70

Deconstructing the “Bible Endorses Slavery” Meme

One of the more fashionable responses to any Christian’s objection to the legalization of “gay marriage”, or for that matter, any objection to anything blatantly immoral in modern society, is to immediately announce that since the Bible (allegedly) endorses slavery, anything it has to say on any moral issue is completely irrelevant.

I suppose the argument goes something like this for most people in their heads: “so your Bible says that (insert the sin you want to justify here) is immoral, eh? Well let me tell YOU something:

The Bible says slavery is moral. (Premise 1)

Slavery, as we all (allegedly) know is immoral. (Premise 2)

Therefore the Bible endorses something that is immoral. (Premise 3)

Therefore, the Bible is not a legitimate source of moral arguments. (Conclusion)”

Have I got that right? I think I do. So let’s deconstruct these premises and demonstrate why this ever-so popular argument is really just another lazy, uncritical, decontextualized, factually-deficient and hypocritical canard.

Continue Reading

101

In Which I Agree with Mark Shea

Agreeing with something Mark wrote in criticizing Michael Voris?  This might just be my last post at The American Catholic.

All kidding aside, I second Mark’s concerns regarding Vorris’s association with E. Michael Jones.  As Shea details:

Let us be clear about what is happening here. Marc Brammer and Michael Voris, Folk Hero to the Utterly Undiscerning, will be working hard to mainstream somebody
Jim Stone shows Israel Behind Fukashima Disaster
The European Jewish Union Exonerating Everything Jewish
Jewish Child Molesters
Mossad Involvement in 9/11
Jewry’s push for War with Iran
Jewish Atzmon Says Merah Was a Mossad False Flag Agent
and, last but not least, E. Michael Jones: Who is the World’s Real Enemy?(Guess who?)
(For a full catalog of Sungenis’ vast corpus of crazy statements about the Jews, go here.)

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes Mark can exaggerate (I’m being charitable here) others’ viewpoints, but I don’t believe he is doing so here.  Jones has a fairly extensive record of what can only be described by any reasonable person as anti-Semitism, and yet Voris is happy to give the man a platform.

I’m sure there will be those that object that Voris himself does not hold these views, and that this is a game of guilt by association.  I would counter that providing an open platform to such a person as Jones is beyond reprehensible.   People should be able to engage in honest discussion with others who hold differing viewpoints, but this goes well beyond that.  There are certain lines that when crossed should disqualify individuals from ever being taken seriously again.  When you willingly not only associate yourself with such individuals, but actually provide a forum which grants a certain amount of legitimacy, then you should also be taken to task

And of course leave it to the very first commenter on Mark’s post to play the “but what is anti-Semitism?” game.  It’s an insipid attempt to change the discussion and avoid having to address the issue at hand.

I haven’t gotten involved with previous discussions about Voris because I haven’t really seen that much of his work.  And I think it’s fairly well-known that I have had my share of disagreements with Mark, to say the least.  So I have no personal axe to grind with Voris.  But he should be held to account for his decision to associate with Jones.

12

Forward!

Well the Obama re-election team has its campaign slogan:  Forward!  Congrats to commenter cmatt who guessed that would be the slogan:

 

 

 

Keep Moving Forward

It’s the perfect slogan.  Simple, for the simple minds; sound bitish-y; pretty much devoid of content while sounding positive; implies progress was made, but does not disclose to what we are moving forward; offers abilituy to point to vague accomplishments; cultural tie-in to cute, upbeat animated film. Continue Reading

13

One, Two, Three

Tomorrow is Victims of Communism Day and I will be having a post on that subject.  In a lighter vein on the same subject is the hilarious Cold War comedy One, Two, Three (1961), starring James Cagney and directed by Billy Wilder.  It actually foreshadowed the trajectory of the Cold War fairly better than many a serious study.  As the film indicates the Soviets simply were unable to produce consumer goods of a high enough quality to keep their people satisfied, and the failure to do so, along with the lack of freedom, ultimately led to the rapid fall in the eighties of the last century of regimes that looked on the surface to be rock solid. Continue Reading

2

Hit the Road Obama

The Road we Traveled is an Obama campaign video directed by Davis Guggenheim who directed Al Gore’s mendacious An Inconvenient Truth, and narrated by Tom Hanks, taking a break apparently from starring in Catholic bashing Dan Brown flicks.    The film gets the Science Fiction Mystery Theater 3000 commentary from Andrew Klavan and Bill Whittle in the video above.  The Obama campaign should thank Whittle and Klavan:  at least someone will actually watch this piece of agit-prop drek now.

Surrender of New Orleans

The largest city of the Confederacy, New Orleans also controlled all shipment from the Mississippi and into the Mississppi.  Even a cursory look at a map would indicate that New Orleans was a crucial city for the Confederacy and a crucial target for the Union.  In early 1862 the Union assembled a force to take this prize:  18,000 soldiers commanded by Major General Benjamin Butler, and a naval armada under Flag Captain David G. Farragut, 6o years old, but possessed of energy that few men in their twenties possess, and a veteran of over half a century of service in the Navy.

In Mid-March Farragut began moving his fleet into the mouth of the Mississippi.  The approach to New Orleans up the Mississippi was guarded by two Confederate forts:  Jackson on the west bank and Saint Philip on the east bank.    The Confederate defenses were aided on the river by three ironclads:  the CSS Manassas, the CSS Mississippi, and the CSS Louisiana, backed up by an improvised fleet of converted merchant vessels, gunboats and rams, none of which stood any chance against the might of the Union fleet.  If Farragut’s force was going to be stopped, it would have to be by the forts.

From April 18-April 23 the forts were bombarded by 26 mortar schooners under the command of Farragut’s foster brother Captain David Porter, with whom Farragut had an uneasy relationship.  Porter had used his influence in Washington to require Farragut to give him the chance to reduce the forts by bombardment.  Farragut was sceptical and he was right.  Although the bombardment was fierce, the forts remained in action.  On the 24th, Farragut successfully had his ships run past the forts, destroying the Confederate fleet in the process.  Almost defenseless New Orleans surrendered to the fleet after three days of negotiation on April 29.  Butler’s army took the forts bloodlessly on the 29th, aided by a mutiny of the Confederate troops at Fort Jackson.  The richest strategic prize of the War fell to the Union swiftly, and with amazingly few casualties.  Farragut was promoted to Rear Admiral for this feat, the first admiral in US history.  The Union took a large step to victory with the fall of the Crescent City. Continue Reading

64

Anti-Bullying Tzar Bullies Christians During Anti-Bullying Speech

Advisory to the video above due to strong language and high idiocy content.  Hattip to Jazz Shaw at Hot Air.  Dan Savage, anti-Christian bigot, homosexual activist and all around jerk, is the de facto anti-Bullying tzar of the Obama administration.  He was the featured speaker at a High School Journalism Convention where he was supposed to talk on anti-bullying initiatives in schools.  Instead, he decided to vent his extreme hatred of Christianity and Christians:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden may be having second thoughts about assigning Dan Savage as their de facto “Anti-Bullying Czar” this year. According to Fox News, the sex advice columnist – Savage Love – and gay rights activist who founded It Gets Better seems to either have a hard time understanding the definition of bullying or has some serious issues with irony.

Really? So you picked a raunchy sex advice columnist who publishes a column called “Savage Love” as your ambassador to help out at risk children. What could possibly go wrong? Well, here’s what can possibly go wrong.

As many as 100 high school students walked out of a national journalism conference after an anti-bullying speaker began cursing, attacked the Bible and reportedly called those who refused to listen to his rant “pansy asses.” …

Savage was supposed to be delivering a speech about anti-bullying at the National High School Journalism Conference sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. But it turned into an episode of Christian-bashing.

Rick Tuttle, the journalism advisor for Sutter Union High School in California, was among several thousand people in the audience. He said they thought the speech was one thing – but it turned into something else.

“I thought this would be about anti-bullying,” Tuttle told Fox news. “It turned into a pointed attack on Christian beliefs.”

Tuttle said a number of his students were offended by Savage’s remarks – and some decided to leave the auditorium.

“It became hostile,” he said. “It felt hostile as we were sitting in the audience – especially towards Christians who espouse beliefs that he was literally taking on.”

The speaker, in a supposed attempt to encourage young people to behave in a civil fashion toward each other, immediately launches into a diatribe against Christian values. When some of the students – particularly a few of the young ladies – become offended, he berates them and engages in hostile name calling. This is the keystone of the anti-bullying campaign? Continue Reading

8

Glenn Miller’s Over There

America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.

