4

Auld Lang Syne

Something for the weekend.  Auld Lang Syne sung by the incomparable Arethra Franklin.  Written by the immortal Scots poet Bobby Burns in 1788, his poem captured perfectly the grandeur of human memory as it ponders the cherished past.  It is very appropriate that it has become an essential part of New Year’s Eve celebrations.  Here is his original version:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind ?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and auld lang syne ?

                                                                                                                   

For auld lang syne, my jo (or my dear),

for auld lang syne,

we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness

for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !

and surely I’ll be mine !

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

                                                                                                                   

We twa hae run about the braes,

and pu’d the gowans fine ;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,

sin auld lang syne.

                                                                                                                     

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,

frae morning sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

sin auld lang syne.

                                                                                                                          

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

and gie’s a hand o’ thine !

And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,

for auld lang syne.

Translated into Sassenach: Continue Reading

5

MSNBC/NY Times Poll Alert: “Are Religious Rights Being Trampled on by Government?”

Fr. Z says it best:

Perhaps other blogs will pick this up and help.

An article from the ultra-liberal New York Times (“Hell’s Bible”) is posted on the even more liberal MSNBC.

The article concerns the objections of the USCCB against pressure from the Obama Administration and/or states to force Catholic adoption agencies to allow homosexual “couples” to adopt.

You have to scroll down to the bottom of the MSNBC webpage to find the poll form.

Click here!

104

Yep, Ron Paul (R.Pluto) is Pretty Much of a Wackdoodle Isolationist

That Ron Paul is a conspiracy believing nutcase as the video above indicates should not be controversial.  This is the man who was the keynote speaker at the John Birch Society fiftieth anniversary dinner in 2008, an organization that has embraced such bizarre conspiracy theories as Eisenhower being a Communist and water fluoridation being a Communist plot.  Throughout his career he has given a wink and a nod to most paranoid conspiracy groups on the right.  We see this most clearly in the newsletters that came out for over a decade in his name.  Ron Paul claims now not to know what was in those newsletters which I find passing strange since he earned a million bucks on them in one year alone (1993).  However, Ron Paul the crank and coddler of cranks is not the focus of this post.  This post is concerned with Ron Paul the isolationist.  That he is an isolationist, and not simply a non-interventionist as he claims,  was amply demonstrated in  a recent column by Eric Dondero who worked for Paul for 12 years:

Ron Paul is most assuredly an isolationist.  He denies this charge vociferously.  But I can tell you straight out, I had countless arguments/discussions with him over his personal views.  For example, he strenuously does not believe the United States had any business getting involved in fighting Hitler in WWII.  He expressed to me countless times, that “saving the Jews,” was absolutely none of our business.  When pressed, he often times brings up conspiracy theories like FDR knew about the attacks of Pearl Harbor weeks before hand, or that WWII was just “blowback,” for Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy errors, and such.

Continue Reading

8

Predictions for 2012

Time for my annual predictions for the coming year, once again boldly going where angels, although not fools, fear to tread:

1.  The GOP will retain the House in the 2012 elections.  Both parties in the House assume that is going to happen, as nine Democrats, most of them  veteran members, are retiring, to zip for the GOP.

2.  The GOP will gain the Senate.   21 Democrats, 10 Republican and 2 Independent seats are up, and the GOP only needs to flip 4, or 3 if they win the White House.  I see the GOP flipping Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nebraska and North Dakota, with possibles in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia.  I see the Democrats flipping Massachusetts with a possible in Nevada.

3.  Despite a lacklustre group of candidates I do believe that the GOP will gain the White House.  The economy is simply too dismal for this election to be anything except a referendum on Obama’s stewardship of the economy, and I do not think that all the campaign money and friendly media in the world can transform this particular pig’s ear into a silk purse.  Jay Cost, one of the best political analysts extant, has a good article here detailing the odds against Obama.  Heaven knows that missteps by the GOP could help Obama a great deal, but at the end I think there are just too many people who believe the country is on the wrong track for Obama to win.

4.  A repeat from last year:  either North Korea or Iran will go through a violent revolution that will topple one of the regimes in 2012.

5.  A major terrorist incident will occur in the United States during the coming year as the jihadists attempt some payback for Osama, and as the factions among the terrorists jockey for power. Continue Reading

Ave Atque Vale Cheeta

One of the last remaining survivors of the Golden Age of Hollywood has passed away:

It is with great sadness that the community has lost a dear friend and family member on December 24, 2011,” the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor announced on its website.

Cheetah had performed in Tarzan The Ape Man (1932) and Tarzan And His Mate (1934), classic films about a man reared in the jungle starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan.

The chimpanzee – who arrived at the sanctuary in 1960 – loved finger-painting and watching football and was soothed by Christian music, the sanctuary’s outreach director Debbie Cobb told the Tampa Tribune.

Back in the Sixties the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies were replayed endlessly on TV, and as a boy I loved them.  Completely inaccurate as to Africa, and with plots as skimpy as some of the costumes worn by Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane, they were always good, and, not infrequently, hilarious entertainment.  I have always treasured Tarzan’s commentary on the legal system in Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942) where an evil circus owner is attempting to use the courts to win custody of Boy: Continue Reading

4

Putting Their Mouths Where Their Money Could Be

So much for the “patriotic millionaires” trotted out by the Democrats calling for higher taxes.  The dirty little secret of course is that the truly mega rich have elaborate tax planning to avoid paying one thin dime more than they have to in regard to taxes.  An increase in rates would have little impact on them.  If they were truly patriotic they would be calling for some variant of a flat tax on all income with the elimination of all tax shelters.  The poster child for this call by the very wealthy for higher taxes is Warren Buffet.  Gee Warren, maybe you could start by having your company pay the billion the Feds say it owes. Continue Reading

5

Remembrance of Predictions Past 2011

 

Well, as the end of the year looms, it is time for me to review the predictions for the year 2011 that I made at the end of 2010.  Predictions for 2012 will be forthcoming after I eat some crow here:

 

1.  The global warming scam/sham will continue to unravel.  I only hope we recall this episode the next time elites around the globe use junk science as an excuse in order to attempt to remake civilization.

True.  We had the second release of e-mails on climate gate.  Canada withdrew from the Kyoto accords and almost all other nations appear to be ignoring them.  The UN Climate Conference which recently concluded put off doing anything to reduce carbon levels until 2020.

2.  The Republicans in the House will put a halt to Obama’s legislative agenda, and Obama will veto most bills originating in the House that make it to his desk.

Yes and No.  The House Republicans have put a stop to Obama’s legislative agenda, but they have not been able to get any of their own agenda through the Senate.

3.  There will be considerable friction between the GOP in the House and the Republican Rinos in the Senate.

Yes, and you can triple underline that prediction!

4.  The economy will begin to improve with unemployment ending the year around 7.5%.

Perhaps a very slight improvement, but unemployment is still at a ghastly 8.6%.

5.  Either the North Korean or the Iranian government will be toppled in a violent overthrow.

Not yet, but the signs are not good for either regime.  In the spring Iraq weathered a bout of huge protest marches and riots.  Now, Iran is undergoing constant huge explosions and sabotage.  Who is behind this?  Israel, the US, internal opposition, all of the above?  No one knows, but the inability of the Iranian regime to put a stop to it is a hot topic of conversation throughout Iran.

In regard to North Korea the latest Fearless Leader has bitten the dust, and his son, Fearless Leader III, is apparently not completely in control yet.  North Korea could blow at any time, or it could remain a Stalin museum peace for decades.  One safe prediction is that when it falls, it will be swift and bloody:  think Ceaucescu in Romania in 1989.  The problem for us with that analogy is that Ceaucescu, unlike the Stalinists in charge in North Korea, did not have nuclear weapons at his beck and call.  I hope the South Koreans have been attempting to bribe the relevant North Korean generals to act to keep the powers that be in North Korea from taking Seoul with them when they go.

