Soft Despotism

Wednesday, July 13, AD 2011

Alexis de Toqueville wasn’t always right, but he was almost always right. From Book One of Democracy in America:

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, and here they are always fashioning new ways to live up to de Tocqueville’s prophecy.

The Montgomery County Council approved a smoking ban at playgrounds and indoor common spaces on Tuesday, asking neighbors to report offenders.

The ban restricts smoking within 25 feet of playgrounds and in the shared spaces of multifamily residential buildings, such as apartment hallways or lobbies.

Two witnesses can file a complaint identifying the smoker, as well as the time and place of the violation, to start an investigation. Otherwise, a county Health and Human Services Department employee must catch a violator lighting up.

Excellent.  Not only have they all but banned smoking in your own home, but they’re also encouraging people to inform on their neighbors.  I wonder if this poster served as an inspiration to the County Council:
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23 Responses to Soft Despotism

  • Petty tyranny is like being gummed to death by a pack of aged poodles: lethal over time, incredibly tedious and profoundly silly.

    Alexis de Toqueville, the Frenchman who knew us better than we have ever known ourselves:

    “Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?”

  • Paul, I don’t like the part about ratting on your neighbors but I strongly support anti-smoking laws. It’s good public policy. My right to breathe clean air supersedes the other person’s right to blow smoke in my face.

  • I am a life long non-smoker Joe, and for the life of me I cannot see why the private market place cannot handle whether restaurants, etc, allow smoking or not. Long before there were anti-smoking laws I patronized only establishments that did not allow smoking and dining to be mixed. From the number of young people who I observe smoking, which to my mind is stupidity on stilts, I wonder just how successful this second attempt at slow motion Prohibition is.

  • Don, the comparison with Prohibition does not work. Smoking has been scientifically linked to more than 400,000 deaths a year. Tobacco is a legal product, yes, but it’s a clear detriment to the ‘general welfare,’ which our Constitution vows to promote. Alcohol, on the other hand, in moderation is not a detriment. A sip now and then does the body good. Did not Jesus turn the water into wine at the wedding feast?

    Here in WI, as you know, the anti-smoking law has been in effect for just over a year. At first, Gov. Walker took your position: Let individual businesses decide. He actually campaigned to repeal it. However, in hindsight even Walker admits it has worked well and he no longer supports repeal.

    In a compromise, however, the powerful Wisconsin Tavern League managed to squeeze in a provision that allows smoking in some outdoor areas that are well ventilated.

    So, I say, Smoke em if you got em…but do it so it does not harm others.

    Excerpt from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story July 4:

    “Although I did not support the original smoking ban, after listening to people across the state, it is clear to me that it works. Therefore I will not support a repeal,” Walker said in a statement.

    The SmokeFree survey shows the smoking ban enjoys support across partisan lines, with 66% of Republicans, 74% of Democrats and 80% of independents saying they favored the law.

    More than 90% of the 500 likely voters polled in mid-June say they go out to eat and drink the same or more often now that the state is smoke-free. The poll was conducted by a nonpartisan national polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.

    “The ban hasn’t hurt business at all,” said Derek Stamates, a manager at Tracks Tavern and Grille in Riverwest. “We’ve seen more families with kids coming in. It didn’t drive anyone away.”

    Here is a link to the full story:

  • I’m ok with banning smoking in common areas of an enclosed space. I think the same thing could be accomplished through the private sector, so maybe it’s an overreach, but not much of one. (I know, the point of this article is that soft tyrannies are made of small overreaches…but even so.)

    But parks? That doesn’t make any sense to me.

  • “Don, the comparison with Prohibition does not work. Smoking has been scientifically linked to more than 400,000 deaths a year.”

    It certainly does work Joe. Alcohol has an enormous negative impact on the US with an estimated 17.6 million alcoholics in this country. Of course we have carnage on our roads due to addiction to drink, and all the health related consequences of alcohol. I am both a non-drinker and a non-smoker, but I have always thought that a much stronger case can be had in favor of a government war against alcohol than tobacco.

  • In early 1990 I was eating lunch in our law firm dining room when one of my partners approached me with a sheet of paper in his hand and a snarky grin on his face. He handed me the paper, and I read that effective next month our law offices would be non-smoking. No debate; no partner vote; just a managing partner edict. My partner just snickered, “That’s right; freedom breaks out in Eastern Europe, and the clamp-down begins at home.” He nailed it.

  • It is tyranny. but i think the people want government tyranny. the idea of being an adult is scary to the offspring of the greatest generation and consequently to their offspring. There are no grown ups left in the United States except the remaining WWll Generation.
    This is why neither Democracy nor Libertarianism will work.

  • Don, it’s possible to consume alcohol without harming oneself or others. But smoking is altogether different. Even minimal use is harmful. The carnage that stems from alcohol is from excessive use not moderate use.

    Further, the point that conservatives miss when they rail against government interference with private business is that some regulation is necessary for the good of the general public. Taverns must be licensed by local and state authorities to make sure they comply with sanitary regs, insurance, fire laws, etc., all to protect the public. By adopting anti-smoking laws, the state is simply saying that it is one more requirement to be licensed to do business. If there is a “right” to smoke, then there ought to be a “right” to prostitute oneself, a “right” to gamble, a “right” to engage in any other vice. Freedom is not what one can do but what one ought to do. I think it was Bishop Sheen who said that.

    Moreover, there are countless laws on the books in a wider realm that one could make comparisons to, such as traffic laws. Why not let everyone drive at whatever speed they wish? After all, isn’t this an unwarranted intrusion by government on the “personal freedom” to drive as fast as we want. Clearly, traffic laws must be enforced. Does this mean that there are no accidents? Of course not. But there would be more without laws. Why not legalize all drugs, legalize all harmful activity and leave it up to everyone to decide for his or herself what is “right” and “wrong,” what is “good” and “bad.” Is this what Christians mean by free will?

    Does not Paul in Romans Chapter 13 tell us to “governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Should we decide which laws to obey and which to flout unless the laws of men conflict with the laws of God, as Peter said?

    Freedom is a word that everyone bandies about, but many seem to forget that freedom is not absolute and with it goes responsibility and duty.

  • fixing previous post to insert omitted word:

    Does not Paul in Romans Chapter 13 tell us to OBEY “governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

  • “Don, it’s possible to consume alcohol without harming oneself or others. But smoking is altogether different. Even minimal use is harmful. The carnage that stems from alcohol is from excessive use not moderate use.”

    Actually Joe I disagree with that. Most of the DUIs where I have represented individuals have not involved alcoholics. Alcohol not infrequently plays a role in many of the dissolution cases that I have handled and, once again, usually do not rise to the level of alcoholism. Compare and contrast that with someone who dies at 75 from a cancer that may be smoking related. I think the ill effects of alcohol are often far more immediate than the ill effects of tobacco.

    The trouble with a nanny state is that it diminishes freedom and treats us all like children. If I do not want to smell cigarette smoke when I eat I am quite able to give my patronage to businesses that do not allow smoking without the government having to intervene. Acting as nanny necessitates a large, bullying and expensive government. The modern nanny state in this country reminds me of this line from the Declaration of Independence:

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    We have gone well beyond common sense in this area, and I think time is overripe for the pendulumn to swing back from this madness.

    As for Saint Paul:

    “Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil.”

    That particular passage has been cited by worthless tyrant after worthless tyrant down through the centuries. What Saint Paul was obviously trying to counteract were people who were attempting to claim that being a Christian freed one from secular authority. Saint Paul was not giving a blank check to every idiot idea emanating from government as the Church makes clear in the Catechism:

    “2238 Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts:”Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. . . . Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.”Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.”

    “2242 The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” “We must obey God rather than men”

    When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.”

  • Then I suppose it boils down to one man’s vice being another man’s virtue. I’m not enamored of the Nanny State either. Certainly, there are limits on what government should regulate and salt use (see NYC) is not one of them.

    But if government is We the People, then let the people decide. And in the case of smoking, a vast majority want it controlled in some fashion. Let me ask you, Don, should I be allowed to blast my stereo with my windows open at 3 in the morning? Shoot fireworks off anywhere? Discharge my gun within city limits, the 2nd amendment notwithstanding. Ad infinitum.

    Of course, this is argument and not proof so further discussion is pointless. Example:

    1. a) You should not smoke (individual action, individual decision)
    b) because smoking is harmful (generally accepted wisdom that health is good). The argument is neither a) advice nor b) moral or economical judgment, but the connection between the two. An argument uses always the connective because. An argument is not an explanation. It does not connect two events, cause and effect, who already took place, but a possible individual action and it’s beneficial outcome. An argument is not a proof. A proof is logical and cognitive concept; an argument is a praxeologic concept. A proof changes our knowledge ; an argument determines us to act.

  • “But if government is We the People, then let the people decide.”

    In regard to the Nanny State, I think We the People have little say. It is rather politicians seeking votes from particular pressure groups, and, as an added bonus, swelling the rolls of government employment and revenue from fines and taxes.

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    It is no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that the worst of this type of rubbish comes from blue states and blue cities. Government has more than enough essential tasks to do, many of which government is failing to do adequately at the present time, without treating adults as if they are unruly first graders who must be micromanaged.

  • Don, seems like we can’t keep Ben Franklin’s Republic. Maybe what we need is a good king with a sharp axe. 😀

  • Oh, one last point (maybe): Since there are apparent limits to the universe but none to human stupidity, I have little faith of heaven on earth. It is indeed disheartening to find that most citizens do not know the difference between a YIELD and STOP sign. 😛

  • We need government Joe because men aren’t angels. That obvious fact is also an argument, as the Founding Fathers understood, to keep government small and limited.

  • The worst, but better than every other as Churchill said, Don? Not so sure.

  • “Freedom’s just another word for “nothin’ left to lose.” Janis Joplin.

    “All attempts to create Heaven on Earth result in Hell on Earth.” Camus

  • George Washington, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

  • Long as we’re dropping quotes, here’s one my Catholic friends may like:

    Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought. — Pope John Paul II

  • “The advice you give us does not spring from a full knowledge of the situation. You know one half of what is involved, but not the other half. You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too.”


  • “The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or SPIRITUAL [emphasis added]. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.” John Stuart Mill


The Clothes Have No Barack

Wednesday, July 13, AD 2011

Right you are Klavan on the Culture!  I think that future historians will find the Obama years puzzling in that a large segment of the American population spent them resolutely denying the obvious:  that electing as President a politician from Illinois with little experience, few leadership skills, a reactionary adherence to government as panacea, and a pronounced hostility to the private sector, has been an unmitigated disaster for the country.

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20 Responses to The Clothes Have No Barack

  • That’s the truth! But the lemmings are still drinking the purple koolade and ready for that stampede off the cliff.

  • “Eat your peas and suck it in.”

    IMO history will judge Obama the least experienced, least qualified, and least American POTUS.

    Each day Wrong Way Obama provides evidence that nothing can be accomplished by complaining, criticizing, lying, regulating, spending, taxing, tomfoolery, and eroding the people’s liberties and property.

    An American would have said, “Eat your peas and suck it up.” Or, “Man up.”

  • The one thing that continues to amaze me is that otherwise really smart people (such as certain unnamed pro-nuclear energy bloggers) who know more about science and engineering and technology than I ever will are still in love with Obama! Now most people with whom I work in the nuclear power industry are conservative and realize that Obama is an idiot. But those who blog are invariably liberal, progressive Democrats, and often atheist humanists to boot. I just don’t get it. How can people certainly a whole heck of a lot smarter than me be unable to see through the smoke and mirrors? These aren’t evil people. They do want the best for the country and they are basically decent human beings. But they are ever so wrong and ever so deluded. They buy into that fantasy hook, line and sinker that Andrew Klavan so eloquently describes.

    I just don’t understand it. The country is going down under with abortion, gay sex, contraception, pornography, corruption (ecclesial and political), etc. And people still look at Obama all starry-eyed and gushy-teared. It’s truly the spirit of anti-Christ (no, Obama isn’t the anti-Christ; he’s too stupid to be that; rather, this spirit that so infects people who really are not evil themselves is positively demonic).

  • Paul, you wonder why people who are smarter than you are soooo deceived when it comes to Obama? It’s ideology man. These folks have adopted a pre-concieved set of ideas that does all their thinking for them. They never tested their ideology in the real world, they just accepted it as religious dogma. To get a handle on this, read “Intellectual Morons” by Daniel Flynn, especially the first chapter. BTW, your fellow nuke workers may understand more about science, technology, and engineering than you do, but they know squat about human nature.

  • Obama is trying for the center and getting squeezed from both sides. The Leftists think he’s abandoned them; the right think he’s too far left. The middle is narrow so he has nowhere to go, trying to satisfy both ends. It’s a losing strategy as his base crumbles and the independents move right. But if the GOP puts up another weak sister then Obama could win by default. Too early at this point to count him out. A lot could and will happen before Nov 2012.

  • Center Schmenter . . . Senator Rubio: “Every aspect of life in America is worse since Obama took over.”

  • Joe;

    I am happy to be able to state that we agree on something – it is too early to count President Obama out. Who would have thought Bush I would loose when a year before he had a 90%+/- approval rating.

  • I am happy to be able to state that we agree on something

    uh-oh 😀

  • I knew it was over for Bush 41 when he reneged on the no new taxes pledge. The Gulf War victory raised him to the stratosphere temporarily but it did nothing to repair the deep damage that Bush did to himself by violating the pledge and gave Perot the opportunity he needed to make his run and deep six Bush.

  • Right now the problem for the Repubs is Romney is about the best thing they’ve got going and that ain’t saying much. The media’s marginalization of Bachmann is proving successful; Gingrich never got out of the box, TPaw and Paul are yawn-inducing so, back to my original point, Obama could squeak by again because of weak opposition. Doesn’t help that McConnell is all but waiving the white flag by proposing to give Obama the keys to the treasury.

  • No, no, T. Shaw– don’t look at results, look at what he says.

    Paul W Primavera- I don’t know about civilian nukes, but the Navy guys were very high on intelligence and low on sense, in general. (She says, knowing full well that she was mistaken for a Nuke more than once.) Strong tendency to ignore reality once they’d established, in their minds, what was going on. It’s such a strong stereotype that there’s even a webcomic that uses a version of it– Girl Genius has “sparks,” incredible geniuses (of the mad scientist type) that can warp reality.

  • Foxfier,

    I was both a Navy nuke and a commercial nuke. Served as RO on a 688 class sub back in the late 70s, early 80s. Worked in commercial nuke power ever since. So I am doubly damned with lack of common sense.


    However, most of the actual people I work with (engineers, techs, etc.) in nuclear power are conservative and see through Obama’s idiocy. That was also true back on the sub in the early 80s. We were ecstatic that Reagan defeated idiot Carter. Everyone cheered!

    It’s the pro-nuke bloggers (not all, though) who are generally liberal progressive Democrats. It’s almost as though if one’s time is spent actually doing nuclear work, then one is conservative. But if one’s time is spent talking about doing nuclear work, then one is liberal. I doubt that rule holds fast everywhere, but in my industry that’s the way it seems to be a lot (NOT all) the time.

    And NEI – the Nuclear Energy Institute – goes out of its way to ingratiate itself with Obama because it is dependent on remaining in Obama’s good graces.

    Now I gotta go because “nukes ‘R us.”

  • I think Rassmussen:

    Generic Republican – 48

    Generic Obama – 43

    How can 43% be so stupid- public schools.

    Latest logic launch from the community-agitator-in-chief: “I will not allow half the Americans that pay no taxes to bear the burden of the Americans who don’t pay their ‘fair’ share of taxes, or sumpthin.”

  • ” The magic suit insn’t wearing any president.”

    Priceless 😆

  • Pretty pathetic that you so called “Christians” do not have any memory of the previous 8 years before the 2008 election. I guess it is pretty “Christian-like” to start 2 illegal wars, set the record for most executions, presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in the history of the world, etc, etc, etc…

    It is pretty obvious you put money ahead of God. A true Christian would help out their bothers and sisters. Try and justify greed any which way your selfish mind may. Remember, all that we have belongs to Him. We were born naked and will die naked. May God save your soul!

  • Ah, another liberal!

    There is NO comparison between Iraq and Afghanistan, and the war Obama is waging on the unborn. There is no comparison between the wrongs of forced interrogation and the filth of homosexual sodomy that Obama supports.


    I love George W. Bush all the more if only because that incenses the liberal left into an apolexy of anger.


  • Pathetic is the word that came to mind phil18 as I read your comment. Really, if you aspire to troll status at this blog we do have standards.

    Here is what is wrong with your comment:

    First: you do not attempt to defend Obama, but you merely give vent to your Bush Derangement Syndrome. That is truly weak after Obama has been in office for over half of his term.

    Second: your use of the phrase “so called “Christians”. Please, if you wish to attempt to insult us you will have to do far better than such unimaginative paint-by-number insults. We do not expect literary brilliance from our trolls, but we do expect them to make some effort. You aren’t even trying!

    Third: Your attack on Mammon is a non-sequitur in regard to this post unless you are arguing that it is a good thing that Obama’s policies are reducing the economy to rubble. Really, even trolls must stay on topic.

    If we are going to hear from you again, you really will have to do much better than this. We expect far more from our trolls.

  • Holy Obamanation, Batman!

    Phil seems to be an Obama-worshiping imbecile . . .

    Phil, Are you better off today than you were before Obama took over?

    Well, he didn’t drop the race card . . .

    Is he one of the 37% that are out to destroy the United States America?

  • You know, Phil’s comment, “set the record for most executions”, isn’t a Bush Administration thing. After all, it’s the Democrats who laud the 60 million baby executions since Roe v Wade. And his hero Obama still didn’t shut Guantanamo down. And we’re still embroiled in “illegal” action, but maybe Libya doesn’t count in Phil’s universe.

    “A true Christian would help out their bothers and sisters.” That’s what Sarah Palin did when she gave birth to her Down Syndrome baby Trig instead of having an abortion.

    The facts never line up with liberals.

  • Liberals are charitable with other people’s money. A “true Christian” would “help out his brothers and sisters.” Multi-millionaire Obama lives in a house that could quarter the 7th Cavalry. Yet his aunt is lives on the taxpayer’s dime. He could bring her into the WH with his mother-in-law who lives with him again on your taxes. Yeah, raise taxes or YOUR grandma gets it!

    Obama is a “true Christian.” He celebrates Ramadan at the WH. And then, refuses to issue the customary (written by an aide) presidential statement recognizing the Feast of the Resurrection: Easter Sunday.

