Monthly Archives: June 2011

Stars and Stripes Forever

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Something for the weekend.  We are one week out from the Fourth of July weekend so Stars and Stripes Forever seems called for.  Beyond a doubt the best known composition of John Philip Sousa, it is the National March of the United States.  Sousa wrote it on Christmas Day 1896 and it proved massively popular, especially when it was played during the Spanish-American War.

Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

A “unique”, yes that is what we will call it, muppet rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever, hosted by Sam the American Eagle, who is the answer to the question, “Don, if you were a muppet, which muppet would you be?” Continue reading

Choice and Gendercide

Last weekend’s Wall Street Journal featured an interesting review of Mara Hvistendahl’s new book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. The topic is one that pro-lifers are all to familiar with — the use of sex selective abortion throughout the world which has resulted in the death of 163 million unborn girls being aborted over the last 40 years, specifically because their parents wanted a boy instead. (In other words, over and above all of the abortions going on for other reasons.) The sheer number of “missing girls” is staggering — imagine a number of women equal to the current total populations of France and the UK combined.

Mara Hvistendahl is worried about girls. Not in any political, moral or cultural sense but as an existential matter. She is right to be. In China, India and numerous other countries (both developing and developed), there are many more men than women, the result of systematic campaigns against baby girls. In “Unnatural Selection,” Ms. Hvistendahl reports on this gender imbalance: what it is, how it came to be and what it means for the future.

In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. This ratio is biologically ironclad. Between 104 and 106 is the normal range, and that’s as far as the natural window goes. Any other number is the result of unnatural events.

Yet today in India there are 112 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, the number is 121—though plenty of Chinese towns are over the 150 mark. China’s and India’s populations are mammoth enough that their outlying sex ratios have skewed the global average to a biologically impossible 107. But the imbalance is not only in Asia. Azerbaijan stands at 115, Georgia at 118 and Armenia at 120. Continue reading

If Ad Writers Were Only Allowed To Marry! *UPDATED*

…then ads such as the following would never get made!

(Click to largify)

From Huffington Post: Kia Sportage Ad Sparks Pedophilia Controversy

A new Kia ad is raising eyebrows—with some even saying that it promotes pedophilia. The ad, which promotes a dual-zone climate control feature in one of Kia’s cars, took home the Silver Press Lion at the prestigious Cannes Lion Awards. But it is controversial, to say the least.

The ad features a teacher lusting after his elementary school-aged student. On one side of the page, she appears as a young girl. On the other side, though, she becomes a scantily clad, buxom teen, seemingly as a product of the teacher’s imagination.

Oh wait – it won an award. It’s all good then. Never mind.

Click here if you wish to contact Kia Motors and complain. I did tried – their system won’t allow you to send a message electronically, so I called their number and lodged a formal complaint. I wasn’t the only one to call.

(Cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy)

***UPDATE*** (10:25 PM EST 6/24/11) – from the Kia Motors website:

Statement Regarding Inappropriate Advertising Material From Brazil

Kia Motors America (KMA) has become aware of an offensive piece of advertising material that was created by an ad agency in Brazil that KMA has no business relationship with and has never worked with. This ad was not created in the U.S. by Kia Motors America or any of its marketing partners and does not reflect the opinions or values of KMA or Kia Motors Corporation. The ad is undoubtedly inappropriate, and on behalf of Kia Motors we apologize to those who have been offended by it. We can guarantee this advertisement has never and will never be used in any form in the United States, and our global headquarters in Seoul, South Korea is addressing the issue with the independent Brazilian distributor.

Kudos to Kia on the quick response. Still makes me wonder how this ad managed to get submitted in an international contest and win an award if it was never approved by KMA in the first place, but at least they’ve made a public announcement denouncing it.

GOP Pro-life Win in New Hampshire

 

One of the consequences of the Republican sweep in 2010 is that the Republicans control many state legislatures by very wide margins.  A host of pro-life legislation is making its way through these GOP chambers.  One of the latest pro-life bills to be enacted into law is a parental notification law when minors seek to have an abortion in New Hampshire.  The text of the law may be read here.