Glenn Miller

Something for the weekend.  Glenn Miller and the Army Air Corps Band give a very lively version of James M. Cohan’s Over There.  The rendition of the song is made poignant by our knowledge that Major Glenn Miller would never come back from Over There, dying on December 15, 1944 when the plane he was flying in was lost over the English Channel.  Miller, too old to be drafted at 38, was rich and famous as a band leader in 1942 and could have sat out the War in safety and comfort without reproach.  However, Miller was above all a patriot.  He first tried to join the Navy and was turned down.  He then joined the Army Air Corps, commissioned as a Captain, and was placed in command of the Army Air Corps Band.  His goal was to present music that the troops would enjoy, frequently to the dismay of senior officers who usually had little love for Big Band era music.  Miller and his Band helped raise the morale of American troops and civilians alike, not an easy task in a War as bloody as World War II, especially among Army Air Corps troops in Europe with their high casualties.  May his soul rest in peace. Continue Reading

34

Father Miscamble Defends Bishop Jenky

 

 

Father Wilson Miscamble, a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and a history professor at Notre Dame defends Bishop Jenky from the attacks of members of the Notre Dame faculty:

Do you know Bishop Jenky?

I do, indeed. He’s, of course, a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross,  and I’ve known him since I came to the order as a seminarian 30 years ago. He’s  a terrific priest and a great bishop.

 

Have you worked with him closely?

He was the rector of Sacred Heart Basilica in my younger days as a priest  here on campus and was the superior of the Holy Cross community here during my  early days on campus. That was in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when I was part  of the community of which he was local superior.

But then he was taken away from us and made auxiliary bishop here in Fort  Wayne-South Bend, and then was made bishop of Peoria about 10 years ago. So, for  the last 15 years or so, I’ve seen him periodically. He comes back to visit, and  so on.

 

What do you think of this brouhaha over his remarks?

I have found the reaction of my faculty colleagues quite embarrassing — embarrassing because these academics disgracefully misused Bishop Jenky’s words  by taking them out of context. It has been a little disappointing, to say least.  Bishop Jenky was making remarks about the religious-liberty issue, and some of  my colleagues implied that Bishop Jenky was suggesting that President Obama was  on his way to adopting the entire Hitler-Stalin agenda. It’s a  mischaracterization that is unworthy of supposedly serious scholars.

 

You’re a historian, albeit your specialty is American history.

I am a historian, and I challenge the signatories to this letter criticizing  Bishop Jenky to point to one part of his homily that is historically  inaccurate.

 

Is he historically accurate?

Absolutely. By the way, Bishop Jenky was a history major when he was an  undergraduate here at Notre Dame. He’s read quite a bit of history in his day.  And he is a good student of it.

 

Why do you think they would take his remarks out of context?

Well, this is to engage in speculation, and I probably shouldn’t go down  this path myself; one should be cautious. But I think this very poorly crafted letter says  more about the rather predictable and ideological bias of the signatories than  it does about Bishop Jenky’s courageous homily.

 

But do you feel that he might have overstepped any kind of line?

 

No. His homily was a courageous homily which pointed to a pattern of  behavior of a number of regimes to limit religious freedom and to attack  religious institutions. Continue Reading

46

Watch Illinois…And Do The Reverse

My beloved State of Illinois is a shining example of what not to do if a state wishes to be prosperous, cursed as it is with probably the worst state government in the Union.  George Will sums up the state of my State in a column this week:

After trying to tax Illinois to governmental solvency and economic dynamism, Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has been governor since 2009, now says “our rendezvous with reality has arrived.”

Actually, Illinois is still reality-averse, so Americans may soon learn the importance of the freedom to fail in a system of competitive federalism.

Illinois was more heavily taxed than its five contiguous states (Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin) even before January 2011, when Quinn got a lame duck Legislature (its successor has fewer Democrats) to raise corporate taxes 30% (from 7.3% to 9.5%), giving Illinois one of the highest state corporate taxes, and the fourth-highest combination of national and local corporate taxation in the industrialized world.

Since 2009, Quinn has spent more than $500 million in corporate welfare to bribe companies not to flee the tax environment he has created.

Quinn raised personal income taxes 67% (from 3% to 5%), adding about $1,040 to the tax burden of a family of four earning $60,000. Illinois’ unemployment rate increased faster than any other state’s in 2011.

Its pension system is the nation’s most underfunded, and the state has floated bond issues to finance pension contributions — borrowing money that someday must be repaid, to replace what should have been pension money it spent on immediate gratifications.

Go here to read the depressing rest.  Illinois is now rated A2 by Moody’s, the lowest credit rating of any state.  When it lowered Illinois’ bond rating Moody’s made the following observation:

Illinois’ general obligation bond rating was lowered to A2 from  A1 on January 6 because of the state’s failure last year to implement  solutions to its largest credit challenges: severe pension under-funding  and chronic bill-payment delays. It remains to be seen whether  the state has the political will to impose new pension reforms and other  measures that restore fiscal strength in the near term.

Not a chance.  No serious reforms will be undertaken until State payroll checks begin to bounce.  Illinois has the worst, most feckless political class in the country.  Louis XV, he of apres moi le deluge, was a dedicated reformer compared to the idiots, crooks and empty suits who misgovern the Land of Lincoln.

 

1

For Your Weekend

I have a long weekend and very busy next-week ahead of me, so I won’t be here posting and commenting for a few days. Until then, enjoy this music! Amadeus is one of my favorite films, and Mozart one of my favorite composers. Here is the full finale of the opera that had “too many notes.”

Have a wonderful weekend TAC!

25

Nanny State Down on the Farm

 

Proving once again that nothing must be outside of the control of Leviathan, the Obama Labor Department has proposed the following:

A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm  chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress.  But now it’s attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.

The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that  would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting  them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.

Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing,  marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.”

I have lived in rural Illinois all of my life.  My family was not fortunate enough to own a family farm, but I did agricultural labor for cash from the sixth grade on up, through the summer after my first year in law school.  I found out three things from this experience:  1.  I loved earning money;  2.  Farm work was hard and I didn’t want to be doing it for the rest of my life;  3.  Showing up on time and working hard was 90% of doing well on a job.  I benefited quiet a bit from those simple lessons, in addition to getting a lot of exercise and gaining respect for how hard it is to make a living from farming.  Now the federal government has decreed that kids, even in many cases on farms of their own families, should not have these opportunities.   The only possible response to this is for me to once again summon the shade of the late Ray Walston: Continue Reading

14

Mark Clark-Almost the First American Ambassador to the Vatican-On What’s My Line

“A few days after the liberation of Rome, Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Commander of the Fifth Allied Army, paid his respects to the Pope: “I am afraid you have been disturbed by the noise of my tanks. I am sorry.” Pius XII smiled and replied: “General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like.””

The show What’s My Line makes a rather good time capsule for informal looks at major figures in mid twentieth century  American history.  On February 19, 1956 General Mark Clark, commander of the US Fifth Army in the Italian campaign during World War II, and commander of the United Nations forces in Korea from May 12, 1952 to the truce ending the conflict., appeared on the show.

It is an ironic commentary on the relative obscurity of the Italian campaign during World War II that the panelists were unable to guess his identity.  Clark was nominated by President Truman to be the first ambassador of the United States to the Vatican due to his excellent personal war time relationship with Pope Pius XII.  Opposition by Protestant groups and powerful Senator Thomas Connolly of Texas caused Truman to shelve the plan.  Continue Reading

41

Notre Dame Faculty Attacks Bishop Jenky

 

In a prior post, which may be read here, I detailed a speech by Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese, my Bishop,  in which he blasted the attack of the Obama administration on religious liberty.  Bishop Jenky is a graduate of Notre Dame and was ordained as a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the Catholic religious order which runs Notre Dame.  Bishop Jenky is quite fond of Notre Dame and often speaks of his days there.  He serves on the Board of Fellows of Notre Dame.  Professor Charles E. Rice, Law School Professor Emeritus at Notre Dame, details what happened at Notre Dame after Bishop Jenky’s speech:

On April 14, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., of Peoria, Illinois, delivered a courageous homily at Mass during “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith.”  Bishop Jenky said, “This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries—only excepting our church buildings—could easily be shut down.  Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.”

