Monthly Archives: December 2010
No doubt many of you spent the weekend ignoring family and holiday festivities and perhaps even food & drink in order to study up on the all the bowl games so you can make your picks for the TAC Bowl Pick’em contest. But it occurred to me that while we at TAC have talked a lot about who would win the most games, we never discussed who ought to win those games.
A few months ago, we discussed how the New Orleans Saints were the team that all good Catholics ought to cheer for. After that post, I had a lot of feedback thanking me for providing this guidance but also wondering if there could be some guidance on the college level. Take this email for example:
I am a twenty-something in West Virginia whose hobbies include making parody blogs and using political terms I don’t quite understand. I have hated football for some time, believing it to be anathema to my own beliefs. However, after reading your post I realized my hatred of football was a product of my own fascist tendencies.. However, there are no pro teams in West Virginia but there is a college one; I would prefer to cheer for a college team but require your guidance to know who to root for.
Or this one :
I am a Cowboys fan living in Ohio. However, after your post I find my heart step by step being moved by what can only be the Holy Spirit to cheer for the Saints. I could hardly help myself from letting out a hearty “Who Dat!” after Malcolm Jenkins stripped the ball against my former favorite team on Thanksgiving. I pray that God can grant me the faith to bleed black & gold. But this is not enough, as I have started to examine my college allegiances. Is there a college team out there that can inspire my soul the way the Saints do?
There were many many emails like this, almost as many emails as there are people who honestly think the executive order has the legal effect Bart Stupak claims it has. So for these few months, I have been discerning what the standings of many college football teams are in the eyes of God. Continue reading
Johnny Depp has always been high on my list of very irritating actors, so it was against my better instincts that I truly enjoyed the above trailer. It looks like the film Rango will be a grand spoof of some of the spaghetti westerns of my mis-spent youth and should be a lot of fun. Besides, I have always been a sucker for owl mariachi bands.
Advent might be summarized by John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
In daily life it is often easy to lose sight of the fact that we are always in the hands of an infinitely loving God who became one of us, His creatures, as a result of that love. Men often fear and deny God I think out of a profound belief that they are unworthy of this love. Peter, the prince of the apostles, after meeting Christ asked Him to leave him because Peter was a sinful man. In our times, drenched in cynicism and wallowing in sin, love is in short supply it seems, and the idea of a loving God is one that many of us flee from and attempt to futilely deny. This attitude calls to mind this passage from the Screwtape letters:
The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy really loves the humans. That, of course, is an impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else—He must have some real motive for creating them and taking so much trouble about them. The reason one comes to talk as if He really had this impossible Love is our utter failure to out that real motive. What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question. I do not see that it can do any harm to tell you that this very problem was a chief cause of Our Father’s quarrel with the Enemy. When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”. It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven. Since then, we have begun to see why our Oppressor was so secretive. His throne depends on the secret. Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by Love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn’t make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can’t find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail—all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed. Continue reading
From the Internet’s only reliable news source. President Obama exits a press conference early, leaving former President Clinton in charge in order to promote a tax deal that is unpopular with most of his base.
Wait, this isn’t an Onion video? You mean President Obama really did this?
Well, I guess it’s official. The administration has descended into self-parody.
Something for the weekend. O Holy Night. The rendition above is done by Celtic Woman. The hymn was written in 1847 by Placide Cappeau at the request of his parish priest. The English version was written by John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian Minister in 1855. Judging from the lyrics, it is amazing how orthodox this Unitarian Minister was: Continue reading
Political discourse is often told through narratives, sometimes supported by facts, sometimes not. One of the narratives that many on the left and some on the right are quite fond of is the idea that free markets, aside from their other alleged flaws, are dangerous to a democracy because the winners of the economic competition will use their resources to buy political influence that will consolidate their power. The proof, they say, is in the influence that corporate lobbies have over elected politicians.
There is truth in this narrative, but its critical flaw is not in what it alleges, but what it fails to take into account.
Fr. Robert Barron responds to an article in Commonweal by Cathleen Kaveny (“Long Goodbye: Why some devout Catholics are leaving the Church”).
Another fine econ 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. One of the main economic problems of our time is that we Americans tend to be experts at spending money and novices at making money. I will have a post on Christ and Scrooge later this month which will be rather negative towards Scrooge. (Surprise!) However, perhaps nationally we need a bit of the Scrooge attitude towards making money and less of the spendthrift habits that have been a disaster for us publicly and privately.
As if one didn’t have enough books to read already. From Paulist Press, a new biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles, America’s most distinguished Catholic theologian, who passed away in December 2008. (And at 736 pages, it sounds like quite a read).
Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian, 1918-2008
by Patrick W. Carey. Paulist Press. 736p.
Reviews and Related Info
- Patrick W. Carey (Faculty bio, Marquette University).
- An Intellectual Pilgrimage, by Jeffrey Gros. America November 29, 2010.
- There will be a panel discussion of Avery Cardinal Dulles: A Model Theologian at Fordham University on December 14, 2010 to discuss the book. Attendance is free. (See link to PDF Flyer for details).
I’ll leave it up to others on the blog to discuss the merits of the compromise on taxes and unemployment benefits recently reached between President Obama and Congressional Republicans. For what it’s worth, I’d probably vote for it were I a member of Congress (shudder), but I do think that the Republicans could have pushed a little harder on certain measures.