On its way to becoming a law it was vetoed by Governor John Lynch.  Lynch is a Democrat, a Catholic and a pro-abort, a combination all too common in our nation.  The veto was overridden in the New Hampshire legislature on June 22 by votes of 266-102 in the House and in the Senate 17-7. Continue reading

Reveille in Washington

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It is easy to forget that Washington in Lincoln’s day bore little relationship to the Washington of our day. In many ways the Washington of Lincoln’s time was still a small town, ill-prepared for the avalanche of rapid growth forced on it by the War. The classic account of Washington during the Civil War is Margaret Leech’s Reveille in Washington, published, ironically, in 1941, just as Washington was about to undergo another rapid period of expansion during World War II. Continue reading

The Leftist Mentality In A Nutshell

Cars is one of the few Pixar or Dreamworks movies that I have not seen (and with a two-year old, I’ve seen a lot).  Well it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing the sequel either.

Debuting in theaters this Friday, the seemingly innocuous Disney-Pixar film ‘Cars 2′ has become a tool to wedge a fight against fossil fuels in favor of alternative forms of energy.

When John Lasseter moved from executive producer to executive director last year, he overhauled major portions of the plot into a good vs. evil story against big oil.

Here is the part of his interview that caught my attention. Continue reading

Moral Sense and Unequal Exchange

Every week I make a point of finding the time to listen to the EconTalk podcast — a one hour interview on some economics related topic conducted by Prof. Russ Roberts of George Mason university. Roberts himself has economic and political views I’m often (though not always) in sympathy with, but he’s a very fair and thoughtful interviewer and has a wide range of guests. This week’s interview was with a semi-regular on the show, Prof Mike Munger of Duke University, and the topic was the concept of euvoluntary exchange which Munger has been attempting to create.

Munger’s project aims to identify why it is that some seemingly voluntary transactions are seen as morally repugnant by most people, and are either socially disapproved of or outright outlawed. So for example, say that Frank is very poor and desperately wants to provide for his family. Tom is very rich and is loosing eyesight in both his eyes. His doctor believes they can pull off a revolutionary new surgery and transplant a healthy eye into him, but they need the eye of a live, healthy person who matches Tom’s blood type and DNA well. Frank is a match and is willing to give up an eye in return for a million dollars.

Now, there are a few people who lean heavily in the rationalistic direction who would say this sounds like a great idea because it makes most people better off, but most people would react to this with revulsion, and it is in fact illegal to do this kind of thing in the US.

The interesting thing is that voluntarily donating an organ (so long as giving it up isn’t considered too big a detriment to you) is considered morally admirable, and is legal. So, for instance, there was a case a year or two ago in our parish where one young woman in the parish donated a kidney to another parishioner who needed a transplant.

Munger’s argument is that in the Frank and Tom example, the transaction may seem voluntary but it’s not really voluntary because of the disparity in means between Tom and Frank. Continue reading

In anticipation of Corpus Christi

A stirring account from Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York:

Last week, we bishops met for our annual Spring Meeting, this year in Seattle. We had a lot of business: liturgical matters, revision of the Charter to Protect Youth, approval of a defense of fragile human life against physician-assisted suicide, a decision to issue a document to help our priests, deacons, and ourselves preach better . . . plus a lot more.

But the most productive session came on Friday morning. As usual, we began with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But then we gathered as the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the monstrance on the altar. There we prayed: morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours; silence; an excellent conference by a brother bishop; silence; opportunity for confession; and closing Benediction.

It was, in my mind, the most productive part of our meeting. Nearly two hundred bishops, on their knees, in silent prayer, before Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist.

As I tip-toed out of the room to stand in line for confession, I heard two of the young hotel workers chatting.

“It’s sure quiet in there,” whispered one of them. “What are they doing?”

“It’s weird,” replied the other. “They’re not doing nothing. They’re all just kneeling there quietly looking at this flat piece of bread in this fancy gold holder.”

He almost got it right . . . except that we believe, with all our heart and soul, that it’s not a “flat piece of bread,” but the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, really and truly present in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

Green Who?

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From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  Actually I am a Green Lantern fan from way back.  When Abin Sur, Green Lantern of this sector of the galaxy, crash-landed on Earth, he willed his power ring to find a successor to take over his position as Green Lantern.  The ring chose test pilot Hal Jordan.  Green Lanterns are basically intergalactic cops established by the Guardians of the Galaxy who live on the planet OA.  Each Green Lantern has a power ring which has been decribed as the most powerful weapon in the Universe.  The rings can do almost anything, limited only by the will of the user.  Due to a necessary defect in the rings, and to make the Green Lantern comics much more interesting, the ring cannot affect anything yellow.  The rings must be recharged every 24 hours in front of, what else, a Green Lantern which each green lantern possesses.  The Green Lantern recites this oath as the ring is being recharged: Continue reading

Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra, Prima pars

The following is the first part of a gloss on an article I recently received from a friend. The second part will appear in a few days. I apologize for not having the full reference for it, but it appears to be an address by Francis Cardinal George given to the Library of Congress on June 16, 1999, titled “Catholic Christianity and the Millennium: Frontiers of the Mind in the 21st Century.” In light of the missing reference, the citations below are paragraph numbers rather than page numbers. I apologize ahead of time for those who have read or plan to read the article. While I have tried to give the Cardinal credit where due, a reading of his paper will reveal my blatant plagiarism.