6.  Republican controlled legislative chambers around the country will pass pro-life bills, continuing the process of chipping away at Roe.

True.  Go here for a rundown on some of the legislation. Continue Reading

17

Is this where Protestantism is headed in the United States?

A recently released LifeWay Research report indicates that 10% of Protestant pastors did not plan to hold services on Christmas Day.  Commenting upon this finding, the President of LifeWay Research, Ed Stetzer, said:

Having church on Christmas Day when it falls on a Sunday seems as if it would be as much of a given as having Thanksgiving on a Thursday, but this has been an issue of discussion and contention in recent years.  Also, just because an overwhelming majority of pastors think that way doesn’t mean those in their congregations necessarily share their perspective.

 

The data are worth contemplating:

  • 6% of Protestant churches planned to have a Christmas Eve service, but no service on Christmas Day.  28% planned to have service on Christmas Day, but no service on Christmas Eve.  63% planned to hold services on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Compared to other regions of the nation, Protestant pastors in the South are the least likely (62%) to hold Christmas Eve services.
  • Full-time (71%) and part-time (74%) pastors are more likely to be planning a Christmas Eve service than bivocational or volunteer (53%) pastors.  Pastors identifying themselves as “mainline” (87%) are more likely to have a service on Christmas Eve compared to those identifying themselves as Evangelical (70%).
  • Nearly as many Protestant pastors plan to host services on New Year’s Day (88%) as Christmas Day (91%).  26% are planning for their church to hold services on New Year’s Eve.
  • 74% of Americans agree (strongly or somewhat) that “Christmas is primarily a day for religious celebration and observance.”  But, 67% agree that, “Many of the things I enjoy during the Christmas season have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.”

 

Is this snapshot in time an anomaly or does it portend what will become a trend?  What may be going on here?

The Motley Monk offers two interpretations:

  1. Secularism: “Christmas” has become “Giftmas.”  Electronic devices, snacks, and food provide the glue binding families together   Having everything we want, who needs the Incarnation?
  2. Me and My God – We’re fine with each other:  Like it or not, the liturgies planned for the “domestic church” are far more meaningful to many people today.  Celebrating the Christmas and Easter liturgies as well as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day liturgies at home builds up the domestic church.  And don’t forget the mega-liturgy of Super Bowl Sunday!  Requiring attendance at church on a family day is nothing but a man-made legalism, forcing people to focus upon an institution and contributing big collections than it is about authentic worship of God.

 

Where these two ideas hold sway, it makes sense that pastors would limit the number of worship services.  After all, many have families of their own!

But, as this idea takes root in a congregation, it is likely to become engrained as an attitude in young people.  In a generation or two, public worship on Christmas Day (and Easter Sunday) becomes an artifact of a quaint but bygone era.

 

Golfing is a form of worship as is community service

 

These results reveal nothing new to The Motley Monk.  It’s an attitude held by many of his European friends who identify themselves as Christian.  For them, celebrating Christmas and Easter are important family liturgies that do not require attending church services.  These friends assert that “spirituality” is a very important part of their lives but is entirely unrelated to belonging to or practicing any institutional form of religion.

The Motley Monk respectfully disagrees.  This attitude slowly erodes families and society of the important moral values that religion and religious practices inculcate.

How long will it before Festivus replaces Christmas so that no one will be offended?

 

 

Let the discussion begin…

 

 

To read the LifeWay article, click on the following link:
http://www.lifeway.com/Article/LifeWay-Research-Pastors-plan-to-host-Christmas-services-despite-busyness-of-Christmas-Day

3

One Horse Open Sleigh

To hear most recordings of “Jingle Bells”, you wouldn’t know that the song dates back to 1850, when it was published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh”. However, this (sadly out of print) recording by the Robert DeCormier Singers and Ensemble back in 1984 does a wonderful job of putting the history back into this classic. Seeing as it’s difficult to get hold of copies of the original album these days, I’ve ventured to put it up on YouTube.

While in general I’m a stickler for sacred Christmas Music, this is just so charming it’s hard to pass up. A merry Christmas to all our readers!

5

One Solitary Life

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

                                                       H.G. Wells

 

 

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

 

I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.

                                           Napoleon

 

 

 

16

A Proclamation

 

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,

desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,

being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception,

was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh. Continue Reading

10

Saint Athanasius On the Incarnation

His epitaph is Athanasius contra mundum, “Athanasius against the world.” We are proud that our own country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same. He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, “whole and undefiled,” when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius—into one of those “sensible” synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.

                                                                                        CS Lewis

Something for the weekend.  O Holy Night sung by Celtic Woman.  I can think of nothing more appropriate for Christmas Eve than this passage from On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius:

 

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father’s Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.

3

Mental Exercise and the Devil’s Advocate

Looking at that title, I really wish I could make a post worthy of it!

That said, this will have to do, I suppose.

There are enough geeks on this blog that I can hope someone else read the old defense of The Empire from Star Wars, written long before the new movies came out; it can be summed up as “great, they killed the Emperor. Hello, power vacuum– who’s going to pay the police now? Who’s going to be in charge, the Hutts?”

In keeping with the season, I offer this from NRO:
Scrooge: The First 1 Percenter.

A sample:

Either way, such actions are not really going to do much to improve the human condition. I contend that Scrooge, before he became “enlightened,” was already doing more to help his fellow man than any of the other main characters we meet in A Christmas Carol. Moreover, by giving away a substantial portion of his accumulated fortune, he drastically reduced his ability to do even more good in the world. Continue Reading

5

The Veepstakes: Who Cares?

The other day Pat Archbold wrote a post lamenting that Condoleeza Rice may be positioning herself for a run at the Vice Presidential nomination.  Though I agree with Patrick that she would be an unacceptable choice, it’s probably nothing to worry about.  Frankly it just seemed as though the Washington Times was attempting to make a story out of nothing.

It did prompt me to think about the attention that gets paid to Vice Presidential selections.  What I concluded was that this decision is generally inconsequential, and it’s foolish to determine one’s vote based on this selection. Continue Reading

10

Persecution of Christians in Egypt

 

As we Christians in the West celebrate Christmas, we should remember our brothers and sisters in other parts of the World who risk their lives daily for their faith.  Powerline has a moving story on the persecution of Copts in Egypt.  This persecution has been going on since the Muslim conquest of Egypt 13 centuries ago.  It is centuries past time that we do something about this.

The persecution of Christians in Egypt is one of the mysteriously underreported stories of our time. At Big Peace, Charles Jacobs writes:

Gordon College is a Christian school between Salem and Rockport. A few weeks ago I spoke there at a commemoration of Kristallnacht, Germany’s night of broken glass, the first mass assault on Europe’s Jews and the harbinger of the Shoah. I told the Christian audience how good it was to feel Christian support for Jews in these times, and that even some of the most stubborn of my people were now appreciating Evangelical support for Israel. I also said that we felt this blessed support came from a spirit of Christian altruism. But given the news from the Middle East, concern for others is surely not the only reason Christians need to support Israel.

I asked how many in the audience of 250 knew of Anne Frank. Almost every hand shot up. Then I asked how many had heard of Ayman Labib. I got a mass blank stare. Ayman was a 17-year-old Egyptian Christian who just weeks ago was beaten to death by his Muslim classmates as teachers watched because he refused their demand to remove his cross necklace.

I asked how many knew about the Maspero massacre, which had left at least 24 Copts dead and 270 injured. And whether they knew that since January, there had been more than 70 attacks on Christian churches or institutions in Egypt. Continue Reading

9

Christmas 1944: Battle of the Bulge

In 1944 at Christmas the American and German armies were fighting it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

Patton’s Third Army fought its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather.  Patton prayed the prayer, the scene from the movie Patton depicting this may be viewed here.  The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle.  On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops: Continue Reading

14

Christmas is the Time To Nag Your Relatives to Vote for Obama!

