Monthly Archives: April 2012

Quiz Time!

 

Go here to take a quiz on religion from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.  I found it very simple and scored 15 out of 15.  Unfortunately that means that I scored better than 99% of the people who took the test.  Take the test and report the results in the comboxes.  After you have taken the quiz, go here for some grim reading on the results of the Pew US Religious Knowledge Survey.

The Derbyshire Kerfuffle

John Derbyshire set off a firestorm this past weekend when he put up this article called The Talk: Nonblack Version.  This was a response, of sorts, to a column published in the Orlando Sentinel in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Derbyshire’s column was swiftly condemned by commentators on all sides of the political spectrum.  By Saturday night National Review had severed its ties to Derbyshire even though his column had appeared on another site.

What did Derbyshire do this time to draw such harsh condemnation?  Derbyshire’s column  utilized the conceit of giving his child a talk about race relations and what to do when confronting unknown black people.  Though commenters objected to nearly all of what Derbyshire wrote, this was the most damning section: Continue reading

Santorum Suspends Campaign

Well, Mr. Inevitable is indeed inevitable now.

Kudos to Rick Santorum on a race well run.  It is amazing that he managed to accomplish what he did considering his financial resources and his standing at the outset of the race.  Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to overcome Mitt Romney’s considerable resources.  Santorum would have had to run a perfect campaign to win the nomination, and he didn’t.

It is unbelievable to me that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee.  After the remarkable victories in the 2010 mid-terms and the rise of the tea party movement, this is the best the Republicans can do.

Lies, Big Lies and Polls

 

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air for years has done yeoman work in examing polls minutely and he does this well today in examing an ABC Washington Post poll with purports to show Obama leading Romney 51-44.

I love the Washington Post/ABC poll.  It’s a great object lesson in how to manufacture news.  Need a story that the incumbent President’s fortunes are looking up?  Well, just adjust the sample a bit and voila, he takes a seven point lead over his presumed rival in the fall election!  Besides, it gives me fodder for snarky material every few weeks.

Let’s get down to cases, shall we?

With the general-election campaign beginning to take shape, President Obama holds clear advantages over Mitt Romney on personal attributes and a number of key issues, but remains vulnerable to discontent with the pace of the economic recovery, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Obama has double-digit leads over the likely Republican presidential nominee on who would do a better job of protecting the middle class, addressing women’s issues, handling international affairs and dealing with health care.

You know where else Obama got a double-digit lead?  In the polling sample.  In 2008, when Democrats surged to the polls after eight years of George W. Bush, CNN’s exit polls showed a seven-point advantage for Democrats, 39/32, which mirrored Obama’s seven-point victory in the popular vote.  In 2010?s midterms, CNN exit polls showed a 35/35/30 split.  By contrast, the previous WaPo/ABC poll in March had a D/R/I of 31/27/36, which undersampled both parties relative to independents but left Democrats with a 4-point advantage — perhaps an arguable model for 2012 turnout.  Today’s has a D/R/I of 34/23/34, adding seven points to that Democratic advantage and presenting a completely unrepresentative, absurd model for the 2012 turnout. Continue reading

Debt Road Trip

It is small wonder, considering the unbelievable amount of debt Obama has amassed in such a short time, that more and more voices on the Left are taking up the cry that the debt really isn’ t a major problem.  I agree.  The term major is far too understated a term for the rapid pace we are on to national bankruptcy.   Credit rating agency Egan-Jones downgraded the US credit rating to AA on April 5, over concerns of the sustainability of US public debt.   Future generations will curse most of us as blind fools as they pay for our folly in attempting to rebuild the economy our current policies wrecked.

Another depressing video look at the debt situation: Continue reading

Obama’s Justice Department Agrees to Pay $120,000.00 To Pro-Life Protestor Over Frivolous Prosecution

 

 

Hattip to Tina Korbe at Hot Air.  The complete contempt that the Obama administration has for the civil liberties of Americans was exemplified in its prosecution of pro-life protestor Mary Pine.

 

The Justice Department has dropped an appeal in Holder v. Pine against pro-life sidewalk counselor Mary “Susan” Pine, who is represented by the civil rights firm Liberty Counsel. The DOJ has agreed to pay $120,000 for this frivolous lawsuit which, as the evidence indicated, was intended to intimidate Ms. Pine and send a shot over the bow of pro-lifers around the country.

