Monthly Archives: September 2010
I would like to join Michael Denton in his critique of Catholic Vote’s endorsements (here and here). For the record, I am still technically a guest blogger for Catholic Vote, although I rarely find the time to blog there these days (the life of a Theology grad student isn’t always conducive to the 24-hour news cycle). I also would like to state that I very much support the work of Catholic Vote and I have the utmost respect for Thomas Peters and Josh Mercer (CV’s Communications Director). I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Burch, but I am sure we would get along quite well.
First, I agree with Mr. Denton’s critique of Catholic Vote’s endorsement criteria, but I also think their very practice of making endorsements hurts their overall credibility. By engaging in elections they sully the wonderfully non-partisan creditability they gained via their Life: Imagine the Potential Campaign. What attracted me to their mission initially is their advancement of Catholic beliefs in the public square in a way that was educational rather than political. Perhaps, my fears will be proven wrong (I hope they are). Kudos to CV though for endorsing a Democrat, at a time when endorsing Democrats is almost an anathema in the social conservative world this is downright courageous.
Secondly, as a theologian-in-training, I feel I need to speak out against two common misunderstandings of Catholic Social Teaching, which Catholic Vote and countless others seem to be making. Before I go into this, I would like to say that I am trying to “think with the Church” on this. I ask that anyone responding to this post, likewise, try to think with the Church and not impose your political biases onto our attempt to better understand the teachings of the Church.
One of the big stories of the year is the growth in prominence of the tea party movement. Whether or not you are in accord with them politically, they have had an undeniable impact on the political landscape, bringing a new energy to the political scene. Though tea party- backed candidates have not been 100 percent successful, they have defeated a fairly substantial number of GOP incumbents and other Republican establishment candidates. Even relatively conservative Republican incumbents like Senator Bob Bennett of Utah have been sent to an early retirement thanks largely to a grassroots revolt against his like.
One of the most recent successes of the tea party rebellion occurred in Alaska where Joe Miller defeated Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. Murkowski was appointed to the Senate to replace her father. The governor who appointed her also happened to be her father, and it seems that she was led to believe that she is entitled to said seat. So in the face of electoral defeat in the primary, Senator Murkowski – or Daddy’s Little Princess as she’s being dubbed in some circles – has launched a write-in campaign. Evidently many voters in the state of Alaska crave royalty as she is actually running neck and neck with Miller in the general election campaign.
Murkowski is not the only moderate Republican who has demonstrated his or her contempt for the unwashed masses who dared to remove them from office. Governor Charlie Crist, faced with a humiliating primary defeat in Florida against Marco Rubio, decided to jump ship and run as an Independent. Alas Charlie now faces a humiliating thumping in the general election instead. Mike Castle, who lost to Christine O’Donnell in the Republican primary for a Delaware Senate seat, toyed with a write-in campaign. He decided against it, but has ostentatiously declined to endorse O’Donnell. Other defeated incumbents, like Bennett above as well as Representative Bob Inglis have thrown temper tantrums because the voters dared remove them from office.
Alas it is not just so-called RINOs who have rejected the will of the primary voter. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Thanks Michael for your post, though I am compelled to respond and disagree with much of what you and others have written. I do believe that the questions you raise are highly relevant to the conversation occurring within the Church today about the proper role of the laity in public life, and especially American politics. I should also note for those that don’t know, Michael has been, and continues to be, a guest blogger on CatholicVote.org and we continue to welcome his contributions (and disagreements) on our site should he choose to cross post there.
CatholicVote.org was founded specifically to champion the cause of faithful citizenship from a distinctly lay perspective. As such, we seek to serve the Church by assisting the laity with material, catechetical resources, news and commentary, and tools for evangelization (videos, ads, etc) that incorporate an authentic Catholic worldview as applied to our civic life, in pursuit of the common good. To be sure, the issues that involve intrinsic evils, or questions that involve the “non-negotiable” issues are always treated as foundational, and not open to compromise or debate for Catholics. Our programming has almost exclusively been focused on the life issue, for example.