Hattip to Verum Serum.  Sheesh, how more cult like can they get?  Nagging your relatives about politics at family get-togethers, especially over Christmas, strikes me as a good way to drive a stake through family good feeling.  One of the great things about family is that you are thrown in with people you do not choose.  If you like them great, but you tolerate and associate with them even if you do not because they are blood and marriage relatives.  Families help teach us how to get along with people we might not have chosen to associate with, but for the accident of being related.  This mandates tolerance for differences with relatives who interact with us because we are family.  Using a family relationship as an opportunity for political propaganda strikes me as completely wrong-headed, and having a campaign adopt this as an official tactic of the campaign leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

15

Do Greeks Work Harder Than Germans?

Matt Yglasias has a piece in Slate attempting to counter the “if the Euro is going to work, Greeks are going to have to learn to work hard like Germans” line of thinking.

It’s true that Germans and Greeks work very different amounts, but not in the way you expect. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average German worker put in 1,429 hours on the job in 2008. The average Greek worker put in 2,120 hours. In Spain, the average worker puts in 1,647 hours. In Italy, 1,802. The Dutch, by contrast, outdo even their Teutonic brethren in laziness, working a staggeringly low 1,389 hours per year.

If you recheck your anecdata after looking up the numbers, you’ll recall that on that last trip to Florence or Barcelona you were struck by the huge number of German (or maybe they were Dutch or Danish) tourists around everywhere.

The truth is that countries aren’t rich because their people work hard. When people are poor, that’s when they work hard. Platitudes aside, it takes considerably more “effort” to be a rice farmer or to move sofas for a living than to be a New York Times columnist. It’s true that all else being equal a person can often raise his income by raising his work rate, but it’s completely backward to suggest that extraordinary feats of effort are the way individuals or countries get to the top of the ladder. On the national level the reverse happens—the richer Germans get, the less they work.
Continue Reading

5

10 Differences Between Obama and Jesus

 

Matthew Archbold started this meme over at Creative Minority Report, and I am going with it:

10.  Jesus cured the sick and the lame.  Obama is lame.

9.    Jesus walked on water.  Members of the Obama cult think Obama walks on water.

8.    Jesus drove the money changers from the Temple.  Obama squeezes them for contributions.

7.     Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”  Obama only got the first four words of that quotation.

6.     Jesus was a Jew.  Obama is a (fill in the blank.)

5.     Jesus rode a jackass into Jerusalem.  Obama relied on the votes of jackasses to ride into Washington. Continue Reading

1

Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 11:1-5

 

 

Concluding our Advent look at Messianic prophecies, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here and herewe come to Isaiah 11: 1-5:

 

[1] And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. [2] And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. [3] And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. [4] But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: land he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. [5] And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins. Continue Reading

4

Festivals of Light

 

Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival.

Josephus

I have always thought it fitting that Christmas and Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, are so close together usually on the calendar.  Approximately 160 years before the Coming of Christ, the Jews revolted against the Seleucid Empire.  This was one of the most important struggles in all of human history.    It determined that the Jews would remain a people set apart, worshiping Yahweh, and not become, like so many Peoples before and since, a lost people, blended into larger populations, their god forgotten.  It was this revolt, led by Mattathias, his name meaning “gift of Yahweh”, and his sons, known collectively as the Maccabees, that is told in First and Second Maccabees.  The revolt was successful, but ultimately, through civil wars and the overpowering military might of Rome, the Jews again fell under foreign domination, and Jesus was born into a world ruled by Rome.  However, the revolt established that the Jews would remain a separate people, worshiping their God and safeguarding their faith.  This was an essential element in setting the stage for the coming of Christ. Continue Reading

2

Washington at Bay

Each year, as Christmas is approaching, I think of a Christmas long ago in 1776.  The year in which we declared our independence from Great Britain was a year of military disaster for the United States.  Washington and his troops had been beaten time after time, and as the end of the year approached the Revolution seemed to be dying.  The British controlled New York, the largest city in the colonies and the major port.  New Jersey had been conquered.  The Continental Congress was in flight from Philadelphia, in expectation that the British would next move on that city.  Washington’s army had been reduced to around 5,000 ill-clad and ill-fed poorly trained troops, vastly outnumbered by their British adversaries and their Hessian mercenaries, all well-trained, well equipped, well clad and well fed.  Most of the enlistments of Washington’s troops would be up by the end of the year, and few of them seemed likely to re-enlist.  Defeat seemed all but inevitable to all but Washington.  In this hour of doom, he rallied his troops and launched the Trenton-Princeton campaign, which restored the morale of his Army, liberated much of New Jersey, and put new heart into American patriots everywhere.  Washington had worked a military miracle.

The feat is all the more impressive, in that privately Washington was well-aware of the odds against him, and feared that defeat was probably likely.  We see that in two letters he wrote on December 10 and 17, 1776, to his nephew Lund Washington, who ran Mount Vernon in his absence:

Dear Lund:

    * * * * *

    I wish to Heaven it was in my power to give you a more favorable account of our situation than it is. Our numbers, quite inadequate to the task of opposing that part of the army under the command of General Howe, being reduced by sickness desertion, and political deaths (on or before the first instant, and having no assistance from the militia), were obliged to retire before the enemy, who were perfectly well informed of our situation, till we came to this place, where I have no idea of being able to make a stand, as my numbers, till joined by the Philadelphia militia, did not exceed three thousand men fit for duty. Now we may be about five thousand to oppose Howe’s whole army, that part of it excepted which sailed under the command of Gen. Clinton. I tremble for Philadelphia. Nothing, in my opinion, but Gen. Lee’s speedy arrival, who has been long expected, though still at a distance (with about three thousand men), can save it. We have brought over and destroyed all the boats we could lay our hands on upon the Jersey shore for many miles above and below this place; but it is next to impossible to guard a shore for sixty miles, with less than half the enemy’s numbers; when by force or strategem they may suddenly attempt a passage in many different places. At present they are encamped or quartered along the other shore above and below us (rather this place, for we are obliged to keep a face towards them) for fifteen miles. *** Continue Reading

31

Following the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary…

It’s another year and it’s yet another billboard that the self-proclaimed Anglican “progressive” church—St. Matthew’s-in-the-City Church—in Auckland, New Zealand, has posted to get people to consider the authentic meaning of Christmas.

Two years ago, the billboard depicted Mary and a dejected-looking Joseph lying in bed, with the tagline, “Poor Joseph, God was a hard act to follow.”  Last year, the billboard read, “For those who can’t make Mass this Christmas, we’ve blessed this billboard. (Go ahead, touch it).”  After a storm, the church bottled and auctioned online the rainwater running off the billboard, calling it “holy water,” to raise money for the church’s charity work.

This year, the billboard depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary after reading the results of her early pregnancy test.

The Blessed Virgin Mary gets her early pregnancy test results

According to a CNSNews.com article, the pseudo-Renaissance style billboard carries no tagline.  Instead, the church’s leaders, vicar Glynn Cardy and associate priest Clay Nelson, have invited people to offer their own thoughts.

One Catholic activist, Arthur Skinner of the Catholic Action Group, took the church leaders at their word.  Skinner expressed his thoughts by tearing the billboard in half during a prayer protest.  In a television interview, he said:

Even people who aren’t Catholics know instinctively you don’t attack the Blessed Virgin who gave us the savior of the world.  To see this at this time is an absolute abomination.

Skinner warned that if the provocative image is replaced, he will damage it again.

