Monthly Archives: October 2011
This post was prompted by Kyle Cupp’s recent reflections on the “inviolability of human life” (Vox Nova October 6, 2011). Insofar as it concerns a republication of an essay pertinent to the topic of Kyle’s post, I will confine my own introduction to three responses that came to my mind during the course of reading.
First, with regards to the assertion that “any direct killing is not only an attack on the creature but an attack on God, which is always and everywhere evil” — I have often wondered how do advocates of this line of thought address God’s summary execution of Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament (Acts Chapter 5)?
Secondly, it seems to me that the adoption of a stance of absolute pacifism in some Christian circles flirts dangerously with the heresy of Marcionism — in that its adherents seem all too willing to draw a sharp divide between the God if the Israelites in the Old Testament (who was not above ordering Israel’s kings, prophets and judges to use lethal force, to say nothing of His own actions) and the by-and-large peaceful and nonviolent God of the New Testament (to which, again, the story of Ananias and Saphira might constitute an unsightly and conflicting blemish). This is exemplified in one reader’s comment:
More proof, if any were needed, that the so-called “Old Testament” should be consigned to the literature shelf, along with Homer and the rest of the primitive, pre-Christian texts. The “O.T.” can be cited to justify virtually any kind of homicide one should want to commit, including genocide. All one needs do is think that he’s channeling God’s will and he can kill with guilt-free abandon. Some call it piety; some call it pathology.
Cardinal Dulles once observed that the Old Testament the Mosaic Law specifies no less than thirty-six capital offenses calling for execution, and that while Jesus refrained from using force in most cases (a notable exeption being driving the money-changers from the temple with a whip), “at no point, however, does Jesus deny that the State has authority to exact capital punishment.” While he argued in opposition to the death penalty, he wisely saw that one could not do so in ignorance of, or opposition to, Catholic tradition. His example is worth emulating.
My third and final point has to do with the “dirty hands” perspective — the assertion that even in situations where killing is warranted (as a defensive measure), the mere act of taking human life itself is intrinsically immoral, the equasion of armed force with violance, and lethal force to murder, such that any resort to such is deemed necessarily sinful. Or as Kyle says: “Killing is always wrong, even when it’s right.” Curiously, I find this stance indicative of a distinctly Protestant mentality that dispenses with centuries of Catholic thought and tradition. (That said, we are in an age now where it seems that Protestant and Catholic voices have become indistinguishable on this very subject, with multiple fronts voicing indiscriminate condemnation of armed force without qualification).
This last and final point is best argued in the following essay, “War and the Eclipse of Moral Reasoning”, by Dr. Philip Blosser. (Republished here by kind permission of the author) — a discussion of which I hope will bear much fruit.
— Christopher Blosser Continue reading
“I thank God that I served as a sergeant and army chaplain in the First World War. How much I learned about the human heart during this time, how much experience I gained, what grace I received.”
Pope John XXIII
The seventh in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here and here. Throughout his life Kipling constantly returned to one theme in his poetry and prose: the common British soldier. Kipling did not romanticize them, being far too aware that they were merely fallible humans like the rest of us, and often the products of the school of hard knocks with many rough edges about them. However, he also recognized their virtues: courage, endurance, good humor and a willingness to place their lives at jeopardy for the rest of us. He never forgot the men who lived at the sharp end of the stick and who often got the short end of the stick from the society they protected. His poem Tommy brilliantly encapsulates this wretched ingratitude:
I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.
Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.
We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.
You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees! Continue reading
Rick Perry has suffered in the secular polls due to his performance in the debates, Herman Cain has gained traction, Mitt Romney has remained stable and just received an endorsement from Chris Christie who himself has officially stated he will not run for president (this time around). In addition both Sarah Palin and Thad McCotter have also announced they will not pursue the nomination, in all this, Rick Santorum has maintained a lead among TAC readers of all candidates.
Will Santorum continue his popularity among Catholics or not?
Here’s our latest poll so please vote after watching tonight’s GOP debate:
Good post from Carl Olson on Steve Jobs that casts a different light on the man than some of the hagiography that we’ve seen. What caught my attention and what I wanted to post about, however, was another article that he linked to which was written by Vaclav Smil. It hits upon a subject I’ve been meaning to blog about since Jobs’s death. The long and short of it: Steve Jobs was no Thomas Edison.
