Nuclear Reactors in Japan

Wednesday, March 16, AD 2011

There’s been a fair amount of worry the last couple days about the situation with several nuclear reactors which were hit by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The difficulty is, of course, that most reporters know nothing about nuclear energy or physics, and there is a tendency (in TV news in particular) to focus on whichever “experts” are most exciting. Combine that with the fact that when most people near the word “nuclear” they picture a mushroom cloud and it’s easy to produce hysteria.

While the events at the Fukushima plant reactors are serious, they also underline how many layers of redundancy and safety measures are built into modern nuclear power plants. There’s a good blog post by an MIT engineer (expanded and corrected by the Nuclear Science and Engineering department as MIT) which covers the basics of how this type of reactor works, what happened to the reactors at this plant which are having problems, and what the relevant dangers are. I’d strongly recommend this post over most mainstream media coverage. Members of the Nuclear Science and Engineering department has continued posting additional updates on the topic at this blog.

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4 Responses to Nuclear Reactors in Japan

  • Thanks for posting this. I’m saddened but not surprised by that the anti-nuclear energy demagogues have jumped on this issue. I actually read a comment on another blog that said, “The risks are too high and there are simply too many Homer Simpsons in the world.” Because the Simpsons is obviously a reality show. I suspect that the dumbest person who ever worked at a nuclear power facility is smarter than the individual who made that comment.

  • DC, thank for posting this as well. I actually found this site two days ago in my attempt to find some real analysis on what is going on over there. I dispise hype of an event for the sake of selling commercial air time. I pray to the Lord everyday for a swift and asy resolve to this disaster and then again for the people of Japan.

    God Bless.


  • Please go to where I have been keeping a running commentary on the nuclear-related events in Japan. Pray for the workers who are heroically trying to control a desperate situation. And pray for all the people who are far more devastated by the loss of infrastructure, homes, food, water, clothing, shelter, etc., than by anything happening at Fukushima Daiichi or Fukushima Daini. PS, while I speak for no company, organization or institution, I have 30+ years of experience as a nuclear engineering professional (unlike news journalists, politicians and environmentalists). And go to and for the latest updates, NOT MS NBC or its adversary Fox News. They are both equally worthless.

Augustine’s Confessions: Growing Up Human

Wednesday, March 16, AD 2011

The second half of Book I (Chapters 7 to 20) deal with the earliest years of Augustine’s life, starting with his infancy. One of the things I find kind of charming about this section is the approach Augustine brings to examining his earliest years:

I do not remember that early part of my life, O Lord, but I believe what other people have told me about it and from watching other babies I can conclude that I lived as they do. But, true though my conclusions may be, I do not like to think of that period as part of the same life I now lead, because it is dim and forgotten and, in this sense, it is no different from the time I spent in my mother’s womb.

This is one of those fascinating things about Augustine. He’s never just talking about himself and his memories, even if that is the theme which drives his narrative. He’s perhaps more interested in the experience of being human, and of humanity in relation to God, than he is in telling us about his experiences in particular.

Of course, when Augustine thinks about the experience of being human, he immediately starts thinking about original sin, and some find him rather dour because of this. Augustine is one of the few people you’ll find talking about infants sinning:

It can hardly be right for a child, even at that age, to cry for everything, including things which would harm him; to work himself into a tantrum against people older than himself and not required to obey him; and to try his best to strike and hurt others who know better than he does, including his own parents, when they do not give in to him and refuse to pander to whims which would only do him harm. This shows that, if babies are innocent, it is not for lack of will to do harm, but for lack of strength.

Read in isolation, this can sound rather cold and severe. Of course babies cry, they have no other way of making their needs known! But Augustine recognizes this, and indeed notes that people never blame or scold babies for being selfish, because of course they can be no other way.

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2 Responses to Augustine’s Confessions: Growing Up Human

John Brown: Problem Child of American History

Wednesday, March 16, AD 2011

Our history has its share of odd characters, but surely none odder than John Brown.  An Old Testament prophet somehow marooned in Nineteenth Century America, John Brown preached the wrath of God against slave holders and considered himself the bloody sword of the Almighty.  It is tempting to write off John Brown as a murderous fanatic, and he was certainly that, but he was also something more.

The American political process was simply unable to resolve the question of slavery.  Each year the anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces battered at each other with no head way made.  Bleeding Kansas was the result of Stephen A. Douglas’ plan to simply let the people of the territory resolve the issue.  Where ballots cannot, or will not, resolve a question of the first magnitude in a democracy, ultimately bullets will.   A man like Brown, totally dedicated to the anti-slavery cause, was only too willing to see violence resolve an issue that the politicians would not.

Brown attacked a great evil, American slavery, but he was also  a murderer, as the five pro-slavery men he had dragged from their houses at night and hacked to death at Pottawotamie in Kansas with home made swords would surely attest.   His raid on Harper’s Ferry was a crack-brained expedition that had absolutely no chance of success, and yet his raid helped bring about the huge war that would ultimately end slavery.

 After his mad and futile attempt to start a slave insurrection at Harper’s Ferry in 1859, Brown was tried and hung for treason against the state of Virginia.  He considered his trial and treatment quite fair and thanked the Court.  Brown impressed quite a few Southerners with the courage with which he met his death, including Thomas Jackson, the future Stonewall, who observed his execution. 

Brown of course lit the fuse for the Civil War.  He convinced many moderate Southerners that there were forces in the North all too ready to incite, in the name of abolition, a race war in the South.  The guns fired at Harper’s Ferry were actually the first shots of the Civil War.

Brown, as he stepped forward to the gallows, had a paper and pen thrust into his hand by a woman.  Assuming for the last time the role of a prophet, Brown wrote out, I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

Abraham Lincoln commented on Brown at his Cooper’s Union  speech on February 27, 1860 and took pains to separate the Republican Party from Brown:

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12 Responses to John Brown: Problem Child of American History

  • John Brown was nothing more than a bloodthirty terrorist and fanatic. He threw gasoline into a fire that reasonable men on both sides were trying to quench. He was not a hero to be emulated, but a criminal to be abhorred. And he was a willing tool of the Northeastern establishment progressive group called the Secret Six, just like the Radicals of the 60’s were tools of the Communist Party.

  • Tell us how you really feel Stephen! 🙂 I readily agree with you that Brown was a terrorist. However, he was not a terrorist in order to establish a Communist state, or a Fascist state, or some other tyranny, but rather to help free a people held in bondage by his time for almost 250 years. When people are unwilling to agree to peaceful change to remedy a great evil, sooner or later men of blood and violence like Brown will appear on the scene to attempt to bring about the change by other means. This does not lessen the moral culpability of Brown for his actions. It does mean that we also have to look at the moral culpability of a great many people at that time who thought it was perfectly fine for people of a certain race to be owned as if they were so many cattle or hogs. The unwillingness of slave holders in the South to even listen to arguments in favor of gradual emancipation, made the advent of violent abolitionism such as practiced by John Brown inevitable.

  • “When people are unwilling to agree to peaceful change to remedy a great evil, sooner or later men of blood and violence like Brown will appear on the scene to attempt to bring about the change by other means… The unwillingness of slave holders in the South to even listen to arguments in favor of gradual emancipation, made the advent of violent abolitionism such as practiced by John Brown inevitable.”

    Let us hope and pray that history doesn’t repeat itself with respect to abortion.

  • Precisely what I have long thought also Jay.

  • Well intentioned? Maybe. Terrorist? Without a doubt. Was violence really necessary? Of course not! Slavery has existed throughout human history and there are more people in slavery today than ever. Some are direct slaves, mostly in the sex trade. Others, are slaves to tyranny and even more, I dare say all, are slaves to vice.

    Could these United States have purged the scourge of slavery without war and bloodshed? Probably, but as Aslan (C.S. Lewis) says, we can never know what would have happened. At the core was a racist ideology that black Africans were inferior to the white man, this is was as prevalent if not more so in the North as in the South. Is it true? Of course not; however, the African slaves were not well disposed, through no fault of their own, to be integrated into society in a role other than as slaves. To truly free African slaves, war was the worst way, what was needed was education. Eduction of the white Americans that black Africans were people just like them, only different and all are children of God. Eduction of the black slaves, which was undertaken by great men like Jackson. Slaves needed to be educated into knowledge of God, Christianity and the civil society of their respective states, so they could be self-supporting as freedmen.

    Of course, this would not do for those who merely want to conserve the status quo, or those who wish to keep mankind in perpetual revolution and turmoil. The money interests were too strong to prevent war and slavery gave the North, moral cover, for a disastrous war. Slavery is a blight on America’s history and is only made worse by liberal revolutionaries like John Brown.

    Harper’s Ferry is now in West Virginia, because those traitors and the Yankee government stole the land of the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, I live less than an hour from there and make frequent visits in the Spring and the Autumn. It is quite beautiful and there is tinge of sadness when one stands at the ammunition depot, although it is moved from the original location where Captain R. Lee put down the terrorist attack. Over the years I have noticed changes in the historical plaques. Brown the murderer, has been replaced by Brown the community-organizing, liberal, do gooder. Mentions of Lee are practically non-existent. Of course, for the revolution to roll on, we must re-write history.

    If this trend is not reversed, the revisionist history will lead all of us into slavery. Isn’t that ironic. Evil actions cannot bring about good results. We will all need to keep that in our hearts and minds, as the forces of social progress spin up the revolution in the form. The goal, as usual is slavery, but this time, we want happy slaves, who enjoy bread and circuses. We don’t need slaves to pick cotton in the fields, we need slaves to serve the consumer and be good corporate consumers themselves.

    Sadly, groupthink often leads to confusion. Instead of seeking fist the Kingdom of Heaven, we wish to turn stone into bread. Brown was not morally right, despite being against slavery – a moral evil, for he was seeking ‘social justice’ by any means necessary. We can only seek social justice if the first order of business is God’s Kingdom. Christ would have reprimanded Brown, get behind me Satan!

  • “Harper’s Ferry is now in West Virginia, because those traitors and the Yankee government stole the land of the Commonwealth.”

    Didn’t you know, AK, that secession can be justified as long is it’s for the right (i.e. politically correct) reasons?


    Speaking of stealing land, it’s hard for me to appreciate Arlington National Cemetery knowing that it was placed where it was out of spite for a great man.

  • “The money interests were too strong to prevent war and slavery gave the North, moral cover, for a disastrous war.”

    620,000 dead was a high price to pay, but not too high I think to end slavery and preserve the Union. Of course without secession, which was undertaken to protect slavery, as the Confederate states made quite clear at the time, there would have been no war.

    As for the creation of West Virginia, the Union government of Viriginia, under Francis Pierpont, the father of West Virginia, approved of it, thereby meeting the Constitutional requirement. The Confederate government of Virginia, by their own contention, did not recognize the authority of the United States Constitution and was thus hardly in a position to make an objection that would have to be recogized under the US Constitution. Rule one for any state that wishes to secede from the Union: Make very sure that a very large portion of your own state will not wish to secede from you.

  • Donald,

    The price was too high. Not that slavery was not to be ended, but it could have been done without war. It wasn’t. The cost in blood was too high. The cost in treasure was greater than the economic value of all the slaves. Too high. Of course, once war starts, it has to be finished. We should have done more to avoid war. Yet, freeing direct private slaves at the expense of making them and everyone else public slaves of the state can’t be seen as a good thing. In fact, it is a Communist idea.

    Preserving the Union is very important. Secession should not be taken lightly and only as a last measure. Yet, the battle for a federated system with diffused power and local autonomy instead of a national Leviathan is very important too. If we preserve the Union at the expense of the purpose of the Union, then what kind of union have we.

    As for so-called West Virginia, it was shady business and has done nothing but ill serve the Republic.

  • Slavery wasn’t abolished without war AK in the South. That is the key point. The issue had been debated since the American Revolution and it was clear as glass that the South would not voluntarily part with slavery.

    As for people being public slaves as a result of the Civil War, I think that proposition is not supported at all by history.

