Monthly Archives: March 2012
For about five hours this morning ThePulp.it, The American Catholic, and Ignitum Today websites went down. I want to make clear that we were not hacked, we did not get viruses planted, nothing of those natures. What I can say is that precautions have been taken to prevent such an incident from occurring again.
I want to apologize to all our readers and visitors and affirm our dedication to providing you the content you all have expected from us on these websites.
In the spirit of the Obama Worship Day at Notre Dame in 2009, Notre Dame Professor of Philosophy Gary Cutting has a recent article in the New York Times, the high worship rag for all liberal apostate Catholics, in which he explains why Catholics should not pay attention to the Bishops and the silly fuss they are making over the HHS Mandate, which, among other things, rips to shreds freedom of religion enshrined in the First Amendment. I was going to give the article a fisking to remember, but Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has beaten me to it:
Roman Catholics will be interested to learn that Gary Gutting, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame and someone who claims to be a Catholic, recently discovered that the Reformation is finally over and that the Protestants won:
What interests me as a philosopher — and a Catholic — is that virtually all parties to this often acrimonious debate have assumed that the bishops are right about this, that birth control is contrary to “the teachings of the Catholic Church.” The only issue is how, if at all, the government should “respect” this teaching.
Good question since Gutting thinks that Catholics have pretty much plowed it under and sowed the furrows with nuclear waste.
As critics repeatedly point out, 98 percent of sexually active American Catholic women practice birth control, and 78 percent of Catholics think a “good Catholic” can reject the bishops’ teaching on birth control. The response from the church, however, has been that, regardless of what the majority of Catholics do and think, the church’s teaching is that birth control is morally wrong. The church, in the inevitable phrase, “is not a democracy.” What the church teaches is what the bishops (and, ultimately, the pope, as head of the bishops) say it does.
The bishops aren’t the boss of us!!
But is this true? The answer requires some thought about the nature and basis of religious authority. Ultimately the claim is that this authority derives from God. But since we live in a human world in which God does not directly speak to us, we need to ask, Who decides that God has given, say, the Catholic bishops his authority?
Who died and made the bishops religious leaders?
It makes no sense to say that the bishops themselves can decide this, that we should accept their religious authority because they say God has given it to them. If this were so, anyone proclaiming himself a religious authority would have to be recognized as one. From where, then, in our democratic, secular society does such recognition properly come? It could, in principle, come from some other authority, like the secular government. But we have long given up the idea (“cujus regio, ejus religio”) that our government can legitimately designate the religious authority in its domain. But if the government cannot determine religious authority, surely no lesser secular power could. Theological experts could tell us what the bishops have taught over the centuries, but this does not tell us whether these teachings have divine authority.
Out: cujus regio, ejus religio. In: vox populi vox dei.
In our democratic society the ultimate arbiter of religious authority is the conscience of the individual believer. It follows that there is no alternative to accepting the members of a religious group as themselves the only legitimate source of the decision to accept their leaders as authorized by God. They may be wrong, but their judgment is answerable to no one but God. In this sense, even the Catholic Church is a democracy.
You know that joke I like to make about how in the future, everybody, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, will be an Episcopal bishop for fifteen minutes? As far as Gutting is concerned, every single Roman Catholic is a bishop right now. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem have written an op-ed in which they call upon the FCC to revoke the licences of radio stations that carry the Rush Limbaugh show.
That makes this a fitting time to inquire of his syndicator, Clear Channel Communications, whether it intends to continue supporting someone who addicts his audience to regular doses of hate speech. Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks Inc., which hosts Limbaugh’s program, has defended his recent comments.
If Clear Channel won’t clean up its airways, then surely it’s time for the public to ask the FCC a basic question: Are the stations carrying Limbaugh’s show in fact using their licenses “in the public interest?”
Spectrum is a scarce government resource. Radio broadcasters are obligated to act in the public interest and serve their respective communities of license. In keeping with this obligation, individual radio listeners may complain to the FCC that Limbaugh’s radio station (and those syndicating his show) are not acting in the public interest or serving their respective communities of license by permitting such dehumanizing speech.
In the course of an op-ed calling upon the government to restrict free speech rights, the authors compare Rush Limbaugh to Joseph Goebbels.
I know that Wikipedia is not the greatest source of information, but it usually gets the basics correct. From the article on Goebbels:
Goebbels rose to power in 1933 along with Hitler and the Nazi Party and he was appointed Propaganda Minister. One of his first acts was the burning of books rejected by the Nazis. He exerted totalitarian control over the media, arts and information in Germany.