    PS: Obama hates you and me, and Barack isn’t an iota smarter than the ignorant louses that adore him. I know: I’m a racist.

Misplaced Tears Over Outsourcing

Tuesday, July 12, AD 2011

An acquaintance linked to this article about outsourced call centers in India, and since that’s a topic I know a certain amount about from a while back, I had to look despite the fact it’s at Mother Jones — not exactly one of my usual sources of news.

In facts, the article pretty well reflects the way things are, from what I know of the industry (more of that in a bit), but the editorial angle of the piece is so at odds, at times, with its content that the contrast become dizzying (unless you behave as Mother Jones perhaps expects their readers to and simply agrees to be outraged by whatever the author chooses to be outraged by.) For instance, read this section:

Every month, thousands of Indians leave their Himalayan tribes and coastal fishing towns to seek work in business process outsourcing, which includes customer service, sales, and anything else foreign corporations hire Indians to do. The competition is fierce. No one keeps a reliable count, but each year there are possibly millions of applicants vying for BPO positions. A good many of them are bright recent college grads, but their knowledge of econometrics and Soviet history won’t help them in interviews. Instead, they pore over flashcards and accent tapes, intoning the shibboleths of English pronunciation—”wherever” and “pleasure” and “socialization”—that recruiters use to distinguish the employable candidates from those still suffering from MTI, or “mother tongue influence.”

In the end, most of the applicants will fail and return home deeper in debt. The lucky ones will secure Spartan lodgings and spend their nights (thanks to time differences) in air-conditioned white-collar sweatshops. They will earn as much as 20,000 rupees per month—around $2 per hour, or $5,000 per year if they last that long, which most will not.

Is there any greater cruelty than capitalism? Aren’t you shocked by what companies are forcing these Indians to do? Why do they put up with this abuse. Oh wait, the next sentence says:

In a country where per-capita income is about $900 per year, a BPO salary qualifies as middle-class.

Maybe this explains why people flock in from all over the country to these business hubs in order to try for one of these graveyard shift “sweatshop” jobs: Instead of appearing in picturesque native garb while working outside in “Himalayan tribes and coastal fishing towns” they can slip on their business casual clothes, head to an air conditioned office, and make 5.5x the per capital wage of the country. This would be the equivalent of making $240,000/yr in the US.

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13 Responses to Misplaced Tears Over Outsourcing

  • Great article, Darwin. While I do appreciate that lost American jobs generate real hardships, the case for protectionism always seems to boil down to some embarrassing rationalization about why we really shouldn’t care about fellow human beings in genuine poverty — not the ersatz US version.

  • The USA is Bankrupt(15 Trillion dollar debt fast aproaching) as are many large cities. Sending USA jobs be they industrial or internet type jobs over seas is economic Suicide. Destroy the USA middle class and a European meltdown ecomony wise is imevitable in the uSa cities and federal government.. We were told that Free trade would end indusrrial jobs but create high tech-internet jobs. Free trade -outsourcing was supposed to eliminate illegal immigration from third world countries. We had 3-4 million lillegal aliens given amnesty by the Reagan administration. Now there are 12-20 million illegal aliens here. Outsourcing is Treason which is why Red China gave money to Reagan and Clinton so much money after both left office and sent USA jobs out to Red China one of the most anti Christian, Bhuddist, Muslim and Vallagong persecution police states in the world.USA companies should be penalized not rewarded for shafting the USA middle class by outsourcing to India , Red China, Mexico etc..This is why cities like Waterbury Ct. USA has high property-small buisness taxes to make up for lost revenue when USA companies run to China , India etc..

  • Mike Petrik, same for the case for “buying local” which annoys me to no end. The same people who want to give every possible advantage to poor illegal immigrants in the US, would rather enrich a well-off upstate-NY farmer than a poor Latin American laborer. They retort that the money is actually going to rich multi-national corporations, which goes back to DC’s point. Would they rather the evil corporations not provide the jobs?

  • Forgive me for pointing it out but the suggestion that we have more responsibility to employ the desperately poor in India than our fellow citizens is rubbish. The man losing his home in Altoona, PA is every bit as entitled to my support as any refugee family in Sudan and there is absolutely nothing wrong – morally or rationally – with buying from my countrymen rather than from abroad.

  • Forgive me for pointing it out but the suggestion that we have more responsibility to employ the desperately poor in India than our fellow citizens is rubbish. The man losing his home in Altoona, PA is every bit as entitled to my support as any refugee family in Sudan and there is absolutely nothing wrong – morally or rationally – with buying from my countrymen rather than from abroad.

    I wouldn’t say that there’s anything wrong with buying from other Americans rather from abroad, I think what’s being objected to is that it’s wrong to buy from abroad rather than Americans because of some idea that Americans are fundamentally more entitled to be supported by our purchases than foreigners.

    I think two others things might be somewhat at play here, at least in some people’s minds:

    1) People often feel that the first step is the most important. As such, some might feel that it is a greater overall improvement for someone in India to land a job which makes him $5000/yr rather than subsisting at $900/yr than it is to help someone in the US who is getting $14,000/yr in public assistance to make $16,000. From a development point of view, there are different ways to look at this, but I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with someone who feels that we should want to see people in far less fortunate parts of the world brought up to the US standard before we worry about certain US income and inequality issues. (On the other hands, there’s a good argument that the most local problems are the ones we have the most ability to deal with.)

    2) While this is by no means a moral argument, I think people may feel a lot more kinship with hard working people in developing countries who are making it into their country’s middle class by working for international firms than they do with many economically disadvantaged people — they may feel that they are more deserving poor. For instance, the call center experience that I had had which led to my being given this auditing job was managing a group of outbound fundraising callers at a call center in Wellsburg, West Virginia while I was in college. Potential hires at that American call center had a high school degree or were drop outs and many had trouble reading well enough to get through the three page script (pitch plus rebuttals). We had routine problems with drug abuse and absenteeism, and a lot of the workers there had kids out of wedlock and blew a lot of their salaries of drugs and/or alcohol. By comparison the Indian call center workers that I dealt with (making $3/hr compared to the US workers making $9/hr) were college educated and incredibly hard and conscientious workers. Rightly or wrongly, I very much tended to feel that they “deserved” success a lot more than many of the American call center workers that I’d dealt with, so I didn’t tend to feel bad about the fact that their jobs were over there rather than over here. This certainly isn’t to say that people in the US who are unemployed deserve it — some good friends who are hard workers have been chronically unemployed or underemployed over the last few years — but I do think it’s often the case for those who have dealt with the folks who are making a few dollars an hour overseas doing “outsourced” jobs that it often seems like those people are among the “deserving poor” while some in the US seem less so.

  • Excellent, Darwin.

  • I understand the frustration that many feel about this topic, but the reality is that a country must transition jobs quickly in such a competitive world, or face the reality of being on the side line. If American companies don’t take advantage of the less expensive labor now available in other countries, non-American companies will and there will be no American jobs at all, because the companies will cease to exist from not being competitive enough to survive. Unfortunately that leaves those who can not transition job fields easily somewhat in the lurch, but that is the reality of a shift to a global economy. It is best to embrace it rather than fight it, it is now the norm.

    Great article about the actual benefits, which is largely ignored when people focus on the negative results of overseas jobs.

  • great article and awesome title…yeah these all facts are very true…Outsourcing has become the mantra of success for professionals throughout the world. Over the past few years, the business and corporate sector has undergone drastic change. This change is largely due to the expansion and growth of freelance services. The mighty impact of freelancing has forced companies of all sizes and shapes to outsource their services to offshore countries.

  • To expand some on DC’s points,

    1. It’s hard for me to build up a desire to aid those who aren’t that much worse off than I am.

    2. I don’t feel a strong sense of kinship with anyone outside my social circles. Because of the diversity of America, I may have more in common with a foreigner than a random American.

    I don’t think it’s immoral or irrational to prefer those around you but I hate the self-congratulating that the anti-free-trade “buy local” types engage in as if they made the morally superior choice.

  • I appreciate the clarification.

    There is a disconnect between the perceived and actual benefits of global trade though.

    For all of it’s cost savings to the consumer, goods that cost less are often not cheeper since they may be of poorer quality and their mass-production by a remote producer makes redress inconvenient. (The remoteness of production breaks the feedback from consumers that drives innovation and quality.). So too, the lax environmental controls oversees surely have a generalized but not cost captured impact on all of us. (While Pennsylvania streams may be cleaner for the movement of steel production to China, the non-existent regulations there destroy our air as much as theirs.)

    From a justice point of view, buying products made by children, that destroy rain forests, that enrich oppressive regimes, and that encourage the abuse of the poor by global companies with no more interest in local people’s than the use of their land and labor is, at best, morally neutral and, under the right circumstances, sinful.

    Buying local modifies the calculus in the consumer’s favor.

  • For all of it’s cost savings to the consumer, goods that cost less are often not cheeper since they may be of poorer quality and their mass-production by a remote producer makes redress inconvenient. (The remoteness of production breaks the feedback from consumers that drives innovation and quality.)

    I think this is a valid point, and one that people do well to keep in mind. At the same time, sometimes cheap is all that will do for those who simply don’t have much money. In a lot of cases, people don’t have a choice between buying a cheap product and buying an expensive one — they have a choice between buying a cheap version or not affording anything. As such, the benefits of cheap overseas labor are particularly noticeable for the less-well-off. (Whereas those with money could afford to buy things either way, and often end up buying products made by higher-paid American or European workers anyway for reasons of quality.)

    From a justice point of view, buying products made by children, that destroy rain forests, that enrich oppressive regimes, and that encourage the abuse of the poor by global companies with no more interest in local people’s than the use of their land and labor is, at best, morally neutral and, under the right circumstances, sinful.

    However, not every foreign worker is a enslaved child being beaten by secret police with staves cut from the rain forest while pollution billows across the landscape — sometimes they’re just hard working people who look different from you and me who want jobs so they can provide for their families.

    It is wrong to assume that conditions are always great in overseas work, and that our purchasing dollars never go to prop up abuse and corruption, and to the extent possible we should seek to combat that wherever possible. At the same time, I find it disheartening when the response people have to this is a sort of righteous nativism where it is insisted that since we don’t know that every person in Indonesia or Vietnam is treated well, we should refuse to have anything to do with them.

  • That is fair DC.

    The sinfulness turns, at least in meaningful part, on the knowledge one has of the circumstances. Buying stock in a company that one knows to be abusive must be sinful. Buying into a market account that holds such stock is certainly less so.

    Nativism isn’t always a bad reflex though. Natural concern for the welfare of those that one is directly connected to by geography has a certain self-preservation to it that is surely not morally questionable. It seems to me that buying gas from the convenience store that employs people in my town is preferable to buying gas from the Turnpike rest stop fifty miles away. Buying chairs made in my county is better than buying cheaper chairs at Wallmart if I can afford it. Buying lumber cut from US forests is better than buying lumber cut abroad too.

    As the circles get wider, my concern for and responsibility to diminishes. That is the practical reality and there is undeniably an unsavory aspect to it when one applies Christian principles of brotherhood and neighborliness. Like it or not though, it is natural to want to interact more with and aid more readily those whose health and welfare directly affect our own.

  • I have not read the article, as it appears to be the usual 2c but I can tell you as an Indian, that the image of thousands embarking on a trek from the Himalayas to the Gangetic plain in the manner of Boers looking for the promised land is absurd. Most of these jobs are located in South India, in Bangalore and Madras where they have an advantage in that the locals have a facility in English. Do not be fooled by the pathos, the field is as cutthroat as any in India. Rampant globalisation as practised by the multinationals and their cronies benefits only a few, as the elements of the hoi polloi who are recovering from the drug of consumerism have understood for some time now.

Whatever Happened to Usury?

Tuesday, July 12, AD 2011

While the subject of usury used to be a hot topic in moral theology, the Church has not had much to say on the subject over the last couple hundred years. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Interest ably sums up the current situation:

In our day, she [that is, the Church] permits the general practice of lending at interest, that is to say, she authorizes the impost, without one’s having to enquire if, on lending his money, he has suffered a loss or deprived himself of a gain, provided he demand a moderate interest for the money he lends. This demand is never unjust. Charity alone, not justice, can oblige anyone to make a gratuitous loan (see the replies of the Penitentiary and of the Holy Office since 1830) . . . . In practice, however, as even the answer of the Sacred Penitentiary shows (18 April, 1889), the best course is to conform to the usages established amongst men, precisely as one does with regard to other prices.

Periodically, however, someone will suggest that the Church’s teaching on usury needs to be revitalized.

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59 Responses to Whatever Happened to Usury?

  • “The market will weed out excessively high interest charges…”

    Only, it doesn’t.

    Credit card companies are doing tremendous damage to individuals and families through their usurious practices. The interest rates, already high, go up as the ability to pay goes down. The instruments themselves are pushed on those least able to manage them and, should calamity befall the card-holder, they will mercilessly scalp him or her.

    I’m usually a big proponent of market-force control but I think you are WAY off base here. There simply is no justification for claiming moral freedom to extend credit to those who are not credit-worthy and then jack up the interest rates as they get farther and farther into debt.

  • Usury? Still alive and well at your local bank or anywhere on Wall Street. 30% on some credit cards. But hey you can get 2% interest on your CD. As Gordon Gekko said, “Greed is good.”

  • The problem with freedom in markets as in freedom in anything else is that some people use it badly. Credit card companies engage in predatory lending practices, using data analytics and fine print to devise profitable traps for the unwary. And there will always be a segment of the population who, whether through ignorance, irresponsibility, bad luck, or a combination of all three fall into these traps. I think legal restrictions are necessary because it simply isn’t true in practice that the market will weed out excessively high interest charges, if by ‘excessive’ we use a common-sense conception of fairness rather than insisting that ‘fairness’ and ‘what happens in markets’ are everywhere and always the same. I think it’s fine to debate the tradeoffs of freedom (access to credit) v. protection (banning certain fees, payment structures, etc.) in individual cases; but I don’t think it makes sense to say that all legal restrictions on credit arrangements are unnecessary for the common good (if that is what you are saying).

  • The price one pays for obtaining an unsecured loan Joe. I have seen “pay day” loan places that have annual interest rates that work out to 469%. I usually encounter them as I am preparing bankruptcy petitions for individuals. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed, my bankruptcy clients usually are deluged with credit card apps because they now have a good debt to income ratio and the companies know they can’t do a chapter 7 for eight years.

    One secret of credit card debt that most people are generally not aware of, is that outside of major urban areas, and often not there, credit card companies usually will not provide a witness to prove up their claim at the time of trial. This will lead to a motion to dismiss without prejudice. The debt is still there, but the credit card company has no judgment and therefore cannot garnish wages, place liens on real estate or bring the debtor before a court on a citation to discover assets to compel seizure of assets to pay the debt or the entry of a monthly payment order. Most credit card defendants could successfully fight a credit card lawsuit if they simply show up in court, and deny the claim, (they usually have no way of knowing if the credit card company has computed the amount they owe correctly) and request a bench trial. However, most of them do not show up and the credit card companies obtain judgments by default.

  • I think unsecured lending provides a valuable service for people who have a sudden emergency, a transmission goes for example, and lack the funds to meet the emergency. Additional regulation simply makes this type of lending unavailable to more people. To those completely over their head in unpayable debt, bankruptcy is an option that is far more painless than most people realize. To those who can manage a lump sum payment of 20-25 percent, most credit card companies will settle for that after a debt is not paid on for six to twelve months, although the debtor will pay income tax on the amount of the debt forgiven.

    Most people are able to handle the credit given to them, and to make broad policies based on the minority who cannot would be a mistake.

  • Most people are able to handle the credit given to them, and to make broad policies based on the minority who cannot would be a mistake.

    I suppose I’m conflicted on this. I’ve heard of credit card companies acting outrageously in certain cases, raising interest rates 10-20% on balances after one missed payment for borrowers who have outstanding credit. It seems to me that there is an information asymmetry between consumers and credit card companies regarding the structure of these debt payments. It would not upset me to see some of these practices proscribed in a world where we had intelligent legislatures, rather than people with no background in finance/economics responding to interest group pressures drafting the laws. I think that, in theory, it would be possible to craft credit restrictions that best served the common good; in practice, I think they are unlikely to be correctly identified by the political process, and that legislatures should be very cautious.

  • The type of debt that draws my ire John Henry is student loan debt. Here we have vast sums being lent to young, inexperienced people and every cent of it is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. If a default occurs, the collection charges tacked on are obscene. There are programs that limit monthly payments for debtors in distress, but the loans loom over them for decades, effectively destroying their credit, with no way of getting out from under other than repayment. This is an area that needs drastic reform, as does the entire higher education “industry” in my opinion. If my wife and I were unable to pay for our son’s college, he would be incurring loans of around 15 k a year. His law school loans would probably tally at least 30 K a year. Sending young people out into the world with that type of debt on their back, from which there is little relief except payment over decades, is madness as a social policy.

  • Don, are you saying that a judgment is not enforceable on unsecured debt? That a credit cannot garnish, place a lien or otherwise collect in the event the court grants a judgment against the debtor? As for bankruptcy, having been there and done that (more than 20 years ago), i can state unequivocally that it is not the “easy way out.” First there were the lawyer fees, then the court approvals, then the worst: the stigma that follows. You can’t get credit for years. That black mark stays for a long time on your credit rating.

    Having fought it out with debt collectors and having agreed to a court-approved stipulated settlement, I now question the wisdom of paying anything back because of the outrageous interest rates and junk fees that have since accumulated, along with the fuzzy math that creditors use to figure what a debtor owes.

    So, my question is: What perils do I risk by simply suspending payments and letting them get a judgment, as they threatened to do in the first place? If the judgment cannot be enforcement, other than the “stain” on my already blotted credit history, what inducement exists for me to pay the debts off.

  • “Don, are you saying that a judgment is not enforceable on unsecured debt?”

    First they have to get the judgment Joe. Most credit card companies simply will not provide a witness to prove up their case at the time of trial.

    “First there were the lawyer fees, then the court approvals, then the worst: the stigma that follows.”

    Lawyer fees in my area Joe average about $1200.00 for a Chapter 7, which includes the filing fee of $299.00. Most of my clients have no difficulty obtaining credit as long as they are employed and most of their pre-bankruptcy debt is being wiped out in bankruptcy. Actually their problem not infrequently is too much credit being granted to them.