    The Union, the country, is what we make of it.

    The creation of West Virginia was shady, but I would submit no shadier than the secession of Virginia from the Union. Admit the right of secession, and I’ll be hanged if I can see a good reason as to why it should be limited only to states.

    A good overview of the birth of West Virignia is in the case of The State of Virginia v. The State of West Virginia.

  • Donald,

    The federal victory of the war set the precedent for a national government as opposed to a federal one – this is the beginning of tyranny and slavery. Sure there are other factors, but how else can you explain the state of the Union today? Unconstitutional legislation is the rule not the exception, massive debt, fiat money, intrusiveness of government into personal liberties and localities, perpetual warfare and welfare.

    The federal government is a creature of the states, Virginia being one of them and we voluntarily entered into the federal compact, so we may voluntarily leave if it becomes necessary. So-called west Virginia did not create Virginia, it is part of Virginia’s geography – no right of session at all.

    To be clear I am glad we have a Union; however, I am not at all pleased with having an illicit, illegitimate and unconstitutional national government run by a private banking cartel and these days anti-American, socialist revolutionaries.

  • Sure there are other factors, but how else can you explain the state of the Union today?

    The federal government – or national government – remained largely subservient to the states until well after the conclusion of the Civil War. It was not until the dawn of the Progressive era and the Wilson presidency that the idea that the federal government should take on further powers really blossomed, and indeed then the true expansion of federal powers didn’t get jumping until FDR.

    Unconstitutional legislation is the rule not the exception, massive debt, fiat money, intrusiveness of government into personal liberties and localities, perpetual warfare and welfare.

    All true, and all legacies of FDR and his followers, not Lincoln.

  • Paul, I do not lay the blame at the feet of Lincoln. No doubt that both Roosevelts, Wilson, Johnson, etc. are the figureheads of the progress toward the elimination of the American Republic. Yet, it was the Union victory that placed the strain on state’s sovereignty. Had the states maintained their proper power with sufficient checks against each other and the federal authority, progressivism would have had to seek another way to revolutionize a constitutional republic into a democracy cum corporatist oligarchy.

    To be clear, I think Lincoln was aware of this and his conviction to keep the Union trumped his ability to curb the money power and the coming age of ‘progressivism’. Who knows if things would have been different had he not been murdered. I rank Booth with Brown – terrorists.

Hating the Near and Loving the Far

Tuesday, March 15, AD 2011

At the risk of being all-books-all-the-time around here, (and really, if one is going to run risks, that’s not a bad one to run, is it?) I can’t this. I’ve been working through a lot of analysis at work lately, which involves long periods of sitting at my desk alone wrestling with Excel and Access, and to help stay on task I’ve been listening to John Cleese reading C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. It’s probably been ten years since I read Screwtape, and I’d forgotten how quotable it is.

These two sections particularly struck me. The first about the tactic of getting the temptee to focus on loving those he doesn’t actually know, while disliking those he actually interacts with on a daily basis.

[from Screwtape Letter #6]

As regards his more general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christian or anti-Christian periodicals. In his anguish, the patient can of course be encourage to revenge himself by some vindictive feelings directed towards the German leaders, and that is good so far as it goes, but it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats. He’s never met in real life. They are lay figures modeled on what he gets from the newspapers. The results of such fanciful hatred are often most disappointing. And of all humans, the English are, in this respect, the most deplorable milksops. They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door. Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence as well as some malice in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbors whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remove circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real, and the benevolence large imaginary.

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One Response to Hating the Near and Loving the Far

  • My wife and I got those recordings when they first came out and played them over and over. John Cleese was a stroke of genius to fill the role of Screwtape, and I regard the Screwtape Letters to be magnificently insightful as to the war between good and evil fought out in the soul of every man.

March Madness is Just Madness

Tuesday, March 15, AD 2011

I’ve become the sports guy here at TAC, so I figured I should say something about the impending college basketball tournament for the national championship, affectionately known as March Madness. While I enjoy the annual ritual of filling out a bracket and watching as my predictive skills are demonstrably obliterated, I’ve never fully bought in to the Madness. To me, March Madness is the dumbest way to determine the national champion in college sports.

And yes, I think it’s dumber than the BCS. By far. Basketball is not a single-elimination sport. If the teams are evenly matched, or even kinda close, the game comes down to the execution of a single minute. While that’s very exciting, it’s not a great indicator of overall strength. It’s like shootouts in hockey or soccer. They’re exciting and fun to watch, but it’s not the sport. You can be good at hockey without being good at shootouts. The skills are different. Similarly, the skills needed to win over  season of basketball can’t be summarized in a single elimination tournament.

This is why we see all these upsets and Cinderellas. George Mason was never the 4th best team in the country, but they made it to the Final Four b/c on a neutral court, if you play decently you have a chance to win it at the end. It’s ridiculous for teams in the Big East to slog through a rough conference schedule only to be plopped on neutral court with a team from Colonial conference in a single elimination. You’ll note that the NBA has best out of 7 series for a reason; namely that any team can beat another team on one night, but it’s harder to beat them 4 out of 7 times unless you are the truly superior team. So if we’re looking to discover the best team in college basketball, the Madness is not the way to do it.

What makes this more frustrating is that there is a more sensible way to conduct the tournament. College baseball uses a regional system. All the conference winners still get to go in a 64 team field. However, the 64 teams are divided into 16 regionals, with the #1 seed in each regional hosting their regional. This rewards teams for success in the regular season (unlike the Madness, where Ohio St. has the toughest regional with no reward). In the regional, there are 4 teams each and they play double elimination. The winner of the regional then faces another regional winner (hosted by one of the two) in a separate double elimination (ie. regional winner 1 must beat regional winner 2 twice, even if regional winner 2 lost once in the regional). They then move on to the College World Series in Omaha, where there are two more regional like rounds, and then the final is another double elimination.

Not only does this best represent baseball by forcing teams to have the depth to withstand double elimination tournaments, it rewards good teams. Moreover, it allows smaller teams to have more games (instead of just getting offered up as a sacrifice to Duke). There’s no reason basketball can’t do this; in fact, it would expand the games available to sell to TV networks.

So enjoy the madness, but just remember that the madness isn’t necessary. There’s a way already out there that’s a lot more sensible that crowns the best team in the sport, not just a buzzer beater.

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14 Responses to March Madness is Just Madness

  • Michael

    while I know this will never happen and it will probably only get worse when it comes to college basketball like more then 68 like we have now. This idea sounds like an amazing Idea. I think we get a more deserving champion if we have a double elimination tournament, while a team like butler or george mason could make some noise in the tournament it would be becuase they actually had a good team not becuase they just got hot at the right time and things fell their way. Only if you had some say in how they made this tournament. But March Madness is fun but could probably be alot more fun then it is.

  • I’m not a big fan of “March Madness”, but my biggest beef is the automatic qualifying of the winners of conference tournaments. Talk about making the regular season completely irrelevant. And it totally screws over bubble teams when a barely above (or even below) .500 team gets hot in its conference tournament and then gets an automatic bid.

    And then there’s the prevalence of gambling associated with the NCAA Tournament. Granted, there’s gambling taking place in all sports, but it is particularly accentuated in the NCAA Tournament when even people who don’t usually gamble on sports are filling out brackets to enter in their office pools and the like. And then, when the brackets get blown up by a couple of Cinderella teams, everyone suddenly loses interest. George Mason and Butler were great stories, but the ratings for those Final Fours were among the lowest in history because people stopped watching once their “bracketology” went kaput. In other words, people weren’t interested in the play on the court as much as they were interested in how THEY were doing with their brackets. Casual observers who really don’t care about the sport itself.

    Which brings me back to my only real sporting passion: college football. I oppose a playoff primarily because it detracts from the traditions of the sport and makes the regular season less important. It also seems that the main people pushing for a college football playoff are media types and gamblers – people who have a financial stake in seeing the bowl system go away and a playoff take its place, but who, arguably, don’t really care about the sport itself and its traditions.

  • my biggest beef is the automatic qualifying of the winners of conference tournaments.

    Yeah, that’s all about money. Conferences could be easily represented by the regular season conference winners; instead, we have these tournaments so that the regular season is only about getting a good seed and watching the Duke/UNC games.

    And it totally screws over bubble teams when a barely above (or even below) .500 team gets hot in its conference tournament and then gets an automatic bid.

    Speaking of screwing over bubble teams, is someone from your alma mater just messing with Virginia Tech? 😉

    And then, when the brackets get blown up by a couple of Cinderella teams, everyone suddenly loses interest. George Mason and Butler were great stories, but the ratings for those Final Fours were among the lowest in history because people stopped watching once their “bracketology” went kaput.

    That’s definitely true. People care so much the first few days b/c you’re still in it. After that, you have to be sold on a connection to the school or a love for the game. That’s really hard to get outside the Duke/UNC, as most of the schools now have these one and done freshmen mercenaries who are on their way to the pros next year. In short, there’s not the built up love for a player or loyalty to the school and its traditions that really form the basis of college football (as well the regional rivalries renewed once a year, making it more potent).

  • I forgot to note this in the post, but Fresno St.’s title a few years ago shows that this format doesn’t kill Cinderellas either. Fresno St. was a 4 seed in their region, which is about the equivalent of a 13 seed in the bracket or lower. No team seeded 13 or lower has ever made the Elite 8 in basketball, much less winning the title.

  • I’ve never fully understood all the machinations that make the seeding what it is. Some, I totally understand. Others leave me confused and surprised. For instance a little bit out of the Big XII: Certainly Texas and Kansas were deserving of high seeds. They had good seasons and have very talented teams. TAMU gets the nod at a 7 seed, yet K-State gets a 5? Seriously? The Aggies finished ahead of the Wildcats, and more importantly beat them head-to-head. And what’s this about Colorado not making the tourney? They beat K-State three times. THREE TIMES.

    I’d love to see the tourney change, but I have no clue as to how. Your suggestions, Mike, are worth exploring.

  • The seeding is truly bizarre. I remember a few years ago when LSU had a pretty good year but got rewarded with an 8 seed, thus getting Butler in Rd. 1 and then UNC in Rd. 2.

  • I heard on ESPN that they base the seedings on potential tournament matchups more than they do on the quality of the team being seeded. If one seeding is likely to avoid a 1st or 2nd round matchup that the NCAA would like to see happen later, then that is how they will seed the teams, even if it means an inferior team gets a better seeding than a team with a better record or who has beaten that team head-to-head.

    You know, because tournaments avoid all that unfairness that is rampant in how Division 1 college football does its bowl picks.


  • And then there’s the prevalence of gambling associated with the NCAA Tournament.

    I heard on the radio today that over $1B (that’s ‘B’ as in Billion) will be gambled on the March Madness this year – and that’s not counting the legal gambling. I will try to find the quote later, but right now, I have to fill out my bracket…j/k!!

  • Are we turning into Puritans? I thought gambling, like alcohol, is a perfectly moral activity if undertaken within appropriate constraints. I enjoy the bracketology and the challenge of besting my colleagues (I often do) and my wife (less luck there — but she cheats by reading the sports section cover to cover every day). We can all agree that participants in the games themeselves should not bet on them, but I seriously doubt that this problem is all that prevalent; and I’m confident that outlawing office bracket pools would not curtail whatever of it does go on. I will fill out my bracket tonight over a bourbon (and cigar, weather permitting), and no amount of fundie-Catholic handwringing is going to stop me or make me feel guilty about any of it.

    And for the record, there are no small teams (well, maybe short teams), just small schools — and Duke is one of them.

  • I agree with all of the comments above.

    I just wanted to jump *kind of* off topic; but Michael brought up college baseball, so here it is:

    Geaux Tigers! LSU – a dynasty if there ever was one – beat Cal St.-Fullerton over the weekend. Did I say “beat”? I meant SWEPT!! And, they’re 15-1 now.

    Geaux Tigers!

    (Back to the regularly scheduled programming.)

  • I’m not interested in outlawing gambling. Not sure what about my comment gave that impression.