Forty-nine members of the Notre Dame faculty denounced Bishop Jenky in a Letter to the  University President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Richard C. Notebaert.  The Letter called on them to “definitively distance Notre Dame from Bishop Jenky’s incendiary statement.”  The signers, said the Letter, “feel” that Bishop Jenky should resign from the University’s Board of Fellows.

The faculty Letter claims that Bishop Jenky “described President Obama as ‘seem[ing] intent on following a similar path’ to Hitler and Stalin.”  They accuse Bishop Jenky of “ ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment.”  The astonishingly simplistic and defamatory character of those accusations can be appreciated only by looking at what Bishop Jenky actually said: Continue Reading

4

Anzac Day 2012

The Australian divisions and the New Zealanders had become what they were to remain for the rest of the war – the spearhead of the British Army.

                              John Terraine, British Military Historian

Today is Anzac Day, a date which has huge meaning for the people of New Zealand and Australia.  At the beginning of World War I both nations raised great volunteer armies, making up a large percentage of their adult male populations, and sent them off to fight.  In the bitter Gallipoli Campaign, the attempt by the Allies to take the Dardanelles from the Turks, conquer Constantinople and open up a supply line to Russia via the Black Sea, the Anzac troops distinguished themselves by their stubborn courage and resourcefulness.  Although the Gallipoli campaign ultimately ended in failure, the Australian and New Zealand troops came out it with a reputation as hard fighters, shock troops, a reputation they earned time and again on battlefields throughout World Wars I and II.  American veterans I have talked to who fought with Australian and New Zealand troops have repeatedly told me that they could ask for no finer fighters to have at their side in a battle.

The video at the beginning of this post is entitled Heroes of Gallipoli and is made up of the only film footage taken during the campaign.  It was restored a few years ago by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame.  It is a fitting tribute to very brave men, and the nations who gave them birth. Continue Reading

24

Has Rome Overreacted to the LCRW?

So, you think you’re a calm and balanced guy, and you read all these news stories about how the nuns are just “stunned” that Rome would investigate them. I mean, “stunned. How could the mean old Vatican investigate nuns?

Well, Thomas L. McDonald of God and the Machine gives us a little bit of an idea. He takes a look at the upcoming LCWR Assembly 2012 (to be held in August), and notes the keynote topic: “Mystery Unfolding: Leading in the Evolutionary Now” which will be delivered by Barbara Marx Hubbard. He takes a look at Barbara Marx Hubbard’s site and finds the following:

It has become obvious that a creative minority of humanity is undergoing a profound inner mutation or transformation. Evolutionary ideas are not only serving to make sense of this change, but also acting to catalyze the potential within us to transform. (Thought creates; specific thought creates specifically.)

It is the planetary crisis into which we were born that is awakening our sleeping potential for transformation. Planet Earth has given birth to a species capable of choosing whether to consciously evolve ourselves and our social forms, or to continue the course we have set toward our own extinction. And the choice is clear.

All great spiritual paths lead us to this threshold of our own consciousness, but none can guide us across the great divide — from the creature human to the cocreative human. None can guide us in managing the vast new powers given us by science and technology. None of us have been there yet.

What we can envision

The enriched noosphere, the thinking layer of Earth, is now replete with evolutionary technologies that can transform the material world. Within the next 30 to 50 years, we could transform our physical bodies, our minds, our social structures, and set in motion the emergence of a new civilization.
Continue Reading

15

Things are beginning to heat up between the USCCB and President Obama…

 

The Hill is reporting some potentially disastrous news for President Obama concerning his bid for re-election: His support among Catholic voters is slipping and, perhaps, is bleeding badly.

 

For example, a Pew Research Center in March 2012 found a “noticeable shift in opinions” among White Catholics with 31% now describing the administration as “unfriendly” to religion.  In August 2009, only 17% described the administration that way.

Then, too, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is organizing for two weeks of public protest in June and July against what the USCCB  believes is growing government encroachment on religious liberty.  A confrontation with Catholic activists could cause major headaches for David Axelrod and his crew in Chicago.

Of course, that would require the USCCB to prove itself capable of whipping up fervor among U.S. Catholics.  It’s a possibility, The Motley Monk would note, but there are many obstacles, not the least of which the majority of U.S. Catholics who are reported to support the President’s healthcare policies, especially as they concern “women’s freedom of choice.”

 

To wit, James Salt, the Executive Director of Catholics United—a politically left Catholic social justice group—told The Hill that the USCCB’s public relations campaign is misguided:

It reflects a great misplaced priority of the bishops.  In no way is it apparent to me how Catholics in America are oppressed.  Their positioning in society is greater than their numbers.  There are six Catholic members of the Supreme Court.

This is part of a very orchestrated campaign by the bishops to make contraception the focus of the 2012 election.

Salt believes the USCCB’s broader goal is to get Mitt Romney elected so he can nominate a fifth conservative justice for the Supreme Court.  That would make it possible for the Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

If the USCCB is successful in its efforts—irrespective of whether they are motivated by concerns about religious liberty or to elect Mitt Romney—organized civil disobedience could feature Catholics in cities across the nation being hauled off to jail.

 

According to The Hill, Republican strategists are enthusiastic about the possibility.  One Republican strategist is quoted as saying:

These would be devastating images for the Obama administration.  You have a very important religious demographic coming out in protest of Obama’s policies and being arrested for their expression. These images would be politically damaging for the president’s campaign.

That’s a hope, one supported by the President of Catholic Advocate, Deal Hudson, who told The Hill:

This is the most dynamic situation I’ve ever seen since I’ve been involved in Catholics and politics.  I think civil disobedience is almost inevitable. I think that kind of protest is on the way.

Of course, all of this is all about the so-called “war on religious liberty” initiated by the Obama administration, which The Motley Monk thinks is best understood in terms of the Obamacare mandates announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  Those mandates—and the ham-handed “compromise” announced subsequently by the President—could end up having been a terrible political miscalculation.

 

But, don’t expect President Obama to attempt to mollify the USCCB before November.  The Motley Monk believes the President and David Axelrod are confident that the 90% of Catholic women who use artificial forms of birth control are firmly in his camp.  (The reality is that it’s 60%.)  Furthermore, they are confident that Catholics who are aligned with political left are likely to view any protesters who get arrested for demonstrating for religious liberty as “right-wing, conservative nut jobs.”  Catholics aligned with the political left are not going to march in lock-step with the USCCB.

Time will tell.

But, just like the spring weather, the political season is heating up.  Religious liberty may end up being an important factor in deciding who will be the next President of the United States.

The all-important question is: Will the “Church militant” align itself with conservative Christians across the nation to teach a lesson to the President and David Axelrod come November?

 

 

To read the report in The Hill, click on the following link:
http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/politics-elections/223227-two-week-protest-by-catholic-activists-may-hamper-presidents-reelection-bid

To read The Motley Monk daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

19

Remember Rome, Mr. Obama!

 

 

Hattip to Patrick Archbold at Creative Minority Report.   A fiery speech delivered by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of the Saint Louis Archdiocese at the Missouri State Capitol on March 27, 2012, calling for defiance of the HHS Mandate, and a superb ringing defense of religious liberty:

 

So Jesus said to them: “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mt 22:21/Mk 12:17/Lk 20:25)

My brothers and sisters, we stand here today because of an alarming and serious matter that strikes at our fundamental right to religious freedom. The federal government – which was formed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – has decided to tell some of those people that we are free to hold our faith, but we will be required to deny it in practice. We are here to let the government know that we will render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God!

In late January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that almost all employers — including Catholic employers – would be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs. This is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

 Recognizing this as a grave threat to religious liberty, many people spoke out against the Mandate.

In response to this reaction, President Obama’s Administration announced a so-called “compromise” in early February. Now, instead of the Catholic Church being required to pay for contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs, the insurance companies will be required to provide those services free of charge.

We need to say loud and clear: Mr. President, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs aren’t free. Someone has to pay for them. If the insurance company has to provide them, the cost will be passed on to the consumer one way or another –that’s how the economy works! Continue Reading

28

Obama’s Ideological Brinkmanship

We knew it would come to this, but we weren’t sure until when until the Obama administration announced the contraception mandate; even then, we weren’t sure when exactly it would be explicitly spelled out by the leadership of the Church. I am referring to the U.S. bishop’s recent statement declaring, among other things, the following:

It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

It is essential to understand the distinction between conscientious objection and an unjust law. Conscientious objection permits some relief to those who object to a just law for reasons of conscience—conscription being the most well-known example. An unjust law is “no law at all.” It cannot be obeyed, and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal. (Emphasis added)

In making this statement, the bishops have echoed Pope Leo XIII’s statement in his encyclical Libertas: “But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest, while obeying man, we become disobedient to God.”