Mr. Holder unsuccessfully sought thousands of dollars in fines against Ms. Pine, as well as a permanent injunction banning her from counseling women on the public sidewalk outside the Presidential Women’s Center (PWC) abortion mill (or any other “reproductive services” clinic).

After 18 months of litigation, the DOJ’s case was thrown out of federal court, and the department was chastised in a scathing ruling by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp for filing a case with no evidence.

Judge Ryskamp wrote that Holder’s complete failure to present any evidence of wrongdoing, coupled with the DOJ’s cozy relationship with PWC and their apparent joint decision to destroy video surveillance footage of the alleged “obstruction,” caused the court to suspect a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Obama administration. “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place,” wrote Judge Ryskamp. “The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government and PWC, which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.” Continue reading

Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen Loves Castro, Should Be Fired

In a Time magazine interview Ozzie Guillen, major league baseball manager of the Miami Marlins and home to the largest number of Cuban expatriates, said that “I love Fidel Castro–I respect Fidel Castro.”

Fidel Castro, along with Che Guevara, have committed countless murders of innocent civilians, incarcerated many more, and the rest exiled to America.  Needless to say Castro is a monster that will take his place on the ash heap of history quite soon.

He apologized but the damage is done.  He denounced Castro, but it’s almost meaningless.  Of course I take him in his sincerity and accept the apology, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to escape punishment.

There are some pundits and reporters say that this is America and we do have a right of free speech, so the Miami Marlins shouldn’t fire Guillen.  That’s where these pundits and reporters get it wrong, yes, Guillen has a right to free speech, but so do the Miami Marlins have a right to fire him in expressing their free speech as well.

The concept of free speech is that the U.S. allows it and they shouldn’t be persecuted for it by the U.S. government, but a private enterprise can do what they want.

Fire the guy.  He’s known to be a loud mouth and he had time to articulate his thoughts in a sit-down interview with Time magazine.  Plus the fact that he is from Venezuela where Hugo Chavez rules with impunity and is the Fidel’s BFF.  So I can see where his “love” for Castro is emanating from.

This is Too Easy

 

Sometimes I feel like I am shooting the proverbial ducks in the proverbial barrel.

Everyone knows what Barack Obama’s campaign slogan was in 2008. No one seems to know what it will be for 2012.   The White House has been cycling through catchphrases since announcing his reelection bid a year ago: Winning the Future, We Can’t Wait, An America Built to Last, An Economy Built to Last, A Fair Shot.

They seem to be looking for one to resonate — and the constant unveiling of new ones suggests that so far, none of them have. To communications experts, the kaleidoscope of slogans is the latest reflection of the difficulties finding and marketing a message that Obama has faced almost since his inauguration — another challenge that came with the shift from insurgent outsider to sitting president.   “He’s all over the place,” said Bruce I. Newman, the Bill Clinton brand-messaging adviser whose “Bridge to the 21st Century” helped define Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign. Continue reading

“Lapsed” Catholics…

In 2007, a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study reported that one-third of Americans were raised Catholic but slightly less than one-third of those (~11% of all Catholics) stopped practicing their faith in the sense of “stopped attending Mass.”

That raises the question, “Why are those people not attending Mass?”

A USA Today article discussed a recent study of 298 people—67% of whom were women—who stopped attending Mass in the Diocese of Trenton (NJ).  The study indicates they did so for three reasons:

  • personal reasons: “the pastor who crowned himself king and looks down on all,” “the Church’s handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal,” “divorced and remarried Catholics are unwelcome at Mass”;
  • political reasons: “eliminate the extreme conservative haranguing”; and,
  • doctrinal reasons: “don’t spend so much time on issues like homosexuality and birth control.”

Nearly 50% of the respondents offered negative comments about their parish priests, whom they described as “arrogant,” “distant” and “insensitive.”  Some also called for better homilies, better music, and greater accountability on the part of parish staff.  And, despite the fact they no longer attend Mass, nearly 25% of the respondents still consider themselves Catholic which, in fact, they are.  They’re just “lapsed” Catholics.

One of the study’s co-authors, Villanova University professor Charles Zech, believes the responses aren’t local but have broader implications that “affect the whole Church.”  Zech divided the responses into two categories: “the things that can’t change but that we can do a better job explaining” and the “things that aren’t difficult to fix.”