    The point I was making is that people whose only interest in the sport is how THEY are doing in their brackets aren’t always the best fans or have the best interest of the sport at heart.

  • I see what you’re saying, Jay. Me, OTH, I could sit and watch each game and thoroughly enjoy it (except if the Aggies lost). I could enjoy a stomping a la UNLV v. Duke from 1990 (I think). I could enjoy seeing one of the “Fab 5” draw a technical foul in a close game for calling a timeout when the Wolverines were out of them. I could watch Christian Laetner hit a buzzer beater from the top of the key. I love the game, and sadly it seems many more folks don’t share that same love.

  • Fair enough, Jay. I should have read your comment more closely. Sorry. That said, in my experience I do not think the office pools dilute the number of true fans even if they create some fans whose interest is limited to the pool — but I don’t think those fans have a pernicious effect on the game.

  • The problem with the analogy to college baseball, is that baseball is a much worse sport to decide in single-elimination than basketball. The better team is much more likely to win a single basketball game than a single baseball game. So the double-elimination format of the College World Series only begins to make up the difference.

    Also, all this talk about Cinderellas like George Mason is a little overblown. This does not happen every year. Was it that they were an 11 seed? Well they are only the second 11 seed to make the Final Four; a 10 seed has never made it; and only one 9 seed. Is it that they come from a mid-major conference? What is wrong with that? The Colonial was better than the SEC West this year.

Augustine’s Confessions: Contemplating the Infinite

Tuesday, March 15, AD 2011

Book I of The Confessions seems to me to fall into two parts: Chapters 1-7 grapple with the very concept of an infinite and eternal God, while Chapters 8-20 discuss the human experience of growing up and attaining some degree of youthful self awareness. I’ll cover this first half of the book today, and the second half tomorrow, so that each post can be relatively short.

Augustine sets out to tell the story of his own life in relation to and in relationship with God, and he opens the book by addressing God. Right here in Book I, Chapter 1 we run into one of the handful of quotes from Augustine that practically everyone has heard, whether or not they actually know it comes from him:

[T]hou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.

That restlessness will provide much of the matter for Augustine’s story, but here he asks the more basic question of why an eternal and perfect God concerns himself with all too mortal and fallen humans:

How shall I call upon my God for aid, when the call I make is for my Lord and my God to come into myself? What place is there in me to which my God can come, what place that can receive the God who made heaven and earth?

This idea of God being in something while also being both infinite and the creator of all things is something which an inquiring mind must necessarily poke at, and Augustine pokes with a sense of imagination which seems, in some ways, oddly modern:

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3 Responses to Augustine’s Confessions: Contemplating the Infinite

  • “The universe is not some separate thing, but rather is encompassed and contained by God.”

    Perhaps only a fleeting thought in the mind of God. When thinking of creation, God and infinity, I tend to get a feeling of dizziness after a few minutes. In Exodus where God calls Himself I AM, the name has always struck me as very appropriate, because I rather suspect He is the only entity that truly does exist, which makes the contention of atheists that God does not exist truly hilarious. All the rest of creation “exists” at all solely by the Will of God. The fact of creation demonstrates to me the love of God, as it was completely unnecessary from His point of view.

  • “Too narrow is the house of my soul for you to enter into it: let it be enlarged by you.” – Ch. 5


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Dipping a Toe in the Dark Side

Monday, March 14, AD 2011

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a devotee of the true faith.  I am not  referring here to Catholicism, which of course I would refer to as the True Faith.  I am referring to the true computer faith, PCs.  I have been worshiping in the House of Gates since my bride and I purchased our first PC in 1988.  CGA graphics, no hard drive, one floppy disk drive: 1200 bucks, on sale.  You could heat a room with it after it was on for a few hours and it was only a little less loud than a vacumn cleaner.  Love at first sight.  Then of course there was the joy of learning the cryptic MS-DOS and all the arcane symbols to make the computer function, which would have made a medieval alchemist scream in frustration at the complexity.  A true man’s operating system, although my bride somehow mastered it first and imparted the secret knowledge of the PC Craft to me.

Over the years at my home and office I have owned so many PCs I long ago lost count, and we have followed them through all of their transmutations:  Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Vista (Don spits) and Windows 7.

I will turn this over now to my bride of 29 years this coming December, who will explain why we have brought a Mac product into this PC home:

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16 Responses to Dipping a Toe in the Dark Side

  • Come to the dark side! My family is following my lead into the Mac world, and we’re also getting an iPad for our 16 year-old autistic boy (who dearly loves his iPod touch). A great device, gratefully received.

    PS: first computer, an Olivetti M-80 in 1985, with TWO 5-inch floppy drive (ooooooh!), amber-colored, not green, lettering on the screen, and daisy-wheel printer that could do—wait for it!—proportional spaced printing. Oh, and DOS as the OS, and Edix/Wordix as the word-processing system.

  • Mark, our first computer was a C64 in 1987, and, for my money, the best home computer available at the time with a whole, whopping 64k of memory!

  • I can totally relate to this Don. We don’t have an iPad yet, but we will probably get one after the hype dies down and maybe the price comes down a bit.

    We did recently get an iPod Touch, which is basically an iPhone without the phone (though you can use Skype with it as long as you have wi-fi). Our daughter (autistic, but verbal and not in need of PECS, though I do remember those from her younger days) loves it so much she frequently will hang onto it until the battery runs down completely. My husband put some game apps on it for himself. I added an e-book app and even splurged to put a Divine Office app on it. (Haven’t tried the “confession” app yet, though, and don’t plan to.)

    In our house, the One True Faith is in Macs for a number of reasons — a big one being that they are immune or resistant to a lot of the viruses that plague PC/Microsoft products.

  • Now, Don, I don’t want to be one of those who sees Calvinists hiding in every corner, but surely someone has told you that Macs are Catholic while DOS is Protestant… 🙂

    (Which I suppose means, given the age of Eco’s article, that the point when Macs became white and all the hipsters started buying them was a sort of Vatican II.)

  • “The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the kingdom of Heaven — the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
    DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.
    You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It’s true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions: When it comes down to it, you can decide to ordain women and gays if you want to.
    Naturally, the Catholicism and Protestantism of the two systems have nothing to do with the cultural and religious positions of their users. One may wonder whether, as time goes by, the use of one system rather than another leads to profound inner changes. Can you use DOS and be a Vande supporter? And more: Would Celine have written using Word, WordPerfect, or Wordstar? Would Descartes have programmed in Pascal?
    And machine code, which lies beneath and decides the destiny of both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that belongs to the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic. The Jewish lobby, as always….”

    I wonder who Sean Connery will portray in the film version of this?

  • “Our daughter (autistic, but verbal and not in need of PECS, though I do remember those from her younger days) loves it so much she frequently will hang onto it until the battery runs down completely.”

    I am in high hopes Elaine that my autistic son will have a similar reaction over time. I think the tactile touch screen control of the Ipad will appeal to him.

  • If Mac is Catholic and DOS is Protestant, does this mean that Unix/Linux is SSPV?? Perhaps I should consider ‘coming home’ to Macs…

  • Don, I cut my teeth on a Vic Commodore.

  • Really, DOS? I suppose if you’re one of those new-fangled guys who wants white letters on a black screen. Me, I’ll take green letters on a black screen, “hex” addresses, and the soothing sounds of a dot-matrix printer.

    The funny thing is, I really have grown soft. I probably couldn’t handle machine language anymore. Still I’d rather play Zork than World of Warcraft.

  • Seeing as my husband’s primary job is working with computers, and we both like video games and don’t have a lot of cash, we’ll stick with PCs.

  • I’ve been struggling with this as I will have to buy a new machine soon. I strongly dislike buying new hardware when the old hardware hasn’t broken. I have never replaced a toaster just because a new version came out. I still think a yellow pad and pencil with eraser is advanced technology and seem pretty happy with it – I guess am a traditionalist.

    Nevertheless, there is something called software bloat and it forces the purchase of new hardware even if the old hardware is still working. I think it is a scam. Of course, this comes from an industry that intentionally sells defective products in ‘beta’ version and tells you they’ll sell you an upgrade once the bugs are worked out. Then every other .version has its own unique problems. The PC industry habitually delivers about 80% of what it promises and everyone seems OK with that. Would you buy 80% of a car or house? How about a round-trip on an airplane with only an 80% chance of success. Again, I say scam. The computer industry is more like a cult than any authentic religion. It looks pretty, promises a lot, but delivers a hollow shell.

    Any way, I need a new one and since now it takes about 30 minutes after spyscans, virusscans, malware scans, root-kit scans, updates and who knows what else to boot the thing up I have become convinced that PCs are very cavalier, flip, impure and unchaste. DOS is pagan at best. How else do you explain the numerous diseases and viruses it picks up and the myriad of inoculations the PC with DOS needs? It certainly gets around. I have resisted Macs, primarily because most of the software I have to use is not written for Macs, but I am going to go in that direction – they don’t get sick as often, so they seem more pure.

    I confess my first PC was an Apple IIc with a whopping 128K. Then Apple sold me on the idea that the color Mac was available and it wasn’t even a Mac it was an Apple II! So I bought the Apple IIgs only to find out that they actually were working on a color Mac and scrapping the Apple II all together. I was lied to, jilted and mislead, so I made the leap over to DOS. Not knowing at the time that Gates is nothing more than a copy-cat, groomed for his role by his daddy’s connections and a rabid globalist and supporter of ‘population control’. Sprint did the same thing to me in the DC area with the Sprint Spectrum – the first digital phone network and then scrapped it and went nationwide with a system on which my phone didn’t work. I know we are supposed to be forgiving, but as a conservative with libertarian bent, I feel I must use my power in the market to signal to the corporations when they fail to meet consumer demands!

    Thanks for pointing out that Macs are more Catholic, I’ll feel better making the switch. However, they seem to be as Catholic as pro-abprtion catholics, which is to say not catholic at all, since they supported so-called gay marriage in California. Or am I mistaken?

  • I’m just not buying the whole Catholic vs. Protestant thing as a comparison and if I did, I would challenge the assertion that Apple is Catholic. If a religious analogy was to be had, I would liken it more to Puritan vs. Scientology. Apple being Puritan, providing its adherents a neat, orderly, all too confining box to play in, all the while the followers are having their very souls stifled. MS would be Scientology. Basically anything goes, an the only real order is that you’re obliged to donate large sums of money for the appearance of a functioning system.

    Android however (and I know this is limited to mobile) was off to a great start as a Catholic OS. Solid, built on first principles, orderly, free, enabling, and free from the bondage of theocratic despotism of Apple and the (a)moral relativism of MS. Unfortunately the cell phone manufactures like power-mad princes of the past started smoking the Apple crack, and have made great efforts to thwart both the faith and the dignity of man. Even Google now is starting to get a contact buzz and may soon fall into a heresy of it’s own making.

  • Oh, just get Linux. Why bother spending all your money to feed the animals because of intellectual property laws that are contrary to reason and the natural law?

  • Next you’ll be drinking caramel macchiatos and eating veggie wraps while reading the NY Times on your iPad.

    I’m more conservative so I drink black coffee and eat steak and eggs while reading TAC on my Thinkpad.

  • Kyle –

    Unix/Linux is Dominican – elegant, but requires deep knowledge.
    Apple is Franciscan – simple, visual, unbounded.
    Windows is Jesuitical – instructing the uneducated masses through simple illustrations.
    DOS is Carmelite.
    Vista is Pelagian – it promises an easy-to-reach Heaven, but follow it and you’ll end up in Hell.

  • I knew I was making a mistake when I opened the door in comparing computer operating systems with religions! 🙂

Von Galen Contra Gestapo

Sunday, March 13, AD 2011



In my first post on Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, which may be read here, we examined the life of this remarkable German bishop who heroically stood up to the Third Reich.  Today we examine the first of three sermons that he preached in 1941 which made him famous around the globe.  In the summer of 1941 the Third Reich was at its zenith.  Operation Barbarossa had been launched, and the Soviets were reeling, with German armies advancing rapidly against a Red Army which appeared to be on the verge of dissolution.  In North Africa, the Desert Fox was besieging Tobruk and it seemed only a matter of time until Egypt might fall to him.  American still slumbered in an isolationist dream.  World domination by Nazi Germany seemed to be approaching reality.

