Patty Andrews: Requiescat in Pace

Thursday, January 31, AD 2013

The last of the Andrews Sisters, Patty Andrews, died yesterday at 94.  The daughters of a Greek immigrant and a Norwegian-American mother in Minnesota, the Andrews Sisters were an amazingly successful singing act, selling over 75 million records.  They were also ardent patriots.

During World War II the Andrews Sisters tirelessly performed for the USO stateside and in Africa and Italy.  They were enormously effective at selling war bonds with their rendition of Irving Berlin’s Any Bonds Today.  They helped found The Hollywood Canteen and donated their time to perform there, a memorable pleasant stopping off point for sailors, marines, soldiers and airmen on their way to the hell of war in the Pacific.  When they were entertaining troops they often would pick three servicemen at random to dine with them after the show.  Performing so frequently on Armed Forces Radio, they were designated the Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service.  They recorded millions of V-Disks for distribution of their songs to the troops. 

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5 Responses to Patty Andrews: Requiescat in Pace

Tell Us How You Really Feel Dale!

Wednesday, January 30, AD 2013

Priests check the firearms of Marines who will be sent to Basilan province in southern Philippines during the 110th founding anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Manila


My friend Dale Price writes insightful posts at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings.  I stop by there regularly to steal borrow blog ideas.  Dale is always very good, but when he lets himself go he is magnificent.  Herewith is his post on the scape goating anti-NRA hysteria that some on Saint Blogs have been participating in:

Being marginalized in the culture war.

This is not directed at the people of good faith who I have spoken with about firearms since Sandy Hook. Hopefully, you know who you are. But I do have to unburden myself, and unfortunately in a burdensomely-verbose manner.
It doesn’t matter, but I didn’t sleep for s–t in the ten days after the Sandy Hook massacre. I was up until at least 1 am every night, trying to distract myself from the horror of the butchery committed by that evil garbage. It’s not much, but my wife made sure to send a card to the Newtown priests facing the horror. When I started talking about the issue, I expressed my interest in solutions like smaller magazine capacity, biometric safes and trigger locks and the like. Productive, civil conversations. Or so it seemed.
As it turned out, none of that mattered. The tone changed from one of wanting to prevent another Sandy Hook into a two-months hate against gun ownership in general and NRA members in particular. Solutions fell by the wayside, and de-legitimization began in earnest.
You see, I’m an NRA member. I do not own a Bushmaster, or any other semi-automatic weapon. As is my wife. I–and Heather–collectively own several firearms. Including–as will be set forth below–a completely-legal, bona-fide military weapon currently used by our military right now. Unlike what [damnatio memoriae] used at Newtown.
Nevertheless, because of our membership in Satan’s Own Rifles, prominent people of culture hope we get shot. Hope really hard! [Which strikes me as an odd spin on the Hope™ being offered in 2008, but I digress for the first time.]
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23 Responses to Tell Us How You Really Feel Dale!

  • It’s people like a certain self-appointed blog meister in the Catholic blogosphere whom Dale talks about and who are the worst of the lot. Hypocrites and sanctimoniously “pious” idiots without the brains to realize that Obama is trying to disarm all of us the same as his forefathers Stalin, Plutarco Calles and Hitler did before him, but they certainly have the biggest mouths of any of the primates. Maybe somebody should remind such people of gelatinous girth that mad dictators like Calles persecuted the Church to the point where the faithful had to defend themselves with guns, and that Scriptural precedence with swords has already been established in 1st Maccabees chapters 1 and 2.

  • Leaving only socialists and other criminals armed with assault rifles and large magazines is virtually insane. Only a tyrant would propose it.

  • Try over at Ricochet, where some well-meaning folks are sure that Catholics aren’t allowed to own guns.

    It’s “church teaching,” you see.

    They know because a site with “Catholic” in the title interviewed the disarmament expert for the Peace and Justice whatever at the Vatican, and found a couple of foot-notes in USCCB documents.

  • As usual, an excellent post by Dale. However, I think he lets Mark off the hook WAY too easily. At some point, he should be held accountable for his own intellectually dishonest use of strawmen and hyperbole to marginalize, delegitimize, and dehumanize those with whom he disagrees.

    Last night, Paul Zummo compiled a list of Mark’s more choice remarks about some gun advocates he had falsely accused of hectoring and heckling a grieving Sandy Hook parent:

    Of course, all Mark could manage in response was to falsely accuse Paul of running the torture-advocacy blog “The Coalition for Fog” in one of the more bizarre and out-of-the-blue examples of ad hominem argumentation that I’ve read in quite a while.

    It’s crap like that from prominent Catholics in the Catholic blogosphere that have turned me off of blogging … probably for good.

  • Dale Price is telling it like it is, and showing a good deal of restraint (compared to the less-than-charitable thoughts that have been appearing in my mind since these attacks on the Constitution/Catechism/CommonHorseSense began). Slander is afoot; Socialist panties are showing. The political left making hay from tragedy, whodathunkit, and the usual suspects all tumbling over themselves to fall into line. Bah.

  • Jay,

    One question: Mark who?

    Just kidding. I still pray for the man.

    PS: I am now a criminal in the state of NY. Thanks to new gun laws and hysterics like Mark: Me and tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

  • I still find myself reading maybe one in four Mark Shea posts, because I see them pop up on Facebook, but honestly, it’s gotten to where that blog is mostly about emotional grandstanding and constant demonization of the Enemy Of The Hour. It’s too bad. I hear Mark himself is not a bad guy, and he’s an orthodox writer with a love for the Church, but as a blogger he’s gotten downright painful to read.

  • Mark Shea, in having received many compliments for being an orthodox writer with a love for the Church has let that go to his head and now thinks he is some sort of Magisterium in the American Catholic blogosphere with the authority to make pronouncements on the Faithful. And when it comes to issues like the right to keep and bear arms, he is definitely wrong and won’t even hear much less coutnenance reasoning to the contrary. That’s what happens with receiving too much fame for the books he sells. 🙁

  • That isn’t a wholly unheard of phenomenon, of course. Who was that blogger a few years back who was a convert and a darling of the conservative/neo-con blogosphere and then went whole hog anti-Catholic. Last I knew, his blog went private and he got into soft-porn photography or some nonsense. Pity.

    Cliched movie line, but with great power comes great responsibility. Its not hard to write theologically orthodox books or blog posts. However, at this stage of the game where there are still so much silliness in the parishes that some folks eat up anything orthodox wherever they can find it and set up those folks on pedestals-with the resultant ballooned egos and unassailable correctness of position.

    Save for the grace of God there go I, granted, but I wore the cassock/collar as a seminarian for a couple years and witnessed the same phenomenon. Some folks will take any hare brained, half baked, whiskey soaked mental diarrhea that falls out of your face as Absolute Truth if they’ve decided that other more sane things you’ve written or said or your external trappings have made you a rock of orthodoxy in their minds. Personally, that taught me to shut my trap and think a lot more before going off half cocked…

  • You are referring to Gerald Naus, dominic. It was a rather sad case indeed.

  • I’m not sure it’s exactly a case of too much fame — I have to think the fame and other forms or remuneration for writing books for the Catholic market is sadly pretty small — but just that once you get into the downward spiral of mainlining on snark and srawmanning, it’s pretty hard to turn back.

    I suspect one of the things that feeds Mark’s over the top behavior is that being over the top himself, he tends to attract pretty over the top readers, both those who agree with him and those who disagree. One you’ve got a self selected group of readers who either think that we all need to climb down into the catacombs with assault rifles before the gay brownshirts come for us, or else think that anyone who claims The Thing That Used To Be Conservatism is a raving survivalist maniac who tortures Palestinians in his spare time, there’s not really much of a lifeline back to sanity.

  • Dominic, I think it’s the other side of the demonization coin. We assign white hats the same way we assign black hats.

    I’ve seen it happen in the traditionalist movement. A bishop allows an indult Mass, and he becomes Good. But someone else heard that something bad happened in his diocese, so he’s designated Bad. It must have been his auxiliary bishop who’s Good. The auxiliary moves to a new diocese and a month later a sex scandal breaks. OK, then the old auxiliary must be Bad, and it was the first bishop who was Good all along. If a seminarian in his diocese says something unflattering about the diocese, he must be one of those modernists.

    Two examples spring to mind. Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna changes perceived sides faster than a bottom-of-the-card wrestler. The other example, outside religion, is the wildly fluctuating responses to Chris Christie. I suppose it’s a healthy thing that we want to have someone to look up to; we’re not always seeking to tear people down. But if you fall in love easily you get your heart broken a lot.

  • I suspect one of the things that feeds Mark’s over the top behavior is that being over the top himself, he tends to attract pretty over the top readers, both those who agree with him and those who disagree. One you’ve got a self selected group of readers who either think that we all need to climb down into the catacombs with assault rifles before the gay brownshirts come for us, or else think that anyone who claims The Thing That Used To Be Conservatism is a raving survivalist maniac who tortures Palestinians in his spare time, there’s not really much of a lifeline back to sanity.

    Ding ding ding.

    I’m sure Mark Shea gets some very, err, interesting hate mail. It’s a natural tendency in all humans to double down when confronted with vituperative feedback, and that just perpetuates the cycle. That doesn’t excuse Mark at all – far from it, as he invites it upon his head. But I can see where the negative feedback loop doesn’t help.

    And of course I haven’t always been Mr. Charitable when it comes to Mr. Shea, so I’ll shut my fat trap now.

  • This thread is interesting. Mark Shea may be inflated. Many good Catholics have slid back a few steps, and the old foe is trying us all.
    It’s what he does best. Just ask Fr. Coropi.
    Satan wants to do harm to those especially gifted and talented to lead souls to Christ.
    All the more armor needed to defend his attacks.
    Paul. W. P…..fame is a weapon in Satan’s arsenal, and I believe your spot on with Mark Shea’s position on arms.

  • Thanks, Philip. I would rather be wrong. Before the 2008 election I had not had a gun in my hand since my Navy days some three decades ago. But after that election I bought a mini-14 specifically because of what people like Obama have always done in the past. Obviously I can make no difference as a mere individual, but having a weapon (even if I rarely use it and then only at the rifle range) is simply my way to protest against that evil son of a snake. Oh yes, many say he doesn’t rate that high, being nothing more than a Chicago gangster. Well, gangsters are evil and I don’t want a gangster running the government. And this gangster legitimatizes the infanticide of the unborn and sanctifies the filth of homosexual sodomy. Evil. Pure and simple evil.

  • Mom always said: “Don’t get your halo on too tight.” Loved the writing and especially the title.

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution sets forth the purpose and responsibility of our founding principles. Here I am concerned with the phrase,” provide for the common defence“ and those who would remove certain firearms and guns from “the common defence”. The U.S. Constitution may not be altered or changed without 2/3 of the states ratifying the change. The Preamble cannot change without dissolving the United States of America.

    Gun control advocates may not change the Constitution without the ratifying two/thirds of the states and they still must prove that a particular gun is not going to be used to “provide for the common defence.” The Preamble does not change, unless 2/3 of the states ratify it, and the Preamble states “provide for the common defence” Common people provide for the common defence. And what part of “WE”, “the people” does not include every person?