The Thomistic scholar Etienne Gilson describes in The Unity of the Philosophical Experience the inevitable demise of a philosophy that ignores the highest question of being, i.e. metaphysics. In “Catholic Christianity and the Millennium: Frontiers of the Mind in the 21st Century,” Cardinal George argues for a specifically Christian metaphysics, or an “incarnation metaphysics.” This metaphysics begins with the “provocative claim” that is at the heart of Christianity. “In Jesus Christ, God has become a creature, without ceasing to be God and without compromising the integrity of the creature he becomes” (George, 3). The radicality of this Christian claim is evidenced by the history of heresies, most of which denied either the divinity or humanity of Christ, or in some cases, both, by arguing for a quasi-divine and quasi-human nature in the incarnated Lord. At least two Ecumenical Councils (Chalcedon in 451 and Nicea in 325) upheld the hypostatic union, the fact that, “in Jesus, the divine and the human unite without competition or compromise” (George, 3).

Continue reading

Libertarian Social Justice: Trees Make A Forest

PHOTO: Donar Reiskoffer

Yesterday, I was having a discussion with some of my fellow Catholics about the presidential election, and there arose a brief debate about the concept of libertarianism. It never ceases to amaze me when I see committed Catholics embracing libertarianism…but then, I remember, most of them probably were not catechized very well. Also, we should take into consideration that for years many of us have been rightly troubled by a far-reaching government engaged in what the Catholic faithful invariably see as injustice. I suppose I can understand why many Catholics might think that libertarianism is a legitimate way to put that unjust government in check. Though well-intentioned, they have fallen into a snare.

Stephen Metcalf writes at Slate today about what he calls ‘The Liberty Scam’. His article is essentially a rebuke of libertarianism, at least as he believes it was defined by Robert Nozik. David Boaz at CATO Institute takes issue with him on that point.

It’s interesting that Boaz makes a couple of arguments against Metcalf’s article that I’ve grown accustomed to hearing from libertarians in response to criticisms of their ideology. In a nutshell, first, we who are opposed to libertarianism are apparently not allowed to claim that one of their heroes can be said to have defined it with any certainty. We find this in Boaz’s seeming annoyance with those who believe they have “grappled with libertarian ideas” if they have read Nozik. Secondly, if we disagree with the libertarian ideas set forth, it automatically means that we are misunderstanding it, hence Boaz’s headline ‘Misunderstanding Nozik, Again‘.

Unfortunately, again, the libertarian runs up against the wall of reality and finds himself stunned.

Boaz writes:

As for Metcalf’s final complaint that advocates of a more expansive state have been “hectored into silence” by the vast libertarian power structure, well, I am, if not hectored, at least stunned into silence.

Libertarians frequently cannot see the forest because the trees get in their way. How dare we think that libertarians have a shared value system that results in any kind of society that has power! Hence we see a self-refuting principle in libertarianism. Human beings are “social animals”, if you will. They will, invariably, join together with like-minded people to bring about political change that reflects their views of justice. All such associations are “societies”, whether or not they are governmental or political. One need look no further than one of the infamous episodes of astro-turfing for Ron Paul in straw polls and the various Campaign for Liberty rallies to see a libertarian act of “social justice”, per se. The very act of joining a campaign is an act of joining a power structure to bring about one’s sense of “justice”. Granted, libertarian “social justice” is nothing like the Left’s “social justice”, but that is neither here nor there.

Metcalf paraphrases Nozik, the libertarian who apparently either doesn’t speak for libertarianism or is misunderstood?:

To the entire left, Nozick, in effect, said: Your social justice comes at an unacceptable cost, namely, to my personal liberty…

This is, to be sure, the libertarians’ basic argument. Ironically, the libertarian movement’s social justice is similarly problematic in that it so frequently promotes license over liberty. As Mortimer Adler has written:

Herein lies the distinction between liberty and license. Liberty is freedom exercised under the restraints of justice so that its exercise results in injury to no one. In contrast license is freedom exempt from the restraints of justice and. therefore, injurious to others in infringing their freedom as well as violating other rights. When no distinction is made between liberty and license, the freedom of the strong an destroy the freedom of the weak.