At this point, when his Nazi foes were their strongest, on July 13, 1941, Bishop von Galen threw down his episcopal gauntlet to the Gestapo, the secret police of the Nazis, who brutally terrorized Germany and occupied Europe:


My dear Catholics of St. Lambert’s:

 I have longed to read personally from the pulpit of this church today my pastoral letter on the events of the past week and in particular to express to you, my former parishioners, my deep-felt sympathy. In some part of the city, the devastation and loss have been particularly great. I hope that by the action of the municipal and government authorities responsible, and above all by your brotherly love and the collections taken today for the work of the Caritas Union and the Parish Caritas, some of the hardship and suffering will be relieved. I had in mind also, however, to add a brief word on the meaning of the divine visitation: how God thus seeks us in order to lead us home to Him. God wants to lead Münster home to Him.  How much at home were our forefathers with God and in God’s Holy Church! How thoroughly were their lives — their public life, their family life, and even their commercial life — supported by faith in God, directed by the holy fear of God and by the love of God! Has it always been like that in our own day? God wants to lead Münster home to Him!

Von Galen here is speaking about the devastation caused by British bombing raids.  Note his comments about the practical steps necessary to help the victims through special collections, and the overriding necessity of turning to God.

Concerning this I had meant to put some further reflections before you. But this I cannot do today, for I find myself compelled to openly and in public speak of something else — a shattering event which came upon us yesterday, at the end of this week of calamity.

What could be more important than the damage wreaked upon us by the enemy bombers I am certain was the thought that first occurred to many of von Galen’s listeners. 

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6 Responses to Von Galen Contra Gestapo

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  • Wow Don. That is fantastic. Amazing how this sermon could be preached today . . . in America. Given that the corporate media is overwhelmingly leftist; that the very word ‘justice’ is bandied about to give cover to state plunder and personal plunder through the state apparatus; that the laws (PPACA, PATRIOT Act, TARP) and legal decisions (Roe v. Wade, Kelo v. New London) passed do not conform with the law of the land (The Constitution); that our government does not refer to Moslem jihadits as ‘terrorists’ but pro-lifers, Ron Paul supporters, Gadsden flag wavers, End the Fed proponents are labeled as terrorists. Is it a wonder that von Galen’s sermon could be preached here today?

    The relativist materialist minority is vocal and powerful and dangerous. As always they will demonize the ‘right’, in truth they are targeting the usual target of the pawns of the Devil: Those who are bigoted because they do not approve of the behavior of Sodomites, those who engage in hate-speech by promoting chastity and traditional marriage, those misogynists who think that women should be supported, respected and encouraged to be authentically feminine and fecund, those who refer to Truth as if there is only one truth and expect people to believe that truth is objective and not the construct of academics and government diktat. You know to whom I am referring – its those pesky Catholics, and not your run of the mill, casual Christmas and Easter Mass, contracepting, pro-abort catholics; but those darn orthodox traditionalists and conservatives who claim the Church has taught and worshiped the same for 2,000 years. They even claim that their Church is the only One founded by Jesus Christ! The audacity.

    I would love to see this fine son of the Church confront socialists like Obama and so-called Catholics like Biden, Pelosi and Sibellius. It would be wonderful to see him make them tremble.

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  • Its amazing, to read these articles and understand their meaning! Its like reading a battle plan. The offensives and defenses in the minds of church leaders vs. extreme secular goals for humans.

    But who are the foot soldiers? I am one of them. Positioned against the extreme secular front battle line. But, where is the battle plan (so to speak) that I / we can follow?

    Millions of us dont’t know what you are saying. Or is there not enough of words in the plebian dictionary to allow you to do this.

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Our Lady of Akita: Pray for Japan!

Saturday, March 12, AD 2011

Japan’s devastation this week from the earthquake and the resulting tsunami have left thousands dead.  Now, the Japanese are beset with damage to six nuclear reactors.  We must give our brothers and sisters in Japan our prayers and assistance.  It is also a very good time to recall that in the Seventies of the last century Japan was the scene of the best authenticated Marian apparition since Fatima, and which has been deemed worthy of belief by the Vatican.  The message of Our Lady of Akita is a stern one, and a call for repentance and a turning to God.  Here at the beginning of Lent we have  a graphic reminder that in this world, as well as in the next, our only sure reliance is in God.

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54 Responses to Our Lady of Akita: Pray for Japan!

  • I remember reading about that apparition years ago when I first started coming back to church. A little known fact about Catholicism in Japan is that, although Catholics have always a very small minority, they claim the most impressive martyriology. The Church in Japan survived over two centuries without any clergy.

  • Correct Greg, after the savage persecution under Tokugawa and his successors who did their best to kill every Christian in Japan at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Christianity went underground. When Admiral Perry reopened Japan in the 1850s to the West, Westerners encountered Japanese who made the sign of the cross and told them they were Christians. It was a remarkable example of the staying power of Christianity and the loyalty of Japanese to the faith once they are converted.

  • The world has moved so far away from God!!!! Blasphemy abounds. When one watches television, one rarely finds a program to watch that does not cross the line of sin in any of its forms, or against the Ten Commandments. If it is not the language, it is what used to be suggestive scenes to now, out and out acts. The governments around the world are so corrupt, one can see the devil in action there. When we speak of the United States, all we have to do is look not only at the sins of abortion, euthanasia and corruption, but also to our newest propagation of sin, our illustrious Obamacare Health Care bill which is full of things that go against God. It was not bad enough when sex was heterosexual, now they have same sex everything. How sick we have become.

    Please God, deliver us from this ugliness. We are your servants and we number in the billions. We ask for your help to bring souls to you because we know we can not do it alone. We know that for the horrors of what has happened in Japan to end, we must convert ourselves back to you and away from sin. Please help people to do just that.

    Please help the people of Japan now who are in great need.

    Thank you.

  • Anyone have information on Japanese martyr Bl. Thomas Koyanangi? Thanks

  • Frances
    Your comment was great and so true! Mankind is being brought to it’s knees. We MUST turn back to GOD….before it’s too late! These disasters will multiply and intensify until we do! PRAISE GOD!!!

  • Chris
    Bl. Thomas Koyanangi was arrested as a passenger on the ship of Bl. Joachim firayama-Diz. He was beheaded at Nagasaki. He was beatified in 1867.

  • Japan needs only one thing to be saved, it needs God

  • Japan & the whole world need God indeed. Technology cannot surpass & replace God no matter how much man will think they can do. It is time to acknowledge that God wants the world to repent and come back to Him. Praying for all in Japan.

  • I immediately thought of Our Lady of Akita when the tragedy occurred. Our Lady of Akita, please pray for Japan.

  • During times like these, most people turn towards God which is great, but unfortunately as time passes and people get back on their feet, many go back to their old sinful ways and God is forgotten again. Right after 9/11 the churches in New York were packed for 3 months and then as the people realized that nothing else was going to happen, they quit going. It remains to be seen now in this disaster how the Japanese people will react spiritually. After the 2 atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and hundreds thousands died, there was still many in the Japanese government who wanted to continue fighting, their pride was so strong. Let us hope and pray for the Japanese people now for humility and in God’s mercy, for their conversion.

  • I have a miracalous medal from passed down from my grandmother it is silver and magnified inscribed 1870 Japan, we are Italian does anyone know how that came about? Thanks

  • Our Lady of Akita, we beg you ask the Savior to intercede on behalf of the poor people of Japan. Every Rosary during Lent is going to be for their healing and safety.

  • Correction the bottom of Marys dress is inscribed 1850 in the back of the medal between the bottom stars is inscribed JAPAN.

  • Japan today ( as with the rest of the world ) needs to turn to God immediately. being one of the worlds third largest economy, it sadly also has the worlds biggest Porno industry . when will people decide to change their evil ways and turn to God. Sin has become more a way of life …with everyone, and NOBODY wants a finger pointed at themselves.

  • The date on the Miraculous medal is 1830, the year that Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Laboure. The actual date was November 27, 1830, and the place was the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, in Paris. Our Lady herself, designed the medal.

    The medal was probably made in Japan, and that is what is most likely on the back of the meda.

  • The whole world needs to turn back to God. We need to convert ourselves first without pointing fingers to another. We should start in our homes first. Believe me it is very difficult. With the help of God and Mother Mary we can do it. Now! is the time. Don’t wait for tomorrow! Don’t wait for tragedy to strike. Bend your knees. Dear God, Forgive your people. Guide us on the right path dear Lord. We love you! We need you. Save the people of Japan! Give them courage to bear this burden and turn to you.

  • The disaster in Japan makes the Christchurch earthquake pale into near insignificance. Watching the TV accounts of the tsunami hitting the area around Sendai was totally aweful in its power and destruction.

    It appears that the death toll will be in the tens of thousands. I have friends who are Japanese, and some NZers were in the area where the tsunami hit, and are safe according to reports. There is supposed to be a massive aftershock in the next few days. And the danger posed by the possible melt down of the nuclear facilities is also a huge concern.

    Let us pray that our Heavenly Father, that He will have pity on the suffering of these the Japanese people and grant them mercy and hope, and an early end to their anguish.

    Lord, hear our prayer.

  • Don, it appears that this disaster will be the most devastation wreaked upon Japan since World War II.

    The order maintained by the Japanese in the face of all this is incredible. God help this courageous people!

  • How many times, and for how many years, must our Mother warn us before we turn away from the awful path we are treading upon? From 1917 at Fatima, throughout the years up to the present day She has warned us, wept for us, pleaded with us and given us the tool (the Rosary) to heal souls, our wounds, our earth, and for all those years we have ignored Her pleas. Why then are we surprised when disaster strikes? And this isn’t the “chastisement worse than the deluge” that She is speaking of…there is something much, much worse waiting in the wings. What will it take before we stop murdering our unborn, wallowing in the deadly sludge of homosexuality, wanton greed and materialism and continue ignoring and blaspheming God Himself before we stop? She won’t keep warning Her children forever. As a good Mother, She will soon step aside and let Her children be punished in order to save them.

  • If you are not praying the rosary, you need to start. The rosary has great power and protection. You do not have to be catholic to do so. For further info:

  • My personal investigation into Mother of God visons revealed an important fact. Before I dwell into the fact(s), I must say that during the last decade or so there has been hundreds and maybe even thousands of reported visions of the Mother of God (Mary). It is very difficult to distinguish between the real ones and those that are false.
    The guiding rule I use is “if the content and meaning of the message (I’ll use an analogy) sounds like music to the ears, and tastes like honey it is not from God. If the content of the message is against the local Bishop and the church (Catholic) it is not from God.
    A real message from God = analogy – it doesn’t taste like honey, it doesn’t sound like sweet music to the ears. Most importantly the content of the message or the person receiving the message will ultimately stress being obedient to the local bishop. This is the key in determining if the message is real.

    Let’s take Akita into mind. This is the reason why there are so many false visions. In order to distract us from the True Message from God. Akita is approved by the local Bishop. If we paid attention to the Akita message and did what the Mother of God asked us, then the chastisement/punishement warned of would not occurr.

    And I could kind of say with humble uncertainity that there now seems to be a 40 year time period after warning before the punishment begins.