I have no desire to disparage or dismiss anything Jobs has done for his company, for its stockholders, or for millions of people who are incurably addicted to incessantly checking their tiny Apple phones or washing their brains with endless streams of music—I just want to explain why Jobs is no Edison. Continue reading
Pat Archbold at National Catholic Register has raised the question of who is your favorite and least favorite movie priests. I’ll pass on least favorite; too many nauseating candidates. My favorite is easy. Karl Malden gave the performance of a lifetime as Father Barry in On the Waterfront (1954) preaching an impromptu sermon over the dead body of a murdered longshoreman whose union is controlled by mobsters. Malden’s portrayal of a fearless tough priest telling the Gospel message to men cowed by their fear of the gangsters who control them is completely magnificent and unforgettable. Continue reading
There are a slew of politically based TV talk shows on network and cable television. Have you ever had the desire to see a conservative oriented talk show that wasn’t full of gimmicks, one that brought in guests from the conservative and liberal sides? Sadly the current state of affairs seems geared for conservatives to either engage in name calling, a tactic often used by liberals, or worse yet negotiate away the conservative truths in which we believe. There is a better way; announcing the television program Non Negotiable; a new type of political program hosted by Dave Hartline and Damon Owens.
Both Hartline and Owens have appeared on various national television and talk radio programs. In addition they have written national and web based articles. Non Negotiable was created and will be produced by television and movie producer Christian Peschken who himself hosted Radio & TV talk shows in Germany , before he came to America some twenty years ago. Peschken has produced a variety of television programs and feature films. In addition, he has produced a number of programs for EWTN.
Non Negotiable will have seven truths rooted in the ideas of the US Constitution and Natural Law. The hosts of the show will discuss what can and cannot be negotiated with regard to these seven time honored principals. If after a discussion the idea proposed doesn’t fit the 7 Point Criteria, the hosts will simply announce; “This Non Negotiable.” The program will debut in 2012. Currently Peschken is in negotiations with several cable networks with regard to purchasing airtime to reach 90 million potential households nationwide.
In 1996 the fledging Fox News Channel and their CEO Roger Ailes was laughed at by conservatives for putting Bill O’Reilly the host of a TV tabloid Show called Inside Edition as their number one Prime Time focus. Fifteen years later most political talk shows still try to copy O’Reilly’s The Factor. The point being that Ailes didn’t use conventional wisdom, his gut told him that Americans wanted something different, and so it is today with Producer Christian Peschken.
In 2012 the new political oriented TV talk show Non Negotiable will air in this pivotal election year. However, it is not just any election year but an election that comes against the backdrop of the most serious economic crisis since the Depression. Add to that a growing political movement called the Tea Party juxtaposed against a resurgent but as of late crestfallen liberal revival that first surfaced in 2006. These combustible ingredients parlay themselves into an attentive television audience the likes of which has never been seen in the modern, internet, social media age.
As this show’s production ramps up, there certainly are some of you out there, and you know who you are, who could help the investors get this show immediately up and running. Investors are being sought now to procure the necessary funds for this program series. Please keep this show in your prayers and look for updates as the fall of 2011 turns to winter.
To Contact Christian Peschken e-mail to Pesckenmedia@aol.com
The old saw is that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics, as if statistics were in some way a variety of lie. Of course, the issue is not so much that statistics are lies, as that statistics represent an attempt to simply quantify a terribly complex reality, and with simplification comes the opportunity for error — often error confirming the biases of the person doing the analysis.
The other day I ran into a very interesting exploration of one of those statistics which is often discussed — that “more families are in poverty” after the last three decades than was the case in the past. In 2006 Hoynes, Page and Stevens authored a paper entitled “Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations” which was published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. One of the interesting things they do is look at the trends in poverty by family type. The findings are fascinating:
No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service.
Another Columbus Day is upon us, and I always observe it with a post on the discoverer of the new world. Go here to read an earlier post on Columbus. The official observance this year in the US is on October 10, rather than on the date of the discovery of the New World which occurred on October 12. I have posted before the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the 400th anniversary of the discovery. This year we will take a closer look at his words, with comments interspersed by me.
QUARTO ABEUNTE SAECULO
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON
THE COLUMBUS QUADRICENTENNIAL
To Our Venerable Brethren, the Archbishops and
Bishops of Spain, Italy, and the two Americas.
Now that four centuries have sped since a Ligurian first, under God’s guidance, touched shores unknown beyond the Atlantic, the whole world is eager to celebrate the memory of the event, and glorify its author.
