Monthly Archives: December 2010

Leave it to Mel, the Beaver and the Shark

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

Seminarians make a music video …

It all started in Dr. Blosser’s philosophy class …:

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].

Top Stories on ThePulp.it This Past Week

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!

Class and Marriage: A Reverse

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.
Continue reading

Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum

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.
Venerable Brethren,
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

TAC Bowl Pick’Em Contest

The bowl selections are out, and it will be Auburn v. Oregon in the BCS Title game. This is irrelevant, because the two biggest fan bases on this site will be meeting in Jerryworld on January 7th (that long. Seriously?) in the Cotton Bowl. I would talk trash about the Aggies, but there’s no need. Any school willing to be bought off by their biggest rival really isn’t worth the effort.

Ok, so in order to continue the college discussion at TAC, we’re doing a bowl pick’em game. There would be a prize but we have no money (unless you’d like to chip in…). You will get honor and glory…and perhaps the right to write a guest post on any college football topic of the winner’s choosing (I’ll work out the details and let you know if that’s happening).

The method is simple. We’re picking every bowl. The bowl begin on December 18th and to be consider you must have turned in your entry by the beginning of the New Mexico bowl, which is at 1 pm on the 18th. The list of all the bowls can be found here. Next week (hopefully on Monday), all the rankers here at TAC will put out their picks with their reasons.

So how do you turn in your picks? You can post them here in the comment section or you can post it on the wall of our facebook group (look for The American Catholic if you haven’t liked us yet). I suppose you could theoretically tweet it to TheAmCatholic, but that would probably be annoying. And by probably I mean definitely.

I’ll allow changes up until the the New Mexico Bowl, but if you do it in a different forum make sure I can identify you.

So send in your picks, and we’ll start the discussions and debates right away!

Inside the Belly of the Beast

I have managed to come upon a fund-raising letter sent out by Planned Parenthood.  It is a fascinating look inside an insidious organization, and it’s quite revealing.  It is a paper copy, so I unfortunately can’t link to it (if only my PDF-making and linking skills were superior).  The intro is quite unintentionally hilarious in its over-the-top rhetoric.

Dear Friend,

Let’s be clear about what we’re facing in America today.  Over the past year, the divisions in this country have grown sharper, uglier, and increasingly dangerous.

Anti-choice, anti-women rhetoric that once was considered wildly extreme has seeped into the mainstream.  And, following the November 2nd elections, the national anti-choice movement is not just a potent lobbying force on Capitol Hill – anti-choice members have increased their ranks in Congress itself – a Congress soon to be led by a virulently anti-choice Speaker of the House.

Already, some of the Congressional opponents of women’s health [ed: I simply love this part.  We’ve managed to go from anti-choice to anti-woman, and now, anti- women’s health.  I wonder if this includes female opponents of abortion – whoops, I said the a-word.  But more on that in a moment.] are organizing to defund Planned Parenthood.  Their goal: make it virtually impossible for Planned Parenthood to play the critical role we have in millions of women’s lives.  [Of course we’re talking about federal funding of Planned Parenthood.  How many other organizations get to enjoy the comforts of tax-payer subsidies?  I mean if what they do is so critical and vital to women’s “health,” I’m sure they’d be able to survive solely off of the generosity of their millions of supporters, not to mention the fees paid by its victims clients.]

These developments threaten to undermine the work we do every day.  And they make it absolutely essential that you make Planned Parenthood a high priority in your personal year-end giving.  [Yes, certainly Planned Parenthood has got to be at the top of anyone’s list for Holiday-season giving.  Tricycle for little Bernadette?  Check.  Gifts for all my nieces and nephews?  Check.  A little extra for the Church?  Check.  Money to fund the murder of unborn children?  Triple check!!!]

And it goes on and on and on.  It’s actually quite predictable that Planned Parenthood would rely on scare-mongering to rally the base and solicit funds for . . . what exactly is it soliciting funds for?  Let’s look at some of the language used in the remainder of this lovely letter.