  • Our Lady has been warning us for years. Our Lady is still appearing to 5 visionaries in Medjorge. Her message is always the same . Pray Pray pray. We must come back to God.These are very turbulant times. We are being divided between good and bad.We will be held responsible for the direction
    that we choose.
    Pray for our brothers and sisters in Japan and all countries of the world.Pray for yourselves and your families. Pray the Rosary,ask for our Blessed Mothers intersession.
    God Bless

  • History and Scripture caught a short glimpse of her when she came to deliver the Redeemer to us. Now she is ready, even at the door of our hearts awaiting her son’s triumphant return to assist our Lord in the harvest of men. She has been quietly but effectively preparing the faithful by spiritual visions and appearances all over the world, mostly to the poor and holy souls or little children, imploring them to pray for peace and live lives worthy of the promises of Christ through repentance and sacrifice seeking to bring as many to her Divine Son as possible. Soon all the world will acknowledge her presence as God’s will unfolds before us. We must prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming and painful though merciful judgment upon the world by devout prayer, frequent confession, daily mass if possible, and many rosaries. Our Holy Mother has repeated this constantly in her many apparitions and messages over the years. We need to appreciate her place and participation in God’s eternal plan like the servants at the wedding feast.

  • I believe the United States of America will be spared from chastisement such as in Japan. The reason why is becuase the our bishops consecrated the United States to the Immacualte Heart of Mary.

    We are under Her Protection but without warnings.

    What we need to do now is pray for the dead. A powerful prayer that Jesus told St. Faustina to pray is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

    Lets all pray this Chaplet for the souls of the recently departed in Japan. Ok?

  • Great post…thanks…we are also praying for the people of Japan. God bless you all from Jerusalem.

  • In the news this evening, it was stated that the Govenor of Tokyo said the current disater was a punishment from heaven because of greed.

  • Let us all pray for the people of Japan and for a better word from Malta

  • I think that its important to remember that Our Lady of Akita’s warnings weren’t just for the people of Japan but for the whole world. The Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear are just the tips of what is yet to come.
    My advice live each day as if it were your Last and always been ready to meet Our Maker and Our Judge death and the fear of it will have no power over us “Woe, to those who are not ready,” I better pay heed to my own advice. 99.9% of apparitions today that are alleged to be of God are fakes. But not Akita.

  • Dear Father God,
    Please give us people in this world another chance Please let us understand our sin and help us to repent It is only you who is able to let us repent and come back to you. Mother Mary Please help us to pray, for your son would hear and answer you and I know Mother Mary you love us people of this world like your love for our Lord Thank you Mother Mary.

  • We can’t all be Mother Teresa’s, Bishop Sheen’s, or John Paul II’s. History has seen the likes of these many times and we are the richer for their contributions to the faith we hold dear. But keep in mind; with few exceptions all of us can add our portion to the value of our faith and wealth of the Church of the Apostles and saints before us through living simple, humble, and obedient lives within our station.
    However, no matter how humble or noble our position may be our true commonality is brought together and best offered to God for the sake of His kingdom through prayer. Yes, PRAYER has and will forever be the most powerful weapon against the evil which has engulfed the world with such brutal force and vicious intent as is evident in our time.
    I believe our time is also Our Lady’s time. Her many “apparitions” around the world over the years reveals she constantly prays for us and humbly begs that we join her in prayer for a world adrift in a sea of sin. We need to turn our eyes and ears from the blaring glitter of secular guile being aimed at us and open the voices of our hearts and join with her in fulfilling the Creator’s promise to mankind. Pray with the words and thoughts which define our hope for the future of all mankind to our most merciful God who alone can lead us from the misery this world has fashioned for us. Our Father in heaven is eager to hear the voices of those who join with the pleas of His bride the new Eve and mother of His Son, who was named in the Garden of Eden to, in her time, together with the Holy Spirit return and crush the head of evil for mankind’s new generation.

  • Sorry to contradict you but why would America and Americans be in any way immune from judgement and the need for sincere repentance? We are all sinners and we all need to ask for the moment-by-moment grace of God to live right with our neighbours and for forgiveness of our sins of commission and omission.
    Momentous natural events such as these earthquakes may be seen as signs of warning from God. Even if a person does not believe this, they do remind us Man is very frail, and ultimately, cannot save himself. They are a chastisement to our hubris which stands in great need of chastisement.
    Maybe our prayers should include one for humility and obedience to the will of God, personal and national.

  • Careful, leo the lion, your latest message sounds like music to my ears and is sweet as honey! America should be so Blessed? Beware!

  • We must pray for the humble people of Japan. They are so many. America felt the hand of punishment on 9/11 and as a previous comment stated, our penitence has not lasted. We must pray without ceasing!

  • Our Lady of Fatima said, “we should stop offending God anymore, for He is already too grievously offended.” In the heart of the message of Our Lady of Fatima is Eucharistic Adoration — adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The dream of St. John Bosco points to 2 pillars that will hold the Church strong. In St. John’s dream, the Church, represented by a huge ship is being attacked from all parts of the turbulent ocean and from within. It already bore a damaged side as it moves slowly towards the 2 pillars. The waters are calm within the 2 pillars on top of which are the images of Holy Eucharist on a taller pillar and the Blessed Virgin Mary on a shorter pillar. We should avail of these weapons with a repentant heart and focus on the Mercy of God. We should frequent the Sacraments–Confession and Holy Communion. I too, thought of Our Lady of Akita when the Tsunami was on the news and wondered where it was located in reference to the epicenter. God bless!


  • I am confused and am hoping someone can help. Wasn’t part of the message of Akita a direct reference to Communion in the hand? I thought that the sister’s bleeding left hand was do to Catholics receiving communion in the hand, and that our Lady’s right hand bleeding represented the priests giving Communion in the hand. If this is the case, we are offending our Lord through this practice. We can respond to our Lady’s request also by not receiving our Lord in our unconsecrated hands. What do the rest of you think? Also, did anyone notice how the dates of the apparition at Akita coinsided with legalized abortion in this country? Is there a link between Communion in the hand and legalized abortion?

  • I don’t understand.

  • No need to be confused.. Jesus said to the first Bishop who was Peter
    “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

    With that in mind if God’s Earthly Church (Bishops) allow Communion in the hand, then its approved in Heaven.

    I been investigating apparitions for quite some time. Most reported apparitions are false. Only the ones approved by the Church are good to go. (so to speak)

    In essence Gods message in the apparition can’t be in conflict with the Church. God can’t contradict himself. So if the apparation message is “Communion in the hand is wrong” this is against the Church which allows Communion in the hand. God cant be against His Own Church.
    So no need to be confused.

  • Just a follow up,,, these reported apparitions (please excuse my spelling) and messages from God is a challenge to determine if true. If your confused, or just dont know what is going on,,, wait for the local Bishop to make statements about the apparition is worthy and true.

    And somewhere in the Church Law it mentions that we don’t have to believe in apparitions. But we can;t be against what the local Bishop decides on.

  • to John Lentricchia

    You missed the phrase “without warning” And study up on Consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A lot of blessings and protection. Excuse my spelling

  • My messages are always based on Faith and Trust in Jesus.
    But I also have Faith and Trust in my Bishop.
    My favorite Saint is Saint Faustina. Who is your favorite Saint?

  • our priests!… our priests are under such attack and struggle!… God help them… and let us all:
    HONOR a priest
    ENCOURAGE a priest
    THANK a priest
    FORGIVE a priest
    BE a priest

  • Indeed, the world is turning upside down, and increasingly against all the tenets of Christianity. Governments are encouraging homosexuality and same-sex marriages, corruption, abuse of power, abortions. Just recently, Britain’s High Court rejected a Christian family’s application to foster orphans, on the grounds that their Christian faith is harmful to the kids’ upbringing, as it “contradicts” British law which allows homosexual couples to have equal rights to!! During this season of Lent, let us pray for ourselves, our families, our communities, and implore the Lord of Divine Mercy to have mercy on us and the whole word.

  • I hear this during homily in Church ‘repent for the Kingdon of God is close at hand’ and indeed this words are so true, as long as we don’t more of this mishaps, disasters, famine etc is going to carry on until there is no one on earth and then its judgement day!
    Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit, we Praise You, we Bless You, we Glorify You and we Thank you for everything, we beg You for forgiveness, look not on our sins but on the Faith of Your Church, we ask You to Bless Japan abundantly and the people there, give them all the help they need especially the young, the aged, the volunteers who put their lives ahead of others, Thank You Father, Amen!

  • Saturday 26 march 2011 9pm
    May Our holy Father and Holy Son blessed that The Genting Highland
    Malaysia frm worst disasters during the raining season. Thank you Father.

  • Pingback: Japan – We Remember You « nunspeak
  • Let’s Pray the Rosary to Mother Mary.

    In addition, please pray to St Jude:
    “O Holy St Jude, Apostle and Martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, near kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke your special patronage in time of need, to you we have recourse from the depth of our hearts and humbly beg to whom God has given such great power , comet to our assistance.

    Help us in our present urgent petition :

    in return we promise to make your name known and cause you to be invoked.

    In Jesus name we pray”.

  • I was an active member of the “cenacle marian movement for priest” until i relocated to another country. During those days after the morning daily mass we gather before the “blessesed sacrament” and start praying the rosary in accordance with the guide in the blue book. Again what happen in Japan is not
    a surprise because the messge of the blessed mother speaks well in the blue book
    “turn to God, be converted, pray,pray,pray the rosary,mass,confession,and adoration,” or else?????

  • To the Administrator:

    Why were my two comments, posted, respectively, on the 1st and 2nd of April, removed from this forum?
    I did not mean to barged in here uninvited…
    Applying censorship is shameful and you are avoiding what may well be a healthy discussion or exchange of opinions.

  • Because this is a devotional thread and you wanted to debate the existence of God. This thread is not for that purpose. There are other threads on this blog that would be happy to give you all the debate that you would want. This thread is for people to pray for the Japanese and to beseech God and Our Lady to help them.

    Censorship, by the way, is something that a government does, not a private person in regard to a blog.

  • Dear Mr McClarey:
    Thank you for your reply and explanation.
    It is not my purpose to cause disturbance here. Although I would love to discuss the issue you just mentioned, if you read my comments you will see that my purpose was not that.
    All I wanted to say is the God is not responsible for the catastrophes occuring in this world from time to time, and they are not a punishment of God either. Nobody have the right to speak for God.
    I appologize for choosing the word “censorship”… it was a way to press for a reply.
    I respect your views so leave you in peace.
    With my best wishes,


  • Bernadette:
    April 6, 2011 A.D. at1:48 p.m.

    Our Father in heaven is waiting for us to repent. He is a forgiving father.No matter how big our sins are. He is always ready to forgive us with an open arms. Remember God is the owner of the earth. If He wants to get everything back here on earth, nothing will be left. So, let us pray that fighting between nations to nations and corruption will be stopped. God is just us reminding us that we’re no longer belong to Him but to the world This situation will be stopped, only if people will love one another. That what God wants us to do. The second greatest commandment of God. Brothers and Sisters. Let us pray for the world peace.

The Fighting 69th

Saturday, March 12, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  The Fighting 69th sung by the WolfTones.

Formed in 1851, the regiment served during the Civil War as part of the Irish Brigade.  The 69th earned its “fighting” sobriquet, according to legend, when General Robert E. Lee at Fredericksburg, told that the 69th had made a gallant assault against the Confederate lines, and recalling the regiment from the Seven Days battles, stated “Ah yes.  That fighting 69th.”  Made up mostly of Irishmen during the Civil War,  the regimental battle cry was Faugh an Beallach,  Clear the Way.    The regimental motto was the traditional, and accurate, observation about the Irish:  “Gentle when stroked;  fierce when provoked”.

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17 Responses to The Fighting 69th

  • Since a child, I have owned a book about Father Duffy, by Jim Bishop.

    It’s now (since WWI) the 165th NY/NG part of the 42nd (Rainbow) Div.

    In WWI, they covered themselves again with glory, were commanded by “Wild Bill” Donovan, and General Douglas MacArthur was the 42nd Div. (Rainbow) commanding general.

    They’ve been deployed to Iraq several times and saw action with (sadly) quite a number of KIA’s. There are NY/NG troops patrolling Penn Sta., etc. even today, in body armor and armed, while the rest of us (sheep) toddle through on our way to make a living. Not enough Americans have an appreciation of the costs of this war.