    “What perils do I risk by simply suspending payments and letting them get a judgment, as they threatened to do in the first place?”

    A debtor should always make a creditor prove up their case at trial. Often times they can’t. Social security is not subject to garnishment even if a judgment is obtained. A judgment would allow a lien to be placed against any real estate owned by a debtor.

  • I of course do not give legal advice over the internet Joe, since there are too many variables depending upon factual circumstances, and laws vary from state to state. My observations are general in nature and I am not telling anyone reading my comments to take any particular action based upon them. As always, the best course of action for anyone with a legal question is to consult an attorney in their area, preferably one who does not charge for an initial consulation.

  • Blackadder,

    I think Brandon’s focus was not so much regulatory (given that he admitted that most legal lending in this day and age was at least justifiable under tradition Catholic understandings of usery) but moral — along the line of, “If you are a lender, what considerations should you be taking into account in not over-charging interest.”

    Overall, I take your point that the market provides a reasonably good mechanism for determining interest rates that are fair, since given time and information there you should be able to get to an interest rate which is pretty close to the lenders cost of servicing the type of borrowing you are. That said, one could imagine situations where the market would allow a lender to charge more interest than is “fair”, perhaps based on some sort of market distortion or information asymmetry, and it seems to me that in that sort of situation the moral stricture would kick in. (Example: If I am a lender and for some reason know that a particular person is a good risk — as in, unlikely to default — yet also know that he is going to have a hard time proving that to the other lenders available to him, it would be wrong of me to take advantage of my information asymmetry to charge him an excessive rate of interest given what I know but other people don’t.)

    Of course, the ironic side not in this regard is that there will be the most opportunity for usury in the least free market situations — because that is where it is more likely that people won’t be able to find other alternatives to an unfair rate.

    I suppose there’s also the question, which market theory doesn’t deal with: Are there situations where from a moral point of view one should simply refuse to give a loan rather than offering one at an appropriate rate, because the borrower is such a high risk that and in so much trouble already that a fair rate would be ruinous.

    It seems to me that at the level of regulation, this is probably a bad idea because often people will try to secure loans even when this would be ruinous to them, and if you make it so they can’t do it legally they may turn to an illegal source which would be far worse. However, at a personal level I could see it as being a good idea in certain situations for a lender to encourage someone to look at options other than another loan rather than just making a loan at the appropriate rate.

  • I understand, Don, and thank you for your general advice. State laws governing lending practices vary for one thing. In Wisconsin, where I live, you MUST get individual creditor OK every time you change a payment under a Debt Management Plan. I had a DMP, under which I kept 4 creditors at bay at lower interest rates. Then I ran into further financial problems exacerbated by unexpected medical bills and was forced to seek lower monthly payments under the DMP. Long story short: Because the DMP was managed by a third party out of state and the necessary approvals from each creditor took more than 30 days to arrange, each one declared the DMP null and void and demanded that I adhere to the original terms. So instead of 9% interest, I was back to 29.9.

    For weeks I wrote letters, made phone calls to ask forebearance, etc., and never got anywhere so I said screw it, sue me. Which 2 of them did. So I go to court to answer and the lawyers in each instance separately get on on the horn from another location with a court-appointed mediator and we work out a stipulated settlement to avoid judgments. Me, being the honest chump that I am, I agree to pay most of the debt back and am warned that if I fail to keep up payments, then judgments will be entered. And since I don’t want to go back to court and face a judge who I am certain will side with the creditors, I figure I better pay. But if I don’t and they get judgments, what’s the worst that could happen? I’m on Social Security only, and my wife and I previously had separated our finances, community property laws notwithstanding (they can be overwritten by executing a separate legal agreement). So they can’t get a lien on her house since I don’t own it.

    It still galls me that the creditors “won” but I am having second thoughts about the stipulated settlementbecause I’ve gone many extra miles and they haven’t. I mean, if Chase is out $1,200 because of me, will they suffer? Other than my conscience, what obliges me to keep making payments?

  • John Henry,

    I suppose I’m conflicted on this. I’ve heard of credit card companies acting outrageously in certain cases, raising interest rates 10-20% on balances after one missed payment for borrowers who have outstanding credit. It seems to me that there is an information asymmetry between consumers and credit card companies regarding the structure of these debt payments.

    Though the flip side is that there’s an information asymmetry between the credit card companies and the consumers too, which the consumers don’t necessarily want to solve. For instance, how many people would want to call up their credit card companies and say, “Hey, just so you know, I’m thinking of getting divorced and so my wife and I are both running up consumer debt right now in hopes of pushing it off on the other in the settlement,” or “Just wanted to let you know there’s a lot of talk about layoffs right now at work.”

    A lot of the more frustrating things that credit card companies do are an attempt to get more money out of people who start showing danger signs before it hits the point where it’s too late and they take a loss. I agree with not wanting things to be too chaotic, so it seems like there’s a balance to be struck, but most of the time if their options are cut, they just charge everyone more to spread the risk and deny credit to the people who are most marginal — which sends them to much more unsavory places like payday loan sharks.

  • Joe,

    2% on a CD?!! 😯 Where? Sign me up!

  • Nick, I rounded. 😛

  • I think we are letting credit card companies off the hook too easily. Case in point:

    My wife pointed out that our Amex was at 27%. We hadn’t missed a payment and my wife pays the bills. She just hadn’t noticed it had gone up from 6% to 27 % on $3000 in debt with a limit of $8000.

    We are hardly a credit risk.

    I called when making a cup of tea. It was very hard to get hold of someone who could answer my questions. All I wanted to know is what had changed to warrant the interest rate increase. Each level kept saying ths same thing “we periodically reasses the interest charges…” and bucked the question as to who made that assessment to some other department.

    After 15 minutes of irritation, I got hold of a supervisor in the department supposedly in charge of such assessements and, when I got the same “periodically reassess” answer, I told him to close the account, cancel the card, and that I would send them a check for the full amount that day.

    He tried to talk me out of it but I insisted and hung up.

    I carried my tea to the living room and in the 20 feet of travel, the phone rang. A different Amex representative was on the phone, asking me “what can we do to get you back as a customer. You’ve been a good customer for so many years…” (Apparently not good enough to be treated fairly though.) I told her that I couldn’t think of anything that would change my mind and she offered to reopen the account with a 3% interest rate.

    15 feet. 24% interest rate change. That’s all that change.

    I’m sorry Don. I don’t think there is any way to dress up these usurious charlatans as other than a despicable, loathesome blight on the economic scene. They differ from their Pay-day Loan cousins only in the cost of their clothes. Underneath, they thrive on taking advantage of human misery and that, my friend, is the very definition of immoral.

  • “I’m sorry Don. I don’t think there is any way to dress up these usurious charlatans as other than a despicable, loathesome blight on the economic scene. They differ from their Pay-day Loan cousins only in the cost of their clothes. Underneath, they thrive on taking advantage of human misery and that, my friend, is the very definition of immoral.”

    No, they differ vastly in the amount of per annum interest they charge, and in the fact that their loans are completely unsecured. Often pay day loans get titles to vehicles to secure the debts and voluntary wage assignments to allow garnishment of wages without judgments. Credit is a product like anything else. If you don’t like the product on offer, you go somewhere else. Most local banks will give unsecured loans to people with good credit on better terms than most credit cards. However, they will also be more aggressive in their collection efforts if the loan goes South than most credit card companies. As for taking advantage of human misery, if unsecured loans were not available to most people, I do believe that the total amount of human misery would greatly increase as people would not have the funds to meet emergencies.

  • It’s not so much that I want to defend the behavior of credit card companies — which is often incredibly frustrating and at times somewhere between predatory and incompetent — but at the same time, once one gets a card, they basically agree to lend us large amounts of money, at our convenience, without asking us further questions. That’s a pretty amazing level of convenience by historical standards.

    And if we don’t want to deal with their games — a simple approach is simply not to take their money. (If we feel we can’t forgo this, then it would seem that at a minimum they’re better than the alternatives.)

  • I’m certainly out of my league on this topic (like so many others; but, that’s why I read this blog: to learn).

    I tend to come down on the “interest is usurious” side, but not too strongly. But, I think that this is a symptom of an economy that is controlled by corporations that are no longer tied to a location, those that are so big that they can afford to make a few customers mad.

    I understand economies of scale, and how larger corporations can result in greater efficiencies. But, they become impersonal. And, that’s not better.

  • Bank: An institution willing to lend money to people who don’t need it.

  • “I’ve heard of credit card companies acting outrageously in certain cases, raising interest rates 10-20% on balances after one missed payment for borrowers who have outstanding credit.”

    That happened when I moved. Excellent credit. In the move forgot to let the company know. When the bill came and when I finally got to it it was late. Got a notice that they were increasing my interest rate. Called and cancelled the card. Done.

  • But if you accept this, then one needn’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not particular particular interest charges are just. The market will weed out excessively high interest charges.

    I actually very much agree with this, on three conditions: that there is relatively little coercion, that there is relatively little fraud, and that we aren’t operating under emergency conditions. It won’t be true of a Mafia-dominated lending market, nor will it be true of a market in which external factors are causing borrowers to go into desperate panic, but it will be true if one has in place a high-trust lending system operating under standards that make for calm and open negotiations for loans. Whether a given case of lending is a matter of just exchange depends a great deal more on what happens during the negotiation than on the particular numbers decided; and, in fact, the interest rates in banks founded by St. Bernardino and his associates would have been well above anything a bank could charge today, because the risk was so much greater. The importance of negotiation doesn’t really come out in the extrinsic titles post, but that’s because it was primarily trying to show the kinds of interest that moral theologians had argued at length that a non-usurer could still charge; the post also uses relatively uncontroversial examples, which by definition are fairly conservative in character, whereas negotiation would at times get into much more complicated and controversial territory (hence the need for serious negotiation). The moral theologians who did the work on the theology of usury had as their main targets three groups of lenders: (1) people who acted as if lending itself, rather than the negotiation over the loan, gave them the right to interest; (2) people who failed to negotiate honestly, either coercing the borrower or hiding the interest that they were actually going to be charging under rhetorical tricks; and (3) people who in lending made little or no provision for honest borrowers who through no fault of their own might be completely bankrupted (or, in Renaissance times, worse than bankrupted) if the loan went south. If some prior thought is taken to preventing these three problems, negotiation takes care of almost everything else.

    It’s important to understand, however, (1) that interest rate is not the only form of interest in the sense used in moral theology (any fees charged are also considered, and notoriously this is a place where borrowers sometimes get tripped up); and (2) that markets work statistically, but ethics does not. To say that the market will weed out excessively high interest (whether rates or otherwise) is not the same as saying that there will be no excessively high interest, only that lenders will not be able , provided sufficient information is available, to get away with it consistently in the long run. But moral theology has to consider what standards should be upheld in each individual contract, regardless of what statistical fluctuations the market might be going through at the moment.

  • I don’t dispute that the expansion of credit has been generally good for commerce and that, by extension, that the physical human condition is generally improved thereby. I generally favor free market controls and tend to be skeptical of even well-intentioned government interference. However, it is too easy an answer to say that the consumer can take it or leave it. (Forgive me for paraphrasing. If this is not what is being said, please clarify.)

    There are two separate questions on the table: 1) what government controls, if any, should be applied to credit and 2) should the Church stake out a more restrictive ground for moral culpability.

    I believe that the knowing lending to those that one expects to have trouble repaying is fundamentally wrong unless doing so is providing for basic human needs and, then, it could only be moral if one was charging an interest rate that merely protects one’s interest in the transaction.

    Since credit card companies – and mortgage companies for that matter – have more access to information than anyone else, they cannot claim ignorance as to a particular borrower’s condition. It is, therefore, right and proper that they take a back seat in bankruptcy proceedings. Frankly, if they did better due-dilligence, they wouldn’t take such a beating in court.

    As a legal matter though, I don’t think it is right for credit card companies to engage in predatory lending, impoverishing millions with debt that can only be resolved through bankruptcy. Even if it is as easy on the pocket-book as you make it out to be, bankruptcy is perceived by many to be an admission of failure as a human being that many persons of character are unwilling to embrace.

    I have known many who have suffered for decades to satisfy their obligations rather than file for bankruptcy. I have known others who filed for bankruptcy but were shattered by the experience – suffering every bit as much within as those who struggled to pay.

    Which brings me to the moral.

    It simply is not right to financially torture those who have gotten themselves in a bind. It is kicking a man when he is down. it is letting a man drown while we watch from the bridge. It just isn’t right and, therefore, the Church should speak loudly.

  • Ms. Elizabeth Warren will save us when she takes over the Federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Beginning this month, large ($10 billion-plus) mortgage originators, banks, etc. will be confronted with the Bureau, which will virtuously clear products for families and push markets in the right direction. Banks have been pounding on working class Americans. Thank you, Dodd/Frank.

    Finance 101: high yield, high risk. Many years ago, I analyzed regional “credit card” banks. They did not earn an appreciably higher return on assets or equity (ROA/ROE). Loan loss expenses and overhead dissipated nearly all the excess (over other consumer loan rates) interest revenues. I thought the business model was marginal, even at the high rates. And, many of the credit card banks were, relative to the high risk nature of the business, under-performers. In fact, one I followed failed at a time when no banks were failing. This go-around, I am mildly surprised credit card losses have not been more severe.

  • I’ll add my voice to the chorus of people pointing out that while high interest rates aren’t necessarily immoral, predatory lending (taking advantage of information asymmetry) is. Some of these mortgage contracts should be considered voidable for unconscionability.

  • G-Veg
    I suspect that the quietness of the Church is due to the myriad of modern factors about which even Rome is confused. The ordinary person can not only owe incredible interest after a engine repair credit card charge; but another ordinary person can take a cash advance from a similar card and buy Starbuck’s stock or Tiffany or Coach and come out way ahead in six months and after paying back the cash advance. I think Catholicism has to establish think tanks for complex subjects like modern finance…rather than waiting for a Catholic professor from Georgetown or from some other Catholic University to comment. I think Rome has to organize think tanks which she could easily fund by e.g. requiring a
    special donation from each Catholic during one year only. Imagine if worldwide the result was an average two dollars from each Catholic. That’s over 2 billion dollars which would fund Catholic think tanks in perpetuity. Presume the US would do it’s usual 33% to the fund, it’s per capita donation would make up for the severely poor.
    Much more organization and use of think tanks

  • “And there will always be a segment of the population who, whether through ignorance, irresponsibility, bad luck, or a combination of all three fall into these traps.”

    J.H. You forgot one – it is called “choice”. Most people make choices in their lives which have consequences i.e. go on vacation instead of saving, etc. If, as God intended, we are to have “free will” then there will be consequences to our choices.

  • The price of money will always be partly a function of the risk perceived by the lender. In other words credit card companies and so-called predatory lenders rely on highly profitable loans to offset a high rate of substantial losses. I seem to recall studies done a few years back that concluded that these types of lenders were no more profitable than more conventional lenders.
    That said, I do agree that taking undue advantage of information asymmetry can be immoral, and as Don points out this goes both ways.

  • CatholicLawyer,

    The reality is that the present system rewards those who make poor choices and are willing to steal and punishes those unfortunates who are too honest to do so.

    I see between three and five bankruptcy records a month. I obtain their records in relation to fraud investigations so it is an admittedly select group. My comments are NOT meant to suggest that those who have availed themselves of bankruptcy protection are doing anything wrong.

    In many of the filings I see, a pattern of fraud and theft is plainly evident. They come to the US, run up debts and purchases services that they have no intention of paying. Creditors win a few court cases against them and they go through bankruptcy. They discharge tens of thousands in debt and leave bankruptcy with their house and car and cash. They lie about their marital status, their residence, their assets, their work, and on and on and on…

    The point is that bankruptcy exists to give people a fresh start because there is a point of indebtedness where there is no way out. It was never meant to be used thus.

    If you are an honest man who makes a mistake or suffers a calamity, you shouldn’t be stripped of everything you have while trying to pay off your debts. It shouldn’t be true that bankruptcy is the preferable state to paying off one’s just debts and the predatory practices of lending institutions and credit companies shouldn’t be allowed to steal a man’s dignity through a thousand cuts to his wallet. God forbid you reach the point at which you can do nothing else but live week to week dealing with a pay-day loan scam that makes you poorer and poorer week by week.

    So… Yes. Of course there are consequences but I seriously doubt that Christ would have approved of the practice of impoverishing your neighbor because he was foolish enough to strike a poor bargain.

  • “They discharge tens of thousands in debt and leave bankruptcy with their house and car and cash. They lie about their marital status, their residence, their assets, their work, and on and on and on…”

    Exemptions vary from state to state. In Illinois debtors have a homestead exemption of $15,000.00 in their home and $2400.00 for a vehicle. The homestead exemption is $30,000.00 for a married couple where they both own a home and each spouse may claim a $2400.00 exemption in one vehicle.

    The vast majority of people going through bankruptcy lose none of their property due to the bankruptcy exemptions being adequate to cover the equity they have in property. I’d say that in the bankruptcies that I file, there might be one case out of eighty where there is any asset for the trustee to attempt to sell, and often that is a house where the debtor is eager for the trustee to sell the house so they can get paid the homestead exemption at the closing.

    Bankruptcy fraud is a criminal offense and occasionally the Department of Justice brings charges for it. However, the bankruptcy trustees do not have the manpower or the time to check on the validity of all the information on the bankruptcy petition, due to the vast number of them. At a typical meeting of creditors the trustee will often have 35-50 bankruptcy debtors to question and quite a few documents to review in regard to each case. Creditors of course can take part in the bankruptcy, engage in discovery and block bankruptcy discharges for fraud. I have represented creditors in such actions. However, in the vast majority of bankruptcy cases the creditors do not appear at the meetings of creditors, and no action is taken by a creditor in the bankruptcy, except to provide reaffirmation agreements where individuals reaffirm their mortgages, car debts and other debts secured by an interest in property. Part of the reason for this lackadaisical attitude on the part of creditors is economic, in that having an attorney review each bankruptcy filed and take appropriate action would be prohibitively expensive, and because creditors by and large do a very poor job of taking steps that can help protect their debts in bankruptcy due to poor internal procedures and acting fast enough after a debtor files bankruptcy.

  • G-Veg;

    I do not understand your point. Are credit card companies being taken advantaged of by borrowers or are they predatory? Both? Neither?