The Motley Monk would note that the phenomenon of lapsed Catholics isn’t anything new in Church history, especially during times of persecution.  Given that history, whether the fact that ~11% of Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton didn’t attend Mass in 2011 is high or low, The Motley Monk doesn’t know, and whether or not that statistic should raise “red flags” is open to debate.   It would seem there will always be a certain percentage of “lapsed” members for any religious tradition.

If lapsed Catholics can’t accept the Church teaching and it’s political or personal implications, what The Motley Monk doesn’t “get” is why they don’t find a religious denomination that will provide them exactly what they want?  After all, although the Church should never give up explaining those “things that can’t change but that we can do a better job explaining,” The Motley Monk doesn’t think many lapsed Catholics are really that much interested in having those things explained all over to them yet another time.  They’ve made up their minds and have decided they don’t agree with Church teaching.  That’s why they’ve lapsed.

However, with nearly 13% of respondents in the Trenton study indicating they would welcome a call from a Church official—they even provided their names and contact information for that purpose—and with many more respondents indicating they were pleased to be asked for their input, it would be important for them, their parish, and the diocese if the bishop, the pastor, or a priest did contact them in an effort to see if those “things that aren’t difficult to fix” can be fixed.

But that’s where Zech’s analysis sends up a red flag for The Motley Monk.  He notes:

The fact that they took the time to respond gives us a chance.  If some things change, or we do a better job of representing the church’s position, we might woo some of them back.

It’s the “If some things change…” clause.

When it comes to Church doctrine—for example, the sanctity of marriage, the male priesthood, the sanctity of life, artificial birth control—The Motley Monk would guess none of that’s going to change any time soon, if ever.  Reiterating that fact to lapsed Catholics, The Motley Monk thinks, there’d quite likely be very little chance to “woo” those respondents back.

What’s The Motley Monk to tell them, “Come on back. [wink] All of that stuff is the creation of man and doesn’t have anything to do with God”?

 

To read the USA Today article, click on the following link:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-03-26/lapsed-catholic-survey/53795712/1

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

 

Pope Benedict Easter Vigil Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  Easter is the feast of the new creation.  Jesus is risen and dies no more.  He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death.  He has taken mankind up into God himself.  “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50).  On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994). Continue reading

Christus Victor

O Christ, You Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father, flowing in an indescribable manner from the heart of Your Parent, You self-existing Word, and powerful from the mouth of Your Father, equal to Him, of one mind with Him, His fellow, coeval with the Father, from whom at first the world derived its origin!

You suspend the firmament, You heap together the soil, You pour forth the seas, by whose government all things which are fixed in their places flourish. Who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that You might rescue man, Yourself also became man: nor were You willing only to be born with a body, but You became flesh, which endured to be born and to die. You undergo funeral obsequies, Yourself the author of life and framer of the world, You enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation. Continue reading

Attende Domine

Something for the weekend.  Attende Domine, a pentitential hymn taken from a 10th century litany of the Mozarabic litury.  Between Good Friday and the joy of the resurrection on Easter, it seems an especially appropriate time to pray to God for forgiveness. Continue reading

Good Friday and Me

When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”.

Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis

Christ died for me.  The death of Christ on Calvary has immense theological significance:   the salvation of all mankind, the redemption from sin and the opening of the gates of Heaven.  I understand all of that on an intellectual level.  However, on Good Friday the fact that the Creator of All died for me, one of His creations, always hits me like an emotional freight train.  All of my life I have been fascinated by courage, especially sacrificial courage where men die to protect others.  We are such a flawed species, but capable of the heights of nobility when love and courage combine.  Then we put aside the great fear of death, and truly understand why we are here:  to love. Continue reading

Report to the Emperor-First Draft

ecce-homo

(I post this each year on Good Friday.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once! Continue reading

Screen Pilates: Hristo Shopov

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began last year during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone and Barry Dennen may be read here, here and here.

Without a doubt the screen portrayal of Pilate seen by the most people around the world is that of Bulgarian actor Hristo Shopov in Mel Gibson’s hugely successful Passion of the Christ (2004).  That is good, because it is a superb portrayal.