My wife and I often joke that we are going to raise our children Amish so as to shield them from our depraved culture. We jest, but there’s a sliver of truth in our jesting. And of course Donald has written a series of excellent posts here at TAC on the signs of our cultural decay.
It’s not exactly a newsflash when a bunch of cranky bloggers at a website called the American Catholic bemoan our hedonistic culture. But when others of a less socially conservative bent join the fray you know that things may have reached a breaking point.
Ace of Spades is a conservative blog, though one that tends to a certain amount of, err, frivolity with regards to cultural matters. I don’t think Ace deviates from most social conservatives on the core issues, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect a rant like this one a site like his. But Ace completely lays into the singer Katy Perry and the awful message that she spreads to our youth.
Ace posts the lyrics to one of Perry’s new songs: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Most Presidents have a decline in their popularity by the time of the first midterm elections in their term, but few Presidents, except those who have reached an artificial high in popularity immediately following a national crisis, have fallen as far and as steadily as Obama. When he was sworn into office, his approval ratings were in the mid-sixties. The Real Politics average of current approval polls, has Obama approval at 45.3%. The interesting thing about the decline is how steady it has been, just as the percent of the American people disapproving of Obama has steadily increased, and is now at 50.7%.
Even the artist who came up with the dopey socialist realism “heroic” multi-colored posters of Obama has recently expressed disappointment with him.
My favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson, believes the Obama decline will continue for the following reasons:
1) A bad agenda. Nearly every issue the president embraces polls against him, often at a 3-1 margin. Cap and trade, amnesty, state-run health care, more bailouts, takeovers, deficits, taxes, and the national debt. His vision is the same as that of the EU circa 1990 — one that even Europe now rejects as a failure.
The answer to every challenge is to found a new program, borrow billions to run it, hire millions more loyal to the progressive gospel of public employment, and demagogue any who oppose it.
Hanson is on to something with this statement: The answer to every challenge is to found a new program, borrow billions to run it, hire millions more loyal to the progressive gospel of public employment, and demagogue any who oppose it. Most analysts of Obama have stressed how different Obama is from past presidents. Stylistically yes, to some extent, not in substance. On economic issues Obama is a reactionary, a throwback to the New Deal Democrat era: massive spending on government projects is the way to restore economic health. It was a dubious remedy almost eight decades ago and appears not to work at all today. The failure of the stimulus to have any positive impact on the economy, and the inability of Obama to come up with any truly new policies to meet the economic malaise of the present, is now clear to all, even to many members of Obama’s own party. Few things are more sad than a one trick pony who can’t even perform the one trick properly and that is the case with Obama on the Alpha and Omega political issue: the Economy.
→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
George Weigel’s new book, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, which was published by Doubleday on September 14, is the fulfillment of a promise the author made to Pope John Paul II less than four months before the pope died. In “A Promise To Pope John Paul II” (“The Catholic Difference” 9/17/10), Weigel gives his account of his parting words to the late Pope before his death:
The conversation over dinner was wide-ranging, and at one point, after the usual papal kidding about my having written “a very big book,” John Paul asked about the international reception of Witness to Hope, his biography, which I had published five years earlier. He was particularly happy when I told him that a Chinese edition was in the works, as he knew he would never get to that vast land himself. As that part of the conversation was winding down, I looked across the table and, referring to the fact that Witness to Hope had only taken the John Paul II story up to early 1999, I made the Pope a promise: “Holy Father,” I said, “if you don’t bury me, I want you to know that I’ll finish your story.”
It was the last time we saw each other, this side of the Kingdom of God.
The End and the Beginning covers the last six years of John Paul II’s life, including:
- Karol Wojtyla’s epic battle with communism through the prism of previously classified and top-secret communist files
- the Great Jubilee of 2000 and his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land
- September 11th, and the Pope’s efforts to frustrate Osama bin Laden’s insistence that his war with the West was a religious crusade
- the Long Lent of 2002, when the Church in America grappled with the twin crises of clerical sexual abuse and episcopal misgovernance;
- John Paul’s ongoing efforts to build bridges of dialogue and reconciliation with the Churches of the Christian East
- his struggle with illness, “which brought him into at least one ‘dark night’ spiritually; and his heroic last months, in which his priestly death became, metaphorically, his last encyclical”
(Given that Weigel was personally engaged in the Catholic just war debate over the war in Iraq, it will be interesting to see the extent to which he covers this aspect of John Paul II’s pontificate).