    My own experience with guns, with bullet holes in my door and window, the hunters refused to leave. Begging and pleading and even the police failed. I stood on the back steps and announced that if their bullets wouldn’t hit me, my bullets wouldn’t hit them. The hunters left. I think I had a rifle in my hands. (Sometimes a demonstration works)

  • Moslem Brotherhood welcomed here.
    All Religions are equal.
    Bible is just mans viewpoint on God.
    Life is not sacred.
    Marriage is need of new definitions.
    Guns kill people, not cars, knives, tired surgeons or fascist regimes.
    Paul. Welcome to Virtual Reality on steroids.
    I hunt whitetail deer in the beautiful north.
    If my home or family was under serious threat of harm I will not hesitate to protect us.
    God help us in this day of corruption.
    God guide us and protect us.
    “He who gives testimony on my behalf, I will give to them before my Father in Heaven.”
    Jesus is Lord. He and only He saves us from our sins. No other Gods shall we believe in. None. Especially self proclaimed godbamma.

  • Mary DeVoe,
    I wasn’t our clan at your door.
    You did get your point across though.
    Sometimes it takes a strong stand.
    If only to protect ourselves from rouge regimes, gangsters or stupid Hunters we must not cave in on this right. Regardless of the weapon or its clip size.
    Egypt and fighter jets, and the Big Concern is gun control in our Nation?
    Excuse me while I rant in private…..

  • Philip: No, it was not your clan at the door. Your rant is valid and thank God. Keep ranting.

  • Ditto to Mary De Voe’s last comment!

  • Paul: It is the duty of every citizen to keep his mouth open. One Ave Maria

  • Tibi gratias, Maria de Voe!

    Avē Marīa, grātiā plēna,
    Dominus tēcum.
    Benedicta tū in mulieribus,
    et benedictus frūctus ventris tuī, Iēsus.
    Sāncta Marīa, Māter Deī,
    ōrā prō nōbīs peccātōribus,
    nunc et in hōrā mortis nostrae.

  • From “don’t get your halo on too tight”…
    …to…”I think I had a rifle in my hands”

    More than a few times I have thanked our Lord for the wisdom he has granted to Mary De Voe.

    Mary, I’m sorry.
    One Hail Mary from me too. (In Latin of course)

The Controversies of the Permanent Diaconate

Wednesday, January 30, AD 2013

I read.  I read a lot.  I like to think that I have a decent working knowledge of contemporary discussions within the Church.  And yet more often than not, I am humbled when I run across a topic or debate that has been ongoing for years, but I am just now reading about it.  It just goes tho show that the more a man knows, the more he knows how much there is that he doesn’t know.

It happened most recently this past weekend.  I got wind of a debate about the permanent diaconate and decided to read up on it, when what to my surprise, the debate is almost a decade old.  Of course I knew that there have been several contentious conversations surrounding the topic of the permanent diaconate.  One the one hand, some have never fully accepted its reinstatement.  One the other hand, enthusiastic proponents of the institution refuse to recognize the complications and confusion that come from a married man with one foot in world of clergy and the other in the world of the laity.  For my own part, I readily recognize that Holy Mother Church has granted us the reality of the permanent diaconate, and I thus take an initial posture of humility and obedience.  And yet the whole thing has always been a bit confusing for me.  When some have suggested that I pursue the diaconate, I have had trouble reconciling the “dual vocation” nature of the whole thing.  Perhaps this is indicative of the aforementioned confusion, or perhaps it simply means that I am not called to such a state in life.

Nevertheless, there is a particular debate regaining some steam based on a Canon Law article from the well-known canon lawyer, Dr. Edward Peters.  The article was written back in 2005, but I get the impression that he has been defending his thesis ever since.  As I stated from the start, for whatever reason, I am just now getting wind of it, and I have to admit that topic is fascinating, which probably speaks more to my being a geek than it does to the topic itself.  The question is simple:

According to Canon Law, when a married man is ordained a deacon, must he refrain from martial intercourse for the rest of his life?

The question itself is provocative, with my initial reaction being, “Well, of course not.”  In fact, it was provocative enough that I thought of titling this post something like, “Deacons and Sex,” just to see if it would generate more hits.  I took the high road, however.

I immediately read Dr. Peters’ article, and I have poured through many of the irate responses written since 2005.  When all is said and done (though I suppose this matter remains somewhat open, so all is not in fact said nor done), I have three observations to make.  First, Dr. Peters is on to something.  His argument is compelling, cohesive, and comprehensive.  Second, most people are mischaracterizing Dr. Peters’ argument.  Third, those that are responding to Dr. Peters have not yet provided a reasoned response.  This of course doesn’t mean that one is out there yet to be discovered and/or written; it simply means that I have not yet found it.

What I would like to do here is to present a very trimmed down outline of Dr. Peters’ argument, indicate where most people seem to have misunderstood or mischaracterized the argument, and address the one counter argument I have found that even comes close to a refutation of Dr. Peters’ position.
Let’s begin with a few definitions.  We must distinguish between continence,celibacy and chastity.  By continence we mean the refraining of all sexual relations.  By celibacy we mean refraining from marriage itself.  By chastity we mean the conforming of one’s sexual actions with the moral law within the context of one’s state in life.  We will be concerned mostly with the first two definitions: continence and celibacy.
Of course all of God’s people are required by the moral law to practice chastity.  For an unmarried person (ordained or otherwise) this would require continence, or the abstaining from all sexual relations.  For married people this may require periodic continence if for serious reasons they do not wish to conceive a child.  Similarly by reason of the moral law this same reason, celibacy (not being married) also requires continence (not engaging in sexual activity).
We should also note what is not being debated here or even generally within the current discussion: can an ordained deacon subsequently marry, if he has never been married, or re-marry if his spouse passes away?  The answer to this question is certainly, “No.”  Canon Law is quite clear in this regard, and no serious person is debating that point.  There are those who think it should not be this way, but do so with specific knowledge that Canon Law stipulates otherwise.
With that, let’s outline the argument of Dr. Peters.
The central Canon for Peters is #277:

Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity” (CCC 1983, c. 277).

Note first that deacons most certainly fit the definition of “clergy,” and so they are seemingly included in this call to “perfect and perpetual continence.”  (Recall that this means the refraining of sexual activity.)

 What follows is a list of Dr. Peters’ major points:

1.  There is a deliberate distinction between celibacy and continence: both are mentioned for good reason.  In the case of the married deacon, celibacy (refraining from being married) is not applicable by the very definition of celibacy.  In the case of a priest, continence is redundant.  (By the moral law, any many who is not married would be bound by continence.)  Thus, the canon seems to be stressing both celibacy and continence separately, and in its wording holds continence as the “higher” good that is surrendered, with celibacy being presented as a secondary good.

2.  The first point is made clearer by reference section 2 of this same canon (#277): “Clerics are to behave with due prudence towards persons whose company can endanger their obligation to observe continence or give rise to scandal among the faithful” (emphasis added by Peters).  Here there is a mention of continence, but not of celibacy.

These two points serves to illustrate that continence and celibacy are two separate concepts, and they are not necessarily joined together in all cases.

3.  Canon 288 specifically exempts permanent deacons from a variety of obligations (such as the inability to hold political office and the requirement to wear clerical dress, among other obligations), and it makes no attempt to distinguish between married and non-married permanent deacons.  There is no mention of continence among the exemptions.

4.  Canons 1042 and 1037 deal with the exemption for celibacy among permanent deacons.  (1037 is where we find the requirement that unmarried men who become ordained to the diaconate are bound not only to continence, but also to celibacy; that is, they cannot get married.)  Neither canon specifically dispenses the permanent deacon from the requirement to observe continence.

These two points serve to illustrate that Canon Law has ample opportunity to specifically exempt married deacons from the requirement of continence, but in fact does not.

5.  Canon 1031 requires that a married man obtain the consent of his wife before being ordained to the diaconate.  Peters argues the fact that spousal consent is required provides a strong argument that the intent of Canon 277 is that married deacons are bound to continence within their marriage.  He asks, “To what is the spouse consenting, and why is her consent necessary?”  Peters argues that if the consent is not because of the required continence, then no-one has been able to provide a reasonable answer to its necessity.  Vague attempts are made at claiming that the wife is consenting to the pressures that may be put on the marriage because of this new commitment, but Peters sees these arguments as quite weak: in no other Sacrament does one need the permission of the spouse in order to receive it.  One does not, for instance, need to permission of a non-Christian spouse in order to receive Baptism, even thought this could very much put pressure on the marriage.  The requirement of spousal consent would only make sense if the wife was being asked to forgo one of her own rights guaranteed by her state in life, i.e. the sexual union with her husband.

6.  The 1917 Code of Canon Law does not distinguish between the requirement of continence and the requirement of celibacy (no such distinction would have been necessary since all clergy was to be unmarried, and all unmarried men, regardless of particular state in life, are called to continence by the moral law).  Yet available commentators on the 1917 Code, in discussing dispensations from the Vatican for married clergy, were unanimous: a married man who is ordained would be required to forego sexual relations with his wife.  This is important because in reinstating the permanent diaconate, Pope Paul VI said explicitly, “We must confirm all that is said in the [1917] Code of Canon Law about the rights and duties of deacons, either those rights and duties which they have in common with all clerics or those proper to themselves, except where We here state otherwise, and We decree that these rules are to apply to those whom are to be permanent deacons as well.”   The exemption from celibacy is “state[d] otherwise,” and yet nowhere is there an exemption from continence.  This, it seems that the intent of the Holy See at the time when the permanent diaconate was reinstated was explicitly not to remove the exemption of continence from married deacons.

7.  The final argument comes from the revision history of the pivotal canon 277.  Peters notes that the paragraph underwent two signifiant changes.  The first version had the following statement immediately after the first section.  “Men of mature age, promoted to the stable diaconate, who are living in marriage, are not bound to the prescription of section 1 [which imposes both celibacy and continence]; these however, upon the loss of their wife, are bound to celibacy.”  What is significant here is that the language is vague enough to suggest that all of canon 277 section 1 would not apply to married deacons.  It seems to dispense with the entire section, which could then be read as exemption married deacons from both celibacy and continence.  The second version revised the very same sentence as, “Men promoted to the permanent diaconate, living in marriage, are not bound to the prescription of section 1.”  This is even more vague as it seems to not only exempt married deacons from continence, but could also be understood to allow a deacon to re-marry upon the death of his spouse.  What is significant here is that neither version of the sentence made it into the final promulgated Code of Canon Law.  The history suggests that the authors knew that these statements were vague and could be misconstrued to exempt marriage deacons from continence.

These three points positive evidence that the intent of those writing the canon was to specifically retain the requirement of continence for married deacons, (the first being the reference to Pope Paul VI found above).

After this (not so) brief review, I think it is important to state clearly what it is that Dr. Peters believes, but more to the point what he doesn’t believe:

A.  The 1983 Code of Canon Law, after careful examination from a variety of angles, imposes upon married men who want to be ordained as permanent deacons a requirement of continence.  That is, married men who are ordained to the diaconate are to refrain from sexual relations.  Such a drastic requirement is precisely why spousal consent is necessary.