    I know that bankruptcies increase by 25% within a 30 mile radius of where a casino opens – choice pay rent or try to win big.

    Government interference in the market will not necessarily make it “more” fair. It will limit choice and options. To place the blame all on the credit card company is erroneous. In the end, having government intervene for the few limits the freedoms of the majority. Credit is only a tool if used properly.

    I advise clients not take out loans against possible settlements all the time because of the high interest rates. I have seen them ignore my advice and borrow for the poorest of reasons. Whose fault is it then that after competent advice (I am assuming I provide such advice) they refuse to listen and take out the loan anyway. Who am I to say “no”; because I think I am smarter/more educated/brighter so they must do it my way? It is their life.

    God forbid, you are making assumption about how I have had to live because where you think I am now.

    May God Bless Your Day

  • CL,
    I agree and would point out that even if we agree that it is morally wrong for a lender to extend credit at high interest rates “against possible settlements” when they know that the borrower has only the “poorest of reasons,” it is doubtful that lenders know the reasons, and criminalizing such conduct would only drive it underground resulting in even more onerous terms.

  • Why weep for creditors have many more options than debtors? Thanks to the IRS, write-offs are easy:

  • Joe,
    I do not understand your point. A write-off is simply a deduction of a loss that is analogous to an inclusion of income.

  • My point, Mike, is that the ability to write off bad debt mitigates if not totally eliminates losses for creditors.

  • Joe,
    You do not seem to understand basic tax or accounting. That is like saying businesses don’t care about expenses because they can write them off, which is like saying businesses don’t care about profits. Bad debt losses are business expenses that reduce or eliminate profits, which are the point of the business. In no way do bad debt deductions come close to eliminating the losses for creditors — elimination would occur only in a world with 100% tax rates.

  • I understand that, Mike, which is why I used the word “mitigate.” And a good CPA can find a way to fudge it.

  • Joe, I’m a tax lawyer and, no, a good CPA will not find a way to fudge it. I don’t know where you get that idea. There is no way to fudge it. To say write-offs are easy is silly. Yes, it is easy to deduct valid business expenses, just as it is easy to include all income — so what? That is the point of a net income tax — to compute profit and tax it. Do you think that companies with reduced or no profits are happy just because their tax is correspondingly reduced or eliminated? Right. Trust me, a CEO who reports to his board that the bad news is we made no money but the good news we is we therefore paid no tax will not be well-received. He will be viewed as an idiot.

  • Mike, I got that idea after working many years on Wall Street and journalism. Do I need to dredge up Enron and Arthur Andersen, WorldCom and numerous other examples of “creative accounting.” Do we need to revisit how the books are cooked by unsuitable revenue recognizion, inappropriate accruals and estimates of liabilities, excessive provisions and generous reserve accounting and intentional breaches of financial reporting requirements?

    I didn’t just fall of a turnip truck, Mike. One has to be either naive or blind to the egregious accounting crimes that are rife in the history of corporate America. If you want to believe that everyone adheres to the general principles of standard accounting practices, far be it from me to disabuse you of that notion. But I live in Realville.

  • Catholic Lawyer,

    I apologize for being obtuse. Let me be clear: there are two questions on the table, 1) what government controls, if any, should be applied to credit and 2) should the Church stake out a more restrictive ground for moral culpability.

    As to the first question, conscionability must be in question at some point in contracting debt. Surely this is shy of the freedom to increase interest rates on closed accounts, 50%+ interest rates, hidden fees and intentional acts to push debtors over their limits. The State has a duty to step in to avoid injustice. Admittedly, this can be a difficult course for government to chart but there must be limits and I don’t believe that the present allowances are just.

    Running parallel to this justice point is that there is a basic duty to avoid contracting debt that one has no reasonable ability to pay. Bankruptcy fraud is a serious problem and creditors have a right to protection but their failure to mitigate the ill effects weighs against them. Don notes that Trustees don’t protect the interests of creditors very well and that many creditors don’t take even minimal efforts to protect their interest. Joe Green notes, quite correctly by the way, that part of the calculus is that a creditor’s ability to mitigate the ill effects of their poor “choices” through write-offs feeds the problem.

    In the final analysis, creditors are being shafted but they seem to have accepted that situation so long as they can pass off those losses on others. Many of those “others” are those who can ill afford the business-savvy machinations of an MBNA or AMEX. Short on cash and barely making their ends meet, it is unfair for the card companies to pass off the costs of their bad business choices by increasing interests and otherwise enslaving the debtor. To be perfectly frank, I don’t care that the debtor in that position got their through bad choices, it is no more fair to make slaves of men who reached that condition through bad choices then those who reached that condition through calamity.

    There is a role for the State in this situation and, due to the political consequences of placing a limit on usurious interest, the State has abdicated its role.

    As to the second and, for the record, the context of the post itself, the Church should loudly proclaim that it is morally reprehensible to use economic control over lending to make slaves of men. Usury is wrong. It is as simple as that but the Church has masked the message beneath an ornate and complicated argument. The Church’s position may be properly articulated in the hallowed halls of academia but the common man needs clear, understandable guidance.

    Christ drove the money changers from the Temple, He didn’t argue them into submission or write a treaties on the matter. The Church should unequivocally state Her preference for the poor and smack down the convoluted argument that the greater good of a world’s economy justifies the destruction of those in the poorest of economic circumstances.

  • Well framed, CL. It would seem to me that lenders carefully factor in that the small number of deadbeats who cause paper losses represent merely the “cost of doing business” and more than offset by the enormous profits made on the vast majority who do not default.

  • Proverbs 22:7
    The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

  • Joe,
    What did you do on Wall Street?

  • Mike, worked five years at The Wall Street Journal as an editor and had a front row seat to all the shenanigans.

  • Jose Verde:

    Today’s problem (FDIC insurance losses since 2008 approaching $100 billion) is if/when more than 5% or 6% of a bank’s loans do not pay it’s pretty much “curtains.”

    Banking may be over-regulated, the margins low and there is too much competition not only from other banks but from unregulated finance companies and GSE’s.

    I pay 2.75% on my first mortgage, an adjustable rate loan I’ve been paying for 27 years, and 3.25%, prime, on my second. If the bank pays 0.1% on funds, the spread is just over 3% on the second. Then, there are servicing expenses, paying my taxes and insurance, and providing for the (hopefully) few deadbeats. There may just be enough to provide bank investors with about one-half the rate of return of non-bank equity investments.

    Actually, the IRS standard for taxable deduction of loan losses is stricter than the Federal bank regulators’ and GAAP. Plus, the lender, usually a bank, borrowed the money/deposits and paid interest, usually about 3%-age points below the interest rate charged on the loan, it loaned and did not collect. The bank (or FDIC in a failed situation) must repay the depositor and the bank “sucks wind” on the loan losses.

    I’ve been in this business for 34 years. I’ve been interviewed by j-men and women. They never got it right. Not even close.

    PS: I’m one of the suckers that paid their loans.

  • T. Shaw, everyone has a story, and it’s admirable to play by the rules. I have always tried to live up to my obligations, financial and otherwise, but sometimes things are beyond one’s control.

    Such as when I got a VA home loan back in the 70s after I got out of the Navy, sold the house five years later to a Realtor who rented it out and pocketed the money instead of paying the mortgage, which I foolishly thought he had assumed. Months went by, no notice from the bank about the arrearages; the bank wasn’t worried since the VA guaranteed the loan and the Realtor wasn’t worried because legally he was off the hook. The renters skipped, the house went into foreclosure and when the bank was made whole by the VA, guess who the VA came after. Me. Forced me into bankruptcy and ruined my life.

    So, in America, the big fish always eat the little fish. No one eats the big fish.

  • Ok, Joe, got it.
    But what do those shenanigans have to do with being able to deduct legitimate bad debt expenses?
    And what is so bad about factoring in expected expenses in one’s business model? Who would not do that?
    I continue to be genuinely mystified at your point.

  • Sorry, Joe. I neglected to read your last post. Big fish, little fish. Got it. You are a journalist.

  • And Joe, since VA loans were assumable in that era, why didn’t you make sure that your buyer assumed the loan? At the closing your loan should have been paid off or assumed. You sold the house subject to your mortgage which you kept? Did your buyer pay anything? Sounds like he didn’t even need a loan. Who closed your loan? Were you paying attention at all?

  • Holy kicking a man when he’s down, Batman!

    The man opens up about a mistake that he characterizes as having ruined his life and you heap scorn on him?

    I advise writing this one down so that you don’t forget it when the first opportunity for Confession comes around.

  • Well I guess my last sentence could be taken that way except for the heaping part. If so, then I apologize. But it looks to me like he got taken by one crooked realtor and paid a heavy price for not hiring a lawyer to represent him. That is genuinely unfortunate, but I still do not understand the relevance of a lender’s so-called “easy” ability to deduct losses related to bad loans.

  • Mike, the VA loan at that time and perhaps still is always kept in the veteran’s name even though it was “assumed” by the Realtor. I didn’t read the fine print, didn’t have a lawyer and trusted the guy would pay off the mortgage. As for your other points, I happily concede that there are legitimate deductions for bad expenses, key word being “legitimate.” It would be off-topic to elaborate on “shenanigans.”

    As a postscript, I did ask Sen. McCain at the time for help in interceding with the VA but nothing came of it. The VA insisted the note was in my name despite the “assumption” clause that was supposed to be in there.

    I’m neither a lawyer or an accountant, but I am a lifelong skeptic, an occupational hazard I’m afraid.

  • Joe,

    Sorry for your loss. Only thing I ever got from the VA was a couple months tuition benefits. That showed me. My Uncle Tom (RIP) WWII vet (tanks North Africa, Sicily, Italy up to the Po Valley) refused to have anything to do with them.

    Sounds like a typical, untoward government program. And, our children/grandchildren will be destitute over such like.

    I can’t figure who’s worse bankers, congressmen, realtors, used car salesmen, or . . . . Hey, these guys make lawyers look good.

    Don’t forget, #!@& the vet.

  • Despite that bad experience, I got some decent care at VA hospitals over the years for which I’m grateful.

  • Today’s problem (FDIC insurance losses since 2008 approaching $100 billion) is if/when more than 5% or 6% of a bank’s loans do not pay it’s pretty much “curtains.”

    See the Federal Reserve data. Loan delinquencies suffered by commercial banks ca. 1991 and today are in that range, only a small minority of banks have had to be put in receivership.

  • Understood, Joe. A quick Google confirms that historically VA loans normally kept the vet on the hook even if assumed by a new buyer. This is a crazy rule that really undercuts the entire benefit of assumability, but was probably grounded in the predicate that ever increasing home prices allowed for little risk of loss to the VA (and therefore the vet). The process did change in 1988 to require bank approval with the advantage being that the approved assumption removed any risk to the vet. In your case even if after 1988 the real estate agent buyer obviously did not go through the approval process and therefore did not really assume the loan at all thereby burning you. Your skepticism is well-earned as a consequence. I always advise people to hire their own attorney for residential real estate closings, but no one ever takes my advice. For the most part it works out because the closing attorney representing the lender is almost always honest and competent. In your case, I’ll bet the realtor closed the loan himself (permitted on some states) even though he was also the purchaser, which allowed him to basically defraud you, but probably non-provable legally. Quite an outrage really.

  • When I lived in NY, Mike, it was customary to hire a lawyer in a real estate transaction. This deal took place in AZ and the Realtor handled the sale and it all seemed kosher. An arcane business indeed. A lesson learned too late and subsequent investigation showed many other vets were in the same boat as me, which may be why the law was tightened in 1988. However, moot now, and one must move on.


Banned in Chicago

Tuesday, July 12, AD 2011


Hattip to Allahpundit at Hotair.  Rebel Pundit went to the Printer Row’s Literature Festival in Chicago and asked festival goers which books they would like to ban.  To anyone who knows Chicago as well as I do, the results were predictable:

In June we attended the Printer’s Row Literature Festival in Chicago. City blocks were closed off for tents and booths full of all types of literature. We presented a board with a selection of well known book covers and asked visitors of the event if they could choose to ban any of the books on the board, which if any, they would in fact ban. They were allowed to choose any three of the eleven choices.

The authors of the books we offered to ban were Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, Ayn Rand, Michael Savage, Bill Clinton, Michael Moore, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama. While there were in fact less than two handfuls of individuals who did tell us they don’t think any books should be banned, unfortunately there were a shocking amount of guests at this book fair who were quite open to the idea, and in fact lined up quite excited for the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Participants overwhelming chose Sarah Palin who received 53 votes putting her at 36% overall, Glenn Beck at 23% and Ann Coulter at 22%. All of the other choices received a very minimal amount of votes, with the next most popular to ban being Adolf Hitler at 0.5%. Ironically, Michael Savage, who has been banned from entering Britain over things he often says, did not receive one vote to have his words banned in Chicago.

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2 Responses to Banned in Chicago

  • I found this nugget from Hot Air on this topic particularly distressing:

    A 2005 survey of high school kids found more than one in three thought the text of the amendment goes “too far” in protecting civil liberties, with only 83 percent saying that people should be allowed to express unpopular views. Another poll of adults conducted last year by the First Amendment Center found that 49 percent(!) think the amendment goes “too far,” a 10-point increase since 2001.

    Free speech for me, but not for thee.

  • Commies.. what else is new…

    I will vote for the person who the MSM hates the most, that is usually the best candidate. Right now thats Michelle Bachmann

The Conclusion of Harry Potter

Monday, July 11, AD 2011

*There may be a spoiler or two. Proceed with caution

This week marks the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II,” which marks the end of the movie franchise and, for intents and purposes, the cultural phenomenon as well (barring a sequel, of course). For members of my generation, especially among those who enjoy reading, this will probably be a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, the last movie looks like it will be an exciting conclusion; on the other hand, we have to say goodbye to the series that has been a large part of our growing up. Many of us waited at midnight in bookstores for the release, and then spent most of the the next morning reading it.

It’s undeniable that for many Harry Potter was important. The question is why it became so important and what inspired so many. There are other books that are far better written, and fantasy is a genre that usually lives on the periphery of popular culture.

I think Potter managed to grab attention because behind all the spells and magic was a little boy who never knew his parents. The opening book’s depiction of Harry returning night after night just for one glimpse of him with his parents struck many people, especially me. My own father died when I was four, so I understood why Harry went to the Mirror of Erised every night, and how throughout the series Harry would stop everything just to get a tiny scrap of what his parents were like, just he could get to know them a little better.

But this is enough to get people reading; but what kept them reading was a plot that contains many Christian themes. Although many Christians objected to the magic, Harry won not through finding the special spell or the magic weapon, but purely through selfless, sacrificial love. Although there are several instances where Christian ethics are not applied, on the whole Christians can find this work agreeable.

It’s not often that Christian themes are given such a showcase which enjoys such popularity. As the series concludes this week, let’s be thinking about how we can use Potter the way many already use Lord of the Rings: as a vehicle to introduce and inspire people to the Christian life.

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21 Responses to The Conclusion of Harry Potter

  • I think what really motivated the love for Harry Potter was the fact that Good and Evil were clearly defined. The villains of the series were always blood-thirsty savages (Voldemort, Belatrix, Fenrir, etc) while the heroes were always kind, gentle people (aside from the 3 central figures, Ginny, Neville, Remus, etc). There were very few blurred lines in this separation (Snape & Quirrell, for example).

    Plus, it’s kids beating up on adults, and what kid hasn’t dreamed of ‘winning’ a battle against their parents or teachers? Where else can we find a 17 year old boy who can defeat a seemingly invincible 60 year old.

  • Well said, Michael, and I agree with you on the Christian elements of the book. I would say that though the movies have been okay and I tend to watch them when they’re on (which is seemingly all the time on ABC Family), they never quite matched up to the books. So for me, the bittersweet moment was the day the final book was released. Still excited to watch the finale this weekend.

  • Kylekanos: I would agree with you, save for two examples. One is Snape, as you mentioned, but the other is Dumbledore. The picture of Dumbledore revealed in the last book is not a terribly flattering one; we see his manipulation. I think those two figures and the important role they play (as shown by Harry naming his children after them at the end) does add a significant element of murkiness.

    You may also make an argument about where the Malfoys fall at the end.

    However, on the whole the series had good guys and bad guys, and I think this lack of an anti-hero probably appealed to many.

  • While I’m a little too old to have grown up with the Harry Potter books, they came along at an interesting point for me. I started reading them right before my senior year of college in 2000. As an English major I’d just spent the previous three years reading some great literature and a lot of really messed up critical theory, absurdist theatre, and overly sexualized crappola that make up the modern academic “canon.” Harry Potter was a blessed break from all that. It was/is entertaining, easy to read, creative, and intellectually interesting.

  • Yeah, thanks Denton. Add a spoiler alert next time. Wanker.


  • I agree that the Harry Potter is an enjoyable read, mostly because it follows the classic “Hero’s Quest” but would not claim it is any way Christian even if it does contain Christian-like themes.

    Point of fact: the Pope thinks it distorts Christianity and may be dangerous because of the “subtle seductions”.

    “Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had even condemned the books, writing that their “subtle seductions, which act unnoticed … deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly.”

    “Remember, satan and his demons are very subtle. He’s not going to come to you as he truly is, but in a very appealing disguise. The person or persons he will acquaint you with will mix lies with the truth to confuse you and to lead you away from the Church and the Eucharist. And it will all seem so right and pleasant to the earthly side of you. He will slowly but surely lead you into deeper and deeper sin, just like the frog that gets boiled one degree at a time.”

    Pax vobiscum

  • Note first quote comes from different source than second quote. Sorry for any confusion.

  • I’ve heard that quote, but it’s in response to a letter, and doesn’t evenly remotely indicate that the Pope has ever read Harry Potter or is very familiar with it or even what exactly is objectionable about the books.

  • Would anyone agree with me that Dobby the House Elf was the most annoying fictional film character since Jar Jar Binks?

  • Ok, but you get smaller doses of Dobby than Jar Jar not to mention Dobby is supposed to a little weird. I would contend that Padme or really any character played by Natalie Portman is more annoying than Dobby.

  • Ah, if I were counting humans Michael I would agree with you regarding Portman. Hmmm, now that I think about it I didn’t hate her in Thor, which is her first performance I didn’t hate, although she was pretty annoying in Thor also. Of course her Natalie Portman Rap for Saturday Night Live gives her a special annoying status all by itself.

