6

And the winner is…

 

In most matters “of this world,” it’s all about “winners and losers.”  “Winners” are lauded and celebrated.  At best, “losers” are lamented and, at worst, forgotten.

Consider the state of religion in the United Kingdom.

When it comes to the battle of faith in the British Isles, the Anglican Communion is surely a big-time loser.

But, if the Anglican Communion is losing, who’s winning?

Yes, indeed, it’s the Jedi Knights!

The Jedi’s “Star Wars Credo” is on the rise…making it the seventh most popular religion on the British Isles.

According to an article in The Telegraph, the 2011 census indicates that 176, 632 citizens of England and Wales self-identified as Jedi Knights.  The Jedi now constitute 0.31% of all people’s stated religious affiliation in England and Wales.  Excluding non-religious people and those who did not answer, only Christianity (in aggregate), Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism rank higher.

However, it looks like even the Jedi’s are losers, too.  In the 2001 census, 390,127 people self-identified as followers of the fiction.  That’s a 54% decline in only one decade.

One potential future winner may be the religion of Heavy Metal.  The 2011 census indicates that 6,242 people on the British Isles subscribe to its credo, roughly 21% of the total number of people self-identifying as Atheists.  Then, too, it may be those who checked the “No Religion” box will end up being the really big winners in the future.  13.8 million citizens of the British Isles professed no credo in 2011.

Jedi’s.  Heavy Metal.  Atheists.  Agnostics.  “Religions” of this world.

Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31).

Now, there’s the all-time winner because his words are not of this world.

 

 

To read the article in The Telegraph, click on the following link:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9737886/Jedi-religion-most-popular-alternative-faith.html

5

God’s Jester and Our Lady of Guadalupe

“If I meet any long-faced saints in Heaven I will cheer them up with a Mexican hat dance!”

Blessed Miguel Pro

I love Blessed Father Miguel Pro, SJ.  He was always ready with a joke and a quip and the sheer joy with which he radiated the faith of Christ throughout his life was a wonder to behold.  From early in his life he was dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  When a small child he had a bad case of food poisoning that spread infection to his brain.  For one year he could not talk and could barely recognize his parents.  Eventually he seemed near death.  His father took him in his arms and kneeling before an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe prayed, “Madre mia give me back my son.”  At that moment the boy came out of his coma, vomited blood and began his recovery.

Hagiography often relates the perfections of saints in their younger days.  No such accounts are possible with Father Pro.  He was a mischievous boy fond of practical jokes.  As a teenager his path to the priesthood began when he heard a priest preach a sermon on the Passion.  “All this, Jesus Christ did and suffered for us, and we, what are we doing for Him?” Miguel was overcome with the thought that thus far he had done nothing for Him.

Joining the Jesuit novitiate in 1911, he studied in Mexico until 1914 when a wave of anti-clericalism arising from the Mexican Revolution forced the Jesuits out of Mexico.  Miguel comtinued his studies in Spain and taught in Nicaragua from 1919-1922.  He completed his studies in Belgium and was ordained a priest on August 31, 1925.  His health was always precarious and after several surgeries from ulcers he returned to Mexico.  Because of the anti-clerical Calles laws, he became an underground priest, using many disguises as he went around saying Mass and providing the sacraments.  He went about his duties with a glad heart and seemed to get a kick out of the “cloak and dagger” aspects of his undercover priesthood. Continue Reading

18

There Will Be Blood?

Stephen Crowder of Fox News gets slugged by a union thug in the above video.  Strong language advisory in the above video due to another Union thug repeating the f-word over and over again, in a tiresome display of limited vocabulary.  This Union brawl was sparked by the fact that the Michigan legislature voted to make it the 24th Right to Work State:

“This is the day when Michigan freed its workers,” Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons, an Alto Republican, said today during debate on two bills, one for public employees and another for private ones.

If Republican Governor Rick Snyder signs the so-called right to work measures as promised, Michigan would become the 24th state to enact such legislation, and the second this year after Indiana. The change would be a practical and symbolic rout in a stronghold of organized labor in the U.S., and opponents said it presaged political warfare.

“There will be blood,” Representative Douglas Geiss, a Democrat from Taylor, said in debate. Continue Reading

1

The Fine Line Between Snark and Humor

Last night I posted a link to this brilliant bit of satire about internet snark. Here’s a taste:

Hey, 2005? Your meme is calling. Get into the weeds. Shorter generic liberal blogger: I’m angry and don’t understand syntax. Teh gay, it burns!… The stupid, it burns. There, fixed. Awesome sauce, the Villagers have held their grand powwow and declared that all the Very Serious People must use Abundant Capital Letters to convey irony. Line of dialogue from The Simpsons during the Clinton era.

That gerund-employing, chain-of-modifiers-involving, consumer-items-invoking, would-be rant directed at middle-class liberals? Meh. Just breathtakingly meh. Worst. Recycled. Gimmick. Ever.

Further useful phrases. Stay classy, concern troll! A smart take on entitlements “reform.” That whole coherence thing? Whatever. Smackdown. Beatdown. At a time when [minor incident involving identity politics] and [another minor incident involving identity politics] and [another minor incident involving identity politics], why behave “reasonably ” regarding [another minor incident involving identity politics that is in no way the responsibility of the person being addressed]?

It is easy to rely on snark as a means of dismissing other viewpoints, I might be guilt of occasionally employing snark as a rhetorical weapon. Yet it can be overused, and writers who use snark as a rhetorical crutch can choke on their own nastiness to the point that it becomes a bore to read them.

As if to demonstrate this point comes this piece from Think Progress titled “We Could End Homelessness With The Money Americans Spend On Christmas Decorations.” The post itself is not intensively snarkish, although substantively its premise is absurd, as aptly demonstrated by Stacy McCain. The comments to the Think Progress piece, on the other hand, are a virtual wasteland of snark. A sampling:

how dare TP open a front in the war on christmas by using christmas as a way to do christian things instead of engaging in celebration!

Hahaha… how dare they indeed. Who do they think they are Fox News!

I wonder which one Jesus would really like for his birthday?

the real Jesus or supply side Jesus?

If those of us who love and admired Jesus just lived and loved Jesus this would be a moot discussion.