Cardy and Nelson denounced Skinner’s self-expression as representing “Christian intolerance.”  They said:

Frankly, we are tired of Christian intolerance—and embarrassed by it.  When will we recognize that none of us have the whole truth?  When will we recognize that those who hold contrary opinions are not “of the devil?  When will we recognize that truth comes in many guises, often in unexpected ways?

Okay, like it or not, the church’s leaders are “inclusive” of a “diversity” of belief and they are inviting people to express their beliefs.

However, while the billboard undoubtedly “pushes the envelope,” it doesn’t offend or outrage The Motley Monk.  Yes, an EPT test doesn’t conform with scripture.  Yes, bigots will post thoughts ridiculing Christian doctrine.  Yes, some zealots will be offended and outraged, using the billboard to express themselves.  And yes, The Motley Monk would not have posted the billboard.

But, all of that overlooks how the billboard depicts something substantive, namely, the genuinely human element present at the Annunciation that is entirely in conformity with scripture.  Following God’s will oftentimes presents tremendous challenges and at great personal cost.  The substantive question is whether or not a person will accept those challenges and pay those costs.

That said, if The Motley Monk had the opportunity to express his thoughts, he would paint a tag line at the bottom of the billboard’s sign: “Let it be done unto me, according to your word.”

 

Let the discussion begin…

 

To read the CNSNews.com article, click on the following link:
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/progressive-church-offers-christmas-billboard-showing-virgin-mary-pregnancy-test

6

The Deification of Political Opinion

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic is discussing the legacy of Christopher Hitchens and the reactions to his death by various commentators, including discussion of whether “not speaking ill of the dead” should apply to public figures. I was struck by this quote of a quote:

As Cook put it: “it must not be forgotten in mourning him that he got the single most consequential decision in his life horrifically, petulantly wrong”

Is this someone being rather hard on Hitchen’s strident atheism, which went to extremes such as loudly mocking Mother Teresa and her work in the most excessive and vulgar terms? Is some health nut going after his heavy smoking and binge drinking? Is some woman upset by the way his literary bad boy persona spilled over into his relationships? No, the topic is Hitchen’s opinion on the Iraq War:

indeed: “People make mistakes. What’s horrible about Hitchens’ ardor for the invasion of Iraq is that he clung to it long after it became clear that a grotesque error had been made…”

I could see someone arguing that the Iraq War was the “single most consequential decision” in President Bush’s life, or Dick Cheney’s life, or even that of some major military figure. But Hitchen’s was a literary and opinion journalist. That his thoughts on the Iraq War could somehow end up being the most “consequential” in his life suggests a view in which simply having a political opinion on some issue of the day is more important in one’s life than anything one actually does.

This seems like an increasingly common way of thinking. As people decide that they are “basically good people” and banish morality from the bedroom, the living room, and the board room, they come to see morality as being the alignment with larger groups on the big issues of the day. Only the scrupulous worry about the morality of the mundane. Instead, morality is determined by how one addresses the big capitalized phrases of the moment: the War on Terror, Poverty, Inequality, Gay Rights, the Environment, etc.

This, it seems to me, couldn’t be more backwards. Sure, what one thinks on various matters of the day is indicative of one’s moral and personal choices, but the most consequential decisions of our lives are those we make about how we treat those around us on a day in and day out basis — and whether we accept as the ruler and guide of those decisions our Maker.

31

Separation of Powers is sooooooo 18th Century

Good or bad, this is what you get with Newt Gingrich:

GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich said Congress has the power to dispatch the Capitol Police or U.S. Marshals to apprehend a federal judge who renders a decision lawmakers broadly oppose.

Gingrich says if there is broad opposition to a court decision, Congress should subpoena the ruling judge to defend his or her action in a hearing room.

When asked if Congress could enforce the subpoena by sending the Capitol Police to arrest a judge, Gingrich assented.

“If you had to,” Gingrich said. “Or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send the U.S. Marshall.”

Gingrich cites the 9th Circuit’s decision that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional as a prime example of why such a reform would be necessary.  It’s easy to use examples like this of judicial indiscretion in order to justify such drastic action.  Yet what of judicial interventions where the Court and not the legislature is acting in accord with the Constitution?  I can think of several examples where conservatives cheered – rightfully – when the Supreme Court overturned an act of Congress.  In US v Lopez, US v. Morrison, and Citizens United v. FEC, just to name a few cases, the Supreme Court acted on the side of the Constitution as opposed to Congress, and did so presumably against the majority will.  As we speak the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about the individual mandate and other aspects of Obamacare, and once again conservatives (again rightfully) will be hoping for the Court to rule against the democratically elected branches.

No one is more aware than me of how out of control the judiciary has been, particularly since the age of FDR.  What Gingrich and other populist-conservatives fail to appreciate is that the judiciary’s wholesale assault against the Constitution is but a symptom of what plagues this Nation.  After all, how did we wind up with a judiciary willing to disregard the Constitution?  They didn’t just appear out of magic.  Years of progressive education instilled these judges with an attitude that the Constitution is a “living, breathing” document that ought to bend to the whims of the age.  More importantly, it was democratically elected leaders like FDR who put these men and women on the courts.

Furthermore, it is odd to suggest that one of the ways to stop the politicization of the judiciary is to further politicize the judiciary.  Will judges act as independent arbiters of the Constitution if they know they are going to be hauled before the legislature for making the wrong call?

Long story short, I don’t think Gingrich is entirely wrong to highlight the problems of the judiciary.   It absolutely must be a theme of this and any federal campaign.  But Gingrich is missing the forest for the trees in singling out the judiciary when it’s an entire political philosophy – and, for that matter, political party – that is the problem.

Another thing that strikes me about this statement is how unrealistic it is.  Even if Gingrich becomes president and has resounding Republican majorities in both Houses there is virtually no chance that anything like this will happen.  This is mere bombast.  Now, it is perhaps an exercise in rhetorical exaggeration used to highlight an important issue.  But ultimately this reveals a problem that goes beyond Newt, and it is the absurdity of our presidential campaign system.  Each candidate feels compelled to offer pie in the sky proposals in an effort to appeal to some constituency.  Even more troubling is that the underlying attitude is that the president is some kind of emperor as opposed to the chief executive of a constitutional republic.  Even though this particular proposal is likely going nowhere, it is a sad fact that the presidency has become a hyped up institution that has grown well beyond the powers outlined in the Constitution.  So the ultimate irony is that while Newt is proposing a radical plan under the guise of restoring balance to the Constitution, he is only furthering the imbalance of the Constitution and the respective powers of each branch of government.  And while the Star Wars prequels may have been otherwise useless, at least they taught us a valuable lesson about trying to “restore balance” to anything.

14

Lying Worst Governor in the Country

Imagine California without the sunshine, New York without the cultural elan, New Jersey without Chris Christie. That’s Illinois.

I have previously deemed the Governor of Illinois, Patrick Quinn (D.), the worst governor in the country.  Go here to read the post in which I bestowed the title.  After his meeting with the Illinois bishops on Friday December 16, 2011, I have attached “Lying” to his title.  The bishops asked for the meeting to protest the constant pro-abortion advocacy of Quinn.  After the meeting here is what Quinn said:

“A lot of the discussion was how we could work together to fight poverty, help the people who are less fortunate and need a helping hand,” Quinn told the Sun-Times as he left a Christmas toy give-away on the Far South Side. “Getting people jobs, helping people who don’t have enough food to eat — that’s what the church’s social mission is all about.”

This was too much for the bishops and they released the following statement: Continue Reading

4

My Official Protest – A Two Part Announcement

Part I.  In gratitude for the authorial opportunity granted to me by The American Catholic, I would like to use this forum to host my official “Announcement of Protest.”  Let it be forth known that from this point forward, I am protesting.  The status quo has become too much of a status, and as for the quo … well, who knew what that ever really meant.  Yes, I am protesting, and as such, I am a protester.