  • I didn’t find Dobby all that annoying in the books, and indeed, his part in the last book leads to one of the more affecting scenes in the series. The movie version was pretty annoying, though. It’s the voice.

    Though I will say, the whole Elf Liberation Front plot line in one of the middle books one was of the most stupid and annoying wastes of time in the entire series. Yeeesh. (Though overall, those middle books were the weaker ones, with the first being pretty good and the last ones being very much so.)

  • I agree with Darwin on Dobby, but not on the books. Azkaban and Goblet of Fire are the most enjoyable in the series, and to me the next two kind of tread water until Rowling gets to the end.

    Another problem with the movies is not just how much they leave out – it’s kind of understandable considering the length of the middle books – but that they really turned Hermione into nothing more than a worry wort. Well, she’s kind of that way in the books, but the movies really dim Ron and Hermione as characters.

  • I thought Hermione was ok in the movies; Ron was a waste thought. I found myself in 7.1 listening to the Horcrux Hermione bash Ron and thinking “you know, the Horcrux has a point here. Who would look at Ron in this?”

    I think the ELF plot line was supposed to be kinda silly as the characters go through that “I’m going to change everything” stage of life, but it did take up a bit too much space.

    As for annoying non-humans, I think an argument could be made for Mater in Cars 2 (way, way too much of Larry the Cable Guy). I agree with Darwin; Dobby is only annoying because of the voice. /

  • I read books 1-6, but not #7. I watched all the movies, including 7.1.

    I want to agree with Mrs. Zummo: the Potter series was an easy-to-read break from some other stuff I was reading.

    I also want to agree with Mr. Zummo about the entertainment of the books: I thought the books got better (even though longer) leading up to the fourth installment. Goblet of Fire was my favorite.

    At that point, it seems that Rowling decided that she had to get down to concluding the series, but was committed to wrapping it up in seven books. Consequently, for me, books 5 & 6 tended to be too complex and less fun.

    I was so put off by book 6 that I didn’t even read Deathly Hallows. I figured I’d just watch the movie to see how it concluded. Then, it was decided to make the book into two (!) movie.

    After bringing my daughter and friends to see 7.1, I was disappointed. But I kept hearing how it distorted the book. So – as I try to wrap up a much too long post – I have decided NOT to watch 7.2 until I’ve read the book.

    I don’t find anything anti-Christian in the books, and I didn’t have a problem with my young daughter (she’s now 15-yrs-old) reading them.

    As for Dobby: annoying in the movies; not so much in the books.

  • As much as I have enjoyed this series, two elements keep me from fully embracing it as consistent with Christianity:
    1) The portrayal of a world parallel to our own that has special, superior knowledge of the world but is completely secular with no mention of any sort of faith.
    2) The fact that Voldemort’s puppet is named “Pius.”
    Having said all this, there are much worse stories to which one can be exposed and negatively influenced by.

  • The distinction between good and evil is mostly on an emotional level. Ontologically, there is almost no distinction at all. Practically everything that characterizes the ‘dark side’ is done by the good guys. All the things that seem to be intrinsically evil are done by the good guys. Unforgivable curses, killing, hatred, etc. What is left?

  • You may also make an argument about where the Malfoys fall at the end.

    The besetting sin of the Malfoys is envy, a desire for status-climbing above all else, cozying up to the powerful, regardless of who the powerful happen to be. By “Half Blood Prince,” they are being carried off by the malevolence more than participating in it. I thought the repentance of Draco and Narcissa was convincing, but Lucius’ somewhat less so.

    As to the other topics–Order of the Phoenix is easily the toughest slog of the bunch. “Oh, great–another Quidditch match…” I thought she pulled herself together rather nicely after that.

    Dobby is nowhere near as obnoxious on the page as he is the screen. He’s rather likeable in the books. I remember the funny, but deeply scatological sketch Peter Jackson did for the MTV Movie Awards involving Smeagol arguing with Gollum. Smeagol protests that “Dobby the Elf likes me!” Gollum’s riposte is…funnier than a rubber crutch, but unprintable. But, yeah, it works given how irritating Dobby the Film Elf is.

  • The end of the Harry Potter movies….and high time.

    I will probably go to my grave wondering what anyone saw in these poorly-written books and the infantile movies made from them. It will take someone with a greater intellect than mine to figure out the success of such things. Hype certainly played a part but there is more to it than that I’m afraid. These films/books are the Cabbage Patch dolls of our time, and with all the silliness and ugliness.

    As for me, I’ll stick with both fine literature and fine films, neither of which one can commonly find after the 1960s.

  • As for me, I’ll stick with both fine literature and fine films, neither of which one can commonly find after the 1960s.

    Get off my lawn!!!!!!!!

Father Coughlin and the Great Depression

Monday, July 11, AD 2011

I recently finished Alan Brinkley’s Voices of Protest, which is a dual biography of Louisana politician Huey Long and radio firebrand Father Coughlin. Father Coughlin is known for being virulently anti-semitic, yet Brinkley takes pains to note that a focus on Jews only occurred towards the end of Coughlin’s career, long after he had ceased to be a major political figure. According to Brinkley, Coughlin is best understood as an heir to the midwestern populist tradition of William Jennings Bryan. And indeed there was quite a bit of overlap between the views advocated by Father Coughlin during the early 1930s and those of Bryan forty years earlier. The Principles of the National Union for Social Justice (Coughlin’s organization) supported the living wage, support for unions, a “conscription of wealth” in the event of war, and the nationalization of “banking, credit and currency, power, light, oil and natural gas and our God-given natural resources,”

Like Bryan, though, Coughlin’s main focus was on monetary policy.

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13 Responses to Father Coughlin and the Great Depression

  • Fr Coughlin’s economic policies were leftist. Jeffery Goldburg’s ” Liberal Fascism” in pages 137-145 shows that Coughlin’s economics were leftist and socialist. He constantly denounced capitalism in his talks and literature. he is wrongly considered ‘right-wing’ because he turned against FDR. But as Goldburg shows, he actually turned against FDR because Roosevelt wasn’t as left-wing as he was!

  • Interesting post.

    More broadly, I would be really interested to read a history of popular attitudes towards inflation. At the moment, popular opinion on the right seems to be against inflation, while on the left the desire to fiscal stimulus is so strong that monetary policy seems more or less ignored.

    If anything, it seems like opinions on monetary policy were much more passionately held in the past than now, with Bryan as Exhibit A in that respect, but I’m not really clear on what the tides of opinion were and how they tied to other ideological trends.

  • Black Adder,

    What’s your recommendation concerning Voices of Protest? Is it worth the time? Are there some new insights into either one, but Long especially?

  • Darwin,

    It is odd that monetary issues would get people riled up so much more in the past than today (the closest we have to a Bryan today would be Ron Paul, who of course comes down on the other side of the question). I wonder if this had to do with the fact that government was a lot smaller back then. Nowadays populist rage can be channeled into issues ranging from health care to union pensions, and so forth, whereas back then monetary policy was one of the few things the government had a major role in.


    I thought Voices of Protest was pretty good. It dragged on a bit at the end (after Long died and Coughlin marginalized himself) but was very informative.

  • Interesting fact in the history of gold: the UK went off the gold standard in 1931. Did It help? Not so much.

    “Many factors had conspired to create the Great Depression, . . . ”

    In A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz repeatedly named federal government policies as culprits in the Great Depression:

    · The Federal Reserve reduced the amount of credit outstanding, and therefore the stock of money, in 1931 and again in 1933; Monetary Policy.

    · Congress passed and President Hoover approved a major tax increase in June 1932; Fiscal Policy.

    · Rumors that President-elect Roosevelt would devalue the dollar (which he later did) caused the final banking panic; regulatory and Monetary Policy.

    · The national banking holiday declared by Roosevelt on March 6, 1933, undermined public confidence so greatly that 5,000 banks didn’t reopen after the holiday expired, and 2,000 closed permanently. Regulatory Policy

    In the 1930s, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused a collapse in global trade.

    Elsewhere (rightist claims) besides Friedman: A Perfect Storm of D.C. policy caused the Great Depression:

    In the 1930s, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused a collapse in global trade. Trade Policy.

    The Fed allowed the money supply to shrink by one-third. Monetary Policy – the gold standard was unchanged

    Herbert Hoover raised taxes. Fiscal Policy

    Government regulation in the 1920s prevented banks from branching, which caused more than 10,000 to fail in the 1930s. Regulatory Policy

    I believe the “cross of gold” was minor compared to the above causes. Gold did not shrink by one-third, but M1 did . . . On the contrary, bankers and business people thought gold dollars would be devalued and that was a cause of panic.

    Today we have uncertainty about: the next idiotic mass mistake will Bernanke and Geithner dream up; how high will be tax hikes; how much will national health care cost; how many thousands of new job killing regulations will be imposed; how high will fuel costs go because of the untoward control exercised over the Obama regime by the AGW cult; how high will food prices rise; etc.

    Seems to me Father Coughlin was slightly more astute at economics than Bernanke, Geithner or Obama. That’s not saying much. He should have stayed with saving souls.

  • the UK went off the gold standard in 1931. Did It help? Not so much.

    O yes it did. The British economic recovery began almost immediately upon devaluation of the currency in September 1931. The United States retained the gold standard. The succeeding 18 months were among the most economically harrowing in United States history. The year-over-year decline in domestic product (comparing 1932 to 1931) was 13%. Among the measures the Roosevelt Administration employed in 1933 was a large devaluation of the currency. The next three-and-a-half years were a period of rapid economic expansion.

  • Today we have uncertainty about: the next idiotic mass mistake will Bernanke and Geithner dream up; how high will be tax hikes; how much will national health care cost; how many thousands of new job killing regulations will be imposed; how high will fuel costs go because of the untoward control exercised over the Obama regime by the AGW cult; how high will food prices rise; etc.

    Neither Mr. Geithner nor Dr. Bernanke have any responsibility for policy in the realm of health and safety regulations, environmental regulations, labor law, or welfare spending. Dr. Bernanke’s agency has no responsibility for any dimension of fiscal policy. Mr. Geithner’s department collects taxes, maintains the intramural payments system, sells bonds, operates the mint and currency printing plant, and has a hand in regulation of the financial sector. It does not write the budget. Neither the Treasury nor the Federal Reserve can unilaterally raise taxes.

  • the UK went off the gold standard in 1931. Did It help?

    Yes. In fact, going off the gold standard turns out to be a strong predictor of when economic recovery started in a given nation. This was certainly Milton Friedman’s view (among many others).

  • This seems a good forum for asking a question I’ve wanted to ask for some time.

    It seemed to me that interest rates were kept artificially low for many years before the collapse in 2008. The low interest rates supported the housing market and fueled the bubble. They also left us nowhere to go in stoking the economy as it faltered: since we couldn’t spur investment with interest rate cuts, we were forced into an infusion trap, essentially de-valuing currency through stimulus measures.

    The first part of my question is whether I have it right and the second is, if I am right, what does this tell us about policy?

  • Father Coughlin should have stuck to saving souls. Camus: “All attempts to create Heaven on Earth result in Hell on Earth.”

    I dunno. In the UK, was it going off gold or was it Keynes? Plus, UK still had its Empire (Canada and India) and huge resources and trade advantages.

    AD: Obviously. The two blind mice merely fuel fear and uncertainty. The other phrases, behind each semi-colon, are independent of each other. Sadly, they all may combine to give the US a perfect economic storm.

    G-V: Low rates were one of a large number of factors leading up to the housing bubble, and too true made open market operations (easy money) unavailable to help the economy.

    No one in power understands the causes of all this “pomp and circumstances.” No one learned from the S&L crisis or the bubble burst, Fed acts around LTCM caused an attitude that they’d be bailed out, FDIC deposit insurance, FNMA/FHLMC corrupted Congress, HUD, CRA, etc. Got to run.

    Alan Greenspan is excoriated for his recent Fed performance. Few people remember that he was also on the wrong side of the run-up to the S&L crisis.

    I blame Bush.

  • It seemed to me that interest rates were kept artificially low for many years before the collapse in 2008.

    The Federal Reserve was raising the discount rate in increments throughout the period running from 2002 to 2006.

  • Black Adder,

    Thanks for the tip about the book.

Global Warming as a Substitute Religion

Monday, July 11, AD 2011





In these days we are accused of attacking science because we want it to be scientific. Surely there is not any undue disrespect to our doctor in saying that he is our doctor, not our priest, or our wife, or ourself. It is not the business of the doctor to say that we must go to a watering-place; it is his affair to say that certain results of health will follow if we do go to a watering-place. After that, obviously, it is for us to judge. Physical science is like simple addition: it is either infallible or it is false. To mix science up with philosophy is only to produce a philosophy that has lost all its ideal value and a science that has lost all its practical value.

G. K. Chesterton

One of the more pernicious follies of our time is the mixing of politics, science and religion.  The Global Warming scam is a prime example of what a noxious brew can result from this.  Among many of the elites in Western society, environmentalism has taken on all the aspects of a religion.  The religious left has been eager to climb on to this new religion.  Based upon very dubious science, and fired with the faith that has traditionally been given to religion, powerful forces throughout the West are eager  to implement revolutionary changes in our society, most involving a radical expansion of government control over industry.

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12 Responses to Global Warming as a Substitute Religion

  • That is exactly what the religion of anthropogenic global warming is all about.

  • Another way in which belief in AGW is like a religion: it (allegedly) explains the problem of evil. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and even earthquakes and tsunamis (I believe) are all blamed on global warming.

    Plus, people who scoff at the notion that God would send natural disaster as a punishment for sins like abortion (I don’t personally believe that either, but I say this just to make a point) have no trouble embracing the idea that “Nature” or “Mother Earth” sends them as punishment for using the wrong light bulbs, driving old cars, or simply failing to believe in the One True Faith. Case in point: the liberal blogger/commentator who stated a couple of months ago that residents of states affected by recent tornado outbreaks had it coming because they are represented by “climate change deniers.”

  • Plus, a large plurality of AGW adherents are better credentialed than the majority of “Cargo Cult” believers . . . [sigh].

  • Here’s the link to the blog post I referred to earlier:

    In fairness, however, it should be noted that even many liberals thought this sentiment was obscene and uncalled for.

  • Another way it’s a religion: it’s based on faith. Sure, you can postulate scientific theories based on evidence at hand, but in the end you really can’t prove that man is causing global warming. Even if you can demonstrate through data that the Earth’s temperatures are warming, there’s no way to conclusively prove that this is a result of human behavior or that these increased temperatures are beyond what is normal for the planet’s history.

  • “Thank heavens for a rambunctious new media:  talk radio and the internet, where ideological conformity is impossible to enforce.”
    This made me laugh. Ideological diversity from Limbaug to Hannity

  • Oh there are liberal talk show hosts on radio Kevin, but in a free market to gain listeners the vast majority of them are as popular as the plague. Cheer up Kevin, however, you still have National Public Radio which has found ways around that terrible requirement that a radio talk show needs to be entertaining to gain listeners.

  • Why is it that liberals think that anything that sounds like Marxist NPR is an example of diversity to be emulated?

    The fact of the matter is that Limbaugh and Hannity ARE examples of diversity opposed to the liberal Democrat group think of NPR and like-minded pseudo-news outlets, and it is this that liberal Democrats cannot stand.

    Democracy is only for the Democrats who all think the same way – anthropogenic global warming. Right wing conservatives don’t deserve a voice because that’s so diverse as to be opposed to diversity.

    And that is precisely the logic behind liberalism’s AGW.

  • I do not think it is a substitute religion or necessarily invalid as science. Some of the people promoting it are eminent scientists (e.g. Lonnie Thompson). Of course, so are some of the critics (and Dr. Thompson seems to have misplaced his raw data).

    The trouble is that it has decayed into a class and subcultural marker and a trough for organized appetites.

  • Pingback: Global Warming as a Substitute Religion « Avangelista's Blog
  • What??? Now it is global warming. I am going to have to get rid of my train loads of parkas I bought in the 1970s when I was told we were going into the ice age because of human activity . . . maybe I can exchange the parkas for swim suits & sun screen . . .

Abe Lincoln In Illinois: A Review

Sunday, July 10, AD 2011

Thomas Wolfe once famously wrote “you can’t go home again” and I guess that sometimes applies to films.  When I was a boy and a teenager I loved the film Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Released in 1940, the film was an adaptation of Robert E. Sherwood’s broadway play.  Raymond Massey gave a stunning performance as Abraham Lincoln which has remained with me, although I have not seen the film, other than Youtube excerpts, in probably 35 years.  Recently I learned that the film had been released on DVD.  Purchasing it, I watched it last Friday evening.

The film was certainly as powerful as I remembered it.  Raymond Massey gave an eerily on target performance as Abraham Lincoln and Gene Lockhart was magnificent as Lincoln’s great antagonist, Stephen A. Douglas.  However, in the intervening decades I had learned quite a bit about Lincoln and his time and several aspects of the film I found grating:

1.  Historical howlers: Every Hollywood “historical” epic tends to commit sins against the historical record, but Abe Lincoln in Illinois had some egregious ones:

a.  Jack Armstrong, one of Lincoln’s earliest New Salem friends, is shown as offering to throw a tomato at Stephen A. Douglas during one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858.   I assume it was his ghost since Armstrong died in 1854.

b.  John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry which occurred in 1859 is shown as taking place before the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas Senate race.

c.  Lincoln is shown as receiving a military bodyguard immediately after being elected.  No such protection was afforded the president-elect by President Buchanan, even though Lincoln was deluged with death threats.

d.  In an affecting scene, the citizens of Springfield begin singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic as Lincoln heads off to Washington in February of 1861.  The song wouldn’t be written until November of that year and not published until 1862.

2.  Ann Rutledge-The film spends a great deal of time depicting the romance between Lincoln and Ann Rutledge.  There is virtually no historical support for this charming old fable.

3.  Lincoln the Reluctant-Lincoln is shown as a very reluctant politician. Rubbish!  Lincoln loved politics and was an enthusiastic participant throughout his life.

4.  Mary the Shrew-Mary Todd Lincoln is depicted in the film as a shrew who drives an ambitiousless Lincoln forward to fulfill his destiny very much against his will.  Lincoln had quite enough ambition on his own.  By most accounts the Lincolns had a loving marriage,  with the usual ups and downs familiar to most married couples who stay together through good and bad times.

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7 Responses to Abe Lincoln In Illinois: A Review

  • Goofs, according to IMDB:

    * Anachronisms: The song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is played and sung by a choral group in the last scene as he is going to Washington to become President, in 1861. The song was written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861, but after Lincoln had been inaugurated and the Civil War had started.