- A Pope’s Legacy: How John Paul II kindled the fire of evangelism – Interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review).
- “A pope for all seasons”, by Don J. Briel. First Things [subscription required]
Well, this has been boring, right? Steelers, Bears, and Chiefs are undefeated, just like we expected. Yawn.
Rankings…BEFORE the jump! (gotta keep you on your toes). Comments by me (MD), MJ (MJ), and Paul (PZ).
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4) – The most complete team in the NFL–without Big Ben (MJ)
- Indianapolis Colts – As is the case with Green Bay and New Orleans, one gets the sense that Indy hasn’t really kicked into high gear yet, which is just truly terrifying to ponder. (PZ)
- New Orleans Saints (TIE w/ Indy) – Losing a game coming off a Monday nighter on the West Coast isn’t the end of the world, but when you’re a field goal miss away from a win against the main division rival, it hurts. (MD)
- Green Bay Packers – Outplayed the Bears for 57 minutes (MJ)
- Chicago Bears – Has there ever been a softer 3-0 team? Maybe the 2006 Bears. They have a soft schedule coming up, so they may be able to coast by for a while, but something tells me we will be soon shown that they are indeed who we thought they were.(PZ)
- New York Jets – So is the secret recipe just letting Mark Sanchez throw the ball? (MJ)
- Atlanta Falcons – They got the win, but barely against a Saints team not at 100% (Porter, Bush out + short week). They won’t get that lucky again.
- Baltimore Ravens – Not sure about this team; we’ll find out this week when they play the Steelers (MD)
- Kansas City Chiefs – This isn’t going to last, but I can’t really keep an undefeated team out of the top ten. Jamaal Charles is just absolutely explosive, and they need to stop giving Thomas Jones the majority of the carries.(PZ)
- New England Patriots – Not the best two weeks of Pats football. (MD)
Others receiving votes: Eagles & Texans
Dropping out: Texans, Dolphins, and Chargers
Today is my birthday, which means that while I get cake, ice cream, and annoyance for having to study on my birthday, you get to realize that the November elections are merely a month and a week away. In the Catholic blogosphere, this means that the “republicath” & “Catholyc” labels are getting dusted off for use in the political war.
For example, MM has launched an
humorless satirical website a mini-crusade against Thomas Peters & CatholicVote. Specifically, he’s angry about the very high rating they gave to Sharron Angle, a Republican running against Harry Reid. While I disagree with some of the exaggerations (if he thinks that’s a racist ad, he doesn’t watch much TV during October), I think his question is a good one: when ought a Catholic group be offering endorsements? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“Every time congress makes a law, it’s a joke. Every time congress makes a joke, it’s a law”.
A fitting ending to the 111th Congress was having Stephen Colbert testify regarding migrant workers. The Christian Science Monitor had a story on this bizarre episode entitled Stephen Colbert Congressional Testimony: Why Was He Invited?
He was invited by the subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a liberal Democrat from California representing a very liberal congressional district. She thought that inviting Colbert to testify would get some publicity for her subcommittee. Well it certainly did that! Colbert’s testimony was so off-color that Steny Hoyer Democrat Majority Leader in the House on Sunday said: “His testimony was not appropriate. I think it was an embarrassment for Mr. Colbert more than the House.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
In a recent column Washington Post columnist, E J Dionne noted that the Tea Party movement is a great scam. Quite an indictment coming from the self described progressive Catholic who still thinks government can never be big enough and the Church should tell the faithful more about the teachings of the agnostic Saul Alinsky than that of 2,000 year old teachings of the Catholic Church. Dionne has made it his business to comment on all matter of politics and religion for quite some time. His partner in left wing chicanery is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd who never hesitates to go for the jugular. Though she says he she comes from humble Washington DC roots, you would never know it by how she mocks those who really came from humble surrounding and never forgot it. She probably grew up with many Sarah Palin’s and Christine O’Donnell’s around her. Yet, I doubt she mocked many to their face as she gleefully does now to the backs of Palin and O’Donnell.