Continue Reading

29

Bring Back the Draft? A Look at the American Experience With Conscription.

 I have misused the king’s press damnably. I have got, in exchange of a hundred and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I press me none but good house-holders, yeoman’s sons; inquire me out contracted bachelors, such as had been asked twice on the banns; such a commodity of warm slaves, as had as lieve hear the devil as a drum; such as fear the report of a caliver worse than a struck fowl or a hurt wild-duck.

Falstaff, Henry IV, Part I

 

 

Former Washington Post Reporter Thomas Ricks, who now works for the liberal Center for a New American Security, a think tank focusing on defense issues and which has provided several top personnel in Defense slots for the Obama administration, thinks that it is now time to bring back the Draft.  He proposes it not because he believes that the Draft would improve the military, but because he believes that it would make the nation less likely to go to war.

 

The drawbacks of the all-volunteer force are not military, but political and ethical. One percent of the nation has carried almost all the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the rest of us essentially went shopping. When the wars turned sour, we could turn our backs.

A nation that disregards the consequences of its gravest decisions is operating in morally hazardous territory. We invaded Iraq recklessly. If we had a draft, a retired general said to me recently, we probably would not have invaded at all.

If there had been a draft in 2001, I think we still would have gone to war in Afghanistan, which was the right thing to do. But I don’t think we would have stayed there much past the middle of 2002 or handled the war so negligently for years after that.

We had a draft in the 1960s, of course, and it did not stop President Lyndon Johnson from getting into a ground war in Vietnam. But the draft sure did encourage people to pay attention to the war and decide whether they were willing to support it.

I believe that Mr. Ricks is completely wrong-headed, and to understand why it is necessary to review the Draft and American history.  Continue Reading

5

Religious Liberty: “You Need Not Thank Anyone But God For It”

Hat tip to Mark Scott Abeln at Rome of the West for bringing the story which follows to our attention.  Although the U.S. Constitution enshrines free exercise of religion as the first freedom in the First Amendment, attempts by government to assert authority over who can and cannot carry out the ministry of the Church happened long before the recent unpleasantness of the HHS mandate.

One such instance occurred almost 150 years ago in Missouri, in the aftermath of the Civil War.  In the closing months of the war, Radical Republicans, determined to prevent resurgence of proslavery or pro-secessionist power, drafted a new state constitution which imposed a “Test Oath” as a condition of being allowed to vote, hold public office, or practice certain professions. Those required to take the Test Oath included teachers, physicians, attorneys, corporation officials, and clergy of all denominations. Those who continued to practice their profession or ministry after a specified deadline without having taken the oath were subject to arrest, fines and imprisonment.

The oath required one to affirm various provisions of the new constitution, including one that excluded persons who had ever “given aid, comfort, countenance or support to any person engaged in hostility” against the United States from the professions and activities covered by the law.  As the oath was written, persons who had any kind of regular contact or relationship with a Confederate or Southern sympathizer before or during the war were or could be excluded.  Moreover, demanding assent to the oath as a condition of exercising religious ministry was a blatant infringement upon religious freedom. Archbishop Peter Kenrick of St. Louis had ordered his priests to remain neutral during the war, and when the Test Oath was enacted, counseled his priests against taking it.

Father John Joseph Hogan, a native of Ireland who had served scattered missions in rural Missouri since 1857, was one of those who refused to take the oath. A grand jury refused to indict him for violating the Test Oath law, but Radical officials replaced those jurors with others who returned an indictment. Father Hogan was then arrested but freed after posting bail. He wrote the following in a letter to parishioners and other supporters who had protested his arrest (emphasis added):

You term Religious Liberty a God-given right. So it is. Let me add. You need not thank anyone but God for it. God is the source of Right and Power. He has said to those sent by Him to teach His religion: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach ye all nations. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” In virtue of this power, He sends us to teach and promises to be with us. His authority is ours. Were it man’s authority, man would not now oppose, nor from the beginning have opposed, its exercise. The Civil Authority has been ever, from the days of Herod, the enemy of Christ. Christ therefore could not have entrusted to it, the care of His heavenly teaching … Continue Reading

8

The Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut may reveal the soul of the Democratic Party…

 

The race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut—the seat currently held by Joseph Lieberman—is now providing some pretty clear evidence about exactly what the five Democratic candidates for national political office think about the issue of religious liberty. 

 

When asked during the “Face the State” debate whether Catholic hospitals should be required to provide contraceptive services and abortions, all five Democratic candidates said in various ways and to various degrees that they would support federal legislation compelling Catholic hospitals—since they receive federal funds—to perform abortions.

Candidates Susan Bysiewicz, Matthew Oakes, and William Tong were direct in their responses: the federal government has the right to require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.

Bysiewicz said:

The federal government has the right to regulate what  services are provided, because Catholic  institutions, colleges and universities get funding from the federal  government, and I believe that those institutions should provide access  to reproductive health care.

Oakes said:

If they’re gonna take our money—I’m Roman Catholic—then they  need to perform the health care issues that women need performed for  them.

Tong said:

Access  to an abortion should be open and available.  Access to contraception, the  same thing. These are basic liberties enshrined in our Constitution, in  our jurisprudence. That’s a fact. […] I think we need a cooperative  approach. We had a bill in the state Legislature to provide emergency  contraception. It was called Plan B. […] Now Plan B is a reality.  Emergency contraception is made available to patients at Catholic  hospitals. We just need to find a way to make it work.

Candidate Chris Murphy was not as direct.  He said: “[Catholic hospitals] certainly have the ability to decide what services they perform.”

That’s masterful politicalspeaque, The Motley Monk would note.  Saying Catholic hospitals “certainly have the ability to decide” is quite different from saying “the government should not require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.”

Candidate Lee Whitnum didn’t answer the question directly.  Instead, she said that providing contraceptive services is a “good thing.”  But, Whitnum didn’t go so far as to say whether Catholic institutions should be forced to provide contraceptive services.

The Catholic bishops of Connecticut were quick to issue a statement, noting:

If it is [the candidates’] position that our hospitals should be forced by law or regulations to provide abortions in spite of our teaching, it is unfortunate to note their readiness to violate religious liberty.

Their position would be the logical extension of the federal Health and Human Services regulations with regard to so called “preventative services.”

Yes, the statements of these five candidates for the U.S. Senate indicate their readiness to trample upon the exercise of religious liberty.  Perhaps the statements also reveal the state of the soul of the Democratic Party.

 

 

To view the video of the “Face the State” debate, click on the following link.  The relevant comments begin at 5:30 into the debate.
http://www.wfsb.com/category/213663/face-the-state

To read the Connecticut bishops’ statement, click on the following link:
http://www.archdioceseofhartford.org/news/facethestate.pdf

To read The Motley Monk daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

 

7

A Habit (or lack-thereof) of Disobedience

By now, most of the Catholic blogging world has heard of Archbishop Peter Sartain’s appointment by the Vatican.  Whispers succinctly delivers the news:

Citing “serious doctrinal problems” found over the course of a four-year study of the umbrella-group representing the majority of the US’ communities of nuns, the Holy See has announced a thoroughgoing shake-up of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), naming Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as its delegate to conduct an overhaul of the group.

“Serious doctrinal problems.”  This is either the understatement of the century or … actually, it is the understatement of the century … there is no other way to put it.  The “Doctrinal Assessment” comes to us from the Congregatio Pro Doctrina Fidei at which our dear Holy Father spent much of his pre-papal days.  It is worth reading in its entirety.  Among the highlights are little gems like this:

On the doctrinal level, this crisis is characterized by a diminution of the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration which leads, in turn, to a loss of a ‘constant and lively sense of the Church’ among some Religious.

Or this:

The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern, also given the influence the LCWR exercises on religious Congregations in other parts of the world.

Lest we think the critique void of specifics:

Addresses given during LCWR annual Assemblies manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors. The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity. Some might see in Sr. Brink’s analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today. But Pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help.

And then there is this:

The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.

Then one of my favorites:

The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world. Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.

And this:

The documentation reveals that, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.