From Webster’s dictionary:
Irony : 3 a (1): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2): an event or result marked by such incongruity
Fonda, Morgan, and Steinem might want to have a look at this book before taking to the keyboard again.
[cross-posted at Acts of the Apostasy]
So who is Stephen Prothero? He’s a professor at Boston University, and he contributed a column to CNN’s Belief Blog.
1-6: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor
I know that justices are supposed to stick to interpreting the law rather than making it, especially if they adhere to the judicial philosophy of “original intent,” but I’m not buying it. When it comes to “judicial activism,” there are really only two kinds of judges: those who know they are acting and those who wrongly imagine they are not.
Throughout U.S. history, the Supreme Court has played nearly as important a role as the presidency on the race question, and a more important role than the U.S. Congress. Women seeking abortions do so under a regime written and enforced by the courts.
In a 2011 speech at Duquesne University School of Law, Scalia denied that his Catholicism affected his legal decisions. I’m not buying that either, which is why he and the five other Catholics on the Supreme Court occupy half of this list.
7: Speaker of the House John Boehner
As any child (or parent) can attest, the word “no” is powerful indeed, and as the leader of the House Republicans, John Boehner wields that power today. Before he gave the commencement address at Catholic University last spring, more than 80 professors at that university wrote an open letter to Boehner saying that the budget he pushed through the House contradicted Catholic social teachings by neglecting the poor. But Boehner continues to say “no” to the Obama administration, most recently on its decision to require Catholic-affiliated employers to cover birth control services in their health plans.
8. Vice President Joe Biden
The first Catholic vice president of the United States, Joe Biden wields by most accounts more power than many vice presidents in American history. (Remember Spiro Agnew?) And though Biden has ruffled the feathers of church authorities on the abortion question, he is an observant Catholic who attends church regularly and met with Pope John Paul II four times. “The animating principle of my faith, as taught to me by church and home,” Biden told the Christian Science Monitor in 2007, “was that the cardinal sin was abuse of power.”
9. Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania
For a while, Newt Gingrich was the Catholic Republican front-runner, but that title has been seized by Rick Santorum. Unlike Gingrich, who converted in 2009, Santorum is a cradle Catholic, and he’s a more convincing fellow traveler in Christ to the religious right.
Everyone thought this election was going to be about the economy, but Santorum’s mantra seems to be, “It’s the culture, stupid.” Santorum has grabbed headlines in recent weeks by calling President Obama a purveyor of a “phony theology” and otherwise keeping questions of faith not just on the front burner, but at a rolling boil. This weekend, Santorum said that John F. Kennedy’s famous church/state speech, in Houston in 1960, made him want to “throw up” when he first read it. “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” he told ABC News on Sunday.
10. Archbishop Timothy Dolan
It says something about Catholic authority today that it is hard to think of a member of the Catholic hierarchy who stands among the most influential U.S. Catholics. But Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan is the most likely person for this honor. A theological conservative, Dolan was elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2010, and he was elevated to cardinal in Rome last month. In 2008, Dolan took on Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi for their views on abortion, and in 2009, he criticized the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to speak at its commencement.
11. Stephen Colbert
The man behind the Super PAC Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow will not be happy to learn that he fell outside the top 10 here, but he is still one of the most influential Catholics in the United States today. Colbert makes his political jabs with a smile, but they sting nonetheless.
Last year, The Washington Post asked whether Colbert was “Catholicism’s best pitch man,” and he does put a very different face on a church that has been best known in recent years for sex scandals. Both Colbert and the character he plays on “The Colbert Report” are committed Catholics. In fact, Colbert (the character) loves his Catholicism so much that he gave it up last year for Lent.
Colbert (the real person) regularly books Catholics on his show and has appointed Father James Martin, S.J., as the show’s official chaplain. With Martin and other theists (and atheists), Colbert regularly discusses matters of faith. In fact, his character often gives guests discussing such questions wider berth than his more political guests.
12. Blogger Andrew Sullivan
In another era, this final slot might have gone to Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and public intellectual whose writing regularly addresses the intersection of faith and politics in the United States. But we now live in a digital age, so the nod goes to Andrew Sullivan, the Brit behind “The Dish,” a popular blog now hosted by The Daily Beast.
The thumbnail bio is that Sullivan is gay, Catholic and conservative, but his blog is far more nuanced (and coherent) than readers might imagine from that trifecta. In part because of his unpredictability, his site is the go-to blog for all things political and cultural. And the reading is easy because of Sullivan’s refusal to pull his punches. (Obama’s “uninspiring” state of the union was, in his words, a litany of “cramped, tedious, mediocre micro-policies.”)
