The Rapture Trap

Monday, May 23, AD 2011

Well it’s Monday and it looks like we’re all still here.  The predicted Rapture event failed to occur, and now Harold Camping is scrambling to come up with an excuse.  While it’s tempting to revel in this man’s exposure as a con artist, we should temper our enthusiasm just a little bit.

For one thing, though we all knew that the rapture would not be occurring because, well, there won‘t be a rapture (also see Carl Olson’s excellent book on the topic), there will be a final day of judgment.  It could very well have happened on Saturday, and it may happen next week.  Or next year.  Or a billion years from now.  We simply don’t know when the final hour will be at hand, and if nothing else maybe this story can remind us to live our lives in anticipation for Christ’s second coming.

Moreover, though Camping deserves much of the scorn heaped upon him, we should remember that there are people who were taken in by this fraudster and who gave up everything because they truly believed that the end was nigh.  Writing at The New Republic, Tiffany Stanley explains why we should not be overly gleeful about this past weekend’s non event.

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22 Responses to The Rapture Trap

  • “The Founders for the most part emphasized the teachings of Jesus, not His divinity.”

    Actually no, most of the Founders were conventional Christians. Mr. Ward’s comment was as ignorant on American history as it was on Christianity. Jefferson was attacked as an infidel in the 1800 election because his adversaries realized that was an effective line of attack with the American people although not effective enough to re-elect the dour and charismaless John Adams. Jefferson took care throughout his administration to attend the religious services held each Sunday in the House of Representatives as a result, and kept his religious opinions private while he was President.

  • The Rapture happened all right. Just that no one was up to snuff.

  • It’s funny watching progressive Christians strain mightily to distinguish themselves from those embarrassing orthodox types they refuse to call brethren. You see it a lot over at the Reporter, with one confused columnist insisting on jettisoning the empty tomb to avoid being confused with an evangelical artist who had painted a mural of the Resurrection.

    “Please understand, Fellow Liberal Peers Whose Esteem I Value More Than Faith Itself–I’m not like those folks. I don’t believe in that s–t.”

    Given the rest of his letter, I’m sure [W]ayward’s take on Jesus’ divinity is equally…interesting.

  • Re: “… there won‘t be a rapture …”

    The coming of the Son of man, as referred to in Matthew 24:30, will not be a coming as a thief, as referred to in Revelation 16:15, because of all of the preceding signs in Matthew 24:5-29.

    The “rapture” is mostly defined as referring to 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. Is Paul Zummo claiming that 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 will not occur?

  • Face it, for 2,000 years, no one has been able to decipher Revelation, much less the rest of the cryptic passages in the Bible, many filled with ambiguity or mis-translated. The Bible: An old fiddle on which to play any tune. This rapture nonsense, pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib and fun and games with eschatology is further undermining Christianity, which needs no further undermining.

    The Church (Catholic and otherwise) can’t stand too many more bad headlines. Agnostics like me would like to see you guys win one once in awhile. Tell the truth, I was disappointed the rapture, if there is one to be, didn’t occur. It’s time for a do-over.

  • Face it, for 2,000 years, no one has been able to decipher Revelation,

    Actually many smart biblical scholars have been able to offer meaningful insights into Revelation. You just have to read them.

    The Church (Catholic and otherwise) can’t stand too many more bad headline

    Since the Church had nothing to do with this ridiculous tomfoolery, and has been pretty consistent for 2,000 years on its end time theology, I don’t really see why it should be lumped in with people like Camping.

  • “Agnostics like me would like to see you guys win one once in awhile.”

    The victory was won a very long time ago Joe on the cross. As for your agnosticism, a hot house plant historically speaking, derived from the Enlightenment skepticism in Western Europe in the 18th Century, get back to us after it has been around for 2000 years like the Church.

  • Don, I still have hope you believers are right. Here’s what Evelyn Waugh wrote, which haunts me every day:

    “The Roman Catholic Church has the unique power of keeping remote control over human souls which have once been part of her. G.K. Chesterton has compared this to the fisherman’s line, which allows the fish the illusion of free play in the water and yet has him by the hook; in his own time the fisherman by a ‘twitch upon the thread’ draws the fish to land.”

  • Since the Church had nothing to do with this ridiculous tomfoolery, and has been pretty consistent for 2,000 years on its end time theology, I don’t really see why it should be lumped in with people like Camping.
    ==================================
    Paul, I realize Catholics in the main have nothing to do with Camping and his ilk. I was referring in a larger sense to the sex scandals and other internecine feuds harming the Church’s image in recent decades. I agree with Don that any institution that survives for 2,000 years must have some cred, and that the Founder remains the centerpiece of much of the human race is in itself a miracle.

  • Once a Catholic always a Catholic Joe. The late comedian Jackie Gleason when asked his religion would always say “Bad Catholic”. He once stunned the audience in a light-hearted talk show in the Seventies by responding to the question what he wanted more than anything else by saying “Eternal Salvation”. The host was taken aback by this and asked him, “Really?” Gleason said he couldn’t understand anyone wanting anything more than that. Gleason and most of the Ten Commandments were not on friendly terms during his life, to say the least, but he received the Last Rites on his deathbed, and I am sure he got what he wanted more than anything else.

  • Don, I still watch Bishop Sheen on EWTN regularly and have most of his old tapes and he was on the other night talking about “the ages of man.” He talked about how everything in the world has a purpose or goal, except that man sometimes cannot figure out what his is. He told a parable, which he was so good at, at seeing a worm in the mud and a bird with a broken wing in the mud. He said he didn’t feel sorry for the worm because that was its destiny; but for the bird, he felt sorry because the bird’s purpose in life is to fly. This struck me as quite profound.

    One thing that I keep going back to is Jesus washing the feet of his disciple as an act of humility. How is it that the God of the universe could stoop so low? To me this is the most profound act in all of history, and I ponder it constantly without understanding.

  • Joe,

    The answer is Love.

    Stop trying to figure out mysteries and simply talk to the Author Himself and ask Him for understanding.

    The end of the world is coming so get ready. Soon, whether alone or with the whole world we will face our Judge. It is better to beg for His Mercy now, tomorrow may not come. That is about all anyone needs to know about the end.

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  • Knight, I have but get no answers after nearly 70 years of asking. My last words, if I get a chance to say them, will be: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”

  • I have to say that among the non-religious I have encountered on the internet, Joe is the most sincere in seeking to find God. My prayer is that you find Him, Joe.

  • Joe,
    Every night as I lay down to sleep I recite the Act of Contrition — short version. “Jesus, mercy.”

  • Thanks, Paul. I appreciate support from any and all quarters.

  • I feel very sad for these people.

    I suspect that those who are nourished, whose relationships are good, whose career is satisfying, whose spiritual life is alive and genuine, who have enough money to pay the bills with a bit left over for modest treats and charities, did not fall for this snake oil.

    Life is hard for many. When someone like Camping promises that soon the suffering flock will be lifted into heaven to be forever with The Lord, leaving all that other crap behind, the lure is too tempting.

    And now they also must live with disappointment. Pray for them.

  • Author: Joe Green
    Comment:
    Knight, I have but get no answers after nearly 70 years of asking. My last words, if I get a chance to say them, will be: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.”

    Joe, you are wiser and closer to the Truth than you know. God always answers, even when He is silent. The miscommunication is ours, not His. I know where you are – I was there for a very long time. I thought God did not exist and that Jesus was a nice, social reformer. Yet Jesus was always attractive and one day I asked Who He really was and He told me – I AM. I began to realize that He talks, I don’t listen. The problem is knowing how to listen to Jesus, to actually hear God speak to your heart. Even when I came back to the Church, I came to understand so that I can believe. Jesus told me just as He told St. Thomas, blessed are those who believe without seeing.

    Once I gave Him my assent of faith, He began to give me understanding, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I used to think, in materialist temporal mode, that understanding preceded belief. In reality, faith precedes understanding. Even now, my understanding is limited, but when I allow the Spirit to speak to me, I gain more understanding. The scales do not fall from us in an instant, God works with us, where we are – He is patient and will not give us or ask from us more than we can handle. He is Mercy.

    Before I realized that I was Catholic, I was fascinated with the Apocalypse and became enthralled with the cutesy, superstitious end times ideas of evangelicals. The Book of Apocalypse was especially fascinating. Kind of odd for an unbeliever. Now that I look back, I realized that God was speaking to me where I was and drew me forth. Now I understand that the Apocalypse describes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, among other things. I went from thinking it was comic book about the end of the world, to knowing that it is the rubrics of the highest form of human worship of the Almighty. God is speaking to you now, try to listen to Him and open your heart so He can fill you.

    I am sure you are in all of our prayers.

  • Joe,

    I suspected it all along. You are a better man than I.

    That includes everyone else here. I have more cause for contrition than any one of you.

    I have until next Wednesday to do my Easter Duty.

  • Knight, Shaw & All Catholics: I’m glad that God has answered your prayers and that you have found peace and certainty. I cannot yet find that place though, Lord knows, I have tried.

    Remembering the Parable of the Sower, Who dropped seed on the path and it fell on rocky, thorny ground (me) and not the good earth (you) where it grows and yields much fruit. Because I cannot “truly understand,” the seed will not take hold.

    Now, also recalling Pascal’s Wager, I will bet there is a God, having a 50-50 chance, which at this point is the extent of my “faith.” A poor substitute for the real thing, but it’s at least something to cling to.

  • Joe that is a pretty big mustard seed you’ve got there.

73 Responses to Bibi & Barry

  • …This is rather depressing– Bibi was cute!

  • You talking about Bibi and Barack or Rahm Emanuel and George W. Bush?

  • Benjamin’s brother, Jonathan, is a legend in Israel. He was the head of Sayeret Maktal (Israel’s Seal Team 6) and the only Israeli commando who died during the raid on Entebbe. Benjamin was also a member of Sayeret.

    Their father, Benzion Netanyahu, was a fierce Zionist and scholar of the Spanish Inquisition, who argued that Jewish efforts to placate the Spaniards were futile from the outset. I don’t think most Americans can understand how the current Prime Minister processes the question of Israel’s survival–it’s hardwired.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/opinion/17goldberg.html?pagewanted=1

  • “I don’t think most Americans can understand how the current Prime Minister processes the question of Israel’s survival–it’s hardwired.”

    Considering the history of the Jews, especially the recent history of the Jews, I think it is astonishing that the Israelis have been willing to take any steps for peace that involve diminishing their security one iota. If I were a Jew I would suspect that if we were about to be massacred in Israel, the non-Jewish world, with the exception of the US (although under Obama I think that exception might be shaky), would look on with cool indifference, unless they were viewing it with rabid enthusiasm.

  • I completely agree.

    In light of history, the Jews should annex large portions of the West Bank.

    The rest they should divest to Jordan and give Gaza back to Egypt.

    They were invaded and successfully repealed the invading Muslim armies. They have every right to do what they wish with the West Bank and Gaza.

    As for the other point I mentioned, let the remaining land, of whatever is left after Israel fairly stakes their claims decide if they want to be the Lichtenstein of the Muslim world or merge with Jordan and Egypt.

  • RR,

    You mean the Rahm Emmanuel that shot at US Navy ships and killed countless American sailors and the W. Bush that served in the National Guard defending the greatest nation on God’s green earth?

    You need to make a bigger lie, a la Hitler, to even think of getting away with the psuedohistory that you peddle brother.

  • Anachronistic, Tito. Lattes were rare if not unknown in the northeastern United States when B.O. was that age.

  • Art Deco,

    I believe.

    I absolutely couldn’t tell you the difference between 3 day old spoiled chocolate milk and a latte or decaf, or a capuchino.

  • You talking about Bibi and Barack or Rahm Emanuel and George W. Bush?

    Rahm Emanuel served for a couple weeks during the Gulf War as a civilian assistant to the IDF dealing with anti-aircraft defenses.

    George W. Bush served in the National Guard flying fighter jets.

    I’m not clear how Emanuel is supposed to rate as having “fought for the survival of the Jewish State” or Bush gets cast as being like Obama.

    Which is not to say that the comparison of Netanyahu and Obama’s activities in their early 20s is hugely relevant to how good they are as heads of state now — it mostly just serves to underline that Netanyahu is an interesting person while Obama is not particularly.

    Gotta love the pictures, though.

  • “You mean the Rahm Emmanuel that shot at US Navy ships and killed countless American sailors”

    Talk about pseudo-history!

  • The pot calling kettle black.

    It just dawned on you?

    /sarcasm off

  • While I find Bibi an appealing personality, I think he is making a strategic blunder of potentially dire proportions. To quote Jonathan Chait:

    During the first quarter-century of Israel’s existence, the prospect of a massed conventional military invasion constituted the greatest threat to its existence. That’s no longer true. The greatest dangers today are the combination of demographic and political threats posed by the growing relative size of the Arab population west of the Jordan river, terrorism, and the loss of legitimacy posed by a continuing occupation and counter-terrorism policy in the West Bank and Gaza. Those dangers all dwarf the potential that armored columns of Arab armies will cut Israel in half. The tragedy is that huge swaths of the Israeli right and its sympathizers (both Jewish and Gentile) have failed to grasp this, and have placed it in danger of succumbing to the mortal new threat while guarding against the antiquated one.

  • Strategically, they should probably bomb the blank out of the surrounding areas, inform any neighbors that providing weapons to terrorists is an act of war, and generally act in a rather deadly manner to those who live near them.

    Negotiating with those who 1) don’t hold to agreements and 2) aren’t even expected to hold their agreements is a Bad Idea.

    Let’s not hope too hard for them to think strategically, given what the body count would be…. *shudder*

  • Strategically, they should probably bomb the blank out of the surrounding areas, inform any neighbors that providing weapons to terrorists is an act of war, and generally act in a rather deadly manner to those who live near them.

    As strategy this leaves something to be desired.

  • As strategy this leaves something to be desired.

    As does the fool’s bargain with those who will not hold faith, as does falling back to indefensible borders, as does committing mass suicide (directly, since most strategies end up being this….)

    It’s hard to have a really desirable strategy when you’re surrounded by those who think you have no right to exist, let alone be successful.

  • It strikes me that Chait has a point that the 9 mile depth of the old Israeli territory that Netanyahu doesn’t want to go back it is not the danger that it was in the 40s-70s, for the reason that Israel now has such incredible and obvious military superiority over all its direct neighbors that one would imagine that actual states would have the wisdom not to attack and face the choice that either:

    a) The Israeli conventional military would defeat them quickly and spectacularly or else

    b) If things seemed tight, Israel would nuke them.

    That said, for those same reasons, I’m not sure that Israel necessarily needs to make seriously dangerous sacrifices in the interest of “legitimacy” with countries that would tend not to like them anyway. (Turkey and Western Europe seem unlikely to become their fans no matter what, much less their immediate neighbors.)

    This probably means it would make sense for them to pull out of parts but not all of the West Bank and then announce that cross border attacks will be treated as acts of war — but one thing that probably is not in the cards is that the Palestinian leadership announce they are actually happy with any deal that’s ever offered.

  • Being that the West Bank is the high ground and of strategic importance to Israel, I would see their need in taking it back. If I were President Obama, I would stay out of the fray, except to ensure rights for Christians who are native to the area. Unfortunately, our President always makes the wrong moves and ruffles the feathers of the wrong people.

  • Foxfire,

    There’s nothing indefensible about the pre-1967 borders. The idea that Israel would be at risk from an invasion by Jordan if it returned to those borders is a bad joke.