Most Catholics still understand on some level that abortion and same-sex “marriage” are opposed to true justice. As such, they are opposed to authentic liberty. Just as we know that the word “choice” is misused in the abortion debate to preserve a license to kill, we should also understand that the word “liberty” is used by libertarians to preserve license on any number of issues, including abortion and the re-definition of marriage.

If you take nothing else away from this article, know this. There is a libertarian movement. It exists. It has arisen as its own society, a social group being made up of individuals who share a common definition of “justice”. Their common view of “justice” is the act of joining together in a society to oppose those who would seek to bring about “social justice” which they view as a monster because the Left’s version of “social justice” is, in fact, a monster. In other words, the libertarians have engaged themselves in an exercise in hypocrisy.

What’s a Catholic to do? Well, we can begin by helping people to understand what authentic social justice is. (Sorry, libertarian Catholics, but that’s the way it is.) Certainly, all Americans are able to make a decision to either be complacent (that is, to be the “sleeping giant”) or to actively work through the political process to bring about a society that reflects our view of justice. Catholics are not free to be complacent. We each have a duty to be politically involved….to enter into associations with others to work for authentic social justice. It is my hope and prayer that we can do so as One Body. The more we talk about these issues in peace with each other, the better.

Hat-tip, Memeorandum.


George Orwell the Obama Administration is On the Phone

Hattip to Christopher Johnson at the Midwest Conservative Journal. I would note at the outset that this is not one of The Onion parodies I like to play from time to time on this blog.  With the Obama administration however, the nation each day resembles more a Onion parody.  The United States Department of Agriculture, yes, you read that correctly, is pressing for mandatory gay rights training:

U.S. Department of Agriculture activists want to impose their intense brand of homosexual sensitivity training governmentwide, including a discussion that compares “heterosexism” – believing marriage can be between only one man and one woman – to racism.

If accepted by the Obama administration, that move could mean more sessions for military service members already undergoing gay-sensitivity indoctrination. Critics fear additional gay-oriented training would add an unnecessary burden for combat troops and encourage some to leave.

USDA officials have asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees all federal employee policies, to impose its gay-awareness programs on all federal departments, according to an internal newsletter. The training includes a discussion of “heterosexism” and compares it to racism. It says people who view marriage as being between only one man and one woman are guilty of “heterosexism.”

The push for the training is coming from Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, former governor of Iowa. The Democrat has launched a departmentwide “cultural transformation” that includes a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Special Emphasis Program.

The USDA’s senior training coordinator, Bill Scaggs, has developed a sensitivity program far more extensive than the Pentagon’s training for the anticipated lifting of the ban on open ho[JUMP]mosexuals in the ranks. His training program, which OPM calls “groundbreaking [and a] model for other agencies,” delves more into gay issues and terminology. It also justifies pro-homosexual political positions.

Continue reading

Maureen Dowd Does Theology

 

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One of the House Catholics at the New York Times, Maureen Dowd, recently wrote a column in which she attacked the stand of Archbishop Timothy Dolan against gay marriage.  In the column she made the mistake of mentioning Canon Lawyer Ed Peters, who writes an incisive blog In The Light of the Law that I visit religiously.  Ed Peters responded to Dowd:

Fine, you ask, what does any of this have to do with me? I might have thought, nothing, except that Dowd decided to link my recent criticisms of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reception of Communion at a Mass celebrated by Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard (despite Cuomo’s open cohabitation with a woman not his wife), with Abp. Dolan’s criticism of efforts in the New York legislature to legalize “gay marriage”, the ‘link’ being that Cuomo is a strong proponent of “gay marriage” and would sign such a bill if it reaches his desk.

Okay, yes, I think that Cuomo’s signature on such a bill would add to his Communion-eligibility problems under Canon 915, but Abp. Dolan is not making that argument: he is arguing natural law on marriage and common sense, not sacramental discipline. (I know, I know, one would have to have read and understood Dolan’s arguments to see that point, but even if Dowd didn’t or doesn’t, some of her readers would have and do). So why does Dowd not discuss Dolan’s arguments on marriage in her article about Dolan on marriage, and later, if she wishes, tackle my arguments on holy Communion in an article about me and holy Communion (assuming I was worth her time in the first place)? Why smush these two strains together?

