Monthly Archives: March 2011

Dipping a Toe in the Dark Side

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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: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Von Galen Contra Gestapo

 

 

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.  ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Our Lady of Akita: Pray for Japan!

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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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Fighting 69th

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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”. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Same-Sex Marriage Bill Killed in Maryland Assembly

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.

Augustine’s Confessions: Getting Started

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Not Winning: John Cornyn (Updated x2)

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: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Rand Paul, Abortion and Toilets

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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.” ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Public Employee Unions Explained

 

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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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Top Ten Rejected Shows At EWTN

(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)

Not every show that gets presented to the folks at EWTN makes it past the sales pitch. It’s just like Hollywood, without the couch. Seriously. You think it’s just some nuns and a few execs sitting with Raymond Arroyo and Fr Mitch brainstorming over a pot of Fr Leo’s “What Really Happened To The Lost Sheep” Stew? No way – writers and developers from the world over submit scripts and treatments all the time. And not just inspirational programs that teach the faith, either. I’m talking comedies, dramas, reality – the whole gamut.

Good shows like The Apostle of Common Sense, Threshold of Hope and Life On The Rock made the cut. However, many, many of them never see the light of day. Until now.

Here are the Top Ten Rejected Shows At EWTN:
→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus on Islam and Reform

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? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The Only Winners in Wisconsin are the Packers

Yesterday, the Republicans in Wisconsin edited the unions bill to make it non-fiscal, thus eliminating the Wisconsin procedural requirement that all senators be there. Thus, since there was quorum the bill in its new form was passed by the State Assembly and is expected to be approved by the Senate today.

It’s hard to fault the Republicans for ending this mess. It had to end, and if they weren’t going to abandon the bill it was best to figure out a way to get it passed and move on. That doesn’t change the fact that their bill is in clear violation of Catholic Social Teaching by stripping the workers of their right to unionize on benefits.

In the end, this episode underscores just how dysfunctional our democracy is. Democracy is based on different ideas interacting and challenging each other. Today however, ideas don’t mix; we are left with mindless slogans about empty ideas left to do battle not on the merit of the idea but rather the brute force of the quantity of supporters. In Wisconsin, the Democrats abandoned debate and vote in favor of grinding the process to a halt. The Republicans shattered the rights of workers in order to no longer discuss issues with the unions. Neither side showed any interest in a true debate or an attempt to compromise. In this case, we all lost.

Rand Paul Gets It

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I have never been a fan of Ron Paul, to say the least, but I am rapidly becoming a fan of his son.

Yesterday the Senate in a 44-56 vote rejected the House proposal to cut 57 billion from the budget.  Then the Senate rejected a Democrat proposal to cut the budget by 5 billion dollars, 42 to 58. 

This year the federal budget deficit will be an estimated one and a half trillion dollars and that is probably on the low side.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against both proposals because he believes that neither are serious attempts to come to grips with the sea of red ink which is threatening to destroy this nation’s future prosperity.  He is absolutely correct.

He has proposed 500 billion dollar cuts.  This would be a serious start, but would still leave a deficit this year of a trillion dollars.  Here, hattip to David Fredosso at the Washington Examiner,  are the details of his plan: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Taps For The Last Doughboy

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It is hard to believe they all gone now, the millions of Americans who fought against the Kaiser in the American Expeditionary Force.  Frank Woodruff Buckles, 110, America’s last Doughboy, went to join his fellow soldiers on Sunday, February 17, 2011.  He lied about his age to enlist in the Army at age 16.  He served as an ambulance driver in England and France.  He left the Army in 1920, but that was not the end of his wartime adventures.  In World War 2 he endured three years as a guest of the Emperor, as a civilian POW in the Philippines.  God rest his soul. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Meet ‘Isa’, Muhammad’s Fabled ‘Jesus’

Depiction of angel 'Jibril' revealing Qur'an to Muhammad

The Qur’an (Quran, Kuran, Koran, Coran or al-Qur’?n), the religious text ostensibly revealed to Muhammad by “Allah” through the angel “Jibril”, is considered by Muslims to be the “final revelation” of ‘Allah”. In it, we find fables about various persons who are also mentioned in the Torah and in the Christian New Testament. Among them is “Isa”, who Muslims claim is Jesus.