    * Anachronisms: The Lincolns arrive at the Springfield Depot while a band is playing “The Battle Cry of Freedom”. The song was written in 1862, a year after Lincoln was inaugurated as president.

    * Anachronisms: The Lincoln-Douglas debates took place in 1858 – one year before John Brown attempted to seize the Harpers Ferry arsenal.

    * Factual errors: Lincoln’s House Divided Against Itself speech occurred when he accepted the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination for U.S. Senator and not at any of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

    * Anachronisms: When results for the 1860 election are being received, West Virginia is listed on the the state-by-state tally board. West Virginia didn’t become a state until 1863, when it broke off from Virginia after that state had seceded from the Union.

    * Factual errors: Near the end of the movie, we see Raymond Massey tieing a string around a chest. On the chest it reads: “A. Lincoln- White House.” This is factually incorrect. During Lincoln’s time, the White House was known as the “Executive Mansion.” The term, “White House” was not coined until the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, some forty years after the Lincoln Presidency.

    * Continuity: When the boat hits the dam, the front fence loses the bottom board through which a pig can be seen falling. The next shot shows the front fence completely gone.

  • I haven’t seen this movie — as you note, it’s been pretty hard to find until recently — but I have seen a couple of other Lincoln films which are far worse in the historical inaccuracy department.

    “Young Mr. Lincoln” (1939) with Henry Fonda as Abe conflates several notable criminal cases tried by Lincoln into one overly dramatic Perry Mason-style trial. Director John Ford also seems to have used an all-purpose generic “Wild West town” set to represent 1830s Springfield, despite the fact that most Westerns are set at least 20 to 50 years later.

    “Abraham Lincoln” (1930) by D. W. Griffith leaves much to be desired also; its most irritating aspect (for me) was its casting of Una Merkel as Ann Rutledge. Merkel plays her as a spoiled and extremely ditzy platinum blonde bombshell, which I suspect there weren’t too many of in the real New Salem.

  • Young Mr. Lincoln is a film I very much like Elaine. It is very loosely based on the Almanac Murder Trial of 1857 in Beardstown where Lincoln successfully defended the son of Lincoln’s late friend Jack Armstrong on a murder charge. Lincoln’s client was almost certainly guilty, but Lincoln destroyed the credibility of the chief prosecution witness who said that he saw the murder by the light of the moon, by proving through the almanac that the moon had set by the time of the murder. The case is notable in Illinois law because it was one of the first times that a court in Illinois allowed a scientific text to be admitted into evidence. Young Mr. Lincoln depicts this case as Lincoln’s first major trial as a novice attorney, whereas the actual case was tried near the end of his legal career when Lincoln was regarded as one of the finest lawyers in the state.

  • IMDB is incorrect about the use of the term White House Joe. It wasn’t officially called the White House until the Teddy Roosevelt administration, but unofficially people had been calling the Executive Mansion the White House since 1811.

  • I recall seeing “Young Mister Lincoln” many years (the late, late show!) I would like to see it again (historical blunders notwithstanding). All that shows is Hollywood’s playing fast and loose with history did not begin with Oliver Stone 🙂

    I remember with great fondness the “Ann Rutledge” poem from “Spoon River Anthology.” I absolutely loved SPA as a teen – it was the first book of poetry I felt passionately about. Although I am a city girl, my parents grew up on farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, and I have small-town relatives, so it was thrilling to me to find a book of poems set, not in England or the Continent but in my own American Midwest (I did, of course, recognize that many of the citizens of Spoon River were hardly admirable souls).

  • BTW, I had a very odd conversation this afternoon, but it’s been making me smile all day. I was walking down by Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach, wearing a blue T-shirt with white roses printed on the front. A woman who looked to be about 60 was coming down the path toward and as she drew near, she spoke to me:

    LADY: What a lovely shirt! Those are beautiful white roses!

    ME: Thank you. I got the T-shirt at the Art Museum –

    LADY: Are you Catholic?

    ME (quite startled by the question): Uh, yes I am.

    LADY: I saw those roses and they made me think of St. Therese.

    ME: The Little Flower! Why, what a wonderful way to think about it! It never crossed my mind.

    LADY: God bless you! You are blessed!

    ME: And may God bless you too!

    What a strange encounter to have with a total stranger. And how heartwarming! The funny thing is I ran in to her just as I had completed a Hail Mary and Our Father for the health of my sick brother-in-law. (I have tried to say the Rosary as I’m walking for exercise, but without beads I always lose track of my prayers.) I think it is a sign that I should begin asking St. Therese for intercessions.

  • P.S. That conversation is one reason I am glad I am back in my native state and city, dreadful winter weather notwithstanding. It was not only a very Catholic exchange, but a very Midwestern one as well. There are undoubtably very good Catholics in the DC area, but I really can’t imagine such a exchange occurring on the Rock Creek Parkway.

3 Responses to Waltzing Matilda

  • I haven’t heard Rolf in a long time! :mrgreen: I even had that audio on a tape that friends brought back from Aus at least 10 years ago.

    PS: Rolf Harris yelled at me from the stage during a show in Knoxville, TN, when I wondered how he did the three-leg thing for his first song. 😀

  • ….for those of us who do not speak the Australian language.” 😆

    Don. That language is actually known as ‘Strine’, 😉 ( after the habit the Aussies have of truncating their words) There was a book written in Oz about it back in the 70’s.
    For example, one of the most common greetings (in NZ also) is, “How are you going, mate?”, or in the kiwi vernacular, “howya goin’, mate”.
    The Aussies, however, have managed to shorten this further – “Ayagama”
    (OK, that’s only a small exageration – how can I deride my Aussie mates like that? 😎
    Lived in Oz for 10 years from 1978 – 1988 – had a lot of hard work, good times, and good mates still, over there.

    Agreed Kathryn. Rolf Harris was very popular back in the 70’s and 80’s, but all his TV shows were done in London, not Australia. but of course, he is an Aussie, and was part of the Aussie invasion of London back then.

  • In America Don the same greeting would be “Howyadoin ?” or “Howdy!” farther south. Local usage and slang has always fascinated me. I spent the first years of my life in Newfoundland and when I came back to Paris, Illinois I had a Newfie accent. All of my father’s family had thick Hoosier accents, Paris being adjacent to the Indiana border. I guess all of that combined to spark my early interest in the subject of regional dialects.

Father John Corapi Open Thread

Friday, July 8, AD 2011

Father John Corapi released a statement on his Black SheepDog blogsite basically denying some, but not all, of the allegations put against him by his order, S.O.L.T.

I won’t get into what who said what or not since this will be an open thread, but I don’t recall Padre Pio resigning from the Capuchins for the restrictions placed on him from the many allegations levied against him at the time.  And if I recall correctly, he was under these restrictions for ten years.  Plus, after they were lifted, there were still restrictions to when and where he could practice.

Yes, we are all not perfect, but Jesus did ask us to be perfect as he is perfect, ie, strive for perfection.

Please adhere to our rules and be civil.  All the contributors on this website have the authority to shut down the comments box.

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38 Responses to Father John Corapi Open Thread

  • In his latest video, Fr. Corapi says he’s pretty much done speaking about the controversy/scandal. If I were falsely accused of something, I would not back down from declaring my innocence and the falsity of the charges. But Fr. Corapi’s not doing that — his denial was very reserved and incomplete. I can’t be sure, but it seems to me like he’s deciding not to say anything more on the matter because he doesn’t want to lie (and deny things that are true) or admit to wrongdoing.

  • At best, it’s a battle of who said what.

    As difficult as this may sound, he should of waited for the SOLT investigation to end to prove his innocence. In the end, it’s Gods will.

  • I saw the video – this isn’t the same man wtih whose preaching I fell in love.


  • It’s disappointing to see this happen, he was a great speaker. The comments on that thread are seemingly endless. I scrolled through about 50 of them before I realized I scrolled down about 3% of the page 😯

  • I thought that a great many of the comments at “The Black Sheep Dog” blog site were in favor of Fr. Corapi’s return to obedience. He’s not listening.

    One commenter described himself as a cop – retired or not I don’t recall – and said that Fr. Corapi’s abnormal jaw movements were something he had seen before. I am not certain what this means. Whatever the case, the man in the video isn’t the man I saw preaching all these years.

  • The bigger scandal news is of Fr. Corapi’s self-demolition derby. He makes Jim Bakker look like a piker, a raw recruit in the pleasures of the flesh. There’s a sense of having been played by a master con man, one so good that you have to admire the sheer effrontery and skill of his fraud. I was totally fooled, that’s for sure. I thought no one rails against sin as much as the former sinner and so I took him for an Augustine. Someone too enthusiastic as a reaction and in repentance for a former self. Well sometimes the sinner rails against sin too. It makes me wish he was still on the air since I’d like to see how I could so colossally misread him. I’d want to look for clues in his talks.

    Ah but the pleasure of the flesh. They return, ‘eh? He always said he had a terrible past, but it was hard to believe given how he seemed to come through the drugs and everything and still was articulate as hell. Turns out he was on them and still articulate as hell! Reminds me of HK, how she went through years of incredible bodily abuse and here, on the other end, can write rings around me.

    Certainly we’ve all recently got an education in how perceived holiness in others can be pure facade. The scandals in the clergy, to Bud Macfarlane leaving his wife, to the spy Robert Hanssen, to Fr. Corapi, it’s been eye-opening and even breathtaking. It gives me a little bit more insight into just how difficult it must be to be holy – even when given the advantages of the sacraments. Perhaps it’s a replay of St. Paul’s riveting verse in Romans 11: “God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.”

  • Sorry, meant to edit that. It’s a cut and paste from an email to a friend!

  • Oh boy… Paul you are so correct he is not the same guy. And What is up with the look? One of the accusations was that he bought a motorcycle and he is wearing a harley jacket. Sheesh it is sad to watch. Lord help this man receive humility.

  • I think T is right… I have my reasons… but I believed He con us for at least 10 good years if not more… but God was merciful – to us and him and he got caught.

  • Humility is Christianity. Obviously Corapi is not…Christian.

  • What jumps out at me is this startling sentence fragment: “…the process used by the Church is grossly unjust, and, hence, immoral. ”

    Strong language.

    In the words of Shakespeare, “He doth protest too much.”

  • It is very difficult for me to see Father this way. He appears to be a broken man. My heart goes out to him. I am still trying to hope that all of this untrue and somehow Our Lady will intervene and help this poor man. My prayers go out to him. God still loves Father; so do I. Just because one priest (if true) has fallen astray, that does not mean the Church is not where Catholics ought to be. Indeed, remain closer to the Church. On another note, why can’t this go to Pope Benedict? Wouldn’t he set the record straight?

  • “On another note, why can’t this go to Pope Benedict? Wouldn’t he set the record straight?”

    If this goes to the Pope and the Pope does anything publicly about it, then that will only feed Fr. Corapi’s ego – his predicament and hence he himself are so important that this matter went to the Pope. That’s the last thing he needs right now.

  • I’m a convert of 25+ years. I knew who Fr Corapi was but was not particularly a fan of his preaching style. However…

    The nastiness of Catholics in general gets to me on an occasional basis, but it’s been hitting the ceiling the last few weeks. I’ve never heard such a pile of self-righteous rule-mongering craziness in my life as I’ve heard over the John Corapi thing. There are a hell of a lot of Catholics who aren’t Christian–that’s the only conclusion I can come to. Listen: We are all sinners from the get-go; we all hypocrites. So lay off the man. Pray for your own salvation and get with the program. It’s time my fellow Catholics heard that from someone.

  • “rule-mongering craziness”

    Expecting a priest, especially one as prominent in the public eye as Corapi, to not shack up with a prostitute, use illegal drugs or engage in any of the other sins he appears to have been quite fond of, is not “rule-mongering” but rather holding someone to a fairly minimal standard of behavior that should be expected of a priest of Christ. Saint Paul in his epistles was quite willing to call a spade a spade in regard to the bad behavior of the clergy and laity of his day. Somehow in our day the one unforgivable sin in the eyes of many appears to be calling someone who is engaging in wretched behavior to task for it.

  • I never really saw or heard Fr. Corapi on EWTN – so this is the first time. What a difference from the glimpse I had of him once…I kept wondering why he was looking off to the side as he spoke…the whole situation is sad. SOLT should have brought him home a long time ago. Was there no one with the discernment to see that Fr. Corapi was straying? That he needed help? Having a powerful ‘charism/charisma’ is a dangerous thing – one can use it for God’s glory or one’s own – sometimes, it’s a bit of both but hopefully we have others who can challenge us to get back to the center -Christ. Looking at and listening to Fr. Corapi’s talk today made me think that he knows he will not have the following he had before, as a practicing Priest…and now, what excited him before will only lead to emptiness and misery – and that, hopefully, will lead him back to his community and his vocation. And so we have to pray for him and for all Priests ….

  • Donald,

    But all this business about religious orders & expectations and peoples’ private prejudices running rampant, and faulty beliefs about religious life etc is. Catholics have weird and crazy expectations of each other, you know that? It’s warped about 90% of the time. Weird.

    SOLT isn’t a religious order. It’s a little organization of the faithful someplace in Texas.

    I’m always shocked about how many Catholics don’t also seem to be Christian, but I guess I shouldn’t be after 25+ years as a convert. What a mess.

  • T says:

    He always said he had a terrible past, but it was hard to believe given how he seemed to come through the drugs and everything and still was articulate as hell..
    You obviously haven’t heard Fr. Don Calloway’s story. Zowie! Lucky to be alive. Now he would understand!
    midwestlady says:

    I’m always shocked about how many Catholics don’t also seem to be Christian, but I guess I shouldn’t be after 25+ years as a convert. What a mess.
    Yeah, looks like it takes other sinners to bring out the sins of the self anointed elitists!

    Something that is obviously missing here is comprehension of or experience with addicts. You can tell by the total lack of compassion. The guy appears to be (and historically was) an addict. Once an addict, well, you should know the rest. Not surprising since that kind of chemistry and behavior to model was also in his father. Heard of that before o ye lacking of street smarts and knowledge of genetically transferred weaknesses? And guess what else….when habit is involved the complete involvement of the will isn’t.

    I’m shocked that with all the superior knowledge of the rubrics of the Faith that fact hasn’t been mentioned. I guess that might interfere with the jealousy of such a weak person who was still able to get to the main points of the faith better than most today. Yes the Church (all of us) is being purified, using her own – sinners – to awaken the fears and pharisaical type of correctness in the comfortable and obviousy proud!

  • Father needs prayers. A lot of them.

  • To those who decry what they preceive as “judging” Fr. Corapi, please consider:

    As that blog points out:

    “In John 7:24, Christ says, ‘Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.'”

    “Paul’s words from 1 Cor 5:9-13: ‘I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.'”

    That being said, I think we should all pray for Fr. Corapi, and for all our priests and bishops. Maybe this sad affair would not have happened if we prayed more – a whole lot more. But saying it’s un-Christian NOT to judge is to take Matthew 7:1 out of context, ignoring the last part of 7:5:

    “…then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

    In my case, however, I don’t think I see all that clearly anyways. This whole affair scared me so much that I have “up’d” my 12 step meeting attendance, because if a man like Fr. Corapi is vulnerable, then what hope do I have? (Speaking rhetorically, of course.)

  • to be honest,,,I think he may have slipped a cog 😥

  • Mr Primavera:

    AA’s 11th Tradition states:

    “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.”

    Your divulging your being a part of 12 step program giving your full name certainly goes against this tradition.

  • “but I believed He con us for at least 10 good years if not more… but God was merciful – to us and him and he got caught.”

    what did he con us into? Becoming Catholic? Following the cathecism?

  • Anonymous, is quoting from the Big Book at a blog failure to maintain anonymity at press, radio or films?

    This is not the press. Nor the radio. Nor films.

    Furthermore, I am not and do not promote myself.

  • Tito or Donald, maybe you had been delete my quoting from the Big Book above. There are always going to be some people that will object because of the 11th Tradition (which doesn’t reference blog sites but if written today could be interpreted to mean blog sites). Can’t please all the people all the time. 🙁

  • Paul:

    This is a public forum and the 11th Tradition clearly encompasses this venue.

  • Anonymous, you’re right. I screwed up. I’m sorry. I asked for the offending post to be removed. It isn’t. To other readers, the point is that anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all AA’s Tradtions, ever reminding its members to place principles before personalities. I did not do that.

    However. in the case of a person like John Corapi who used his recovery from cocaine addiction to restore his business success, and who capitalized on his charismatic personality, an exception may be made. From Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, John Corapi alias John Coradi was convicted of driving while intoxicated in November of 1999:

    If this is the same John Corapi that we all know about, then he has been fooling us for a very long time indeed.

  • I knew many people in AA in DC back in the ’80’s, because I attended meetings with a friend in the program. Some divulged their full names. It is my understanding that AA does not require that its’ members remain anonymous.

    Instead of venting your anger against Paul Primavera, you should instead be upset about Fr. Corapi’s betrayal of his vows.

  • “One of the accusations was that he bought a motorcycle and he is wearing a harley jacket. ”

    Oh, come now, that’s the very least of it. I really don’t care if a priest wears a harley jacket. Consorting with a prostitute and using drugs – well, that’s a bit different, isn’t it?

    I can’t believe Catholics have lost the ability to discern differences between degrees of sin.

  • I admired Fr Corapi. I am still stunned by the difference between the eloquence of his teaching and its orthodoxy, and the seeming reality of his behavior. He often said something along the lines of “When Satan strikes down the shepherd, the sheep will scatter” Clearly Satan worked through Fr Corapi’s weaknesses and dragged him down. Tragic! Personally, I am deeply saddened. I continue to pray for him, but differently now that certain revelations seem undeniable. I pray the accusations are wrong, but know they probably aren’t. I pray the Blessed Mother brings him back.

  • Well, Paul we all fail at times to put principles before personalities. Thanks be to God you have the humility to own up to it.

    I do agree with the thrust of what you say about Corapi. If he is drinking and using again (and it seems to be the case that he is, given his strange behavior) he will be where he would have been if he had drank and used during all the time he was clean and sober. If this is the case, he will probably be dead within a few years.

  • I think that SOLT shares a lot of the blame for this situation. Given Fr. Corapi’s past, which surely they knew about, he should not have been allowed to live independently, on his own. The temptations out in the world can be quite strong for someone who has had problems with drugs.