Imagine that – no one outside of the Washington/New York hub of whatsitpatootie. It’s almost as if Prothero doesn’t believe there exists an America beyond the Eastern seaboard. And here’s another ‘not a big surprise': conservative Catholics are bad, liberal Catholics are good. Boehner is a Catholic who says “no” to Obama’s compassion and outreach, while Biden sees the abuse of power as the worst sort of sin. Bias much? I’m surprised he didn’t include Sister Keehan or Kathleen Sibelius on this list – in fact, with the exception of Justice Sotomayor, there are no women on the list. *Gasp!* Not only is the Church misogynistic, but so are Boston University professors!!
And Andrew Sullivan is an influential Catholic? Who in the world is Andrew Sullivan? Who outside of Washington/New York cares?
We can do better than this guy, right? Isn’t Cardinal Burke more influential than Boehner? Isn’t Archbishop Chaput a bit more influential than Joe Biden? With the exception of Cardinal Dolan, no one on his list has the power or ability to shape Catholic thought or protect Catholic identity or propose Catholic truths. Eleven on this list do not have the power to ex-communicate (an influence I wished would be wielded more liberally) or the power to forgive sins. That’s real influence.
No – the influence wielded by most on that list, to one degree or another, is to affect religious liberty. Maybe that’s Prothero’s point.
So who would you include on this list? What changes would you suggest, or his analysis spot on? I have a couple ideas, but I’m interested in what you have to say.
Roger Kimball has a post today which sums up my views of the presidential contest this year:
I was disappointed, though, with today’s featured headline:
The link is to a Rasmussen poll, and the implication, I believe, is that readers will be shocked at the news that Mitt Romney is ahead. (In fact, Rasmussen reports that Rick Santorum also leads Obama, though he trails Romney.)
What is really shocking, though, is that the difference is so small. By any rational metric, Obama has presided over a national disaster. Consider how he has mishandled
* the economy (real unemployment north of 9%)
* the deficit ($1.6 trillion annually)
* the prestige of the United States abroad
* our national security
* the looming train wreck that is ObamaCare
* Solyndra and kindred adventures in crony capitalism, emetic utopianism, and fiscal irresponsibility
* The GM “bailout,” coming to a tax bill near you (buy a Volt, get a taxpayer-subsidized break of $7000)
* the regulatory nightmare that Obama’s EPA has foisted upon American business
* the malevolent joke that is the Obama Department of Justice (Fast and Furious, the Black Panther case, etc.)
And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What’s shocking is not that Mitt Romney is ahead. A syphilitic camel should be ahead. What’s shocking is that the distance is only 5 points.
Assuming Mitt can hold it together, his advantage should widen. He is, after all, running against one of the most vulnerable presidents with one of the worst records in American history. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
First Kings 18:21
When the Supreme Court begins oral argument on ObamaCare on March 26, the White House is unveiling a new secret weapon: Prayer.
On Wednesday, White House officials summoned dozens of leaders of nonprofit organizations that strongly back the health law to help them coordinate plans for a prayer vigil, press conferences and other events outside the court when justices hear arguments for three days beginning March 26.
The acolytes of the South Side Messiah have long known that their strongest adversaries are among Christians who take their faith seriously. That is why they are promoting a de facto schism in the Catholic Church, and why they have attempted to promote Sandra Fluke, that summary of all that is wrong with Jesuit run Georgetown, as the White House sponsored symbol of an alternate magisterium for American Catholics. Religion in this country is to be transformed into a useful auxiliary for the President, spearheaded by astroturf pro-Obama “religious” groups like the George Soros funded Catholics United and the interdenominational Faith in Public Life, and dissenters will be silenced through mockery by the mainstream media which is overwhelmingly on the side of Obama, and propaganda campaigns led by the Obama administration and its allies to undermine leaders of any denomination who do not toe the line. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
In the wake of Sandra Fluke’s testimony before several Democrat members of Congress, Mark Steyn has written what The Motley Monk believes is a superb analysis. It’s close to being one of those “come from behind, two outs, 1-and-2 count, bottom of the ninth inning, grand-slam homeruns” that wins the ballgame for the home team.
Steyn’s article is well worth the read. He’s articulate, witty, and forcible, demonstrating the product of a truly liberal education: Conversancy with intellectual culture and taking no prisoners when engaging in the battle of the intellect.
Concerning Fluke’s testimony and the ensuing brouhaha, Steyn writes:
…the most basic issue here is not religious morality, individual liberty, or fiscal responsibility. It’s that a society in which middle-aged children of privilege testify before the most powerful figures in the land to demand state-enforced funding for their sex lives at a time when their government owes more money than anyone has ever owed in the history of the planet is quite simply nuts.