To be fair, there are people who left meaningful and more insightful comments. Also, snarkiness is certainly not endemic solely to the left.  But look at how those responses basically dehumanize and debase people who might have different viewpoints. They display obvious disdain towards Christians and our supposed hypocrisy for hanging Christmas lights as though we are not also devoting time, talent and treasure to help the homeless. It’s an easy way to demonstrate one’s moral and intellectual superiority without actually addressing the issue.

On the other hand, while snark can be overused, there is a role for humor and light-heartedness in our communications. The flipside of the snarksters are those dour individuals who are under the impression that laughter is a mortal sin. Seriously – there are people who point out the lack of bible passages referring to Jesus laughing as positive proof that he never laughed, and as such neither should we. One wonders what other human activities not attributed to Jesus in the Scriptures these literalists also forgo, but we’ll leave that one to the imagination.

Sure, some topics merit nothing but serious discussion, but the perpetually straight-laced and humorless are frankly tedious. I know Rush Limbaugh is not everyone’s cup of tea, even for those on the right, but one of the primary reasons – if not the primary reason he has been as successful as he has is that he is able to treat political topics with humor. Contrary to popular belief he doesn’t just go on the air and scream into a microphone. And as his show has aged his satire has grown sharper. If Limbaugh just went on the air and day after day just ranted and raved unhumorously, he would not have 20 million listeners. Okay, he might have ten million listeners, but he still wouldn’t be as popular. Similarly, Mark Steyn is able to get away with publishing columns full of doom and gloom because he does so with a sharp wit that prompts the reader to laugh and cry at the same time. Glenn Beck is at his most enjoyable when he’s not going off about Agenda 21 but instead when he’s simply satirizing some bit of liberal sillyness. I think one of the reasons MSNBC is so unwatchable – other than its decided left-wing slant – is that most of the on-air talent lacks that element of light-heartedness and humor.

It’s hard to distinguish between snark and humor, and at times they are in fact indistinguishable concepts. In the end, one can be satirical without necessarily being nasty, a concept obviously foreign to some of the followers of “Think” Progress.

10

Alfred Hitchcock and the Jesuit

When I was a kid I loved watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents, known in its last four years as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  His sardonic wit and macabre sense of humor I found vastly appealing and no doubt had an impact on my own developing sense of humor.  Hitchcock was a Catholic, although some have claimed that he became estranged from the Faith later in life.  Father Mark Henninger in The Wall Street Journal relates his own encounter with Hitchcock shortly before his death.

At the time, I was a graduate student in philosophy at UCLA, and I was (and remain) a Jesuit priest. A fellow priest, Tom Sullivan, who knew Hitchcock, said one Thursday that the next day he was going over to hear Hitchcock’s confession. Tom asked whether on Saturday afternoon I would accompany him to celebrate a Mass in Hitchcock’s house.

 

I was dumbfounded, but of course said yes. On that Saturday, when we found Hitchcock asleep in the living room, Tom gently shook him. Hitchcock awoke, looked up and kissed Tom’s hand, thanking him.

Tom said, “Hitch, this is Mark Henninger, a young priest from Cleveland.”

“Cleveland?” Hitchcock said. “Disgraceful!”

After we chatted for a while, we all crossed from the living room through a breezeway to his study, and there, with his wife, Alma, we celebrated a quiet Mass. Across from me were the bound volumes of his movie scripts, “The Birds,” “Psycho,” “North by Northwest” and others—a great distraction. Hitchcock had been away from the church for some time, and he answered the responses in Latin the old way. But the most remarkable sight was that after receiving communion, he silently cried, tears rolling down his huge cheeks. Continue Reading

5

Come to TAC for all of your End of the World Blogging!

According to wacked out devotees of the so-called Mayan Prophecy the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012.  We Catholics of course believe that the world will end at the time of the second coming of Christ, and that Christ will come like a thief in the night on some date which is unknowable to us.  For all I know it could be December 21 of this month, although I don’t think I will cancel my house and auto insurance as of that date.  In the very unlikely event that the world does end, please come to TAC for our special end of the world blog posts:

1.  How to make that emergency confession that you have been putting off lo these many years!

2.  Remember, it is goats on the left, sheep on the right!

3.  The impact of the world ending on the mid-term elections.

4.  What will be the effect of the world ending on Obama’s job approval rating?

5.  National Catholic Reporter claims that the end of the world is a papal conspiracy! Continue Reading

6

Thaddeus Stevens: Film Portrayals

 “I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator.

Inscription on the Tombstone of Thaddeus Stevens

As regular readers of this blog know, I greatly enjoyed the film Lincoln and praised it for its overall historical accuracy.  Go here to read my review.  One of the many aspects of the film that I appreciated was Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens (R.Pa.), a radical Republican who rose from poverty to become the leader of the abolitionists in the House, and one of the most powerful men in the country from 1861 to his death in 1868.  There haven’t been many screen portrayals of Stevens, but they illustrate how perceptions of Stevens have shifted based upon perceptions of Reconstruction and civil rights for blacks.

The above is an excellent video on the subject.

The 1915 film Birth of a Nation, has a barely concealed portrayal of Stevens under the name of Congressman Austin Stoneman, the white mentor of mulatto Silas Lynch, the villain of the film, who makes himself virtual dictator of South Carolina until he is toppled by heroic Klansmen.  The film was in line with the Lost Cause mythology that portrayed Reconstruction as a tragic crime that imposed governments made up of ignorant blacks and scheming Yankee carpetbaggers upon the South.  This was the predominant view of scholarly opinion at the time.  The film was attacked by both the NAACP and the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, as being untrue to history, a glorification of mob violence and racist.

By 1942 when the film Tennessee Johnson was made, we see a substantial shift in the portrayal of Stevens.  Played by veteran actor Lionel Barrymore, best know today for his portrayal of Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life, Stevens is portrayed as a fanatic out to punish the South and fearful that the too lenient, in his view, treatment of the South in Reconstruction will lead to a new Civil War.  This leads up to the climax of the film, the trial in the Senate of Johnson, with Stevens as the leader of the House delegation prosecuting Johnson, with Johnson staying in office by one vote.  The portrayal of Stevens is not one-dimensional.  Stevens is shown as basically a good, if curmudgeonly, man, consumed by fears of a new Civil War and wishing to help the newly emancipated slaves, albeit wrong in his desire to punish the South.  Like Birth of a Nation, Tennessee Johnson reflected the scholarly consensus of the day which still painted Reconstruction in a negative light, although not as negative as in  1915.  Additionally,  the issue of contemporary civil rights for blacks was beginning to emerge outside of the black community as an issue, and Stevens in the film is not attacked on his insistence for civil rights for blacks. Continue Reading

8

Messianic Prophecies: Jonah 2:1

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. And he left them, and went away.