But one of the best paragraphs comes by way of conclusion:

This action by the Holy Father should be understood in virtue of the mandate given by the Lord to Simon Peter as the rock on which He founded his Church (cf. Luke 22:32): “I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned to me, you must strengthen the faith of your brothers and sisters.” This Scripture passage has long been applied to the role of the Successors of Peter as Head of the Apostolic College of Bishops; it also applies to the role of the Pope as Chief Shepherd and Pastor of the Universal Church. Not least among the flock to whom the Pope’s pastoral concern is directed are women Religious of apostolic life, who through the past several centuries have been so instrumental in building up the faith and life of the Holy Church of God, and witnessing to God’s love for humanity in so many charitable and apostolic works.

Toward the end of the document are very specific directive given to “the Delegate” (Archbishop Sartain).  The “greatest hits” are:

The mandate of the Delegate is to include the following … 2) To review LCWR plans and programs, including General Assemblies and publications, to ensure that the scope of the LCWR’s mission is fulfilled in accord with Church teachings and discipline. In particular: Systems Thinking Handbook will be withdrawn from circulation pending revision, LCWR programs for (future) Superiors and Formators will be reformed, Speakers/presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by Delegate. … 4) To review and offer guidance in the application of liturgical norms and texts. For example: The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours will have a place of priority in LCWR events and programs.

I don’t wish to tie this directly to the HHS debacle; it is, after all, a much wider issue.  However, one can’t help but wonder if the hierarchy, in light of HHS and events such as the Notre Dame scandal from several years back, is finally getting serious about making sure that those who profess to be “Catholic” are actually acting Catholic in public.  Where better to start than with priests and religious?  For my own part, I greet this effort with a resounding, “Amen.”
Roma locuta est, causa finita est.  There was a time when this phrase was respected and venerated by those within the Church, and I deeply believe that it can and will be once more.
I ran across the Washington Post’s web coverage of the Vatican announcement, aptly titled “Vatican: U.S. Catholic sisters, nuns making serious theological errors.”  It too is worth your time reading, but for vastly different reasons than the Vatican statement itself.  It contains excerpt such as this:

[Sr. Simone] Campbell sees the current tension between male and female Catholic clergy as a part of a post-Vatican II democratic evolution within the church, but worries that the male leaders fail to recognize the “witness of women religious.”

Such a claim that the male leaders fail to recognize the witness of women religious is not only irresponsible, it is also ignorant.  Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken widely about this important witness … but only when it is actually a witness to the faith, and never when it is contrary to the faith.  Yet the phrase that caught my eye was, “the current tension between male and female Catholic clergy.”  The mis-categorization of “female clergy” by the Post is ironically a strong argument in favor of the Vatican’s charge of “serious doctrinal problems.”
Sr. Campell continues,

It’s painfully obvious that the leadership of the church is not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.

This is a misunderstanding of the the term “educated.”  “Instructed” (albeit improperly) Sr. Campell may be, but certainly not “educated,” at least not in the Catholic faith.  Even a dictionary recognizes that being educated means having been entrusted with intellectual, moral, and social instruction within the field in question.  The problem with the LCWR leadership is that they are distinctly not educated in the Catholic faith, nor are they educated in the authentic and beautiful witness that constitutes Catholic consecrated life, as evidenced by the numerous examples cited in the Vatican document.  They may be educated in something other than Catholicism, but they most certainly are lacking in education, not to mentioned formation, within their own faith tradition.
Sr. Campbell, however, enlightens the Post on the real motivation behind the called-for reform:

“I think we scare them,” Sr. Simone Campbell … said of the church’s male hierarchy.

Actually, for quite some time, I have thought this very same thing, except in reverse.  Why is there so much animosity towards orthodoxy in the last several years?  Orthodoxy is nothing new.  There have been those who have championed for quite some time the very same thoughts contained in the recent Vatican statement.  The reason there is an uproar now is because people are beginning to sense that the tide is turning.  It is the very same reason why people are suddenly outspoken by the extraordinary form of the Mass.  While its presence in the Church has never ceased, even following the Second Vatican Council, people have recently begun to sense that things are changing.  They look at the seminarians coming out of seminary … they listen to the things coming out of the Holy See … they watch the appointments made by the Holy Father … and they know that the tide is turning towards Catholicism (to shamelessly steal from Dave Hartline) … and this terrifies them.
By way of a humorous conclusion, the most amusing part of the Washington Post article was the pictures they chose.  Under the title of “Vatican: U.S. Catholic sisters, nuns making serious theological errors,” we find this picture:

And this one:

Now I don’t want to judge a situation purely by a picture, so feel free to correct me here … but … I hardly think the delightful sisters in the these photos are those being called out by the recent Vatican instruction.  In the first picture we have a group of young, energetic, and full-habited sisters, and at the risk of overgeneralization, the young orders of which I am familiar are orthodox to the very core of their existence!  The second picture depicts a sister receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling … call me crazy, but I don’t think she preparing to deliver a lecture on women’s ordination and homosexuality.  (The tour of examples becomes even more amusing when one flips through the embedded slide show to find images of Mother Theresa, Katherine Drexel, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and a whole array of full-habited sisters.)
So why didn’t the Post choose pictures of Sr. Campbell, or even more familiar names like Sr. Carol Keehan, or Sr. Joan Chittister?  The answer is simple: the reading audience would not recognize them as the “U.S. Catholic sisters” to which the Post title refers.  Forgive the pun, but even those in the secular world are in the habit of recognizing sisters by their … well, you get the idea.
6

Chuck Colson: Requiescat in Pace

Chuck Colson died today at age 80.  A former self described Nixon hatchet man, he went to prison for his involvement in Watergate.  He underwent a religious conversion and turned his life around.  After his release from prison he founded Prison Fellowship, an organization that has won accolades for its work in bringing the gospel to men and women incarcerated.  He was ever a tireless voice for the unborn and the handicapped, as the video above indicates.  In a time of easy cynicism and fashionable atheism, Colson’s conversion was a reminder of the power of the grace of God for those who humbly repent and accept it.  The world is poorer by his passing.  May God grant him mercy and the Beatific Vision. Continue Reading

11

What Conservative Catholics Should Keep Doing

My last post got a lot of traffic, along with generous heapings of love and hate. The love is always appreciated. As for the hate, when it doesn’t amuse me with its enraged ignorance, it makes me sad with its malicious presumption.

How anyone could come away from my post thinking that I believe conservative Catholics should “shut up” about public affronts to Christ is beyond me. Maybe I didn’t make clear that I think we should have a public prayer campaign for the conversion of people like Jon Stewart. Maybe some of you don’t understand how much such a gesture would rial up the left, far more so than some hysterical campaign for a public apology. But tunnel-vision is funny that way.

So, in order to avoid any confusion…

By all means, please keep pointing out and denouncing public attacks on the faith.

That is what I intend to do here on this blog, and what we are all called to do.

Continue Reading

Holst the Planets: Mars the Bringer of Wars

Something for the weekend.  Mars, the Bringer of War, from Gustav Holst’ s The Planets.  Throughout history Mars has been associated with the god of war, no doubt due to its frequent red coloration when viewed from Earth.   However, I have it on the highest authority that we have nothing to fear from Mars. Continue Reading

27

Baby as Parasite

 

 

Over at the Huffington Post a diarist blogging under the name Sasharusa helps explain why babies in utero are treated like so much disposable garbage by so many people in our society:

This is Giardia lamblia. It is an intestinal parasite that is very common and is a pain in the ass to rid of.

I know, I know, it doesn’t look like a precious little baby. I know. It looks scary, and gross, and looks like it will bite your head off. But we’re not talking about looks. Who knows, maybe aliens think we’re ugly as f–k but this parasite would be labeled Miss Universe in their culture? Who knows! Anyway, I am sorry for plastering this as the very first thing in my diary. Consider this just like those exploited photos of miscarried late term fetuses that Anti- Choicers parade around.

Anyways, back to the whole fetus= parasite thing. That is how I see them. I don’t see them as cute and cuddly. I see them as terrifying and scary. I see pregnancy the same way. Continue Reading

22

Schadenfreude

Occasionally I take a glance at the website of the National Catholic Distorter Fishwrap Reporter for the purpose of amusement.  Yesterday I wandered over there to see their reaction to the Vatican’s attempt to reform The Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  The reactions were both hysterical and hysterically funny.  Father Z, who I have designated the Master of the Fisk, had one of his patented devastating takes on one of the reactions:

[Sr. Joan] Chittister said she was deeply distraught at news of Sartain’s appointment and the order for LCWR to revise itself. [What a surprise!]