Dionne and Dowd seem to have it backwards, they don’t think citizens should voice their views about the fallacies of liberal Big Government, but they do believe everyone knows better than the divine about religion. This is quite common for liberals who often seem to think they are divine. Dionne and Dowd are part of a movement who thinks they should control government and religion, and those who disagree with them are often labeled as unintelligent; the worst sin as far as liberals are concerned. However, who is the unintelligent one? Big Government has never worked. It has only brought huge debt which has to be repaid by future generations. Individuals who go into debt face a series of tough measures. Yet Dionne and Dowd seem oblivious to this and advocate the same disastrous path for the government, the end result being tough measures for everyone. In other words Big Government is a disaster that doesn’t work.
However, Big Government isn’t the only disaster Dionne and Dowd advocate. They want the Catholic Church to turn her back on its 2,000 year old teachings and embrace the Dictatorship of Relativism, so named by Pope Benedict XVI. Dionne and Dowd are happy to embrace dissident Catholics who espouse this sort of thinking. It seems Dionne and Dowd are more comfortable with the views of Marx, Alinsky and Freud than they are with Christ, St Paul, St Thomas Aquinas, St Joan of Arc and Pope Benedict XVI. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
This weekend was the first opportunity for me to rejoin my brethren in purple & gold, and enjoy the tailgating, so college football has officially begun. Notes from the week:
- 8:15 games are lame, made more so with long TV timeouts. I didn’t get home till 1:45 (granted, I waited out the traffic at a nearby apartment but still).
- The Big East in in trouble. No one in the Top 25, with all three marquee teams losing this weekend (WVU, Pitt, & Cincy).
- The ACC is a mystery to me. With GT losing and UNC’s troubles, hard to pick a favorite. Miami looks good, and NC State is undefeated, but the Hokies don’t have a conference loss yet and made a good statement against BC.
- As of right now, the SEC West has the teams ranked #1, #10, #12, and #15 in the AP poll. Your chaos of the season will ride on what happens there (as well as what happens when Florida plays some of those teams-starting this week when Bama is rewarded for its efforts v. the Hogs by meeting the stronger-looking Gators at home). You may begin an “S-E-C!” chant now.
- Do you think Brian Kelly & Notre Shame expected to be 1-3 right now?
- What happened to Georgia? They got creamed by Moo U. and sit firmly behind Vandy in the SEC East. Very sad.
- The Heisman race continues to intrigue. Ingram, despite missing a few games, looks solid. Robinson was out for much of the game but looks ok. Pryor handled business, and Peterson added another special teams TD. I will say that I acted very dignified when peterson scored his TD and did the Heisman pose. And by dignified, I mean jump up and down so much that I almost knocked my sister down. However, I did resist putting that picture as the lead this week (saving it for a future week, perhaps?)
- Right now, I think conference ranks are 1. SEC, 2. PAC-10, 3. Big-10, 4. Big 12, 5. MWC, 6. ACC, 7. Boise St. 8. Big East.
- This week, Idaho receives no votes in the TAC poll. In a unrelated story, the TAC poll gains nation-wide credibility (love ya, tito!)
Ok, rankings after the jump.
The most effective political ad that I’ve seen thus far this election season. A brilliant reverse image of Reagan’s Morning in America ad in the 84 campaign.
In my previous posts on this topic (Part One and Part Two) and the comments contained therein, one of the things which I feel is missing in this discussion is a dialog about the humanity of Muslims. Are Muslims human? Do Muslims have a religious sense? Do Muslims desire for truth, beauty and goodness? In stead of writing about this, I am going to show you. Watch this entire 60 Minutes program and judge it. It is simply amazing. Let us dialog about it in the comments.
It would appear that those in the mainstream media who want to do hit pieces on Pope Benedict XVI need to take a number. The latest to engage in Yellow Journalism is CNN. The “network of record” dispatched Gary Tuchman to do the dirty work. One might recall that it was none other than Tuchman who remarked how distressing it was travelling in the heartland during the 2008 Election campaign. He complained that some who recognized him told him that their Middle American views and ideas were repeatedly mocked by the mainstream media, all the while those of the liberal establishment were hailed. Tuchman’s words were quite revealing when it comes to this story.