Pope Leo flatly states that Columbus was guided by God on his voyage of discovery. That is certainly in accord with what Columbus himself thought, as demonstrated by this excerpt from his letter to Raphael Sanchez, Treasurer of Ferdinand and Isabella, reporting on his first voyage:
But these great and marvellous results are not to be attributed to any merit of mine, but to the holy Christian faith, and to the piety and religion of our Sovereigns; for that which the unaided intellect of man could not compass, the spirit of God has granted to human exertions, for God is wont to hear the prayers of his servants who love his precepts even to the performance of apparent impossibilities. Thus it has happened to me in the present instance, who have accomplished a task to which the powers of mortal men had never hitherto attained; for if there have been those who have anywhere written or spoken of these islands, they have done so with doubts and conjectures, and no one has ever asserted that he has seen them, on which account their writings have been looked upon as little else than fables. Therefore let the king and queen, our princes and their most happy kingdoms, and all the other provinces of Christendom, render thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has granted us so great a victory and such prosperity. Let processions be made, and sacred feasts be held, and the temples be adorned with festive boughs. Let Christ rejoice on earth, as he rejoices in heaven in the prospect of the salvation of the souls of so many nations hitherto lost. Let us also rejoice, as well on account of the exaltation of our faith, as on account of the increase of our temporal prosperity, of which not only Spain, but all Christendom will be partakers.
Nor could a worthier reason be found where through zeal should be kindled. For the exploit is in itself the highest and grandest which any age has ever seen accomplished by man; and he who achieved it, for the greatness of his mind and heart, can be compared to but few in the history of humanity. By his toil another world emerged from the unsearched bosom of the ocean: hundreds of thousands of mortals have, from a state of blindness, been raised to the common level of the human race, reclaimed from savagery to gentleness and humanity; and, greatest of all, by the acquisition of those blessings of which Jesus Christ is the author, they have been recalled from destruction to eternal life.
Note that Pope Leo not only praises the spreading of Christianity, but also the raising up of the natives of the New World from “savagery to gentleness and humanity”. How the intellectual fashions have changed from the time of Pope Leo to our own day! Continue reading
Certainly some of the issues raises by the ongoing protests at Wall Street and various cities across America are worthy of serious discussion and debate: the disparity between economic classes, the government bailouts to the financial industry and cushy severance packages to failed CEO’s vs the majority of those who can barely scrape by month-to-month, or might have lost their jobs (and homes, and savings) with no such financial safety net (a discussion of such here with Rod Dreher).
If you want serious analysis of the events, I recommend this excellent coverage by Robert David Graham (Errata Security), providing the quality coverage lacking in the mainstream media.
At the same time, it’s hard not to see the whole gamut of political-ideological factions — anarchist, marxist, libertarian, “tea party” (although the latter are branded as infiltrators wishing to “co-opt” the demonstration) — assemble to voice to their righteous indignation, and observe the moments of unintentional comedy and occasional irony that result . . . if not for which we might take their message just a little more seriously: Continue reading
In good faith, Mr. Rich, I am more sorry for your perjury than mine own peril; and know you that neither I nor any one else to my knowledge ever took you to be a man of such credit as either I or any other could vouchsafe to communicate with you in any matter of importance.
Saint Thomas More
Two arresting scenes from A Man For All Seasons, (1966). Usually the second scene in the video clip is remembered for the statement by Sir Thomas More that he would give even the devil benefit of the law. I have written about that statement here. However there is another interesting facet to the pairing of these two scenes: a comparison of William Roper and Richard Rich.
Sir Thomas is fond of Roper the suitor of his daughter, and the fondness is obvious in the scene. However, he will not allow him to marry his daughter because he is a heretic. More notes that at one time Roper was a passionate churchman and now he is a passionate Lutheran and hopes that when his head stops spinning it will be to the front again. (Roper did become an orthodox Catholic again and remained one till his death, even under the reign of Bad Queen Bess.) In spite of Roper being something that Sir Thomas detests, that does not alter either his liking or his high regard for the young man. Why is this? Because Roper is obviously seeking after the truth and attempting to do what he thinks is right. Such good motivation is to be respected even when it reaches erroneous conclusions.
Richard Rich on the other hand lacks such motivation. More likes him also, but recognizes that he has no character. Rich will do whatever it takes for him to rise in the world, and if that involves immoral actions, so be it. Unlike Roper he lacks any good motivation or honest intent. (The historical Rich was a complete scoundrel and recognized as such at the time. He specialized in betrayals and making himself useful to whoever was in power at the time. Under Henry and Edward he persecuted Catholics, under Mary he persecuted Protestants, and under Elizabeth he was whatever she was. It is a sad commentary on the human condition that such an open, time-serving villain prospered and died in his bed, the founder of an aristocratic dynasty.) Continue reading
In a gesture of bi-partisanship: Continue reading
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
The poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by American John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) recounts a traditional Hindu tale still used as a caution against focusing too narrowly on one aspect of the truth and failing to see the “big picture”. It’s a mistake many if not all of us have made at one time or another.