Part II.  I would now like you to all join me in a round of congratulations.  Growing up in small-town Ohio, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”  It is humbling, of course, to be in the company of George W. Bush, Pope John Paul II, and Henry Kissinger.  When I receive my plaque from Time, I will be hosting a party, and all of you are invited.

Part II(B).  As an added bonus to using an online forum for my official announcement, it turns out I have post facto been named “Person of the Year” for 2006.  This secondary plaque will be occasion for a separate, but equally elaborate, celebration, to which all of you are also invited.

Part II(B)(iv).  It is unclear at this point whether or not I won the same award post facto for the 1969 prize.  While certainly a “Middle American,” I was not yet born.  I have sent a request for clarification to the good folks at Time.  I will await the official word before scheduling the third celebration.

Part II(B)(iv)(e).  My MacBook Pro is under the impression that it should receive the 1982 prize.  I tried to tell it that this was just plain silly, but now it is officially protesting me, thereby potentially qualifying it for not one, but two prizes.  It has sent a clarification Tweet to Time.  In the event that it is correct, the computer can plan its own darn party.

5

Vaclav Havel: Requiescat In Pace

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.
                                                                     Vaclav Havel

 

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has died.  One of the giants of our time, he was one of the dissident heroes in the Eighties who helped end Communist rule in Eastern Europe.  He was also a profound thinker and writer.  In recent years, although his own personal religious beliefs were murky, he has bemoaned the atheism and the flight from God that has become a hallmark of modern Europe.  Last year he gave a remarkable speech, in which the following passage sums up what is wrong with Europe and much of the rest of the West:

We are living in the first truly global civilisation. That means that whatever comes into existence on its soil can very quickly and easily span the whole world.

But we are also living in the first atheistic civilisation, in other words, a civilisation that has lost its connection with the infinite and eternity. For that reason it prefers short-term profit to long-term profit. What is important is whether an investment will provide a return in ten or fifteen years; how it will affect the lives of our descendants in a hundred years is less important. Continue Reading

1

Advent Light in Darkest Night

 It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for a waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God the Lord put them.

Father Alfred Delp, SJ

During Advent 1944 Father Alfred Delp, a Jesuit, wrote a reflection on Advent.  Go here to read it.  It is a fine Advent meditation.  The circumstances of its writing demonstrate that the light of Christ, which I have always felt most strongly during Advent, can permeate any darkness.  Father Delp wrote it while he was a prisoner of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.

Alfred Delp first saw the light of this world on September 15, 1907 in Mannheim Germany.  The son of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, he was raised as a Protestant although he was baptized as a Catholic.  He was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1921.  Following a bitter argument with his Lutheran pastor, he embraced Catholicism, made his first communion and was confirmed.  His Catholic pastor, seeing rare intelligence in the boy, arranged for him to continue his studies.

In 1926 he joined the Jesuits.  In 1937 he was ordained as a priest.  His further philosophical studies curtailed at  the University of Munich due to his anti-Nazi beliefs, Father Delp worked on a Jesuit publication until it was suppressed by the Nazis in April 1941.  He was then assigned as rector of Saint Georg church in Munich.  All the while he was helping Jews escape into Switzerland.  Father Delp’s Jesuit provincial Augustin Rosch was active in the anti-Nazi underground.  He introduced Father Delp to the Kreisau Circle of anti-Nazi activists.  Father Delp taught Catholic social teaching to the Circle and arranged contacts between them and  Catholic leaders. Continue Reading

10

Sly, Bruno, and Arnold Together Again

Action films have always been a favorite of mine and nothing comes close to action as those from the 80s.  With Expendables 2 coming out any man worth his salt will make a beeline to the nearest theater to watch an ensemble of some of the best of the 80s and today’s action stars.

In addition to Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger you see my personal favorite Jason Statham along with Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Chuck Norris, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.  Of course there are more, but I’ll let you all figure the rest out in this trailer.

2

Messianic Prophecies: Numbers 16-19

Something for the weekend.  We Three Kings Of Orient Are.  Continuing on with our Advent look at Messianic prophecies, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here and here we come to Numbers 16-19:

[16] The hearer of the words of God hath said, who knoweth the doctrine of the Highest, and seeth the visions of the Almighty, who falling hath his eyes opened: [17] I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near. A STAR SHALL RISE out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel: and shall strike the chiefs of Moab, and shall waste all the children of Seth. [18] And he shall possess Idumea: the inheritance of Seir shall come to their enemies, but Israel shall do manfully. [19] Out of Jacob shall he come that shall rule, and shall destroy the remains of the city.

Origen, writing in the first half of the third century tied this prophecy of Balaam to the Star of Bethlehem: Continue Reading

2

Catholic Identity and the New Translation

The Collect for this Sunday should give us pause and a moment to think about Catholic identity.  Before giving you the new text, let’s take a gander at what we heard this past year:
Lord,
fill our hearts with your love,
and as you revealed to us by an angel
the coming of your Son as man,
so lead us through his suffering and death
to the glory of his resurrection,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Now, we could go through the Latin and point out the deficiencies in this translation, but there is something larger at stake here.  To see it, let’s look at the Latin, but more importantly the new translation.  The Latin text reads,
Gratiam tuam, quaesumus Domine,
mentibus nostris infunde,
ut qui, Angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem 
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.
Some people may already see the connection I am hinting at.  For the rest of us, myself included, reading the new translation brought the whole thing to light:
Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The Angelus (1857–59) by Jean-François Millet
The above is the familiar prayer from the close of the Angelus.  The Angelus is the prayer of the Incarnation that has been recited by Catholics throughout the centuries three times daily: 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm.  The prayer itself goes back at least 700 years, but probably even to the eleventh century or earlier.  In times past, it was one of the most familiar and celebrated prayers in our Catholic heritage, and as such it provided a distinctive mark of Catholic identity.  A priest friend of mine has often recalled the story of his family’s restaurant/bar on the east side of Columbus.  Growing up, every day when the noontime bells rang out from the Catholic Church across the street, everyone in the bar dropped what they were doing and said the Angelus.  Even those who were not Catholic sat in silence during the recitation of the prayer because they know if they didn’t, they would not be served.  This story is an illustration of Catholic identity.  If the same bells were to ring today, how many Catholics would know why, let alone be able to rattle off the words to the Angelus?
Having the Collect from the last Sunday of Advent taken from this timeless prayer is important for establishing the link between the ritual liturgy and the lived liturgy.  In the spirit of lex orandi, lex credendi, if congregations were to hear the Angelus Collect in the context of Mass, those familiar with it would be immediately placed in the presence of the three-times-daily ritual.  Conversely, if the Collect were to be used, more people would become familiar with the Angelus prayer itself.
Unfortunately, until now, the prayer has been disguised beneath a mistranslation.  I am someone who is very familiar with the Angelus, yet I never realized that the Advent Collect was one and the same.  Of course, there are others who have.  It only took a quick Google search to turn up and article from Fr. Zuhlsdorf written in 2004 (and reprinted in 2006) on precisely this issue.
I am not one to debate these chicken-and-egg questions.  Has the mistranslation led to an abandonment of the Angelus, or was the Angelus abandoned long before, and therefore the “retranslating” of the traditional words for the purpose of the Mass Collect was not seen as such a big deal?  Quite frankly, it is probably both.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that the loss of the Angelus is both a symptom and a cause of the loss of Catholic identity, and recovering the translation in the Roman Missal can go a long way towards the process of its restoration.  At the very least, it provides an impetus for a stellar homily.  (Imagine, actually, if the priest on this Sunday were to give a homily that begins with the Angelus and ends with an explanation of the term “consubstantial.”)
Let’s put it this way.  When I read the words for the corrected translation of the Collect from the First Sunday of Advent, my eyes “perked” up from line one: “Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord…”  Imagine how much more will my ears do the same when, blessed be God, they hear the glorious recitation of this prayer this Sunday.  Who knows, maybe they’ll even hear the ever faint echo of the Angelus bells accompanying the text.
1

Become a Certified Catholic Priest For a Low, Low Price!