Matthew 16:4

 

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies which we began last Advent, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, and here we come to Jonah 2:1:

[1] Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Saint Jerome writes about this passage: Continue Reading

10

Immaculate Mary

Something for the weekend.  There can only be one song on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception:  Immaculate Mary.  A Lourdes hymn, it was probably first sung in 1873.  No one really knows who wrote the lyrics of the hymn although it has been attributed to  Abbe Gaignet, a priest of Lucon.  The melody is from a traditional Pyrenean song.  It has long been a favorite hymn of Catholics in America.

The belief that Mary was conceived without the taint of original sin had its champions long before it was proclaimed as dogma of the Church in 1854  and some of the supporters, er, are unexpected! Continue Reading

33

The Dead Hand of the Sixties

 

This ties in with Paul’s post today on culture and its political impact.  Jonah Goldberg is usually worth reading at National Review Online, but today he was brilliant:

The bowel-stewing hypocrisy notwithstanding, what’s amazing is how the same dreck is recycled as new, fresh, and courageous. Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution will be 100 years old next year. Its attack on the Founders as greedy white men was wrong then, but at least it was relatively original. Today, college kids regurgitate the same nonsense — and professors applaud their rebelliousness. Except what or whom are they rebelling against? Not the faculty or the administration.

Hackneyed left-wingery is not only treated with respect on campuses (though most mainstream academics aren’t as left-wing as Zinn or Stone), it is repackaged daily by Hollywood and celebrated by the mainstream media.

The self-styled rebels of Occupy Wall Street received overwhelmingly positive coverage in the mainstream media in no small part because the liberal press thinks authentic political expression for young people must be left-wing. The regurgitation of hackneyed ’60s slogans pleasing to the ears of aging, nostalgia-besotted baby boomers elicits squeals of delight. Meanwhile, tea-party protests were greeted as dangerous, odd, and deserving of hostile journalistic scrutiny.

And yet the kitsch of leftism still works its magic. In huge numbers, young people think they’re rebelling when all they’re doing is playing their assigned part and lending energy and, often, votes to a stale, regimented form of statist liberalism that often disappoints and never satisfies. Continue Reading

8

Of Trillion Dollar Coins and Fiscal Lunacy

The idea of minting trillion-dollar platinum coins has been a lunatic nostrum of the wacked out left for about a year.  Today Brad Plumer on the wonk blog at the Washington Post looks at this scam:

Enter the platinum coins. Thanks to an odd loophole in current law, the U.S. Treasury is technically allowed to mint as many coins made of platinum as it wants and can assign them whatever value it pleases.

Under this scenario, the U.S. Mint would produce (say) a pair of trillion-dollar platinum coins. The president orders the coins to be deposited at the Federal Reserve. The Fed then moves this money into Treasury’s accounts. And just like that, Treasury suddenly has an extra $2 trillion to pay off its obligations for the next two years — without needing to issue new debt. The ceiling is no longer an issue.

“I like it,” says Joseph Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “There’s nothing that’s obviously economically problematic about it.” Continue Reading

1

Economists and Christmas Carols!

Hattip to Instapundit. Anything that helps drive a stake through the idiotic notion that spending money we don’t have is good for the economy gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.  This from the brilliant, albeit a little twisted, mind of John Papola who performed the miracle of creating a rap video that I enjoyed: Continue Reading

47

The Lessons of Pearl Harbor

 

The attack on Pearl Harbor, the date which will live in infamy in F.D.R.’s ringing phrase, happened 71 years ago today.  Less than 2700 of the 42,000 sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen stationed there that fateful day are still with us.  Time has done what the forces of Imperial Japan could not, and soon the memories of that attack will be only a page in history.  The lessons of Pearl Harbor are however as timely today as they were on December 7, 1941:

1.  It Takes Two to Avoid a War-Today, too many people speak the most dreadful rubbish that boils down to the contention that the US can avoid war if it simply adopts a peaceful policy to all other nations.  Nations, like people, have their own goals, and they will pursue those goals as they will, whether the US adopts a “smiley-face” foreign policy or not.

2.  Peace Time Mentality-Pearl Harbor was such a disaster largely due to a mindset that gripped too many in the military that it was sufficient to simply go through the motions.  This is a common enough attitude in the world, and in peace time it becomes all too common in the military.  Pearl Harbor teaches us how disastrous this mentality is in war-time.

3.  Peace or War can be a Matter of Seconds- Throughout its history the US has often had wars start quite quickly:  The Revolution, The Civil War, Korea, World War II and 9-11.  George Washington warned us that: To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.   Too often in our history we have forgotten that sage advice and paid for it at our peril as we learn the old lesson that war can come upon us with the speed of  summer lightning, especially in our modern age.

4.  Assumptions-Behind every great disaster there are usually a string of bad assumptions.  We assumed that the Japanese if they attacked would likely not attack Pearl Harbor.  We assumed that a Japanese fleet could not sail from Japan to Hawaii unnoticed.  We assumed that our air power, especially with the new-fangled technology called Radar, would be on alert, and that in any case our fleet could defeat anything that Japan could send against it.  Pile enough bad assumptions on top of each other and a debacle is in the making.

5.  Killing More People Won’t Help Matters-That quote comes from Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, the lone dissenting vote in the House against declaring war on Japan after Pearl Harbor.  A Republican from Montana, Rankin is an interesting figure.  The first woman elected to Congress, she served two terms.  In her first term she voted against declaring war on Germany in World War I and in her second term she voted against declaring war on Japan.  Both votes stemmed from her deep-seated pacificism, both votes were immensely unpopular and both votes effectively ended her political career at two different points in her life.  I give her the courage of her convictions.  However, her stance after Pearl Harbor illustrates the folly of pacifism as a national policy.  The sad truth is that in this vale of tears it is sometimes necessary to take up arms to avoid greater evils than war, and those peoples who forget that truth of the human condition will experience such evils sooner or later. Continue Reading

43

It’s the Culture, Stupid

It’s a sign of how much time I’ve had to blog that I’m just now getting to this post from Ace of Spades regarding comments made by Rush Limbaugh. The content that Ace quotes is crucial to understanding the problems that we truly face. Here’s Rush:

As you know, I’m a big technophile, and I read every tech blog there is, particularly those related to Apple. And all of these people contributing and writing and posting these blogs are under 30. And they live in a different world than I do and they live in a different world than I grew up in. The things that they just assume are true, like there is no doubt whatsoever that we are destroying the planet with global warming, no doubt. They can’t even conceive of what you and I both know to be the truth, and that is, the whole global warming thing is a hoax. They do not even think it’s a political issue. They do not realize that everything they believe in has been totally corrupted by politics. What they think is science is nothing more than corruption by the left, but they don’t know any better. It’s what they’ve been exposed to from as early on in their lives as their brains were capable of learning anything. And that happens to be the kind of thinking that populates the entertainment culture and so forth. I really think that the solution to our problems are not really political. I think conservatives are seen by young people and the left and the pop culture the way they are not because of what these people have been taught about conservatism. It’s purely cultural. They don’t know ideology. They don’t know liberal versus conservative. They’ve not been told, for example, that Romney is a skunk or whatever because he is a conservative. It goes far deeper than that.

So the battle that we face is not really an ideological one. I must confess, I think the solution will be found in ideology, but I must confess, I think I’ve been a little wrong. I have waxed eloquent here on this program. I have longed for the day where people understand what liberalism is ideologically. I have begged the Republican Party to campaign on ideology and to explain to people what liberalism is by pointing liberals out. You want to see liberalism, look at Detroit. You want to see liberalism, look at California. You want to see liberalism, look at Cuba. You want to see liberalism, look at Venezuela. The Republicans haven’t done it. I don’t know why, don’t care right now. But the young people do look at Cuba, and they lionize Che Guevara. They wear his T-shirts. They look at Cuba, they don’t see any big problem there. They don’t know. My only point here is I’m just scratching the surface on this, by the way, so I’m speaking off the top my head here, but I really think that the way this is going to have to be attacked and dealt with is not to set politics aside. I’m not saying that none of this is political, but it’s a cultural problem we face. The reason conservatives have been so maligned and are so maligned, the reason people who don’t know us think of us the way they do is not because they understand politics. It’s a cultural thing.

A lot of the post-election analysis missed this point. Well, maybe it would be more accurate that most of the people offering post-election analysis simply didn’t care about this point. In the narrow world of electoral politics, shifts in party popularity occur with great frequency. Those predicting doomsday for the Republican party are completely wide of the mark. And yet the chicken littles miss the much more troublesome gap – the cultural gap that slowly destroying this country. We’ve seen the stories about apartment complexes telling their residents to take down Christmas trees in common areas, and schools being prohibited from doing productions of Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. But of course there’s so much more than that. Young people are indoctrinated in schools and from television and movies. Conservatives have abdicated – both by our own choice and through design from the secularist left – any role in these cultural institutions. As Rush describes, these young skulls full of mush start out with a set of assumptions about traditional morality and other cultural issues that are foreign to most of us running around Catholic and conservative blog circles. This is not something that is magically going to be fixed by legislation or more tax credits for middle class families.

Unwittingly, I think Josh Trevino gets to the heart of this in a single tweet: Continue Reading

4

The Nine Most Terrifying Words in the English Language

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  President Reagan knew what he was talking about when he said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are:  I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

 

Even after Marie Freyre died alone in a nursing home 250 miles from the family in North Tampa that loved her, Marie’s mother had to fight to bring her home.

In March 2011, state child protection investigators took 14-year-old Marie from her mother, Doris Freyre, claiming Doris’ own disabilities made it almost impossible for her to care for Marie, who suffered from seizures and severe cerebral palsy. But a Tampa judge signed an order that Marie be returned to her mother, with in-home nursing care around the clock.

Florida health care administrators refused to pay for it, although in-home care can be demonstrably cheaper than care in an institution. Child welfare workers ignored the order completely.

Two months later, Marie was strapped into an ambulance for a five-hour trip to a Miami Gardens nursing home, as her mother begged futilely to go with her.

Marie died 12 hours after she arrived.

“Since the state of Florida took custody of my daughter, I would like the state of Florida to bring me back my daughter,” Freyre, 59, said at a May 9 court hearing, 12 days after her daughter died.

“They kidnapped my daughter. She was murdered,” said Freyre. “And I want my daughter back.”

The last days of Marie Freyre, chronicled in hundreds of pages of records reviewed by the Miami Herald, are a story of death by bureaucratic callousness and medical neglect. The episode sheds significant light on an ongoing dispute between Florida health care regulators and the U.S. Department of Justice. Though the state claims that the parents of severely disabled and medically fragile children have “choice” over where their children live and receive care, federal civil rights lawyers say Florida, by dint of a rigged funding system, has “systematically” force-fed sick children into nursing homes meant to care for adults — in violation of federal laws that prohibit discrimination against disabled people. Continue Reading

6

Science Si! Scientism No!

Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see. There have been sad cases among the modern physicists. If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don’t let him get away from that invaluable “real life.” But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is “the results of modern investigation.” Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!

                                        CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

Austin L. Hughes at The New Atlantis has a first rate look at science and scientism:

 

An additional strength of the falsifiability criterion is that it makes possible a clear distinction between science properly speaking and the opinions of scientists on nonscientific subjects. We have seen in recent years a growing tendency to treat as “scientific” anything that scientists say or believe. The debates over stem cell research, for example, have often been described, both within the scientific community and in the mass media, as clashes between science and religion. It is true that many, but by no means all, of the most vocal defenders of embryonic stem cell research were scientists, and that many, but by no means all, of its most vocal opponents were religious. But in fact, there was little science being disputed: the central controversy was between two opposing views on a particular ethical dilemma, neither of which was inherently more scientific than the other. If we confine our definition of the scientific to the falsifiable, we clearly will not conclude that a particular ethical view is dictated by science just because it is the view of a substantial number of scientists. The same logic applies to the judgments of scientists on political, aesthetic, or other nonscientific issues. If a poll shows that a large majority of scientists prefers neutral colors in bathrooms, for example, it does not follow that this preference is “scientific.”

Popper’s falsifiability criterion and similar essentialist definitions of science highlight the distinct but vital roles of both science and philosophy. The definitions show the necessary role of philosophy in undergirding and justifying science — protecting it from its potential for excess and self-devolution by, among other things, proposing clear distinctions between legitimate scientific theories and pseudoscientific theories that masquerade as science.

By contrast to Popper, many thinkers have advanced understandings of philosophy and science that blur such distinctions, resulting in an inflated role for science and an ancillary one for philosophy. In part, philosophers have no one but themselves to blame for the low state to which their discipline has fallen — thanks especially to the logical positivist and analytic strain that has been dominant for about a century in the English-speaking world. Continue Reading

10

It’s Liberal Tolerance Charlie Brown!

Most liberals prize tolerance, except when they have the opportunity to show some:

A church in Little Rock, Ark., canceled one performance of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown”  after an atheist organization complained and said students should not be exposed  to a show with Christian themes as part of a school field trip.

Happy Caldwell, pastor of Agape Church, issued a statement on the church’s  website on Wednesday, stating that while he believes the school was within its  constitutional rights to bring students to the production, the church has  nevertheless decided to cancel a Friday showing for students.

“It is not our desire to put hard working, sacrificial teachers and cast  members in harm’s way,” wrote Caldwell. “What we want said is that we love our  city, our schools, parents and families. People are at the heart of the matter  to us.”

He also said Principal Sandra Register of Terry Elementary School took a  “courageous stand” when she decided not to cancel the trip after learning that  someone had complained about it.

The controversy began when a parent became upset at the school’s offer to  take students to the church to watch the play, which is based on the “A Charlie  Brown Christmas” cartoon and contains some Christian themes. Although the field  trip was optional, the woman planned to allow her daughter to attend the  production out of fear she would be singled-out by her classmates. The upset  mother also contacted the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers (ASF), the  organization that complained to the Little Rock School District on her  behalf. Continue Reading

4

Messianic Prophecies: Malachi 3:1-5

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies which we began last Advent, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here and here, we look today at Malachi 3: 1-5.

 

[1] Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts.

 [2] And who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb:

[3] And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. [4] And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years.

 [5] And I will come to you in judgment, and will be a speedy witness against sorcerers, and adulterers, and false swearers, and them that oppress the hireling in his wages; the widows, and the fatherless: and oppress the stranger, and have not feared me, saith the Lord of hosts. Continue Reading

11

Defeat for UN is Victory for America

 

Hattip to commenter Greg Mockeridge for bringing this matter to my attention.  Yesterday the Senate defeated by 5 votes the attempt to ratify the UN Convention on Disabilities Treaty.  Go here to read the text.  It is the usual type of windy, gaseous formulation that one expects from the UN.  It is overwhelmingly popular among the permanent government class in most Western nations.  It has been passed by most of the nations of the world.  It will be ignored by most of the nations of the Earth where the rulers are masters at mouthing feel good platitudes while doing as they please.  In the West it will provide jobs for pressure groups through the filing of unending law suits to enforce the terms of this glop of political correctness, socialism, fuzzy thinking and lawyer full employment .  I am opposed to such treaties as a matter of principle.  American rights should be determined by Americans and not by temporary majorities at the UN, that modern Tower of Babel.

The main reason why the treaty failed was abortion.  Among the many twisting and often contradictory provisions was this gem at Article 25 (a):

 

Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;

Reproductive health of course is a euphemism for contraceptives and that form of child murder that goes by the term abortion.    This conflicts with Article 10 of the treaty:

 States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

Senator Marco Rubio (R. Fla.) attempted to take abortion out of the treaty with this amendment:

The United States understands that the phrase ‘sexual and reproductive health’ in Article 25(a) of the Convention does not include abortion, and its use in that article does not create any abortion rights, cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion, and in no way suggests that abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. Continue Reading

4

Three Years and Counting

 

 

Hattip to Ann Althouse.  Major Nidal Hasan on November 5, 2009 at Fort Hood murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded 29 others.  Since that time his trial has been pending.  And pending.  And pending.  The latest development?  The military judge presiding over the case has been removed.  Why?  Because, pursuant to regulations, he ordered that Hasan be forced to shave his beard.

Although the military judge here stated that [Hasan’s] beard was a ‘disruption,’ there was insufficient evidence on this record to demonstrate that [Hasan’s] beard materially interfered with the proceedings,” the unsigned ruling said.
“Taken together…. the decision to remove [Hasan] from the courtroom, the contempt citations and the decision to order [Hasan’s] forcible shaving in the absence of any command action to do the same could leave an objective observer to conclude that the military judge was not impartial.” Continue Reading

1

The drama of the sexennials at St. Louis University continues…

 

For the past several months, the embers of an ugly confrontation involving the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees have been smoldering at St. Louis University (SLU).

The first act in this drama unfolded when an administrator proposed that all tenured professors would undergo a sexennial review.  For the administrator, the proposal’s merit was that tenured professors would continue demonstrating satisfactory achievement in the conduct of their teaching, research, and service responsibilities.  (Read: “Tenured professors can be dismissed for unsatisfactory work.”)  For SLU’s tenured faculty, the proposal’s drawback was its administrative merit.  (Read: “Short of misconduct, there’s no way in Hell the administration will dismiss tenured faculty.”)

The first act in the drama came to a close in October when members of SLU’s Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences cast a 35-2 vote of no confidence against SLU’s President, the Reverend  Lawrence Biondi, SJ, for not firing the administrator who floated the proposal.  The vote upped the ante, getting the SLU Board of Trustees involved.

The second act has been unfolding behind the scenes since October, with the SLU Board of Trustees’ President, Thomas H. Brouster, attempting to tamp down the embers.  According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, a truce between the administration and faculty was imminent.

But, a letter Brouster wrote was leaked to the press:

 

Who disseminated the letter has not been disclosed, but it was posted to a Facebook page entitled “SLU Students for No Confidence.”  The post represents a third call for Fr. Biondi’s removal, lending support to two “no confidence” votes earlier this fall by the Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association.

Since St. Louis University is a Catholic university sponsored by the Society of Jesus, a couple of items that merit consideration:

  • The notion of tenure at a Catholic university.  Tenure was invented to protect professorial academic freedom, that is, “the ability to pursue the truth wherever the facts may lead.”  However, the term now connotes “a guaranteed job for life, short of professional misconduct.”  The former protects professors from interference in the conduct of their profession by outsiders.  The latter immunizes professors from interference by outsiders no matter what professors may do, short of professional misconduct.  The SLU administrator understands this “difference with a distinction,” as does the SLU faculty, and ostensibly wants to do something to redress the balance so that tenured professors who fail to fulfill their professional obligations can be liable for dismissal.
  • The laicization of Boards at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges.  Since the 1960s, Boards have been dominated by the laity.  In many cases, these women and men have proven themselves to be successful professionals and as Board members, have fulfilled their primary responsibilities (what’s called the “3 G’s,” namely, “to give, to get, or to get off”).  At the same time, the worldview of many of these Board members has been shaped by their professional experience and they tend to evaluate and resolve problems by imposing what they’ve learned from that experience upon the institution.

At SLU, these two items coalesced as the Trustees’ President hunkered down by hiring a St. Louis-based public relations firm, Fleishman-Hillard , to direct a Board Task Force in “crisis management.”

All of this raises three questions:

  • Are differences between factions within these institutions—where the unfettered search for truth is supposed to be paramount—best resolved by “calling for the head” of an administrator who proposes a perfectly reasonable policy as well as the head of that administrator’s boss?  Some much for unfettered discourse!  “Give us Barabbas,” the frenzied crowd shrieked.
  • Should the award of tenure immunize professors from interference by outsiders—in this case, administrators—no matter what professors may do, short of professional misconduct?   In the professional world, “a fair day’s pay” is earned by “a fair day’s work.”  Continuing to pay underperforming, substandard employees is no way to “run a business.”  For a professional academic to deny this fact is conduct unbecoming a professional academic.  Worse yet is the professional academic who aids, abets, and protects colleagues who, in their classrooms, state as fact what are personal opinions and tolerate no discussion concerning the merits of contrary opinions.
  • While hiring p.r. experts to manage crises represents “best practice” in the corporate and political world, should it be normative when differences between various entities—like Boards, administrators, faculty, and students—arise at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges?  Hiring expensive experts in public relations to deal with fissures within a collegiate community isn’t so much about educating its members as it is of “tamping down and putting out fires.”  Perhaps that’s appropriate for private sector “management vs. labor” negotiations, but for a Catholic institution of higher education?

Perhaps what’s unfolding at SLU is part of a larger narrative in U.S. Catholic higher education: Its professionalization and secularization where the values of this world increasingly inform and shape institutional decision making, policies, and procedures.

So much for Ex corde ecclesiae.

 

 

To read The Motley Monk’s original post about this drama, click on the following link:
http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/10/16/sexennials-at-st-louis-university/

To access the Board of Trustees’ President’s letter online, click on the following link:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7HsEqmC0EunUGFoZDc4QjFGWUk/edit?pli=1

To read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, click on the following link…
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/no-confidence-voted-by-slu-faculty-unit-on-biondi/article_f0d6d525-b995-525c-968f-6e38897d5da1.html

7

Messianic Prophecies: Zechariah 9:9-10

 

 

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies which we began last Advent, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, and here, we come to Zechariah 9:9-10 :

[9] Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. [10] And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.

Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote about this passage: Continue Reading

16

It Takes A Lot of Verbiage to Justify Murder

Would that all pro-aborts were as forthright as the abortionist in the above video.  Instead, most of them hide behind an endless torrent of evasions and euphemisms to conceal a very simple truth:  abortion is the killing of the innocent.  Alison Taylor, first Anglican Bishopess in Australia, is typical in her lame defense of an unspeakable crime.  Unfortunately for her, her effort receives a fisking to remember from Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so often in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith:

Alison Taylor, the new Anglican Bishop of Queensland and the first female Anglican bishop in Australia, riffs on abortion:

The Bible speaks of a world which God has created and which he loves beyond measure, in which all life is to be embraced as a gift from Him. However, it is a world which is fallen, and which longs for the full redemption in Jesus Christ which is to come. Sin and suffering abound in a human condition of great complexity, and at times immensely difficult decisions need to be made.

Like whether or not Allie actually meant what she just said.

What the Bible does not teach, and which has never been a part of Christian doctrine – contrary to the assertion in this month’s TMA letter – is that ‘all human life has absolute moral value’. The latter view is unbiblical because it would be untenable for Christians in situations where complex moral choices must be made, in diverse circumstances ranging from military defence and self-defence to the sometimes conflicting rights of mother and unborn child.

Let’s see.  National defense.  Protecting yourself from someone who wants to physically harm you.  Fileting the kid because you don’t want to have to take a pay cut right now.  Morally, they’re all pretty much the same.  And on the ludicrously small chance that you missed Allie’s lame “theology,” she repeats it here.

Nowhere in the Bible is a foetus accorded the full moral status of a human person. On the contrary, in the sole biblical text on induced abortion, Exodus 21.22-23, an abortion caused by injury to a pregnant woman is regarded seriously but considerably less than murder. Other than what might be inferred from this text, the Bible is silent on the issue of the moral status to be accorded to foetal death, as it is on the question of when an embryo might be said to have a soul that survives death. These two issues, which preoccupy the abortion debate today, could probably not even have been conceptualised by writers living in the Biblical era.

I think it was Andy Warhol who once said, “In the future, everybody will be an Anglican bishop for fifteen minutes.”  It’s not like you have to know any actual Christian theology or anything, like Catholics, Orthodox and serious Protestants do, or be versed in some kind of Christian tradition.

Just memorize a few handy cliches that are useful for just about any occasion and you’re in like Bishop Flynn.  Allie uses two here.  The Scripture writers, who were mere men who had absolutely no assistance whatsoever in writing down the Word of the Living God but it wouldn’t have mattered if they had since they were all blithering idiots who couldn’t find their heads with both hands.

Then there’s the ever-popular “The Bible never said anything about _________” argument, probably the most useful Anglican dodge of all.  If, of course, you overlook the uncomfortable fact that the Bible also doesn’t teach that racism, sexism, “homophobia” and voting against Barack Obama are sins.  But did Allie happen to mention what absolute morons the Scripture writers were?

The Bible was written millennia before an adequate understanding of human reproduction was possible, let alone the possibilities of IVF, embryonic stem cell research or prenatal foetal tests, and the difficult moral dilemmas involved in each of them. In summary, an absolutist antiabortion stance simply cannot lay claim to Biblical warrant.