    Point of information: The 69th NYS Militia existed in NYC long before the CW. In fact, they once “came out” to protect St. Patrick’s Cathedral from No-Nothing arsonists.

    My ancestor, from Ireland after the Famine, was KIA with the 69th at First Bull Run. The Irish Brigade was formed shortly after that.

    Glory O, Glory O to the Brave Fenian Men!

    See the clip of the song in Rio Grande. John Ford slipped that one into a cavalry movie . . .

    I will be on the wrong coast the Patty’s Day [sigh]. Good for my liver. Still, me and Jameson will have an abbreviated, bitter/sweet “talk.”

  • This is the Irish Guards on St. Patrick’s Day.

    I stopped hating Brits on September 12, 2001.

  • The 69th Infantry Regiment was first organized in 1849 from new and existing units, some of which go back to the Revolution.

    In 1963 the 165th Infantry was redesignated the 69th Infantry in the Army numbering system. One of the very few National Guard units that have kept their state number in the Army’s sequence.

  • Thank you Hank. I have amended my post to reflect 1851 as the date of the formation of the regiment when it entered service in the New York State Militia as the 69th regiment.

  • The clip ends with FTPSNI.
    I can only think that this refers to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. If it does, you should reconsider using the clip.

  • I didn’t know the Irish brigade was apart of the Rainbow Division in the Great War. My great-grandfather was in the Rainbow Division during the war; don’t know what specific regiment, though. He was from Ireland and then lived in the Bronx when he got to the states, so perhaps he was in the Irish Brigade.

  • The 69th was part of the Rainbow Division Francis in World War I, but not the Irish Brigade. The Irish Brigade was a Civil War formation that the 69th was part of during the Civil War only.

  • Ah, got it. Thanks for clearing that up. Perhaps he was in the 69th is what I meant, then.

  • Rather than me continuing to complain about the sentiment “F*** The Police Service of Northern Ireland”, may I commend this item which shows the Irish Guards leaving for Iraq?

    The earlier clip was from the Queen’s birthday parade, rather than the St Patricks parade, by the way.

    Oh….and more amusingly, in the British Army the old 69th Regiment was called The Ups and Downers

  • For some reason Jim the abbreviation is missing from the video when I run it. Alas, quite a bit of Irish related videos on youtube make reference in some manner to “The Troubles” whether the video has anything to do with that conflict or not.

    Your clip is a fine one. You might find this story amusing. After the Boer War Winston Churchill went on a speaking tour of the US. He was giving a speech and was being vociferously heckled by a group of Irish-Americans. Their boos changed to cheers when he related how the day was saved at an engagement he participated in by a furious charge of the Dublin Irish Fusiliers!

  • Yes. HRHQEII’s birthday. The tune is “The St. Patrick’s Day March.”

    The regiment parades on St. Patrick’s Day. And, a member of the royal family (presumably one that isn’t falling down drunk or too rank of a moron) presents the regiment with a basket of shamrocks.

    And, if it weren’t for those Irishmen, and millions (my father and uncles at the latter one) Yanks in 1918 and 1942, the queen would be speaking German.

  • LOL. The first tune In the saxon clip is “Whiskey in the Jar.” Great armada: the band, two companies and no weapons.

    I’m working on locating a liquor store near the hotel. Hotel Bar prices will bankrupt a man with a thirst.

    Not looking forward to flying all day to get at a drink.

  • TS
    Every man in the Irish Regiments of the British Army receive a shamrock on St Patrick’s day. Did you know that the first celebration parades in America were organised by the British Army?

    Nowadays there are only two Irish Regiments, the Irish Guards and the RIR

    You may remember their colonel in Iraq….

    We go to liberate, not to conquer.
    We will not fly our flags in their country
    We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own.
    Show respect for them.

    There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly.
    Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send.
    As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.
    Wipe them out if that is what they choose.
    But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.

    Iraq is steeped in history.
    It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham.
    Tread lightly there.

    You will see things that no man could pay to see
    — and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.
    You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.
    Don’t treat them as refugees for they are in their own country.
    Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.
    If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day.
    Allow them dignity in death.
    Bury them properly and mark their graves.

    It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive.
    But there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign.
    We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back.
    There will be no time for sorrow.
    The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction.
    There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam.
    He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done.
    As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.
    It is a big step to take another human life.
    It is not to be done lightly.
    I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts.
    I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.

    If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family.
    The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.
    If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer.
    You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest — for your deeds will follow you down through history.

    We will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation.
    It is not a question of if, it’s a question of when.
    We know he has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that means he has already taken the decision himself.
    If we survive the first strike we will survive the attack.

    As for ourselves, let’s bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.

    Our business now is north.

  • TS
    I think you’ll find that WWI started in 1914 and WWII in 1939, rather than 1918 and 1942. And that Irishmen were fighting from the start of both wars, rather than arriving later with your relatives.

    As for “the band, two companies and no weapons”. You may note four infantry companies in the batallion. And by convention in Britain, our soldiers do not carry weapons when marching through towns lest they begin a military coup.
    We have certain occasions when a regiment may march with weapons, as in here

    The A&SH has the freedom of the city so may march with bayonets fixed. Officers and NCOs march without weapons.
    The bagpipes count as weapons of war, following an odd ancient law. The Pipes and Drums are viewed as infantry and form the Heavy Weapons Company in these units, unlike bandsmen.

    Do American musicians fight as infanteers?
    Or is it all shiny shoes and turning up a few years late……

  • I don’t need to be schooled by a saxon.

  • T.Shaw and Jim, I do not think this combox is going to be able to resolve the English-Irish conflict that goes back to Strongbow. This post was meant to celebrate the Fighting 69th and we are going far afield here. Let’s stay on topic.

  • The 1940 movie is “Catholic.” We see Pvt. Plunkett eventually, through (Father Duffy’s) prayer and grace, attain redemption through contrition, repentence of his “weakness”, penance, amendment of life, and good works.

    I have a book, A Doughboy in the Fighting 69th (sic). The author an Irishman named Eichinger (mother’s Irish) tells the story of the (he called him “eight-ball”) Cagney character. The man, an Irishman transferred from a MA NG unit, was on guard duty outside a French Church. It being winter, the French priest gave him a sip of “whatever juice.” The man had a terrible thirst and forced more, and got drunk. When the priest tried to stop him the soldier fired at him. Luckily, he missed (even more luck: the man didn’t hit him. He was a Boston club fighter). A court-matrial sentenced him to death for drunk on guard and firing his weapon at a civilian. Father Duffy and the French priest begged mercy and the sentence was commuted to constant duty in the lines. The man and his partner were wounded on the first day of the big 1918 offensive and both refused evacuation for two or three days into the attack. Both died of gangrene.

    A man like Plunkett would have been off the line way before the movie depiction. Probably shot (then not now), either by firing squad or by an officer or NCO for refusing orders in combat. Only Hollywood would come up with . . .

    lol. TCM is airing Joan of Arc, 1948, Ingrid Bergman. The English are about to have her burned at the stake.

Same-Sex Marriage Bill Killed in Maryland Assembly

Friday, March 11, AD 2011

This looked like a done deal after the Senate approved it, but the same-sex marriage bill  went down to defeat this afternoon.  I find this to be particularly noteworthy:

Advocates for the bill had hoped Maryland would join five other states and the District in allowing same-sex marriages. The bill had significant momentum coming out of the Senate but ran into resistance in the Democratic-led House from African-American lawmakers from Prince George’s County, who cited religious opposition in their districts, and conservative Democrats in Southern Maryland and the Baltimore suburbs.

People assume that because Maryland is a deeply blue state that same-sex marriage would find more support than in other areas of the country, but there is some innate social conservatism here thanks in part to the substantial African-American population.  This was brought home to me just yesterday when I read an op-ed opposing gay marriage in an independent local paper aimed at the African-American community, and not one normally noted as a bastion of conservative thought.  But I think this vote represents one of the potential areas for schism within the Democratic party.  Just a year ago or so Marion Barry expressed his opposition to DC’s imposition of same-sex marriage, and now we have lawmakers from a majority-black county blocking same-sex marriage in Maryland.

All in all, a day for rejoicing.  For now.

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6 Responses to Same-Sex Marriage Bill Killed in Maryland Assembly

  • This is great news. I think the bill would have been over turned on referendum anyway, but its better this way. A lot of people, I think, tend to view Maryland through the lens of the DC suburbs (particularly Montgomery County), which is very liberal. But I think in many other areas of the state, there are a lot of us left who may favor liberal economic policies, but still tend to feel our working class immigrant roots. I voted Democrat for years because I saw them as the party on the side of the little guy (and to a certain extent still do); I stopped voting Democrat because of their increasing embrace or abortion and moral relativism (gay marriage being but the latest example of that).

  • This got me thinking. In a two-party system, minorities who identify primarily with their fellow minorities will not be divided. African Americans will be primarily Democrats or primarily Republicans. And their secondary concerns will tend to follow the party. African Americans have already become pro-choice and they will in time favor gay marriage. Hispanics aren’t far behind. I see only two ways to avoid this. Either eradicate race as an identity or have a multi-party system. It’s not just a matter of politics. Souls are on the line. The two-party system may have worked well when voters were all white land-owning Christian men and the major division was between southern farmers and northern capitalists but we’re too diverse today.

  • The vote in the Senate:–Gay_Marriage-Roll_Call/

    In the House it was a voice vote to send the bill back to committee so don’t know what the count would have looked like:

    Just for those who care, all but one Republican in the Senate voted against (ten Dems also did). Even with the African American Dem’s opposition, it was likely the House Repubs. who provided the bulk of the majority to stop the bill.

    Just a jab to those who still claim there is no difference between the parties. Well, except for election years. Except this is not an election year. Go figure.

  • “Same-Sex Marriage Bill Killed in Maryland Assembly”
    lol – Violent, eliminationist rhetoric . . .

  • Pingback: Japanese Church in Shock, Maryland Same-Sex Marriage Bill Defeated, and much more… «

Augustine’s Confessions: Getting Started

Friday, March 11, AD 2011

For several years running, I did a series of Lenten reading posts focused on Dante’s Divine Comedy. It’s been a couple years, and I never did cover the last couple cantos of the Purgatorio, for which I am sorry. Perhaps some day the time will be right to go back to it. However, this year I had the itch to re-read Augustine’s Confessions, which is a conveniently Lent-length work. And so as a form of discipline, and also in hopes it may be interesting or helpful to a few people, I’m going to write my way through Confessions this Lent in a way similar to the Commedia posts of past year.

Before plunging in, a few brief notes on what we’re getting into. The Confessions was written by Augustine when he was in his mid-forties, in 397-398 AD, just a few years after he was made bishop of Hippo in North Africa. This was ten years after his adult conversion to Christianity which is the culminating even of Confessions.

Confessions is a very approachable work. It’s about 300 pages long in a paperback edition and although it deals with a number of philosophical and theological issues, its basic format is that of a spiritual autobiography written in the first person and addressed to God. It is not only perhaps the first spiritual autobiography, but also the first book-length personal autobiography in Western Literature. Other classical writers had written about themselves to one extent or another (perhaps most famously Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars and Civil Wars and Xenophon in his March Up Country) but had always done so in the guise of a third person, objective history.

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10 Responses to Augustine’s Confessions: Getting Started

  • St. Monica, pray for us.

    I have read them twice many years ago, now. My mother (RIP, my St. Monica) had recommended them. I cannot find the book.

  • College freshman Western Civ reading. I remember laughing as I highlighted “Lord, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” We could all identify with that.

    Now I want to go back and read it, just so that my only memory of it is not a vague image of pear trees.

  • I read this awhile back and as I recall Augustine was all in a twist over stealing some pears. Other than that, couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Is this the one where he famously cries, “Lord, make me chaste. But now right now.” ?

  • Joe, I have always thought that what upset Saint Augustine most about the pears was that it seemed to him to be an example of evil for evil’s sake. They destroyed the pears not because he and his fellow hooligans wanted to eat them, but for the simple joy of destruction. For Saint Augustine this illustrated that there is a disorder deep in the nature of Man which he traces to original sin.