“When you set out to reform a people, a group, who have done nothing wrong, [You mean, other than purposely embrace heresies and all sorts of strange things, criticize and defy the Holy See and bishops, abandon their habits and the charisms of their communities… ] you have to have an intention, a motivation that is not only not morally based, but actually immoral,” she said.  [Keeping in mind that this new project comes from the CDF and that this is approved by the Holy Father, I rest my case.]

“Because you are attempting to control people [Note the word “attempt”.  I look forward to many more statements of defiance from women religious, speeches at conferences, articles in NCR.] for one thing and one thing only — and that is for thinking, for being willing to discuss the issues of the age … If we stop thinking, if we stop demanding the divine right to think, [She pretty much side-steps the problems, no?  This “think” thing is misdirection.] and to see that as a Catholic gift, then we are betraying the church no matter what [NB] the powers of the church see as an inconvenient truth in their own times.”  [Sr. Joan must be for the Magisterium of Nuns what Al Gore is to the climate change crowd.]

In attempting to take such control of people’s thinking, [She must think most of her readers are pretty stupid, since she keeps repeating the point.] she said, “You make a mockery of the search for God, of the whole notion of keeping eyes on the signs of the times and of providing the people with the best possible spiritual guidance and presence you can give.  [More Enneagrams, please!]

“When I was a child in this town, I was taught that it was a sin to go into a Protestant church.

In my lifetime, the church, to its eternal credit, admitted that it was wrong. [!?!  About entering Protestant churches?  – Would that some of them would… but I digress. ] The scandal and the sin is that it took 400 years to do that.” Continue Reading

70

Two Things Conservative Catholics Should Stop Doing

Has the title of this blog post got your attention? Good. Many of this blog’s regular readers and com-boxers could be classified as conservative Catholic, myself included (though I do my best to elude fixed categories). So I hope you will take this to heart, and maybe even take the debate outside the confines of this blog if you feel so moved.

I like Bill Donohue. I sympathize with him and his organization, The Catholic League. I share many of their sentiments, including outrage and disgust, whenever the media decides to take another whack at Christianity. So I certainly don’t critique Donohue or the CL from the left. Nor is my critique limited to Donohue and CL, but could extend to any number of Catholic and Protestant organizations as well.

With that said, here are two things that I wish they would all stop doing, and they are closely related.

Continue Reading

4

Harry Reid: Seniors Love Them Some Junk Mail

Like Jim Geraghty, every time Harry Reid opens his mouth I’m left wondering how we didn’t defeat him last time out.

In his opening speech on Wednesday, Reid called on theSenate to quickly move forward on the passage of S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, which restructures pensionplans for Postal Service employees as well as allows the USPS to access overpayments in the Federal Employee Retirement System.

“Madam President,” Reid said to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the presiding officer of the Senate, “I’ll come home tonight here to my home in Washington and there’ll be some mail there. A lot of it is what some people refer to as junk mail, but for the people who are sending that mail, it’s very important. “And when talking about seniors, seniors love getting junk mail. It’s sometimes their only way of communicating or feeling like they’re part of the real world,” Reid continued. “Elderly Americans, more than anyone in America, rely on the United States Postal Service, but unless we act quickly, thousands of post offices … will close. I’ve said this earlier today; I repeat it.”

I think this comment requires me to break out the big guns.  Yes, it’s time to up the ante and respond the only way that seems appropriate.  It’s time for:

Continue Reading

7

Doggone Campaign

I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that dogs think humans are nuts.

                                                                        John Steinbeck

Well, the burning issue of the day is that Obama admits in one of his autobiographies that as a child he ate dog.  Considering that he was living in a place where dog is often what is for supper, that is not surprising.  I bear him no ill will for this, although my dog Baby, our terrific terrapoo, may not be so forgiving, or Internet Hitler for that matter.

 

The Romney campaign launched this gem due to the fact that back in 1983 on a family trip, Romney had the family dog Seamus in a dog house secured to the top of his car for 12 hours.  All was well until Seamus decided to relieve himself on the front windshield to the vast amusement of the Romney boys.  This strikes me as a typical Dadism:  an attempt by a family man to solve a problem in logistics that sounded like a good idea at the time.  Of course, my dog Baby might well take a harsher view.

Scott Crider, who has founded an organization called Dogs Against Romney, has no problems with Obama’s dog chow: Continue Reading

16

Of Aging Leftists and Brides of Christ

 

 

 

One of the saddest features of Catholic life in America since Vatican II has been the transformation of so many nuns and sisters from being Brides of Christs into promoters of every Leftist and New Age fad imaginable.  Finally, the Vatican has taken notice:

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has launched a 5-year reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States representing more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious (nuns) in the country. 

Based on a 2008 investigation into the nuns, the Vatican evaluation was candid, noting, “The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern.”

The CDF doctrinal assessment, released today, criticized positions espoused at LCWR annual assemblies and in its literature as well as the absence of support from LCWR for Church teaching on pro-life issues, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

The CDF said that the documentation “reveals that, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States.” Continue Reading

7

From Shangri-La to Tokyo

 

Seventy years ago 80 very brave Americans, led by Army Air Corps Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, brought the nation a badly needed morale boost.  The War in the Pacific was going badly as defeat followed defeat.  Navy Captain Francis Low hit upon a plan to send a message, not only to the American public, but also to Japan, that the United States was not beaten and that it would strike back and prevail.

16 Mitchell B-25B bombers were placed on the carrier USS Hornet.  In great secrecy the Hornet and its escorts steamed to within 650 nautical miles of Japan when the force was discovered by a Japanese picket boat which was sunk by gunfire from the USS Nashville.  Fearing discovery the Doolittle force launched immediately, some 10 hours earlier than planned, and 170 nautical miles further from Japan. Continue Reading

100

NFP: Not Just Natural Birth Control

If you think you’ve found the key to a better life, the most natural thing in the world is to want to rush out and convince everyone else to do likewise. We want to shout from the rooftops, “Hey! Better life to be found here! You can too!” As someone who finds significant meaning and happiness in the Catholic understanding of sexuality and prohibition of contraception, this view (and the approach to natural family planning that springs from it) is indeed something that I think other need to hear — but as a result it’s doubly frustrating when it seems like it’s being “sold” wrong.

This is why my teeth went a little on edge when I ran into what ought to have been a very encouraging article to see in the Washington Post detailing the efforts of young and faithful Catholic women to re-explain the Church’s teachings on contraception to the modern world. Here’s the section that threw me off:

Yet the images the church uses to promote its own method of birth control freaked her out. Pamphlets for what the church calls natural family planning feature photos of babies galore. A church-sponsored class on the method uses a book with a woman on the cover, smiling as she balances a grocery bag on one hip, a baby on the other.

“My guess is 99 out of 100 21st-century women trying to navigate the decision about contraception would see that cover and run for the hills,” McGuire wrote in a post on her blog, Altcatholicah, which is aimed at Catholic women.

McGuire, 26, of Alexandria is part of a movement of younger, religiously conservative Catholic women who are trying to rebrand an often-ignored church teaching: its ban on birth control methods such as the Pill. Arguing that church theology has been poorly explained and encouraged, they want to shift the image of a traditional Catholic woman from one at home with children to one with a great, communicative sex life, a chemical-free body and babies only when the parents think the time is right.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that my limited experience of dealing with interviews is that what you say and the way you come off in the article are often very, very different. So I don’t want to suggest that McGuire was misrepresenting NFP. It may well be that the WaPo writer talked to her for a long time, wrote up the article in good faith, yet ended up infusing it with an attitude that’s just — off.  (And indeed, I see that Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary (quoted elsewhere in the article) feels like what came across in the article is not exactly what she was trying to convey.)

That said, I think the message that the article conveys is problematic in that it simply doesn’t reflect all that accurately what it’s like using NFP, and when your advertising message doesn’t fit the reality of your “product”, user dissatisfaction is sure to follow. Emily Stimpson covers this well in a post titled Truth in Adverstising: Continue Reading

24

Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!

 

May God have mercy on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.

                                                           Bishop Daniel Jenky

 

 

My bishop, Daniel Jenky, of the Peoria Diocese, speaks truth about Caesar on April 14 of this year:

There is only one basic reason why Christianity exists and that is the fact that Jesus Christ truly rose from the grave.

The disciples never expected the resurrection. The unanimous testimony of all four Gospels is that the terrible death of Jesus on the cross entirely dashed all their hopes about Jesus and about his message. He was dead, and that was the end of it. They looked for nothing more, and they expected nothing more.