So what say Allie bottom-lines it for you?  It’s a human being when and if I want it to be and NOT BEFORE, bitches. Continue Reading

1

Tuition Money at Work

 

 

Eliana Johnson at National Review Online helps explain why college costs a gazillion dollars:

A construction crew working on the campus of Ohio’s Sinclair Community College was forced to halt work until it removed a “Men Working” sign that was deemed “sexist” by a college administrator. A spokesman for the college told National Review Online that the incident, which occurred on November 21, stemmed from the school’s “deep commitment to diversity,” and that it takes that commitment “very seriously.”  Continue Reading

6

Pictures of Defeat and Victory

Hattip to Ann Althouse.

Obama is the one who won, right?  Considering what the next four years are going to be like, I suspect that most of the country will eventually bitterly regret that Romney lost.  Romney on the other hand may eventually decide that all things being equal, giving Obama an opportunity to reap what he sowed in his first term might not be the worst thing in the world.  The funny thing about politics is that there are no final defeats or final victories.  Sometimes a defeat is a prelude to a great victory next time around, and sometimes a victory is merely a bump in a downward path.  We will see.

6

Socialism and Death Panels

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Sarah Palin after the Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare

As the above video indicates, back in 2009 when Sarah Palin predicted that ObamaCare would end up in death panels for the elderly and for “defective” children like her son Trig, she was widely derided by the unpaid Obama press agents the Mainstream Media.  News from Great Britain tells us just how prescient Palin was.

Sick children are being discharged from NHS  hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death  pathways’.

Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool  Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill  adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of  withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as  severely disabled newborn babies.

One doctor has admitted starving and  dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician  revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a  baby  becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

The LCP – on which 130,000 elderly and  terminally-ill adult patients die each year – is now the subject of an  independent inquiry ordered by ministers. Continue Reading

24

Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days

Their stories are as old as time but worth repeating in this present age where so many seem to think they are too smart for God, religion and all of His love and grace. I must admit that being a fan of contemporary music and literature, I threw the stories of Jack Kerouac, John Lennon and Bob Marley’s late in life embrace of faith and tradition into my book without giving it much thought. However, I am surprised to find that so many who have read or perused my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn have stated that they were not familiar with these stories and found them very revealing. Perhaps it is because our rebellious society has lionized figures who want to throw out God or just leave him as far distant as possible. Yet all three men realized that the traditional values, in which they were raised and the love of God they were once shown, was too important to forever jettison. Continue Reading

10

New York Time Readers: Do Not Go Forth and Multiply

Ross Douthat in his latest column in the New York Times examines the fact that under Obama the US has the lowest fertility rate in its history:

 

 

If, that is, our dynamism persists. But that’s no longer a sure thing. American fertility plunged with the stock market in 2008, and it hasn’t recovered. Last week, the Pew Research Center reported that U.S. birthrates hit the lowest rate ever recorded in 2011, with just 63 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age. (The rate was 71 per 1,000 in 1990.) For the first time in recent memory, Americans are having fewer babies than the French or British.       

The plunge might be temporary. American fertility plummeted during the Great Depression, and more recent downturns have produced modest dips as well. This time, the birthrate has fallen fastest among foreign-born Americans, and particularly among Hispanics, who saw huge amounts of wealth evaporate with the housing bust. Many people may simply be postponing childbearing until better times return, and a few years of swift growth could produce a miniature baby boom.       

But deeper forces than the financial crisis may keep American fertility rates depressed. Foreign-born birthrates will probably gradually recover from their current nadir, but with fertility in decline across Mexico and Latin America, it isn’t clear that the United States can continue to rely heavily on immigrant birthrates to help drive population growth.        

Among the native-born working class, meanwhile, there was a retreat from child rearing even before the Great Recession hit. For Americans without college degrees, economic instability and a shortage of marriageable men seem to be furthering two trends in tandem: more women are having children out of wedlock, and fewer are raising families at all.       

Finally, there’s been a broader cultural shift away from a child-centric understanding of romance and marriage. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans told Pew that children were “very important” to a successful marriage; in 2007, just before the current baby bust, only 41 percent agreed. (That trend goes a long way toward explaining why gay marriage, which formally severs wedlock from sex differences and procreation, has gone from a nonstarter to a no-brainer for so many people.)       

Go here to read the rest.  As is always the case, the outraged reaction of Douthat’s uber liberal readers are a hoot: Continue Reading

5

Ex parte Merryman

One of the more troubling features of the Civil War is the roughshod way that both the governments of the Union and of the Confederacy tended to treat the civil rights of those who opposed them.  Both Lincoln and Davis suspended the right of habeas corpus during the war.  Habeas corpus, also called the Great Writ, dates back to the reign of Henry II in the Twelfth Century.  It is basically a petition by someone held by a government requesting that a court order, traditionally court orders were called writs, the government to show cause why the individual should continue to be held.  Hence the phrase “petition for a writ of habeas corpus”.  It is an important safeguard against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without trial, and against wrongful imprisonment due to the rights of the prisoner petitioner having been violated at trial.  It has been regarded as an essential legal safeguard against government tyranny.  This week on Almost Chosen People, the American history blog that Paul Zummo and I run, I will have a series of posts examining the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus North and South.  Today we look at the most famous case to come out of the suspension of the writ, Ex parte Merryman.

Lincoln first suspended the writ of habeas corpus at the onset of the War, initially only between Philadelphia and Washington.  This was aimed at secessionists in Maryland who were viewed as posing a threat to the lines of communication between Washington and the North.  Many Marylanders were arrested after the suspension of the writ and held without trial.  In the case of  Ex Parte Merryman, John Merryman petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus from the Federal district court.  Merryman had been a Third Lieutenant in the Maryland state militia.  He was pro-Confederate and had been involved in burning railroad bridges and cutting telegraph wires under orders from his pro-Confederate superiors in the Maryland militia.  He had been arrested for treason by the Union Army and held without trial.  Chief Justice Roger Taney, pro-Confederate himself, sitting as a Federal circuit court judge for the District of Maryland, ruled that the President had no authority to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, that power residing in Congress, and that as a result he certainly could not delegate such a power he did not have to the military.  Taney ended his opinion on this ringing and acerbic note:

Yet, under these circumstances, a military officer, stationed in Pennsylvania, without giving any information to the district attorney, and without any application to the judicial authorities, assumes to himself the judicial power in the district of Maryland; undertakes to decide what constitutes the crime of treason or rebellion; what evidence (if indeed he required any) is sufficient to support the accusation and justify the commitment; and commits the party, without a hearing, even before himself, to close custody, in a strongly garrisoned fort, to be there held, it would seem, during the pleasure of those who committed him.