    A first rate introduction to Saint Augustine and his many, many writings is Peter Brown’s superb biography of the Bishop of Hippo:

  • Don, Perhaps I need to reread it. I slogged through City of God (most of it) and found parts very profound, others incomprehensible (kinda of like a Dostoevsky novel). : )

  • That book changed my life. I love and HIGHLY recommend the translation by Maria Boulding, it’s very lively and fast, much like the original Latin (as far as I can tell). Many older translations are far more ponderous than St. Augustine himself was! He seems to have written the book in one ecstatic rush, and it races from beginning to end as one big love song to God. IMHO, anyway.

    I would never start with Peter Brown’s monumental and dense book — which, despite my love for all things Augustinian, I have never plowed through. Start with the Confessions, or with Fr. Groeschel’s small book about him. Or start with a collection of his sermons, they are all wonderful.

    There is a lot more to the pear incident. I think one of his main points there was that he did it because he was having fun with his friends, and that friendship (a good) can impel one to do things that are wrong. Part of the fun was doing something wrong, yes. But more than that, it was doing something wrong together. It is easy to dismiss St. Augustine’s worrying about a couple of pears as neurotic, but that is reading with 20th century eyes. He picked that story precisely because it was petty and “no big deal,” because no one could mistake anything about it for necessity or confusion or being ill-informed.

  • I am inspired to join you and add this to my lenten discipline. My copy is around here somewhere…. ah, here it is. It’s a Doubleday version, translated by John K. Ryan, who apparently was at Catholic University’s School of Philosophy, around 1959. I guess I’ll try to get through 1 book (chapter) every three days or so.

  • “But since all things cannot contain you in your entirety, do they then contain a part of you, and do all things simultaneously contain the same part? Or do single things contain single parts, greater things containing greater parts and smaller things smaller parts? Is one part of you greater, therefore, and another smaller? Or are you entire in all places, and does no one thing contain you in your entirety?” – Book I, Ch. 3

    St. Augustine… father of set theory? 🙂

  • Augustine also said, rather ironically to God:

    “Thou hast counselled a better course than Thou hast permitted.”

    This sentence always struck me as a moment of letdown for him.

Not Winning: John Cornyn (Updated x2)

Friday, March 11, AD 2011

After the 2010 Florida US Senate campaign debacle where John Cornyn and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) prematurely backed RINO (and later not even INO) Charlie Crist over (eventual winner) Marco Rubio, the last thing you’d expect the NRSC to do is get involved in another Republican US Senate campaign in the hopes of getting another RINO squish to run.  If you thought so – congratulations!  You are vastly more qualified to run the NRSC than John Cornyn.

Republicans in Washington are trying to recruit Joe Scarborough to run against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) next year.

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), told The Hill on Thursday that he has talked to Scarborough a couple times about a Senate bid. And he indicated he’s still working on persuading the MSNBC host to run for the upper chamber.

“I’d be delighted to talk to him a third time,” Cornyn said.

Boy, you can just feel the base being energized with this news. This is the same Joe Scarborough who is employed by MSNBC and spends much of the day bashing other conservatives who don’t want to play nice with the Obama administration, and who recently called Scott Walker “un-American” for his attempts to reign in unions.  This is also the same Joe Scarborough who frankly comes across as someone who might need help tying his shoes in the morning – it being a taxing mental exercise and all.

Yeah, that’s the guy John Cornyn is desperately trying to woo in Florida.

You know, I can sit here and discuss how completely out of touch with reality John Cornyn is, and how he is single-handedly doing all in his power to keep Republicans in the minority in the US Senate.  But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and this just about sums up my reaction:

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7 Responses to Not Winning: John Cornyn (Updated x2)

  • Scarborough has a solid conservative record as far as I can tell, especially on abortion. He’s called McCain a RINO.

  • Scarborough is as conservative as I am skinny. He’s another of these “No Label” conservatives that is more invested in impressing his left-wing buddies and audience than in advancing a conservative agenda. Yes, he is a right-winger, but there are eminently more qualified and competent conservatives that are fit to serve.

  • I did not need another reason to be Independnet. But, here it is.

  • Scarborough is simply an entertainer who sold his political soul to become a talking head on MSNBC. That Cornyn would even consider this never-was shows what a disaster he is at the helm of the GOP Senatorial Committee. Additionally the deranged Left would be doing their best to tie Scarborough to the death of aide Lori Klausutis. There appears to be nothing there as far as I can tell, but the Left would beat that drum for all it is worth.

  • FWIW, another update from Hot Air. It looks like we can back off of the ledge just a tiny bit.

  • I updated the post again – now Scarborough is saying that Cornyn was recommending he run in Florida against Nelson.

  • This is the kind of BS that will kill the so-called Republican party. The Democrats are full blown socialists now and the Republicans will either become a traditional-conservative party with a libertarian economic bent or they will remain what the Democrats were 50 years ago.

    I am with Shaw, if the Republicans want to increase their ranks they need to jettison the RINOs. Are they seriously thinking about running single-payer health care Romney, what was he brainwashed like his dad!!

    These numb nuts actually called me for a contribution the same day that Lindsey Graham voted for Kagan. They are so out of touch, they may as well be managed by Mr. Cowboy Poetry himself.

Rand Paul, Abortion and Toilets

Friday, March 11, AD 2011

Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  My unexpected legislative hero, pro-life Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky,  was magnificent  yesterday:

“You’re really anti-choice on every other consumer item that you’ve listed here, including light bulbs, refrigerators, toilets – you name it, you can’t go around your house without being told what to buy. You restrict my choices, you don’t care about my choices,” Paul said to her. “You don’t care about the consumer frankly. You raise the cost of all the items with your rules, all your notions that you know what’s best for me.”

Frankly, my toilets don’t work in my house. And I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house, what I can do. You restrict my choices. There is hypocrisy that goes on when people claim to believe in some choices but don’t want to let the consumer decide what they can buy and put in their houses. I find it insulting. I find it insulting that a lot of these products that you’re going to make us buy and you won’t let us buy what we want to buy and you take away our choices.”

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19 Responses to Rand Paul, Abortion and Toilets

  • I had some initial reservations about him, but he’s definitely growing on me. Definitely a cut above the father.

  • WOW.. This seems somewhat familiar. A new U.S. Senator just coming on the scene (who is NOT owned by the George Soros Marxist wing of the progressive Left) with a gifted tongue and a powerful voice of persuasion. One who actually IS the dream of his father but who has most likely never met Rev. Wright or Bill Ayers and never smoked pot but still believes in America’s exceptionalism and our Constitution.
    Can this be a second strike of political lightening for Americians???

  • Bill, though he hasn’t addressed it, his college friends say he smoked marijuana.

    As far as I can tell there’s not one iota of policy difference between Rand and Ron. Rand just has the advantage of not having to talk about war.

    Frankly, my toilets don’t work in my house.

    Does he use public toilets or just use broken toilets anyway? If the latter, now everyone knows not to go over his house.

    What can’t we make in the US that can be imported? What energy conservation measure penalizes violators with jail time?

    you’re exactly right we should conserve energy, but why not do it in a voluntary way?

    Because sometimes, people are unaware and there’s no supply-side incentive to make people aware. This, I think, is the major failing of Ron/Rand-style libertarianism. They ignore asymmetry of information. Ideally, the government would mandate easy-to-access real-time electricity and water usage metering and pricing. And also immediately apparent energy consumption labeling on products like we do with MPG for cars.

  • Regarding Rand… as is typical, the apple does not fall far from the tree, but he is his own man with his own opinions. There are differences, and these differences would seem to make him have broader appeal than his father.

  • Ideally, the government would mandate easy-to-access real-time electricity and water usage metering and pricing.

    Having just moved into a very old house in a very cold climate (after living in Texas and before that California) I can attest from experience this is actually really easy. You just look at your gas or electric meter, not down the current reading, write it on an index card, and tack the index cart on the basement wall next to the meter. Then the next day you read it again and note the change. Having this daily figure, you consult your last bill and see how much you pay per unit, and you pretty quickly see what your daily usage is and what affects it.

    Of course, the trick is, this often results in realizing that things such as turning off the lights when you’re not in the room are far more effective than installing expensive twisty light bulbs. And this means the people selling the light bulbs don’t make money. So then they get mad and push to have the incandescents banned.

  • “Because sometimes, people are unaware and there’s no supply-side incentive to make people aware. ”

    Or they will simply disagree that the proposed policy makes sense from an economic and\or financial sense. Lack of information is usually not the problem RR. It is simply people disagreeing with the views of the self annointed.

  • “Does he use public toilets or just use broken toilets anyway?”

    Perhaps he is talking about low flush toilets that are now mandated. Often need a second flush so use as much if not more water as the old, more reliable ones.

    Such toilets have consequences beyond requiring more flushes:

  • Perhaps he is talking about low flush toilets that are now mandated. Often need a second flush so use as much if not more water as the old, more reliable ones.

    I’m pretty sure he’s referring to these “efficient” new low flush toilets.

  • In general, the allocation of resources is accomplished quite efficiently via a market system by utilizing price. Scarcity will cause prices to rise, which imposes conservation out of ordinary self-interest. Admittedly, market systems only work well if one assumes adequate information, but I agree with Don that in the case of water conservation it is doubtful that lack of information is a serious problem. The real problem is that water is generally a public resource rather than private, and little competition exists to determine price. Government is not in the business of making a profit, but is instead trying to make water available at a price that even the poorest can afford. The idea of an artificially low price (for the purpose of making sure the poor can afford what is understood to be a necessity) is not compatible with the price system’s normal conservationist attributes. Instead, we must rely on so-called voluntary conservation whereunder people sacrifice for the preceived common good. Such efforts can work, but history suggests they work only during crises and for a limited time, and even then not all that well. If in fact it is true that our water usage is too great this is almost certainly because the price is insufficient. The most sensible remedy would be to increase the price and find other ways to ensure that the poor can receive appropriate access to potable water. Once prices increase sufficiently, people will choose to buy efficient toilets, fix water leaks, etc. No mandate needed.
    Finally, please understand I’m not saying that that we even have a water shortage properly understood. I don’t claim to know, though I share some of the skepticisms implicit in many of the preceding comments. But if in fact that is the case, that can only be the case if the price of water is too low. This is not implausibe given that the price for water is not really established by ordinary market forces.

  • Don, behavioral economists and common sense disagree with you. Lack of information and status quo bias result in sub-optimal decisions. Who is opposed to energy conservation? We don’t do it either because we don’t have the information or because we don’t bother to do anything about it, not for economic reasons but because we just can’t be bothered. This is most evident in 401k enrollment.

  • “Don, behavioral economists and common sense disagree with you. Lack of information and status quo bias result in sub-optimal decisions. ”

    Rubbish RR. Many people, including myself, find that the mercury twisters give inadequate light. When I turn on a light, I like the room to be bright. This of course is why the government mandated them: they couldn’t compete in the free market where people get to make up their own minds about what they want to buy with their own money. The energy savings will doubtless be illusory as people will have to turn on more lights to see. “Watermelon”, green on the outside, red within, environmentalists will usually resort to government coercion because their arguments simply lack the power to convince people to voluntarily comply with the goals the “watermelons” want to accomplish. Freedom RR does not consist in agreeing with you and the people you agree with.

  • I despise CFLs for the weird light they cast. I’m already peeved that they’re not selling the incandescent Christmas lights (C9s) anymore in favor of those tepid LED strings. Bah humbug.

  • Please limit RR’s posts to 184 characters or less. These long posts are clearly a waste of energy. Try this for one month.

    Next month. Charge RR one cent for each character and then compare to see which system produces better energy conservation.

    I am not sure either system, or even if one can be devised to make the posts better, but then again that is a subjective opinion, but I suspect its true. 😉

    Behavioral economics, 201(k) – at least the posts are funny.

    Rand is going to become a monster that the RINOs will not be able to control. He frightens them because he is a true believer and not a politician. We need more like him.