 

Shopov portrays Pilate as a coolly in charge Roman prefect in public, but in private he unburdens himself to his wife Claudia who warns him that Jesus is a holy man and he must not condemn Him.  Pilate repeats his query to Christ about truth to his wife.  His truth he tells her is that the Emperor has warned him that if there are any more rebellions in Judaea, he will pay for it with his own blood.  If he refuses to execute Jesus he fears that Caiaphas will lead a revolt, but that if he executes Jesus the followers of Christ might revolt.  I believe this was a key fear of the historical Pilate and he did not order the execution of Jesus until he decided that a revolt by the rent-a-mob of Caiaphas on Good Friday posed the far greater threat. Continue reading

The Left Suddenly Uncomfortable with Concept of Judicial Review

Don has covered President Obama’s not too subtle threat to the Court that it not dare strike down all or even part of Obamacare.  Yesterday he somewhat toned down his remarks, but still managed to step in it.

At an appearance this afternoon, a reporter asked Obama a question following up on yesterday’s comments: “Mr. President, you said yesterday that it would be ‘unprecedented’ for a Supreme Court to overturn laws passed by an elected Congress. But that is exactly what the court’s done during its entire existence. If the court were to overturn the individual mandate, what would you do, or propose to do, for the 30 million people who wouldn’t have health care after that ruling?”

Obama’s answer to the question was that he expects to win in court, and “as a consequence, we’re not spending a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.” He went on to talk at some length about the “human element”–that is, people who would supposedly suffer in the absence of ObamaCare. Message: Obama cares, though not enough to spend “a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.”

But the most interesting part of his answer was the beginning, in which he tried to walk back, or at least clarify, his statement from yesterday. He spoke slowly, with long pauses, giving the sense that he was speaking with great thought and precision: “Well, first of all, let me be very specific. Um [pause], we have not seen a court overturn [pause] a [pause] law that was passed [pause] by Congress on [pause] a [pause] economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce. A law like that has not been overturned [pause] at least since Lochner,right? So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal.”

As James Taranto points out, this response is wrong on multiple levels.  The case that Obama cites in fact pre-dates the New Deal by a good thirty year.  Second, the full title of the case – Lochner vs. New York – tells us that this was a case involving state law, not federal legislation.  As Taranto further explains, there have been plenty of Supreme Court cases in which the high court struck down state laws, some dealing with economic matters.  And there of course have been plenty of cases where the Court has in fact declared federal statutes unconstitutional.  In fact two cases in the late 90s – US v. Lopez and US v. Morrison – directly implicated the commerce clause, and in both cases the Court rendered a 5-4 decision overturning acts of Congress which relied upon the commerce clause for their justification.

But other than that, I guess Obama was spot on.

The broader issue, other than Obama’s seeming ignorance of constitutional law, is that the left has suddenly decided that they don’t much care for this concept of judicial review. Continue reading

Screen Pilates: Barry Dennen

Continuing a series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began last year during Holy Week.  The figure of Pontius Pilate has always intrigued me. The fifth Prefect of Judaea, Pilate looms large in the Gospels. His name Pilate indicates that his family was of Samnite origin. Pilate is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus as having condemned Jesus. In 1961 a block of limestone was discoved at the site of Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital of Judaea, bearing an inscription of Pilate dedicating a Roman theater there. That is almost all we know about Pilate outside of the Gospels, Josephus and Philo. Pilate today would be forgotten, instead of being the best known Roman who ever lived, but for his role in sentencing Jesus.

Last year we looked at Rod Steiger’s portrayal of Pilate in Jesus of Nazareth, here, and at Richard Boone’s in The Robe, here.  Next up is Barry Dennen in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973).

It would take many posts for me to detail how much I disliked Jesus Christ Superstar, which for me symbolized much of what was wrong in the world in the late sixties and the seventies.  Taking pride in being historically inaccurate and a mishmash of ancient and modern, the play and film was just as confused theologically and totally divorced from traditional Christianity.  Jesus is portrayed as petulant, weak and indecisive, a depiction which might be blasphemous if it had more thought behind it.  However, amidst all of the dross there are a very few high points, and Dennen’s performance  is the best of these.

The video at the beginning of this post depicts the sequence where Pilate has a dream about the upcoming trial of Jesus.  Historically, it was Pilate’s wife who had a dream about Jesus:  [19] And as he was sitting in the place of judgment, his wife sent to him, saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.   (Matthew 27:19)  Pilate in each of the Gospel narratives is portrayed as very reluctant to have Jesus executed, mystified as to why Caiaphas had Jesus brought to him, and wary that Caiaphas was seeking to shift the responsibility for the death of Jesus over to him.  The dream of his wife was just what Pilate needed to give him a foreboding that this was not merely a routine execution, but a matter of extreme importance that he could not fathom.  The song brings all of this out quite well. Continue reading

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