As good as Steyn’s analysis and economic judgment is, The Motley Monk disagrees with one point Steyn makes:
Where was I? Oh, yes. The brave middle-aged schoolgirl had the courage to stand up in public and demand that someone else pay for her sex life.
No, sorry. Ms. Fluke didn’t demand that someone else pay for her sex life…and that’s where Rush erred egregiously. The Motley Monk believes Ms. Fluke was demanding something much more than simplistic “economic redistributionism.”
Ms. Fluke wants taxpayers to foot the bill so that she won’t have to deal with the consequences of satiating her sexual appetite.
The Motley Monk thinks this a very big “difference with a distinction,” one to the heart of the anti-life agenda that many of those on the political left wholeheartedly embrace as dogma.
As adherents of that agenda would have it, there should be absolutely no consequences for satiating one’s sexual appetite. And that goes so far as to include murdering an innocent human life that has been conceived but has not yet been brought to term while satiating one’s sexual appetite.
And that, The Motley Monk believes, is the significance of this flukey Congressional “hearing” and its ensuing fallout.
The Democrats who invited and hosted Ms. Fluke—especially U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—have given a name and a face to an agenda that is not primarily about religious morality, individual liberty, or fiscal responsibility.
Important as those issues may be, the real agenda concerns Nature’s law and personal responsibility.
Left or right. Liberal or conservative. It matters not. Human beings are not free to violate Nature’s laws and, then, to expect that there will be no consequences. To quote the late-19th century American botanist Luther Burbank:
If you violate Nature’s laws you are your own prosecuting attorney, judge, jury, and hangman.
To read Mark Steyn’s article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
In 1833 the administration of Harvard decided to bestow an honorary doctorate of laws on the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. Many Harvard alums, looking down their noses at the rough, uncouth and ill-educated Jackson, were outraged. None was more angry than Harvard alum John Quincy Adams who had been ousted from the presidency in the election of 1828. Adams gave his cousin the President of Harvard an earful stating “as myself an affectionate child of our alma mater, I would not be present to witness her disgrace in conferring her highest literary honors upon a barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and hardly could spell his own name.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
He leads for aye the advance,
Hope’s forlorn-hopes that plant the desperate good
For nobler Earths and days of manlier mood;
James Russell Lowell
Memoriae Positum, memory laid down. The Latin phrase is a good short hand description of what History accomplishes. In 1864 the poet James Russell Lowell wrote a poem entitled Memoriae Positum in tribute to Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who died heroically at age 25 leading the unsuccessful assault of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first black Union regiments, on the Confederate stronghold of Fort Wagner at Charleston, South Carolina on July 18th, 1863. The poem predicts that Shaw’s memory will live forever and feels sorrow only for those, unlike Shaw, who are unwilling or unable to risk all for their beliefs. It is a poem completely out of step with the pre-dominant sentiments of our day which seem to value physical survival and enjoyment above everything else. Here is the text of the poem: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Rick Santorum today won the Kansas Caucuses, which gives him momentum going into the Mississippi and Alabama primaries next Tuesday. He was the only candidate to campaign in the State, and he comes away from the land of Dorothy with approximately 53% of the vote, and at least 25 of the 40 Kansan delegates.
Saint Blogs can be an entertaining place, and one of the more amusing grudge matches for the past decade has been the ongoing feud between Joseph D’Hippolito and Mark Shea. This fight has been waged on every Catholic blog imaginable. Go here for a google search of a few of their combats. Neither of the verbal gladiators is a stranger to bombastic language, over the top characterizations and the unending construction of straw men. On the other hand, both are pretty good writers and have some talent at argument when they deign to do so rather than to simply vent.
Joe started the latest conflict with a post at Front Page magazine in which he mildly compares Shea and his comments on Iran to the mad poet and traitor Ezra Pound who broadcast pro-Fascist propaganda from Mussolini’s Italy during World War II. Go here to read it. Mark responds here by patiently calling Joe a cold-blooded advocate for mass murder. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Written in 1821 by Samuel Woodworth, the song proved immensely popular and Jackson used it as a theme song in his 1828 campaign for the presidency. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I am sure it will come as little surprise to the regular discerning readers of The American Catholic, but Sandra Fluke, the 30 year old pro-abortion activist and third year law student, read all about her here, who attends Jesuit run Georgetown law school, and who is the frontline shock soldierette in the White House battle to impose the HHS Mandate on the nation and the Catholic Church in America, is being run from the White House.
O’Reilly went on to reveal that SKDKnickerbocker, a PR agency whose managing director is former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, is now representing Fluke. Dunn is perhaps best known for her attack on Fox News and for naming Chinese revolutionary and Communist leader Mao Tse Tung as one of her favorite political philosophers back in 2009.
