Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”
The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?
It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.
Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle. Continue Reading →
His one hundredth birthday is a good time to view the above video by Milton Friedman on the loss of freedom. Dead since 2006, Friedman’s words ring as true in 2012 as they did in 1980 when the video was taped, as to how our freedom is frittered away in ever greater reliance on an ever more powerful State.
Faithful readers of The American Catholic will recall the incident, recounted here, when President Obama chose to snub Lech Walesa, the near legendary former President of Poland, who, as the leader of Solidarity, along with Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan, sounded the death knell of European Communism, as being “too political”. Yesterday Walesa got “too political” again:
Two months ago, President Obama’s team refused to host former Polish President and Nobel Peace Prize Lech Walesa at the White House, claiming that he was too “political” to participate in the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony.
Today, Walesa — an anti-Communist freedom fighter — got political. “Gov. Romney, get your success, be successful!” Walesa said in Poland during a meeting with the former governor. “Poland and many other countries will certainly do their best for the United States to restore its leadership position. And after our conversation, I’m quite confident that you will be successful in doing that,” The Washington Post quoted him as saying.
The endorsement comes two months after Obama refused to host Walesa at the White House. The Polish government had requested that Walesa receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom that was posthumously awarded to Jan Karski, who served in the Polish Underground during World War II. Continue Reading →
The Romney campaign is now releasing regional ads attacking President Obama’s remarks regarding businesses. Obama gave Romney a huge gift by letting his mask drop briefly and revealing his true contempt for the private sector, and the Romney campaign is taking full advantage of it. The unguarded moments of a candidate, when he gives voice to his true feelings, can make or break him. I’d place these remarks of Obama in the break category.
You wanted to do whatever you wanted to do with your body, and then claim you had a right to kill your own children when you conceived them because it was just so unfair for anyone to expect you to let a child ever use you against your will. You said you needed your choices, and you needed them without judgement or criticism. You tossed God’s law aside and said that your rights come from man’s law, and that worked for you as long as you thought you were getting your way. Motherhood be damned.
Image credit: The Center for Consumer Freedom (http://www.consumerfreedom.com/)
When the New York City abortion rate was reported (God only knows what it really is) to be 41%, meaning that nearly 2 in 5 pregnancies end in abortion, you didn’t even wince. You were proud those women were exercising their so-called right to choose even when the city health officials made condescending excuses that the high rate was due to the “ignorance” and “ambivalence” of women who hadn’t been indoctrinated in the methods of birth control, or who were too stupid and poor to chose stable relationships.
Even decades ago when your feminist and pro-choice philosophies collided over sex-selective abortion right in your own city, you quieted the voice in your head that was screaming, “No. STOP! You should not,” because you feared that making moral judgments would take away the high and mighty right for you to profit from the ambivalent under the guise of caring about women. In a mind-seering display of mental gymnastics you sought to rephrase the question by separating the chooser from the choice, so that you could justify killing girls in the womb even as you condemned misogyny.
Let me tell you something: Truth does not condescend the human person, male or female of any age, nor does it contradict itself. That should have been warning enough, but you were too blinded by the tenets of the reproductive rights movement and the power you thought it gave you.
And now, the man you trusted to guard your pseudo-freedom in New York City has decided to dictate to new mothers how they will feed their own babies. Starting September 3, Mayor Bloomberg will enforce what is being called “the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation” which requires formula to be locked up and rationed out only if medical professionals can submit a medical reason for needing it. If the mother gets the formula from the state, she also gets a lecture. Why? It seems the people in power don’t really think women can make good choices for themselves or their children, especially the women who give birth.
Sure some of you will support this anti-choice program and justify it based on some feigned concern for the health of newborn babies. Some of you will speak out against it because you see it for the over-imposition of government into private lives that it is. However, I predict that not a single one of you will see the monumental contradiction before you once again.
Like happy and willing slaves, you conceded all your rights to the decisions of the people in power, and now they are dictating that those in charge do what you’ve been fighting against your whole lives – force a woman to let her child use her body. You may justify it as some caring act on the part of the government, but that’s nonsense. Governments don’t care for people; people care for people, and you’ve been advocating for generations that the most extreme bond between the have’s and the have not’s – the bond between mothers and their children – is meaningless unless the individual mother chooses to care for the greedy little thing.
Some people are calling your Mayor Bloomberg a nanny for turning NYC into a nanny-state, but at least nannies care for individual children. I hate to break it to you, Pro-Choice NYer, but you aren’t a child and Mayor Bloomberg and his officials don’t care for you (or the children you decide are worthy of life) individually. This isn’t about caring; it’s about control. It’s Marxism.
This is social materialism, utilitarian ideology about the worth of a human person in the big chemical equation of society. Feeding people taxes the system, just as pregnancy taxes a woman’s body. If it were about caring for the babies, there wouldn’t also exist a law that allowed late-term abortion past the point of viability. There wouldn’t be a law allowing any unborn child to be killed. The same child the state says must be breastfed for it’s health could have been killed the trimester, the month, the week, the day, and the minute before birth with impunity. Wake up! The same people are also busy telling you what you can and cannot eat or drink. They don’t really think you can be trusted to chose wisely for yourself; they see you as objects to be managed.
As pro-life people have said for as long as they’ve needed to use that title, if you promote that one group of humans can treat another dependent group like individual blobs of mindless tissue, don’t be surprised if the day comes when it’s your turn to be grouped as such too. You got what you asked for. Welcome to the world of your choices.
If you want to fix it, start by reaffirming unconditional love between mother and child, and by defending the primary and natural rights of the family.
Thank goodness the federal government has made it possible for all of those capitalists entrepreneurs to succeed.
For example, consider William E. Newland who founded Hercules Industries (HI) in 1962 as a family owned and operated heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning business in Colorado.
Five decades later, William, Paul, and James Newland, along with their sister, Christine Ketterhagen, own HI which boasts 265 employees.
More important than all of that success—that’s due, as President Obama reecently reminded the nation, to the federal government’s largess—CNSNews.com reports that the Newlands are Roman Catholic. Better yet, HI offers its employees a self-insurance plan, providing generous healthcare coverage that’s consistent with Church moral teaching. That is, the plan doesn’t cover sterilizations, artificial contraceptives, or abortifacients.
And, because of that, HI now finds itself in the crosshairs of legal jeopardy…all due to the federal government.
HI must comply by August 1, 2012, with the mandate issued by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in February 2012 which requires businesses having more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to their employees—including free sterilizations, artificial contraceptives, and abortafacients—or pay a penalty.
With 265 employees, HI will have to pay the federal government $26.5k/day if HI doesn’t comply with the Sebelius mandate and provided insurance to its employees anyway. The annual cost to HI will be ~$9.7M.
Much to their credit, the Newlands aren’t taking this matter sitting down and have decided not to comply. Instead, they’ve filed a lawsuit, Newlands v. Sebelius et al., alleging that they can’t comply with the mandate without violating their religious faith. The lawsuit states:
The Newlands sincerely believe that the Catholic faith does not allow them to violate Catholic religious and moral teachings in their decisions operating Hercules Industries.
The Newlands believe that according to the Catholic faith, their operation of Hercules Industries must be guided by ethical social principles and Catholic religious and moral teachings, that the adherence of their business practice according to such Catholic ethics and religious and moral teachings is a genuine calling from God, that their Catholic faith prohibits them to sever their religious beliefs from their daily business practice, and that their Catholic faith requires them to integrate the gifts of the spiritual life, the virtues, morals, and ethical social principles of Catholic teaching into their life and work.
The Catholic Church teaches that abortafacient drugs, contraception and sterilization are intrinsic evils. As a matter of religious faith the Newlands believe that those Catholic teachings are among the religious ethical teachings they must follow throughout their lives including in their business practice.
Don’t think for one moment that the Obama administration is going to have any of that!
The Justice Department responded by making a formal filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The filing states:
Here, plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged that the preventive services coverage regulations substantially burden their religious exercise. Hercules Industries, Inc., is not a religious employer; it is “an HVAC manufacturer.”
The First Amendment Complaint does not allege that the company is affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church. Nor does it allege that the company employs persons of a particular faith. In short, Hercules Industries is plainly a for-profit, secular employer.
By definition, a secular employer does not engage in any “exercise of religion.”
Hercules Industries has “made no showing of a religious belief which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business.” Any burden is therefore caused by the company’s choice to enter into a commercial activity.
Of course, skeptics and cynics will see in the Newlands’ fidelity to Church teaching a bunch of greedy capitalists responding to a profit motive. The Newlands’ simply want to keep their healthcare expenses down in order to increase HI’s profit.
Others are defending the Newlands and HI on the grounds of freedom of religious expression and speech, arguing that the Obama administration is forcing the Newlands to chose between exercising freedom of religion and speech or shuttering HI.
[T]o the extent the government is arguing that its mandate does not really burden the Newlands because they are free to abandon their jobs, their livelihoods, and their property so that others can take over Hercules and comply, this expulsion from business would be an extreme form of government burden.
The Motley Monk wants to point instead to the Newlands’ fidelity to Church teaching. These are the Catholics who take seriously the challenge that the Second Vatican Council issued to the laity. They are to be a “leaven at work in the world.”
Today, the forces of this world—embodied in the Sebelieus mandate (the demonic irony being that Ms. Sebelius is Catholic)—are presenting the Newlands a “choice” that’s actually “no choice” at all:
They can shut down HI and add 265 new individuals to the unemployment lines.
They can sell HI and let the buyers do what they want.
They can stop providing health insurance through HI, but HI employees will only be able to purchase healthcare insurance that covers artificial contraception, sterilizations, and abortafacients. (The premiums then help pay for those “services” and HI would be required to pay a penalty to the government of ~$2k/year/employee that HI did not insure.)
They can ignore the Sebelius mandate and continue to provide HI employees healthcare insurance that doesn’t provide “free” coverage for artificial birth control, sterilizations, and abortafacients. (That’s when the federal government will use those 50k new IRS agents to come in and require HI to pay those confiscatory penalties.)
“Witness”—being a leaven at work in the world or, in a previous era, “martyrdom”—never presents a good option.
In this era, it requires Catholics—following the lead of the Newlands as they operate HI—to stand up for the moral teachings of their faith. In this way, they demonstrate their love of God and neighbor as a leaven at work in the world.
I have long thought it axiomatic that in our contemporary society the most smugly intolerant individuals tend to be on the political left. Ross Douthat has apparently noticed that also, and in his most recent column lays out what that means for religious freedom:
To the extent that the H.H.S. mandate, the Cologne ruling and the Chick-fil-A controversy reflect a common logic rather than a shared confusion, then, it’s a logic that regards Western monotheism’s ideas about human sexuality — all that chastity, monogamy, male-female business — as similarly incompatible with basic modern freedoms.
Like a belief that the gods want human sacrifice, these ideas are permissible if held in private. But they cannot be exercised in ways that might deny, say, employer-provided sterilizations to people who really don’t want kids. Nor can they be exercised to deny one’s offspring the kind of sexual gratification that anti-circumcision advocates claim the procedure makes impossible. They certainly cannot be exercised in ways that might make anyone uncomfortable with his or her own sexual choices or identity.
It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.
It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade.
If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.
Father Wilson Miscamble, not content to stir the pot by defending Truman in regard to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the above video attacks the myth that there is a shortage of able Catholic scholars to fill academic positions at Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges and universities. This speech I assume was given as a response to this resolution of the Notre Dame faculty senate on April 9, 2012: The University should not compromise its academic aspirations in its efforts to maintain its Catholic identity.
The Sycamore Trust, a group seeking to preserve the Catholic identity of Notre Dame, and which sponsored the speech of Father Miscamble, has published this charming rant from an unnamed Notre Dame professor in response to criticisms that a Notre Dame department has listed pro-abort organizations as potential employers of Notre Dame interns: Continue Reading →
Well this is interesting. In the video above meet “Jenni” who is alarmed that Mitt Romney might take away her precious right to slay her offspring. This of course goes along with the War on Women meme pushed by Obama, and also the condescending view of women taken by Team Obama, portraying women as helpless waifs, think “Julia”, unless Big Daddy Government takes them by the hand and leads them through life. Continue Reading →
Something for the weekend. Chariots of Fire. I have never had much interest in sport, and I doubt if I will be watching much of the Olympics. However I did greatly enjoy the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, which told the stories of two of the British runners in the 1924 Olympics, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. If the film had focused solely on their prowess as athletes, I doubt if I would have bothered watching it. Instead, the film is primarily about religion. Abrahams, a Jew, looks upon his running as part of his life long battle to show his fellow countrymen that he was just as British as they were. Liddell, the son of Scottish Evangelical missionaries in China, has spent most of his life in China. He is a pure Scot, but his religion, which is his core, sets him apart from his society, as this reading from Isaiah in the film, dramatically demonstrates:
That’s “fast” like “quick,” not “fast” like, well, “fasting.” I do go meatless, but that’s entirely beside the point. The idea is things to make when the weak week is ending and I’m longing for a stiff drink ready for the weekend. Maybe I’ll make a tradition of it, we’ll see.
Expect it to be thrifty, too, because I’m cheap like that.
Safeway has some lovely “party sized” dinners that I got because… well, they were about 25% off, and I’m lazy sleep deprived, and I love both lasagnas (five cheese and meat, respectively) and orange chicken. Grabbed the cannelloni because it sounded like something to try.
$7 for five to ten servings. Usually ten bucks plus tax. Easily two evening’s dinner for us with the toddlers, plus a generous packed lunch.
Cooking time is a bit on the low side—by which I mean you’ll want to set it for the low timer, check it, and then let it go to the high suggested cooking time.
The cannelloni was… er… well, TrueBlue says it didn’t taste right. It tasted like salsa made of green peppers mixed with basic pasta and a good white cheese sauce to me. Kept its form very well.
The cheese lasagna is WONDERFUL. How good is it? My husband willingly ate it when I wasn’t cooking only non-carne meals. This is the guy that complains there’s not enough meat in his steak and potatoes….
The meat lasagna is good; not great, but better than I could make, and probably less expensive. The meat seems to be rather spicy sausage, but not bad at all. (Note, this is not to be interpreted as “spicy” or “hot” by the measure of most folks; more along the lines of mild-to-medium salsa. Yes, I’m a wimp.)
Haven’t tried the Orange Chicken yet, we’ll see.
(update: fixed the name of the not-very-good baked dish; I blame that line from the Godfather movies)
On Wednesday my family and I made our annual trip to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites and pray at Lincoln’s tomb for the repose of the souls of Lincoln and his family. A few observations:
1. Heat: The phrase hotter than blazes is trite but it was very descriptive for the triple digit day. Walking outside was a trying experience with the heat and humidity. Illinois is usually green and lush this time of year, the towns and cities of Central Illinois being isolated islands in an endless green sea of corn and soybeans. Due to the drought, much of Illinois looks yellow and dead, with most crops under severe stress. Not good.
2. Time is a River: One of the reasons why I enjoy annual rituals like the drive to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites, is that they are a good way to mark the passage of time. My wife and I began our trips when we were mid-twenties newly weds. This year our sons will be 21 in September, and our son Donald will be starting his junior year at the University of Illinois. Our “baby-girl” will be a senior in high school this year, and we are in the midst of the college search with her. Fortunately, my bride and I are not getting any older, or such reflections might take a turn to the melancholic! 🙂
3. Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation:This year is the 150th year of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. As in past years what moved me most at the Lincoln Museum was an exhibit showing Lincoln standing at his desk staring at a draft of the Proclamation, as shadows behind him representing historical figures give him contradictory advice: predicting doom or salvation for the Union if the Emancipation Proclamation is issued. I have never seen anything which so neatly encapsulates the loneliness of someone making a huge decision for his nation.
We’re roughly 4,231 months into the 2012 presidential campaign, or so it seems. Even if you live in a very secure red or blue state (like me), you’ve probably already been subjected to an endless barrage of television ads if you live within about 300 miles of a swing state. And if you live in Richmond, the capital of the battleground state of Virginia, some 4,504 ads have already run (this one’s not an exaggeration), and exactly zero of them have been positive. That’s right, 4,504 out of the 4,504 ads run thus far in the market have been attack ads.
Such information usually inspires people to bellyache about negative campaigning. For instance, this past weekend I talked to my relatively apolitical brother, who said that a politician would instantly become a mass favorite by just being the first guy to run a positive campaign detailing what he was going to do, and forgoing the attacks on his opponent. I just smiled, nodded, and kept smoking the cigar he had generously given me.
I find the criticism of negative campaigning to be overwrought for three reasons. First of all, as Jim Geraghty mentions, they are simply more effective than positive ads. As he says, “if positive ads worked, campaigns would use them more frequently.” People like to complain about them, but attack ads do have an impact. I don’t know if we can accurately measure how persuasive they are, but campaigns would stop running them if they had any indication that they were ineffective.
Second, are “positive” ads any more bearable? No thirty second television spot is going to convey a tremendous amount of information. While we might roll our eyes as soon as the ominous music rolls while some low-voiced narrator explains why Mitt Romney likes to torture small animals and wants your grandmother to die in the street, the fluffy “Hi, I’m Joe McGenericcandidate, and I like puppies” ads are somehow even worse. Nine times out of ten, positive ads are nothing more than the candidate or his surrogates spouting generic nonsense that conveys almost no substantive information. Moreover, in a culture where people increasingly watch television shows through their DVRs specifically so that they can skip the commercials, we generally find all ads to be annoying. So who cares whether the tone of the political advertisement is positive or negative – they’re all equally insufferable. At least the negative ads are more likely to be somewhat funny and entertaining.
Finally, any person who bases their vote even partly due to political advertising should be banned from the polling booth. The first thing that should happen when a registered voter appears at the judges table – after flashing photographic identification – is them being asked if they only decided their vote after watching a thirty second television advertisement. If they answer yes, or if they answer no but it’s clear that they’re lying – and we can get people there who can tell when people are lying to them – then they should be politely escorted out of the building. If after several decades of campaigning you still can’t decide who to vote for, and you finally just wave your arms and say “I guess I’ll vote for the guy who says the other guy wants to murder my children in their sleep,” then you really should have no right to vote. I wouldn’t feel much better about this voter if he instead said “I guess I’ll vote for the guy who promises abortions for some and miniature American flags for everyone else.” Political advertising is geared towards dumb people and the politically ignorant (not a mutually exclusive group, necessarily). I really don’t care if the message being conveyed to them is negative or positive. The fact that any political advertising actually sways the electorate is depressing in its own right.
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”
Scott Brown is a largely pro-abort RINO, but he has come up with a campaign commercial in the above video which is devastating both to Obama and his opponent in the Massachusetts Senate race, Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren. Warren came up with the business bashing meme that Obama disastrously latched on to, and Brown is ramming it down their throats. By far the best campaign commercial I have seen this year.
The people who run the fast food chain Chick-fil-A are serious Christians. They close their 1,608 restaurants on Sundays even though they lose a huge amount of revenue doing so. The President of Chick-fil-A has spoken out against gay marriage. As a result Democrat politicians, who have as much understanding of freedom of speech as they do morality, have decided to punish a legal business.
First up was Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston, who sent an unintentionally hilarious letter to the president of the company. This Boston Herald editorial noted the humor:
A truly hilarious video from 1943, Food For Fighters, detailing the dedication of the Army to quality rations for the troops. I imagine a room full of GI’s watching this video and laughing their heads off. Virtually every veteran of World War II I have encountered has complained about the quality of the rations. My late father-in-law was a Navy cook during the War. He developed a life long detestation of mutton when he was forced to prepare it for six months aboard ship because it was the only meat they were supplied. He did his imaginative best, and he was a very good cook, but the sailors were ready to mutiny by the time the ship received a different type of meat.
The French don’t care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly.
Professor Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady
As longtime readers of this blog know, I have a weakness for humorous posts. However, it is increasingly difficult to come up with imaginative pieces more humorous than reality.
The hooting and catcalls began as soon as the Cabinet minister stood, wearing a blue and white flowered dress. It did not cease for the entire time she spoke before France’s National Assembly. And the heckling came not from an unruly crowd, but from male legislators who later said they were merely showing their appreciation on a warm summer’s day.
Cecile Duflot, the Housing minister, faltered very slightly, and then continued with her prepared remarks about an urban development project in Paris.
“Ladies and gentlemen, but mostly gentlemen, obviously,” she said in a firm voice as hoots rang out. She completed the statement on her ministry and again sat down. None of the men in suits who preceded her got the same treatment from the deputies, and the reaction was extraordinary enough to draw television commentary and headlines for days afterward.
The same French Assembly on Tuesday took up a new law on sexual harassment, more than two months after a court struck down the previous statute, saying it was too vague and failed to protect women. In the meantime, there has been nothing. All cases that were pending when the law was struck down May 4 were thrown out. And, without a law, there can be no new cases. Continue Reading →
The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has released a new report, “A Mandate for Fidelity,” concerning the mandatum (a bishop’s mandate) that’s required to teach theology in a Catholic institution of higher education.
The mandatum was specified by the 1990 Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, and as implemented in the United States, requires a theology professor to request mandatum from the local bishop where the theologian teaches. The professor commits, in writing, “to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church’s Magisterium.”
Canon 812 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law also requires theologians to possess a mandatum:
Those who teach theological disciplines in any institutes of higher studies whatsoever must have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.
In addition, Canon 810 describes the responsibility of academic administrators at Catholic institutions of higher education in this regard:
It is the responsibility of the authority who is competent in accord with the statutes to provide for the appointment of teachers to Catholic universities who, besides their scientific and pedagogical suitability, are also outstanding in their integrity of doctrine and probity of life; when those requisite qualities are lacking they are to be removed from their positions in accord with the procedure set forth in the statutes.
The Motley Monk thinks the CNS report is especially worth reading for two reasons.
The first reason concerns the number of administrators and professors in the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges who have not taken the mandatum seriously.
The CNS report draws attention to a 2011 survey of U.S. Catholic university and college academic administrators indicating that:
42% of respondents said their institutions have neither a department nor a chair of Catholic theology as required by Ex corde Ecclesiae
7%+ responded that Catholic theology isn’t taught in their institutions.
Of the remaining 51% of respondents who said their institutions have a department or chair of Catholic theology:
36% said they didn’t know whether their Theology professors have received the mandatum;
10% reported some but not all of their theologians have received the mandatum; and,
6% said no professors have received a mandatum.
The “dirty little secret” is that more than two decades after the publication of Ex corde Ecclesiae, nearly 50% of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges don’t have a department or chair of Catholic theology.
The second reason for reading the CNS report concerns how, during those 2+ decades, many administrators and professors have “privatized” the mandatum, making it a private matter between the bishop and theologian. And, apparently, bishops in whose dioceses Catholic universities and colleges are located aren’t very much interested in pushing the issue.
This conduct has evidently been brought to and caught the attention of Pope Benedict XVI, who in a May 5, 2012 ad limina address to a group of American bishops, expressed his concern that “much remains to be done” toward the renewal of Catholic identity in U.S. Catholic colleges and universities. The Pope highlighted, in particular, “such areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines.” He then cited “the confusion created by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the Church’s pastoral leadership.”
So, then, what does Canon 812 require?
Responding to a CNS inquiry, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican’s Supreme Court), Cardinal Raymond Burke, pointed to Pope Benedict XVI’s description of the mandatum as “a tangible expression of ecclesial communion and solidarity.” Asserting that the mandatum is a public not private matter, Cardinal Burke said:
It’s tangible in the sense that it’s a public declaration, in writing, on the part of the ecclesiastical authority that a theologian is teaching in communion with the Church, and people have a right to know that so that if you, for instance, are at a Catholic university or parents are sending their children to the Catholic university, they know that the professors who are teaching theological disciplines at the university are teaching in communion with the Church. They are assured in that by the public declaration of the diocesan bishop.
Cardinal Burke added: “The fact that I teach in accord with the Magisterium is a public factor. That’s not some private, secret thing between myself and the Lord” (italics added).
Should only theology professors with the mandatum be employed at a Catholic university or college?
Cardinal Burke responded “Yes,” adding:
…[T]he Catholic university will want that all its teachers of theology or the theological disciplines have a mandate and will not, of course, retain the professor in teaching Catholic theology or the theological disciplines who does not have a mandate, because to do so would be to call into question the whole raison d’etre of the university. If a Catholic university doesn’t distinguish itself for its care, that those who are teaching theology and the other theological disciplines are doing so in communion with the Magisterium, what reason does it have to exist?
The Motley Monk concurs with Cardinal Burke’s assessment.
Academic administrators at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges should take the mandatum seriously, if only because it provides a tangible—public—recognition of an institution’s fidelity to the Church and its teaching, which constitutes the essential identity of Catholic higher education.
If those academic administrators are not willing to require a mandatum as a condition for employment as well as tenure and promotion in rank for those who teach theology and theological disciplines, they should—at a minimum—make public to students and their parents those professors who teach theology or theological disciplines and are in communion with the Church.
Unfortunately, Cardinal Burke has no ordinary jurisdiction in the matter as he is not the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. However, his opinion as the Church’s highest ranking juridical official after the Pope does carry great moral weight and should influence the thinking of the diocesan bishops in whose territory Catholic universities and colleges are located. They can and should require those who teach theology or theological disciplines to possess a mandatum.
A number of opinion writers have taken the occasion of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado to express disgust with the fact that the American public shows little inclination towards increased gun control. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they “feel that laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict” dropped from 78% to 44% during the period from 1990 to 2010.
Some of the more hyperbolic has claimed this is because the US is seized by a “death cult” or that it “worships violence”, but I think the actual reason is quite rational.
If we look at the percentage of people supporting stricter gun control in relation to the percentage of people who say they own guns (also from Gallup) and the US homicide rate, we see that the homicide rate dropped by 49% from 1990 to 2010 while gun ownership rates have remained fairly flat.
Since people readily perceive that gun ownership remains common, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly since the height of the ’80s and ’90s crime wave, people seem to implicitly believe that restricting gun ownership is not necessary in order to deal with crime.
We can get a somewhat longer term view of this if we look at an older Gallup question which is available in the same study, the percentage of Americans who say they support a ban on civilian handgun ownership. The question has been asked somewhat sporadically by Gallup, so we have only a few data points from the 50s, 60s and 70s, but the pattern is still very interesting.
Gallup first asked the question in 1959 when the murder rate had just gone up from 4.1 in 1955 to 4.9 in 1959. Support for a ban was quite high as 60%. Support for a ban dropped rapidly while crime increased. In 1979 31% of Americans supported banning handguns and the murder rate was 9.8. Support for a handgun ban then rebounded, reaching a recent high of 43% of American in 1991, which was also one of the worst years for violent crime with a murder rate of 9.8. However, violent crime then fell sharply and has continued a gradual decline, and support for banning hand guns has declined along with it with only 29% of Americans supporting such a ban in 2010.
This suggests to me that Americans actually have a pretty reasonable approach to the question. Despite the occasional headline grabbing catastrophe, the current murder rate is down at the same level as the 1950s, despite the availability of Glock handguns and “assault rifles”.
The so-called “mainstream” media had a feeding frenzy immediately after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) announced its doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
If one was to believe the reports, an institution led by patriarchal, misogynists who don’t “get it” are now attempting to strike back by discrediting “the good sisters.”
Bishop Leonard Blair Diocese of Toledo (OH)
There’s another side to the story not being reported by the main stream media. It’s provided by Bishop Leonard Blair, who led the initial inquiry into the LCWR. In an article entitled, “Reality Check: The LCWR, CDF, and the Doctrinal Assessment,” Bishop Blair explores what he calls “the distortions and misrepresentation of the facts being asserted by the mainstream media.
The claim that CDF has no direct authority over the LCWR. In fact, the LCWR’s function, responsibilities, and statutes have been approved by the Holy See and to which the LCWR remains accountable.
The claim that the CDF and the bishops are attacking or criticizing the life, work, and members of women’s Catholic religious congregations in the United States. In fact, the CDF’s concerns are doctrinal.
The claim that the “investigation” is directed at women’s religious congregations and their members. In fact, the word “investigation” mischaracterizes the doctrinal “assessment” ordered by the CDF. The assessment was aimed at the LCWR’s operations, including its programs and publications.
The claim that the assessment was covert, blindsiding the LCWR and its members. In fact, the assessment was carried out in dialogue with the LCWR leadership, both in writing and face-to-face, over several months.
For Bishop Blair, the fundamental question was simply this: “What are the Church’s pastors to make of the fact that the LCWR constantly provides a one-sided platform—without challenge or any opposing view—to speakers who take a negative and critical position vis-a-vis Church doctrine and discipline and the Church’s teaching office?”
Suffice it to say, the Church’s pastors had every reason to be concerned about the LCWR’s doctrinal positions. After listing some causes for concern, Bishop Blair then asks:
[Is] it the role of a pontifically recognized leadership group to criticize and undermine faith in church teaching by what is said and unsaid, or rather to work to create greater understanding and acceptance of what the Church believes and teaches?
Note too, Bishop Blair asserts, that those who are criticizing the CDF and the bishops for assessing the LCWR don’t hold the teachings of the Catholic Church or are Catholics who dissent from those teachings.
A good observation. Why should those who dissent from Church teaching—Catholic or not—determine for the Church what constitutes a “legitimate cause for doctrinal concern” about the activities a pontifically-approved organization?
More interesting is Bishop Blair’s prognosis about what the future portends. He writes:
The response thus far is exemplified by the LCWR leadership’s choice of a New Age Futurist to address its 2012 assembly, and their decision to give an award this year to Sister Sandra Schneiders, who has expressed the view that the hierarchical structure of the church represents an institutionalized form of patriarchal domination that cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.
So much for the much-touted, post-Vatican II spirit of “communio.”
To The Motley Monk, it’s sounding more and more like heresy and schism.
Call it what it is and be done with it as nature follows its inevitable trajectory.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Remember these men who, sadly, are no longer with us: Matt McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk, and Alex Teves. One of the prime duties of any man is to defend those he loves, and these gentlemen lived up to that responsibility at the cost of their lives:
They took bullets for their beloveds.
Three young men are being hailed as heroes for their old-fashioned chivalry and courage under fire in saving the lives of their girlfriends.
While using their bodies as shields, Matt McQuinn, 27, Jonathan Blunk, 26, and Alex Teves, 24, were killed in the worst mass shooting in US history.
Nine others were also murdered when deranged gunman James Holmes unloaded a fusillade of bullets into the packed Century 16 theater early Friday in Aurora, Colo.
McQuinn dived in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, also 27, when the gunfire erupted. She was shot in the knee. McQuinn was fatally struck three times.
Jonathan Blunk threw his date, Jansen Young, 21, to the floor, pushing her under the seat.
“Stay down!” he told her, moments before he was shot to death.
“He took a bullet for me,” Young told NBC’s “Today” show.
“He always talked about if he were going to die, he wanted to die a hero,” Blunk’s estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, told NBC News.
Teves, of Phoenix, used his body to cover girlfriend Amanda Lindgren, Teves’ grandmother Rae Iacovelli told The Post.
“He shielded her. He got down on the floor and covered her up,” said Iacovelli, who lives in Barneget, NJ. “She was pulled out from under him. I don’t know who pulled her out.” Continue Reading →
The sharp eyed Iowahawk gives us a reading from the Book of Barack:
In the beginning Govt created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the economy was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the ATMs, and the Spirit of Govt was hovering over the land.
3 And Govt said, “Let there be spending,” and there was spending. 4 Govt saw that the spending was good, and that it separated the light from the darkness. 5 Govt called the spending Investments, and this he did in the first day.
6 Then Govt said, “Let there be roads and bridges across the waters, and let dams divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus Govt made the infrastructure and the patronage jobs for eternity under the firmament from the Potomac which was above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And Govt called the firmament Washington. This Govt did on the second day.
9 Then Govt said, “Let the regulations and the guidlines under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the Bureaus appear”; and it was so. 10 And Govt called the Bureaus demigovts, and the gathering together of them He called AFSCME. And Govt saw that it was good.
11 Then Govt said, “Let there be police, and firefighters, and teachers according to their kind, for they will create more jobs”; and it was so. 12 And then Govt bade the void bring forth crime, and arson, and stupidity, that each would yield seed to bring forth more police, and firefighters, and teachers, and jobs. And Govt saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 On the fourth day Govt said, “Let Us make the economy in Our image, according to Our likeness; let it have dominion over the cars of the road, over the appliances of the supercenters, and over the pet groomers of the strip malls, over all the clickthroughs of Amazon and over every creepy thing of the Dollar Stores.” 15 So Govt created the economy in His own image; services and wholesale and retail He created them. 16 Then Govt blessed them, and Govt said to them, “Be fruitful and use the multiplier effect; fill the land with jobs; thou have dominion over thy realm, within limits, as long and thou remember to get thy permits and tithe thy taxes, for they are good. Hope to see you at the fundraiser.”
17 And on the fifth day Govt made an official Govt holiday, and headed off for a 3-day golf weekend at Camp David. But first Govt said to the economy, “you are free to eat from any tree in the garden, except the tree of Knowledge. There is a serpent in that thing, and thy health care does not cover it.”
18 So when Govt was on vay-cay the economy set about the garden, plowing its fields and generating revenue for the glory of Govt. They obeyed the regulations and were not ashamed.
19 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the balanced, publicly-funded birds the Lord Govt had made to sing news to the economy. The serpent was on the AM band. He said to the retail sector,“Did Govt really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ”
20 “Only yours, serpent,”said the retail sector.
21 “Don’t be a wuss,” the serpent said to the retailsector.22“For Govt knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will wise to Govt’s scam.”
23 When she saw that the fruit was pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, and also free to download, she took some and ate it. She emailed a copy to her wholesaler, and he ate it; and then the wholesaler to the manufacturer, and he to the servicer. 24 Then the eyes of all of them were opened, and they realized they were being taxed naked; so they outsourced fig leaves to make coverings for themselves. Continue Reading →
Hattip to commenter Phillip. A truly devastating reply to Obama’s remarks here. Put me down for building my law practice. Did I do it alone? Certainly not! My right hand woman, Chris, my secretary for 27 years and counting, deserves a large share of the credit, as does my wife, with her love and support, along with helping out at the office. My parents, who taught me that with hard work I could be what I chose to be, will always get all the credit I can muster for anything good I’ve accomplished in this world. Finally, my clients, who have blessed me with their business over the years, will always have my humble thanks. All that having been gratefully acknowledged, I think my usual 50 plus hours a week that I put in at the law mines might have had a wee bit to do with it. Continue Reading →
One of the more momentous dates in American history. On July 22, 1862, President Lincoln stuns his cabinet by showing them a preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Artist Francis Carpenter in February 1864 heard from Mr. Lincoln’s own lips about this cabinet meeting. This was appropriate since Carpenter spent six months in the White House immortalizing the scene for future generations in his painting First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln which is at the bottom of this post. Here is what Carpenter recalled Lincoln saying:
“It had got to be,” said he, “midsummer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics, or lose the game! I now determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy; and, without consultation with, or the knowledge of the Cabinet, I prepared the original draft of the proclamation, and, after much anxious thought, called a Cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the last of July, or the first part of the month of August, 1862.” (The exact date he did not remember.) “This Cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. All were present, excepting Mr. Blair, the Postmaster-General, who was absent at the opening of the discussion, but came in subsequently. I said to the Cabinet that I had resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask their advice, but to lay the subject-matter of a proclamation before them; suggestions as to which would be in order, after they had heard it read….. Various suggestions were offered. Secretary Chase wished the language stronger in reference to the arming of the blacks. Mr. Blair, after he came in, deprecated the policy, on the ground that it would cost the Administration in the fall elections. Nothing, however, was offered that I had not already fully anticipated and settled in my own mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. He said in substance: “Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help; the government stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.” His idea,” said the President, “was that it would be considered our last shriek, on the retreat.” (This was his precise expression.) “Now,’ continued Mr. Seward, ‘while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issue, until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war!'” Mr. Lincoln continued: “The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject, I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory.” Continue Reading →
For well over half a century political scientists have promoted the idea of electoral realignments or critical elections. Popularized by the likes of V.O. Key, the idea is that every 32 or 36 years electoral currents shift radically to favor one party or the other. Roughly speaking, the critical elections have been 1800 (Jefferson and the emergence of the Jeffersonian Republican), 1828 (Jacksonian Democracy), 1860 (the Lincoln Republicans), 1896 (McKinley and the dominance of the GOP), 1932 (FDR and the New Deal), and 1968 (Nixon and the New Right). According to this theory, we are overdue for a critical election. Some assumed Barack Obama’s 2008 victory marked such a shift. John Judis and Ruy Teixeira argued back in 2002 in The Emerging Democratic Majority that demographic trends favored the Democrats, and that the party would be ascendant for the foreseeable future.
David Mayhew wrote the definitive rebuttal to the realignment school of thought. Mayhew dug deep into the electoral data and showed that political scientists had overvalued demographic trends and missed subtle clues that completely contradicted the critical election theory.
Sean Trende builds upon Mayhew and also rebuts realignment theory in The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government is Up for Grabs – and Who Will Take It. Trende looks back at electoral data dating into the 19th century and argues that those who advocate on behalf of realignment theory conveniently ignore elections that do not quite fit in with their neat picture. For example, if the 1896 election began a period of Republican dominance, what happened in the 1910s? To argue that Wilson’s election in 1912 was a fluke ignores the fact that Democrats had won control of the House in 1910, and had done quite well until World War I shifted the electorate back towards the Republicans. Trende also points out that the McKinley-Roosevelt-Taft GOP was a different beast than the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover GOP, as the party had become much more conservative.
Trende’s most startling argument – and one which the data certainly supports – is that the New Deal coalition did not flame out in the 1960s; rather, the New Deal coalition was dead as early as 1938. Southern Democrats had tolerated FDR’s early New Deal program, but his advocacy of greater government intervention pushed the southern Democrats away. Though Democrats retained nominal control of Congress for much of this period, Republicans and conservative Democrats had an effective majority.
Along these same lines, Trende postulates that if any real realignment occurred, it took place during the Eisenhower administration. The Eisenhower coalition, as he puts it, pushed the GOP to decisive victories in seven of nine presidential elections. Moreover, the solid Democratic south began shifting towards the Republican party at this point. In fact the south’s gradual shift towards the GOP had begun as early as the 1920s, but the Depression halted Republican advances here. Once the New Deal had ramped up, the Republicans again began making inroads. Republicans began being truly competitive in presidential elections during the 1950s, then started making inroads in Congressional races in the 1970s and 80s, and are finally now the dominant party on the local level.
Trende’s thesis effectively destroys the notion that Republicans only began being competitive in the south once Nixon deployed the “southern strategy” to woo racist southerners after the Civil Rights Act. As already mentioned, the GOP vote share in the south had been incrementally creeping up in the 1930s, with GOP vote shares moving out of the 15-20% range and inching up towards parity slowly and surely. In fact the GOP vote share in the south did not noticeably increase during the 1960s, but instead crept up in the same incremental 1-2% annual range. Where Republicans really started making dents were with younger southern voters, as older southerners continued to cling to the Democratic party even though the national party’s values no longer matched their own. Considering that younger voters tended to have much more liberal racial views, the transformation of the south into a Republican stronghold has to be explained by something other than racial matters.
Even though Trende doesn’t come right out and say this, if anything the changing electoral map can just as easily be explained by the Democrats pursuing a northern strategy. As the Democrats began appealing to elite northern voters by pushing a more liberal agenda, this drove southerners and midwesterners away from the party. This trend would continue until Bill Clinton pursued a much different strategy, crafting his agenda to appeal to suburbanites and middle income whites. Clinton and the New Democrats were able to rip into Republican strongholds by advancing a more moderate platform. The end of the Cold War, as well as the rise of the Evangelical right, fractured the Eisenhower coalition, allowing the Democrats to win presidential elections.
But the Democrats do not have a stranglehold on the electorate themselves. First of all, their coalition is an uneasy one, consisting of discordant demographic groups (upper-class and working-class whites, for instance) that have potentially conflicting interests. And despite their ability to attract large chunks of the minority vote at the current moment, Trends believes that pundits are mistaken in their belief that Democrats will continue to perform at their current rate among these different groups for decades to come. For example, Latinos vote more like whites as they advance economically. Though middle class Latinos still vote more Democratic than do their white counterparts, as they assimilate they do tend to vote more Republican. It is for this reason that he dismisses arguments advanced by those who claim that exit polls actually over-represent GOP-leaning Latinos. These individuals point out that since Republicans win around 20% of the vote in precincts that are almost wholly Latino, it is inconceivable that Republicans could be claiming 35-40 percent of the Latino vote. But these communities tend to be among the poorer ones, and therefore there is nothing incongruous with wider GOP support from Latinos living in more affluent and mixed neighborhoods.
Trende also notes that the signs of the collapse of a Democratic majority were already apparent in the 2008 election. Obama’s electoral majority was actually fairly weak considering the state of the economy and widespread disapproval of George Bush. Moreover, the Democratic Congressional majority, as large as it was, was helped by Democratic over-performance in Republican-leaning districts. When Obama pursued what was largely considered to be a very liberal agenda, this pushed those Republican-leaning districts back into the GOP fold. Finally, the state of the economy at the time of the 2010 mid-terms cannot explain in full the size of the Republican victory that night, as most models based on the economy suggested a slightly more moderate Republican victory.
In general, Trende believes that prognosticators put entirely too much stock into economic performance. Though the state of the economy certainly plays a role in elections, it hardly tells the whole story. In fact most recent national elections have gone against economy-based projections. There are too many variables at play to simply base electoral projections on the unemployment rate and GDP growth.
Long story short, Trende thinks that electoral fatalism (ie. the idea that we are headed towards a period of one-party dominance) is mis-placed. Events will always transpire that will alter the electorate one way or the other. With that being said, upcoming elections are truly up for grabs.
Something for the Weekend. I always find the Handel composition Music For the Royal Fireworks (1749) to be stirring. It was written to celebrate the ending of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the peace of Aix-La-Chappelle in 1748. It turned out to be merely a truce before the start of the Seven Years War, the big war of the Eighteenth Century, known as the French and Indian War in America, and initiated by a 22 year old George Washington! Counting the fighting in America which began in 1754, it should properly be known as the Nine Years War. Continue Reading →
Jackie Hogan, head of the Sociology department at Bradley University in Peoria, wrote a piece for the Christian Science Monitor in which she argued that Abraham Lincoln would have difficulty in winning the presidential nomination of the modern Republican Party. The article cries out for a fisk, and I am happy to oblige:
1. Lincoln ‘invented’ income tax
While Republican candidates today win kudos for signing Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, it is unlikely that Lincoln would sign on, since he, in effect, invented income tax. That is to say he was the first American president to sign federal income tax into law. And not only that, but it was a progressive income tax, with the wealthiest Americans paying a higher rate.
He made no distinctions between earned income and capital gains – money made was money earned – and Lincoln’s administration needed its cut to pull the nation back from the brink of collapse. Strike one against Honest Abe.
Actually current Republicans would hail the Lincoln income tax. It had two rates, 3% and 5%. Many Republicans have been calling for a flat tax for years, and Lincoln’s two tier system with very low rates would receive thunderous approval from a GOP audience.
2. He didn’t advertise his faith
Strike two: He didn’t advertise his faith. Debate over Lincoln’s religious beliefs is heated. But there’s good evidence that he questioned Christian orthodoxy, perhaps not so surprising at a time when Biblical verses were routinely used to defend slavery, an institution he found morally repugnant.
While it’s true that Lincoln frequently evoked the Divine in his speeches, he never took up membership in a church, and certainly never spoke publicly about his personal relationship with Christ.
I find this to be simply bizarre. Few Presidents have invoked God more frequently than Lincoln. This section from the Second Inaugural would certainly brings calls for Lincoln’s impeachment from the American Civil Liberties Union:
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” Continue Reading →
I’ve made the following points before, but they are worth repeating:
1. The Vice Presidency is the most useless institution ever devised by man. With rare exceptions, the Vice President has almost no pull within an administration, and is usually shunted off to state funerals and the like.
2. Vice Presidential candidates rarely have a major impact on the polls. As with point number one, there have been exceptions – notably the 1960 election – but there is little evidence that the Vice Presidential nominee moves the polls much one way or the other. There is almost certainly no LBJ-like figure on the horizon.
3. Losing Vice Presidential candidates go on to have non-descript political careers. Again, there are exceptions, including someone who went by the initials FDR. Lloyd Bentsen would also become an important cabinet member in the Clinton administration. By and large, however, these individuals do not ever come close to reaching the prominence they did as a losing candidate.
I don’t want Paul Ryan to be Romney’s Vice Presidential pick. I also don’t want Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio to be picked. It’s not because I don’tlike these guys, but because I do like them. It is precisely because they are good politicians, necessary politicians, effective politicians that I don’t want them wasted as a measly VP pick.
Does that seem counter intuitive? Well, as the founders always used to say, let’s let history be our guide. History tells us that the vice presidency is a career killer, a position to which we should try to avoid nominating our best guys.
Not only do Rubio, Ryan, and Jindal all have bright futures that should not be wasted by a losing Vice Presidential run that will tarnish their image, or by spending four or eight years as a non-entity, but all these individuals have important work to do in their own spheres. The GOP is going to need Ryan to be their economic leader in the House a lot more than they need him to be the guy judging spelling bees. Bobby Jindal still has work to do in Louisiana, as does Chris Christie. Choosing any of these guys to be VP would be akin to relegating the best pitcher on a Major League baseball team to mop-up relief duties.
The sad fact is that though the Vice Presidency is itself fairly worthless, the VP can instantly become the most powerful man (or woman) in the world in the blink of an eye. So some thought should go into the pick. The best choice would be someone with some executive experience who has otherwise solid conservative credentials, and who is near the end of his term in office or already out of office. It would help if nobody would really notice if this individual never had the public spotlight again should Romney go down in flames.
If only there were such a potential candidate out there.
British military historian John Keegan dearly loves the United States, and has visited the country many times. However, he thinks we have an appalling climate in the summer, especially the hot, muggy summers of the Midwest which he experienced first hand on his initial trip here in the fifties. He has compared the US climate in the summer in the Midwest unfavorably to the climate in summer of much of India. Having endured the current heat wave in Central Illinois for many weeks, the worst since the great drought of 1988, I am inclined to agree with him. Perhaps it is my Newfoundland blood, but I have always been fond of cold weather and despised hot weather. In tribute to the agony inducing qualities of heat, I submit this poem by Rudyard Kipling. With this poem, no commentary by me is necessary!
The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where each tooth-point goes.
The butterfly upon the road
Preaches contentment to that toad.
Pagett, M.P., was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith –
He spoke of the heat of India as the “Asian Solar Myth”;
Came on a four months’ visit, to “study the East,” in November,
And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.
March came in with the koil. Pagett was cool and gay,
Called me a “bloated Brahmin,” talked of my “princely pay.”
March went out with the roses. “Where is your heat?” said he.
“Coming,” said I to Pagett, “Skittles!” said Pagett, M.P.
April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat, –
Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.
He grew speckled and mumpy-hammered, I grieve to say,
Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.
From a townhall meeting in Ohio today. Go to 6:49 in the above video where Romney speaks about the HHS Mandate as a violation of religious freedom, and he says we are all Catholics today. If Mitt Romney keeps this up I will be voting for him as well as voting against Obama, and I didn’t think I would be saying that in this campaign.
Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
History tells us that George Washington as a boy did not cut down a cherry tree and, while telling his father about it, assure him that he could not tell a lie. Saint Francis of Assisi almost certainly did not convert a wolf from his thieving ways and teach him to beg humbly for his food like a good Franciscan. Robin Hood did not help King Richard the Lionheart regain his throne from his brother John Lackland. We know almost nothing about King Arthur and what we think we know about him is certainly almost entirely legend. Continue Reading →
I have always found Mitt Romney to be a fairly indifferent orator, but he was on fire today, attacking the remarks made by Obama that Paul blogged about here.
President Barack Obama‘s campaign officials are trying to minimize the damage caused by his campaign-trail comments that downplayed entrepreneurship.
The push-back came midday when Obama’s press secretary, Ben LaBolt, tweeted out that “Romney apparently set to launch false attack. … Get the facts.”
LaBolt was trying to head off Romney’s new focus on Obama’s July 14 speech where he argued that entrepreneurs are dependent on government for success.
“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” Obama told the crowd, while urging tax increases and a larger role for government.
Romney’s strongest response came shortly after LaBolt’s tweet.
“I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success … [but] I don’t want government to take credit for what individuals accomplish,” Romney told a cheering crowd in swing-state Pennsylvania.
“The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft … is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur,” Romney told the July 17 crowd in Irwin, Pa. Continue Reading →
Since I was 12 I’ve had an unappealing, didactic distrust of people with the extreme will to live. My father’s parents were Holocaust survivors, and in grade school I received the de rigueur exposure to the horror—visiting geriatric men and women with numbers tattooed on their arms, completing assigned reading like The Diary of Anne Frank and Night. But the more information I received, the less sympathy the survivors elicited from me. Each time we clapped for the old Hungarian lady who spoke about Dachau, each time Elie Wiesel threw another anonymous anecdote of betrayal onto a page, I eyed it askance, thinking What didyou do that you’re not talking about? I had the gut instinct that these were villains masquerading as victims who, solely by virtue of surviving (very likely by any means necessary), felt that they had earned the right to be heroes, their basic, animal self-interest dressed up with glorified phrases like “triumph of the human spirit.”
I wondered if anyone had alerted Hitler that in the event that the final solution didn’t pan out, only the handful of Jews who actually fulfilled the stereotype of the Judenscheisse(because every group has a few) would remain to carry on the Jewish race—conniving, indestructible, taking and taking. My grandparents were not excluded from this suspicion. The same year, during a family dinner conversation about Terri Schiavo, my father made the serious request that should he fall into a vegetative state, he would like for us to keep him on life support indefinitely. Today he and I are estranged for a number of other reasons that are all somehow the same reason.
I have a feeling that Anna Breslaw will not be invited back to write for Tablet magazine anytime soon.
This might be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. No, it’s not some Womynpriest ranting about the Vatican, or a sportswriter waxing poetic about a “gritty” but otherwise terrible baseball player, or anything written by Thomas Friedman. It’s a list of “six films that improve the source material.” There’s nothing inherently wrong in suggesting that a movie is better than the book it is based upon. For starters, The Godfather movie is arguably better than the book as it doesn’t cut out any of the good parts but it does excise the superfluous and frankly bizarre sublot from the middle portion of the book. Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was much powerful than Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark. And though I haven’t seen and don’t plan to see the latest film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, it’s inconceivable that it could be any worse than the source material.
David R’s list, on the other hand, is a bit different.
The Social Network: Didn’t see the movie, didn’t read the book, and I generally don’t care.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: I never saw the movie. The book does drag in certain parts, but it’s still a classic. I’ll let this one go.
And now this is where he just gets nuts:
Pride and Prejudice (2005):
I’m probably not the target audience for this particular book, what with being a 21st-century twenty-something male. That said, Pride and Prejudice has always struck me as a pretty good story wrapped up in circuitous, indirect writing. It’s light and frothy, and entertaining to an extent, but ultimately presented in a way that prevents me from really reaching out and connecting with the characters. I’m only passingly familiar with the much-adored BBC miniseries, but am under the impression that it more or less transcribes the book verbatim.
The 2005 version with Keira Knightley, on the other hand, does a much better job streamlining the story into a vibrant, energetic romance. It still retains the story’s amusingly frivolous air, but in a way that, for this viewer at least, renders the story both funnier and more touching than the original novel. Side characters are exaggerated, losing complexity but gaining a more tangible sense of fun — particularly in the case of one Mr. Collins. Director Joe Wright manages to make the dancing and socializing so much fun to watch that you can actually understand why so many people would show up to these parties. And the movie is simply gorgeous in a way that only a movie can be.
Speaking as a fellow 21st Century male, this is heresy. As I wrote on facebook, this isn’t even the best film adaption of this story.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
While the Harry Potter books are enjoyable for the most part, there are some notable problems with the series. One of the most obvious is J.K. Rowling’s tendency to veer off on wild tangents that derail the forward momentum of her stories. It looks like her editors were able to keep her on track for the first three books (with the third being the series’ best), but by the fourth she had become too popular for that. The Goblet of Fire— which, at 752 pages, is a whole book longer than any of the first three books — was filled with wandering storylines: S.P.E.W., the Quidditch World Cup, and plenty of other bits nearly cripple the already improbable storyline.
Screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Mike Newell took a scalpel to the book, skillfully extracting the core plot and character threads while leaving behind nearly everything that didn’t matter. Gone are the unnecessary distractions, bringing the characters and growing menace of the story to the forefront. And the movie still retains much of the detail that makes up the world, like Rita Skeeter, the Unforgivable Curses, or the eerie world of the Triwizard Tournament. It just never gets so enamored with any of these ideas that it forgets why we came in the first place.
Kloves and Newell didn’t take a scalpel to the book; they obliterated essential sublots and cut out fun little diversions. I recognize that tastes vary, but Goblet of Fire is the best book in the series in my mind particularly because of the fun little side excursions. Yes, I might be one of the few people who doesn’t hate the S.P.E.W. supblot, but that aside the movie just falls flat. Also, as my wife has pointed out, the climactic maze scene in the race for the Triwizard Cup is completely bland, as though they just ran out of money in their CGI budget. Rowling’s description of that part of the tournament is so much more vivid than what the filmmakers came up with.
It only gets worse.
This is kind of an apples-and-oranges situation. The Iliad (not The Aeneid, like I thoughtlessly wrote earlier) is an ancient epic poem; Troy, a modern action film. They’re going after completely different things, going about their aims in completely different ways, and generally couldn’t be further apart from each other without being entirely unrelated stories.
That said, I don’t get a whole lot out of Homer’s original. The way the gods act in his text is distracting, particularly when they swoop into the middle of a battle to remove key players from the action. Homer’sOdyssey includes gods and fantastical creatures much better. Then again, the main conflict in The Odyssey is between men and gods (or at least men and fate). The Iliad’s conflict is much more between men; two nations are at war. In the film Troy, the gods were taken completely out of the story, allowing the focus to fall squarely on the war waged over petty revenge and hubris. The human element is much more important, allowing the story to resonate more for its human viewers.
This make me weep openly, as Achilles did at the death of Patroclus. Leaving aside Homer’s epic, Troy was one of the most wretched movies ever put on screen. Troy wouldn’t be an improvement over a Dan Brown novel, let alone freaking Homer.
And for number one:
War of the Worlds (2005):
Before you burn me at the stake, let me clarify. I’m a huge H.G. Wells fan, and if you remove the different versions from their cultural context I don’t know that one is better than the other. However, War of the Worlds is one of those stories that deserves to be retold every now and then, as it can offer a lot of commentary on different periods in history. The first film adaptation was of reasonably high quality; it (like much of that era’s science fiction) pitched the story against the fears and imagery of the Cold War.
In the early 2000s, Spielberg came to a realization, “I thought that this story’s time had come again.” It was a stroke of brilliance to deal with 9/11 through H. G. Wells’s century-old classic. The images in the movie arise very organically out of the story, but the specter of 9/11 hangs over the event. Missing-person posters, victims covered in dust, military trying to keep the peace. This allows Spielberg and writer David Koepp to use the text to examine the paranoia and weaknesses of our current society, and as a member of that society, this is somewhat more compelling and noticeably more relevant today than Wells’s book, while still retaining the lean structure and addictive concept that make up the core of the story.
It’s not as bad as favoring Brad Pitt’s version of Achilles over Homer’s, but it’s still pretty silly. Spielberg is a great director, but his inability to constrain his own innate Spielbergness fails to do Wells justice.
The frustrating thing is that the author doesn’t appear to be some high school kid who really hates books. He seems fairly literate, and he’s a decent writer. Yet his reasoning for most of these selections is that he just can’t deal with the long slog of reading books that have plot points he can’t relate to. Or, as one commenter put it:
This is less a post about movies that improve the source material and more about the author’s inability to enjoy a complex novel.
I can understand, and as I said, tastes vary. That being said, David R should be banned from public commentary for the rest of eternity.
Oh, I do need to address one of the comments to the linked article:
Just wanted to say that the Lord of the Rings movies are worlds better than the books for a number of reasons, but the one most worth mentioning being the total excision of Tom Bombadil from the screen.
Not only should this person be banned from public commentary for all eternity, he should be shunned by polite society and forced to live in seclusion with nothing but the Twilight books to keep him company.
It is ironic that a priest who became so associated with Galveston and Texas was a Yankee! James Martin Kirwin was born in Circleville, Ohio on July 1, 1872. Kirwin was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1895. Incardinated in the Diocese of Galveston, Texas, while in the seminary he attended, Father Kirwin was sent to the University of America in Washington, DC by the Bishop of Galveston, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theology. His ability being recognized early, Father Irwin was made rector of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston in 1896.
Throughout his priesthood Father Kirwin was always a whirlwind of activity, and he quickly became noticed for the heroism with which he attended the sick during the yellow fever epidemic of 1897. During the Spanish-American War he helped raise the First United States Volunteer Infantry and served as its chaplain with the rank of captain. Although the regiment never served over seas, the fate of most of the American units raised for the Spanish-American War, Father Kirwin’s service began a life long association for him with the Texas National Guard and the United States Army.
Father Kirwin rose to national prominence after the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the worst national disaster in US history which killed approximately 8,000 people. He helped found a committee of public safety which restored law and order to the city, he drafted the martial law plan, helped with the burial of the dead, and organized and served on the central relief committee which aided victims of the hurricane. Together with his good friend Rabbi Henry Cohen, he spearheaded the efforts over the next few years to rebuild Galveston, including the building of a seawall for the city, the cornerstone of which he blessed in 1902 and saw through to completion in 1905. Continue Reading →
My wife and I are creating decals to defend religious freedom. The decals can be placed on bumpers or the rear windows of cars. These decals will show Catholics our resolve to defend religious freedom.
The designs were done by a friend of ours who is entering the seminary and we would like to have your input on them. The design is that of the sign, the Chi Rho, that Constantine saw right before the battle at Milvian Bridge with the words right above this sign that said, “In Hoc Signo Vinces”.
We will be offering them for sale at a date to be determined. These designs fall under creative commons.
The deadline to vote on them is on July 25 at midnight.
Last week I mentioned my change of heart on secession. Now I have to backtrack on another long-standing principle: my opposition to recalls.
Actually, I still think that recall elections are absurd and even anti-democratic. Attempting to cast out an elected politician halfway through his term because you disagree with his policies is worse than bad sportsmanship. The threat of recall could prevent leaders from making serious attempts at reform. No, you just have to suffer through the term and hope to vote the sonofagun out.
On the other hand, recall efforts to oust corrupt politicians who refuse to give up their office even in the face of growing evidence that they are borderline (or not even borderline) criminals: I’ve got no problem with that.
Three of the 12 members of the city council on Wednesday called for Gray to resign after it was revealed that supporters ran a shadow campaign on his behalf during the 2010 Democratic primary race against then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, and did not properly report financial contributions.
Then on Thursday, The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis and Nikita Stewart reported that Gray knew about unreported expenditures as far back as January — before federal law enforcement officials raided the homes and offices of consultant Jeanne Clarke Harris and businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, who is accused of spending $650,000 on the shadow campaign.