    Yet he was encouraged to go out on his own, and preach. Not a good idea, in hindsight, anyway. I think that Fr. Corapi has some resentment toward SOLT and others, which I can understand. Still, it seems that SOLT knows that they were in the wrong to let him be out on his own, but they should admit this outright – that they made a big mistake. If they do this, Fr. Corapi might be more willing to be obedient in the matter.

  • No one said wearing a Harley jacket is a sin. It IS a mistake in a video response to accusations of excessive materialism in the form of a motorcycle. Ugh.

    Question: Is it OK to judge people as judgmental? Or is that judgmental too?

  • I have a hard time blaming SOLT for one man’s sins. I hope the Lord does too.

  • There is a lot of confusion on both sides of the coin. It is tough to make an honest judgment on the merits of the case.

  • Y ou should not judge father corapi because he or anyone other catholic wears a leather jacket -or by their dress period.I liked father corapis sermons -he seemed genuine -as if the holy spirit was in his heart and he was simply reciting back what it had told him.But let us not forget what he himself told us “the enemy (satan) is strong always waiting to find our weak points expose them to take us away from the light of the lord.”Pray for father corapi -God will lead him through the forrest like a lost child back to the road of righteousness.

  • Wow! Did not know about Fr Padre Pio. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: Why Doesn’t That Papist Bishop Just Shut Up?

Friday, July 8, AD 2011

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, current faculty member and former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary ,(don’t laugh yet), doesn’t think much of Catholic bishops expressing opposition to gay marriage, and she  said so recently at some length in the “On Faith” (trust me that is a misnomer) blog at the Washington post.  Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a Protestant who takes up the cudgels in defense of the Church so often that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives her a fisking to remember:

Nobody, and I mean nobody, does pompous, arrogant self-righteousness better than liberal Protestants.  Via David “He Reads ‘On Faith’ So You Don’t Have To” Fischler comes this drivel from the Chicago Theological Seminary’s Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite criticizing a Catholic bishop for being…well…a Catholic bishop:

How can we expect other nations around the world to create and sustain pluralistic democracies when prominent religious leaders in the United Sates, such as Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of New York, fail to grasp the fundamentals of this concept?

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22 Responses to Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: Why Doesn’t That Papist Bishop Just Shut Up?

  • The stand that the Church has taken (and must take) against homosexual behavior was severely weakened when Bishop Hubbard of the Diocese of Albany, NY gave such a rousing tribute to Governor Andy Cuomo at his inauguration Mass (did I describe that correctly?), knowing (how could one be unaware) of his stated position on abortion, homosexual marriage and co-habitation with his concubine.

    People like Cuomo, Pelosi, Biden, Kerry, Kucinich, Leahy, Guiliani (let’s not leave the RINOs excluded), etc., must be publicly excommunicated (1) to bring them to repentance and (2) as an example to the Faithful. St. Paul set such an example with Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1st Timothy 1:19-20. And worse happened for less to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. Neither one murdered unborn babies or sanctified homosexual sodomy. Worse also happened to Jezebel at the Church in Thyatira as recorded in Revelation 2:20-23.

  • A lot of bandwidth to give an idiot, Don.

  • She and her ilk are treated seriously by the elites who run our country Joe, even if her position boils down to the belief that anyone who disagrees with her should just shut up.

  • Well, Don, maybe we should ignore the “elites,” too. 😆

  • As soon as they have no power in our society Joe I will be happy to do so.

  • “…her position boils down to the belief that anyone who disagrees with her should just shut up.”

    That is the hallmark of liberalism, progressivism and “demokracy”: two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

    “Well, Don, maybe we should ignore the ‘elites,’ too.”

    We should vote them out of office.

  • Don, only in the next life.

  • Oh, I think we can make them limp a bit in this life also Joe.

  • Catholics have been persecuted, put down and belittled for centuries and some of them (martyrs) have died for the faith. It is liberal sport to criticize Catholics. This leftist is no different than the persecutors of old and she will ultimately lose this battle. The truth always wins. “People the Earth” cannot apply to those who practice sodomy. There is a reason for everything within the Catholic Church and all of it stems from Jesus Christ, himself. The depravity of the leftist, modernist progressives knows no bounds: proved by the legalized murder it commits on the unborn. They may be the elites here on earth but they will not be the elites when they burn in hell. God help them all.
    It is up to all of us to remove all of them from power and from our churches. They are Lucifers with College Degrees.

  • I read her article on Ryan’s plan and Rand. I agree with a lot of what she said. The surge of interest in Ayn Rand does bother me, and I didn’t know that Ryan had been a fan. (Then again, I haven’t checked her sources on that.) But the piece ends with a classic bit of McCarthyism: if you support a plan that Randians support, you’re no better than they are. If a Christian supports the plan for a Christian reason, and a Randian supports the plan for a non-Christian reason, the Christian is acting as a non-Christian. Appalling.

  • May I gently remind my separated brethren here that it was the Republicans who were key to passing homo marriage in NY. The vote in the Legislature was 32-29 with the GOP posting the swing votes.

    So the idea that you can vote the bums out, as Paul P suggests, is ludicrous. Despite the so-called “shellacking” last November, House Republicans are on the verge of caving to Obama’s demands for either tax hikes or defense cuts, according to the latest scuttlebutt.

    Given that most Republicans pay mere lip service to important social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, there is not much difference between the two major political parties. That, Don, comprises the “elite” you reference. Making them “limp” is an inadequate remedy as long as they can still walk.

  • Pinky,

    Ryan has read Rand. I think his enthusiasm is for her thoughts on the free market etc. Contrary to what’s out there, he’s not made it required reading for his staff.

    I think reading Rand is the equivalent of reading Marx. A lot wrong in both (more wrong in Marx than in Rand) but not necessarily evil to understand their thoughts and where they may hit the mark.

    I’m sure Thistlethwaite has no problem with reading Marx.

  • There’s a certain amount of truth to what Joe green points out. I am thoroughly disgusted with the Republicans, but when given a choice between a Demokrat and a Republican, I will always vote Republican. The Republican Party certainly isn’t the party of God, but the Demokratik Party is the party of Satan.

    That being said, I really like the platform of the Constitution Party:

    It is the closest to Church teaching of any of the political parties that I am seen. But the chances of this party gaining ascendency are abysmally low. So…..when the only two choices are the Demokrats and the Republicans, vote Republican. We cannot afford another four years of the Obamanation of Desolation.

  • In reference to RINOS Joe they are not the main problem. Your example of gay marriage is instructive in New York. The vast majority of Republicans voted against it, while virtually all Democrats voted for it. The Pox on both your Houses stance is silly since it is the Democrats who are the driving force behind virtually all the bad ideas currently afflicting this country in the government arena. I have no problem with voting RINOs out and belaboring them, but I never take my eye off the main cause of bad ideas being made into law: The Democrat party and the voters who pull the lever for it.

  • “But the chances of this party gaining ascendency are abysmally low.”

    Actually the chance of the Constitution party ever being more than an electoral asterick on the national scene is abysmally low.

  • I realize that, Donald. -10 pts for me not wording the sentence more accurately.

  • Phillip, yeah, that may be the case. I don’t know anyone on his staff. Making an intern read one of her 3000-page books has got to be a violation of some labor law, though.

    I think Rand is a trap that the Buckley-Reagan generation knew to avoid. The conservative movement has never tried to alienate people who have good intentions. The effort is always made to explain why some things that sound like they’d be bad for the poor are really good for everyone including the poor. Conservatives get labelled cruel and uncaring, but always defend their principles as fundamentally good. The Rand trap is to espouse good economic policy in the name of evil. That doesn’t persuade anyone. And as Catholics, it’s our greater duty to identify and condemn evil.

  • What is depressing is three fold:

    1. The woman’s political thought as exemplified is confused, stereotyped, and crude;

    2. Her conception of her function vis-a-vis her denomination and protestant Christianity generally appears to be to re-imagine it in accordance with the zeitgeist – which is to say her position is parasitic, dishonest, and supercilious.

    3. She has an honored position on a theological faculty.

  • “She has an honored position on a theological faculty.”

    Ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth – that’s in Scripture somewhere.

    My 2nd sponsor in a 12 step program used to tell us pigeons prideful of our education in Academia, “A thermometer has degrees and you know where you can stick that!”

    We really didn’t take too kindly to his statement (and he didn’t give a hoot because that’s what it took to rid us of the pride that kept us from staying sober), but sometimes it’s better to be without those credentials than to be like this woman – “done educated into imbecility.”

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  • Maybe because Incompetent and Unqualified Obama has not yet repealed the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights . . . He and the commie crowd are working on it.

    Credentialed, infallible ignorance . . . theology: making up stuff about god (purposefully not capitalized).

Apostle to the Sioux

Thursday, July 7, AD 2011

“Happy would I be if I could sacrifice for God what Custer threw away to the world.”


Bishop Martin Marty

During his approximately 59 years on this Earth it is probable that the Sioux chieftan Sitting Bull met only one white man he trusted implicitly:  Martin Marty.

Marty was born on January 12, 1834 in Schwyz, Switzerland to a shoemaker and his wife.  Gifted scholastically, he attended the Benedictine school attached to Einseideln Abbey.  Upon graduation he entered the novitiate, taking his final vows in 1855 and being ordained a priest a year later.  It is quite likely he would have remained at the abbey for the remainder of his life, “of the world forgetting, and by the world forgot”,  except that in 1860 his abbot ordered him to take over a disobedient and debt-ridden daughter house of the abbey in Saint Meinrad, Indiana.  He performed a minor miracle in restoring the morale and faith of the monks at the abbey at Saint Meinrad and brought it back to fiscal solvency.  The abbot decided that he was doing such a good job that he should stay where he was in America.  In 1870, the Saint Meinrad Abbey achieved independent status by a Papal decree of Pius IX with Father Marty as the first abbot.  It continues in existence to this day as an abbey and a seminary.

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6 Responses to Apostle to the Sioux

  • St. Meinrad, pray for us.

    Recently, I had business with a man named Meinrad. I had never heard the name.

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  • I expect Sitting Bull also trusted Father de Smet, who is perhaps better known to casual historians of the West than Father Marty. de Smet mediated two treaties between the Sioux and the United States. One might say in these cases that Sitting Bull’s trust was misplaced–not because of anything de Smet did, but because of bad faith by the Americans.


    I don’t think the trust was misplaced. The old ways for the Sioux and the other plains Indians were dying. The only hope for survival was the path of peace and education offered by missionaries such as Father DeSmet and Bishop Marty. Certainly war accomplished virtually nothing for the Plains Indians except speeding up the process of the ending of their traditional way of life, which was as doomed as the buffalo with the advent of the hordes of whites heading West.

  • Misplaced in an “objective” sense. de Smet himself remained completely trustworthjy. He had no power to force the United States to keep the treaties; and in any case the main violation, the invasion of the Black Hills, did not begin until 1874, after de Smet’s death.

    The way of life of the Plains Indians was no doubt doomed;but the United States did not keep its word.

Catholic Christianity and the Millennium: Frontiers of the Mind in the 21st Century

Wednesday, July 6, AD 2011

The past couple weeks I posted a summary and brief commentary on an address given by Francis Cardinal George at the Library of Congress in June of 1999.  While it didn’t spark that much debate, several people have written to me asking if I could upload the document, which appears to be absent from the internet as it stands.  (Yes, it is hard to believe, but there are some things that are not yet on the internet.)  I was, and still am, apprehensive about violating any copyright laws, either in letter or spirit.  While I am fairly confident that it is okay for me to post this, I wish also to make it publicly known that if Cardinal George, or any other who claim rights to this fine essay, wish it to be removed, I will do so immediately and with sincere apologies.

That is the “fine print,” if you will.

What follows is the speech in its entirety:  Catholic Christianity and the Millennium: Frontiers of the Mind in the 21st Century, an Address at the Library of Congress on June 16, 1999, by His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George.


Catholic Christianity and the Millennium: Frontiers of the Mind in the 21st Century

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2 Responses to Catholic Christianity and the Millennium: Frontiers of the Mind in the 21st Century

Number 9 . . . Number 9 . . . Number 9

Wednesday, July 6, AD 2011

Back in high school I met a girl and she could turn all the boys heads when Al Gore was Bill Clinton’s running mate, I mocked  Gore’s monotone drone by pretending to be a robot, repeating the same hackneyed talking points over and over again.  Every sentence would begin, “Bill Clinton and I . . .” and then after sputtering a few cliches, I’d break down.  One of my classmates would pretend to wind me up and then I’d start all over again, repeating what I just said.

Little did I know that I was anticipating Ed Miliband, the UK’s Labour Party leader, by a mere 19 years.

I have to admit that at first I was unconvinced that the strikes were unnecessary, or that parents and the public had been let down by both sides, or that the government had acted in a reckless and provocative manner.  By the third response I started to see that the government had acted recklessly and let down the parents and the public, but I still thought the strikes were necessary.  By the final response I saw the light of reason, convinced by Miliband’s powerful argument.

As AP points out, this gets even better.

At just 41 years old, he’s already the leader of Britain’s Labour party, which means there’s an exceedingly good chance that he’ll be prime minister some day. What could go wrong?

Oh I’m sure it’s just going to go swimmingly when he’s negotiating with whatever dictator emerges out of Libya.  Maybe he’ll get $48 worth of beads for the islands.

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6 Responses to Number 9 . . . Number 9 . . . Number 9

SOLT Bombshell (Updated)

Tuesday, July 5, AD 2011

Update I: The press release is now up on the S.O.L.T. website.  Thanks to reader Wellington for alerting us to that.

Update II: Read the Catholic Blogosphere’s reactions to the S.O.L.T. Bombshell on here.

Update III: Fr. Corapi has responded. Let’s just say that I find the response less than convincing.

[Editor’s Note: I have just gotten off the phone with the editors of the National Catholic Register and they have confirmed that this is a genuine press release from Father Gerard Sheehan of S.O.L.T.  They, S.O.L.T., are unable to take phone calls or respond to emails because they have General Chapter meetings until July 21, ie, reclused.]

Jimmy Akin links to a press release from Fr. Gerard Sheehan, who was Fr. Corapi’s religious superior in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT).  It rehashes some of the things we’ve already heard about the investigation of Fr. Corapi, but then concludes with this:

SOLT’s fact-finding team has acquired information from Father Corapi’s emails, various witnesses and public sources that, together, state that, during his years of public ministry:

— He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute.

— He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs.

— He has recently engaged in “sexting” activity with one or more women in Montana.

— He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the society.

SOLT has contemporaneously, with the issuance of this press release, directed Father John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.

SOLT’s prior direction to Father John Corapi not to engage in any preaching or teaching, the celebration of the sacraments or other public ministry continues. Catholics should understand that SOLT does not consider Father John Corapi as fit for ministry.

Wow.  I’m sure this is far from the last we will hear about this.

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56 Responses to SOLT Bombshell (Updated)

  • Very disconcerting news if true.

  • Why is not the press release carrying Father Gerard Sheehan,signature.
    Thank you.

  • Nancy,

    Read the Chief Editor’s Note that has been added to the top.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Lord Jesus, have mercy on us, and especially on Fr. Corapi. 🙁

  • May God bless everyone involved, especially Mr. Corapi and his many fans who have been so scandalized.

    I am so saddened, but unfortunately not surprised. We all slip and fall. May our Blessed Mother take Mr. Corapi by the hand and lead him back into grace and back to his calling as a Priest.

  • Won’t believe it until Fr. Sheehan confirms he sent it.

  • Matt,

    I understand your trepidation, but then you’ll have to wait two weeks from now for it to be validated enough for you.

    By then it’ll be a foregone conclusion.

  • Like Tito, I understand some people’s skepticism. This is one of those rare occasions where there is a non-zero chance that the conspiracy-minded could be right. However, it has been several hours since this press release has been publicized, and were it not the genuine article SOLT would have certainly issued some kind of statement by now.

  • Let’s all pray special prayers for the spiritual welfare of Father Corapi.

  • That should end any conspiracy theories.

  • I am NOT judging Fr. Corapi. I write the following from personal experience – bitter, poisonous, sickening experience. I am darn sure going to my Meeting tonight. Nobody is exempt from a SLIP – you’ll see what the acronym means as you read on. And if I am wrong, then I shall apologize and hang my head in shame. Yet for me the moral of the story is the same: Nobody is exempt from a SLIP.

    Among other things, this release confirms that Fr. Corapi “…did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation …repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs…recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana…”

    Now none of us know the details of this sad story, and if any of the following is true, the Fr. Corapi will have to do his own “confession” as it were. But by his own admission and as recorded within CDs of his life’s story, Fr. Corapi was addicted to cocaine. Addiction is a permanent disease for which there is no cure. One never ever stops being an alcoholic or drug addict. There is only a daily reprieve contingent on one’s spiritual well being, as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states. And once one is addicted to one drug (e.g., cocaine), then one is automatically predisposed to addiction from any mind-altering drug, including but not limited to alcohol. One cannot quit using cocaine and assume that one can begin normal drinking. One cannot quit drinking alcoholicly and assume one can smoke marijuana with impunity. Yet one can be a functioning alcoholic or addict for years and years, as many people in Twelve Step meetings will attest. However, in almost every case, one of three things happens:

    The addict returns to the drug of his choice
    The addict uses the new drug with eventually the same alcoholic fervor as he had used the old drug
    The addict uses both drugs

    The addict or alcoholic then become powerless over his drink or drug, and his life becomes unmanageable (law suits, orders of obedience, national public scandal – that’s pretty darn unmanageable), as the First Step states. The only alternative for the alcoholic or addict is Twelve Step Meetings: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Cocaine Anonymous. At meetings one is NOT a great televangelist. or priest, or bishop, or senator, or congressman, or judge, or lawyer, or professor, or policeman, or nuclear engineer, or astronaut, or corporate executive, or whatever. You get the idea. One is an alcoholic or addict, period. Meetings are the great leveler, reminding everyone attending that no one is unique, no one is immune from a fall and everyone is dependent on God’s mercy.