Continue reading

Quote of the Week

So I’ve been reading Fintan O’Toole’s Enough is Enough: How to Build a New Republic on my Kindle recently. I know what you’re thinking: why would someone read a book about how to make Irish politics more left-wing when he is neither 1) Irish nor 2) left-wing? And it’s true, I have a problem; I need help.

But leave that aside for now. I’m currently on a section in which O’Toole rails against the large place the Catholic Church has in providing health care in Ireland. It seems that the Irish bishops have actually had the temerity to oppose increased government involvement in health care, as this would interfere with the Church’s role. For example, in 1948 the Bishops opposed a government plan to provide free health care to children and new mothers. O’Toole quotes Bishop Cornelius Lucey of Cork laying out the Church’s view on the part the state should play in health care:

What should we expect from the State? Help to enable us to help ourselves. Thus, instead of providing directly through its own agencies free housing for all, free health services for all, free school meals for all, etc., it should rather see to it that these are available and that people can afford to pay for them. Thus the real answer to the problem of the man who cannot afford medical care for his wife and children is not a free mother and child service for all, but a rise in wages – or cut in taxes – sufficient to enable him to pay.

Milton Friedman couldn’t have said it better himself.

I note this because you sometimes hear it said that American political culture is fundamentally protestant, and that Catholics who believe in limited government are somehow buying into protestant individualist notions. Correct me if I’m wrong, though, but my impression is that Ireland circa 1948 was pretty Catholic.

69 Years Ago

My sainted father was 8 years old on December 7, 1941.  He told me how the next day men and older boys, ranging in age from 60-16, gathered in long lines in front of the recruiting offices in Paris, Illinois to sign up to fight.  I think those of us who weren’t alive at that time have difficulty grasping the impact Pearl Harbor had on the nation, as it launched the country on a crusade to break the power of the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany. Continue reading

At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many in engage in hand wringing and doom and gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview with Peter Seewald turned book Light of the World. Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control. Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled. Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails from some who surprisingly seemed ecstatic to point out that my book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.

Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, a simple university professor in the famed German town of Tubingen, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.) However, the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing. They in turn left posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry. Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”

The Holy Father was merely engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team x played historical team y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy. The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lie with those in the Vatican’s Public Relations Department in making sure the ubiquitous editor Giovanni Vian didn’t somehow put the Holy Father’s abstract scenarios into an excerpt for the L’Osservatore Romano. The comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fallout.

Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the amount of miracles and jaw dropping examples of God’s Grace, that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican’s walls, still amazes him to this day. However, on the flip side the amount of sinister almost demonic style attacks amazes him to this day as well. The evil one knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem. Continue reading

A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You

In yet another effort to remain relevant to our political discourse, David Frum is partnering with William Galston to launch a new project that is sure to to revolutionize politics in much the same way the New Majority Frum Forum has.  It’s called “No Labels,” and I’ll let Frum describe it:

On Dec. 13, more than 1,000 citizens from the 50 states will convene in New York to change the odds. They are founding a movement – No Labels. Among them will be Democrats, Republicans and independents who are proud of their political affiliations and have no intention of abandoning them. A single concern brings them together: the hyper-polarization of our politics that thwarts an adult conversation about our common future. A single goal unites them: to expand the space within which citizens and elected officials can conduct that conversation without fear of social or political retribution.

Their movement rests on the belief that the real American majority wishes to reassert control over a political system mired in brain-dead partisanship. Those traveling to New York are going at their own expense. No Labels is gaining a thousand fans on Facebook each day. Citizens across the country are asking how they can get involved.