B.  [CURRENT DEACONS, PLEASE READ.]  Those who have been ordained to the permanent diaconate already and have not been made aware of this requirement are not bound by it.  Under Canon Law, no one can be bound to surrender a right unless they were made aware of it at the time of their ordination.

It is important to note that Dr. Peters very much sees the current situation as one that is irregular.  What’s more, he doesn’t even seem to take any one specific position on how to rectify it.  More to the point, I cannot find anywhere that he suggests that married deacons should have imposed on them a requirement of continence.  He is simply stating that Canon Law does in fact make such an imposition.

Peters offers four solutions for rectifying the current situation:  (1) reaffirm the unbroken tradition of continence for all clerics, including married deacons – from this point forward begin enforcing the requirement with newly ordained men, (2) reaffirm the practice for priests, but abandon it for married clergy, (3) change the requirement to a temporary continence for married clergy, or (4) abandon any expectation of continence for married clerics.

Dr. Peters’ thesis is simple: practice and Canon Law are not in conformity.  One of the two (or both) needs changed.  Either rewrite or otherwise clarify the current Code or change the practice to confirm with the Code.  Those who have come out in violent opposition to Dr. Peters seem to have missed this point.  While I am sure that Dr. Peters has his own personal preference within the four options, I cannot find anywhere that he oversteps his bounds as a canon lawyer: he merely states that something needs done, and he offers the list of possible solutions.

Finally, we have the various attempts at debunking Peters’ argument.  Most of these are not worth considering, as they have missed the point altogether.  Some have attempted a historical study on the presence of married clergy within the Church, but this is altogether irrelevant.  Peters is making an argument from Canon Law.  Whether married deacons were required to observe continence throughout all of history is not relevant; Peters is claiming that they are required to do so now.

Others has cited the widespread ignorance of the law itself as proof of Peters’ erroneous reading.  In other words, “Surely if thousands of married men have been ordained by bishops without knowledge of this requirement, something must be wrong.  Surely Peters’ reading must be erroneous.”  The problem here is (1) there is no attempt at why canon 277 should not be read according to Peters, but only states that it is “not being read according to Peters,” and (2) Peters himself has nowhere suggested what the practice should or should not be, only that it is not in conformity with Canon Law.

The only argument worth dissecting is the one that claims an implicit exemption from continence based on the explicit exemption from celibacy.  In other words, it is clear that married men (by definition) are exempt from celibacy.  Further, because part of being married included the natural right to engage in marital intercourse, the exemption from continence is implied.  First, this is quite weak.  Peters goes to great lengths to (1) show the numerous places where the exemption could have been made explicit but is not, and (2) offer at least three positive arguments for the intent of retaining the requirement of continence (the necessity of spousal consent, the explicit intent of Paul VI in reinstating the permanent diaconate, and the history of revision of canon 277).  The whole of this counterargument seems to be, “I don’t like this requirement, so I am going to claim an implied exemption.”

There is one author that has at least attempted a logical argument similar to this.  He begins by stating that the canon is equivalent to a logical if-then statement.  (I’ll spare you all of the formal logic language.)  He then offers what is a well-known law of logic: the law of contrapositive.  The law of contrapositive states that “If then q” is logically equivalent to “If not then not p.”  We can see this by example.  The statement “If a number is greater than 2, then then number is positive” can be re-written as, “If a number is not positive, then it is not greater than 2.”  The author then proceeds to go through canon 277.  He claims that “Clerics are obliged to continence and therefore are bound to celibacy” is equivalent to, “Clerics who are not bound to celibacy are not therefore obliged to continence.”  The author then applies the latter to married deacons.

This seems to have merit on the surface, and yet one feels a sleight of hand, or perhaps a sleight of words.  His argument only works if canon 277 intends to present a true logical if-then statement.  In other words, it only works if (1) canon 277 can be rewritten as, “If a cleric is obliged to continence, then he is obliged to celibacy,” and (2) this if-then statement is true.  Regarding (1), this is debatable, as the example below will illustrate.  Regarding (2), it is simply a restatement of the very issue at hand.  Dr. Peters says that the expressed exemption of deacons from celibacy later in Canon Law is precisely the counter example that renders such a statement false.  In fact, notice the careful rewording of the contrapositive above: it no longer speaks in terms of absolute requirements, but it instead uses the relative pronoun “who.”  A more accurate contrapositive would be, “Clerics are not bound to celibacy and therefore are not obliged to continence.”  If the author is correct, then it would seem to imply much more than married deacons being exempt from continence and celibacy, but rather all clergy.  This is clearly not correct.

Finally, we can see a parallel in the Confiteor in which we profess, “I have greatly sinned, and therefore I ask Blessed Mary … to pray for me.”  It is because I have sinned that I ask others to pray for me.  The author above would have us believe that this is equivalent to saying, “Those who do not ask for the prayers of others have not sinned.”  This is clearly false and it comes not from an error in logic, but from an imprecise translation of an English statement into formal logical statements.  In other words, “therefore” (or “because of this”) as used in the English language is not equivalent to the  “If … then …” of formal logic.

Of course, one thing that could resolve this debate is some clarification form the Vatican.  I have not yet been able to find any, but I am happy present it if someone wants to pass it my way.
*          *          *
I intended this to be short – I have failed miserably.

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23 Responses to The Controversies of the Permanent Diaconate

  • There is also the problem of Permanent Deacon who actively engages in politics, not just in commenting and promoting candidates in his own private life, but running for office while using the title “Deacon” in his official duties in politics.

    We’ve found the situation to be problematic.

  • I wrote a doctoral dissertation on this same topic.

    CUA 2010 the obligation of perfect and perpetual continence and married deacons in the Latin Church.

  • I believe that it is the only doctoral work on this precise topic.

  • “There is also the problem of Permanent Deacon who actively engages in politics…”

    I was in a Diaconate program once. It was heavily politicized with the concept of “social justice” strangely looking like the Democratic platform There were a number of candidates who explicitly stated that they would promote certain programs from the pulpit.

  • “Note first that deacons most certainly fit the definition of ‘clergy,’ and so they are seemingly included in this call to ‘perfect and perpetual continence.'”

    This seems like canonical base-stealing. Almost the entire argument depends on this conclusion and yet no time is spent specifically making this case.

    I agree deacons most certainly fit the definition of “clergy” for some uses, but it is entirely not clear that in the cited passage, “Clerics” is intended to include them in this usage.

  • Chris-2-4,

    It seems that when cleric is used in that section of the Code of Canon Law, it means to apply to all clerics whether priest or deacon, unless specifically exempted. Look, for example, at Canon 288. It states: “Permanent deacons are not bound by the provisions of Canon. 284, 285 §§3 and 4, 286, 287 §2, unless particular law states otherwise.” In other words, there is no distinction between types of clerics unless otherwise specified, such as in Canon 288.

  • Intriguing article. I had no idea this was the case for permanent deacons, but the argument is sound that they are required to be continent. It seems from the wording of Canon 277 that the need for celibacy arises out of the need for continence. If the need for continence arose out of the need for celibacy, then a case could be made that deacons are not required to be continent because they are exempted from the celibacy that necessitates that. But this doesn’t seem to be the case, rather it clearly indicates that all clerics are to be continent, and so (if not already married) must be celibate. This makes sense because the ability to engage in intercourse with one’s spouse is essential to marriage. A valid marriage cannot be dissolved if it has been consummated.

  • On the other hand, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio indicates that continence does not apply to married permanent deacons. He is president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative texts. He indicates that permanent deacons did not specifically need to be exempted because married people are already not required to be continent. Canon 288 applies to all deacons, married or not, and so this canon isn’t an argument one way or the other that married deacons are exempt from canon 277. Not all deacons are exempted from continence, and so this would not be mentioned in 288 if married deacons are exempted.

    The Cardinal indicates that canon 1055 would require the spouse to explicitly give consent for continence. This canon states marriage is ordered to the procreation of children, among other things, and this apparently does not change or the spouse would have to give specific consent for that.

    Interesting arguments on both sides of the issue.

  • Chris,

    This seems to have been addressed by A.S., but to reiterate, Canon Law is quite clear on the definition of cleric, and it most certainly included those ordained to the diaconate, permanent or otherwise. This is also a major point made when ordaining men to the diaconate, that they are from this point forward “clergy.”

    – Jake

  • Alphatron,

    Thank you for the reference. This is a letter I was aware of at the time of writing my post. The main problem is that it appears to carry no magisterial weight, but is merely an expressed opinion on the matter. Second, it doesn’t address the argument at all, at least in its essence as presented by Peters. While it would take a good bit to go through the entire text of the actual response, I think I will let Dr. Peters speak for himself on this one. His response-to-the-response is worth reading, for it clarifies what is at stake and what is not at stake.

    Remember, Peters is no claiming that any specific permanent deacon “is” actually bound to continence (and in fact claims quite the obvious, because such deacons were not made aware of the requirement at the time of their ordination). Rather, he is claiming that Canon Law binds a deacon to such a requirement. This is an important distention, for Peters himself has offered as one of his four resolutions bringing Canon Law into conformity with current practice.

    His response is here:

  • What is so difficult about a permanent deacon giving up sex with his wife, if he chooses to become a deacon. It is HIS choice,

    Shut up and grow up.

    The Catholic Church took that choice from me when it supported and continues to support my wife’s adultery and not a single bishop, none, will speak the truth.

    The Church is a mess and deserves to be for the way it treats abandoned spouses and adulterous lovers. may its persecution come fast and be terribly hard, until such time as the Pope grows up.

  • Karl, I know that you’re hurting, but you bringing up your personal hobbyhorse in every conversation has reached its sell-by date. I think you should follow the advice you gave to the Pope.

  • Go ahead Jake, please remove my post. Pope Paul has spoken!

  • Fr. McLaughlin: what was your conclusion vis-a-vis the “Peters position?”

    For myself, as a lowly layman in the pew, I have troubles with the idea of Fred the plumber fixing my pipes on Saturday and then on Sunday preaching, baptizing, distributing Holy Communion, and wearing clerical garb.

    While we must of course “obey” (not sure how we would do otherwise), obedience doesn’t mean we can’t wonder at the advisability of having men in orders who also have secular occupations that may create real scandal among the faithful. What if Joe the lawyer handles contested divorce and custody issues and then has to minister to both parties on Sunday? Or if Bob the auto mechanic gets in a dispute over his commercial probity, then on Sunday is a representative of the Church on the Altar?

    This is all before we even discuss the lousy formation received by many of these deacons. I’ve watched several baptisms where the nice gentleman has blathered on and on about acceptance into the community but not a hint dropped about Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.

    Hopefully in years to come many priestly vocations will naturally reduce the perceived “need” for this army of quasi-clerics.

  • Tom,

    You raise some good points. The issue that probably needs more clarification would be this: What is the distinction between a permanent (possibly married) deacon and a deacon who holds a full time job in the secular world. It is something I have often wondered about. Certainly we can have the former without the latter. In other words, what would be the impact if the Church were to say, “We will ordain you, but then your job is essentially now for the Church. We employe you like we would a priest.”