    I note with dismay that sex is involved and that is so typical for the alcoholic or addict (there’s that darn personal experience again). Behind every skirt is a SLIP – Sobriety Looses Its Priority. And invariably this starts with pride. The limelight is so dangerous for the alcoholic or addict (more personal experience). It boosts the EGO – Edging God Out – while providing nothing of spiritual value. That almost always spells doom. Let us pray for Fr. Corapi:

    Av? Mar?a, gr?ti? pl?na,
    Dominus t?cum.
    Benedicta t? in mulieribus,
    et benedictus fr?ctus ventris tu?, I?sus.
    S?ncta Mar?a, M?ter De?,
    ?r? pr? n?b?s pecc?t?ribus,
    nunc et in h?r? mortis nostrae.

  • He’ll always find good company with Swaggart, Bakker, Coontz, et al, who make a nice living off Christianity. All you need is the gift of gab, a good back story, a gullible audience with dollars to share and you’re in business. Been proven time and again.

  • Joe, this happens to agnostics and atheists, too. Nobody is exempt.

  • Paul, no doubt, but priests and other clergy should be held to a higher standard. Even Bishop Sheen said so. Given their calling and sermonizing, the hypocrisy level is much higher when they’re exposed. This sorry episode only dampens what little faith I have in returning to the fold.

  • Joe, you are 100% right. Ezekiel 34:1-10 holds clergy to a higher standard. But far from dampening my Faith, this event scares the pants off me. If a man like Fr. Corapi can fall, then what hope do I have? So I am getting my fat behind to a 12 Step meeting tonight (I was going to blow it off, but not now), and I am going to Confession this Saturday.

  • Just one question, Paul. Why do many if not most Catholics insist on calling him “Father,” when he has left the Church and been suspended by SOLT. Seems to me Corapi does not deserve any honoric, least of all a priestly one.

  • honorific, I meant.

  • Joe, God doesn’t remove the indellible mark that ordination into Holy Orders leaves on the soul. Whether Fr. Corapi, however, deserves the honorific “Father” or not isn’t the question (actually, no human being does). He needs our prayers, and we need to straighten up our lives and get our hearts right with God. I speak for myself, and for me this is a daily exercise which you know from reading my stuff I fail at all too often.

  • ” This sorry episode only dampens what little faith I have in returning to the fold.”

    Why Joe? I recall Christ being betrayed with a kiss by one of his hand picked Apostles. The fact that a priest commits sins is no more an argument against the truth of the Faith than a virtuous life of a priest is an argument in favor of the truth of the Faith. The Gospel of Christ is true or false independent of either human weakness or strength.

  • Joe, I can think of at least two episodes that are more sorry than this. Both men were Bishops. Both failed miserably. One man sought and found forgiveness from the Lord and was reinstated as a Bishop. The other killed himself when he realized what he had done. The first, of course, was St. Peter. The second was Judas. This episode with Fr. Corapi is indeed sobering for any person of good faith. Ultimately it strengthens, not dampens, my faith in Christ’s Church. Or to put it another way, “Lord, to whom shall we go.”

  • Because, Don, as I said to Paul, priests should be held to a higher standard. As a young boy I looked up to them while studying my cathechism. I respected them and held them in awe. Yes, I realize the are human beings and have feet of clay. I read Bishop Sheen’s autobiography, “Treasure in Clay” in which he expounds in the opening chapter on the “awesome power” of the priest as well as his fragile human side. Sheen wrote there were “thousands of men” he knew who would be better priests than him.

    I admired Bishop Sheen for his humility. He quoted Cardinal Newman as follows: “I could near even bear the scrutiny of an angel; how then can I see Thee and live?”

    I do not nor did I ever see any humility in Corapi.

  • “Because, Don, as I said to Paul, priests should be held to a higher standard.”

    Why Joe, if there is no God? Of course without God any standard is meaningless in the great scheme of things since all human hopes, desires, concepts of justice, virtues and vices simply disappear into the maw of endless death. If Christ is God then a priest of Christ certainly should be held to a higher standard. If Christ is not God then they are merely deluded or charlatans and should be pitied rather than held to a higher standard.

    I of course believe that priests should be held to a higher standard because I believe implicitly in the Church established by Christ, although it eludes me why someone who does not believe this should hold them to such a standard. I do not hold mullahs for example to a higher standard because I view their religion as false. The fact that Carl Sagan was apparently a bounder in his private life does not cause me distress because I expect little else from someone who creates for himself a cosmos without God.

  • This does not strike me as appropriate information to release to the public.

    It is unnecessarily scandalous, will likely irreparably at least in the long near term further encourage anger and retaliatory behavior in Fr. Corapi and I hope, Rome intervenes and requires a formal public retraction of this information and requires the resignation of the people who authorized this disclosure.

    Just awful. The abuse of truth does serious harm.

    The Church is in dire straits. May God leave us enough pieces to try to restore it.

  • Joe,

    Fr. Corapi’s sins have been shown for all to see. Fr. Corapi has himself said that priests should be held to a higher standard. I have listened to Fr. Corapi’s preaching and I have heard him tell the story of his descent into drugs and debauchery when he was a single man in Los Angeles, and how he lost everything and ended up homeless, and after his mother rescued him with the help of one of a very few friends he had left, he then spent a year in a VA hospital.

    Fr. Corapi had plenty of humility – at one time. At some time in his life, he lost that humility. Fr. Corapi is a cocaine addict and will always be one, just as an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic.

    His order allowed Fr. Corapi to live alone, travel alone and engage in business alone. While we don’t know all the details, SOLT allowed Fr. Corapi a great deal of independence – a greater degree of independence than one would expect from a priest.

    At times, Joe, it seems you can’t get over yourself. It is as if you expect priests and bishops to be sinless and when they are not, you use that as a crutch to keep yourself away from the Church. That attitude will not go over well when you face Judgement. Only two people in all of humanity are sinless – Jesus Christ and his mother. Priests, nuns, bishops, cardinals, brothers and sisters are in need of our prayers every day. Satan tempts them as he tempts all of us. Holy orders don’t make anyone immune to sin.

  • Don, I have not ruled out God’s existence; merely have my doubts, as is well known. However, granting that He is, then those who purport to represent Him are, yes, to be held to a higher standard.

    In my humble view, although the standard remains constant, the increasing number of priests who fall short gives rise to skepticism, even cynicism.

  • Penguins Fan, you’re wrong. I know I am basically “filthy rags,” but have the courage to admit it. I’m not worth saving. I do not say this out of self-pity. I just feel human beings — all human beings — except for Jesus, as far as I can tell, are sinners, some more than others. Man proposes, God disposes. I’m ready to take my punishment.

  • Wrong about what? Bashing priests? Do you think Jesus wasn’t disappointed in Peter – or the rest of the Apostles? More than once?

    He did not give up on them, even when they gave up on Him.

  • Wrong that I use the sins of others as a “crutch” to stay away from the Church.

  • “In my humble view, although the standard remains constant, the increasing number of priests who fall short gives rise to skepticism, even cynicism.”

    I am rather too familiar with Church history Joe to share your cynicism. I was recently reading a biography of one of the great saints of the Counter Reformation, Peter Canisius. He was unsparing in to how low a state of ignorance and sin the priesthood of his day had fallen, far worse than in our own time I believe, and throughout the history of the Church it tends to be the great saints who are most willing to expose the rot within the clergy and the laity. The Church is always on the verge of collapse due to the sins of those who make up the members of the Church here on Earth, and yet she endures, defying the corrosive power of time, and ceaselessly preaching the message of Christ to all who will hear.

  • Yes, Don, there always seems to be just a sliver of hope no matter what. BTW, I am especially despondent because I just lost my 11-year-old hound and 2 years ago her brother, who was nearly 13. Now for the first time in 30 years I am without best friends. I know this will sound terrible to you and others, but I actually love dogs more than people, something God would not like to hear.

    Kipling wrote in “The Power of the Dog”…
    ‘Brothers and sisters I bid you beware, of giving your heart to a dog to tear.’
    And the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote, “Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom where my dog waits for my arrival waving his fan-like tail in friendship.”

    So, despite the promise that He will “wipe away every tear,” I do not think there will be dogs in heaven. And if that’s the case I don’t want to go there.

  • “I know this will sound terrible to you and others, but I actually love dogs more than people, something God would not like to hear.”

    My sincere condolences Joe in regard to the loss of your canine buddy. They truly do become members of the family. I have rarely been without a dog and I remember with a pang still when our 17 year old Cock-a-poo Baby passed away in 1999. We had her for 8 years before my wife and I were blessed with kids and she truly was our “Baby”. Don’t be too sure about no dogs in Heaven. A God that “marks the sparrow’s fall” has much in Heaven that “eye has not seen, and ear has not heard.”

  • Rainbow Bridge by unknown author:

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
    There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

  • God will bring goodness from this horrible mess.

    Pray for us, oh Holy Mother of God

  • So, despite the promise that He will “wipe away every tear,” I do not think there will be dogs in heaven. And if that’s the case I don’t want to go there.
    I remember hearing the story of what one father told his son. Inconsolable after his dog died, he asked his father if he would see his dog again in heaven. Wise Dad replied: “Son, if you need your dog in heaven to be happy, then God will make sure he’s there.”
    Don’t know what to think about Fr. Corapi, except that God’s not finished with him yet. I found his preaching very helpful.

  • I am deeply sorry about all this. I have been praying for Mr. Corapi and for all those who were drawn into this with him, the women he was involved with. Scripture says that the love of money is the root of all evil but I have always felt that the love of oneself and the misuse of the gifts God gave us are a great source of evil. We can choose to use our gifts in the service of others and for the glory of God or for our own benefit and glory. There has always been and will always be, scandal and betrayal. We all learn from our mistakes. But we also need to avoid temptation. I think SOLT has learned that Priests need their communities and a Priest with a past like Mr. Corapi should never have been turned loose to develop a fan base, make hundreds of thousands of dollars, live in luxury – how could he have possibly been expected to avoid falling into his old ways? You don’t send an alcoholic to work in a bar or a diabetic to work in a bakery. Priests in our society are under so much pressure and surely get stressed out – and they need community!! We need to pray for our Priests and that Pastors and other leaders in the Church grow in the gifts of wisdom and discernment – may the Lord bless us all, especially our Priests.

  • Unfortunately, it appears that John Corapi used the Church as a means to recover the wealth he squandered on drugs and vice only to end up a recidivist. How disappointing for the thousands of good Christians who followed his ministry and teaching. He always spoke out about the sex scandals in the Church, but he has one-upped all the other priests combined.

  • Paul – I have been in recovery too for a couple of decades. I just feel that if a drunk is trying to use a means that is based on staying sober on the will – it is no different from eating a box of ex-lax and expecting not to use the rest room… With God all is possible but for a drunk like me I need to identify with another drunk. I don’t know why but I do know it works. I found that to be a successful solution and in Fr. Corapi’s case I see a pattern of addiction progressing through the life of yet another soul who is not God and may have thought he didn’t need the help of another drunk.

  • I think Fr. Z’s take is the best of all of them.

    Corapi has an immortal soul. He is need of a Savior just like the one writing this and you who are reading this. And I would remind you that you, dear reader, are not sinless and neither am I. Many people who admired Corapi will want to know what happens in his case, but I urge you to examine your consciences for your motives. Those who didn’t like him, consider first your own state of soul and God’s mercy. In any event, pray for him, who seems to be very troubled, and for all the people who have been harmed in the matter.

  • Agreed, Robert, which is why I made my meeting tonight instead of blowing it off.

    I also agree with Paul Z’s quote from Father Z.: “…consider first your own state of soul…”

    If the state of my soul is so darn great, then why do I still need help? I dedicated this night’s Rosary for Fr. Corapi, not because I am special or holy or an example or anything like that (well, I am an example, of what NOT to do). I did it because I am just one drink or drug away from a relapse myself.

    Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

  • John Corapi became the person he warned us about…. how sad

  • I heard John Corapi speak years ago right after the whole priest sex scandal. He brought me to my knees when he said, “People come up to me now and ask, “Father how could this happen?” He replied, “it’s my fault.” He then said, “When I said that they look at me and and say, “You Father how can it be your fault? I tell them, Because I did not pray hard or enough for my fellow brothers.”

    My God, my God what have we done?

    Do we all pray hard and enough for our priests?

    John Corapi NEEDS our prayers. Imagine the joy Satan is feeling at expense of our priests, now imagine his despair when these men come back fully into their priesthood and live as God intended them to live.

    PRAY, PRAY, PRAY…in this time of trial and Gods great Mercy.

  • “Read the Catholic Blogosphere’s reactions to the S.O.L.T. Bombshell”

    No thanks.

  • My heart weeps.

  • But for the grace of God – There go I…

  • Karl,

    It is unnecessarily scandalous, will likely irreparably at least in the long near term further encourage anger and retaliatory behavior in Fr. Corapi and I hope, Rome intervenes and requires a formal public retraction of this information and requires the resignation of the people who authorized this disclosure.

    I would imagine that this was only released because (with Corapi’s encouragement) people kept insisting that the accusations against him were the result of some sort of sinister cabal. It is better that people realize that this whole mess is the result of Corapi’s fall, and pray for his redemption, than for some group of deluded souls to wander off into the wilderness convinced that they are following a wronged prophet. Had Corapi not made himself an idol, he would not have had to be knocked from his pedestal.

    I would hope that now that it’s clear that there is substance to the accusations against him, that both he and his fans can move on in a better direction. After all, we’re here to follow Christ and His Church, not particular people who preach in His name.

  • I agree with you, Darwin. I am sensitive to the sin of detraction, but scandalous truths should be revealed when sufficient reason exists, and in this case I think that the failure to reveal these truths would have been wholly unjust to those admirers of Corapi who were promoting false conspiracy theories under his encouragement.

  • I am a worse sinner than the subject amateur.

    I listened to a little of his stuff on TV. I thought it was good. His being “bad” does not detract from the message he “mouthed.” I don’t need to know whether he was doing otherwise.

    Do not put your faith in man. Pray constantly. Pray the Rosary. Deeply meditate on the Mysteries of our Redemption which are found in the Holy Rosary.

    Pray for Divine Assistance. Pray for the grace, courage and insight to repent of your sins, Confess, do penance, amend your life and through good works glorify Almighty God. Pray for the grace of Final Perseverence.

    Pray for strength to avoid the “near occasion of sin.”

    And, if you fall. Get up and to Confession; and start over. For we are all sinners and we must not stay in despair despite our horrid failings. For Our Lord, Jesus, got up three times under His Holy Cross and went on to His Glory to save us who are so totally unworthy of Him.

  • A little historical perspective. We have chaste Popes for quite some time now.
    From the time Luther was 9 years old til he was 30 years old, two Popes during that time had nine or ten children while they were Cardinals and one, Pope Alexander VI had a 7th child while a Pope with a young married mistress whose mother in law gave permission for that arrangement. Pope Julius II had 2 or 3 daughters as Cardinal. David in the Old Testament killed Uriah circuitously in order to take Bathsheba. Their child was killed by God in punishment.
    We have had chaste Popes for centuries now. That is beginning to stun me whereas I took if for granted for so long. We have had chaste Popes for centuries now.

  • FWIW, Fr. Corapi has responded. Let’s just say that I find his denial less than convincing, and dare I say Clintonian:

    “I have never had any promiscuous or even inappropriate relations with her.” (Emphasis mine). Well does that mean you had inappropriate relations with others? And what of the other charges?

  • I thought the same thing, Paul Z. 🙁

  • It is interesting to note that Ft. Corapi’s pre ordained life was one of great sin by his own admission. This shows a personality disorder. Temtations are greater to some of us less in others. This is the Divine Protocol as a result of the Fall. We see in the priest scandal as men with homosexual tendancies were allowed into the seminary. Church officials must take note the holy life of one entering the priesthood. Fr. Corapi could have gone into a secular ministry and done fine. He should not have been admitted into the priesthood.
    God save his soul. God save all our souls.
    Ralph Briggs,
    C.M. , N.A.

Another Glorious Obama Summer

Tuesday, July 5, AD 2011

This Klavan on the Culture is from July 2010 and it is just as topical today.  The Obama years are an endless national Groudhog Day with a lousy economy, high unemployment and multiple wars being fought on autopilot, and a completely clueless Chief Executive who fails to do anything to change anything in a positive direction.  For a candidate who promised Hope and Change, Obama has delivered Despair and Stasis, the lost years of Obama.

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4 Responses to Another Glorious Obama Summer

  • No!

    The state-run media is 24/7 covering the most vital issues du jour:

    Michelle Bachmann doesn’t know in which Iowa village was born John Wayne, and she graduated from Fleabag U unlike Barracks and Michelle Antoinette who were at Yale learning why they hate America. And, Governor Palin isn’t so bright, either.

    Quick, someone ask Obama what he did with $3 trillion he added to your children’s debt burden. Each stimulus job costs you $278,000.

    I bet Governor Plain has a better explanation for the Alaska State tax situation.

  • Barracks and Michelle Antoinette who were at Yale learning why they hate America.

    I think it was Columbia and Princeton, respectively. In B.O.’s case, on top of the foundation provided by his mother and Frank Marshall Davis, &c.

  • T. Shaw;
    As Art Deco felt compelled to correct your post, so do I – The First Lady has not hated America since Americans elected her husband as President. She, for the first time, is proud of America.

  • I am almost 48 years old. I can remember as far back as Nixon and I remember the Carter Misadministration well. Obumbler is worse than Carter. Try listening to Obumbler speak without his teleprompter. My three year old speaks better than Obumbler does without his teleprompter.

    Limbaugh put it very well. Obumbler isn’t “cool”. He is COLD. Obumbler and his wife have a sense of entitlement. Note the golf trips and the vacation to Spain at $75K a day.

    Somehow, this nation lost its way after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and Russia. Bill Clinton was a person with a disgusting personal life, but the media and Hollywood loved him, so he managed to get elected – twice – with less than 50% of the so-called popular vote – while raising taxes in his first term.

    Hollywood became much more openly left while Reagan was President – not that there were not such programs before Reagan (note anything from Norman Lear). Most of the gay rights garbage emanates from Hollywood productions. That has had a huge impact on popular culture, which is the modern religion of the young and hip.

    When Obumbler was elected, there was a huge throng of college students clogging Forbes Avenue in Oakland (Pittsburgh). I wonder how many of ’em love Obumbler now that many of them have graduated and haven’t found work.

    Democrats destroy everything they touch. Look at the states controlled by Democrats – or recently controlled by Democrats. Most big cities are controlled by Democrats. How many of them have terrible schools, corrupt governments, etc.?

    Obumbler is, I think, a chastisement this nation brought upon itself and permitted by God. He is an empty suit and those who adore him have no common sense.