    The Palestinians have long since abandoned the idea that you can defeat Israel by military force. Instead, the new plan is to try and turn Israel into a pariah state akin to Rhodesia or South Africa. The way you counter that threat is by ending the occupation. That was Sharon’s vision (roughly), and if he hadn’t had a stroke he may well have pulled it off.

  • I very much doubt if there is any diplomatic solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians, the vast majority in any case, have never come to terms with Israel as a permanent reality. They assume that something will occur which will remove Israel from the equation and they only have to wait. Israel is often compared in Palestinian writings to the ephemeral Crusader States of the twelfth and thirteenth century and the Palestinians view time as being on their side.

    The main military threat to Israel is not conventional, although I would note that Israel suddenly has a potentially hostile Egypt now on its southern border. The military threat to Israel comes from a massive terrorist strike involving WMDS probably backed by Iran. I have heard that the Israelis have viewed with increasing alarm the infighting going on within Iran’s leadership fearing that it may presage an attack on them. Things will get very dicey over there before this year is out.

  • BA-
    how about that it involves abandoning tons of their citizens? How about that it involves giving in to terrorists that aren’t going to be happy until they’re gone– and probably not even then? And who on earth limited it to Jordan?

    The military folks that I know are good with this stuff say they’re indefensible to easily foreseeable Arab aggression–even if one ignores whatever the frick happens with the “Palestinians.” (A radio show that is pretty representative of what the folks I trust say would be “Dark Secret Place“– the host of which is no big Israel fan, incidentally, although he’s not hostile.

  • The main military threat to Israel is not conventional, although I would note that Israel suddenly has a potentially hostile Egypt now on its southern border. The military threat to Israel comes from a massive terrorist strike involving WMDS probably backed by Iran.

    The Egyptian army is not a real threat to Israel. Iran is a real threat, but to do that you need U.S. support. The best spin I can put on Bibi’s actions is that he’s written Obama off as an ally and is trying to hurt his chance at reelection in the hopes of having someone more favorably inclined get elected President.

  • I would note the Prime Minister and the Likkud are now saying this was overblown by the media.

    And not to be offering an opinion but just correcting the misstatement that “They were invaded and successfully repealed the invading Muslim armies” I would remind folks that almost all of the uniformed Christians in this conflict were among the invaders.

  • how about that it involves abandoning tons of their citizens?

    What Obama outlined doesn’t involve abandoning any Israeli citizens.

    How about that it involves giving in to terrorists that aren’t going to be happy until they’re gone – and probably not even then?

    It’s not about making the Palestinians happy. It’s about removing their main weapon against you (which I suspect will make them very unhappy).

    And who on earth limited it to Jordan?

    Given where the border is, it’s pretty much geographically limited to Jordan.

    If the idea is that a Jordanian attack would be accompanied by attacks by other Arab states, well, that’s been tried before. In 1967 it took the Israelis six days to rout the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. If there was a repeat today it would probably take about six hours.

  • What Obama outlined doesn’t involve abandoning any Israeli citizens.

    *snort* Yeah, sure, if Israel can talk the Palestinians into trading them.
    “Here, I’ll give you all this land that I have right now– and then we’ll work on trades, how about that? Oh, by the way, will you trade me the west bank where most of our 300,000-ish settlers live?

    It’s not about making the Palestinians happy. It’s about removing their main weapon against you (which I suspect will make them very unhappy).

    How does giving in remove their ability to badmouth Israel? Look at how they removed the last weapon– by destroying the tactic, not by rewarding it.

    Given where the border is, it’s pretty much geographically limited to Jordan.

    And Palestine–wherever that ends up being– and anyone that the Palestinians let march right on in, and Egypt with whoever the Muslim Brotherhood wants to come in, and Syria, and Lebanon.
    That’s before we even start thinking about sea and air power, and assumes that— ha!– terrorism stops.

    If the idea is that a Jordanian attack would be accompanied by attacks by other Arab states, well, that’s been tried before.

    I thought you were upset about fighting the last conflict when the facts on the ground have changed?

    I missed it the first time, but my dark suggestion actually agrees with your statement– the way to win is to end the occupation. There’s two ways to end any occupation, only one of which doesn’t leave Israel with an even bigger border and a reputation for backing down from attacks.

  • The Palestinians have long since abandoned the idea that you can defeat Israel by military force. Instead, the new plan is to try and turn Israel into a pariah state akin to Rhodesia or South Africa. The way you counter that threat is by ending the occupation.

    I get that, and it strikes me as the strongest argument for a unilateral pull-out from most or all of the West Bank. I guess I’m still a little uncertain, though, as to how effective this would be in stopping the attempt to label Israel as a pariah state.

    Admittedly, they haven’t left Gaza entirely alone since pulling out (though their interventions were provoked) but the pull out there has if anything increased the pressure on them from that quarter not reduced it.

    I’m not entirely sure one could be confident that the same would not be the case with the West Bank if they did a unilaterial withdrawal.

    If the idea is that a Jordanian attack would be accompanied by attacks by other Arab states, well, that’s been tried before. In 1967 it took the Israelis six days to rout the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. If there was a repeat today it would probably take about six hours.

    There, I agree. And indeed, if Jordan was willing to actually take back the West Bank, I would imagine that Israel would jump at the chance, as then they’d have the rest of Jordan to also aim force at if the West Bank got out of hand. The thing which makes the West Bank so problematic is that it seems little to willing to immolate itself if Israel is likely to get burned in the process. And it’s so messed up already, it’s not as if threats to blockade or bomb it are really all that efficacious. (Which, at the same time, is why it’s almost impossible for Israel to police when they are in charge.)

  • “The Egyptian army is not a real threat to Israel.”

    It came very, very close to being a major threat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and without Nixon’s airlift of supplies the Israelis might have faced a very precarious military situation in the Sinai. Now the main problem it presents for Israel is that their military can no longer count on a quiet border with Egypt in a crisis.

  • *snort* Yeah, sure, if Israel can talk the Palestinians into trading them.

    The Palestinians aren’t likely to agree to any peace deal. Since the Palestinians aren’t going to agree to a peace deal, it serves no purpose for Israel to let itself be perceived as the one who won’t agree to a peace deal. In fact it is positively harmful, since it allows the Palestinians and their allies to paint Israel, rather than the Palestinians, as the obstacle.

    How does giving in remove their ability to badmouth Israel?

    The Palestinians can say whatever they want. The question is whether anyone will listen.

    I submit that that people are more likely to feel sympathy for the Palestinians if (1) Israel continues to occupy the West Bank, and (2) Israel is perceived as being unwilling to negotiate a peace deal. It therefore behooves Israel to try to eliminate these sources of Palestinian sympathy if it can do so consistent with its own security (which it can).

    And Palestine–wherever that ends up being– and anyone that the Palestinians let march right on in, and Egypt with whoever the Muslim Brotherhood wants to come in, and Syria, and Lebanon.

    As I said before, if it came down to it, the IDF could rout the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon in about six hours. They really really are not a threat to Israel’s security. Anyone who tells you different is either lying to you or doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  • I think there’s a lot to what BA is saying, but I agree with Don regarding sweeping generalizations about the Arab militaries. In the air–perhaps. But on the ground, the Egyptians and Syrians fought very, very well in 1973, as did Hezbollah back in 2006.

  • “The Egyptian army is not a real threat to Israel.”

    It came very, very close to being a major threat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War

    That was 40 years ago when Egypt had Soviet backing and was, if not at the height of their power, then at least a lot closer to it than they are now.

  • The Palestinians can say whatever they want. The question is whether anyone will listen.

    If it’s a hammer against Israel, they’ll listen. Facts haven’t changed anything thus far, and I doubt they’ll change things in the future.

  • I wouldn’t overestimate Israel’s ability to fend off another multi-nation attack. Yes, on paper it may look like a cake walk even compared to their earlier victories. However, war doesn’t usually play out like it does on paper. It wasn’t five years ago when Israel entered Lebanon and pulled out in a month. I don’t think they even claim that campaign a success.

  • Darwin,

    There is a kind of fatalism among some on the right when it comes to public perceptions of Israel. The view is basically that it doesn’t matter what Israel does, the people who don’t like her won’t like her, while the people who support her will stand by her.

    I don’t think that’s right. You mention Turkey and Western Europe, for example, as countries that aren’t going to like Israel no matter what. Yet Israel either has or has had excellent relations with both Turkey and Western Europe. Certainly there are some people who will oppose Israel no matter what, but there are also lots of people whose attitude towards the Mideast is going to be determined by whether Israel seems like an oppressive colonial power or a country that wants peace and is only defending its right to exist.

    In the long run continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank is untenable. Either it will have to make the area and its inhabitants part of Israel proper (which for demographic reasons would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state) or it must withdraw from them.

  • It wasn’t five years ago when Israel entered Lebanon and pulled out in a month.

    This was for political rather than military reasons. Militarily the IDF could have occupied Lebanon for as long as it wanted.

    I would note that during the early days of the war, western opinion was almost universal in support of Israel, and even the Arab states were publicly muted and privately supporting (belying the claims that people will condemn Israel regardless of what happens). It was only once it became clear that Israel wasn’t going to really commit to destroying Hezbollah but instead was going to use bombing to affect Lebanese opinion that support evaporated.

  • It was only once it became clear that Israel wasn’t going to really commit to destroying Hezbollah but instead was going to use bombing to affect Lebanese opinion that support evaporated.

    Definitely not how I remember it. More like, Israel was actually attacking Hezbollah instead of doing a quick smack after they were invaded and had their soldiers taken captive. While rockets kept firing into their country, too– I CAN remember failing to be surprised that Israel’s bombing got condemned, but the stuff headed their way was just accepted.

  • There is a kind of fatalism among some on the right when it comes to public perceptions of Israel. The view is basically that it doesn’t matter what Israel does, the people who don’t like her won’t like her, while the people who support her will stand by her.

    I don’t think that’s right. You mention Turkey and Western Europe, for example, as countries that aren’t going to like Israel no matter what. Yet Israel either has or has had excellent relations with both Turkey and Western Europe.

    I think there’s a measure of truth to this, I’m just not sure I’d take it as far.

    Yes, Turkey and Western Europe were both fairly positive on Israel for a while, but in Western Europe there’s a three way set of motivators to stay anti-Israel now that they’ve got there:

    – Opposing Israel as a colonialist power helps them feel about their colonialist pasts.
    – Seeing Israel as a wicked or at least ambivalent power helps them feel less guilty about the Holocaust (since it suggests that the Jews are no better than they are and would have done the same thing given the chance.)
    – It fits with a pattern of Antisemitism which is a lot older and more rooted than the more recent period of good feelings toward Israel.

    Given all these (and the fact that Israel’s enemies can sell them oil while Israel can’t) I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect Europe to feel much differently about Israel any time soon, even if Israel takes the high road in every way possible.

    Turkey, on the other hand, has had it’s own massive demographic shift over the last couple generations which may well make it permanently a religiously oriented power rather than a secular one — and one way for it to try to return to being a leader among religiously focused nations in its region is via opposing Israel.

    That said — I’d agree that some sort of unilateral “peace deal” on Israel’s part, which involves “giving back” the parts of the West Bank which Israel can obviously never govern peacefully is the right thing to do. I just think that they’ll get no credit for it except among their traditional supporters and continue to be portrayed as a colonialist power. (Though behind closed doors, I would imagine that most of the Arab governments will continue to be glad to see them make the heavy blows against the local terrorist organizations when necessary.)

  • An interesting take on the differences of cultures.

  • Despite mass media spin and what Israel would like to believe, it is not “a Jewish state.” There are 500,000 Palestinians living in Israel, a quarter of the population, and this is the reason why the Jews are against “the right of return.” In no time, they would become a minority.

  • Of course the Arabs, after the 48 war, chased about a million Jews over the years out of their countries, not infrequently confiscating their property. The vast majority of these refugees made a new home for themselves in Israel. Too bad the Arab world, with a vastly greater land mass and resources, did not make new homes for the refugee Palistinians, instead keeping them in “refugee” camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to this very day, the better to stoke their hatred of Israel and use as pawns in the neverending war against the Jewish State. There are even “refugee” camps in the West Bank and Gaza which is absolutely farcial.

  • Yes, Turkey and Western Europe were both fairly positive on Israel for a while, but in Western Europe there’s a three way set of motivators to stay anti-Israel now that they’ve got there

    I don’t think it’s as bad as that. I can think of a number of current or recent European leaders, Blair, Sarkozy, Aznar, etc. who have been decently pro-Israel, and the overall trend in Europe is towards anti-immigrant parties who tend to be more favorably disposed to Israel. Overall Western Europe tends to be a lot more anti-Israel than the U.S. but then in general the political spectrum tends to be shifted leftward in Europe as compared to the U.S. on pretty much every issue.

  • I think Paul Johnson in his excellent book, “The History of the Jews,” points out there were at least 3 times the Palestinians/Arabs could have had a better deal, their own state, etc. but rejected all attempts, always holding out for more while Israel gave more than it got. Perhaps this long-running conflict will never been solved because Esau got outwitted by Jacob and never forgave him and never will.

  • The Palestinians Joe have had the worst leadership of any population since World War II with the exception of the North Koreans, and that is saying a mouthful. They never miss an opportunity to fail to give a forwarding address to all potential opportunities.

  • I have no sympathy or concern for the Palestinians, who have become progressively more radicalized Islamists. I do have concern and pity for the Arab Christians.

    I have only slight concern for Israel, a secular, liberal country which, while formally secular, continuously advances religious reasons for its existence and permanence, reasons ridiculously embraced by American Evangelicals. It’s ironic to see an aborting, sexually immoral, modern western nation defended as the “sacred homeland of the Jewish people,” as if the Patriarchs and Prophets would supporters of the Israeli state.

    In any event, I don’t see that we have a dog in this fight. Support of Israel has done nothing for our national interests since the fall of Communism (when Israel was a counter-weight in the Middle East). I don’t particularly wish to see Israel fall, but don’t think preventing that is worth one drop of American blood.

  • I agree, Tom, that Israel, armed to the teeth by the U.S. already and possessing nukes, can take care of itself no matter how many fronts it has to fight. The Arabs, far from united in purpose and strategy, are vastly overmatched in weaponry and soldiering skills. It should be noted that Israelis are not monolithic either in their views, with a political and religious spectrum that runs the gamut. Nor is a drop of American blood for Iraq/Libya/Afghanistan worth it.

  • I’m warm to the idea of hitting the Islamists, with whom we ARE at war, whether we want to acknowledge it or not (Libyan intervention would not be related to fighting Islam, so I can’t see our national interest there). Only to that extent do I see Israel as offering us anything of interest: they’ve got an impressive military and intelligence leg up on radical Islam. But I don’t care to see the Holy Land in the hands of a secular Israel any more than I would care to see it in the hands of the Moslems.

  • “But I don’t care to see the Holy Land in the hands of a secular Israel any more than I would care to see it in the hands of the Moslems.”

    They are the only two games in town Tom, and I much prefer the Israelis controling the Holy Land than the adherents of the Religion of Peace.

  • Agreed, Don, but only insofar as for the time being Israel shows more willingness to allow Christian access to the holy places. Whether they would be so accomodating if they didn’t need to curry favor with the West, who knows? You can guess and I can guess, but that’s what they are: guesses.

    That issue aside, I see no compelling national interest at stake for us in picking sides in this fight, at least as far as our blood or treasure is concerned.

  • Tom,

    Since 1948 the Christian population under Israeli control has more than doubled.

    In the West Bank and Gaza, it has dropped from 20% to barely 1%.

    Combined with the fact that even though Israel treats Catholic Holy Sites with contempt, they do allow access and have ruled in the Church’s favor time and again whenever it was confronted with Radical Muslims demanding space near Christian holy sites.

    I’ll take a hedonistic Israel over an anti-Christian/radical Islamist state any day of the year, decade, or century.

  • Sure, if that’s the only choice. But that’s hardly reason to support Israel qua Israel, and certainly not to the extent this country has. let’s not forget Johnathan Pollard– Israel spies on us not for just diplomatic reasons, but for military technology.

    We ought to keep both the Islamists and the Israelis at arm’s length.

  • Comparing Esau to the Palestinians is rather unfair ( to Esau). Some time after he had been cheated of his birthright, Esau went on to become a rich man through his own efforts. The Bible records that he forgave his cowardly brother and continued to maintain good relations with him. A most likeable and unusual man. Anyone who has gone through the trauma of a property division would recognise immediately that Esau was a gem of a man, a man in a million. He received some negative publicity from the Talmudists, who were concerned to present Jacob as a paragon of virtue. But the Bible takes a more relaxed view of these things; who among us knows how he will behave under similar circumstances?

    Had the Palestinians been largely Christian, the dispute between them and the Israelis would have been solved years ago, through mutual forgiveness and a sincere desire to let bygones be bygones. Being Muslims, peace with the Israelis is for them impossible short of the Second Coming. Their model and proximate idea of peace is the hudna – the temporarising ceasefire – that the pervert Mohamed agreed to liberally whenever he did not hold the upper hand militarily. Their ultimate ideal of peace is of course far worse, submission to the dead hand of Islam as befell the Bani Quraytha – Jews who could not hold their own against the grasping hand of the prophet of Islam. For this reason I hold all the peacemongers including sadly some nutcases in the Vatican to be misguided fools or worse.

  • Ivan,

    I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Bibi is a soldier and a mensch. Obama is a crafty community agitator and a cunning demagogue.

    Israeli/Jewish interests are not exactly equivalent to American/Catholic interests. They are closer than terrorists” interests.

    The enemy of my enemy . . .

  • I don’t have my comparative religion text on hand, but isn’t Esau the traditional ancestor of the Arab people?

    (Took a class several years ago…it was pretty good once one accepted that they viewed all religion like mythology, dead and with no real authority to what this or that group believed. Compared to the actively hostile to X and Y group ones, that’s pretty good.)

    Other than that, agreed, Ivan.

  • The Muslims Foxfier regard Abraham’s son Ishmael as being the father of several Arab tribes. He is regarded by them as one of the great prophets and a forefather of Muhammed.

  • “The Muslims Foxfier regard Abraham’s son Ishmael as being the father of several Arab tribes. He is regarded by them as one of the great prophets and a forefather of Muhammed.”

    From Dale Price’s Comprehensive Warehouse of Useless Trivia:

    In Byzantine historical sources, the Arabs are routinely referred to as “Hagarenes” in reference to Ishmael’s mother.

  • Malachi 1:3 (New International Version)

    3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

  • Looking at my Catholic edition of the New American Bible, it notes that “hated” should be read as “rejected,” and “loved” as “preferred,” and notes that St. Paul used the passage to point out God can call the Gentiles to Him if He wishes.

  • Hamas rejects Obama’s call for a return to the 67 borders:

    “Speaking to Al-Emirate Al-Youm, Zahar asked “Why won’t we talk about the 1948 borders? Why won’t we discuss the partition plan which was internationally recognized?””

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/05/24/hamas-rejects-the-1967-borders-too/

    That would be the partition plan which was agreed to by Israel and rejected by the Arabs. As if Hamas would be satisfied with a do-over that would roll back the clock to 1947. Anything less than a Juden Frei Palestine is merely a step in the right direction as far as they are concerned.

  • ALSO; Bibi knows what the year is, although he doesn’t use AD.

    Obama (today signed register 24 May 2008) believes it’s 2008 in Great Britain.

    Can you imagine the media/intellectualistas’ reaction if Sarah Palin or any Republican was so bloody stupid?

    Maybe Bibi didn’t do HIGH school HIGH on WEED, either.

    Hey, let’s bring the federal budget back to the 1967 limits!

  • BA,

    You may be right on that, I’ll admit that I tend heavily towards the more cynical approach.

  • I’m not upto speed on Malachi, but isn’t it a much later book with all the overlay of subsequent history? The Catholic Encyclopedia appear confused; Jacob had cheated his brother and thus he had every reason to be wary. Unless this a cautionary tale of a fool and his money going their seperate ways, I do not see any significance in describing Esau as a ‘greedy’ man, when to a modern ear Jacob is clearly the malefactor. Yes Esau married many wives, but Jacob was no slacker in that department either.

  • That issue aside, I see no compelling national interest at stake for us in picking sides in this fight, at least as far as our blood or treasure is concerned.

    We have never devoted any manpower to the defense of Israel. About 11% of the foreign aid budget is distributed to Israel, or about $3 bn. That would amount to about 2% of Israel’s domestic product.

    they’ve got an impressive military and intelligence leg up on radical Islam

    But apparently, we should not contribute to maintaining it.

    It’s ironic to see an aborting, sexually immoral, modern western nation defended as the “sacred homeland of the Jewish people,”

    Israel has a lot of black hats. That aside, your objection would apply to the defense of any occidental country, including our own. One is reminded of George Kennan’s remark (ca 1980) that he did not care for the expense and risks necessary to defend the porno shops of Washington, D.C.

    I gather that with the death of Joseph Sobran, you think it necessary to take his place.

  • Ivan-
    looks to me like they made a deal. A bad deal, but a deal. Reading the translation in my home Bible, the main similarity is that they both emphasize that Esau cared so little for what-would-be as opposed to what-is that he sold his birthright for immediate gratification. Betting that’s about as big a no-no as you can get in such a culture, kind of like how we’re horrified that folks name their child after a retail product.

  • Art, yep I figured it would not take long for the ad hominems to start once the most modest suggestion is made that support of Israel is not in our national interest.

    You’re absolutely right, though, I don’t think we should be spending a single dime of our money on any of our 1st world allies, but certainly not on Israel, since whether there’s a Jewish state or a Palestinian state, or a mixture of the two in that region is of zero interest to American security.

    As late as yesterday, Netanyahu was calling Israel “the Jewish state.” I don’t think it’s out of bounds to question the duality involved in claiming that Israel is some sort of religious homeland while simultaneously Israel is as aggressively secular as any western nation.

    And what other country could get away with claiming to be a religious state? Would we tolerate Ireland, for instance, referring to itself as “a Catholic state” much less “THE Catholic state?” We criticize Iran and other Islamic states who are conciously and self-identified as religious… why not Israel?

  • Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?

  • Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?

    I know we spied on them during the Vietnam era– pretty openly, too.

  • Again, in Israel, Bibi could not give 1,372 waivers from Obamacare to his friends; nor tell Boeing to building its assembly plant somewhere far away from South Carolina; nor use Israeli tax police to punish criminal organizations guilty of supporting opposition political candidates.

    Tom,

    I was where you are until 0846 hours 11 Sep 2001.

    From then on (for me), support of israel became our national interest.

    Ditto, Fox. During the 1973 war, we were 24/7 flying SR-71’s over Israel. If I told you more, I’d have to shoot myself.

  • Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?

    Ages ago. Friendly nations spy on each other all the time. We do it, and we’d be stupid not to.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2106079/

  • Art, yep I figured it would not take long for the ad hominems to start

    Rubbish. Your remarks resemble the late Mr. Sobran’s with near precision. (Down to the argumentitive contrivance below). Sorry the comparison bothers you. He remains revered by the Rockford Institute.

    As late as yesterday, Netanyahu was calling Israel “the Jewish state.” I don’t think it’s out of bounds to question the duality involved in claiming that Israel is some sort of religious homeland

    The term ‘Jewish’ denotes an ethnic group and a cultural minority as well as a confessional one. That’s the ‘duality’.

  • “Oh, and as for Israel being an ally, I wonder when it became the norm for allies to spy on us?”

    We spied on the Brits during World War II all the time, and they returned the favor. I can’t think of two closer allies, but routine spying is simply a fact of life between nations.

  • Foxfier,
    I have to agree that Esau’s flippancy meant that he did not deserve the responsibility of being the father of Israel.

  • Much of the 3bn that the US provides to Israel is in reality a cross subsidy to the US arms industry. Giving F16s to the Israelis who are unlikely to use them against US interests, is far better than giving them to either Egypt or Pakistan. The Israelis are the only ones who can field test US weapons and associated tactics given their peculiar circumstances. The 3bn aid should considered a part of the defence R&D budget.

5 Responses to The Liberal Mind Explained

  • That one quote explains all one needs to know about liberalism.

  • The best definition of liberalism is “equal freedom,” and it is deeply embedded in the American founding. Unfortunately it has evolved today into anarcho-tyranny, and the “conservative” movement has waaaay too much right-liberalism (“freedom” as of a high value). Yet liberalism is also inescapable in our socio-political context (we are not the French and the Spanish conservatives of old, and cannot be, sadly, being born of revolution).

    This can be seen even in Burke, the Whig and defender of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (and a man I very much admire).

    Catholic conservatives have extremely little place in Anglo-American thought, and the reason is the turn away from Aquinas, from Henry VIII to the Prince to both George III and the revolt.

  • Ambrose Bierce may have had it right: “A conservative is a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal who wishes to replace them with others.”

  • My father-in-law always says that the word “liberal” (in the political context) means a “liberal application of laws” (ie. more laws) while “conservative” (also in the political context) means “a conservative application of laws” (ie. less laws).
    When I used these in a discussion with a liberal friend, he called me a liar and that it was exactly the opposite. You know what they say, denial is the first step towards acceptance.

  • A liberal is a person who is:

    Valiantly fighting the injustices
    Caused by the last generation of liberals
    Thus providing injustices
    To be valiantly opposed
    By the next generation of liberals.

Waterboarding is for pansies.

Sunday, May 22, AD 2011

‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’

The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

‘In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.’ [George Orwell’s 1984 Part III, Chapter 5.]

Those familiar with Orwell’s 1984 know what happens next. And if you haven’t, here’s the final scene of the movie adaptation (embedding disabled).

* * *

A scene which struck me, appropos of the following remarks from a recent exchange here at @ American Catholic:

“What John McCain suffered actually was torture. His bones were broken, for example. Induced panic isn’t torture.”

“I don’t base the definition of torture on subjective determinations. Clearly it’s an issue of prudential judgment and it is certainly clear to me, someone who has severe panic attacks, that panic is not torture.”

“If we cannot induce panic in our enemies with the intention of saving millions of lives, we can’t go to war at all. It’s as simple as that.”

Waterboarding is for pansies. If Ab? Zubaydah could withstand being waterboarded 83 times during August 2002, we’re clearly not doing it right. Let’s turn up the panic a few notches. Let’s take it one step further. Let’s put the fear of God almighty in these pathetic excuses for humanity.

Let’s go Orwellian — “Room 101” style.

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11 Responses to Waterboarding is for pansies.

  • Uh-oh Chris, you just made Mark Shea very, very, angry! When Shea get mad, Shea smash! However, unlike the Hulk, Mark turns purple instead of green!

  • Stephen, I think you failed to detect some major sarcasm in Chris’s post.

  • I think Jesus did take it up a few notches with Jezebel at the Church in Thyatira in Revelation 2:20-23, for verse 22 states quite clearly:

    “So I will cast her on a sickbed and plunge those who commit adultery with her into intense suffering unless they repent of her works.”

    All those now condemning our defense forces and CIA for using water boarding will be the very first to wail and whine and moan and cry about why more water boarding and similar coercive techniques were not used once Al Qaeda succeeds in detonating a fission or fusion weapon in a major metropolitan area.

    The Prophet Elijah was no pansie. When he was confronted with men as evil as these Islamic fanatics, he took them down to the Kishon Brook – all 450 of them – and didn’t bother with the small talk or the water boarding. He slit their throats where theyu stood. True, he got scared of another Jezebel after that. But the dogs made short work of her a little later on.

    Oh for men of God willing to stand up. Where are the Christian fighting men who stood at Tours of France and pushed back the Moors? Where are the Christian fighting men who with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary defeated the Islamic fleet of the Ottoman Turks. The Muslim infidels are back at the door of Vienna again. The day grows short and night approaches while we hear arm-chair theologians waxing eloquently from the safety of their living room about why water boarding is prohibited torture. Meanwhile, half a world away these demonic men of iniquity train little girls to be suicide bombers on Israeli school buses. Pulllleeeeaaasssseeeeee, Lord Jesus, deliver me from such insanity!

  • Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
    Quia non est alius
    Qui pugnet pro nobis
    Nisi tu Deus noster.

    Give peace, o Lord, in our time
    Because there is no one else
    Who will fight for us
    If not You, our God.

    http://www.gloria.tv/media/45526/

  • John McCain is a wonderful patriot and an American hero. It is completely understandable why he has an exceptional opposition to torture…but understanding his point of view does not require complete agreement with it. Remember what the enemy was trying to get out of him – not the truth, but a lie. At no time in Gitmo have we ever attempted to get one of them to deny their religion – to deny what is most precious to them. No, all we ever wanted out of them was the truth of what they knew. There is a world of difference between a man trying to elicit a lie and a man trying to find the truth. A man trying to get another to lie is much worse than the man trying to get at the truth – even if the former never touches so much as a hair on a head, while the other uses waterboarding.

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  • I’m with you, Chris, but the danger of this kind of dark parody is that some people actually think that way! (And others can’t tell the difference.)

  • I’m with you, Chris, but the danger of this kind of dark parody is that some people actually think that way! (And others can’t tell the difference.)

    It’s kind of a sad commentary on the state of things that this is true, but it is.

  • But Mark, you are only looking at half the equation – the end sought. You completely ignore the means.

    So as long as you are looking for the truth, rather than trying to get someone to lie, anything goes?

  • Christopher, thank you for this.

  • You cannot have a moral good when the either the object, the intension or the circumstance is evil. I know this slaps into the face of the idea that to torture one could save hundreds of lives later, but in this case the intension is an evil in order to produce a good. Regardless of the outcome, it is an immoral act. Actually there is a word for this called Proportionalism. What makes this more interesting is that we have free-choice to make this act and this is where being human is key and what God wants us to understand. God will not prevent us from committing an evil act, we make this choice on our own, what we need to better understand is that when you commit evil you must therefore accept the circumstances of that immoral act. This is something we rarely do. We act immorally, refuse to accept the act as immoral and therefore refuse to accept responsibility when the circumstances start to reveal themselves.

Trouble in Tubbyland

Sunday, May 22, AD 2011

Hattip to Hank at Eclectic Meanderings.

One of the more obscure Victorian military campaigns, the British conquest of Tubbyland was notable for a fair amount of ineptitude among the British commanders, redeemed by the usual courage shown by the “Tommy Atkins” in the ranks.  For a small war, a fair amount has been written on it, and here are some of my thoughts on the more useful works that I have found in my own research into this “savage war of peace”.