    I am not ignoring the practical implications of this, not the least of which is the amount of money that could be spared and whether it would be enough to support a family. However, I think it is an interesting mental exercise to go through. Many of the issue you raise come not from the permanent diaconate per say, but from a man having one foot in the world of clergy and one foot in the secular world. And for the record, I agree … this does lead to substantial ministerial problems as you indicated.

    I think the interesting thing is that, as it is currently practices, most permanent deacons are not required to sacrifice much. Of course, I am not minimizing what is asked in terms of church commitments, but let’s be honest, all of us that volunteer in one way or another make sacrifices of time. An unmarried clergy, however, makes some real sacrifices: celibacy is the most obvious, but a career in the secular world is another. The permanent diaconate is on a whole different (lower) level in terms of the sacrifice, which is why it is often seen as, “You can have it all – be married, be clergy, be on the altar, be out in the word.”

    This idea is worth exploring more. Maybe someone else wants to write the next post. I have been thrown under the bus quite enough for one week!

  • Tom has some very good points. I once knew a Deacon who was employed by the Church as administrator of a Catholic Cemetery. This, in no way, was an impediment to his ministerial role as Deacon in the Parish. I’ve also known retired men who have served well. On the other hand, some professions do cause scandal to the faithful, as Tom has pointed out.

  • I am acquainted with two deacons. One is employed as a chaplain at a local secular hospital. He is also a volunteer chaplain at a prison. The other owns a Catholic bookstore, teaches at a local community college, and volunteers to work with high school students who are disadvantaged. I am impressed by the holiness of both men, and their employment doesn’t contradict their ministry as deacons. Rather, it seems to compliment it. Both are very active in pro-life work as well. While I don’t wish to be a deacon because if my wife were to pass away young I would want to remarry, I find myself often using them as models of behavior for myself.

  • While we must of course “obey” (not sure how we would do otherwise), obedience doesn’t mean we can’t wonder at the advisability of having men in orders who also have secular occupations that may create real scandal among the faithful. What if Joe the lawyer handles contested divorce and custody issues and then has to minister to both parties on Sunday? Or if Bob the auto mechanic gets in a dispute over his commercial probity, then on Sunday is a representative of the Church on the Altar?

    The legal profession presents some peculiar problem, but your distaste for auto mechanics and plumbers is perplexing. There is no sort of occupation that is constitutionally free of potential temptations and priests without other occupations are not immune to causing scandal.

  • The point is not any unworthiness of a given occupation (even lawyering, my profession!), but the inherent potential problems of having men mixed up in the contentions and strife of the secular world Monday through Saturday having to appear untouched in their ministry on Sunday. Again, it’s no accident that the Church does not allow this “duality” for priests.

    The example of many deacons who are wonderful guys does not answer this objection.

    The whole notion of introducing the married diaconate, was in my view, an ill-advised one sure to create pressure to allow married priests (“Deacon Fred can handle the ministry well while being married, why can’t Fr. X get married?”) and is nowadays easy to picture as a rather sad attempt to fill the breach left by the vocations crisis. So the people who brought us the vocations crisis are trying to hide their crime by pumping permanent married deacons into parishes to pick up the slack.

    I think enforcing continence (the default rule for clerics in the Western Church) would have a salutary effect, at least insofar as it would support rather than undermine the existing law and practice of clerical continence.

  • Only the Catholic Priest saying the words of Jesus Christ at the Consecration of the Mass and in the Sacrament of Penance is “In Persona Christi.” At all other times the ordained priest is “alter Christi”, acting as an alternate, other in Christ. The ordained permanent deacon cannot ever act “in Persona Christi” The permanent deacon acts as “alter Christi” when he confers the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, buries, administers the Holy Eucharist, teaches, reads the Gospel and gives homily. The ordained priest is called to confect the Sacred Species and give absolution in the words of Christ. In acting in Persona Christi, the ordained priest must immerse himself in the innocent virginity and continence of Christ.
    Continence for the sake of the kingdom is celibacy but not necessarily always, for continence may be used for other reasons. Only celibacy is for the ordained priest, a gift bestowed by Jesus for those who are in Persona Christi. The ordained deacon can never act in Persona Christ in the Sacraments.
    I know four priests who were ordained after their spouses passed away, two priests in the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ and two priests in the Diocese of Wilmington, Del. These priests have many adult children. To maintain continence for the kingdom of heaven would prepare a man for Holy Orders, if circumstances permitted. Otherwise, permanent deacons who would not aspire to the priesthood when circumstances permitted are not really committed to the deaconate and Holy Mother Church.

  • @AS: “A valid marriage cannot be dissolved if it has been consummated.” Husbands and wives can devote themselves to prayer without violating their marriage vows and commitments. A permanent deacon devotes his life in total to the Church. If his wife is true she to will devote her life to the Church. It is why the wife must consent to surrendering her husband and her marital privileges. Without the wife’s consent, the man, her husband, may not enter into the pemanent deaconate.

  • Karl: “The Church is a mess and deserves to be for the way it treats abandoned spouses and adulterous lovers. may its persecution come fast and be terribly hard, until such time as the Pope grows up.”

    @Karl: Please pay attention to how you treat yourself. As a woman who was abondoned with five infant children, please accept your pain. Holy Mother Church
    gives us Holy Scripture. The book of Hosea or Osee tells of a husband who was abandoned by his spouse. God instructed Hosea to find the adulterous Gomer and take her to his bosom as spouse, as the people of Isreal are taken back by God.
    Cursing Holy Mother Church and slandering the Holy Father brings condemnation upon yourself and sorrows the heart of the Blessed Virgin. Ask God what is His will for you and offer up your pain…and there is pain enough, but not wasted. Do as Paul Zummo suggests: Leave you complaint in the hands of God and trust in the mercy of Jesus Christ. God has no “sell-by date”

  • I read this post a couple of days ago, and have only just now had time to comment.
    The Permanent Diaconate has been established in the Hamilton Diocese (only) in NZ since 1989, with the ordination of one deacon. Then in 1992 a migrant from UK who was a deacon joined our parish. Since then we have had 18 further deacons ordained, a couple of ordained deacons from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Two years ago the Diocese of Auckland introduced the Permanent Diaconate with the ordination of ,I think, 17 deacons. So NZ is really the new kid on the block WRT the permanent diaconate.
    So considering the issue mentioned in this post – celibacy, chastity and clerical continence in the permanent diaconate, this cropped up a few years ago on our local Catholic blog, and was hotly debated. We have two canon lawyers in our diocese, plus our bishop, Denis Browne, and the conclusions were as follows:
    1.Men who are married and enter the permanent diaconate are not obliged to observe clerical continence, the reasoning being, that the first covenant they make is in sacramental marriage – this covenant is not taken away by ordination to the diaconate despite the ontological change, and besides, the spouse (wife) also has rights as well as obligations within her marriage, which is not changed.
    2. In the event that a deacon’s wife dies, then he is unable to re-marry. There is however, an exception to this, and that is that if the deacon is reasonably young and has a young family that requires the nurture of a mother, then under excetional circumstances and with the express permission of his bishop, he may re-marry. However, there was no mention as to whether or not they are obliged to observe clerical continence, but I would suggest not.
    3. Mary de-Voe makes a valid point, in that a priest is ordained in persona Christi, whereas a deacon is alter Christus and although this was not discussed with our canon lawyers, I think it has considerable relevence.

    I have undertaken the excercises for the past four years in preparation for ordination to the permanent diaconate, and just 2 days ago, my bishop advised that he will come to our parish – St.Mary Immacualte, in Tauranga NZ of the Hamilton diocese – on 21st. April this year to ordain me into the permanent diaconate. I just pray that I am worthy to receive this privelege, and look forward with a mixture of anticipation and humility for the honour of serving Christ and my brothers and sisters in Christ. WRT the topic discussed, Although I am still very physically active at 70 years of age ( I am presently re-roofing my house by myself – removing the terracotta clay tiles, and replacing them with bituminous shingles over plywood. It is a 30 deg. pitch roof, and is requiring considerable care – but I did work as a roofing contractor for several years back in the late 70’s before becoming a full time building contractor) and I do require a reasonable level of physical fitness to undertake this task. So for my (and my wife’s) part, I have no problem accepting clerical continence – any of my remaining testosterone is devoted to the physical work that I undertake; I am no longer a red-blooded youth with an excess of the hormone coursing wildly through my every vein and artery. 🙂

The Muse Among the Motors

Wednesday, January 30, AD 2013

Rudyard Kipling and car

The eighteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here and here.  Kipling had a very distinctive style, a style which has produced endless poems imitating him.  It occasionally amused Kipling to do a poem in the style of some other poet.  Between 1904 and 1929 he did a series of short poems in the style of various poets.  The subject of the poems was the new horseless carriage.  Kipling loved cars, although it is unclear whether he ever drove one himself.  Here are a few of the poems in his series The Muse Among the Motors.  I will leave to the readers in the comboxes to guess the poet being copied.  We will start out with an easy one:

The Justice’s Tale

With them there rode a lustie Engineere

Wel skilled to handel everich waie her geere,

Hee was soe wise ne man colde showe him naught

And out of Paris was hys learnynge brought.

Frontlings mid brazen wheeles and wandes he sat,

And on hys heade he bare an leathern hat.

Hee was soe certaine of his governance, That, by the

Road, he tooke everie chaunce.

For simple people and for lordlings eke

Hee wolde not bate a del but onlie squeeke

Behinde their backes on an horne hie

Until they crope into a piggestie.

He was more wood than bull in china-shoppe,

And yet for cowes and dogges wolde hee stop,

Not our of Marcie but for Preudence-sake–

Than hys dependaunce ever was hys brake.

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3 Responses to The Muse Among the Motors

  • Thank you for bringing Kipling to mind again. It has been a long time since I have read any of his poems. I have a kindred spirit with all poets. It has been over thirty years and 500 poems since I discovered a gift for poetry, and at 85 I still average at least two a month. What a blessing that has been for me all these years. The first 200 I considered it a hobby only for my own enjoyment. My wife was my greatest fan, and now that she is gone, my oldest daughter has been distributing them to her friends. I am happy others now say they appreciate them very much. My computer is the lifeline for a crippled retired writer. Despite almost constant pain, I try to be the youngest 85-year old in existence. A friend once called me “The oldest living technical writer in captivity. So many people do not understand what a blessing suffering can be if you use it wisely to earn the eternal gratitude of souls in purgatory. Never waste graces.

  • I’m new here, but mind if I play?

    Chaucer, obviously; Lovelace, possibly; Byron, I’m sure; Milton, it sounds like; and the last one puts me in mind of Swinburne.

    A magnificent and moving series. I thank you, Sir, for all eighteen, and hope there may be more to come.

  • Thank you for your kind comments Tom. Correct as to Chaucer, Byron and Milton.

Intellectual Bankruptcy on Display

Tuesday, January 29, AD 2013

One can look at the blatant dishonesty displayed by gun control proponents one of two ways. These people are so dishonest and so loose with the facts that they destroy their credibility with each new fabrication. Alternatively, these individuals are so shameless and brazen that we can only stand aside in wonder as they run full steam ahead.

The latest display of such hubris is from the firestorm over the supposed heckling of Neil Heslin, father of one of the murdered children at Sandy Hook elementary, Jesse Lewis. The problem: he wasn’t heckled.

MSNBC is propping up its story with a blatantly edited video. In fact, Heslin was not heckled. Gun rights advocates in the audience indeed voiced their support for the Second Amendment — after he asked why anyone would need “assault-style weapons or high-capacity clips.” You’d never know based on the MSNBC version, which completely cut out the footage of Heslin’s question.

Fortunately, Twitchy has obtained the full, unedited video, which you can view for yourself below (relevant portion starts at the 15-minute mark):

You can go to the Twitchy link to view the video. Here is Ace’s summary:

At first you might think this is a rhetorical question; the audience in fact takes it as rhetorical, and doesn’t answer. Then he scans around the room, looking for someone to answer, and, as everyone’s silent, concludes, as he’d intended, that no one has a good answer.

At that point, people realize that their respectful silence is being taken for assent, and they begin chiming in “The second amendment.”

He asked a question and was legitimately looking for people to answer. People did, and they were shouted down for actually responding.

Obviously the man is still grieving, and should be afforded respect. At the same time, he is also willingly allowing himself to be placed in a public situation to make an appeal for legislative change to gun laws. No one shouted him down – just the opposite. People assumed he was making a rhetorical point, and when it was obvious that it was more than just a rhetorical question, they replied in kind.

Should people have remained silent even when pressed? Some will argue that a man in Heslin’s state should be given the utmost space to bare his soul. But it seems to me that the people who are disrespecting Heslin are the people who put him on that stand. They used him as a political prop. Well, that’s not entirely fair, because I am sure that Heslin was willing to make this public testimony. Yet those that are so indignant about people actually responding to Heslin when he asked them a question are simply enraged that their political theater was upstaged for a minute. How is it respectful of Heslin to use him as a political prop to bludgeon political opponents over the head with? If anyone is disrepecting Mr. Heslin’s dignity, it is folks like those at Media Matters, David Frum, and others who don’t really see him as a human being, but as a useful political tool. And those people frankly make me sick.







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13 Responses to Intellectual Bankruptcy on Display

  • Gotta love how the outraged tweets care so much about the allegedly heckled father and his personal tragedy that some of them assert he lost a son and others that he lost a daughter (it was in fact his son) in the shooting.

    Really, though, this is symtomatic of the way in which, to the modern left, it is far more important to believe tht the right is wicked than to actually know anything about the issue involved. Thus, none of them know what the heck an assault weapon is, nor why we should be particularly offended by them and not by other weapons, but they’re darn sure that anyone who would defend the right to own such a thing is just a terrible, terrible human being.

  • The first thing any socialist tyrant does is to disarm the population. The guns are not the problem. The moral disintegration is what will destroy our nation. Leaving only the criminals and socialists armed with assault rifles is lunacy.

  • When you ask a question, you must always expect an answer.

  • How ironic and oxymoronic that the left demonizes the right over the right to keep and bear arms ostensibly in the name of protecting children while it is the left that murders unborn children to the tune of 55 million since Roe v Wade. The right may be incompetent in explaining and defending its position, but it is the left which is diabolically evil.

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  • a better answer to his question would have been:

    “In case the govt tries to move against the people”.

  • The country is in danger of losing its credit rating, the President of the United States is acting like he can’t be broke ‘cuz he still has checks, and Congress, the press, and phonies in Mark Shea’s comboxes are making exhibits of themselves over the dangers of rifles, shotguns, and muzzle-loaders. The collection of police departments in a metropolitan center of ordinary size (say, Omaha) will have to investigate one or two homicides a year making use of these weapons, and they tell us it is a pressing national emergency. We are all drowning in humbug.

  • Re: the “blatant dishonesty” of gun control advocates — do you consider the Vatican to be “blatantly dishonest?” I “naturally” lean left but after much examination of conscience am working to accept the church’s authority on issues I find personally difficult (such as civil gay marriage). I don’t understand why those who lean rightward aren’t willing to similarly re-examine their political convictions in light of the Church’s firmly pro-gun-control stance.

  • do you consider the Vatican to be “blatantly dishonest?”

    No, though I do eye with wary suspicion those who claim that the “Vatican” has made such and such a pronouncement, when all that has usually happened is that some bureaucratic lackey has made a pronouncement upon his own authority.

    don’t understand why those who lean rightward aren’t willing to similarly re-examine their political convictions in light of the Church’s firmly pro-gun-control stance.

    Becky, you are welcome to cite the magisterial documents that are evidence of “the Church’s firmly pro-gun control stance.” I suspect, however, that you are not likely to find such a thing. And no, news clippings claiming that the “Vatican said” are not magisterial pronouncements. I’m looking for something in the Catechism, a Council document, an encyclical, etc.

  • Sorry, folks.

    Today, Chuck Hagel lowered the bar on “Intellectual Bankruptcy”, something Obama and the vile, lying media have been doing for, lo, these many years.

    Also, so-called assault rifles, shotguns, etc. annually (with no free will) murder (half as many as hammers in 2010) at least 25,000,000 fewer of God’s children than do abortion and artificial contraception.

Letter to Hooker

Tuesday, January 29, AD 2013

Joe Hooker

One hundred and fifty years ago last Saturday, President Abraham Lincoln sent what is doubtless the most unusual letter ever sent by an American president to an American general:

Executive Mansion Washington, January 26, 1863

Major General Hooker: General.

I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which, I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and a skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that during Gen. Burnside’s command of the Army, you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes, can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of it’s ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the Army, of criticising their Commander, and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can, to put it down. Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army, while such a spirit prevails in it.

And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories.

Yours very truly

A. Lincoln

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14 Responses to Letter to Hooker

  • The current President gives different letters and different orders to his generals. Supposedly he is now making as a litmus test for promotion the question of whether or not a military leader would fire on American citizens (according to Jim Garrow on Facebook).

    Is that true? If so, then we face not a military dictatorship but a malevolent tyrant who is disarming American citizens and will use force to shove his ways down our throats. It won’t be pink fascism any longer, but the bloody red Nazism that the unborn already suffer. But maybe I am a pessimist.

  • “(according to Jim Garrow on Facebook).”

    Color me unimpressed Paul by a hearsay statement from a Nobel Peace Prize “nominee”. (Anyone can be nominated for a Nobel Prize by anyone. I could nominate you today for a Nobel Prize and you would be an official Nobel Prize nominee.) Jim Garrow has a history as a flake.
    The more accurate criticism of Obama as commander in chief is that he has sacrificed military effectiveness to the Gods of Political Correctness in regard to homosexuals in the military and now this ludicrous move to put women into the Combat Arms. You can bet that military leaders are being promoted to high rank now on the basis of their willingness to support these policies rather than on the basis of their military competence.

  • Thank you for the correction, Donald. I knew nothing about Jim Garrow. The internet is a cesspool, especially Facebook, and it’s hard to know what’s real and credible and what isn’t if one isn’t an expert in the subject field.

  • The internet is a great resource for spreading both truth and lies. Distinguishing between the two is often not a simple task.

  • So you’re saying the first Letter from a sitting president to a Hooker was from Abe Lincoln and NOT Bill Clinton?

  • There were a lot of people in the north looking for a man on a white horse. Whatever else his flaws, it is to McClellan’s very great credit that he dismissed such talk, and tried to win the Presidency the old fashioned way.

    Hooker was a fine corps commander, but my, did Marse Robert ever take up rent-free residence in his head.

  • Ha, Lincoln would surely recognize the lust for dictatorship, having so so firmly flirted with it himself by his various actions in contravention of the constitution.

    I know, I know, the ends justified the means.

  • You can bet that military leaders are being promoted to high rank now on the basis of their willingness to support these policies rather than on the basis of their military competence.


  • “Ha, Lincoln would surely recognize the lust for dictatorship, having so so firmly flirted with it himself by his various actions in contravention of the constitution.”

    Tom I defy you to find anything done by Lincoln to preserve the Union that Davis did not do to destroy it. I also defy you to find anything that Lincoln did that was not supported by a majority of Congress. Lincoln of course went before the people in 1864 and was reelected resoundingly. “Dictators” should be made of sterner stuff.

  • The only thing that Lincoln did that was remotely dictatorial was suspend the writ of habeas corpus. The problem for the neoconfederates is that a) this is permitted by the Constitution during times of rebellion, and b) this was an act approved by Congress.

  • Don, if you haven’t read it, David Williams’ “Bitterly Divided” is an eye-opener with respect to how much the Richmond regime was hated by the “plain folk” of the South. Provost marshals were to wartime Dixie what slave-catchers were to the antebellum North.

  • It sounds interesting Dale. There were plenty of whites who grumbled about a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight. As a whole the white population remained pretty loyal to the Confederacy but the lost cause mythology of a unified white South behind the Confederacy was never true and became less true as the War became increasingly grim for the South.

  • If Lincoln had sufficient competent generals at the beginning of the War, it would have ended much sooner.

  • Generalship in the West for the Union was suffient unto the task from 1862. The War in the East was another matter and Grant just barely filled the bill against Lee.

None Dare Call it Fascism

Monday, January 28, AD 2013

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey found himself engulfed in controversy for remarks he made about Obamacare:

Back in 2009, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal labeling President Obama’s Affordable Care Act a form of “socialism.” Today on NPR’s Morning Edition he changed his mind. Mackey now thinks Obamacare is “fascism.”

“Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism,” Mackey told NPR. “Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

That’s an f-word that you just don’t use in polite conversation, so Mackey backtracked slightly.

On CNN this morning, host Carol Costello confronted Whole Foods CEO John Mackey over his recent comments that ObamaCare was tantamount to “fascism” because “the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it.”

“You initially labeled the Health Care Act a form of socialism, and then on NPR you called ObamaCare ‘fascism.’ Why did you decide to change the terminology?” Costello asked at the outset.

Echoing his statement yesterday that he regrets using the word “fascism,” Mackey explained, “That was a bad choice of words, but traditionally socialism means that the means of production are run by the government and in fascism the means of production are still owned by private individuals but they’re controlled by the government. And what’s happening. Our health care system is moving away from free enterprise capitalism towards greater governmental control. That was a poor choice of words due to the baggage and associations that go along with it. So now I’m just calling it ‘government-controlled health care.’”

An unsatisfied Costello then challenged Mackey, saying, “You realize when you say ‘fascism,’ it brings up Nazi Germany and all sorts of things. And we really want that kind language out of our public forum at the moment, don’t we?”

“Apparently you can’t use that word in America any longer, it’s taboo,” Mackey fired back.

I find this all rather amazing. For the past four years leftists – and a fair number of conservatives, as well – have decried any use of the word socialist to describe the Obama administration. You see Obama wasn’t really a socialist, and anyone who dared use that term to describe Obama was a crazy kook who needed to be shunned from society. So Mackey attempted to use more accurate terminology in describing Obamacare, only to discover that it has become verboten. Well, it’s only verboten when applied to politicians on the left. Ed Driscoll quotes from Jonah Goldberg’s G-File (available via email only):

None of this surprises me. But it’s still quite amazing. The simple fact is that fascism is a uniquely radioactive political term and the Left has an exclusive license to use it. Liberals are allowed to be as glib and cavalier as they want about the use of the word. But if conservatives use it — entirely accurately — it is an outrage and a sign of ignorance. Yes, technically, it would have been more accurate, and certainly less controversial, if Mackey had said Obamacare is corporatist — the economic structure of fascism — but very few people know what “corporatist” means. 

And so you have this carve out for liberals. They get to use the word fascist — incorrectly — all of the time. But if a conservative (or in this case a libertarian) uses it accurately, and not particularly pejoratively either, it’s offensive or stupid.

This is why Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism, was such a delightful and enlightening read. Fascism is such a loaded word that it has become almost impossible to talk seriously about it. The left has done a masterful job of twisting the word around and have managed to turn fascism into some kind of right-wing ideology in the minds of most Americans. Anyone with more than a cursory understanding of political thought would understand why that is completely laughable, but sadly most people do not possess even a cursory understanding of political thought. So either the term is applied – mistakenly and inappropriately – to conservatives, or else anyone who uses it to describe – fairly accurately – the policies of the Obama administration is to be mocked and ridiculed.

Mackey may have been right, but that’s of no use to him now. Clearly both “socialist” and “fascist” are completely off the table when it comes to discussions of President Obama and his signature policy achievement. Well then, we’ll just have to stick with “counterproductive,” “wrongheaded,” “bankruptcy-inducing,” and other adjectives.

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12 Responses to None Dare Call it Fascism

  • quote:
    An unsatisfied Costello then challenged Mackey, saying, “You realize when you say ‘fascism,’ it brings up Nazi Germany and all sorts of things…..”

    No, Ms. Costello, it is the “socialism” that you adore so well. Is that not the “Z” in Nazi?

  • “Well then, we’ll just have to stick with “counterproductive,” “wrongheaded,” “bankruptcy-inducing,” and other adjectives.”

    Cloud cuckoo land comes to mind.

  • I dare accuse mindless American voters of treason.

  • my objection to the use of fascism against liberalism isn’t that it’s over-the-top rhetoric — in any case we’ve always had that in political discourse. my objection is that regardless of what technical points people can make about fascist policies w/r/t the government’s relationship with the economy, it’s fundamentally about a strictly defined nationalism, and i don’t view that as relevant to leftist ideology. not that you can’t find certain leftists in history who had a very culturally particular view of their country (and really there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just that fascism makes it the overarching principle & turns it against others) but that idea itself isn’t really left-wing in nature.

    in any case the argument’s kinda meaningless. Obamacare’s fascist, but a single-payer plan would be socialist? does it really matter much either way. plenty of countries have universal healthcare programs that i’m sure can be critiqued without involving either term.

  • I like the way liberals twist and change the meaning of words to something totally different that suits their purpose (much like the word liberal itself) and then refuse to acknowledge that someone might use the dictionary definition of a word, that is precisely what it meant for two hundred years, before they arbitrarily changed it.

  • How about « dirigiste » ?

  • The point is that Obama wants to control everything: how much money someone makes, what happens to that money, how long someone should live, indeed, whether or not someone should live. Why is that not fascism or Nazism?

  • It is indeed fascism. This is the game where the left trys to maintain control over how words are used and who gets to use them. If a conservative says the equivalent of “the king has no clothes” then they get to listen to a lame rebuttal.

    At present, most of the media is liberal and playing on the same side. When conservatives start dropping subscriptions to papers, cable-tv, and magazines it will begin to change. When you start supporting conservative media outlets, the change will expand for the better.

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  • I have been watching a movie about Karol on EWTN – John Paul II when he dealt with the Nazi Fascists and then immediately with the Soviet communists.
    Distinguishing the various falsehoods is pale compared to discerning truth – we have to be dogged in that pursuit of communicating truth – no matter how they change the meaning of words.

  • I remember Carol Costello when her broadcasting career began. Ms. Costello worked for WAKR TV in Akron, Ohio, broadcasting local news. WAKR was the only TV station to broadcast the high school football and basketball scores in neighboring Portage County – the Cleveland TV stations could never be bothered with our neck of the woods.

    Later she did TV news in Columbus and Baltimore.

    What a shame she turned into a leftist mouthpiece.

  • I have been explaining this to people, and they want to keep calling it socialism. I just explain its National Socialism.

When Seconds Count, the Police Are Only Minutes Away

Monday, January 28, AD 2013

Bravo to Sheriff Dave Clark of Milwaukee who tells the absolute truth in the video above.   I have been involved in many orders of protection where the judge issuing the order admonishes the person seeking the order that it merely is a piece of paper and that they must take precautions for their own safety.  The Law is a powerful tool, but it cannot provide protection from armed assailants night and day.

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Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

Monday, January 28, AD 2013


As a highly Pagan poet said to me: “The Reformation happened because people hadn’t the brains to understand Aquinas.” The Church is more immortally important than the State; but the State has its rights, for all that. This Christian duality had always been implicit, as in Christ’s distinction between God and Caesar, or the dogmatic distinction between the natures of Christ.
But St. Thomas has the glory of having seized this double thread as the clue to a thousand things; and thereby created the only creed in which the saints can be sane. It presents itself chiefly, perhaps, to the modern world as the only creed in which the poets can be sane. For there is nobody now to settle the Manichees; and all culture is infected with a faint unclean sense that Nature and all things behind us and below us are bad; that there is only praise to the highbrow in the height. St. Thomas exalted God without lowering Man; he exalted Man without lowering Nature. Therefore, he made a cosmos of common sense; terra viventium; a land of the living.
His philosophy, like his theology, is that of common sense.
He does not torture the brain with desperate attempts to explain existence by explaining it away. The first steps of his mind are the first steps of any honest mind; just as the first virtues of his creed could be those of any honest peasant.

G.K. Chesterton

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12 Responses to Feast Day of the Angelic Doctor

  • It is worth recalling Etienne Gilson’s comments on Chesterton’s biography of St Thomas.

    “I consider it as being without possible comparison the best book ever written on St. Thomas. Nothing short of genius can account for such an achievement. Everybody will no doubt admit that it is a “clever” book, but the few readers who have spent twenty or thirty years in studying St. Thomas Aquinas, and who, perhaps, have themselves published two or three volumes on the subject, cannot fail to perceive that the so-called “wit” of Chesterton has put their scholarship to shame. He has guessed all that which they had tried to demonstrate, and he has said all that which they were more or less clumsily attempting to express in academic formulas. “

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  • I have started Etienne Gilson’s Elements of Christian Philosophy. I will admit that it has been on the shelf for awhile. Just couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then, as a lark, I read it out loud. Ah, what a difference. Maybe I’ll try the same with Mr. Chesterton’s treatment of the Angelic Doctor. It’s been sitting awhile, too.

    Wasn’t it Stacy Trasancos that sighed longing for a relationship with the Catholic religion that went beyond the bookshelf?

  • One philosophic error of Aquinas, contrary to Chesterton, seems to be that he exhalted man while lowering God. Or that he at least opened the back door to humanism.

  • Not at all. Aquinas believed that God gave us our intellects by which we could understand much about Him. However he also understood that the human mind could never hope to entirely fathom God and that what the mind cannot understand the human heart often can. Near the end of his life Thomas had a mystical experience and stopped writing. He explained it to one of his fellow Dominicans:

    “I adjure you by the living almighty God, and by the faith you have in our order, and by charity that you strictly promise me you will never reveal in my lifetime what I tell you. Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.”

  • The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall. He didn’t take into account the profound effect the Fall had on our intellect. This seems to have elevated nature on a par with grace to where nature would soon dethrone grace, i.e. the humanist ‘renaissance.’

  • Jon

    It is important to distinguish between St Thomas’s own teaching and that of some of his commentators, especially Suarez and his successors. They had talked of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. This “two-tier” account of nature and grace was based on this view that the addition of “grace” was something super-added to a human nature that was already complete and sufficient in itself and apart from any intrinsic human need.

    To rebut this misunderstanding of St Thomas was a central aim of the Nouvelle Théologie and united such such disparate thinkers as Blondel, Maréchal, the Dominicans, Chenu and Congar and the Jesuits, Lubac and Daniélou. Their central thesis was that the natural and the supernatural do not have utterly separate ends in and of themselves and that this is the teaching of St Thomas.

  • “The critique I’ve come across is that Aquinas lacked a ‘high’ view of the Fall.”

    “In this way the sin of the first parents is the cause of death and of all like defects in human nature. For the sin of the first parents removed original justice; through this not only were the lower powers of the soul held harmoniously under the control of reason but the whole body was subordinated to the soul without any defect…. Once, therefore, original justice was lost through the sin of the first parents, just as human nature was injured in soul by the disordering of the powers, so also it became corruptible by reason of the disturbance of the body’s order. (Summa Theologiae I-I1, 85, 5)”

    The Angelic Doctor used the imagery of wounds to liken the effect of original sin on human souls and human nature. I do not think that Aquinas viewed the Fall as anything but devastating when it came to its impact on Man.

  • There’s a line – it may in fact have been from Chesterton describing Thomists – that you learn more about them by reading their works than you learn about their subject. I don’t see how you could fault Aquinas for errors in emphasis without having a full picture of his thinking. Aquiring that picture would take at least a lifetime – but oh, what a life it would be.

  • My one problem with Chesterton’s book is that he set up Augustine and the Augustinians as the bad guys (or to put it better, the bearers of a less sane understanding). There may be truth in that. But I haven’t been able to reconcile it with the fact that the Dominicans were essentially an Augustinian order.

  • Chesterton didn’t like ambiguity or anything approaching a fideistic stance. So he would have held to that sentiment about Augustine. Chesterton liked that Aquinas affirmed the world and the mind and probably felt Augustine in some sense disparaged them both. But that was Chesterton–his personality and inclination.

  • St Augustine was a Platonist and, as Mgr Ronald Knox puts it, “The issue hangs on the question whether the Divine Fact is something given, or something to be inferred. Your Platonist, satisfied that he has formed his notion of God without the aid of syllogisms or analogies, will divorce reason from religion”

January 28, 1813: Pride and Prejudice Published

Monday, January 28, AD 2013

Two centuries today since the publication of Pride and Prejudice.  I confess that I have generally found Jane Austen to be a snore fest unless her text is enlivened, if that is the proper word when Zombies are involved, as in the above video.  Austen’s books began to be published in America in 1832, although they made little impact with the general public until the latter part of the Nineteenth Century when the novelist William Dean Howells wrote several essays celebrating Austen as an author.

One of her most biting critics was Mark Twain.  A sample of his Austen tirades:

Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.

I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.

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63 Responses to January 28, 1813: Pride and Prejudice Published

  • Mark Twain is, arguably, America’s greatest writer, and certainly the author of America’s greatest novel, “Huckleberry Finn”. I have much respect for him and his opinions, although I strongly disagree with the one he expresses here.

    Emerson, on the other hand, is a proto-socialist whose only worthy literary contribution, as far as I’m concerned, is “Concord Hymn”. He can suck it.