Though Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Muslims consider “Isa” to be merely a prophet, in much the same manner that Jews and Christians consider Elijah to be a prophet. Muhammad also is considered a prophet; the last one sent by God and, therefore, because he ostensibly brought the “final revelation”, he is deemed by Muslims to be the most special prophet of all. As a “prophet”, “Isa” holds a special place in the mind of Muslims. Among the more zealous Muslims, we may find a willingness to strongly defend the name of “Isa”, who they will sometimes refer to as “Jesus”. For this reason, it is sometimes perceived that Muslims hold “Jesus” in higher honor than even Christians do. Since zeal for error should never be mistaken for holiness, it’s important that we understand more precisely what it is that Muslims believe about “Isa” (“Jesus”).

As a convert who was raised in a protestant home, I completely understand what it’s like to know “about” Jesus without really “knowing Jesus”. Today, Ash Wednesday, 2011, is the twentieth anniversary of my recognizing the Real Jesus in the Eucharist. Because of my own life experience, I understand that ignorance can be remedied through the grace of God and through our willingness to spread the truth about the Real Jesus provided that those who do not really know Jesus are willing to accept that their current view of Him is not altogether the truth. For this reason, it is important that we understand what Muslims believe, on some level, and be willing to engage them in dialogue and also to pray for their understanding of the Real Jesus.

The "Prophet Isa"

Muhammad’s view of Jesus is fundamentally flawed, both in the Qur’an and in the “Hadith” which offers context for the Qur’an much like the writings of the Early Church Fathers offer context for the Christian Scriptures.

In the Qur’an, we can hear certain ‘echoes’ of stories from the Christian Scriptural account of Jesus. As an example, I will offer two passages from the Christian Scriptures about Jesus and a passage from the Qur’an about Muhammad’s “Jesus” character. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Let Us Not Mourn the Passing of These Texts

I don’t know how many people have been keeping up with the forthcoming changes to the Roman Missal.  This has been a particular passion/hobby of mine lately.  At my home site, I am doing a weekly column of pieces explaining the new translations.  Thus far, I have discussed all the changes to the people’s parts and this Monday I will begin taking up the priest’s parts, starting with Eucharistic Prayer I.  (For those interested, the entire collection can be found here.)

Today at Mass the need for a new translation became crystal clear.  What follows is a comparison of the two prayers from the Mass.  First, the Collect.  What we heard at Mass just hour ago was,

Lord protect us in our struggle against evil.

As we begin the discipline of Lent,

make this day holy by our self-denial.

Not bad … at least there is some discussion of self-denial and discipline.  But listen to the new translation:

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting

this campaign of Christian service,

so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils,

we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

Holy fasting … campaign … battle against spiritual evils … armed with weapons of self-restraint.  That’s the kind of Lent I’m talking about!  However, what really got me going was the Prayer Over the Ashes.  Here is the current “translation”:

Dear friends in Christ, let us ask our Father

to bless these ashes which we will use

as the mark of our repentance.

Lord, bless the sinner who asks for your forgiveness

and bless all those who receive these ashes.

May they keep this lenten season

in preparation for the joy of Easter.

Before we get to the new translation, just for kicks, let’s look at the Latin: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

“And unto dust you shall return”

Ash Wednesday is more than an empty ritual—it is a reminder of our mortality and frailty by Dr. John-Mark L. Miravalle

John-Mark L. Miravalle holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the pontifical faculty Regina Apostolorum in Rome, and is the author of The Drug, the Soul, and God: A Catholic Moral Perspective on Antidepressants. He is an instructor for the School of Faith and the St. Lawrence Center in Lawrence, Kansas, where he lives with his wife Jessica and their sons Pius and Cassian. This article appears in the March 2011 issue of HPR.

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