of our members, it’s really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else,” explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing.

So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he’s grateful for the work, even though he’s not sure why he’s doing it. “I could care less,” he says. “I am being paid to march around and sound off.”

As it turns out, unions are just the most ironic example of a wider trend — long term joblessness allows well-funded political action groups to stage visible protests by hiring picketers where the enthusiasm of their supporters doesn’t extend to spending time holding signs. Continue Reading

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Is The USCCB Responsible for ObamaCare?

The American Life League (ALL) is making a strong case of placing most of the blame for passage of ObamaCare squarely on the shoulders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

What the ALL is alleging is that the USCCB was very desperate to push for universal health coverage that they compromised on some key principles.  One of which was that of abortion where instead of fighting against abortion they decided to stick their heads in the ground and use “abortion neutral” language.

Continue Reading

Progressives Are Not Cynical Enough About Business

One thing my study of economics has taught me is that businesses will tend to act in whatever way they think will bring them the most profit. There may be rare exceptions, and of course businessmen often have mixed motives. But the overall tendency in this direction is very strong.

My guess is that if you surveyed people, many more self-described progressives would say that they agreed with the statement than self-described conservatives. Indeed, progressives often criticize conservatives and libertarians for being insufficiently attuned to the rapacious self-interest motivating businessmen.

Yet oddly enough, it seems to me that one of the main problems with progressive thought is that they don’t take the idea that businesses act to maximize profit seriously enough. For a group that claims to have a low opinion of businessmen, progressives have a strange habit of advocating policies that will only work on the supposition that businesses won’t act to maximize profit, and then react with shock when they proceed to do so.

Continue Reading