Christopher Johnson, the non-Catholic proprietor of Midwest Conservative Journal who has taken up the cudgels in defense of Catholicism so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has a brilliant spoof column, taking off from a news story on “let’s pretend” women Catholic “priests”:

Thank you for your interest in becoming a certified Catholic priest.  We here at Certified Catholic Priests International, Inc. have helped thousands of people around the world to lead richer, more fulfilling lives as certified Catholic priests.

You probably have lots of questions.  The first question everyone asks is, “Do I have what it takes to become a certified Catholic priest?”  Our research staff here at CCPI has put together this quick aptitude test to help you find out.

(1) The Roman Catholic Church was founded by:      (A) Romulus      (B) Former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel      (C) Jim Rome      (D) None of the above

(2) “Missal” is:      (A) A long-range rocket containing some sort of weapon      (B) The opposite of “hittal”      (C) What everybody in Council Bluffs, Iowa used to call Miss Alberta Leffingwell, head      librarian of the Council Bluffs Public Library from 1939 until 1983      (D) None of the above

(3) When the telegraph was the only form of long-distance communication, the average amount of time that it took to complete one level of Angry Birds was:      (A) Six months      (B) Four years      (C) It depended on the difficulty of the level      (D) None of the above Continue Reading

27

Well That Was Humbling

The Christian Science Monitor has a science quiz.  I found it rather rough.  I got 37 out of 50 right, and I am afraid quite a few of my correct answers were attributable to my knowledge of history, familiarity with Greek and Latin terms, and good guessing.  Go here to take it, and report back to us in the thread below with the results! Continue Reading

5

Messianic Prophecies: Daniel 7: 13-14

Continuing on with our Advent look at Messianic prophecies, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here and here, we come to Daniel 7: 13-14:

13I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented him before him.

 14And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed.

Saint Jerome wrote an extensive commentary on the Book of Daniel.  Here is his commentary on these verses: Continue Reading

19

But Sometimes We Do Need a Nanny

William Teach is none too happy about the NSTB’s desire to ban cellphones from the roads:

(Washington Post) The National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday that all states and the District ban cellphone use behind the wheel, becoming the first federal agency to call for an outright prohibition on telephone conversations while driving.

Distracted driving, some of it due to cellphone use, contributed to an estimated 3,092 deaths in highway crashes last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So, only some of the deaths can be attributed to distracted driving. We should ban looking at scenery, since that is dangerous. And passengers. Listening to the radio. Drinking coffee. Eating. Brushing hair. Putting on makeup. Those mirrors that allow parents to look in the back. Kids. Oh, and CAFE standards, which increase the risk of death on the road.

I’m usually sympathetic to concerns about government intrusion, but this is one of those areas where government does have same rationale for interference.  The libertarian argument against government interference in our personal affairs usually comes down to opposing efforts to regulate actions that do not harm others.  But in the case of distracted driving one’s actions do in fact affect others.  People generally don’t have accidents only with themselves.  Oh, sure, people run off the road and slam into trees, but more often they slam into other, innocent drivers.  So actions which do put other people’s lives at risk merit some kind of regulation, right?

There are a couple of practical objections to the ban.  First of all, is this really worthy of federal oversight?  One can perhaps argue that interstates are subject to the commerce clause, but this ban would apply to non-interstate driving.  Allowing the federal government to impose a mandate on the states through the threat of withholding highway funds is a pretty nasty trick and I think a clear example of overreach.

Even looking at it as a state issue this proposal poses concerns.  Last night I heard some commentators actually suggest that cell phones be disabled as soon as the car starts.  Aside from the technological issues surrounding the idea, it’s a pretty absurd idea considering that in the age of smart phones cellphones are multi-functional and are used for a variety of purposes.  Even if the NTSB isn’t as ambitious in its proposal, there are still problems with a cellphone talking ban.  It isn’t quite unenforceable – after all, we can pretty clearly tell whether a driver is talking on his phone or not.  But it does require cops to take on an additional monitoring function that could be a waste of resources.

Now, opponents of cellphone bans often bring up other types of distracted driving.  I’ve often dismissed these as red herrings.  Talking on the phone does distract our focus away from driving that I don’t think these other activities do.  That being said, it points to the basic flaw in a cellphone ban.  It’s an attempt to regulate an obnoxious behavior.  Look, I’ve been stuck in endless traffic that was a result of rubbernecking.  I once was stuck in traffic in Atlanta on the way to the airport for half an hour because there was an accident on an overpass.  At these times I wish there were television monitors capturing the prime offenders on tape, resulting in said drivers being banned from driving for life. Similarly, anytime I get behind a slow driver or someone weaving I just know that they’re yapping on a phone, and most times I’m proved right.  But does our annoyance with obnoxious driving behavior merit regulation?

As stated above, this particular obnoxious behavior can be life threatening.  I don’t think wanting to regulate this particular action crosses the threshold into an overbearing nanny state.  But if we’re truly honest, it’s probably ultimately nothing more than an effort to make us feel like we’re doing something to stop something that, in reality, we can’t do anything about.  As we all know, every other driver on the road is a moron, and we haven’t banned idiocy.

Yet.

17

Bringing Tim Tebow & Others To The Fullness of Truth That Is The Catholic Church

A very interesting debate broke out recently following my article on the attacks Denver Quarterback Tim Tebow is coming under from militant liberal secularists concerning his public displays of faith. Catholic writer David L Gray wrote this piece and of course there have been many others. The debate shifted to Tim Tebow’s father who is an Evangelical leader and who takes missionary groups to Catholic countries like the Philippines so the people can “Hear the Gospel.” These kinds of statements either make Catholics laugh or get them angry. Whenever I hear these groups say that they are taking the Gospel into Catholic countries I think we should all say, “We have been preaching the Gospel since before the Canon of the Bible came to be,” or “When did your church start?  Actually, we have been under the same management for 2,000 years.” The crux of the matter is how do we willingly lead people to a place we think they most certainly want to go?

I have always found that outside of a few fundamentalist crackpots, most Evangelicals respect us when we humbly but boldly tell them about Church History, Apostolic Succession, the Real Presence and other Sacraments. Why? They sincerely want to know all they can about Jesus and with the aforementioned they aren’t even getting the Readers Digest version let alone the Fullness of Truth.

In some ways Evangelicals are the low hanging fruit of the religious world. They are eager people who want to know Jesus and boy can we show them Jesus. What about the Catholic Church Abuse scandals some say; shouldn’t that prevent them from coming home to Rome? Evangelicals are familiar with scandals, in many ways they have a belief that if a scandal brews it is the work of the devil and where the devil is you know that somewhere nearby the Gospel is being preached, otherwise the devil wouldn’t be there. The devil doesn’t waste his time fighting against with fluff, because fluff never saved souls. I dare say that some Evangelicals might also take to sites such as this or even sites like Michael Brown’s Spirit Daily that delve a little into Catholic Eschatology.

Some may say what about Catholics who have fallen away? Of course it is important for our lost brothers and sisters to come home. However, many are working on that, including Catholics Come Home which is doing amazing work bringing Catholics back home. Recently in Phoenix, 92,000 fallen away Catholics registered in Phoenix parishes thanks to a concerted diocesan campaign implement by Catholics Come Home, which included commercials on television and radio.