“Now, late today we found out that Ms. Fluke is now being [represented] by the progressive PR industry SKDKnickerbocker where Anita Dunn, the former Obama communications director is the managing [director]. Ah-ha. So this whole deal comes back to the White House, at least indirectly.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I sent an email urging Sen. Mary Landrieu (who says she is Catholic) to support the Blunt Amendment. Today, I got an email in response (which apparently was sent to others)
Thank you for your letter in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The recent decision by the administration to require contraception coverage as a health insurance benefit has raised a number of questions and brought some difficult issues to the surface. I value your input on this important issue.I strongly support the values and teachings of the Catholic Church, and I was one of the voices who expressed concerns about the Obama administration’s initial, ill-advised policy on this issue. On February 10th the administration modified the policy, and the revised rule, in my view, protects religious freedom and respects the rights of churches and Catholic hospitals and institutions. The compromise requires health insurance companies to provide free preventive contraceptive services if a religiously-based employer chooses not to. This compromise is supported by the Catholic Health Association, and has no effect on the conscience clause protections that currently exist for providers, which allow a Catholic doctor, for example, to refuse to write a prescription for contraception.However, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (also known as the “Blunt amendment” after its sponsor, Senator Blunt) goes too far. It would allow any employer or insurance provider to block any service, preventive or otherwise, that is “contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer or other entity offering the plan.” This not only includes preventive birth control medication, which millions of American women rely on, but could also include transfusions, organ transplants or hospice care, which some “sponsors” may find objectionable.I understand how sensitive this issue is, and I am very grateful for your input. There are no easy answers to these difficult questions and I appreciate you taking the time to write to me.
They Said If I Voted for John McCain the U.S. Would Engage in Endless Middle East Conflict with No Concern for Congressional Approval
And they were right.
For those who didn’t watch the video, skip to about the 3:35 mark where Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta responds to a question about creating a no-fly zone over Syria. He states that the administration would seek international approval and then inform Congress about its actions.
That’s right – international sanction for military action would take precedence over Congressional authority. And that makes complete sense, because in the United States Constitution it clearly states right there in Article I, Section 8 that international bodies shall have the power to declare war and therefore bring the United States into armed conflict.
Oh. Wait. It’s Congress that has the power to declare war. Silly me. But we live in an international age, and if the Supreme Court can rely on international law in order to decide cases, then by golly the President of the United States should be able to commit American troops to armed conflict with a nice note from the U.N. or some other international body.
And at least he’ll be nice enough to let Congress know. Maybe he’ll text Speaker Boehner about it, but only after he gets off the phone with Sandra Fluke. Priorities.
Hmmm, Doctor Delusional’s campaign is wondering why they aren’t winning any caucuses or primaries:
BOISE, Idaho — Ron Paul’s top strategists are confused and frustrated that the wild enthusiasm they see at their campaign rallies and events is not translating into votes.
Thousands turned out to see the Texas congressman at events in Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota in the days before Super Tuesday. Paul said publicly and believed privately that he could win all three states outright. When the votes were counted, though, he finished third in Alaska and Idaho and second in North Dakota.
Paul may still emerge with a big chunk of delegates in the GOP nominating race, but the candidate’s much-hyped focus on caucus states has yet to yield an outright victory in any state.
This gap between dreams and reality came to a head during a Wednesday morning conference call for senior staff when the discussion turned to why the campaign keeps underperforming its own forecasts.
“They count the numbers and then they count the votes,” said Doug Wead, a Paul senior adviser who was on the call. “Did they get overconfident? … We’re digesting that.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The 16th Century was the golden age of the insult. Shakespeare is replete with eloquent examples of villification including my personal favorite:
The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon! Where got’st thou that goose look?
One of the grandmasters of the art of the insult was Martin Luther, Doctor of Theology and heresiarch of heresiarchs. In the age of miracles we live in, someone has at last invented the Martin Luther Insult Generator. Now you, at your fingertips, can see the vituperation that flowed freely from the pen of the “pope” of Wittenberg. Go here to view it. Some sample insults:
In lying fashion you ignore what even children know! (Somebody bring in a kid, quick!)
You reek of nothing but Lucian, and you breathe out on me the vast drunken folly of Epicurus! (Ah for the halcyon days when first-rate insults required knowledge of ancient philosophy!)
You are worthy only to be mocked by the words of error! (Oh, I think that words of miscommunication could also mock me on some blog days.)
You should rightly be called lawyers for asses! (Ouch!) →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading