Monthly Archives: November 2012

Jesuitical 14: Fordham, Coulter and Singer

 

Part 14 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.  Fordham President Joseph McShane, SJ, knows who his real enemy is.  Today Fordham is hosting the well known proponent of euthanasia and abortion Peter Singer at a conference charmingly entitled:  “Conference with Peter Singer: Christians and Other Animals: Moving the Conversation Forward.”  Singer is fine according to McShane, but he bitterly criticized the College Republicans recently at Fordham for sponsoring a speech by Ann Coulter.  Robert Shibley, at Professor William Jacobson’s magnicent blog College Insurrection, gives us the juicy details:

Fordham University is in a bit of a bind.

After loudly proclaiming his “disgust” with the “hate speech” of conservative pundit Ann Coulter in an email to all students, in the process slamming the Fordham College Republicans—his own students—as immature bigots who lack character, Fordham President Joseph McShane, S.J., is now faced with defending his administration’s invitation to philosopher and infanticide advocate Peter Singer to participate in a panel on “animal ethics.”

This puts Fordham in a tough spot.

Father McShane could have allowed the marketplace of ideas to function on its campus without engaging in an electronic temper tantrum. (To his credit, he did not ban Coulter from campus, although the College Republicans clearly saw which way the wind was blowing and canceled the event themselves—here’s one student’s reaction to that.) But he didn’t, and now Fordham is stuck trying to justify McShane’s statement.

In response to an email from a College Insurrection reader provided to us, Bob Howe, Senior Director of Communications at Fordham, penned the following response, attempting to explain why having Peter Singer advocating his positions on campus is totally different from having Ann Coulter advocate her positions: Continue reading

November 15, 1862: Lincoln Enjoins Observance of the Sabbath

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Well this would give the ACLU fits today!  On November 15, 1862 Lincoln sent out the following general order:

GENERAL ORDER RESPECTING THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH DAY

IN THE ARMY AND NAVY.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, November 15, 1862.

The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the divine will demand that Sunday labor in the army and navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.

The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the cause they defend be imperilled by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High. “At this time of public distress,” adopting the words of Washington in 1776, “men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended:

“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”

A. LINCOLN. Continue reading

Good News For Modern Democrats

 

One of the more nauseating features of the reelection of the South Side Messiah, is that we will have four more years  of the cult of personality that is promoted by some of Obama’s more deranged acolytes.  A current example is The Gospel According to Apostle Barack by Barbara A. Thompson.

The book description of this tome:

Yes, Barack had worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people, especially those who elected him in 2008. His followers needed to re-elect him to a second term, so that he could continue to accomplish the promises he made, thus, realizing his vision of America as a more perfect political union or “heaven here on earth” Then, as I began to contemplate ways to assist Barack in his 2012 re-election bid something miraculous happened. I felt God’s (His) Spirit beckoning me in my dreams at night. Listening, cautiously, I learned that Jesus walked the earth to create a more civilized society, Martin (Luther King) walked the earth to create a more justified society, but, Apostle Barack, the name he was called in my dreams, would walk the earth to create a more equalized society, for the middle class and working poor. Apostle Barack, the next young leader with a new cause, had been taken to the mountaintop and allowed to see over the other side. He had the answers to unlock the kingdom of “heaven here on earth” for his followers. The answers were repeated – over and over – in speeches Barack had made from his presidential announcement to his inaugural address. Those speeches or his teachings contained the answers to the middle class and working poor people living in a “heaven here on earth” For when the answers were unlocked and enacted, Apostle Barack’s vision of America would be realized.

Hmmm, I wonder what parables would be in the Gospel of Barack?  The Good Abortionist?  The Prodigal Differently Gendered Male Product of Conception?  The Civil Union at Cana?  The Ten Foolish Sluts?  The Unionized Laborers in the Vinyard?  The Unjust Republican Judge?

Barack would perform miracles in the Gospel:  walking on a sea of debt;  transforming water into taxes;  raising the dead because they hadn’t paid their death taxes;  transforming bread and wine into (skip that one, Apostle Biden snarfed them down).

The teachings of the Apostle Barack of course would take pride of place:

1.  Render unto Caesar Obama everything.

2.  Love Barack and love thy fellow Leftist.

3.  Blessed are the bribe givers for they shall receive their reward.

4.  Suffer the little children.

5.  The wages of sin are fun. Continue reading

Where We Go From Here: Republicans and a Changing Demographic

There has already been endless commentary on where we go from here after the recent election.  For my own part, I can only offer a few thoughts.

If the numbers are correct, the Republicans didn’t lose the election because of failure to convince their own.  By many measures, Romney out performed both McCain and George W. Bush in the Republican Party stronghold subgroups.  Consider that Romney took upwards of 59% of the white vote, while McCain garnered 56% and Bush took 57% and 56% in each of his election years.  (Source:  Gallup).  On the other hand, numerous sources have documented the decline in the Hispanic vote for Republicans of the last several decades.

The reason for the lost election, in part, is the changing demographics of the nation.  The subgroups in which Republicans have performed, and continue to perform well, are declining in their representation as a percent of the American people, whereas the demographic subgroups in which the Democrats typically perform well are experiencing an increase in their percent share of the population.  The dilemma, it seems, is that these demographic changes are on a trajectory that seems unlikely to change, which spells a particular problem for the Republican Party in years to come.  Mitt Romney lost the popular vote by less than three million votes, but ABC news reported on election night that if the percent of vote for each party in the various demographic subgroups stays the same, the Republicans will lose the 2020 election by more than fourteen million votes.

What this suggests is that the Republicans need to think carefully about how to attract votes on which they have not yet had to rely.  As Catholics, this should concerns us, because a very real possibility is that some within the party will push for a more relaxed stance on social issues, particularly abortion and same-sex marriage.  It doesn’t help that President Obama, after insisting in 2008 that abortion need not be a divisive issue and that we can all agree about the need to reduce the number of abortions, made it the issue of the closing weeks in the election cycle.  If the Republican Party puts forth a candidate that is in favor abortion and same sex marriage, Catholics who are interested in following teachings of the magisterium will be left without a candidate for whom they can cast a vote.  There will inevitably be a third party, but for many of us, this is not at all desirable.  Indeed, there was a time in the 2008 primary when we thought this would happen, had Rudy Giuliani maintained his early momentum.

It could also be that the party will become softer on religious freedom.  As American becomes more and more secularized, what was once a “fundamental right” will no longer be seen as important.  When the country was founded, virtually everybody had a vested interest in having their religious freedom both codified in the Constitution and defended in the public square.  But “times are-a-changin’,” and there are a growing number of people who are militantly opposed to organized religion.  It used to be that the atheists would keep to themselves and be content to simply laugh at us, but now they are going more and more on the offensive.  If there aren’t enough people who care about the freedom to practice their religion, then it will be difficult indeed to defend against attacks that seek to dismantle that liberty, particularly if the attacks are cloaked in the pursuit of a perceived greater freedom.

I propose that conservative Catholics be proactive in this regard.  Rather than waiting for suggestions that we bend on social issues, it is time that we put forward our own: it is time to take up the issue of immigration.  Now, I am the first to admit that this is an issue where people of good will can disagree, that the implementation of the principle differs from the principle itself, which is why it is not considered one of the “non-negotiables.”  However, we all know that this is the one area that we take the biggest hit from the American episcopacy.  Further, I really believe that this is low hanging fruit in some regards.  I think we can push forward with a reform agenda without compromising basic principles.

However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, it simply will not do to wait until four years from now.  We cannot hope to convince the nation of our seriousness to address this issue just months before an election. We cannot even wait until the midterm elections.  The time is now, and here is what I propose to our Republican representatives in Congress:

The financial cliff about which we have read so much in the last couple months is just around the corner.  The Bush era tax cuts are on the line.  The Republicans rightly want to renew all of these cuts, whereas the Democrats only want to renew those that don’t affect the wealthy.  I am not an economist, so I am not equipped to fully discuss the impact of each position.  However, it seems to me that the Democrats have enough political capital at the moment to push their agenda through.  I suggest that the Republicans in Congress recognize this and make a deal with the President.  We (meaning the Republican leadership) will accept his plan for the Bush era tex cuts, but we want assurance that (1) the very first issue tackled after the new year is a serious immigration reform package, and (2) we want to be a part of it.  We want our ideas heard, and we want credited with them.

From that point on, the Republican need to maintain both commitment and compassion as the package is assembled.  They need to stand up for the principle of basic human dignity and not appear to the stonewall the process.  The Republicans have been successfully portrayed by the opposition as the “Party of ‘No.’”  That image needs to be disassembled methodically and meticulously.

It may involve some compromise, and the reforms that are put in place may not be perfect by Republican standards.  However, if we don’t put forward this area as one in which we can grow and one in which we can take some leadership, there will be pressure from others to “compromise” on other issues, and these will be ones that will violate our Catholic consciences.

Why We’re Not Going Anywhere

Archdiocese launches Campaign for Religious Liberty

Let me explain, in as clear and precise terms as I can, why social conservatives are not going anywhere, nor should they go anywhere, but should remain right at the heart of the conservative movement and gain acceptance among libertarians as well, and should reject as the foolish garbage that it is all suggestions to the contrary.

First, our principles are not electoral losers. Leftists believe they are on “the right side of history”, comparing the campaign for “marriage equality” with every civil rights struggle of past eras. They believe that this fact is reflected in the way the youth vote splits and the purported reasons why. At the same time, they gloat and brag about the size of the Democratic share of the minority vote.

The merits of the “marriage equality” campaign don’t need to be discussed here. I’ve discussed them to death on this blog in previous posts. The fact remains that minorities are opposed to “marriage equality.” If Hispanics can be won over to the GOP on the immigration issue, it will put a stop to this “wrong side of history” nonsense for a generation. The uncomfortable alliance between racial minorities who hold socially conservative views and white liberals will finally be blown apart. Unlike them, when racial minorities finally do side with the GOP en masse, we won’t attribute white liberal hatred for them to “racism” (even though it sure looks like it sometimes). This is a battle of values, not skin colors, and a failure to see that is one of the reasons why the white liberal left will never win the future they mistakenly believe to be theirs.

Continue reading

Explaining Reason: Atheism or Christianity?

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, devoted much writing and attention to questions such as this, not in isolation, but as they relate to academics and civil societies. In an essay, “Theology and Church Politics” published in a 1987 book Church Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology, he explains what theology is, what the relation of theology is to the Church, and what the relation of the Church is to education and politics. He explains why such culturally shocking assertions, such as the subordination of the University and the State to the Church, are naturally and rationally ordered relationships for the common good, and it all begins with an explanation about reason.

The University and the State should be subordinate to the Church? Atheism would not agree with this, of course, and it sounds like an outlandish claim in the world today. If you have ever wondered how to respond to the insistence that faith should play no part in academic instruction or public policy, you will find Cardinal Ratzinger’s explanation illuminating. This will take a few essays to cover, so this is the first in the series and it deals with the fundamental claim to reason itself.

Can Atheism Explain Reason?

The word “reason” is repeated a lot today, but without an understanding of what it really is. Atheists lay claim to it, assuming that it is the opposite of faith. The word has its root in classical Latin, ratio, and it means intellectual power, the capacity for rational thought.

A tenet of atheism is that reason is a product of human evolution, just another step along the pathway that began with the Big Bang, a “random byproduct of the ocean of irrationality from which everything actually sprang.” But how can this be? If reason is real, then it is as inconceivable that the Big Bang is the primordial beginning of the universe as it is inconceivable that a circle can be squared. That is — it is impossible. The foundation of rationality cannot be irrationality; reason cannot spring from the unreasonable. No, atheism has no explanation for the existence of reason. Continue reading

When a Letter of Congratulations Contains a Warning. . .

The Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, has written a letter of congratulations to Right Reverend Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham and nominee as Archbishop of Canterbury.

+Hilarion
Metropolitan of Volokolamsk

Consider its contents:

Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,

 

I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.

 

You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).

 

The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 15th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.

 

Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.

 

We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.

 

I wish you God’s help in your important work.

 

“May the God of love and peace be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

 

+Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

“Congratulations” might not be the best word to describe the entire contents of Bishop Hilarion’s letter.

“Innovations,” “deviations,” “increasingly estrange,” “further contribute to a further division of Christendom,” and “good fraternal relationships between us will revive” sound more like a “warning” to the new Archbishop of Canterbury: His denomination is falling off a moral cliff.

Bishop Hilarion doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the orthodox Christian faith, does he?

Imagine what the National Catholic Reporter would have to say if the USCCB or a U.S. metropolitan archbishop sent  the new Archbishop of Canterbury a similar letter of congratulations!

Benghazi: Petraeus Thought He Could Keep His Job

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According to the Washington Post, Petraeus was hoping to keep his job as CIA Director and thought the affair would not become public knowledge:

 

But some of his closest advisers who served with him during his last command in Iraq said Monday that Petraeus planned to stay in the job even after he acknowledged the affair to the FBI, hoping the episode would never become public. He resigned last week after being told to do so by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. on the day President Obama was reelected.

“Obviously, he knew about the relationship for months, he knew about the affair, he was in it, so yes, he was not going to resign,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and Petraeus’s executive officer during the Iraq “surge,” who spoke Monday with the former general for about half an hour.  “But once he knew it was going to go public, he thought that resigning was the right thing to do. There is no way it would have remained private.” Continue reading

Have I Got a Party For Them!

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After every major Republican defeat the party plays a game of lifeboat which boils down to:  “If we just dump over those rascals I have never agreed with, everything would be hunky dory.”  After a few months of this, the party settles down, learns from its defeats, the Democrats fall on their face, and the party comes roaring back.  In the present period of Republican angst, some commentators have been calling for the social conservatives to go into the deep blue political void.  Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal is typical.

Fellow conservatives, please stop obsessing about what other adults might be doing in their bedrooms, so long as it’s lawful and consensual and doesn’t impinge in some obvious way on you. This obsession is socially uncouth, politically counterproductive and, too often, unwittingly revealing.

Also, if gay people wish to lead conventionally bourgeois lives by getting married, that may be lunacy on their part but it’s a credit to our values. Channeling passions that cannot be repressed toward socially productive ends is the genius of the American way. The alternative is the tapped foot and the wide stance.

Also, please tone down the abortion extremism. Supporting so-called partial-birth abortions, as too many liberals do, is abortion extremism. But so is opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest, to say nothing of the life of the mother. Democrats did better with a president who wanted abortion to be “safe, legal and rare”; Republicans would have done better by adopting former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s call for a “truce” on social issues.

I always find the sheer political fantasy land of such proposals amusing.  Social conservatives are  the core of the Republican party.  No one can be involved with the Republican party for long without noticing that most of the volunteers in Republican campaigns are social conservatives.  They are the ones who do the door to door canvassing, put up yard signs, man the phones, etc.  Without them any Republican campaign would be a mere shell.  Yes, it would be a masterstroke for Republicans to alienate their most devoted supporters. Continue reading

Terri Schiavo Could Not Be Reached For Comment

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Here is some new research for a court to consider prior to sentencing another person in a vegetative state to death by dehydration , as was done to Terri Schiavo:

 

 

A Canadian man presumed to be in a permanent vegetative state for more than a decade is “talking” to researchers and answering their questions.

Severely brain injured in a traffic crash 12 years ago, Scott Routley’s  condition had been officially classified “vegetative state,” unable to  communicate with the outside world.

His family has always believed differently.

Now, high-tech brain imaging appears to have proven them right.

With the help of functional MRI, Routley has been able to answer “No” to the  question, “Are you in pain?”

The finding, first reported Tuesday by the BBC, could have  profound implications for helping those locked in a vegetative state.

“Brain imaging techniques are helping us to  understand more about what some of these patients can and can’t do, particularly  things they can do that might not be apparent from standard clinical  examination,” said Adrian Owen of the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for  Brain and Mind. The British neuroscientist moved to Canada last year from the University of Cambridge.

“His official clinical condition has been that he was in a vegetative state.  But his family have always maintained that there is more going on with Scott — that he is aware of many things going on around him, and even that he was able  to communicate,” Owen said in an interview with Postmedia News. Continue reading

Benghazi: A Turn to the Truly Bizarre

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As scandals go, the Benghazi-Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley matter is scaling the heights of the truly bizarre.  Here are the latest developments worthy of the pen of Flaubert.

1.  Jill and the G-Man-Allegedly the FBI agent in charge of the initial investigation of the anonymous e-mails purportedly sent by Paula Broadwell to Jill Kelley warning her to stay away from Petraeus, became infatuated with Kelley and sent her a photo of himself shirtless.  He was removed from the case supposedly when his higher-ups determined that his objectivity had been compromised.  (Do you think?)  He supposedly was the FBI whistleblower who contacted Republican Congressman David Reichert and Eric Cantor with  allegations that the government was dragging its feet on the case out of political considerations so that it would not surface before the election.

2. Jill and the Lawyers-Kelley has supposedly engaged the services of a high-priced lawyer and a PR flack.

The PR flack formerly represented Monica Lewinsky.  Now why should she need them?  Read on.

3.  Jill and the Marine-Marine Corp four star General John Allen is apparently under investigation for 20 to 30 thousand pages of e-mails and correspondence between him and Jill Kelley, the “unpaid social liaison” at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.  Allen is currently the commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, effectively the commander in chief of American and Nato forces in that country.  Both Allen and Petraeus served at the base, home of Central Command for the Middle East, prior to Petraeus being put in command in Afghanistan in 2010. Continue reading

Runnymede

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The sixteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here and here.

One of the great passions in the life of Kipling was English history.  Runnymede was one of several poems on English history he wrote for A School History of England (1911).  Another great passion of his was liberty, and in the poem Runnymede, Kipling combined both of these passions.  Whenever in English history some great struggle has arisen since 1215 the cry of Magna Carta has usually been raised.  The basis of English liberty, the Great Charter has an honored place both in English and American history.  To look at Magna Carta with a modern eye is initially to be disappointed, since much of it deals with disputes between his barons and King John  which, at first glance, lacks any contemporary relevance.  However, the binding of the power of the government, and the restriction of the scope and power of the State, is of crucial importance today, as it is in all times and places.  There are passages additionally that do have a contemporary resonance:

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

It is no accident that Saint Thomas More referred to the passage in Magna Carta that guarantees the liberty of the Church  in his speech after his trial:

That Law was even contrary to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King’s Majesty himself, and every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their Coronations. Continue reading

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