Monthly Archives: September 2011
Today is the Feast Day of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. I honor her today as a convert to Catholicism who, after finding Jesus in the Catholic Church, was eager to find people in the Church who were good models for me in these troubling times that we live in. Back then, in 1991, good models of Christian virtue were easy to find in Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
It was Mother Teresa who taught me what authentic social justice is. Get up. Do something. Work for those who have need. Stand up and do something yourself. Be active yourself. No matter who you are, reach out to those around you in need and help. Open the door for the elderly woman. Help the poor mother struggling to care for her children. Wipe the brow of the dying man.
Mother Teresa lived a dark night.
The Dark Night. Throughout 1946 and 1947, Mother Teresa experienced a profound union with Christ. But soon after she left the convent and began her work among the destitute and dying on the street, the visions and locutions ceased, and she experienced a spiritual darkness that would remain with her until her death.
Many of us experience dark nights. I have myself. I am in awe of what she did with her life while enduring this dark night for so many years.
This rendition of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA seems very appropriate for a Labor Day.
Construimus, Batuimus (We Build, We Fight)
At the outset of World War II, the Navy faced a task of unbelievable difficulty. Around the globe, and especially in the Pacific, the Navy would be fighting in regions practically untouched by the modern world. Everything to support military operations would have to be built from scratch: bases, ports, airstrips, and an endless parade of other facilities. The task was daunting, perhaps impossible. However, the Navy had a secret weapon: the American worker.
Forming Navy Construction Battalions, (C-Bs), the Navy turned to the civilian construction trades and asked for volunteers. The response was overwhelming with civilian workers flocking to the task, and placed under the leadership of Navy officers. These were older men, the average age of the volunteers being 37, and masters in their trades. They formed the bedrock of the eventual 325,000 men who would serve in the Seabees during the War. By V-J Day they had completed construction projects on six continents and 300 islands, many of the islands bearing strange and unfamiliar names like Guadalcanal, Tinian, Saipan, Tarawa and Iwo Jima. They went about their work often under fire, sometimes participating directly in combat, and usually in conditions that were miserable beyond belief. Tropical jungles, deserts, alpine mountains, arctic wastelands, nothing stopped them from doing their jobs, and usually completing their tasks ahead of schedule. Continue reading
Ronald Reagan was able to win the Cold War without engaging the former Soviet Union in a terrible military conflict. Regan understood the nature of the battle. He called the former Soviet Union ‘the evil empire.” From his deep religious faith, Reagan well understood that the battle at hand was a battle between good and evil. He also understood that the Communism of the former Soviet Union, because of its erroneous principles, would eventually collapse.
Although Communism is still a serious problem in China, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela; a new, far more serious enemy is attempting to destroy our nation and our way of life. Radical Islam presents a greater threat than any other form of totalitarianism known to modern history.
Radical Islamic fundamentalism is much more dangerous than any form of Communism, precisely because Islam is a religion whereas communism, although it has religious overtones, is an ideology. There is a difference between the two systems.
Communists organize riots and protests. Communists engage in subversive activity. Communists enslave nations and deny people their most fundamental rights. Communism has armies and weapons of mass destruction. All of this is true of the radical Muslims, except for one very important difference: Communists do not blow themselves up; Islamic terrorists do.
Reagan was able to win the Cold War precisely because Communism is an ideology. But, how will we win the war on terror?
Something for the weekend. Nothing for a Labor Day weekend seemed more appropriate than a Hymn to Saint Joseph by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles.
A fascinating newsreel of the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Note that MacArthur hands pens after he signs to General Wainwright and General Percival. Both men had been prisoners of Japan for most of the War, and their gaunt skeletal presence at the surrender ceremony was a tribute to the Allied POWs who had been treated with a brutality scarcely believable. MacArthur’s closing remarks deserve to be remembered:
Last week, Pope Benedict XVI told the annual gathering of his “Study Group” (some of his former students) to ask God’s forgiveness on behalf of generations of “cradle Catholics” who have failed to transmit the faith to others.
No doubt, evangelizing others is an important dimension of Catholic life, as Pope Paul VI reminded the Church in his 1975 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi:
…what matters is to evangelize man’s culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots), in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes, always taking the person as one’s starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God. (#20)
Where evangelization first takes place is in the home as parents evangelize their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice. Today, the most-often heard lament is that Roman Catholic parents, in general, are not evangelizing their children and, of those who do, they are not evangelizing their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice but in some generic form of Christianity that emphasizes democratic values and aspirations.
I have long been distressed at the poor level of reporting on wars. Most media people have no military experience and it shows in their news story which read as if a deaf person is trying to describe a symphony. Austin Bay, a retired Army Colonel, Armor, who earned a bronze star in Iraq in 2005, and his analysis of the Libyan War is a welcome oasis in the desert in comparison. I have been playing board war games since the early seventies, and I have long been familiar with Austin Bay, designing war games being one small part of his multifarious career. If you want to keep abreast of military developments around the globe Strategy Page, run by wargaming legend Jim Dunnigan and Colonel Bay, is the place to go.
So I guess that makes it neo-neocon.
The Washington Times reports on a poll released by Rasmussen on the relative popularity and unpopularity of various political labels.
• 38 percent of likely U.S. voters “consider it a positive” when a political candidate is described as “conservative,” 27 percent say it’s a negative.
• 37 percent say “moderate” is a positive label, 13 percent say it’s a negative.
• 32 percent say “tea party” is a positive label.
• 56 percent of Republican voters agree.
• 38 percent of voters overall say the tea party label is a negative.
• 70 percent of Democrats agree.
• 31 percent of voters overall say “progressive” is a positive label, 26 percent say its negative.
• 21 percent say “liberal” is a positive label, 38 percent say it’s a negative.
What jumped out at me is the disparity between how the term “conservative” is received versus the term “tea party.” The positive/negative spread for “conservative” is 38/27, but it’s 32/38 for “tea party.” Now, conservative/tea party fares better than progressive/liberal, and that is probably worth a discussion in and of itself.* But I want to focus on the conservative versus tea party aspect of this poll for a moment. Continue reading
Alex of Christian Economics is a thoughtful guy who adheres to some economic theories (specifically the Modern Money Theory of economics) that I don’t hold with. Thus marking out one of my rare areas of agreement with Paul Krugman.
Alex and I were looking for topics to have a sort of slow-motion blog debate over, and there seems no better place to start than one of the bigger policy proposals which many MMT adherents support: having the government become an Employer of Last Resort. Alex has a substantive post up to day making the case for an employer of last resort program from a Catholic and economic point of view. I’ll be writing and posting reply-post in the next couple days.
A question arose yesterday in a thread, posed by Michael:
I have a real question. Homosexuality, as a sin an abomination, is mentioned in Leviticus. That book, however, also says:
– disrespect of parents should be punishable by death
– sleeping with a woman during her period should make both parties outcasts
– don’t eat pork
– shellfish are an abomination
So my question is, why are some of the verses ignored and others so important?
It is a good question and sometimes confuses Catholics and non-Catholics. The answer to the question is in the very earliest history of the Church. After the ascension of Jesus, the apostles went about the great task of making “disciples of all the nations”, and Christianity began to spread among Jew and Gentile alike. The question quickly arose as to whether Gentile converts would have to be circumcised (the males only of course!) and follow all of the Jewish laws regarding ritual purity. If they were asked to do this, it would mean a complete revolution in their life. They would no longer be able to even eat a meal with their Gentile relatives and friends. Like the Jews, the Christians would be a people set apart, cut off from interacting in the simplest ways with non-Jews for fear of violating the hundreds of laws of the Old Testament regarding ritual purity.