The constitution provides, as I have before said, that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” It declares that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” It provides that the party accused shall be entitled to a speedy trial in a court of justice.

These great and fundamental laws, which congress itself could not suspend, have been disregarded and suspended, like the writ of habeas corpus, by a military order, supported by force of arms. Such is the case now before me, and I can only say that if the authority which the constitution has confided to the judiciary department and judicial officers, may thus, upon any pretext or under any circumstances, be usurped by the military power, at its discretion, the people of the United States are no longer living under a government of laws, but every citizen holds life, liberty and property at the will and pleasure of the army officer in whose military district he may happen to be found.[3] Continue Reading

60

The Origins and Role of Government

So we’ve been discussing the proper role of the state on this blog recently, particularly as it relates to the legalization of marijuana. This discussion, in all of its unfortunate snarkiness and nastiness (to which I freely admit having contributed, not that I’m proud of it) is really a discussion on the proper role of the state.

I think it is rather uncontroversial to assert that America was basically founded upon the Lockean social contract theory. We begin with the proposition that everyone has basic natural rights: to life, liberty, and property. In a hypothetical scenario in which there is no coercive authority (the state/government), we must also act as our own judge, jury and executioner. In this anarchic situation, our rights to life, liberty and property are unsecured. In order to secure them, we collectively renounce our right to be our own personal government and transfer that right to a government we establish by contract. Our property – life, liberty and estate – is more valuable and necessary for life than our “right” to do as we please, when we please, to whomever we please.

The terms of the contract are rather simple. They are stated very simply in the Declaration of Independence. Governments exist to protect our natural rights. They don’t exist to make us “better people” – that’s what the Church is for. They don’t exist in order to achieve “social justice” – that is what private charity and free markets are for. The individual American states were founded by people of like-minds who wanted to establish communities that reflected their religious values – Pennsylvania for Quakers, Maryland for Catholics, and so on. The Constitution was created by the states mostly for the purposes of common security.

Government is not a positive good. It is an evil necessary to prevent the greater evils that would result from total anarchy. As such, it must be kept on the tightest of all possible leashes, which is why so many Americans demanded a Bill of Rights as a condition for the ratification of the Constitution. If men in a state of anarchy would be evil, they don’t suddenly become angels because we give them titles, badges, and offices. The evil in our hearts is the evil in their hearts, and the greater the scope and depth of the powers we give to governments, the greater potential for evil we establish.

Continue Reading

3

Womb Fight!

The story that goes with the video may be read here.  This video comes as little surpise to the parents of twins.  When my wife was carrying our twin boys she often placed my hand on her womb as our lads were obviously having fun playing with each other.  Of course people have been aware of this as long as there have been people:

21 And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord.

23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Genesis 25:21-23

 

21

What Law School Was Like

Yesterday, when I should have been working on a myriad of tasks piled high on my desk, I took time out for about an hour to take part of an LSAT, Law School Admission Test, practice test on-line.  My son, who is half way through his junior year at the University of Illinois, and who wants to be an attorney in spite of my warnings, has begun preparation for taking the LSAT next year.  Go here to read, or if you are a masochist take, parts of an LSAT sample test.  After an hour or so of this I was overjoyed at the fact that I am a third of a century beyond having to take the LSAT!  When I took the LSAT for the first time in the fall of 1979 I bombed it, which is unsurprising since I had done almost no prep for it.  I took it again and jumped a hundred points, the test used a different grading scale back then, which was not supposed to be possible.  I assume that I must have learned something from the first attempt to take the test.  All I recall is that after my second attempt I was certain that I probably had done far worse than my first attempt.  This trip down memory lane has caused me to recall some aspects of law school that I have not thought much about, or repressed, lo these three decades.  Here are some of them.

1.  Law School Taught Me Little About Being a Lawyer-  Considering that I spent three years of my life doing it, it is astounding to me how little I learned in law school about actually being a lawyer.  Actually it is not astounding.  Most law school professors have very little experience in being attorneys.  Take them out of their little niche of knowledge as to the law and most of them have little to impart, except moth-eaten stories about their halcyon days as young clerks to Justices so and so.  I often heard them say that they assumed that we could find our way to the court-house door.  Well sure, but what to do after I got there took me, literally, five years of trial and error, and a rugged five years it was for me and my clients.  There is something wrong about a system of professional education that teaches you little about the profession.

2.  Moot court-the exception-The only class in law school where I learned something about the nuts and bolts of the profession was moot court which was run by actual attorneys and judges.  That gave me an inkling that law school and the practice of law were like comparing a movie about flying to actual flying.

3.  The first year-Most law students regard their first year as a hellish experience and mine certainly was.  I routinely stayed up until 1:00 AM reading cases.  The boredom and tedium were unbelievable.  Classroom was somewhat better, as I enjoyed the Socratic method at least by those professors able enough to do it well.  Alas that was not the case with most of my professors, quite a few of whom would ask a few perfunctory questions and then lecture non-stop.  However, some were quite good at it.  The standout for me was Wayne LaFave who taught Criminal Procedure.  Although I didn’t think at the time I would do any criminal law, I took every course he taught, a fortuitous event since I did end up doing a fair amount of criminal defense and he was the go to expert in the field of search and seizure.  Professor LaFave has retired from full-time teaching and I regret that my son will not be able to have the same experience that I did.  His class my first year was a bright spot in a bleak landscape.

4.  Social Life-What’s That?-My undergrad girlfriend went off to SIU to go to law school.  She did not really want to go to law school and she flunked out.  That was probably fortunate for me, as a first year law student had little time for socializing if they were not going to flunk out.  I dated little in my first year or my second year.  In my third year I met my wife and the rest has been a happy thirty years for me.  Some law students dated each other which I always thought was a mistake.  The last thing I wanted to think or talk about on a date was the law, and law students, like lawyers, will usually talk about the law when they get together. Continue Reading

6

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

 

Something for the weekend.  Tomorrow Advent gets under way and to rush it a bit we have my favorite version of O Come O Come Emmanuel, which has always sounded to me as if a group of Zealots were singing it.  Emmanuel or Immanuel, “God With Us”, comes from the seventh chapter of Isaiah:

10  And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying:

 11  Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above.

 12  And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord.

  13  And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also?

  14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.   Continue Reading