So as much as they had loved him, in their eyes Jesus was a failed messiah. His dying seemed to entirely rob both his teaching and even his miracles of any lasting significance.

And they were clearly terrified that his awful fate, at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Romans, could easily become their awful fate. So they hid, trembling with terror, behind shuttered windows and locked doors.

When the Risen Christ suddenly appeared in their midst, their reaction was shocked incredulity. They simply could not believe their own eyes.

Reality only very slowly began to penetrate their consciousness when Jesus offers proof of his resurrection. He shows them the wounds on his hands, his feet, and his side. Jesus even allowed them to touch him. He breaks bread with them and eats with them. And only then could they admit to themselves what had seemed absolutely impossible – the one who had truly died had truly risen! The Crucified now stood before them as their Risen, glorious, triumphant Lord.

His rising from the grave was every bit as real as his dying on the cross. The resurrection was the manifest proof of the invincible power of Almighty God. The inescapable fact of the resurrection confirmed every word Jesus had ever spoken and every work Jesus had ever done.

The Gospel was the truth. Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel. Jesus was the Savior of the world. Jesus was the very Son of God.

There is no other explanation for Christianity. It should have died out and entirely disappeared when Christ died and was buried, except for the fact that Christ was truly risen, and that during the 40 days before his Ascension, he interacted with his Apostles and disciples, and on one occasion even with hundreds of his followers.

Today’s appointed Gospel reading for this Saturday in the Octave of Easter is taken from the 16th Chapter of Mark. It concludes with a command from the lips of Jesus, given to his disciples, given to the whole Church, given to you and me assembled here today: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

We heard in today’s Second Reading from the Acts of the Apostles that the same Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus was amazed at the boldness of Peter and John. Perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they recognized them as companions of Jesus. They warned them never again to teach, or speak to anyone, in the name of Jesus.

But the elders and the scribes might as well have tried to turn back the tide, or hold back an avalanche. Peter and John had seen the Risen Christ with their own eyes. Peter and John were filled with the Holy Spirit. They asked whether it is right “in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

And Peter and John and all the Apostles, starting first in Jerusalem in Judea and Galilee and then to the very ends of the earth, announced the Resurrection and the Good News to everyone they encountered.

According to the clear testimony of the Scriptures, these Apostles had once been rather ordinary men – like you and me. Their faith hadn’t always been strong. They made mistakes. They committed sins. They were often afraid and confused.

But meeting the Risen Lord had changed everything about these first disciples, and knowing the Risen Lord should also change everything about us.

You know, it has never been easy to be a Christian and it’s not supposed to be easy! The world, the flesh, and the devil will always love their own, and will always hate us. As Jesus once predicted, they hated me, they will certainly hate you.

But our Faith, when it is fully lived, is a fighting faith and a fearless faith. Grounded in the power of the resurrection, there is nothing in this world, and nothing in hell, that can ultimately defeat God’s one, true, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

For 2,000 years the enemies of Christ have certainly tried their best. But think about it. The Church survived and even flourished during centuries of terrible persecution, during the days of the Roman Empire.

The Church survived barbarian invasions. The Church survived wave after wave of Jihads. The Church survived the age of revolution. The Church survived Nazism and Communism.

And in the power of the resurrection, the Church will survive the hatred of Hollywood, the malice of the media, and the mendacious wickedness of the abortion industry.

The Church will survive the entrenched corruption and sheer incompetence of our Illinois state government, and even the calculated disdain of the President of the United States, his appointed bureaucrats in HHS, and of the current majority of the federal Senate. Continue Reading

13

Who Survived The Titanic: A Story of Chivalry Not Class

There’s something about the magnitude and timing of the sinking of the Titanic that makes it almost irresistible for people to turn it into a sort of fable. The sinking of the “unsinkable” ship, the largest ship of its kind built up to that time, seems like a perfect example of hubris, and the fact that the wreck occurred just two years before the outbreak of the Great War (which perhaps more than any event defines the beginning of “Modern Times”) allows the Titanic to serve as a symbol of all that was bad and good about the world before the world before the War.

One of the things that most people are pretty sure they know about the sinking of the Titanic is that many of the first class passengers survived while those traveling third class were kept below decks and perished in far greater numbers. This fits well with the image of rigid class stratification in the pre-War years.

It is certainly true that a much greater percentage of third class passengers died in the sinking than first and second class passengers, however, the images popularized by James Cameron’s movie of third class passengers being locked below decks by the viciously classist crew appear to be fiction. The question of whether third class passengers were actively kept from the lifeboats was examined during Lord Mersey’s official investigation of the wreck and his conclusions were as follows: Continue Reading

13

Of Social Darwinists, Robber Barons and Libraries

Jonah Goldberg has a great column in which he takes apart the myth of the Social Darwinists.

This raises the real problem with the AP’s analysis. It has the history exactly backwards. The topic was not popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but it is now. And it’s not suddenly “making its way” into modern politics. Liberals have been irresponsibly flinging the term Social Darwinism rightward for decades. Mario Cuomo, in his famous 1984 Democratic Convention keynote speech—which “electrified,” “galvanized,” and “inspired” Democrats, who went on to lose 49 states in the general election—declared that “President Reagan told us from the very beginning that he believed in a kind of Social Darwinism.” Walter Mondale, the Democratic nominee that year, insisted that Reagan preferred “Social Darwinism” over “social decency.” Even Barack Obama’s April 3 speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors was so much recycling. In 2005, then-senator Obama denounced the conservative idea of an “ownership society,” charging that “in our past there has been another term for it—Social Darwinism—every man or woman for him or herself.”

Meanwhile, the myth that Social Darwinism was a popular term in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was largely created by the liberal historian Richard Hofstadter, whose 1944 book Social Darwinism in American Thought didn’t merely transform our understanding of the Gilded Age, it largely fabricated an alternative history of it.

Go here to read the brilliant rest.  Richard Hofstadter was a professor of American history at Columbia University.  In his youth he was a Communist, breaking with the party in 1939 over the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.  However, his hatred of capitalism remained, and his  Social Darwinism in American Thought was a mere polemic with an academic wrapper.  Hofstadter did almost no primary research in the documents of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and relied on the research of other historians as support for the conclusions he wished to reach.  Almost throughout his entire academic career Hofstadter was a fairly reliable man of the Left, always ready to slam conservatives as provincial and paranoid.  His 1964 The Paranoid Style in American Politics and other Essays is fairly typical.  Ironically, by the time of his death in 1970 Hofstadter was no longer popular on the Left, due to his criticisms of the New Left, and especially the antics of student radicals on campus. Continue Reading

40

Talking About “Gay Marriage”

I’ve been told by more than a few people who support “gay marriage” that my take on it is somewhat unique. Given that I am virulently opposed to “gay marriage”, this is no small victory. It may be my absolute lack of fear when it comes to self-criticism (which may spill over into self-loathing if I am not careful), my willingness to unload heaps of criticism on those with whom I agree (lovingly of course), and/or my high level of intolerance for self-congratulatory nonsense that is responsible. I don’t really know. But I will tell you what I think about “gay marriage”, a phrase I will never utter or write sans-scare quotes, and you can decide.

First and foremost, I’ll acknowledge that a lot of criticism of “gay marriage” just misses the mark. Just the other day I witnessed a college-age conservative Catholic attempting to argue to a mob of atheists, some gay, some straight, that homosexuality was not a valid expression of human love. Woven in were concepts from modern Catholic teaching on the theology of the body and things of this nature. Setting aside the validity of such arguments, I have to say that attempting to argue that what someone experiences as “love” is not really love is going to be a pretty tough sell. I can’t imagine it working at all, especially coming from a stranger. Arguments that homosexuality will naturally lead to the acceptance of pedophilia or bestiality don’t tend to go over well either.

Continue Reading

6

Happy Birthday to the Pope!

As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy. I thought that I had done my life’s work and could now hope to live out my days in peace. I told the Lord with deep conviction, ‘Don’t do this to me. You have younger and better (candidates) who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.’ Evidently, this time he didn’t listen to me.

Pope Benedict XVI

 

Happy 85th birthday your Holiness!  If I attain that age in 3o years and have a quarter of your mental acuity I will consider myself deeply blessed!

15

Brits Vote for Washington as Greatest Enemy

No, not our government, the general. (Though they’d be forgiven for thinking so based on some things this administration has done.)