Report of Operations of Tubbyland Field Force, three volumes, Captain Gilbert Bryant-Norris, editor in chief,  Her Majesty’s Stationery Office,  (1888).  The official history, these three volumes go into extensive detail and are essential reading for any serious student of this conflict.  Unfortunately, the various authors are at pains to save the reputations of the commanders involved, and therefore the conclusions set forth should be taken with a boulder of salt.  The volumes do have excellent maps, and the texts of letters and telegrams are of great use in piecing together the somewhat convulted operations.

A Child’s History of the Tubbyland War, Winston Churchill, Longmans Green, (1899).  Leave it to Winston Churchill to write a kids’ book about the conflict!  He softens the rough edges of the War for his young readers, but gives a fairly accurate retelling.  The book of course emphasizes British patriotism and the grandeur of the Empire, but not without some criticism of the British commanders and a fair amount of sympathy for the Tubbies.  This passage is indicative of the style of the work:

 “There was plenty of work here for our brave soldiers and Tubbyland was well worth the cost in blood and money.  Were the gentlemen of England all out fox hunting?  No!  For the sake of our manhood, our devoted colonists and our dead soldiers, we perserved and won our War against a brave, albeit soft and cuddly, adversary”.

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6 Responses to Trouble in Tubbyland

14 Responses to Canterbury Dreamin’

  • Greet them ever with grateful hearts.

    This calendar says today is “Armed Forces Day.” “Flag Day” is in June.

    From the movie, “The Sand Pebbles”, Captain Collins (Richard Crenna) addressing the crew:

    “At home in America, when today reaches them, it will be Flag Day. For us who wear the uniform, every day is Flag Day.

    “All Americans are morally bound to die for our flag if called upon to do so. Only we are legally bound. Only we live our lives in a day to day readiness for that sacrifice. We have sworn oaths — cut our ties.

    “It is said there will be no more wars. We must pretend to believe that. But when war comes, it is we who will take the first shock, and buy time with our lives. It is we who keep the Faith.

    “We serve the flag. The trade we all follow is the give and take of death. It is for that purpose that the people of America maintain us. Anyone of us who believes he has a job like any other, for which he draws a money age, is a thief of the food he eats, and a trespasser in the bunk in which he lies down to sleep.”

  • A good comment T. Shaw. It has absolutely zero to do with the subject of my post, but a good comment nevertheless. Perhaps you were projecting into the future your comment on one of my Memorial Day posts next weekend? 🙂

    All future comments to this post, please stay on topic.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed that video and the commentary that followed pretty much says it all!

    Excellent!

  • Thank you Tito. The clever folks at History For Music Lovers are an endless source of inspiration.

  • A wonderful post. I took a course on Chaucer as a freshman in college and have loved him ever since. My love of his poetry was all the greater because I learned to recite it in Middle English. How delightful!

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  • Be careful about wishing for “a society dominated by a unifying faith” if that unifying faith turns out to be something other than Christianity.

  • I would not put the Prioress up as an exemplary Religious. She seems more like a timeserver, with her lapdogs and her ‘Amor vincit omnia’ necklace. Her tale is in a complex form associated more with ‘courtly love’ and its amorality than with the stories of the saints. She also pretends to a world savvy she does not have – she speaks French, but with an English accent. Her tale is a version of the blood libel against Jews which was popular at the time – but which Pope after Pope had condemned.

  • “Be careful about wishing for “a society dominated by a unifying faith” if that unifying faith turns out to be something other than Christianity.”

    Well actually MR the absence of a unifying faith centered in Catholicism creates a vacumn that other faiths have been busily trying to fill, often with disastrous results. I expect this process to continue as the religious impulse for a society as well as individuals has to be satisfied somehow, hence the desire to make politics into a substitute religion or to proclaim sex as the end of life, or any of the other dead ends that our society has run down since the Reformation. I doubt if the world of medieval Catholicism could be recreated as a practical matter, but that does not mean that we should not bitterly regret the passing of a time when more than 90% of the population was Catholic and to accurately assess the societal pathologies that the absence of this reality has caused in our culture.

  • True points Donna but Chaucer also emphasizes her tender heart and her deep faith. As for the regrettable anti-Semitism of her tale, I doubt if Chaucer personally knew any Jews since they had been expelled from England in 1292 by Edward I. They are summoned on as stock villians to add to the pathos of the tale the Prioress was telling and to emphasize her deep pity for the murder of the child saint.

  • Yes, the Middle Ages produced great saints like St. Francis, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Thomas Becket. But we live in a world that does not want to go back to its Catholic roots. I, for one, try the best I can not to be taken in by the latest monstrosity produced by modern culture. Maybe someday, I will move to the suburbs. And turn off the television at night. And have my children home-schooled.

  • “But we live in a world that does not want to go back to its Catholic roots. ”

    For the time being. Times change, and I think where the Church is concerned time has proven almost always a useful ally.

  • One heart at a time. Remember that Jesus had only twelve people on his side when He started.

  • Very true MR, and three centuries later the Roman Emperor was bowing before the cross. For staying power and success over vast amounts of time no institution, as one would expect, can match the Church founded by Christ.

FRIDAY EXTRA EDITION

Friday, May 20, AD 2011

A round-up of some of the best punditry in the Catholic Blogosphere, courtesy of ThePulp.it:

Camosy on Peter Singer & Christian Ethics – Rob Vischer, Mirror of Justice

To Introduce Blaise Pascal to Stephen Hawking? – Frank Weathers, YIMCatholic

Young Christian Beheaded in Northern Iraq – J. Newton & A. Stiefenhofer, CH

Regalism versus Real Catholic Monarchy – John Médaille, Catholic Lane

For Dissidents, We’re All Priests Now – Anne Hendershott, Crisis Magazine

Prayer Banner Battle – Brian J. Lowney, Catholic News Service

U.S. Bishops & Clergy Sex Abuse: Another Round – Joan F. Desmond, NCReg

“Lamb of God…” = “Son of God…”, Not – Father Anthony Ruff O.S.B., Pray Tell

“Full Communion” is 2-Way Street. . . and the Novus Ordo Rupturistas? – R.K.

Who Would Jesus Whip – Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register

New Testament Full of “Forgeries”? – Eric Sammons, TDL

. . .Mark Shea wrote about this here. . .

Do Harsher or Milder Climates Generate More Saints? – John Norton, OSV

_._

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Like a Thief in the Night

Friday, May 20, AD 2011

 

A crazed group is seeking cheap publicity by claiming that the world will end tomorrow.  (No, I will not link to them or mention their name.)  The end will come around 6:00 PM according to these loons which I assume is Pacific Standard Time since these mopes are based, where else?, in California.  Since the time of Christ there have been constant confident predictions naming the date of the end of the world and the Second Coming, all in direct contradiction to Christ’s own words that He will come “like a thief in the night” and that no man will know the hour of His coming.

In the very unlikely event that tomorrow will see the end of the world, I do hope the New York Times does have the opportunity to get out one last edition with this oft-predicted headline:  WORLD ENDS:  WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT.

Update:  Saturday, May 21, 2011:  8:45 PM Central Standard Time:

“With no sign of Judgment Day arriving as he had forecast, the 89-year-old California evangelical broadcaster and former civil engineer behind the pronouncement seemed to have gone silent on Saturday.”

Color me shocked!  Shocked!

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24 Responses to Like a Thief in the Night

  • Can’t end soon enough for me.

  • I hope they took into account the 10 days that were removed between October 4 and October 15, 1582 for the Gregorian calendar adjustment.

  • I’m almost ready. I just can’t decide whether to dress formal or corporate casual. I expect TAC readership will drop dramatically Sunday, but that’s okay, most of the TAC contributers will surely be gone too. For my lawyer friends here, I will miss you, but they say a thousand years really flies by in Heaven.

    🙂

  • Since it is a Saturday, if it is hot I will be wearing shorts and a t shirt. If it is not, I will be wearing, as usual when I am not in my “working clothes”, a flannel shirt and jeans.

    If the world does end on Saturday I will attempt to do one last post with an appropriate Youtube video, although it would be slightly more serious in tone than this one so an Onion video probably would be out.

    If I make it to purgatory I should have ample time to post RL, so you can still read my missives while I am being chastised for my manifold sins. The Purgatory Catholic-I like the sound of that!

  • Interesting – the end of the World is on my wedding aniversary. Do I have to get my wife a present since she will not get to use it? I guess I can cancel the reservation – saves me more money.

  • Joke all you want, but if I had one request of God it would be: “Time for a do-over. Your first plan didn’t work.”

  • My pregnant wife would like to know what happens if our baby is saved but she is not. Does she get raptured up with the baby? Does she get cast down once the baby is delivered?

  • “Do I have to get my wife a present since she will not get to use it?”

    I think not CL, although our distaff contributors and commenters should feel free to correct me on the social etiquette called for when an anniversary coincides with The Consummation of All.

  • “Does she get raptured up with the baby? Does she get cast down once the baby is delivered?”

    A defense in English Common Law was pleading the belly when a woman who was pregnant was on trial for a capital offense. I would be looking up the law on that subject in the next 24 hours! If you happen to be standing behind Leo McKern in the goats and sheep line, perhaps he could put the plea to the Almighty! 🙂

  • Top 5 “most searched” on Google:

    1. judgment day may 21

    2. end of the world 2011

    3. rapture 2011

    4. lance armstrong

    5. preakness 2011

    Looks like many will be betting on one horse rather than four

  • When this prophecy fails, the majority of the suckers involved won’t leave the group. Research into groups like this show that the more time, effort, and money the members put into organizations like this, the more likely the poor dupes are willing to stay.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) CL, if you play it safe & give your wife her anniversary present early, it should count for some extra time off from Purgatory! 🙂

  • Say your prayers.

    When you least expect it. Expect it.

    Be thankful for each day. It coud be your last.

  • The shame is that Harold Camping was reasonable and humble at one point in his career. When I heard him describing his theory on the radio in his Biblical History of Time series some years ago, he acknowledged that we could not determine the “day or the hour” of the end of time, but said that we are permitted to determine the “year and the month” of the end, which I thought was legalistic and implausible, but sufficiently humble to keep me tuned in.

    His long and painstaking disseration (hundreds of hours) recounting the exact passage of time in the Old Testament was worth listening to (for me anyway) because it attempted to be rule-based. For instance, when measuring time based on the lives of the patriarchs, Camping specifically focused on wherever the words “she bore a son, and called his name…” appeared as the tipoff that the biblical calendar continues through that particular patriarch.

    Another basic rule he claims to have followed is “a day is like a thousand years” in determining the end date. Rules like that led to anticipation that we were building to a meaningful result rather than something completely random. What I got out of it was exegesis of otherwise biblical passages I would normally tend to think were not terribly interesting or important.

    He was also humble enough to acknowledge that his calculation was so complex, he might be wrong in couple of places and off “by a few years”. (All these quotes are entirely from memory, so I apologize in advance if any are wrong, but I think I’ve captured them accurately.) No matter, since the basic message seemed to be live as a Christian and prepare for the end.

    All of that humility and careful introspection is gone now and his fans, who are otherwise devote Christians, seem to be setting themselves up for a big fall. Atheists and secularists in particular will ridicule them (and by extention other Christians) to no end.

  • Wait, I though they had scheduled the world to end in 2012 (re Mayan calendar). Did some one move up the date?

  • Predictions of the end of the world from 4990 BC to 4.5 billion yrs from now:
    http://web.me.com/lorenmadsen/endings/pick_a_year.html

    Check 1988/89, a guy predicted the End then said “Oops! Forgot to carry the one, it’s next year.”

  • Should I get raptured, I would like to remain a contributor to TAC. Heaven probably has awesome Internet connections (those prayers have to get answered somehow). Just think of the content I would provide, and maybe even get answers to some of our nation’s greatest mysteries: Who shot Kennedy? What’s in Area 51? Who’s buried in the tomb of the Unknown Soldier? What did Mrs Lincoln really think of the play?

    In fact, submit questions you’d like to be answered, and I’ll do my best.

  • ……..duhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s ridiculous, however every Catholic website is posting it, and that’s what they want……..don’t give it credibility by even acknowledging it !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Micael S.

  • I have a 6PM appointment with a medium-rare steak and a glass of cold water with a shot of Dewars so I can keep it down.

  • Larry, the question I’d most like to ask is: why are there always 10 hot dogs to a package but only 8 buns?!?

  • That has long puzzled me also Elaine, and it may take Heavenly wisdom to unseal that particular mystery.

  • I guess about now the US is disintegrating – California and Arcadia splitting off the US mainland with Mt.St Helens, Mt. Hood and all those other volcanoes really going off, a massive earthquake totally inverting the fault near Kansas (can’t remember its name off hand) etc. etc.

    I was expecting a flood of concerned Americans landing in Auckland about now, because Sat. 6 pm. occurred 17 hours ago – a beatiful late Autumn Sunday here and all’s right with the world. 🙂

    And now for lunch, then a visit to my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.

  • No Don, just a rather dull—wait, is that the sound of a trumpet that I hear? Could it be? It is! The neighbor’s kid has decided once again to practice playing her trumpet next to an open window! Close your window!

Paul Ryan and Archbishop Dolan on Catholic Social Teaching and Budget

Thursday, May 19, AD 2011

Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan wrote to New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan to “to provide facts about [Ryan’s proposed] Budget to help advance an informed debate in light of social teachings about the well-being of the family, subsidiarity, the preferential option for the poor, and the dignity of the human person.” The letter outlined some of the main features of the Ryan plan, and suggested ways in which this plan was designed to meet the goals and principles of Catholic Social Thought. Here’s a snippit:

Nothing but hardship and pain can result from putting off the issue of the coming debt crisis, as many who unreasonably oppose this Budget seem willing to do. Those who represent the people, including myself, have a moral obligation, implicit in the Church’s social teaching, to address difficult basic problems before they explode into social crisis. This is what we have done, to the best of our ability, in our Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution.

Yesterday Archbishop Dolan responded:

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42 Responses to Paul Ryan and Archbishop Dolan on Catholic Social Teaching and Budget

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  • Black Adder – Thank you for alerting me to this news. This is very encouraging to me that this dialog is even occurring. This is very positive news. Thank you.

  • Now THAT is the way it should be done! The government (any government) does no favors to either the poor or the middle class by continually making promises to them that cannot be kept.

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  • Now THAT is respectful and constructive dialogue. We need to stop with the partisan talking points and instead have meaningful conversations and/or debates like this one. God Bless them both. I hope the dialogue continues.

  • This is really fantastic. Good for Rep Ryan for reaching out to Archbishop Dolan, good for the Archbishop for responding in this way. I always guessed Ryan was more a “Mere Christian” with a Catholic background, but maybe he’s really engaged in the faith, or at least someone on his staff is.

  • This reasonableness on the part of both Rep. Ryan and Archbishop Dolan must have smarted a bit, because the mindless hacks over at The Catholic Democrats have sent me (and others — I’m not special, I’m just on their mailing list for some reason) a press release beginning:

    Boston, Mass. – Catholic Democrats is calling Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), to clarify comments he made in a letter (dated May 18, 2011) sent to U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) that threatens to undermine the principles of Catholic Social Justice in his supportive words of the assertions made by Congressman Ryan regarding the priorities in Ryan’s budget. Catholic Democrats further calls on all U.S. bishops to publicly advocate for the poor, the elderly and working families in the midst of a divisive national debate that threatens to dismantle federal social safety programs for the most vulnerable members of our society.