What fascinates me as a student of American history are some of the reactions, and also some of the reactions to the reactions. First of all, Congressional Democrats have rejected the measure in a non-binding caucus vote. This has caused Jim Geraghty to ponder:
Normal? No. But I think this is a positive development in a way. Continue reading
One argument commonly made by inflation hawks is that inflation is bad because it is a tax on savers. The idea being that since inflation erodes the purchasing power of a dollar, those who keep their money in a savings account will end up being able to buy less with that money down the road if there is inflation than if there is not. There is an element of truth to this idea, though if inflation is expected there are ways to deal with the problem, such as offering higher interest rates for savings accounts.
A propos of David’s post earlier to day, however, it occurs to me that there is a flip side to the inflation taxes savings argument, namely that disinflation (i.e. lower than expected inflation) functions as a tax on the unemployed. When a certain amount of inflation is expected over the coming years, this ends up getting built into people’s wage demands, contracts, loans, etc. If inflation is approximately 2-3% a year for several decades, then people will come to expect a raise of at least 2-3% a year to cover the increase in the cost of living, and they will get upset if this doesn’t happen, even if inflation is significantly below 2-3% (on election day I met a man who was angry he had been denied a cost of living raise in his Social Security for 2009, even though there was deflation that year).
If expected inflation doesn’t appear, there won’t be enough money for businesses to pay their workers and will have to cut either wages or employment. But since workers hate nominal wage cuts (even where these don’t translate into real wage cuts), employers tend to respond to this situation by laying people off rather than spreading the pain around. The result is that during inflationary or disinflationary periods real wages tend to increase (since prices are falling while wages remain constant in nominal terms) and so does unemployment. Functionally this acts as a kind of wealth transfer from the unemployed to those who still have jobs. Thus, tight money is a tax on the unemployed.
Guess what? Unemployment is up again! That’s right – even though Wall Street is swimming in cash and the Obama administration is declaring that “the recession is over”, the U.S. unemployment rate has gone even higher. So are you enjoying the jobless recovery? The truth is that there should not be any talk of a “recovery” as long as the “official” unemployment rate remains at around 10 percent and the “real” unemployment continues to hover around 17 percent. There are millions and millions of American families that are living every day in deep pain because of the lack of jobs…
From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion. Wait, no, that’s not right! The above video certainly seems like a creation from the warped minds at the Onion, but even they would have a hard time dreaming this one up: Actor with alcohol, anger and fidelity “issues”, portrays deranged husband and father who gets back in touch with his family by using a beaver hand puppet. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh endlessly at the sheer lunacy of it all. I wouldn’t be surprised if the film makes a huge amount of money, at least from audiences who enjoy truly dark comedy and perhaps from the select few who love the irony of it all.
Mel said that he took an axe to his marriage, so perhaps this is all some bizarre attempt at redemption in the eyes of the public at least, if not in the eyes of his ex-wife and kids. What this film does establish beyond question is that Mel Gibson truly is one strange character. I say this as someone who enjoyed most of his films dating back to his road warrior days, and who defended him on blogs for years, especially against the shameful charge that his masterpiece, The Passion of the Christ, was, in any way, anti-Semitic. Alas, someone can be a fine artist, and still be a man with massive flaws and that is the case with Mel. Through alcohol abuse, adultery, and out of control rants, the actor many Catholics pointed to with pride, revealed himself to have very common Hollywood failings. Continue reading
It all started with an off-hand remark I made at the beginning of the semester this fall while talking about the challenges of reading Aristotle and St. Thomas. Students today might find it preferable, I joked lamely, if somebody could come up with a different medium for communicating metaphysics, like, say, a MUSIC VIDEO!
The students politely laughed. But two of them approached me after class with the idea of undertaking precisely such a project. For a moment, I wasn’t sure whether they were joking or serious. They were serious. [more].
Here are the most popular stories this past week on ThePulp.it, A Digest of the Best Punditry in the Catholic Blogosphere:
1. Dissident Catholic Newspaper Gets New Columnist! – Father John Zuhlsdorf, WDTPRS?
2. Protesters Criticize New Archbishop of Seattle – Michael Martinez, CNN International
3. A “Catholic” College Girl’s Lament – Emmy Cecilia, Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer
4. The Origin of Ave Maria – Jeffrey Tucker, The Chant Café
5. Saved By Christ Not By Rules – Mark P. Shea, Catholic Exchange
If you liked what you found and you want more for the latest punditry updated twice daily, go to ThePulp.it!
It’s long been a trope of the “culture war” that the rich as social and religious libertines while the stolid middle class cling to traditional values. Or, as another portion of America sees it, that the educated elite have moved beyond the primative and prejudices social mores of the past while the uneducated cling to their guns and their religion. I would venture to say that for many of us reading here this may also to a stereotype which fits with our lived experience.
However, a report out from the Institute for American Values stands this set of stereotypes somewhat on its head, showing a educated elite which is going to church more and sleeping around less, while the broad middle class is going to church less, having more children out of wedlock and getting divorced more often.
AD DIEM ILLUM LAETISSIMUM
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS X
ON THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
TO THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES, ARCHBISHOPS,
BISHOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE.
Health and the Apostolic Blessing.
An interval of a few months will again bring round that most happy day on which, fifty years ago, Our Predecessor Pius IX., Pontiff of holy memory, surrounded by a noble crown of Cardinals and Bishops, pronounced and promulgated with the authority of the infallible magisterium as a truth revealed by God that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was free from all stain of original sin. All the world knows the feelings with which the faithful of all the nations of the earth received this proclamation and the manifestations of public satisfaction and joy which greeted it, for truly there has not been in the memory of man any more universal or more harmonious expression of sentiment shown towards the august Mother of God or the Vicar of Jesus Christ. Continue reading