He’s one of our Founding Fathers, but according to the Brits, George Washington is public enemy #1.

Our nation’s first president, who led the 13 colonies in the Revolution against England’s tyrannical rule, was picked by a wide margin in a National Army Museum in London poll as the greatest foe ever faced by Britain.

Washington delivered one of “the most jarring defeat(s)” ever inflicted upon the British Empire at the time, said author and historian Stephen Brumwell, according to London’s Telegraph.

“He was a worthy opponent,” he said.

Washington was selected among five other finalists, who were picked during an online poll that received at least 8,000 votes. The four other potential British foils were Ireland’s Michael Collins, France’s Napoleon Bonaparte, Germany’s Erwin Rommel, and Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

At least somebody still respects winners.

H/t: Stacy McCain.

8

A Vision of Catholic Education (From the Front Lines)

There are many interesting parallels between military operations and the operations of the Church Militant. One such area where I have some personal experience is in the area of Catholic secondary education- with 6 years of National Guard experience giving me a taste of the military. One of the biggest issues that makes genuine reform difficult is the “dog and pony show” syndrome whereupon the politics of assessing the true situation and implementing the right reforms becomes corrupted and confusion and/or bitterness sets in. The foot soldier, those closest to the direct action often have excellent insight into the immediate problems, but the chain of command- which is set up to run a smooth line of good intel to the top levels of authority- may get bogged down or corrupted by those with imperfect motives or general incompetence.

On the subject of what is wrong with our Catholic schools- or framed positively what is a proper Catholic Education Vision- I have been on the front lines. For over a decade I have been a Catholic religion teacher in American Catholic high schools. I have also taught overseas in Catholic and secular teaching assignments. What I have put together is a short Vision of Catholic Education based upon my own study and direct experience in classrooms and professional meetings.

I am one of those orthodox Catholic adult converts, if it is taught in the Catholic Catechism I believe it, and I will teach it without objection. My own conversion came about after a heavy dose of study of Papal Encyclicals- it was essential for me to see how the thread of Scriptural wisdom continues operating to this very day. I buy into what my favorite professor, Dr. Scott Hahn, said about the Catholic Church being either True or a spiritual dictatorship- not much wiggle room in my estimation. With this understanding of my perspective as a Catholic, it is my contention that the Catholic Schools problems begin with the reality that these schools are often run and operated by individuals who are either lapsed, lukewarm or dissenting in their own Catholic beliefs. Unfortunately, religion departments are also often bastions of dissent- with views on the ordination of female priests and the Church’s teachings on homosexuality being two of the biggest fronts of opposition to orthodoxy. I understand what Mark Shea, noted Catholic author/blogger, says about the striking difference between many cradle and convert Catholics- for me, as a convert, I simply don’t get Catholicism without loving adherence to Doctrine. With that being said- here is my Vision:

I have recently been reading Yves Congar’s book, The Meaning of Tradition, and I ran across a couple of passages that seem to speak to the situation of Catholic education as well as to the idea of Sacred Tradition in the Church:

“Education does not consist in receiving a lesson from afar, which may be learned by heart and recited, thanks to a good memory, but in the daily contact and inviting example of adult life, which is mature, confident and sure of its foundations; which asserts itself simply by being what it is, and presents itself as an ideal; which someone still unsure and unformed, in search of fulfillment and in need of security, will progressively come to resemble, almost unconsciously and without effort. A child receives the life of the community into which he enters, together with the cultural riches of the preceding generations (tradition!), which are inculcated by the actions and habits of everyday life.” P.23

“But all teaching aims at reaching the ‘heart’ of those to whom it is given, that is, at going beyond an intellectual understanding of an academic or scientific explanation to reach the conscience- that level of intimate appreciation and feeling, inseparable from our moral personality itself. It is in this sense that a milieu is educative. It forms a certain spirit in us, or rather it forms us, starting with our most elementary reactions, and guides us in a definite direction.” P.24

My own thoughts on how to lead a Catholic school most effectively begin with the insight that “You can’t give what you don’t have”. I love teaching, and it is because I love to teach, that I feel that I may have some qualities of leadership. I also love my Catholic faith and the orthodox theology that articulates the love and truth collaboration that is our Church and her teachings/worldview.

I believe that the biggest task for any Catholic administrator is to assemble a team of teachers, administrative staff, support staff (even janitorial staff), that have that combination of specialty competence AND a genuine enthusiasm/passion/love for serving Christ and His Catholic Church. If one feels called to service in a Catholic school setting then it should be expected that they really and truly love the Church and young people. There should be no question that a professional Catholic teacher would already be interested in reading the latest Papal Encyclical for their own personal edification, and any insights that may be applicable to their classes.

Developing and enriching an authentic Catholic identity should be at the very top of any administrative agenda- I have thought of some ways to help achieve this goal and I will give you some short summations to consider:
• Catholic Identity is #1- Teachers and staff should see the school as their Catholic mission field, passing the torch of Christian discipleship to the “little ones”. I like to say that my being “in love” with my wife and kids makes it easy for me to talk about them all day long. And it is the same with God, Christ, and His Church- when you are in love, it just comes naturally to share and bear witness to that love in all kinds of ways. There are tough times, and dry patches in our spiritual lives, but love never quits. We have to have teachers and staff in place who will reinforce the ‘real love’ aspects of being truly and authentically Catholic. I would also lobby for textbooks that better reflect our Catholic identity across subject area curriculums. For example History texts could have elements of Church history embedded, and Literature texts could feature Catholic authors. We need to help our teachers who sincerely want to bring a Catholic identity/Worldview into their specialized disciplines.

• Spirituality- Attentiveness to the need for everyone on campus to be cultivating a personal call to holiness. Praise/worship must have a primary place in a Catholic school to re-energize the faith on a daily basis. I would like to pipe in contemporary Christian music between classes and during lunch to provide inspirational energy and counter some of the secular music that continues to pull teens in with dubious lyrics and messages. A Eucharistic-centered spirituality would be encouraged by bringing in guest speakers who can give personal testimony to the youth on the value of this great Sacrament. Theology of the Body instruction would be the cornerstone of our enabling Catholic youth to combat the negative pressures in the mainstream related to human sexuality and body image.

• Social Doctrine Promotion- Reading the Papal Social Encyclicals played a huge role in my own personal conversion, and it should be a major concern in a Catholic learning center. It is part of the evangelizing mission of the Church, and it should be appealing to young people to know that they can play a key role in building a “civilization of love” at every level of society. We should have a high-energy pro-life presence as a school, and a student body that comprehends even the intricate teachings relating to bioethics. We can invite Catholic Relief Services to bring their many Fair Trade opportunities to the entire school community and beyond. If we understand the social doctrine as an interconnected corpus of teachings and worldview, we can promote something better than the narrow human ideologies which presently dominate our American political landscape. Loving our neighbor is made much easier and more efficient when we draw upon our rich Catholic social teaching tradition. I would call upon the experts in social doctrine from the Diocese, Catholic Conference of Bishops, and Pro-Life leaders to be regular fixtures on campus.

• Catholic schools as economic/environmental models for community- Like the monasteries of old and new (see lasermonks.com), Catholic schools can do better at offsetting tuition increases by developing endowment funding, and also being creative in other pursuits. If we can develop consumer products for market, we can give our students real-life experiences in business rooted in our Catholic moral approach to economics. We can also look for individuals and companies to partner with us to bring renewable energies to our schools. We could find donors for solar roofing, wind, and other sources of safe, clean energies, and use these as laboratories for the students to learn more hands-on lessons in the scientific realms.

• All-Boy/All-Girl Schools- I have taught at all-boy schools in the past (American Samoa, Hungary). I think that this type of approach may be popular with parents who are properly concerned over the over-sexualized culture we live in. Distractions related to boys and girls are nothing new, but there are advantages to be considered as we look to market Catholic schools to Catholic parents, who are looking for the best ways to protect their beloved children. This concept of boy/girl separation could also take the form of classes being segregated by gender, as opposed to whole schools.

I’m not sure where all of this advice fits in with your current mission, but perhaps it can help in making longer term strategic plans. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, I am pleased to be at your service. I will add one last item- I am exploring the market for secondary religion teachers at present for next school year. If you or someone you know shares the Vision I present here and want to explore a professional collaboration in teaching, administration in-training, ministry or organizational work- please contact me personally at [email protected] I have my M.A.’s in Education and Theology- Theology was studied at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.