    That ought to get the combox literary fight club off to a decent start.


  • Indeed Jay! 🙂 I have never had much use for the transcendentalists in general or Emerson in particular. On the other hand my reaction to Twain is decidely mixed. Some of his writings I greatly enjoy, most notably a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, while much of his writing leaves me cold. Funny Twain I like, serious Twain I find boring and bitter Twain I abhore.

  • I believe Jane Auten is the English Molière.

    No other novelist relies so heavily on dialogue to exhibit character, or does so with a surer touch. Take a sentence of dialogue from any her novels and one can instantly identify the speaker/ And what characters they are: Mrs Jennings, Mr Elton, the preposterous Mr Collins and the truly evil Mrs Norris. In fact, there are no minor characters; they all have the solidity of life. She can induce a suspension of disbelief by careful gradation, from portraying the eccentric Mr Bennett and his silly, but wholly believable wife to lull the reader into accepting the outrageous Mr Collins and Lady Catherine.

    No writer can be so concise. She can compress a volume of Christian metaphysics in a single parenthesis. “Was it new for any thing in this world to be unequal, inconsistent, incongruous — or for chance and circumstance (as second causes) to direct the human fate?”

  • M. P-S: Exactly. Well put.

    There are a few novels I re-read every few years. Pride and Prejudice is
    one of them. It never fails that I find some new reward each time.

    I’m not sure why Twain had such an antipathy for Miss Austen’s work. Could
    it be just a touch of envy for her more indirect, understated humor? And
    surely Twain couldn’t deny her unerring gift for characterization, so perfectly
    described by Mr. Paterson-Seymour above.

    As for the insufferable Emerson, I agree with Jay Anderson– he can suck it.
    Who cares what that gasbag thinks?

  • Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and other novels by Jane Austen, a canon’s daughter, were written to expose the banality and injustice of denying women the right to own and inherit property, estates and manors from their deceased husbands. (Job’s daughters in the Old Testament did indeed receive an inheritance. This inheritance would enable them to maintain their virginity and not be forced into an unhappy marriage for the sake of a livelihood. But then again, the English Reformation brought much evil into the culture.) Only the male person, as citizen, in England was allowed, by law, to own property and to vote. Women who were to be accorded all courtesy and gentility, were in fact, denied. Even their home, unless a male heir in their immediate family in-tailed the estate, as Mrs. Bennett decries “Are we all to be thrown into the hedgerow, penniless?” was in-tailed away. Mr. Collins, I believe. And the Dashwood’s estate was turned over to the stepson and his evil wife. Maryann Dashwood near died of the poverty visited upon the family after the death of her father. Tom Jones, a rather ribald novel, also dealt with this unfair law, which denied the owner of the estate his free will to leave his estate to his widow. I cannot tell you how very much I appreciate American Law after watching Pride and Prejudice, but I also appreciate the respect and courtesy shown each person in the novels, always hoping such respect will fill our culture.

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  • Mary, the Reformation brought far more good to English society than evil. England had been at her best for almost four centuries post 1559. The England we have come to know is the England of Reformation.

  • Actually I think the Tudors came close to transforming England into a fairly squalid absolute monarchy, and the Reformation played a large part in that. The greatest Englishman in the last century, Sir Winston Churchill, I think got it right in this paragraph:

    “The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand. They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom. They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter. More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook. He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness. Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

    My Irish Catholic ancestors of course had little reason to love post Reformation England that treated them as criminals for daring to follow the faith of their ancestors. Edmund Burke put it best in regard to the Irish Penal Laws:

    “For I must do it justice; it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

  • Well, Donald, from an Irish perspective of course the whole issue seems to originate with Henry and his children. But as to your comment concerning absolute monarchy, Elizabeth Tudor was actually the first monarch to realize that a ruler governs on consent. She consulted and took advice and after reading virtually everything she’s ever written, I have to say she really WAS humble and God-reliant. Unfortunately the Stuarts reverted and I think they were an ugly bunch.

  • No Jon, Parliament was a very well established institution from the thirteenth century. The Tudors successfully turned it into a rubber stamp. As for Bad Queen Bess, Peter Wentworth, member of Parliament and a frequent guest in the Tower courtesy of Elizabeth during her reign, would have disagreed with your characterization of her. Those who cherish liberty should praise the ham fisted Stuarts who, by rousing opposition, inadvertantly put England on the road to a restoration of the role of Parliament.

  • Well, if the Stuarts did it inadvertantly, what is there to thank? The fact is that Parliament grew used to a certain relationship to the Crown during Elizabeth’s reign, and James I ran roughshod over them–he was an obstinate proponent of Divine Right and the Charles’s were too. As for Wentworth I can’t remember what happened so I can’t speak to that. Let’s see. That was a time when many people were being killed for religious and political reasons. Others were placed under house arrest or secluded somewhere.

  • “Well, if the Stuarts did it inadvertantly, what is there to thank?”

    One can thank incompetence in leaders Jon, as well as competence, depending on what the leaders are attempting to do. The Stuarts were almost comically inept, except for Charles II, who was the only able one of the lot.

    “The fact is that Parliament grew used to a certain relationship to the Crown during Elizabeth’s reign, and James I ran roughshod over them”

    Actually the Puritans had gotten short shrift from Elizabeth and they were hoping for relief from James and were disappointed in their hopes. Peter Wentworth was a Puritan, but he also spoke out compellingly for liberty of speech in Parliament, something that Elizabeth was not keen on.

  • Charles II was obviously not very competent, nor was he seen to be by his contemporaries. The puritans of Elizabeth’s reign were unhappy with her settlement, of course. I don’t know what more they could have reasonably expected in that context, though. Their experiment even in the 30’s onward failed miserably. It was an extreme and eccentric vision that they had. Interestingly, THEY should be thanked since their actions were a catalyst for radical change in the monarchy and the status of parliament. Also, those who came to the new world began an experiment that, although admittedly also eccentric, was actually quite successful! Not bad for nutty Protestants! They seem to get the liberty part right.

  • “Charles II was obviously not very competent, nor was he seen to be by his contemporaries.”
    He restored the monarchy and maintained himself on a turbulent throne for a quarter of a century. He checkmated his enemies in Parliament and was a voice of tolerance in an intolerant age. During his reign England enjoyed peace and prosperity. His misfortune was to die at only 55, leaving his throne to James who only lasted five year.

    “The puritans of Elizabeth’s reign were unhappy with her settlement, of course. I don’t know what more they could have reasonably expected in that context, though.”

    Freedom as did the Catholics under Elizabeth. Such as was practiced in France after the Edict of Nantes in 1598. The Reformation made religion subject to the whims of the reigning monarch which meant that religion was going to be mixed up in politics for a very long time indeed.

    As for Protestants getting liberty right, the Catholics in Maryland who lost their liberty after the Protestants came to power in the 1650’s would have begged to differ.

  • 1775 – 1817
    In the conclusion of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ she writes almost autobiographically in the words between the dashes following:

    “Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favorite maxims. …. Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly flattered herself with expecting, – instead of remaining even for ever with her mother, and finding her only pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her more calm and sober judgment she had determined on, – she found herself at nineteen, submitting to new …. ”

    In ‘A Portrait of Jane Austen’ Lord David Cecil writes:
    Her genius was twofold. Along with her comedy sense she possessed a subtle insight into the moral nature of man. The union of the two is the distinguishing characteristic of her achievement, and it makes these lively unpretentious comedies of social and domestic life the vehicle of profound and illuminating comments on the human drama.

    I think it’s funny that Mark Twain said “Everytime I read Pride and Prejudice …”,
    and I can’t remember anything about the human condition from RW Emerson.

  • At least as many bad things could be said about Chales II as good. It depends on who you were and where you stood at the time. Donald, I won’t discuss how much liberty existed during the reformation and early modern periods for the simple reason that not much existed beforehand. Not to revert to the Whig interpretation, but this kind of thing IS incremental. By the time our nation was birthed, things looked pretty good at least on paper. It would look good for an increasing number of people in practice with time.

  • “At least as many bad things could be said about Charles II as good. It depends on who you were and where you stood at the time.”
    A truism for most historical figures. However, a quarter century on the throne is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the fates of his brother and his father.

    “Donald, I won’t discuss how much liberty existed during the reformation and early modern periods for the simple reason that not much existed beforehand.”

    Actually what we know of liberty was largely a creation of the Middle Ages. It was the era of the Reformation that turned Kings and Queens into Caesar and Pope and ushered in the doctrine of the divine right of Kings. Those who fought such trends in liberty usually rallied around such creations of the Middle Ages as Magna Charta and Parliament.

    Liberty I do not think is necessarily an incremental process. The people of Rome never had a greater role in their government than just before the fall of the Roman Republic. Looking around at the contemporary world I do not see ever growing liberty, but rather the reverse currently.

  • You are correct to a point regarding the Middle Ages and liberty. But remember, centralization is what led to control. The Roman church WAS cnetralized in the Middle Ages and I shudder to think what they did all those centuries. I would not have wanted to fall afoul of them. Charles II could ahve reigned for a half century–I don’t consider the guy that great in comparison to other English monarchs. I’m sorry. True, liberty is not necessarily incremental. But if a reformation was underway it would probably take time for it to play out on various levels. I would look at the bigger picture there, not the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries which were still sloughing some old skin. It’s true liberty can be lost, that a people must be fit for it, and that regress is as much a fact of life as progress. Various people see the height and beginning of declines in different places based on their judgement.

    But here is what really confuses me. Most of the things many people on this blog wish to promote and defend originate with Protestantism in the Isles and then transferred to America. That’s the framework into which everuthing else fell and the mould into which everything else was forced. It’s the topics people contend for here on this sight. And it’s all very Protestant. America, the Constitution, etc. for at least 400 years beginning when Christendom was first “shattered” to use the usual though incorrect term, is all very Protestant. Now I know Catholics and conservative Jews have picked up where the establishment left off in the 60’s or so. I get that. What I don’t get is how the Protestant nature of it all is missed.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    “It was the era of the Reformation that turned Kings and Queens into Caesar and Pope”

    I would be inclined t say that it was the Renaissance, rather than the Reformation that did so, for the same process of creating a centralised Royal power, exercised through salaried officials, dependent on the royal will, took place in Spain, in France, with its absolutism and Gallicanism and in the Italian states.

    It was welcomed by many, as a curb on the power of the nobles, the clergy and of the merchant oligarchs of city states. The feeling was widespread that government must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others. If the supreme power is needlessly limited, the secondary powers would run riot and oppress. Its supremacy would bear no check. The problem, many of the leading thinkers believed, was to enlighten the ruler, not to restrain him; and one man is more easily enlightened than many. That was the feeling of the age

  • “The feeling was widespread that government must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others.”