    Nice to know that the Catholic Democrats are there to do the president of the USCCB’s job for him.

  • As a Catholic Democrat, I am at a loss as to WHY Ryan started the Dialogue and even a greaterloss as to WHY the Archbishop responded in such an elegant and timely manner.

    For longer than I remember I have been writing Church Clergy regarding my concerns with what I refer to as “Catholics of Conveneince” using our church to make their political statements. Told to contact Archbishop Dolan and other notable Church Leaders, I have yet to receive so much as a peep in return.

    Somehow politicians praising Ayn Rand Philosophies,,,,, and politically driven Catholic Republican guests and hosts on Conservative Media attacking the church on Immigration, the Priest abuse Scandals, and Social Justice to the Poor enjoy the silent cover of the same Bishops from whom Paul Ryan receives a glowing immediate response.

    I have often held that there isn’t a scandal in the church that will cause more harm than how our Church is used to carry Political Water every election issue.

    I’m guessing on the way to the Evangelical Political Victory Dinner held at the National Masonic Hall, Guest of Honor, Bill Donohue from the Politically driven Catholic League will give us an update on how he guards our Church against the actions of a wayward secular Liberal Media, and then call on Archbishop Dolan to do the Invocation.

  • The GOP spin on the letter has and should receive a negative response.

    However, the actual letter Dolan sent is perfectly fine. It in no way endorses the Ryan budget plan. It is a letter I could have co-signed myself if the Archbishop would want me to.

    I do find it interesting that Ryan is so concerned about the negative reaction to his budget by principled Christians that we now know he desparately sought a letter from the Bishops. His plan is not going over well. Too bad for him he didn’t get much from Dolan in response.

  • I agree the letter is fine,,,,, I guess my real displeasure is that even if Ryan did write a letter to Dolan,,,, the contents of both should not have been made public in any way. The Ryan plan is simply HORRIBLE, and I don’t think he should use it to tout his own political agenda…. but that i exactly what he and his Evangelical base is doing. .

    Rest assured Bill Donohue from the Catholic League would enter the frey and politically spin the Dolan letter if anyone representing the Catholic Church dare question the responses of both Boehner and Ryan. (Look what happened when Catholic U Professors dared question Boehner as Commencement Speaker — first Donohue trashed them,,,,,the Boehner read and praised a personal letter to Congress —- in “Mom likes me best” fashion.

    Those of us who respect our church and its teachings aren’t willing to drag it into every political battle,,,, I can’t say the same for politicians during a heated election cycle. It’s troubling and damages our message and its image. === In no time, we end up water carriers for the Fringers,,,,,,

  • It’s perfect that the “catholics for Obama” think Archbishop Dolan is a Cardinal. Apparently they’re not terribly engaged in the faith in a number of different ways.

  • Kurt, thank you – Francis,,, respectfully,,,, in a perfect world,,,,titles are very important…. In the less than perfect world in which we live,,,,, I prefer the importance of the title not be connected to the importance of the message. — For me,,, there is only one way to be engaged in the Faith,,,,, live it.

  • I think Archbishop Dolan did a particularly deft thing in pointing to the work of his colleagues who have made presentations to Congress (Blaire and Hubbard), and insisting that any meeting include them.

    It was an encouraging exchange all around, and I’m glad to see it published. The issues are too important not to get a full airing.

  • Dale, I think you have it right. He is not distancing himself from the position taken by the Bishops Conference (which he heads) but affirming it while reaching out to a powerful Republican. And he does it without the accusation that Mr. Ryan is unhonorable, unlike the sad attacks on President Obama by certain quarters.

  • I made a visit to Archbishop Dolan’s Cathedral this AM.

    K: You spelt “racist” wrong. It doesn’t start with a “u.”

    It is plain and simple. Something must be done. Or else, Medicare and Social Security will self-destruct. That is the situation. President Obama doesn’t have a plan. He generates demogoguery. You don’t like Ryan’s evil plan. What do you have?

    Those of us who respect our Church and its teachings don’t aid and abet abortion, class hatred or lies.

    As always, I left in the Poor Box one each Andrew Jackson that I had earned, not one penny Obam confiscated from someone else.

  • T. Shaw,,,,I don’t see where Kurt Spelled anything wrong,, I am not sure that would be a Kurt word. Why put words in people’s mouths????

    I don’t like Ryan’s Plan – that you called evil. It is Privatization of a plan to an Industry that has increased their premiums at a rate 5x higer than inflation for the last 20 years. NOTHING about his plan changes abortion coverage, you know that – but it’s a card people seem to pull when they are opposed to ANYTHING.

    You wanted an idea — here it is. I would do the same thing President Reagan did to save Social Security many years ago, like Reagan, continue to allow a raise in Maximum earnings taxed. ,,,I would call on the Medical Indstry to stop the fraud and waste, and would allow people forced to go to the Private market for INDIVIDUAL Health Insurance Plans, the option of a Medicare handled plan at the same rate as HMO’s in the Private Market. I would not have extended the tax breaks,,,,,and would have voted yes on elimination of Oil Subsidies. NONE OF THIS AIDS AND ABETS ABORTION, and as someone who respects our Church — I understand the harm accusatory statements like that do to Life Issues.

    I wouldn’t consider that demogoguary, but tire of the self-righteous assumption that those who aren’t marching to your tune are “aiding and abeting” abortion, class hatred and lies. I don’t parrot either side’s Talking Points, and tire of being accused of worn out accusations, while you claim “OBAM” confiscates from you because you EARN your money. Listen to yourself!!!

    Why in the world do you find it necessry to tell us of your Church habits,,,and the Jacksons you earn and donate, accuse the President of personally confiscating something from you and still not understand that rhetoric like that is actually what aids and abets??? It’s almost like you prefer to attack. It’s been 45 years,,,,,,,do you prefer LIFE – or STRIFE????

    Neither Medicare nor Social Security will self-destruct,,,,,it’s the PLANNED Destruction of Medicare and Social Security 80% of people polled simply don’t want that.

    Best to you.

  • Fr. Jonathon Morris was spot on in making essentially the same points as Rep. Ryan and Abp. Dolan while a guest during the “Great American Panel” debate on Sean Hannity’s show.

  • Next thing you know someone would accuse the Catholic Church (read Bill Donohue’s latest reason for all scandals, as it fulfills his fascination with homosexuality) of being Political Shills.

    And we wonder the reason for diminshing Donations to the catholic Church ????— the Big Money is going to political causes,,,,, and the rest of us don’t want our money used to carry their water. If I wanted to be part of an Evangelical Political Denomination – I would tithe them,,,,,,I want to be Cathoic,,,, so I guess will have to donate directly to Catholic Relief Services. I think that’s what both Jesus and Mary would do.

    Pax Christi thank you,,,,,Hannity not what Represents the Catholic Church I know. You confirmed my concerns and make me much more comfortable with my decision.

    Pax to you, too.

  • Jane,

    My point was K libelled Ryan as “unhonorable”, when the usual libel/ad hominem for any and all Ob (Party like it’s 2008!) critics is “RACIST.”

    Do you have a DSL line to Jesus and Mary, or do you dial up?

    Was it during the 6PM 5/21 transmission that Jesus assured you that anybody that disagrees with you is worse than Satan?

    PS: The word would be “dishonorable.” Ask your ESL teacher.

  • T, Shaw,,,,,, were you upset that I didn’t thank you also for confirmation on my decision. Well let me thank you for proving my point better than even Pax or I could ever to.

    Kurt Libeled No one – and called no one unhonorable,,,, the only libel I seem to read in your post is your attacks – In a short diatribe you confirmed exactly your thought process,,,,,Was it the word Racist,,,,, a concern with my menton of Mary,,,,, maybe favorite word “Satan”??? What could it be???? Oh, I forgot the old Aid and abet,,,coupled with the other favorite “Evil” — and how could any diatribe end without the standard “Class Hatred” — Spread that Love.

    Oh, wait, Sorry,,,,, You are good Christian because you drop your own “Jacksons” into the “Poor Box”.

    I am sorry your hopes for 5/21 weren’t met,,, You are a silly one,,,,,,but all that anger does nothing for the image of a church you think only you respects.

    I’ve made my point,,, you’ve made yours and as far as I am concerned “AMEN” on this.

    Have a lovely rest of the day….. and maybe a little bran is in order??

  • Yane,

    Do you, as does Obama, think it is 2008?

    How do you feel about harvey milk day in publik skools?

    How about Obama chug-a-lugging his hootch while the British National Anthem is playing?

    I do not believe in collective guilt or collective virtue. I do Corporal Works of Mercy with my Time and My Money not voting to take someone else’s money.

    You are good Christian because you vote for dems and liberals that are 100% for abortion, gay privileges, artificial contraception, embryonic stem cell murder; higher taxes for people you hate so as to buy more votes in the dem voter base, big government taking over people’s health care and rationing it, etc.

    The country is going to hell in a hand basket with you and K pushing double-time.

    What was your native language before you came here to straighten out America?

  • T. Shaw,,,,,, I underestimated you –You are an angy man – not only at your Church,,,but your Country too,,, – Send Rush Limbaugh a couple Jacksons,,,, and chug-a-lug “HIS” milk. Lovely Native Tongue you have –

    Sadly, humored by your diatribes,,,I found responding to you entertaining; however, an examination of conscience tells me it’s time to mature and no longer encourage the obvious.

    Read Donahoe’s diatribe to the John Jay Report,,,,it will both fascinate and embolden you. Send him a Jackson, and maybe he’ll send you an autographed copy.

    This is the last time I will thank you for confirming my observations.

  • Jou’re welcome!

  • Rep. Paul Ryan is opening a defense against the shameless lies about his Medicare reform plan. He’s promulgating a video explaining why Medicare is going bankrupt . . .

    He believes that voters will listen to reasoned arguments.

    Good luck with that . . .

  • Rep. Paul Ryan is opening a defense against the shameless lies about his Medicare reform plan. . . .

    He believes that voters will listen to reasoned arguments.

    Good luck with that . . .

    The voters in NY 26 certainly listened!!! 🙂

  • To those of you who promote and agree with the scare tactics perpetuated by the Left which is a major distortion of facts, shows clearly a lack of regard for financial sanity and responsibility I hope that both Medicare and Social Security goes bankrupt, becomes obsolete, because you’ll deserve the consequences of your inaction and blatant irresponsibility. Pax

  • Social Security and Medicare are the pension programs of the elderly. They are not ‘entitlements’, they are a debt we owe to some of the most vulnerable among us.
    I have no interest in the ‘social teachings’ of a church which would endorse such a thing.

  • Unfortunately the pension programs of the elderly are bankrupt. The question now is how to fiscally salvage them. This, done in a fiscally prudent way, is consistent with CST.

  • Unfortunately the pension programs of the elderly are bankrupt.

    Well, that is just a factually wrong statement. If you said “going bankrupt” it might be debatable, but “is bankrupt” is simply wrong.

    The OASI Trust Fund has assests of $2.4 trillion. It made a profit last year of $92 billion. Without any program changes, conservative projections show it flush for 25 years. After 25 years, it is capable of paying 75% of projected costs, with that figure gradually rising back to 100% as the baby boom generation dies off.

    NO PRIVATE SECTOR SPONSORED ANNUITY OR PENSION PLAN can project solevency 25 years in the future.

    The issue is, assuming conservative projections, that there is a gully that goes as low as 75% of benefits from 2036-2086.

    That gully should not be ignored, nor should it be used to destory a social insurance program in which the Catholic Church was instrumental in its design and adoption.

    I have my own plan for Social Security that requires nothing I consider radical.

  • Phillip, I expect better from conservatives that to engage in a form a relativism that adopts an “Alice in Wonderland” style asserting that words don’t have objective meaning, but mean what you want them to mean.

    Last December, I spendt more than I earned. I didn’t go bankrupt.

    Contrary to “Human Events”, CBO has not said that the Social Security Trust Funds are bankrupt and the fact they are currently paying benefits proves it is not.

    I will repeat: The OASI Trust Fund has assests of $2.4 trillion. It made a profit last year of $92 billion. Without any program changes, conservative projections show it flush for 25 years. After 25 years, it is capable of paying 75% of projected benefits, with that figure gradually rising back to 100% as the baby boom generation dies off.

    NO PRIVATE SECTOR SPONSORED ANNUITY OR PENSION PLAN can project solevency 25 years in the future.

  • Social Security is not insolvent, but it is in trouble. Its projected liabilities exceed its projected income, and that means it is under water from a present value actuarial perspective. But as Kurt suggests the deficiency is probably manageable with fairly modest adjustments on either the revenue or expenditure side. Medicare, however, is not so rosy. Most people do not distinguish between the two programs, but their financial circumstances are very different. There are no easy fixes for Medicare.

    In the end, by it nature a “pay as you go” defined benefit system is difficult to sustain since it cannot accommodate a simultaneous reduction of payers and increase in payees, if those changes are substantial. Actuarily sound defined benefit programs are far more achievable if future payouts are based on previous contributions than if based on future contributions. In other words, it is one thing project how much one must save now in order to satisfy a commitment for future payouts; it is quite another to project how much one might be able to raise 30 years from now in order to satisfy present commitments of payouts 30 years from now.

  • NO PRIVATE SECTOR SPONSORED ANNUITY OR PENSION PLAN can project solevency 25 years in the future.

    You would think that might suggest a basic problem with the idea of defined benefit pension plans.

    As someone in this 30s, I figure the safe thing to do is simply to assume that I’ll never get a dime back of the money I put into Social Security and prepare to finance my own retirement, however modest it must be as a result. If Social Security somehow manages to survive as anything other than a welfare program for the indigent elderly, that’ll be strictly gravy.

  • I agree Darwin. There is a reason corporations have generally converted to defined contribution plans, and it is not because it reduces current wage/comp expenses — total comp packages are a function of markets and reducing one element typically causes increases in others.

    You are wise to not count on SS. If it survives at all, it will survive as a true welfare program (it is currently a hybrid), which of course will reward those who do not save at the expense of those who do — which is increasingly the American way in all things.

  • Suppose Social Security was turned into individual defined-contribution accounts. Suppose the first $5K/year in contributions must be invested in treasuries. There’s a poor retiree’s fund that some of the contributions over $5K go into. This is still Social Security! It’s still pay-go since you’re investing in treasuries. The difference is that now, it’s accounted for individually. My point? When it’s the government, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s defined-benefit or defined-contribution. Defined-contribution may be preferable simply because it’s politically more difficult to take away contributions than it is to cut benefits.

  • That is a big “suppose.” I see no reason why the government must be required to borrow money without regard to its actual borrowing needs or why individuals must be required to lend money to the government.

    The other difference is that a defined benefit plan can hide transfer payments, which is precisely what SS does. $5000 paid into a defined contribution plan creates an account that cannot be invaded in order to pay more to someone who contributes less but earns less income.

  • “Social Security is not insolvent, but it is in trouble. Its projected liabilities exceed its projected income, and that means it is under water from a present value actuarial perspective.”

    So from one perspective it is bankrupt?

    “NO PRIVATE SECTOR SPONSORED ANNUITY OR PENSION PLAN can project solevency 25 years in the future.”

    Though it does seem rather contrary to the concept of Social Security that a public program cannot.