CNN has been advertising their hit piece on Pope Benedict XVI as if he was already guilty of some sort of cover up, even though during the Abuse Scandal it was none other than the New York Times who praised then Cardinal Ratzinger for tackling the tough problems. What tough problems did he tackle? The most notable example being Father founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Father Marcial Maciel was one of the few prominent conservatives caught up in the Abuse Scandal, most of the abusers were Church liberals who wanted to change the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger took on Father Maciel at the height of his power and popularity. One might recall that Father Maciel was quite close to Pope John Paul II. So from this example we can see that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) showed no favorites and pulled no punches. The Legionaries of Christ were shaken to the core and as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI removed their leadership and installed his own, hardly the work of someone who was timid.
The CNN piece was perhaps even more despicable than the New York Times hit piece, because in the interim much of the modus operandi of the Old Gray Lady was exposed. Still CNN used the same material and claimed that they had something new. There is nothing new here. The crux of their argument comes from material provided by Jeffrey Anderson the attorney who has made millions off the scandal. Anderson says he is one a mision to “reform the Church.” What kind of reform would that be? Some Catholic dioceses have been forced into bankruptcy, which means the poor whom they dioceses assisted through their social programs are left in the cold. For all his concern of “reform” Anderson hasn’t provided a penny to these particular poor.
I haven’t done a post recently to refresh my credentials as the geekiest member of the TAC blog. Among my hobbies, besides writing blog posts and annoying people for fun and profit, is the playing of rather elaborate strategy games. I began playing these games circa 1971 when I wheedled a copy of Luftwaffe from my parents for Christmas that year. The next year for Christmas I received a copy of Panzerblitz, and I have been playing and collecting strategy games since that time.
My wife and I acquired our first computer in 1987, a commodore 64. Since that time almost all of my playing of strategy games has been on the computer. Christmas Eve 1991 was a memorable one in the McClarey household. It was the first Christmas Eve we spent with our newborn twin sons, and our copy of the computer strategy game Civilization arrived in the mail. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Something for the weekend. The Minstrel Boy. The patriotic Irish song was written by Thomas Moore in honor of his friends killed in the Irish rising of 1798. The video above is from the incredibly good movie Rough Riders, with some of the Rough Riders singing the song before charging up Kettle Hill on July 1, 1898.
The song is sung just after the death of Captain Bucky O’Neill who, the son of Irish immigrants, had made The Minstrel Boy the song of his company.
Theodore Roosevelt describes the death of O’Neill:
“The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. O’Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover – a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, ‘The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.’ As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said, ‘Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.’ O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, ‘Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.’ A little later he discussed for a moment with one of the regular officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out at the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.”
Bucky O’Neill is portrayed in the film by Sam Elliot who gives his usual fine perormance. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I shouldn’t have, but I did.
Today I read Fr. Richard McBrien’s article on Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. As the prefect for this congregation Cardinal Ouellet will play a crucial role in the appointment of the Church’s bishops in the years to come.
In his article McBrien makes the following observation:
When commenting on the greatest crisis to confront the Catholic Church since the Reformation of the 16th century, Ouellet seemed to blame the scandal of sexual abuse in the priesthood on the weakening of moral standards in society — a common explanation given by those who are reluctant to address the internal problems of the church, including obligatory clerical celibacy, the role of women, and the declining quality of pastoral leadership.
While there might be some who see the clergy sex scandal as the greatest crisis for the Church since the Reformation, I am certainly not one of them. But what I found completely absurd — again, I should’ve avoided the article to begin with, because it was to be expected — was McBrien’s reference to the role of women in this context. How, exactly, would priestesses have prevented the abuse of children by clergy?
Father McBrien: your vision of the Church and of the Second Vatican Council is both erroneous and dying. Only a tiny fraction of young Catholics in general and those seeking degrees in theology in particular accept that erroneous reading.
Might I propose that you get with the times?