Right now I believe this poem is being played out in the public square via the contrasting, but in some ways overlapping, goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement and those of the Tea Party which preceded it. These two movements, I think, have more in common than they may realize, but see themselves as polar opposites because each focuses on different aspects of the economic “elephant in the room” — the squeezing of the middle class.
They do not know what they say. If it came to a conflict of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians will not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources, and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, for our national sins.
Robert E. Lee
Something for the weekend. Further evidence of what a wild and wacky place the internet truly is! Quotations from Robert E. Lee teamed up with the Beatles song Let it Be. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the video, although for share emotional impact, and a nice recreation of what Lee meant to the ragged, indomitable troops in the Army of Northern Virginia, nothing can top this scene from Gettysburg: Continue reading
White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun. Continue reading
A former Washington Post editor, Jeanne McManus, has written a delightful article describing her experience as a student at Blessed Sacrament School, located east of Chevy Chase in Washington, DC. It’s a story that relates the experience of many who attended Catholic parochial schools between 1950 and 1967.
Some of the highlights:
- The black-and-white photo of the Class of 1961 contains mini-portraits of 53 students with their hair smoothed into submission, their collars somewhat straight for picture day.
- Each class was presided over by one Holy Cross nun. Students didn’t shuffle down the halls and change rooms for different classes, fused as they were that one nun and she to her students every day from 8:30 until 3:15, except for a brief mid-morning recess and a lunch break.
- Despite the student-teacher ratio, the students managed to read and write, solve math problems, learn world history and geography and, importantly, how to conduct ourselves in public.
- Under the iron rule of that one nun, tiny Sister Gonzaga, those 53 kids spilled out into the world of high school, from which they might graduate in 1965, then on to college, from which they might graduate in 1969. These are the children of the ’60s on the launch pad of that tumultuous decade, boys with flat-tops and girls with Peter Pan collars.
Sound familiar? Been there? Experienced that?
There’s a lot more in McManus’ article that deserves reading.
The Motley Monk grew up in Chicago, sharing a very similar experience, one that many others have commented they have also experience as well in locales as far flung and different as San Francisco, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, Boston, Grand Rapids, and Philadelphia. Could it that Catholic parochial schools were as uniform as were the uniforms that students wore?
But, The Motley Monk also happens to know personally about Blessed Sacrament School. In the late-1990s, he conducted a faculty in-service program for the school’s dedicated faculty.
When someone made an announcement over the loudspeaker system, The Motley Monk’s attention was drawn to one of the speakers. He noted the school’s letters emblazoned on on the speaker and as well as on all of the other speakers in the hall and, quite likely, on patches sewn onto every uniform.
Thinking back nearly four decades to seventh grade at Our Lady of the Wayside School in Arlington Heights, Illinois—where The Motley Monk was a student and the speakers and uniforms were similarly emblazoned with “OLW”—The Motley Monk asked the faculty if they ever wondered whether everything that blared over those speakers was “BS.”
Sister Gerald Francis, O.P., would never have approved of The Motley Monk’s observation. But, she surely would have laughed, just as the faculty and principal did.
To read Jeanne McManus’ article, click on the following link:
Right you are Klavan on the Culture! Conservative talk show personalities do owe a great debt to one group which has contributed more to their success that any other group: Liberals. Many liberals, through their over the top hatred of dissenting views, helped give vast publicity to the figures they hated and thus helped launch their careers and continue to give them endless publicity. So a round of applause for intolerant liberals! Continue reading
I have mixed emotions about Sarah Palin’s announcement that she won’t be running for the presidency. Though she would not have been my top choice had she entered the fray, she at least would have been in the portion of the field that I am still considering voting for (with Perry, Cain, Santorum and Gingrich). She would have provided a change of pace from the rest of the crop of candidates. And, frankly, I like her and think she’s a much more insightful and perceptive person than given credit for. But I am not convinced that her time is now, so it’s probably for the best that she is not part of the conversation for 2012.
One of the fascinating things in watching the conservative end of the blogosphere over the past few months is the intense reaction that Palin sparks. Of course there are her detractors, both right and left. Some of these individual – in particular the wannabe gynecologists – border on the pathological. There are valid criticisms to be levied against Palin, but I’ve seen otherwise reasonable people turn into irrational cranks when it comes to her. She may not have been the best candidate for president, but she is not quite the manipulative, dumb, vacuous or whatever adjective you want to throw out there individual that her most vocal critics have portrayed her as being. Continue reading