Some may say that reconciling the split with the Orthodox Church which took place in 1056 is the most important step, after all aren’t they closest to us in ideology and practice, and hasn’t reconciliation with the Orthodox Church been the primary push by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI? Yes the last two pontiffs have made a big push with our liturgical friends to the East. However, here are a couple of points. There are more Evangelicals in the United States alone than there are Orthodox Christians in the entire English speaking world. Time is running out to bring our Evangelical brothers and sisters home. Why? Sadly most Evangelical organized churches outside the Southern Baptists are in a statistical freefall due to being raided by non-denominational mega churches. These mega churches which are increasingly becoming entertainment oriented churches have no sound theology to which to build their foundation. We all know what Jesus said about what you need to build your foundation on.  (You might want to read the following article one on what liberals have done to churches in an article entitled: If You Want Liberals To Run Governments Look At What They Have Done To Religion; Left It In Tatters & the effect of entertainment churches on society in an article entitled; Margaritaville Christianity, God’s Way or Our Way?

This leads us to one of the most underreported religious stories of the year; the Catholic Diocese of Orange, California buying Dr. Robert Schuler’s Crystal Cathedral, the nation’s first mega church which had gone bankrupt.  Some folks got caught up in the argument over whether a Catholic Church could even use something that hardly looks like a traditional church. However, think of the significance of the event. Rev, Robert Schuler was such a powerful name, his words were listened to and his church started an entire movement. Yet, look where his church ended up, going back home to Rome. What a metaphor for going full circle back to the Fullness of Truth, the Catholic Church.

While working on our upcoming national cable television show Non Negotiable, Producer & Director Christian Peschken talked about this very subject. Christian implored me that I needed to make this a bigger deal than it already was going to be for my upcoming book. He felt the symbolism of this the nation’s first and once most powerful mega church being turned over to the Catholic Church could not be understated. They who built their foundation on sand have now put their foundation on the Rock of Peter. Continue Reading

3

David Mamet, Liberals, Israel and Blood Sacrifice

 

Playwright David Mamet has an interesting column in the Wall Street Journal today examing hostility towards Israel on the Left:

The Liberal West has, for decades, indulged itself in an orgy of self-flagellation. We have enjoyed comfort and security, but these, in the absence of gratitude and patriotism, cause insecurity. This attempted cure for insecurity can be seen in protestations of our worthlessness, and the indictment of private property.

But no one in the affluent West and no one among the various protesters of various supposed injustices is prepared to act in accordance with his protestations. The opponent of “The Corporation” is still going to use the iPhone which permits him to mass with his like. The celebrities acting out at Occupy meetings will still invest their surplus capital, and the supposed champion of the dispossessed in the Levant will not only scoff at American Indian claims to land he has come to understand as his—he will lobby the City Council to have the homeless shelter built anywhere but on his block.

The brave preceptors who would like to end Poverty, War, Exploitation, Colonialism, Inequality and so on, stop at the proclamation. How may they synchronize their wise fervor with their inaction?

How may they still the resultant anxiety? The Left’s answer is the oldest in the world: by appeal to The Gods. But how may The Gods be appeased? The immemorial answer is: By human sacrifice. Continue Reading

2

December 14, 1861: Death of Prince Albert

Prince Albert, husband and consort of Queen Victoria, died one hundred and fifty years ago.  Only 42, he died of typhoid fever, a mass killer in the nineteenth century in crowded cities like London.  In November of 1861 he had arisen from what would become his death-bed to tone down a British ultimatum over the seizure of two Confederate diplomats, Mason and Slidell, from a British mail steamer the Trent by the USS San Jacinto, in what has come down in history as the Trent Affair: Continue Reading

2

If Only the Tsar Knew!

 

,

 

 

President Obama yesterday made these comments:

President Barack Obama said Tuesday he wishes he knew the full extent of the economic crisis when he took office, if only so he could have let Americans know just how tough the coming years would be.

“I think we understood that it was bad, but we didn’t know how bad it was,” Obama said in an interview with KIRO in Seattle. “I think I could have prepared the American people for how bad this was going to be, had we had a sense of that.”

I found this statement to be remarkable at the end of almost three years into his administration for a few reasons.

First, he acts as if January 2009 was just the day before yesterday rather than almost three years ago.  Most voters are much more concerned with what he has done, and in what he has failed to do, in regard to the economy.   Instead of Obama hearkening back to the state of the bad economy when he was sworn in as a tactic to defend his economic performance, he might be better advised to defend his actual policies.  I do concede that is an immensely difficult task to undertake.

Second, he seems to view his abysmal economic record as primarily one of public relations instead of poor policies.

Third, Obama and his minions have been harping for three years on what a bad economy they inherited.  I do not think they could have done much more on that score. Continue Reading

11

The Higgs boson: Seeking to have the mind of God?

The Motley Monk was surprised to learn of the “Higgs boson” in a Washington Post article.  Nicknamed “the God particle,” scientists believe that Higgs boson is essential to understanding of how the  universe works.

Scientists in the the 1960s and 70s theorized that Higgs boson would explain a force field that permeates the universe and imbues other particles—like protons and electrons—with their mass, which is not their weight, but  rather their resistance to efforts to move them.  If scientists confirm the particle, the discovery close the chapter on  the fundamental theory of particle physics, called “the Standard Model,” which for physicists is the  equivalent of the chemists’ periodic table, as it describes all the known particles and forces in the universe.

 

If scientists cannot confirm the existence of Higgs boson, it’s not quite back to “square one.”  But, scientists will remain unable to explain nature’s deepest structure.

All of this reminds The Motley Monk of the Book of Genesis, where God forbade the first human beings from eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  To know what is good and evil and to be able to distinguish one from the other infallibly would rid the human beings of having to live with ambiguity, due to omniscience.  Hence the problem: humans would not be creatures but gods.

Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the search to understand nature’s deepest mysteries.  After all, God endowed human beings with minds that are capable of engaging in that search.  But, for human beings to believe they can know nature’s deepest structure would be to possess the mind of its Creator.  As Blessed John Paul II noted in Fides et ratio, science and faith must be in dialogue for each to fulfill its important purpose in advancing knowledge.  One without the other is the breeding ground of human failure, oftentimes catastrophic in its consequences.

Yet, some human beings do want to figure out what’s in the mind of nature’s Creator and, to this end, have constructed a $10B, 17-mile-long circular  tunnel underneath the French-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider. In the collider, scientists smash subatomic particles together at  astounding speeds. The scientists believe the remaining debris offers clues about the existence of Higgs boson and what it might look like.

 

The problem is that there is no way for human beings to see Higgs boson directly.  It exists only for a yoctosecond—one septillionth of one second—following collisions of subatomic particles.  Higgs boson then decays into other particles.

The latest results indicate that the data are “sufficient to make significant progress in the search  for the Higgs boson, but insufficient to make any conclusive statement on the  existence or non-existence of the Higgs.”  So, it is likely a Higgs boson of a certain type exists, but scientists cannot make any statistically significant conclusions and, in this case, less than 1M-to-1.

So, consider these points:

  1. I think it exists.
  2. I cannot see it directly.
  3. I can explain its existence only indirectly.
  4. I cannot “prove” that it exists.
  5. I am impelled from within to continue searching for it.

 

Sounds like the search for Bigfoot, no?

 

No, it sounds like St. Thomas Aquinas’ difficulty in attempting to explain the mystery called “God.”  The best the “Angelic Doctor” could say about his search was “I can’t prove that God exists, but I can demonstrate it reasonable to believe that God exists.”  And that conclusion was derived without the assistance of a $10B supercollider!

 

Let the discussion begin…

 

 

To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/scientists-close-in-on-linchpin-of-physics-the-god-particle/2011/12/12/gIQAmk2cqO_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines

1

The Curse of Tippecanoe

An odd coincidence in American history is the death of every President in office beginning with William Henry Harrison and ending with John F. Kennedy elected in a year ending in zero.  A myth was developed ascribing this to a curse put on William Henry Harrison by the brother of the great Indian leader Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa, better known as the Prophet: Continue Reading

16

Shorter Glenn Beck: Please Pay Attention to Me Again

Oh look, Glenn Beck said something outlandish to gain attention for himself.