In addition, Harris pleaded guilty Tuesdayto spearheading the scheme and now faces three years in prison. She is the third person from Gray’s campaign to plead guilty.
By all means, please follow the links in the story if you have the time.
Gray is clinging to the argument that he had absolutely no knowledge of the shadow campaign. The mayor is also attacking those City Council members that are demanding his resignation.
Gray (D) appeared Friday morning on NewsChannel 8’s NewsTalk. HostBruce DePuyt asked Gray to respond to the resignation calls, which came Wednesday afternoon from David A. Catania (I-At Large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4).
“I think it depends on which of the three you’re talking about,” Gray said.
Gray dismissed Catania’s critique as politically motivated: “Let’s be honest, David Catania is a Republican who became an independent. We forget that we have partisan politics in the District of Columbia. … He never supported me; he certainly didn’t support me in the election.”
Catania departed the GOP due to President Bush’s push for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, so that gives you an idea of what kind of partisan hound he is. It’s true that Catania is the closest thing that comes to being a Republican on the City Council, but that simply shows how far left the Council has become.
That there are only three Council members seeking Gray’s ouster is an indictment of the rest of the Council. This was hammered home as I listened to at-large Council member Michael Brown spinning for Vincent Gray this morning on the radio. Instead of addressing the allegations, Brown decided to tapdance around the issue while waxing poetic about all the improvements the city has made. Not only was this beside the point, any credit for the city’s improvement must go to the previous two mayors, Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty, who have been about the only elected officials in the city who have had any sense of fiscal sanity. Listening to Brown inarticulately ramble for ten minutes caused me to quip on twitter that perhaps it’s time end home-rule for the District. I was only half-kidding.
So if the City Council is unwilling to do its job, it might be up to the citizens of the nation’s capital to throw Gray out on his behind. Then again, this is the same city that re-elected Marion Barry after he had been busted for possession of crack cocaine. Perhaps Washington isn’t the same city it was two decades ago, and maybe they are willing to finally let go of their corrupt elected officials.
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
As hard as it is to believe, even after four years of the inept comedy stylings of the Obama administration as a substitute for government, we still have in this great land people who continue to worship, as occurred in 2008, the South Side Messiah. Signs of this include the movie The Obama Effect, which reminds me of an old Stalinist propaganda movie with lesser production values, and this piece of tripe that our old friend Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Faith so frequently that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, shines a light on at Midwest Conservative Journal:
Write about the Episcopal Organization long enough and every so often, you’ll run up against something that stops you cold. Seems that the Rev. Mark Bozzuti-Jones, who works at Trinity-Wall Street, just published a book entitled The Gospel of Barack Hussein Obama According to Mark. Here’s how Bozzuti-Jones blurbed the book at Amazon.com:
The Gospel of Barack Hussein Obama According to Mark is designed to initiate the reader into a meditation on what it means to be human, what it means to be a manifestation of God, and how Barack Obama is a unique and important manifestation of God’s desire for human flourishing. In a blend of words from his public speeches, imagined conversation, and fictional situations, the book highlights Obama’s real stance on social justice and, in particular, economic and political empowerment. It juxtaposes ancient Biblical form and contemporary reality, challenging the reader to see and seek God in all persons. “Our life-defining texts must be porous and we must be imaginative in our engagement with them. Let this book be a reminder not to so credit sacred texts or cultural icons that they lead us to hatred and violence in the name of God. When we see the Divine in another, we must name it. We must respect it. The practice demands nothing less than Love.
Um…okay. If you use Amazon’s Look Inside feature and read the first few pages of this thing, you discover a book that is so over-the-top that David Fischler thinks it might be a joke. I’m not so sure. Over at Trinity’s site, Bozzuti-Jones comments:
This is a project close to [Bozzuti-Jones’] heart. “It means a lot to me because this is my first self-published book, and there is something special about that: a book like this is truly mine in the sense that I struggled with it, I wrestled with it, and I ensured that it saw the light of day.”
It may surprise some to hear that it is not meant to be a political book. “I have tremendous respect for all people, no matter which side of the political spectrum they are on,” Bozzuti-Jones explained. “That said, I do believe that President Obama holds a significant place in American history and world history. What Barack Hussein Obama has accomplished is the fulfillment of the constitution of the United States: that all people are created equal, and so more than any other person in the last decades he has fulfilled the American dream.”
The book comes from Bozzuti-Jones’ incarnational theology. “I think oftentimes, as Christians and as a world, we don’t give sufficient credit to what it means to be born in the image and likeness of God. I think if more human beings could see the divine in the other, they could recognize that human beings can point to the divine in each other.”
It is always amusing to read conservative Ross Douthat’s columns in The New York Times and read the visceral negative reaction of almost all his commenters. The New York Times of course is Holy Writ for most liberals in this country, and their seeing a conservative opinion piece in it is simply beyond the pale for most of them.
Today , Douthat asked if liberal Christianity can be saved, noting that liberal denominations are going the way of the passenger pigeon, the Edsel and conservative Democrats:
IN 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.
As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.
Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.
This decline is the latest chapter in a story dating to the 1960s. The trends unleashed in that era — not only the sexual revolution, but also consumerism and materialism, multiculturalism and relativism — threw all of American Christianity into crisis, and ushered in decades of debate over how to keep the nation’s churches relevant and vital.
Traditional believers, both Protestant and Catholic, have not necessarily thrived in this environment. The most successful Christian bodies have often been politically conservative but theologically shallow, preaching a gospel of health and wealth rather than the full New Testament message.
But if conservative Christianity has often been compromised, liberal Christianity has simply collapsed. Practically every denomination — Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian — that has tried to adapt itself to contemporary liberal values has seen an Episcopal-style plunge in church attendance. Within the Catholic Church, too, the most progressive-minded religious orders have often failed to generate the vocations necessary to sustain themselves. Continue Reading →
There are millions of heroes and heroines who helped bring about the downfall of Communism in Europe in the Twentieth Century, from those who acted in the full spotlight of History, to those who are known only to God and who were executed for their resistance and tossed into mass graves. At the very top of the list History will record two names: Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan. The people of a free Poland remember them:
GDANSK, Poland (AP) — Polish officials unveiled a statue of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on Saturday, honoring two men widely credited in this Eastern European country with helping to topple communism 23 years ago.
The statue was unveiled in Gdansk, the birthplace of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, in the presence of about 120 former Solidarity activists, many of whom were imprisoned in the 1980s for their roles in organizing or taking part in strikes against the communist regime.
The bronze statue, erected in the lush seaside President Ronald Reagan Park, is a slightly larger-than-life rendering of the two late leaders. It was inspired by an Associated Press photograph taken in 1987 on John Paul’s second pontifical visit to the U.S.
The photographer who took the picture, Scott Stewart, expressed satisfaction that one of his pictures has helped immortalize “a wonderful moment in time between the two men.”
“In the news business we’re used to having a moment and then that moment being gone a day later. This is one image that should last for a good long time,” Stewart, who now teaches graphic design and photography at Greenville Technical College in South Carolina, said in a phone interview a day before the ceremony. “I’m happy that it’s been chosen as the seminal moment to represent the relationship of these two people to Poland.”
Reagan and John Paul shared a conviction that communism was a moral evil, not just a bad economic system. And Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that led the anti-communist struggle in Poland, has often paid homage to both men and told the AP in a recent interview that he deeply respected Reagan.
The things you can find on Youtube! Pope Pius XII blesses 4000 American soldiers after the liberation of Rome in 1944. Here is what the Pope said:
It is a real joy for us to welcome you all here to the very own house of the Eternal Father of the Christians. You know very well you have experience now of the dangers and uncertainties of life in the midst of war. Make one thing certain, that you always keep close to God.
Pope Pius was quite popular among servicemen with huge numbers flocking to the Vatican to receive his blessing: Catholics, Protestants and Jews. Many soldiers wrote that it was a highlight of their service in Europe, and more than a few converted as a result. The Pope had a special fondness for those in the military who were risking their lives, and he made himself availabe in frequent audiences for them. Pius was grateful for the liberation of Rome, as he indicated to General Mark Clark when he first met the Pope. Continue Reading →
The frequency with which the Obama administration has gone rogue and completely ignored Congress’ will seems to increasing at an exponential rate. I fear that by the end of the campaign Obama will be issuing executive fiats on a daily basis. The latest: gutting welfare reform.
Yesterday the Obama administration gutted those federal work rules, ignoring the will of Congress by issuing a policy directive that allows the Department of Health and Human Services to waive the work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. “The result is the end of welfare reform,” wrote Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley of The Heritage Foundation.
Surely there was a provision in the legislation that permitted the president to grant such waivers, right? Yes. And no.
Today the Obama administration issued a dramatic new directive stating that the traditional TANF work requirements will be waived or overridden by a legal device called a section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).
Section 1115 allows HHS to “waive compliance” with specified parts of various laws. But this is not an open-ended authority: All provisions of law that can be overridden under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself.
The work provisions of the TANF program are contained in section 407 (entitled, appropriately, “mandatory work requirements”). Critically, this section, as well as most other TANF requirements, is deliberately not listed in section 1115; its provisions cannot be waived. Obviously, if the Congress had wanted HHS to be able to waive the TANF work requirements laid out in section 407, it would have listed that section as waivable under section 1115. It did not do that.
Remember all those crocodile tears during the Bush years about the unitary executive? Leaving aside the fact that critics completely misrepresented the doctrine and its application, it seems the left has no problem with a president truly implementing the unitary executive doctrine. Only this time instead of the President being supreme within the Executive branch, he is evidently supreme over the entire federal government.
There will of course be no repercussions from this action. While it might be cathartic to pound the keyboard about the spineless Republicans, no amount of caterwauling can change the fact that the overwhelming majority of Democrats will ensure that no corrective action is taken. It was hard enough to get a contempt vote in the House against Eric Holder. Do you think the Democrats will really allow a serious investigation, or even more?