    “As someone in this 30s, I figure the safe thing to do is simply to assume that I’ll never get a dime back of the money I put into Social Security and prepare to finance my own retirement, however modest it must be as a result. If Social Security somehow manages to survive as anything other than a welfare program for the indigent elderly, that’ll be strictly gravy.”

    Yet another sense in which one can consider Social Security to be bankrupt.

  • I struggle to reconcile my conservative political beliefs with Catholic social teaching. The struggle for me is becoming increasingly and sadly irreconcilable. I sincerely hope my understanding of Catholic social teaching is flawed. What exactly is the morality in confiscating property from one segment of society, to redistribute to those who will not support themselves and who continue to vote for people who endorse confiscation of private property? What moral duty do I owe those corrupting this system? Who believes it is moral or just to take from me that for which you are unwilling to earn? Amongst all of the Catholic rhetoric on the budget I see no reminders that individuals have obligations to support themselves to the extent they are able and that we have a personal obligation to be charitable, not a collective one? I read exhortations to class warfare, villainizing the evil or greedy rich, and exalting government’s “obligations” to society, but where is the condemnation of the lazy poor? Oh, yes, I took it there and set up camp. What about the fraudulent poor? Or, forget about the poor, how about the entitled slackers? Wealth is in the eye of the beholder and not all the wealthy are evil just as not all the poor are good.

    As someone who has worked since the age of 15, and until the past two years worked multiple jobs rather than collect unemployment, because to me unemployment is an inducement to sloth – a deadly sin, I am offended by and angry at Catholic income redistributionists. This has no place in Catholic teaching because it isn’t charity – it’s tyranny.

  • Alecto, Thank heavens you aren’t playing that ungly “Class Warfare” Game???? Heaven forbid you villanize the greedy lazy fraudulant poor, or those entitled sloth-ridden slackers? It looks like someone is suffering from WEWS (Weekend Rush Withdrawal Syndrome).

    As politely as I can print it,,,,What part of what you have attained makes you so uncomfortable that spend all your free time worried anybody wants to take it from you???? If you want to know where condemnation of the Lazy poor is,,,,its the very people you are Quoting Fox News, Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh to name a few,,, it’s the fastest grossing Industry in America.

    Speaking of Deadly Sins, Pride is the original and most serious Deadly Sin. Do you want to play God and determine who is and is not in need, why they are in need and if they deserve a single thing from you??? I prefer to thank Him for what I have instead. I am more worried about “REvision of Catholic Doctrine than I am Redsitribution of Wealth,,,,, it hurts everyone. When did we choose to throw “O Master Grand that I may never seek,,,,so much to be consoled as to Console” under the bus??

    Thank you Tito,,,,Nothing has changed,,,, charity is not Tyranny, and Pride remains the Deadlilest of all sins.

  • Alecto,

    Catholic Social Teaching is indeed very broad. It does allow for redistribution within limits. It also talks about the limits of the welfare state, the need not to create dependency, the need to not discourage productivity and the rights of private property. It also argues against utopianism.

    Likely what you have heard is from your diocesan paper or very selective teaching by clergy or laity who have not read much of CST themselves. Many of those likely take CST as the only infallible thing they hold. This is problematic as components of CST are self-professedly prudential judgments based upon fallible human science. Particularly when they dissent from so much else.

Gingrich and the Fine Art of Political Suicide

Thursday, May 19, AD 2011

Newt Gingrich is the fastest GOP presidential candidate political suicide since Mitt Romney’s old man George Romney cratered in the Republican Presidential primaries in 1968 after claiming that he had been “brainwashed” into supporting the  Vietnam War.  Gingrich has received near universal conservative condemnation for attacking Paul Ryan’s budget plan on Sunday on “Meet The Press” on NBC and seeming to endorse a form of ObamaCare.  How ironic that Gingrich, who has always prided himself on his futuristic innovative thinking, was done in by attempting to appease non-conservatives on a low rated show of the increasingly irrelevant lamestream press.  The new media, talk radio, blogs and conservative outlets on the net, ran with it, Gingrich is now political toast and he simply can’t believe what has happened to him in such a short time span.

In response to this, Gingrich released this incredibly delusional statement:

The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.

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21 Responses to Gingrich and the Fine Art of Political Suicide

  • Newt Gingrich is a new Catholic convert. I suspect that he has thus been taken in by the blathering about social justice and the common good that goes on in what passes for theological thinking within much of the Church in the West. I could be wrong, but why else would such an ostensible conservative as Gingrich sell his soul like this?

    I will now remind all the liberal readers of one immutable fact: there is NO social justice, NO common good without righteousness and holiness, repentance and conversion. You do the later before you get the former. The Kingdom of Heaven is about saving souls, NOT feeding bellies. Should we as Christians feed bellies? Absolutely! BUT that is NOT the goal. Jesus Christ is the goal.

  • “I could be wrong, but why else would such an ostensible conservative as Gingrich sell his soul like this?”

    Gingrich has always been like this Paul, at least since he became Speaker of the House after the 94 election. He has always wanted to hunt with the hounds and run with the foxes. The problem for Gingrich is that he has been out of politics since the nineties when his adultery with his present wife blew up his second marriage. He didn’t realize how swiftly things move now with the new media and how many regular Republican activitists watch every political move in microscopic detail on the net. Futurist Gingrich simply couldn’t adapt to changing technology and the irony is rich.

  • I’m Catholic, but I could never vote for Gingrich. He has too much moral baggage, and he’s a recent convert who needs to do a little more growing up before he aspires to higher office.

  • I thought Gingrich was going to be the #1 guy this coming election, then he opened a can of worms with this one. Unless Rick Perry does indeed run for Presidency, we may be stuck with Mitt Romney.

  • Gingrich is living proof that one can be rather bright and have all the judgment of a stunned duck.

    WIN!

  • As long as he lives there exists the fervent hope that he (and all of us!) confesses; does penance , amends his (our lives) life and through good works glorifies Almighty God, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with God the Father Almighty in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

    That Gingrich “hound don’t hunt.” Newt placed himself squarely in the “politics of personal destruction bear trap.”

    The dems have nothing positive about which to “brag.” So they will as usual 24/7 and with $$$ billions in free campaign air time provided by their MSM propaganda organs, assassinate Gingrich’s character.

    Why must the GOP eat its children and serve as an echo chamber for lying, liberal detractions?

  • Gingrich is living proof that one can be rather bright and have all the judgment of a stunned duck.

    What else is there to say?

  • Gingrich made to many enemies when he was Speaker when he opened his mouth.

    His own mouth got him into trouble and delivered a golden egg to those he rubbed the wrong way (too many times).

    . . .that and he underestimated how the new media, as Don said, has transformed politics from a weekly news cycle to a second-by-second news cycle.

    He’s nearly ruined his campaign, if not destroyed it.

  • I could vote for a new Catholic, a new ex-Cathoic, a bad Catholic, or anyone else who has not lived his life in perfect standing with the Church. Given a choice between two identical candidates, I’d vote for the Catholic, but a candidate’s religion wouldn’t be among my top ten considerations.

    How about the rest of you?

  • I would have voted for a Protestant Ronald Reagan a 1,000 times and never for a Catholic Ted Kennedy. It is the positions of a candidate, and their character and leadership skills, not their religion, that determines my vote. (I doubt if I would vote for a public atheist, although my guess is that their political positions would differ enough from mine that I would not vote for them in any case.)

  • I voted for George Bush in 2004 primarily BECAUSE John Kerry was Catholic. I would have voted for almost anyone over John Kerry because I didn’t want a President claiming to be Catholic while also supporting abortion.

  • but a candidate’s religion wouldn’t be among my top ten considerations

    1. To what extent does the candidates formal affiliation influence his thinking and behavior?

    2. One’s understanding of creed and code influences one’s thinking on social questions. To what extent are the candidates conclusions within a range of permissible conclusions?

    3. To what extent are the candidates views when getting down to the brass tacks congruent with views that might have been reached beginning with the premises of the Church?

    4. What does the candidate’s affiliation indicate to you about how he will approach questions as yet unaddressed?

    Affiliations of all kinds are salient bits of information about how and what a candidate thinks, what he fancies is respectable, and to whom he wishes to appeal.

  • Art, those are some good questions. In a perfect world, my answer to all four would be “Bill Bennett”. I don’t think that there are many politicians with an integrated set of principles which animate their faith and political beliefs, though. So I think that with regard to the first question, the answer is going to vary a lot.

    With the second and third questions, I’d bet that a random evangelical or Mormon would be as likely to govern consistently with the Catholic Faith as a random Catholic would. They might not catch every nuance, but they’d be more likely to be clear on the basic rules of civilization.

    I’ve been thinking in terms of policy so far, but your fourth question opens the door to another consideration, character. I know that’s not exactly what you asked about, but the unexpected mistakes an elected official makes are more often matters of character than of unforeseen policy issues. I wish that we could judge a man’s character by his creed, but there are too many people like me who believe all the right things but can’t be trusted to do anything right.

  • but a candidate’s religion wouldn’t be among my top ten considerations.

    I wouldn’t necessarily put a candidate’s religion in my top ten considerations, but in others situations I might.

    That the politician had recently had a high profile change in religion (depending on how he explained it) might tend to push it up on my list of considerations, whether positive or negative.

  • I’d just like to denounce everything Pinky said (that jerk!). If the head of the budget committee is exchanging letters with the Archbishop of New York, maybe more people understand the relation between religious and political thought than I typically assume.

  • In the blink of an eye, Gingrich morphs from maverick, to the wizard of oz, to the leader of the tinfoil hat brigade.

    I am very impressed. That must have taken some work!!!! LOL.

  • As a lifelong Catholic, I can’t for the life of understand what part of Catholicism (other than to Catholic Vote) that fits with Newt Gingrich’s personal and political views. The part of the Trinity I worry about with him is Three Wives and Three Faiths.

    I find him part of a growing segment of Elitist Converts to Catholicism for nothing more than political gain,,,,, whose experience they feel can help the catholic Church add new members to dwindling parishes.

    As a Graduate Student of Politics interested in the effect of Religion in Politics, when Newt entered the political arena, he was moved to convert from Lutheran to Southern Baptist who was baptized by Influential Southern Baptist Leader G. Avery Lee.

    He entered the Catholic Church after his marriage to politically connected Catholic Callista while creating non-profit organizations aimed at religious conservatives, Renewing American Leadership, or ReAL, appointing to the board evangelical leaders such as Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in California and David Barton of the Texas-based WallBuilders.

  • “Vote Gingrich. Are You Better Today Than You Were Three Wives Ago? “

  • Kurt,,, cute — gives new meaning to “MOURNING in America”, doesn’t it????
    What a mess.

  • Gingrich lost MY potential vote when he abandoned his first wife right after her cancer surgery. I don’t think he can possibly win the Republican nomination, but if he does, you can be SURE the Dems will (hypocritically) play up his moral failings and enough women will be unable to hold their noses and vote for him. Worst possible outcome: a second term for The Obammunist.

Grover Cleveland and the Great Confederate Battle Flags Furor

Thursday, May 19, AD 2011

During the Civil War, the flags carried by military units had intense emotional significance for the men who fought and died under them.  The flags not only symbolized the nation or state, but also stood for the units that carried them and the men who bled in their defense.  At the end of the War hundreds of captured Confederate battle flags were held by the Federal government and the victorious Union states.  Objects of pride for the men who had fought for the Union, their treatment as war trophies by the victorious North was a sore point in the vanquished South.

In 1887 Grover Cleveland was President.  The first Democrat elected to hold the office since the Civil War,  Cleveland was also the only non-Civil War veteran to hold the office since the end of the War.  During the War he had hired a substitute to fight in his stead, a perfectly legal, albeit unheroic, method of not having to fight one’s self in the conflict.

In 1887 the Secretary of War mentioned to Cleveland that the Adjutant General of the Army had suggested that the return of the battle flags to the Southern states would be a graceful gesture that would be appreciated in the South.  No doubt thinking that after more than two decades wartime passions had subsided, Cleveland ordered the return of the captured flags to the Southern governors.  This was a major blunder.

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2 Responses to Grover Cleveland and the Great Confederate Battle Flags Furor

  • Sort of off the subject but just read a book by a Louisiana Baptist Minister you might like. “Nathan Bedford Forest’s Redemption” by Shane Kastler. Pelican Press.

    Might be worth your wild to order through Library Loan

  • That one would join jh the already thirteen bios I own of the wizard of the saddle! I might look into it however. Forrest’s late in life turn to Christianity and his speech attempting to heal the divisions between black and white is truly fascinating.

WEDNESDAY EXTRA EDITION

Wednesday, May 18, AD 2011

A round-up of some of the best punditry in the Catholic Blogosphere, courtesy of ThePulp.it:

“Why Is Mugabe Visiting the Vatican?” – James Kirchick, New Republic

. . .Mark Stricherz of Catholic Vote wrote about this here. . .

God & Political Science – Timothy Shah, Daniel Philpott & Monica Toft, PD

Exposing the Death Dealers – Amy Welborn, Crisis Magazine

Syria Christians Fear for Religious Freedom – Reuters

Pro-Lifers Help Win Canadian Baby Battle – Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller, OSV

About Face on Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ – Joan Frawley Desmond, NCRegister

Abp. Jose Gomez: You Have a Duty to Confront This Culture – Cal Cth Daily

Fig Leaves & Falsehoods (Lying & Planned Parenthood) – Janet E. Smith, FT

Quaeritur: Selling a Rosary & Other Sacred Things – Father John Zuhlsdorf

Paternalistic Violence in the New World – David, The School of Salamanca

Monster Baptism & Chemical Pregnancy – Doctor Stacy Trasancos

The Sistine Chapel, In the Depths of Wales! – Richard Collins, The Guild

_._

If you liked this roundup of the best posts from around the Catholic blogosphere, visit ThePulp.it for daily updates twice a day.

For ThePulp.it click here.

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Dumb Idea of the Day Courtesy of Ezra Klein

Wednesday, May 18, AD 2011

Ezra Klein, the founder of journolist, proves yet again why whatever the Washington Post is paying him is much too much:

Here’s your out-of-the-box policy idea for the day:

America should implement weighted voting to make voting more objective and fair, and give the young more power, because the consequences of political decisions will affect them the longest. Weighted voting would restore power to twenty and thirty year olds, where it resided before the advent of medical science. With the aid of computers, it would be easy to give everyone a Voting Score, just like we all have a credit score.

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37 Responses to Dumb Idea of the Day Courtesy of Ezra Klein

  • Under this scheme it wouldn’t be long before the young atheists, full of Obamania, would be able to vote euthanasia for anyone 60 years of age or older. Wasn’t there a science fiction film somewhat along such lines where those too old to live any longer had to commit suicide? Blade Runner, perhaps? I forget. I’m too old. 😉

  • Thanks, Donald. Obviously with such a defective memory I am too old to live any longer. Under this weighted voting scheme the young should vote suicide for me.

    😉

  • They would have to catch us first Paul. Never underestimate experience and guile!

  • I actually agree though I would use different criteria. Those who pay the most taxes would actually get more of a vote. This because they have more skin in the game and should have more say what is done with the money.

    Add to this that young people should not be able to vote until they have paid off any student loans and start paying taxes.

    This I think is fine. 🙂

  • Criteria for voting:

    Your govt loans are paid off.
    You’re not on govt assistance (e.g., welfare)
    You’re a tax payer.
    You have served your country (Military, Police, Fire Figher, Peace Corps, etc.)

