Monthly Archives: March 2011
(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:
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? Continue reading
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.
I have never been a fan of Ron Paul, to say the least, but I am rapidly becoming a fan of his son.
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: Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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.
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. Continue reading
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: Continue reading
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.
Lent is a time for confronting evil, especially the evil within us. Today is Ash Wednesday. The origins of the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday is lost in the mists of Church history. The first pope to mention Ash Wednesday, although the custom was very old by his time, was Pope Urban II. At the Council of Clermont in 1095, the same Council at which the Pope issued his world altering call for the First Crusade, the Council handed down this decree (among others): 10-11. No layman shall eat meat after the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday until Easter. No cleric shall eat meat from Quinquagesima Sunday until Easter.
That the first pope to mention Ash Wednesday was the same pope who launched the First Crusade is very appropriate. Although even many Catholics may not realize this today, from first to last the Crusades were a penitential rite for the remission of sins. One of the foremost modern historian of the Crusades, Thomas Madden, notes this:
During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.
Pope Urban II was clear on this point in calling for the first Crusades when he reminded the chivalry of Europe of their manifold sins and called them to repentance through the Crusade: Continue reading
The five minute window between approximately 5:16 and 5:21 p.m. is my least favorite time of the day. Not only am I usually waiting for a bus that has about a 25% chance of showing up, that’s when both the sports radio talk show that I listen to and the Michael Medved show hit commercial breaks. This leaves me a few options: turn off the darned radio for a few minutes, see if one of the FM stations is playing a good song, or flip to Sean Hannity. Perhaps out of some yearning to perform an daily act of penance I often choose option three. (To understand why this is a quasi-penitential act for me, you can read my post about Hannity here.) At least he usually has on a guest during this time slot who is both more informative and entertaining than he is – a low bar to be sure.
Today he had two guests, both Muslim. One was a woman that I’ve heard on his show before. I am not sure if she is currently a practicing Muslim, but she clearly thinks that it is in the thrall of radicals, and she makes this clear by practically shouting each word that she speaks. The other gentleman was a “moderate” Muslim. The few minutes of the exchange that I listened to largely consisted of the former insisting that the latter’s abhorrence of sharia law and radicalism was a minority viewpoint within Islam, and the latter insisting that he represented the majority viewpoint. Neither really advanced any supporting evidence for either viewpoint save to just insist more fervently in their respective positions. Thrilling radio.
Before tuning out to return to the vitally important discussion of the NCAA tournament (perhaps an even stricter form of penance), the man said something that struck me as rather bizarre. He stated that he did not think that any religion was any better than any other, and that to believe that one’s own religion was superior to other religions was a sign of arrogance.
Come again? Continue reading
Before jumping into the topic, I want to say “thank you” to Tito and the entire staff for the invitation to contribute to TAC. I’m humbled and honored – and I hope to meet the fine standards already established here. It’s gonna mean more reliance on a dictionary and thesaurus, and the use of something I’ve seen referred to as “rational thinking”, but that’s a challenge I’m willing to undertake. Readers of my blog Acts of the Apostasy are familiar with my style; as my masthead says, “Orthodox commentary on heterodox hooligans – serious; satirical; humorous; faithful.” I can’t guarantee the most erudite (I had to look that up) commentary, but hopefully it will spark some worthwhile thoughts and conversations. So let’s begin…
Lent starts tomorrow. Ash Wednesday. A time to tighten our belts, wash our faces, deep-fry some haddock…
…and exorcise our homes of those eeeeevvilllll incandescent light bulbs.
That’s right – according to the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, your Lent will be meaningless if you don’t focus on creating a more sustainable and just world. It’s all about forgoing plastic shopping bags and installing CFL’s. Forget about growing in holiness. It’s all about glowing in fluorescence-ness.
Ever since people finished identifying “the American Dream” — the idea that in the US in particular and the New World in general somehow allowed people to escape the hidebound social structures of the Old World and better themselves via their own efforts — people have been worried that it is on the point of dying. Americans continue to show an an unusual degree of belief in the ability those who work hard to better themselves by their own efforts. For instance, in the 1999 International Social Survey, 61% of Americans agreed that “people get rewarded for their effort”, whereas only 41% of Japanese agreed, 33% of British and 23% of French. This belief has actually increased in recent decades. In 2005 the New York Times reported that while in 1983 only about 60% Americans agreed that “It is possible to start out poor, work hard and become rich” by 2005 nearly 80% of Americans agreed with that statement.
And yet, those who study inter-generational income mobility have been increasingly worried in recent decades that despite American’s belief that people can work hard and get ahead, that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to actually achieve this in the US. In a lengthy report by the liberal think thank Center for American Progress, Tom Hertz of American university brings together a number of the recent studies on intergenerational income mobility in the US as compared to other countries, showing how people who are born into the lower income quartiles in the United States are less likely to reach the top levels of income than in other countries such as Germany, Sweden or Denmark. Continue reading
Reading a rather cursory opinion piece this morning (calling for federal spending to be decreased) it occurred to me that there’s an interesting symmetry to what the more aggressive advocates of tax increases and spending cuts suggest:
The most passionate tax increase advocates frame their calls for tax increases in terms of some prior level of taxation: “We should roll back all the Bush tax cuts and return to the tax rates people payed under Clinton. We all remember the ’90′s; the world didn’t end when the top marginal tax rate was 39.6%” or “By golly, we should go back to the tax tables that were in force under that ‘socialist’ Eisenhower. 91% top marginal rate. That’ll teach those corporate fat cats to vote themselves bonuses.”
Similarly, when passionate spending cutters explain their plans, they tend to phrase it in terms of rolling back to a previous level of spending: “These ‘draconian’ cuts in fact only represent a return to 2006 spending levels. Did we starve in the streets then? Did the world end?” Continue reading
Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. The above video features the latest sting operation of James O’Keefe. The President of the NPR foundation meets with alleged members of an Islamic group dedictated to spreading Sharia, and the merriment begins!
The Daily Caller’s report focuses on the liberal hysteria aspect of the meeting:
In a new video released Tuesday morning by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who, unbeknownst to the NPR executives, are posing as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The men, who identified themselves as Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik from the fictitious Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust, met with Schiller and Liley at Café Milano, a well-known Georgetown restaurant, and explained their desire to give to $5 million to NPR because, “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.”
On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”
Schiller goes on to describe liberals as more intelligent and informed than conservatives. “In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives,” he said. Continue reading
You are on target Klavan on the Culture! Knowledge of other cultures and their history is a great thing. Multiculturalism, however, has become merely a mantra for those who wish to excuse bad behavior, here and abroad, if the malefactors can claim favored victim status bestowed by the forces of the Left. Curiously, or pehaps not so curiously, it is usually embraced by political liberals, who are often notoriously intolerant towards domestic political opponents who have ideas that differ one iota from their own. Continue reading