And that’s a true pity. There used to be a time when partisan identification was almost secondary to institutional concerns. Congressmen valued the independence and authority of their own branch of government, and simply sharing party affiliation with the president didn’t prevent Congressmen from jealously guarding their prerogatives. Inter-branch rivalries were an essential element in safeguarding our republic. Today that is gone. The same committee (Oversight) that has been commendably fastidious in investigating Fast and Furious will lay down like neutered dogs should Mitt Romney win the presidency. The committee was sure loath to investigate President Obama when controlled by Democrats two years ago.
This is truly a bi-partisan issue. Congress has completely abandoned its role as an independent, co-equal branch of government. The very fact that we are so consumed by the presidential campaign is a sad reflection of how pre-eminent the presidency has become.
Congressional Democrats should be just as furious as Congressional Republicans over Obama’s actions, regardless of how they feel about the policy. Wouldn’t it be nice if Congress as a whole regained a sense of institutional pride and reasserted their place in the federal framework? Sadly that’s as realistic an expectation as hoping that John Boehner will become John Rambo.
Something for the weekend. The La Marseillaise scene from Casablanca. Today is Bastille Day, the great national holiday in France, the equivalent our Independence Day. In France it is known as La Fête Nationale, the National Celebration, or Le quatorze juillet, the fourteenth of July, rather like Independence Day is often known here as the fourth of July. There the similarities end. Although almost all Americans look back at the American Revolution with pride, many of us dedicated to the great truths embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution is looked upon much more ambiguously in France.
Bastille Day recalls an event July 14, 1789 in which the mob of Paris, joined by mutinous French troops, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had in the past held political prisoners. The Bastille fell to the mob after a fight in which some ninety-eight attackers and one defender were killed. After the fighting, in an ominous sign of what was to come in the French Revolution, the mob massacred the governor of the prison and seven of the defenders. The Bastille held a grand total of seven inmates at the time of its fall, none of political significance.
So began the Revolution which promised Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in theory and delivered in practice, Tyranny, Wars and Death, with France embarked on a witches’ dance of folly which would end at Waterloo, after almost a quarter of a century of war which would leave Europe drenched in blood. Edmund Burke at the beginning of this madness, in 1790, saw clearly where all this would lead:
Many Frenchmen also saw this, and fought against the Revolution and all its works. The Revolution is a history of civil wars, and barbarous massacres. The Church of course was enemy number one of many of the Revolutionaries, with faithful Catholics undergoing a murderous persecution without parallel up to that point in the history of the Church.
I know I’m bragging, but I’m so proud of all of them. Imagine what it’s like to work with such a great group of young adults, and to wake up and read powerful messages like the following on a regular basis. This is from a 27 year old Army Special Forces Medical Sergeant, Ryan Kraeger, a cradle Catholic homeschool graduate stationed on the West Coast. His website is The Man Who Would Be Knight and he blogs here.
But you must read his latest, Hunger and Thirst. Please go read the whole thing, as a commenter said, it will stay with you for the rest of your life. I pray that priests who uphold the teaching of the Church are allowed to remain in service to our armed forces.
And God? God is the Sun! God is the boiling furnace of a thousand times a thousand suns, a blazing inferno (pun intended) of desire for me. God is the Love that exists from all eternity, Love that loved me into existence, Love that loves me into love with the Triune Love.
This is why I go to Communion! Not because I am so in love with God, but because He is eternally in love with me.
As of this writing I am facing the prospect of a very long time in a desert where there are no priests. At first this panicked me, but now I am at peace with it. The God who has worked so hard to bring me to Him (despite my best efforts to the contrary at times) will not abandon me. If it is His will to starve me for a year, or for the rest of my life, then starvation is what is best for me.
What saddens me, though, is the number of people who starve themselves…
As an aging Baby Boomer, class of 1957, I have frequently been appalled at the antics of many members of my huge age cohort. Back in the Sixties, and the birth of the truly puerile “youth culture”, one of the mantras was “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30!” Today, for way too many Baby Boomers, it is evident that the young are viewed as cows to be milked until the last Boomer has had a funeral replete with golden moldies from the Sixties. Nick Gillespie of Reason gives us the grisly details:
Systematically and in all sorts of ways. Old people are doing everything possible to rob you of your money, your future, your dignity, and your freedom.
Here’s the irony, too (in a sort of Alanis Morissette sense): You’re getting hosed by the very same group that 45 years ago was bitching and moaning about “the generation gap” and how their parents just didn’t understand what really mattered in life.
Hence, many of the early pop anthems of the baby boomers -technically, those born between 1946 and 1964 but or all intents and purposes folks 55 years and older – focused on how stupid old people were (“don’t criticize what you can’t understand“) and how young people would rather croak themselves then end up like their parents (“I hope I die before I get old“). “We are stardust, we are golden,” sang Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at Woodstock. “We got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Flash forward four or five decades, a couple of hundred pounds, the odd organ transplant, random arrests and jail stints, and the only garden David Crosby is getting back to is the Olive Garden with its unlimited pasta bowls and breadsticks. What small parts of American life and power the boomers don’t yet run they will soon enough.
Did you read that New York Times op-ed that called for a brand-spankin’ new military draft and national service plan? “Let’s Draft Our Kids,” by veteran (read: old, born in 1955) journalist Thomas Ricks, is symptomatic of the new vibe, a kind of reverse Logan’s Run scenario. In that godawful 1976 flick, when you turned 30, you were killed for the common good. Nowadays, it’s more like life begins at 30. Which is confusing because 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40 and on and on. The important thing: Youth is no longer to be wasted on the young.
Ricks suggests letting high-school grads pick from either 18 months of military service or two years of civilian service, in return for free college tuition and subsidized health care and mortgages (libertarians, he notes, could opt out of service by forfeiting benefits though apparently not avoiding taxes). Beyond all the obviously great and good and wonderful things that come of forced labor, Ricks suggests that “having a draft might…make Americans think more carefully before going to war.” Sure it would. Just like it did in the past when we actually had a draft.
Expect this sort of plan to get more and more respectful hearings if unemployment stays high for another few weeks. Or as former hippies and punks get up there in years. Last year, during an appearance I had on Real Time with Bill Maher, the host and other guests (all of us well north of 30) thought mandatory service was a fine notion. Continue Reading →
The government has been targeting Spanish speakers with radio “novelas” promoting food stamp usage as part of a stated mission to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
Each novela, comprising a 10-part series called “PARQUE ALEGRIA,” or “HAPPINESS PARK,” presents a semi-dramatic scenario involving characters convincing others to get on food stamps, or explaining how much healthier it is to be on food stamps.
The majority of the episodes end with the announcer encouraging the listener to tune in again to see if the skeptic applies for benefits or learns to understand the importance of food stamps to their health.
“Will Claudia convince Ramon to apply for SNAP?” the announcer exclaims at the end of a standard episode titled “The Poet,” “Don’t miss our next episode of ‘HAPPINESS PARK.’” Continue Reading →
So…if a CCD teacher believes that the all-male priesthood is wrongheaded Church policy and that the ban of the use of artificial birth control is equally wrongheaded, should that individual be allowed to teach CCD?
If that person happens to want to do so in the Diocese of Arlington, VA, the answer is “No.”
The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of Arlington (VA)
According to the Washington Post, the Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, the Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, is requiring his 5k teachers in Catholic schools and CCD teachers as well—to “submit of will and intellect” to teachings the Church characterizes as divinely revealed. The diocese includes nearly 500k Catholics across northern and eastern Virginia.
The diocese sent a letter to the teachers in early June and requires that they profess an oath of fidelity before a priest.
The diocese’s Director of Education and Liturgy, the Reverend Paul deLadurantaye, said:
The Church is foremost a communion, not a building. And the church’s teaching is meant to be a service, not to coerce or oppress….This is just to say the Church is a reliable guide, more reliable in these matters than what I read elsewhere. There’s something more transcendent than just my own judgment.
The diocesan spokesman, Michael Donohue, said Bishop Loverde sent the letter in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s direction Catholics celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II in various ways, including those that “profess our faith in the risen Lord.” Donohue called the oath “uncontroversial,” saying it is meant to be a positive sign to parents:
I can’t imagine there are many [teachers] who have issues with the church’s teachings on faith and morals.
Donohue also said he “found it hard to believe” that anyone who had concluded that a Church teaching was wrong would want to teach it.
Apparently Bishop Loverde, Fr. deLadurantaye, and Mr. Donohue didn’t consult with Kathleen Riley and Rosemarie Zagarri or at least three other CCD teachers at St. Ann’s Parish who have resigned rather than make the profession of faith.
I’m just shocked, I can’t believe they’re asking me to sign this. The bishops are human, and sometimes their judgment is not God’s judgment. We always have to be vigilant about that. The Holy Spirit gives us the responsibility to look into our own consciences.
Zagarri—a professor of history at George Mason University—called the profession of faith a “slap in the face” to Catholics who have remained active and close their differences with Church teaching. Zagarri wrote Bishop Loverde:
Although I fully understand the authoritative role of the Catholic hierarchy in defining the teachings of the faith, in my view only a person who is willing to abandon her own reason and judgment, or who is willing to go against the dictates of her own conscience, can agree to sign such a document.
This is not in the spirit of what people go to a Catholic church for, which is community and a loving, welcoming environment. It’s exclusionary, a suppression of dissent, let’s all line up and be the army of God.
The Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, Reverend Ronald Zuzzi, sympathizes with the bishops…to a degree.
Nuzzi told the Washington Postthat he believes many bishops “are in a pickle” because they want Catholic institutions to be staffed by people who not only teach what the Church teaches but whose “whole life will bear witness.”
However, Nuzzi also keeps a 1940s photo on his desk showing the German bishops giving the Nazi salute. He said:
I keep it there to remind people who say to do everything the Church says, that their wisdom has limitations, too.
A “profession of faith” is synonymous with a Nazi salute?
When bishops make political decisions—no matter what their political views may be—they’re not teaching faith and morals. The profession of faith concerns only those defined Church teachings which are applicable for all times.
My favorite political philosopher is without a doubt Edmund Burke. The reasons why I set forth in a post which may be read here. Any day is a good day for some Burke quotes, and here are a few:
We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us, and amongst many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.
For I must do it justice; it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man. (Burke on the Irish Penal Laws) Continue Reading →