    Perhaps those criteria are too harsh. But implementing them would eliminate the rise of a whole class of people enslaved to the teat of the public treasury who then vote for the continuation of bread and circuses.

  • Imagine the hue and cry were a conservative to suggest that useless, unproductive wastrels who live off taxes not be permitted to vote themselves pay raises . . .

    Seems “they” want the “preferential option” for the poor, undocmented migrants, et al but not old people who worked all their lives, raised families, paid taxes, . . .

    This maroon will get a pass on hate speech against old people.

    Will his next hare-brained/liberal/eugenics “solution” include old, useless people put down on ice floes?

  • If young people were more likely to vote Republican, the article would be making the opposite argument. I don’t buy that Klein really believes this on principle. It’s the same reason liberals support amnesty for illegal immigrants. Just politics.

  • I do have to give Mr. Klein a minor one hand clap for intellectual consistency. Before the “advent of medical science” a fairly large percentage of twenty and thirty year olds would not have made it out of infancy in any case. I assume perhaps this might be one reason why Mr. Klein is an advocate of abortion, to help redress this artificial swelling of the ranks of young voters! 🙂

  • Paul;

    I think the age was either 30 or 40 in Logan’s Run. I am sure the government will choose a rational way to decide who gets to live or die like in the show. The old people got a chance to continue living if they could get to a glowing orb before being killed by a lazer. That is fair – if they were healthy enough to fight their way to the orb it can be surmised they wouldn’t be too much of a drain on society. We all know how decreped and useless the 30-40 and older crowd is. Good riddance. Now if we could just get rid of the genetically inferior, mentally challenged, poor, racially challenged, sexually perverted, etc – maybe some type of breeding program for the people with good genes like Lebensborn. Oh for the golden age of eugenics and Margaret Sanger. Could someone please make a “modest proposal” to take care of this crisis?

    T. Shaw
    As I understand it, liberals/Democrats/progressives want “preferential” treatment for a select few groups because they have been opressed, disenfranchised, etc. It does not suprise me that he would make this kind of proposal. Undermine/destroy the system for short term political gain -the bread and butter of liberals/Democrats/progressives.

    Mr. George Orwell works are more prophetic than most realize and provide true insight into the liberal/Democrat/progressives mind and tactics.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): Robert Heinlein’s SF novel “Starship Troopers” limited the voting franchise to veterans (although that book didn’t include the additional restrictions that Paul Primavera suggests).

  • The big screen remake of the book was a disappointment. I believe only veterans could be “citizens” and only citizens had the right to vote. A short but fun/interesting read. Contrast it against the 1974 book The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Very different ideas on government and the military. Good reference Mrs. McClarey.

  • Except for the atheism rampant in his books “Time Enough for Love”, “Stranger in a Strange Land”, etc., I loved Robert Heinlein’s works. He is my all-time favorite sic-fi writer. In his protagonists he assumed that intelligent people would want to be responsible and accountable for their actions. His views on sex relations were always quite amoral, however. And his character Lazarus Long had great disdain for religious people.

  • I think all Klein has managed to accomplish is to prove that people under the age of 15 shouldn’t be given columns in major newspapers.

  • Heinlein had a very unhealthy obsession with incest as demonstrated through the actions of Lazarus Long. The older Heinlein got, the nuttier he got, or, perhaps, the freer he felt to voice sentiments that in a morally saner time would have got him horse whipped.

  • While we’re on the franchise, how about an upper age limit?

    Given demographic trends all 1st world countries will soon become gentrotocracies.
    For a fanciful look at the future see Christopher Buckley’s “Boomsday”.

  • (Don’s wife Cathy again:) RE: Heinlein’s books, I first read his juveniles (what the librarians call YA books now) when I was about 11 or so — and I continue to think his juveniles are better-written (largely because the restrictions of writing for a younger audience forced him to leave out most of the amoral sex).

  • I am continually unimpressed by Young Master Klein and am amazed at his prominence at the WaPo, given his lack of expertise in economics, the constitution or much of anything else. What on earth are his qualifications that make him a “required” read or any sort of “authority,” by any one on the left or right?

  • Having a close relative who voted Democrat in 2000 & 2004 for no other reason than “Bush’s eyes are too close, thats why I don’t trust the man.”, is one reason I wish there were some kind of intelligence test for voters. But we’ve been down that road already haven’t we, with the Jim Crow laws of earlier times?

    So I guess the system remains imperfect, so much so that Winston Churchill once opined that democracy was like a raft, you knew it wouldn’t sink but your feet were always getting wet!

    As for Klein, he should do comedy with the talent he has for it.

  • Our society has supported through its laws and taxpayer support the killing of 50 million innocent babies for the offense of being “unwanted” or inconvenient. Our children have watched slack-jawed as their parents chose to kill their brothers and sisters as being unaffordable or too much trouble.

    Now, we are shocked that these same children might think that we too are “unwanted”, inconvenient, unaffordable or too much trouble?

    Remember the old adage about Charity beginning in the home?

  • Logan’s run: 30 was the cut-off. The whole concept of “Renewal” was that the lucky ones would get to live again, not continue to live. It was a way to limit the population of the domed city with limited resources.

    Starship Troopers: In order to become a citizen, one had to go through Federal Service. Only citizens could vote, hold elected office, and be given preference for having children. Federal Service was not restricted to military service; there were other areas where a young person could qualify such as the sciences and exploration. One of the constants of Federal Service, though, was that you risked your life.

  • In case some readers here understand Mr. Klein’s critique of the current system of electing the president . . .

    The National Popular Vote bill would make every vote, everywhere be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. States have the responsibility to make their voters relevant in every presidential election.

    The bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives already agree that, at most, only 14 states and their voters will matter under the current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states. Candidates will not care about at least 72% of the voters- voters-in 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. 2012 campaigning would be even more obscenely exclusive than 2008 and 2004. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    Since World War II, a shift of a handful of votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections. 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 Million votes.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    The Electoral College that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%,, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR, CT, DE, DC, ME, MI, NV, NM, NY, NC, and OR, and both houses in CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, RI, VT, and WA. The bill has been enacted by DC (3), HI (4), IL (19), NJ (14), MD (11), MA (10), VT (3), and WA (13). These 8 jurisdictions possess 77 electoral votes — 29% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  • IXLR8 has made a most astute observation. We have sown the whirlwind.

    “Be not deceived. God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.”

    This is otherwise know as Newton’s Third Law of Motion, albeit applied on a sociological scale.

    Buckle up, folks. Times are going to get interesting.

  • Andrew;

    Thank you for the clarifications/corrections re Logan’s Run and Starship Trooper. I was going from my faulty over 30 +/- yr old memory.

    Rhetorical questions: Is not Earth doomed because of its limited resources and over population? Does not the left say we have to control the growth of the population to protect our planet? If people will not voluntarily control the growth of the population, what alternatives are there?

  • I looked at the charts in the accompanying article.

    Not an exact correlation, the groups with the most political knowledge and the groups with highest particapltion are both around the 50%-70% range. Basically he wants to disenfranchise the most knowledgeable voters.

    I think th real question should be why does he think his favored programs have the best chance of passing if the least knowledgeable voters are give extra weight.

  • oldgulph:

    I would suggest you ponder the 2000 election.

    And extremely close election on the National level. But only one state was considered for recount. I think the confusion and worse that would go with a nationwide recount would have been a disaster with everyone acting with good intentions.

    A point about the electoral collage is that it segments the vote so that when there is a problem it is relatively local.

    There may be better ways of doing that but an unsegmented national election is an invitation for a nation wide Florida 2000 every presidential election.

  • The possibility of recounts should not even be a consideration in debating the merits of a national popular vote. No one has ever suggested that the possibility of a recount constitutes a valid reason why state governors or U.S. Senators, for example, should not be elected by a popular vote.

    The question of recounts comes to mind in connection with presidential elections only because the current system so frequently creates artificial crises and unnecessary disputes.

    A nationwide recount would not happen. We do and would vote state by state. Each state manages its own election and recount. The state-by-state winner-take-all system is not a firewall, but instead causes unnecessary fires.

    * Given that there is a recount only once in about 160 statewide elections, and given there is a presidential election once every four years, one would expect a recount about once in 640 years under the National Popular Vote approach. The actual probability of a close national election would be even less than that because recounts are less likely with larger pools of votes.

    ? The average change in the margin of victory as a result of a statewide recount was a mere 296 votes in a 10-year study of 2,884 elections.

    ? Only about a quarter of all recounts change the outcome.

    ? No recount would have been warranted in any of the nation’s 56 previous presidential elections if the outcome had been based on the nationwide count.

  • oldgulph,

    Given how unusual it is for one candidate to win the nationwide popular vote and another to win the electoral vote, it’s not easy to see why it would necessarily make things all that different.

    If we had a situation where one candidate won the electoral and another the popular often, that would be one thing. But instead, we find that is pretty unusual. It happened exactly once in the last 100 years.

  • The movement toward a national popular vote stubbornly ignores the constitution and the “confederation” of states that form the US of A. We are a union of states. Each state has a say in the presidential election, not each individual. In fact, if one looks at much federal case law, one would see that the SCOTUS has historically considered that individuals have rights with the federal government only through their state governments. That’s at issue in the challenges to healthcare law. The states have a right to determine whether individuals must buy insurance; the fed does not. [That is Romney’s correct federalism argument, but it doesn’t defend the poor economics of it all.] The People are represented before/in the federal government through the Congress, elected by the People of each State. Electoral votes and House members per state are proportionate to State population. There is no inappropriate weighting of votes here.

    We are not a direct democracy as far as the federal government is concerned. I would think it unjust, if my state went for Candidate A, but Candidate B obtained the most votes nationwide, and my state’s electoral votes went to Candidate B. My vote and those of my fellow State residents were disregarded. We vote for president as a State, not as individuals.

    We are a union of states. Period. Learn it, live it, love it….That’s for you too Young Mr. Klein.

  • Because of the state-by-state winner-take-all electoral votes laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) in 48 states, a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in 4 of the nation’s 56 (1 in 14) presidential elections. The precariousness of the current state-by-state winner-take-all system is highlighted by the fact that a shift of a handful of votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 presidential elections since World War II. Near misses are now frequently common. There have been 6 consecutive non-landslide presidential elections (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). 537 popular votes won Florida and the White House for Bush in 2000 despite Gore’s lead of 537,179 popular votes nationwide. A shift of 60,000 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have defeated President Bush despite his nationwide lead of over 3 million votes.

  • Most voters don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans consider the idea of the candidate with the most popular votes being declared a loser detestable. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    In the 3 state examples of polling 800 voters each with a second question that specifically emphasized that their state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not necessarily their state’s winner, there was only a 4-8% decrease of support.

    Question 1: “How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current Electoral College system?”

    Question 2: “Do you think it more important that a state’s electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in that state, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?”

    Support for a National Popular Vote

    South Dakota — 75% for Question 1, 67% for Question 2.
    see http://nationalpopularvote.com/pages…php#SD_2009MAY

    Connecticut — 74% for Question 1, 68% for Question 2.
    see http://nationalpopularvote.com/pages…php#CT_2009MAY

    Utah — 70% for Question 1, 66% for Question 2.
    see http://nationalpopularvote.com/pages…php#UT_2009MAY

  • Given how unusual it is for one candidate to win the nationwide popular vote and another to win the electoral vote,

    This happened in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. I may be mistaken on this point, but I believe it has been the convention to add the ballots cast for ‘uncommitted’ Democratic slates of electors in 1960 to John Kennedy’s totals; the ‘uncommitted’ slates split their electoral votes between Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Harry Byrd, Sr. That would be five occasions in a set of 44 federal elections which included popular voting for presidential electors. Not that unusual.

    Of course, there are a number of qualifications one might offer regarding each of these cases.

  • I get that it’s happened four times, but three of those four are more than a century ago. One can take that as a complete accident, but it could also be that in our modern media world it’s simply unlikely to happen.

    The near misses can be taken one of two ways: either that it’s always almost happening, or that even in pretty close races the electoral and popular votes usually end up on the same side.

    I mean, really: Is the claim seriously that somehow if we didn’t have state by state races one candidate or another would do better nationally? I don’t see it. We already have massive amounts of national coverage, even if candidates are on the ground more in certain states. I’m sure it would change dynamics a bit if the race was nationwide, but I don’t see that it would be a clearly positive change, just different.

    I tend to think the whole thing is mostly just a reflection of people’s tendency to forget the federal republic structure of our country and want to see it as a single, strong nation state. A tendency I have pretty mixed feelings about.

  • The future belongs to the youth.

  • I tend to think the whole thing is mostly just a reflection of people’s tendency to forget the federal republic structure of our country and want to see it as a single, strong nation state. A tendency I have pretty mixed feelings about.

    As long as we are speculating about people’s esoteric motors, I will offer that I suspect defenses of the electoral college are fairly reflexive, a viewing the Constitution not as a positive law with the usual run of assets and liabilities a law has, but rather as Mr. Madison’s sublime and elegant work of art. It is a piece of ornamentation that has not worked as intended since 1796.

    One difficulty you have with excising the electoral college is that it would be necessary to set national standards for suffrage as well as a erecting a federal agency to administer elections. This is America, not France; energetic and capable civil administration is not what we do here. The utility of certain constitutional conventions on apportionment and tabulation is that the stupidity is confined to smaller jurisdictions (as was the case in 2000, to our benefit).

  • Since World War II, a shift of only a few thousand votes in one or two states would have elected the second-place candidate in 4 of the 13 (31%) presidential elections.

    When every vote is equal everywhere, 2/3rds of the states and people would no longer be merely spectators to the presidential elections, and policies important to a handful of battleground states would not be prioritized when it comes to governing.

    The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.

    The U.S. Constitution specifically permits diversity of election laws among the states because it explicitly gives the states control over the conduct of presidential elections (article II) .

  • It gets very annoying that one can hardly read anything on the web about elections anymore without finding the National Popular Vote trolls to have invaded, saying the same things over and over again (I mean this quite literally; you can see it if you google oldgulph’s first few paragraphs from the first comment). It’s rarely actually relevant to the discussion at hand, and it’s always the same old lies. It is blatantly incorrect to claim that every vote everywhere would count the same because states have signficant differences in laws governing who can vote, how they can vote, and how votes are to be counted; for instance, some states allow, and some deny, votes to felons, different states have different policies on mail-in ballots, and so forth. It is blatantly incorrect to claim that elections wouldn’t be about winning states, because this is not an artifact of the Electoral College but of the convenience of states as a unit for campaigning; one sees this, for instance, in federal parliamentary systems, like Canada, where campaigning is often explicitly about winning provinces (particularly swingable provinces like Ontario) even though the unit of election is the riding. And so on and so forth. Even the name is a lie — you can’t have a national popular vote unless you have a national standard of what counts as a vote which under the current Constitutional system, which leaves such standards to the state, is impossible. Claims are never presented as elements a real argument in political philosophy or constitutional theory but as a series of advertisements.

    If oldgulph really wants to have a serious discussion in political philosophy, the question that he or she should answer is simply this: What are the weaknesses and potential failings of an NPV system? It’s not even conceivably possible to have a voting system without disadvantages; and it is not rational to accept a voting system without going into it knowing what those disadvantages are. This is the line between kooks and reasonable people in political theory: reasonable people recognize that there are costs to every system, and take those into account; the kooks always present utopia as if it were a political plan of action.