Because Dowd apparently thinks she has discovered some “ah-ha” contradiction in the Church’s logic. She writes: “Therein lies the casuistry. On one hand, as Peters told The Times about Cuomo and Lee, ‘men and women are not supposed to live together without benefit of matrimony.’ But then the church denies the benefit of marriage to same-sex couples living together.”

What?

That’s not right. That doesn’t even rise to level of being wrong. Instead, that’s what comes from someone who is not even pretending to be interested in what the other side actually holds. Continue reading

SOLT Statement Regarding Fr. John Corapi

Official Statement of SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) regarding Fr. John Corapi:

As the Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), I issue the following statement on behalf of the Society.

On 16 March 2011, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the SOLT received a complaint against Fr. John Corapi, SOLT. As is normal procedure and due to the gravity of the accusation alleging conduct not in concert with the priestly state or his promises as a member of a society of apostolic life of diocesan right, Fr. Corapi was suspended from active ministry (put on administrative leave) until such a time that the complaint could be fully investigated and due process given to Fr. Corapi. In the midst of the investigation, the SOLT received a letter from Fr. Corapi, dated June 3, 2011, indicating that, because of the physical, emotional and spiritual distress he has endured over the past few years, he could no longer continue to function as a priest or a member of the SOLT. Although the investigation was in progress, the SOLT had not arrived at any conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation.

At the onset, the Bishop of Corpus Christi advised the SOLT to not only proceed with the policies outlined in their own constitutions, but also with the proper canonical procedures to determine the credibility of the allegations against Fr. Corapi. We reiterate that Fr. Corapi had not been determined guilty of any canonical or civil crimes. If the allegations had been found to be credible, the proper canonical due process would have been offered to Fr. Corapi, including his right to defense, to know his accuser and the complaint lodged, and a fair canonical trial with the right of recourse to the Holy See. On June 17, 2011, Fr. John Corapi issued a public statement indicating that he has chosen to cease functioning as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

The SOLT is deeply saddened that Fr. Corapi is suffering distress. The SOLT is further saddened by Fr. Corapi’s response to these allegations. The SOLT will do all within its power to assist Fr. Corapi if he desires to seek a dispensation from his rights and obligations as a priest and as a professed member of the SOLT. We request your prayers and the intercession of the Blessed Mother for the healing of Fr. Corapi and for any who have been negatively affected by Fr. Corapi’s decision to end his ministry as a priest and a member of the SOLT.

Fr Gerrard Sheehan, SOLT
Regional Priest Servant

Related

A Father to Everyone

The conjunction of Trinity Sunday and Father’s Day had me thinking yesterday about the fact that we are urged by Christ to call God our Father. Every so often you hear someone claim that we only call the first person of the trinity “God the Father” because it has been men doing the talking through most of Christian history. Had it been women in charge of things, so the claim goes, we might be talking about “God the Mother” instead.

It strikes me that the basic problem with this point of view, from a human perspective, is that it assumes that the relation of men to their fathers is more like the relationship between women and their mothers than it is like that between women and their fathers. This suggests that sex is the primary determining factor of the relationship we have with our parents — one sort of relationship with the parent of the same sex, a different sort of relationship with the parent of the opposite sex.

Like all mistakes, there is, I think, some element of truth to this. The parent of one’s own sex serves as an example (even if in sad circumstances a negative one) of how the child will be a parent. Sons know that some day they may be fathers. Daughters know that some day they may be mothers. And yet, this sense cannot be the sense in which we see God as father. We will not grow up to be God like Him, we will not become creators of our own universes. We will not become all knowing, all powerful and eternal. So the sense in which we (or according to that theory, men) see God as a father is not the “I could be like him someday” sense.

At the more basic level, it seems to me that “father” and “mother” are archetypes which are different — and although sons and daughters may relate to their father differently, the ways in which both sons and daughters relate to and understand their father are more similar to each other than the way daughters relate to their mother is to the way sons relate to their father.

When Jesus told us to call God our Father, He didn’t mean in the most literal and physical sense, one which would have come naturally to many pagans at that time. God the Father does not come down, like Zeus to some pretty girl, and father each one of us. And yet, we understand God as our Father because as human persons our understanding of “father” is an imperfect understanding of what our relationship with God the Father is.

As such, it seems to me that all of us, men and women, can equally relate to God as being our Father. If anything, the difference in this for men and women would not be that men see God as a father while women see Him as a mother, but rather that men relate to Him as sons while women relate to Him as daughters.

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