    If politics is how we order our life together, then we should have more choices – this gives us the opportunity to make the best choices. Of course, somethings we cannot choose, but that’s only if those pesky Commandments of God mean anything to you. If you want a poisonous, irritating light bulb, fine, I don’t. One can choose a toilet that requires three small flushes and one sheet of TP, frankly, I don’t want that. I like my toilet to go BAWHOOSH and I tend to be conservative, but I am liberal with TP. The market can decide if it will supply these stupid options, or just the right ones (which are obviously the choices that I and any other sane person will make).

  • As a conservative who was hell-bent on never using a squiggly CFL to save his life and as someone interested in the convergence of technology with good ol Catholic stewardship I was shocked to discover that CFL’s are the real deal.

    After intensive scrutiny of light quality under varying scenarious I found that CFL’s offer not only economic and evironmental incentives but they actually produce higher quality of light than the incandescent bulb.

    Any conservative who is oposed to CFL’s on political grounds will be well-served to come out of the dark and see how the markets have resolved this issue.

  • Just get a higher wattage CFL if you think they aren’t as bright. If you want the warm yellow light of incandescent, get a warm CFL.

    The LED Christmas lights are a Godsend. No more testing every bulb to find the one that went out. LED’s never burn out.

  • “will be well-served to come out of the dark and see how the markets have resolved this issue.”

    I’ve got them all over my house Paul and I’m very dissatisfied with the light they shed. I also note that I am changing them more frequently than I was led to believe would be the case. Of course the markets are resolving nothing in regard to the mercury twisters. The government is simply creating a market for them by driving their competition out of business by government fiat.

    If the mercury twisters were a superior product in the eyes of consumers, no government action would be necessary.

  • Donald I was simply trying to make a statement that was completely apolitical and entirely practical. You are preaching to the choir in regard to the government solving nothing by administrative fiat.

    That’s the interesting twist on this issue. While the government is virtually powerless to solve problems by dictate the market has stepped in to resolve this issue, at least as far as I’m concerned as a former incandescent-loving consumer. This is not a political statement in that regard, just the observation of a consumer who has done an inordinate and unhealthy amount of direct A-B field testing.

    For ambient living room lighting that needs brightness and warmth:

    Philips 23 Watt Twister Soft White Energy Saver CFL-

    For cooler and whiter light used in a PC-room environment:

    EcoSmart 23-Watt (100W) Soft White CF

  • I have no problem at all Paul with people adopting whatever bulbs they wish to have. My experience with the mercury twisters has not been positive. If the forthcoming government ban of the sale of the incandescent bulb is reversed then I assume that the market will provide bulbs for all tastes, and that is all I am asking.

  • Amen to that and to all the other areas that Rand Paul articulated the government has overstepped.

    In the meantime, give those ^ CFL’s a try and see what you think.

Public Employee Unions Explained

Friday, March 11, AD 2011


Now, there is a good deal of evidence in favor of the opinion that many of these societies are in the hands of secret leaders, and are managed on principles ill-according with Christianity and the public well-being; and that they do their utmost to get within their grasp the whole field of labor, and force working men either to join them or to starve. Under these circumstances Christian working men must do one of two things: either join associations in which their religion will be exposed to peril, or form associations among themselves and unite their forces so as to shake off courageously the yoke of so unrighteous and intolerable an oppression. No one who does not wish to expose man’s chief good to extreme risk will for a moment hesitate to say that the second alternative should by all means be adopted.

Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum




Klavan on the Culture, you are correct!  Public employee unions, by funding Democrats and providing election workers, effectively were able largely to write their own compensation packages, taxpayer be hanged.  It was a decades long merry party at the expense of the public, and many states are on the verge of bankruptcy as a result.  The battle over public employee unions is just the opening round in a huge political fight across the nation as the states, which are unable to simply print money as the federal government does, desperately grapple with looming fiscal insolvency.  Change is coming as change often does:  brought about by onrushing reality.

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8 Responses to Public Employee Unions Explained

  • Spot on! Collective bargaining is not a right. If it actually was, why is it the case that every person in this country is not obligated to be a member of a union in order have the “right” to collectively bargain? It is all about Democratic power and money but not about rights.

  • This is a really good one too. It’s by the Heritage organization and a little shorter than the other 2.

  • Public employees are like mothers in many ways…no one appreciates what they do until they aren’t there doing it. When schools deteriorate, good students no longer study to become teachers, long lines persist at government facilities due to worker shortage, children who are abused do not get the services they need, individuals with physical, emotional and/or mental challenges are left untreated…maybe some of you will begin to realize that many government workers are providing valuable service to a variety of vulnerable populations. And none of them are getting rich.

  • “Public employees are like mothers in many ways…no one appreciates what they do until they aren’t there doing it.”

    Considering the absenteeism rampant among public employees as opposed to people in the private sector a lot of them on any given day aren’t doing what they are paid to be doing in any case.

    “When schools deteriorate”

    We are spending more on public education today, adjusted for inflation, than we have ever spent, and the results are pathetic. That helps explain the rise in the homeschooling movement.

    “good students no longer study to become teachers”

    Education majors usually come from the bottom 25% academically of their colleges and universities.

    “long lines persist at government facilities due to worker shortage”

    We have that now and we have more people working for the government now than at any time since World War II.

    “children who are abused do not get the services they need”

    That is the case now, judging from the treatment that kids receive from the government in cases where I am appointed Guardian ad Litem for them by courts.

    “individuals with physical, emotional and/or mental challenges are left untreated”

    Once again, that is the case now. Scandals involving abuse of mentally handicapped individuals in government care are routine, often involving physical and sexual abuse by public employees.

    “maybe some of you will begin to realize that many government workers are providing valuable service to a variety of vulnerable populations.”

    Nah, I think it more likely that more people will awaken to the fact that governmental institutions created to help people have become giant cash cows that provide often rotten treatment to the people they are ostensibly meant to aid.

    “And none of them are getting rich.”

    Almost all of them are doing far better than they would if they had to hustle for a job in the private sector.

  • “We have more people working for the government now than at any time since World War II.”

    That depends on what level of government you are talking about. Federal employment has grown quite a bit, but not necessarily state and local employment. You need only look at all the vacant office space in downtown Springfield next time you’re here to see evidence of that. Many agencies of the State of Illinois have shrunk drastically in the last 10-15 years or so. The agency I work for once employed 25 people; it’s down to 14 today and with two people near retirement will probably be down to 12 shortly. Many state parks and historic sites like Lincoln’s New Salem that once employed numerous full time and seasonal workers are running almost entirely on unpaid volunteer help today — and their physical condition, sadly, shows that.

    I do think that some of the Lincoln sites would be better off being privatized in the long run (a la Colonial Williamsburg) and there is probably enough interest in Lincoln out there to get well-heeled donors interested in a foundation for that purpose. But the reason I suggest that is precisely because the ability of state government to handle these tasks is shrinking, not growing.

  • I would stand by my contention Elaine and I believe the numbers bear me out.

    My county is actually an interesting example of the process. Livingston County in Illlinois has had a remarkably static population for over a century. We had 40,000 people approximately during the Grant administration and we have that today. When my former partner was growing up in a town of 4,000 in the Sixties the town had one cop and two part timers. We now have seven cops and three part timers. The growth of government employment at all levels in this country has been explosive since the Sixties.

  • Well, actually if you look at the chart, federal employment went DOWN in the 1990s and even in 2010 hadn’t quite bounced back to the 1990 level. My guess is that a lot of that decrease had to do with cutbacks in the military following the first Gulf War and the various rounds of base closings prescribed by the Base Realignment And Closing (BRAC) commission.

    As for overall federal and state employment, law enforcement is obviously one of those sectors of public employment that HAS grown explosively as cities and suburbs expand, crime rates go up, and state and federal government provide additional funding for hiring cops. Public schools in fast-growing areas also have to hire more people. They also have to hire more aides and support staff in recent years for things like special education, as I’m sure you know. Since the overall population of the U.S. has increased by 60 million since 1990 it stands to reason that schools and law enforcement would have to grow with it.

    Also some states went through a prison-building spree in the 1980s and 90s and those prisons obviously have to be staffed. Even so, understaffing and working guards overtime to the point of exhaustion is a common problem at some institutions (just ask someone who works at Pontiac Correctional Center ).

  • “My guess is that a lot of that decrease had to do with cutbacks in the military following the first Gulf War and the various rounds of base closings prescribed by the Base Realignment And Closing (BRAC) commission.”

    You would be correct in that assumption Elaine. The military went through a substantial reduction in force following the end of the Cold War.

    “As for overall federal and state employment, law enforcement is obviously one of those sectors of public employment that HAS grown explosively as cities and suburbs expand, crime rates go up, and state and federal government provide additional funding for hiring cops.”

    Population expansion has little to do with it Elaine. What has a lot to do with it is the earmarking of funds as you point out, and also legislation criminalizing fairly trivial matters. After 28 years doing criminal defense work, I’d say much of it is for nought. Local governments tend to use traffic tickets as sources of revenue which involve a fair amount of court time; very low level drug arrests; orders of protection that turn non-physical boyfriend and girlfriend and husband and wife spats into criminal cases; etc. A good 80% of criminal cases today I would estimate have little to do with maintaining public order and a great deal to do with a mistaken belief that government can micro-manage society and cure all ills.

    “They also have to hire more aides and support staff in recent years for things like special education, as I’m sure you know.”

    In regard to increased aides and support staff at schools I view almost all of this as wasted expenditure in my opinion. Schools have gotten endlessly bureaucratic and this development has helped further degrade the performance of an already shaky public school system. The movement to homeschooling is a testament to failing public schools even as we pump ever more funds into these bottomless money pits.

    “Also some states went through a prison-building spree in the 1980s and 90s and those prisons obviously have to be staffed. Even so, understaffing and working guards overtime to the point of exhaustion is a common problem at some institutions (just ask someone who works at Pontiac Correctional Center ).”

    I have represented quite a few guards at both Pontiac and Dwight. The stories they tell me have given me very little faith in how DOC spends our taxpayer funds. Additionally our prisons have effectively become hostels for very low level criminals, not their original intent, rather than places where only the most serious felons are sent. The abolition of county farms where low level offenders decades ago were sent, and which usually ran at a profit to the county, has helped create this problem.

    Our society has operated under the twin illusions that government can truly transform society and cure almost all ills, and that we had limitless funds to support such government. Both these illusions are ending before our eyes.

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus on Islam and Reform

Thursday, March 10, AD 2011

Commenting on a prior post by Paul Zummo on “Religious Egalitarianism”, I had cited the provocative comment of the late Fr. James Neuhaus:

Yet more troubling is the message that Islam, in order to become less of a threat to the world, must relativize its claim to possess the truth. That plays directly into the hands of Muslim rigorists who pose as the defenders of the uncompromised and uncompromisible truth and who call for death to the infidels. If Islam is to become tolerant and respectful of other religions, it must be as the result of a development that comes from within the truth of Islam, not as a result of relativizing or abandoning that truth. Is Islam capable of such a religious development? Nobody knows. But, if the choice is between compromising Islamic truth or a war of civilizations, it is almost certain that the winner among Muslims will be the hard-core Islamism that [Bernard] Lewis rightly views as such a great threat.

Christianity is more, not less, vibrantly Christian as a result of coming to understand more fully the mysterious and loving ways of God in His dealings also with non-Christians. Although the story of this development is complex, the important truth is that tolerance and mutual respect are religious, not secular, achievements. I will say it again: the reason we do not kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God is that we believe it is against the will of God to kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God. Christians have come to believe that. We must hope that more and more Muslims will come to believe that. That will not happen, however, if they are told that coming to believe that will make them less faithful Muslims.

I was asked by a reader to expand on Neuhaus’ remarks, and as I’ve no wish to hijack Paul’s post (particularly as it wasn’t about Islam per se), here’s some further food for thought.

What does Neuhaus mean?

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9 Responses to Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus on Islam and Reform