“If you have a big government progressive, or a big government progressive in Obama… ask yourself this, Tea Party: is it about Obama’s race? Because that’s what it appears to be to me. If you’re against him but you’re for this guy [Gingrich], it must be about race. I mean, what else is it? It’s the policies that matter.”

Glenn Beck is like a lot of not very smart people who dabble in philosophy and history.   He’s read a couple of Ronald Pestritto books and now he reduces everything to the same paradigm.  Everyone who deviates slightly from Beck’s brand of conservatism is just a re-incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt.

Now is Beck completely off about Newt?  No, as I’ve said before, Newt is a conservative technocrat, which is really no kind of conservative at all.  But to state categorically that there is NO difference whatsoever between Obama and Newt, and to indicate that any conservative who supports the latter over the former is a racist, means that you should not be taken seriously.

And that leads me to a couple of general comments about conservative critics of Newt Gingrich.  First, stop acting like the man is a closet Bolshevik.  Many of you have made fine points about Gingrich’s less than conservative instincts.  But not to content to make subtle points, you choose the headline grabbing THIS GOES TO 11 hyperbole that only weakens your argument.  Second, if Newt is so terrible please indicate which of the other candidates you prefer.  I can understand the establishment pundits looking to engage in intellectual jujitsu in order to weaken Gingrich in favor of Mittens, but what is the aim of conservative pundits?  If you actively support Perry or Santorum or even Bachmann, fine.  All of the above are certainly more conservative than Newt, and in the case of the guys named Rick are also much better candidates.  But then you have to make the case for those candidates and not simply the case against Newt.  Because if you’re not crazy about those candidates either, then you simply come off as a purist crank who won’t be content until the re-animated corpse of Ronald Reagan emerges as the front-runner.

6

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Miracles, Facts and Fancy

 

 

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most dramatic appearances of Mary in history, when Mary, in the guise of an Aztec princess, appeared to Saint Juan Diego (his pre-conversion name of Cuauhtlatoatzin translates as “Talking Eagle”), a Mexican convert, on December 9, 1531 as he strode to Mass and was passing by the base of Tepeyac hill.  She spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native tongue, and told him to go to Archbishop Juan de Zumarraga, the primate of Mexico, and tell him that she wished for a shrine to be built on Tepeyac hill.  She also gave him this message: “I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me , of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.”  

The Archbishop told Diego he would not believe in his encounter with Mary unless he had a sign.  Our Lady told Diego to visit the Archbishop again, but Zumarraga repeated his request for a sign.   Returning to Tepeyac, Diego again encountered Our Lady who told him to present himself to  Archbishop Zumarraga and give to him roses he was instructed to pick.  Roses growing in Mexico in December were a miracle in and of themselves.  Diego did as he was bidden, and when he presented the roses to the Archbishop, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted on his tilma, his peasant’s cloak, where the roses had been held by him.  News of the miracle spread throughout Mexico and before the decade was out some eight million Mexicans converted to the Faith.  A chapel was built on Tepeyac and Diego cared for it and the image as a religious hermit until his death in 1548 at 73.

Doubts have been raised about whether Juan Diego existed due to the lack of contemporary accounts.  However, these doubts were quashed, at least any reasonable doubts, in 1995 with the coming to light of the Codex Escalada which has been dated to the sixteenth century.  It bears the date of 1548 and is an illustrated account of the apparition with text in Nahuatl describing the encounter between Juan Diego and Mary.  The document bears the signature of  Father Bernadino de Sahagun, a missionary priest and historian in Mexico, and a contemporary of Juan Diego.  The first mention of the image in Spanish is in 1556 in a sermon preached by Archbishop Alonso de Montufar, the successor to Archbishop Zumarraga, in which he recommended devotion to the image.  Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe spread rapidly throughout the Catholic world, with Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria having a copy of the image on his flagship during the decisive Christian victory at the battle of Lepanto in 1571. Continue Reading

61

Why The Secular Left Dislikes Tim Tebow

“Seriously!” I can still hear that word echo through my brain even though the event took place this past summer. At a social gathering a young gentleman and his lady friend (and I use that term loosely) were gesticulating wildly when someone in the crowd told them about Tim Tebow beliefs.  Evidently they weren’t football fans, so someone brought them up to speed about Tebow. At this point in his career many now say, “he’s a nice kid but…,” However, at that point they didn’t even say that; they simply used words like a “Bible thumper” or someone “lost in the 50s.” Now they have to throw him a bone by at least saying, “He’s a nice kid, but…” However, wait until next year when someone connects the dots and assumes he probably won’t vote for the Obama-Biden ticket. The secular left is going to throw everything at him including the kitchen sink.

I was recently asked by someone to give a Catholic perspective about Tebow. I had to explain to this individual that Pope Benedict XVI probably doesn’t even know who Tebow is, but that I am sure the Holy Father would appreciate his earnest approach. Now I also quite convinced that our friends on the Secular Catholic Left probably wish Tebow would shut up or at least voice his concern about their favorite make believe topics such as man made Climate Change.

I heard as much recently while channel surfing. A glutton for punishment I stopped briefly on MSNBC to hear one of their emasculated males go on some sort of tirade about Governor Rick Perry because the Texas Governor (in a Iowa TV commercial) said he believed in marriage between a man and a woman. This particular MSNBC host seemed to really enjoy his own commentary because he concluded by saying he was surprised that the particular Perry Commercial wasn’t in black and white because it seemed right out of the 1950s.

The left has so many things going for it with their social engineering, the daily liberal propaganda they try to shove down the throats of those in the western world via the mainstream media, along with the silver screen and television; one would think they would be ecstatic. However,  when they hear about Evangelicals like Tim Tebow or the increase in Catholic seminarians and young women in religious life who happen to actually believe in what the Catholic Church teaches and even goes so far as to wear cassocks and habits, well this to them is outrageous. Anyone who adheres to what Tebow or these young seminarians and women religious believe, well they must be either dolts or dangerous right wing throwbacks.

These nefarious conspirators want to throw American back into the 1950s when people actually went to church, believed in right and wrong and almost universally applauded any leader (like our current Pope Benedict XVI) who railed against the Dictatorship of Relativism. These counter revolutionaries might even want to cling to their guns and religion.  

In all my days as a player and coach, I don’t think I ever really prayed for a victory. To me God has His purposes and I as a humble adherent to his message just chose to follow Him. However, that doesn’t mean that just once in a while God may actually engineer a game or two for His purposes. Maybe, just maybe Tim Tebow’s miraculous last six victories are meant to send us all a message. Believe, even when the world says there is no God. Believe, when some say God is just some sort of absent minded Mr. Magoo as Bill Maher and some of his Apatheists think. Believe, when a disbelieving world says for God “it’s all good,” and there are not right or wrongs just different shades of gray. Believe, even when leaders think abortion is a fine alternative after all they would hate to see their teenage daughters punished with a child.

Reggie Johnson and or myself might just ask Tim Tebow (if he agrees to appear) how his faith came to grow and flourish on the Christian Peschken produced television program Non Negotiable, which God willing should be on the air in 2012. By now you may have probably heard that doctors tried to talk Tebow’s parents into having him aborted since it was believed he would be deformed and probably too small to live if he was born. (You might recall Tebow and his mother appeared in a Super Bowl Pro Life ad while he was still in college.) God only knows how many others parents were probably told the same scenario. All of these factors cause those with or without beliefs to evaluate their own beliefs when someone is so adamant and happy go lucky as is Tebow with his beliefs. Continue Reading