General Longstreet, Catholic Convert, Husband of “The Fighting Lady”

Wednesday, May 18, AD 2011

Hattip to Pat McNamara for his post on Longstreet’s conversion which inspired this post.

Lee referred to James “Pete” Longstreet as his “Old War Horse”.  One of the more talented corp commanders of the Confederacy, Longstreet’s memory was long blackened in the South after the War due to Longstreet becoming a Republican and working as surveyor of customs at the port of New Orleans in the Grant administration, and by the efforts of a coterie of former officers of the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Jubal Early, who blamed Longstreet for the defeat at Gettysburg.  The vituperation that he received mattered little to Longstreet who throughout his life did what he thought was right no matter what other people might think.  In 1874 he became adjutant general of the Louisiana militia.  In an uprising of the White League he was wounded and taken prisoner in his own customs house.  His captors gave the rebel yell.  The wounded Longstreet looked at them with disdain and said, “I have heard the yell before.”

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7 Responses to General Longstreet, Catholic Convert, Husband of “The Fighting Lady”

Once Again, Real Life Imitates South Park

Tuesday, May 17, AD 2011

Some of you no doubt find South Park to be a bit crude and maybe even offensive.  But I am constantly amazed at how often their satires run so true to real life.  Case in point: Stephen Hawking.  In a recent interview with the Guardian Stephen Hawking had this to say:

The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.

This caused Carl Olson to quip that Hawking “does, in fact, believe in and worship a god—the name of which is ‘Science'”.

That brought to mind the twopart episode from season ten where Cartman travels into the future and discovers an Earth where everyone is now an atheist (content warning).  Exclamations of “Science help us!” escape from everyone’s lips in times of trouble.

I’m not going to read too much into the South Park episodes, but they hint at a larger truth.  Even atheists cannot escape religion.  Near our house is something called the Washington Ethical Society.  We used to drive by this place when we went to Mass in the city, and they hold weekly meetings every Sunday.   Yes, it is essentially a Church for atheists.  Frankly, one would think that one of the “benefits” of being an atheist is not having to go to Church on Sunday, but for these atheists they can’t escape the Sunday obligation.  I don’t know if they sing hymns to science but I’m sure their gatherings are something to behold.

At any rate, there’s more from Olson as well as Msgr. Charles Pope on Hawking’s philosophy.  Msgr. Pope is troubled by where Hawking’s philosophy trends (the part in bold is from the article, the rest is Msgr. Pope):

When asked what is the value of knowing why are we here, Hawking replied, “The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.” This is so limiting. It is also philosophy, not science to say this. Mr Hawking is entitled to have a philosophy, but when he says the world is “governed by science” and then goes on to philosophize, that looks pretty silly and contradictory. Further, Mr. Hawking, if you ask me, is edging dangerously close to eugenics in what he says here. What exactly assigning a “higher value” to certain societies looks like as a practical matter is uncertain in what he says, but I sense a growing darkness here, not light. Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler may well be smiling as he says this. BEWARE!

The first commenter objected to Msgr. Pope’s anaology*, but it happens to be spot on.  Readings Hawking it is tough not to draw another cultural analogy, this time to C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.  That novel is the third part of Lewis’s space trilogy, and the plot revolves around the British Government’s new scientific institute, the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (NICE).  The institute does some awful stuff in the name of science and progress, and the novel itself serves as a warning against the utopian promises of over-eager rationalists.

Hawking might be a brilliant physicist, but he should leave theology to the grownups.

* On a tangential note, I find myself getting more agitated by a trend in comments sections.  Why do people feel that they can completely discard the rules of grammar, capitalization and punctuation when they write comments on blogs?  The commenter on Msgr. Pope’s blog – the inaptly named Sophia – decided to take the opportunity to insinuate that atheists were smarter than religious people, all the while failing to capitalize a single word in her screed.  Why should I take anyone seriously when they can’t even obey the simple rules of the English language?  No, we’re not writing dissertations here, but if you can’t even be bothered to hit the shift key before typing the first letter of the first word of your sentences, then I will automatically discount anything you have to say.  I can understand typos as I’m sure there might be one or two above, and I’m not a perfect grammar student.  But can you at least make an effort to write properly on a discussion forum?

/End rant.

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21 Responses to Once Again, Real Life Imitates South Park

  • The Zenit News Agency recently had two great articles on atheism that basically together constitute an interview with Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid on a book that he and Kenneth Hensley wrote, entitled, “The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Atheism.” I quote some noteworthy excerpts from the interview here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/2011/05/turning-tables-on-atheism.html

    Basically many atheists are atheists not because they disbelieve in God but because they don’t want the moral boundaries that a belief in God entails. Many (not all) would rather wallow in lust like mindless baboons and then abort the consequence of their adultery or fornication, or have the State pay for a cure for AIDS with which their homosexual sodomy has infected them. Few seem to have thought through to conclusion the consequences of an atheist philosophy: if there is no God, then there is no point to life. And those that have thought through to atheism’s logical conclusion seem to never fail to advocate implementation of the theory of Darwinian Natural Selection on a genocidal scale that Steven Hawking apparently now supports. (As an aside, it is interesting to note that Dr. Hawking himself with his Lou Gehring’s disease would be allowed to die, being unfit to survive). Those people of Darwinian Natural Selection we can rightly call Hitlers, Mao Tse Tungs and Josef Stalins.

    By the way, while I sometimes use various acronyms and abbreviations and make more than my fair share of typographical errors, I agree with your comment on the proper use of Englsih grammar in writing. I suspect (though I may be wrong) that some atheists, in being beholden to no God, find themselves above all rules and thus for them grammar is a thing of no consequence. However, there are a fair number of so-called religious people likewise afflicted with similar hubris.

  • People whose writing style is best compared to LOLcat captions probably shouldn’t be lecturing others about their superior intellects.

  • “A person,” not people. GAH. Mr. Coffee, you’re my only hope…

  • You will find the atheist bookshelf in the “Religion” section of major bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. Too funny.

  • Hawkings’ first wife, the one he had his three kids with, was and is a devout Christian and they apparently were in conflict about religion, and many other things, quite a bit. Never ignore the personal factor when someone’s “scientific” theories just happen to mesh perfectly with what they want to believe or disbelieve.

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  • The one thing about atheists that bugs me is their “holier than thou” attitude.

  • Like you, I had found South Park crude and provocative in the beginning… but I have to admit, there usually are great Moments of Truth buried in each episode. I’m convinced the crudeness only serves to distract people, while the larger truths are allowed to slip past the censors, straight to the brain. (And, I have to admit, I think it’s intentional.) This rebellious cartoon I once thought a terrible thing, has turned out to be absolutely, sublimely, brilliant. Every conservative, especially should watch it – there are so few pro-right television shows.

  • My father told me that athiests, having given up God, replace Him with the only other person available: Themselves. This is why athiests are so arrogant, rude, condescending and ultimately boring.

  • Why should I take anyone seriously when they can’t even obey the simple rules of the English language? It should be Why should I take anyone seriously when HE can’t even obey the simple rules of the English language?

  • Except he is a she in this case. But point taken.

  • People have swooned over Steven’s “Hawkings” for many years but I suspect he is a savant: brilliant in one area, but blindingly deficient in many others, for instance, interpersonal relationships.

    As a recovering atheist, I constantly strive for wisdom and grace, however, flights of pique will seize me on occasion – and they have since I read Mr. Hawking’s dismissal of heaven as a “fairytale.” It takes a quantum leap of ignorance to engage in such sophomoric reductionism.

    But I digress. Mr. Hawking’s provocative embrace of social darwinism smacks of someone very frail who, but for medical technology, would have already succumbed to Darwin’s initial theory.

  • I read a while back that a Madison atheist became a Unitarian minister. That reminded me of a joke a Baptist once told me: “The only time the name Jesus Christ is uttered in a Unitarian Church is when the janitor falls down the stairs.”

    Really, I used to live a few blocks from a Unitarian – well, what is it? A church? A temple? – and was always interested in seeing the Unitarians come out of their, er, building Sunday mornings, because I have no idea what sort of services people who do not believe in a personal God hold. What does that atheist minister talk about? “Be real nice, everybody!” I decided – perhaps unfairly – that Unitarians are people who want the sociability of church – they like to dress up a bit on Sunday mornings and hang out in a church-like sort of building and have pancake breakfasts and clothing drives without having to follow those icky Commandments.

  • Most people cannot get a handle on the modern theories of physics as it involves heavy duty mathematics at or near the graduate level. Thus we are reduced to reading the pablum of popularising physicists such as Hawkings and Steven Weinberg, while enduring their tedious atheism. Their popular books are mostly rubbish as anyone who reads them for enlightenment can attest. The earnest middlebrow would do well to chuck all the ‘Prancing Wu Li Masters’ stuff into the rubbish bin and attend some evening classes instead. What is ironic about the trend of modern science is this: on the one hand we have a physics that uses the most sophisticated and subtle models to describe what are after all tiny artifacts (much smaller than an atom), and whose experimental verification requires the the labours of legions of highly educated physicists, engineers and administrators. And on the other hand we are assured that the human mind that attempts to comprehend all this is nothing but the product of random Darwinian evolution.

  • Agree, Ivan. I don’t pretend to understand modern physics, but I do know that researchers of subatomic particles (or whatever they’re calling them these days) must “infer” the existence of charm, etc.

    Most of us expect scientists to have open minds so they can be receptive to unexpected findings, so they can grasp nuanced possibilites, so they can interpret complex data. I think what we often get – even from our respected science “lions” is geared for grant writing and personal gain.

    Anyway, I hope someday Mr. Hawking can pompously declare that hell is just a fairytale, because apprently neither wisdom, nor inference is his strong suit.

    Just sayin’.

  • I wrote the following some time ago. I am no expert in quantum mechanics or relativist physics, but perhaps with my limited and inaccurate understanding the following discussion may help the reader to understand the underlying particles and forces that makeup the universe and how these reflect the makeup of God. How one can be a scientist and NOT see this is incredible. Romans 1:20 states:

    “Ever since the creation of the world, [God’s] invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.”

    The veracity of this statement can be demonstrated by a brief overview of elementary particle physics. Just as God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost – three persons in one – so also do we see a reflection of this Trinity throughout nature.

    The elementary sets of particles which makeup the visible universe likewise occur in sets of three.

    Atoms are made of three underlying particles: protons and neutrons in the nuclei of atoms and electrons in a cloud surrounding such nuclei. In turn the protons and neutrons with the nuclei are composed of three quarks each.

    Protons are made of two up quarks each having a +2/3 charge and one down quark having a -1/3 charge for a total particle charge of +1.

    Neutrons are made of two down quarks each having a -1/3 charge and one up quark having a +2/3 charge for a total particle change of 0.

    In turn the quarks are held confined within the nucleus of an atom by three gluons, each having a different color: red, green or blue.

    The major forces in nature likewise come in three: the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force. All such forces are mediated by bosons.

    The electromagnetic force (responsible for magnetism, electricity, light, chemical reactions, etc.) is mediated by a single boson called the photon.

    However, both the weak and the strong nuclear forces are mediated by three bosons each. The weak nuclear force (responsible for most forms of radioactive decay) is mediated by the W+, W- and Z0 bosons.

    The strong nuclear force (responsible for nuclear fission and nuclear fusion) is mediated by three gluons (red, green and blue).

    Gravity appears as a force but is actually the curvature of space time due to the presence of mass; hence its exclusion.

    There are three types of quarks at a charge of +2/3 and spin of ½ in increasing orders of mass: up, charm and top.

    Likewise there are three types of quarks at a charge of -1/3 and a spin of ½ in increasing orders of mass: down, strange and bottom.

    No quark can exist by itself, and any pair of quarks will immediately decay away into a shower of other particles. To be stable, quarks always have to come in threes.

    In the same manner there are three sets of leptons.

    For those having a charge of -1 and a spin of ½, there are the electron, the muon and the tau.

    For those having a charge of 0 and a spin of ½, there are the electronic neutrino, the muon neutrino and the tau neutrino.

    Thus, again and again and again throughout the physical universe we see the reflection of God’s Triune nature manifested. Now maybe someone will say that I make theological errors, or that my science is infantile and ridiculous, or that I truly do not understand quantum electrodynamics or quantum chromodynamics or string theory or any of the rest. But having been a nuclear engineer all my adult life, I cannot believe that there is no God underneath all the equations that govern these miraculous and wondrous things, and that His face does not shine forth for those who would see Him.

  • In The Screwtape Letters, one of the first letters includes an admonition by Screwtape to Wormwood NOT to use the “real sciences” — i.e., physics, chemistry, biology, etc. as opposed to psychology or sociology — as a means of keeping his “patient” away from the Christian faith because “they will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see… There have been some sad cases among the modern physicists.”

    By “sad cases” I presume Lewis means scientists of his time (early 1940s) who were converted to the Christian faith as a direct result of their studies of the natural world; but I don’t know whom exactly he may have been referring to. Does anyone else?

  • Hi Nelson, I do not understand modern physics either, but in the words of a greater physicist than Hawking, one A Einstein, ever since the mathematicians took over he couldn’t understand it either.

  • Perhaps, Ivan, that’s because mathematics is the language by which God created the physical universe: space and time, matter and energy. God spoke, “Let there be light,” and verily there was light. It is God whom we do not understand.

    I have worked in a highly technical and scientific field – nuclear energy – all of my adult life, and the more I learn about the physical universe (quantum electrodynamics and chromodynamics, all the different string theories, etc.), the more confirmation I see of God’s invisible attributes in the visible, physical universe. I think, however, that the men and women who become too smart in mathematics fall in love with their own intellectual abilities that they then in turn elevate above the Creator. I think St. Paul explained all this in Romans chapter 1, beginning with verse 18. The result of such arrogance was entirely predictable 2000 years ago in Roman times and is the same today.

    Sad.

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The Battle of New Orleans Brought to You By Cecille B. DeMille!

Tuesday, May 17, AD 2011

American history tends to be ignored by Hollywood and therefore it is unusual for a battle to receive treatment in a Hollywood feature film.  It is doubly unusual for a battle to be treated in two Hollywood feature films, but that is the case for the battle of New Orleans.  The 1938 film was directed by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille and had Frederic March, an actor largely forgotten today but a major star in his time, as Jean Lafitte.  Two future stars have bit parts in the film:  Anthony Quinn and Walter Brennan.  Hugh Sothern who portrayed Andrew Jackson would also portray Jackson in 1939 in the film Old Hickory.

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3 Responses to The Battle of New Orleans Brought to You By Cecille B. DeMille!

  • “Without the pirate turned patriot, I am certain the battle of New Orleans would have likely received the same indifference that Hollywood has shown for most of American history.”

    The same would likely have happened without country balladeer Johnny Horton and his hit song “Battle of New Orleans” — the one that begins “In 1814 we took a little trip/Along with Colonel Jackson down the Mighty Mississip.” That song has stuck in my head for decades.

  • When Queen Elizabeth visited Newfoundland in 1959, the provincial government, out of concern of offending the Queen, banned the playing of the “Battle of New Orleans”. As my Mom informed me, in reaction Newfies were hanging record players out of their windows, the volume cranked up full blast playing the song. Her comment on this fiasco is that if the idiots in government hadn’t attempted to ban it, no one would have been playing it. I think my attitude towards government began to be forged by this example of folly related to me at a very young age at my mother’s knee!

  • Watching these films shows how far we have come as far as American culture is concerned.