Frum is discouraged by our current political discourse and wants to turn things around:

Our political system does not work if politicians treat the process as a war in which the overriding goal is to thwart the adversary. At a time of national economic emergency, when Americans are clamoring for positive action, our government is routinely paralyzed by petty politics. Through the summer, as the economy teetered between recovery and stagnation, the Federal Reserve lacked a quorum because a single Republican senator took it upon himself to block Obama’s appointments. Republicans were only doing unto the Democrats as the Democrats had done unto them: In January 2008, as the country geared up for an epoch-making election, the Federal Election Commission lacked a quorum because one Democrat had put holds on President George W. Bush’s nominees.

Nor does the political system work if politicians treat members of the other party as enemies to be destroyed. Labeling legitimate policy differences as “socialist” or “racist” undermines democratic discourse.

Frum is understandably concerned.  Continue reading

Is Inflation Hiding?

There’s an old saying, which I’ve seen attributed to every from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to the effect that while a man is entitled to his own opinion he is not entitled to his own facts. This saying would seem to be particularly relevant to current arguments about the Federal Reserve and monetary stimulus. As I noted in my last post, some commentators have been warning for years that the Fed’s actions would cause a return to the high inflation of the 1970s, if not to 1920s Germany. Yet more than two years on, this inflation has failed to materialize.

Continue reading

Avoid the Doghouse

My friend Rick Lugari brought this to my attention, and I pass it along each year to our male readers as an act of Christian charity.

Captain Blood and History

I love history.  To me it is endlessly fascinating, the never ending chronicle of the triumphs and tragedies of mankind, filled with adventure, courage, cowardice, wisdom, folly and all those elements that make great novels.  I therefore find it  distressing that so many people think history is dull and are indifferent or even hostile to it.  Distressing but understandable.  Too many historians seem to write with the unstated desire to make their subject matter as dull and dreary as they can manage.  A useful corrective to this are good historical novels, which can often awake  in readers a love of history.  One of the great practioners of the craft was Rafael Sabatini.

Writing at the end of the Nineteenth and the first half of the Twentieth, Sabatini wrote with color and verve and his historical novels, the best known of which is Captain Blood, were historically accurate as well as being vastly entertaining. Children can often come to love history if it is demonstrated to them that it does not have to be dull, and a great historical novel can help accomplish this. Continue reading

Weekend Fun Vids

Some fun stuff for the weekend.

The internet is truly a wonderful invention.  Without it, we’d be deprived of clips like these that make us weep for our civilization.

The first clip is a cover of the great Pink Floyd song “Comfortably Numb.”  If you can make it through without weeping, you are truly made of sterner stuff than me. Continue reading

Veni Veni Emmanuel

Something for the weekend.  Veni, Veni Emmanuel.  The words of this magnificent hymn are from the 9th century and the melody is from 15th century France. 

It is Advent, so we are all hearing a lot of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, usually in English, at Mass, a song I have always loved.  The version above is from Casting Crowns, a Christian Rock group that my daughter is fond of.  I was stunned last year when I came across this, as I like it, and I usually refer to the music she enjoys as “animal killing music”! Continue reading

Can Assisting A Just Action Be Unjust?

One of the things which has always confused me a bit in regards to discussions of just war is when people seem to imply that while it might be just for Country A to resist the attack of Country B, it is unjust for Country C to assist Country A against Country B. It seems to me that thi effectly amounts to arguing that assisting someone in performing a just action is itself unjust, which seems hard to credit at a principled level, though there certainly might be ways you could attempt to assist which would be unjust.

So, for instance, I’ve heard it argued at times that while it might have been just for the South Vietnamese to resist the invasion of the North Vietnamese, it was clearly unjust for the US to get involved in the Vietnam War.

Now, I could see it as being arguable that it was highly unwise for the US to get involved in the war, but it seems hard to understand how it would be unjust, in principle, to assist South Vietnam in defending itself against North Vietnam’s attack.

Is there a principled fashion in which one can argue that it is unjust to assist a country engaged in a just war? If so, what is the argument?

If so, is this a principle which only applies to countries, or are there also examples of personal interactions in which it is just for someone to perform an action, but unjust for another person to assist in that action?

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