    Actually the whole absolutising trend was to make the central government arbitrary. People who opposed this trend, or who received the short end of the stick, would engage in revolts and/or end up in the New World. The Reformation weakened the Church across the board, and often caused the Church to develop an unhealthy reliance upon Catholic rulers. This was a powerful impetus to Gallicanism in France where Protestants and Catholics frequently engaged in civil wars in the Sixteenth Century. In Spain the monarchy had Crusader status from 1492 with the capture of Granada and the creation of a creakily centralized state. Spanish rulers usually attempted to be more Catholic than the Pope with grotesque results. In the petty Italian principalities the Popes could usually hold their own against the would be Machiavelli princes and princelets. The exception to his was Venice which was truly a world of its own.

  • “The Roman church WAS cnetralized in the Middle Ages”

    Alas that was not the case. Secular rulers usually picked the bishops and huge Church-State conflicts were the norm. These Church-State battles however normalized the concept that resistance to secular rulers was not only allowable but not infrequently praiseworthy.

    “I would not have wanted to fall afoul of them.”
    Actually I would much rather have had problems with the Church than the State throughout the Middle Ages. Church procedures tended to focus on evidence and trials with limited use of judicial torture. The State on the other hand was usually far more brutal. In each case the saving grace tended to be rampant inefficiency, unlike what we saw in the last century.

    “Charles II could ahve reigned for a half century–I don’t consider the guy that great in comparison to other English monarchs. I’m sorry.”

    Don’t worry Jon, we all commit historical errors from time to time! 🙂 I would place the Merrie Monarch among the top ten percent of English monarchs, although admittedly many of these monarchs help set the bar quite low.

    “Most of the things many people on this blog wish to promote and defend originate with Protestantism in the Isles and then transferred to America.”

    That is quite untrue Jon. That old anti-Catholic John Adams noted that the American fight for liberty was based on many rights enjoyed by Englishmen and accepted as “preliminaries” even before the existence of Parliament.

    What is best in America has very deep roots and at their base those roots are frequently Catholic roots.

  • “I have generally found Jane Austen to be a snore fest unless her text is enlivened, if that is the proper word when Zombies are involved”

    It was the success of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” that prompted the same author to write “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

  • Donald R McClarey

    The rise of royal absolutism in France began before the Reformation, with the accession of the House of Orléans in the person of Louis XII, significantly known as « le Père du Peuple » [Father of the People]in 1498 and of Francis I and the Orléans–Angoulême branch in 1515, who assiduously cultivated the intellectuals. The French Wars of Religion only broke out in 1562, a long lifetime after the rise of the New Monarchy.

    Moreover, the Church was very far from being opposed to the growth of royal power at the expense of noble and provincial privileges. In France, it was brought to its highest development by three great ecclesiastical statesmen, Cardinal Richelieu, Cardinal Mazarin and Cardinal de Fleury, who, as the kings’ chief ministers, dominated the policy of the period from 1624 to 1743. The Gallican Privileges were seen by both the King and the hierarchy, who enthusiastically supported them, as cementing the “sacred and indissoluble alliance” between Throne and Altar.

    I would suggest the Reformation aided a tendency that it did not create.

  • Actually MPS, French centralization goes farther back to at least Philip the Fair. Louis XI, the Spider King, gave the whole trend a great shove forward after the anarchy of the Hundred Years War. It is correct that many French clerics were not opposed to this French centralization and helped it along. More fools they. In regard to Cardinal Richeliu I have long treasured this alleged quip of Pope Urban Viii after the death of the Cardinal:

    “If there is a God Cardinal Richeliu has much to answer for. If there is not, why he led a successful life.”

  • In which Philippe le bel was supported in his quarrels with Boniface VIII by the Archbishop of Rouen, Pierre Roger of Limousin, later Pope Clement VI. He remained a stalwart supporter of the French crown.

    I like d’Argenson’s remark, “Richelieu bled France, Mazarin purged it and Fleury put it on a diet.”

  • That England had such precursors prior to the Reformation was due to its geographical status as well as a couple of other factors, Donald. I totally agree that the Reformation cannot be held responsible for a humanism begun with the Renaissance in soutehrn Europe. One can easily argue the Reformation tempered the excesses of the southern Renaissance when it hit the north. As for the medieval church, the general practice was to decide whether you were guilty and then hand you over to the civil authorities who could kill you. If the evidence showed you were a heretic, you could face death. That’s Constantinian Christianity.

  • “That England had such precursors prior to the Reformation was due to its geographical status as well as a couple of other factors, Donald.”

    English liberties were largely the result of Common Law Courts, a fractious aristocracy, an extensive merchant class in London and a Church that often successfully defied the Crown. There was a reason that “The Holy Blessed Martyr” was going away the most popular saint in Medieval England,

    “As for the medieval church, the general practice was to decide whether you were guilty and then hand you over to the civil authorities who could kill you. If the evidence showed you were a heretic, you could face death. That’s Constantinian Christianity.”

    Very few death sentences were carried out during most periods of the Middle Ages. Usually a period of repentance was proclaimed when repentant heretics were received back into the fold without any penalties. Afterwards repentant heretics usually got off with penances of various sorts. The real massive blood letting, with the exception of the Albigensian Crusade, came in with the Reformation and both Protestants and Catholics were enthusiastic participants.

    As for the phrase “Constantinian Christianity”, that is part of a Protestant mythology that they represent the pure ancient Church that was led astray by those evil papists. As history it is baloney and as theology it is baloney.

  • Indeed in terms of the bigger picture one must say America and northern Europe are heir to centuries of Christianity prior to the Reformation. This is undoubtedly true. The Protestant argument is that Christianity in Europe for centuries was just that–Christianity. But Roman Christianity grew corrupt in its theology, worship, and practice. Then Protestantism revived the very best (and at times not so very best) of the Christian church so that Western civilization was able to carry on well for a while longer. And more importantly, so that the church was able to witness accurately in a lively evangelical spirit. Aside from Restorationists, early church fixations, and the cults, most Protestants see more continuity than anything else.

  • Historically, it is tempting for the Protestant to point out that the best of the past five hundred years of Western Civ. owed itself to the Protestant renewal of catholic Christianity and not to Roman Christianity immediately prior.

  • “Historically, it is tempting for the Protestant to point out that the best of the past five hundred years of Western Civ. owed itself to the Protestant renewal of catholic Christianity”

    Like all falsehoods it is a temptation that must be avoided. Such “historical analysis” is only worthy of a Jack Chick comic book.

  • “Then Protestantism revived the very best (and at times not so very best) of the Christian church so that Western civilization was able to carry on well for a while longer.”

    Protestantism is a fairly broad category only united by one belief: not Catholic. Luther had little in common with Calvin. Neither of them had much in common with the Anabaptists. If they had lived to see them, they would have been horrified by the Quakers. From a Catholic standpoint the amorphous nature of Protestantism is unsurprising as heresy has always worn a thousand guises. I might note that all of my relatives on my father’s side are Protestant, as was my father. My wife was Protestant, a Methodist, at the time of our marriage before her conversion. Most of the people I have loved in this life have been Protestants. My comments about Protestantism as a historical phenomenon contain no personal animus, but merely what I deduce from the evidence as I see it.

  • History can be ‘seen’ in many ways. I would argue there is a Roman Catholic view of it, a Protestant one, a secular progressive one, an Enlightenment view, etc. I feel I’m not motivated by any animus either. I see what I do. As to the amorphous nature of Protestantism, I had in mind the Protestantism of Scriptural renewal in line with the early creeds and traditional orthodoxy before Rome assumed massive innovation.

  • “I had in mind the Protestantism of Scriptural renewal in line with the early creeds and traditional orthodoxy before Rome assumed massive innovation.”

    As typified by Martin Luther’s comments about the Epistle of Saint James being an epistle of straw. The “Reformers'” methodology was fairly straight forward: what they liked they kept and what they didn’t like they threw on the scrap heap. This helped begin the factionalism that has been one of the constant features of Protestantism as the “Reformers” quickly began to quarrel among themselves like Kilkenny cats about what to keep and what to cast away. I doubt if Christ died so that Christianity could be divided into a thousand and one factions.

  • Luther lacked the ability to see how it all hung together. He thought too much in terms of dichotomy. It can be said that Calvin erred in the opposite way by way of too much synthesis. It is true that Protestantism further divided with time. I don’t see that as a reason to accept Roman Christianity as the one true approach, however.

  • Considering the horror that the Church Fathers had of heresy and their desire to preseve Orthodoxy I think the endless divisions of Protestantism indicate that what the Church fathers embraced had little in common with the new variants of Christianity ushered in with the Protestant Reformation and much in common with the heresies that the Church Fathers fought ceaselessly.

  • I don’t see that at all. The church fathers dealt with all kinds of errors, and the truth was consequently articulated in a balanced, biblically informed way. That was the starting point for the best of the Protestant reformers and their descendants. They wanted to maintain the simplicity of the Gospel while being guarded by the boundaries already estableshed in patristic times concerning doctrines like the Trinity, the dual nature of Christ, the resurrection and final return of Christ, the sinfulness of man due to the fall, etc. Have funny denominations and silly cults arisen since which deny the simplicity of the gospel and fundamental orthodoxy? Of course! I see them as on the wrong trajectory adn believe many groups go off like that all the time.

  • “The church fathers dealt with all kinds of errors, and the truth was consequently articulated in a balanced, biblically informed way.”

    Yes, especially on such items as the real presence, the veneration of the saints, the authority of bishops, the role of the papacy and many other features of the Faith that are completely at variance with what the “Reformers” proclaimed in the Sixteenth Century. As Newman noted, to be deep in History is to cease to be Protestant.

    As one of the earliest Church Fathers Justin Martyr noted in regard to the Blessed Sacrament:

    “And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.”

    When Catholics read the Church Fathers we have no trouble at all recognizing them for what they were: fellow Catholics.

  • The real presence is a doctrine that is as much intricate as it is absent in such detail in Scripture. It developed quite later on, though I do not know the time. The veneration of the saints represents another later development, and to venerate any part of creation flies in the face of both Judaism and Christianity. Elder, bishop, and presbyter are synonomous. The question often arises as to where they belong or, in other words, how church government should be structured. Richard Hooker took the position that the church can and often does adapt to surroundings pragmatically. I take Newman’s remark for what it’s worth. To a point, I agree. It makes us catholic with a small c. I’m not overly crazy about a guy who implied spirituality depended upon how many doielies and candle sticks lay about the alter. And the early church would have thought it quite strange if one placed a marian statue at the front of worship to be crowned and paraded—I’m going to be honest—I really think they would have been shocked and horrified. I’m just not convinced on the veneration of saints, I’m afraid. As to the Patristics, it depends on which one and what they said. Some elaborated beyond Scripture to introduce novelty. Others were mostly fundamental.

  • Newman started the Oxford movement. He was the product of a certain milieu which sought to recapture mystery and connection to the past. After all, his life spanned much of the nineteenth century! And he was very much an asthetician when it came to worship. But wherever two or more are gathered in my NAME, says the Lord, there am I with them. And that’s crucial. What that says is we worship God in spriti and in truth, that our right standing or inclusion with him is not from from apostolic succession and membership in a universally uniform church structure, but is the invisible communion of saints also expressed locally whereby all people across time and space are situated ‘in Christ.’ Yes, they are linked, then, wtih the church through the years, and their beliefs are at one with the apostles. But they need no other legitimacy. They require no visible or tangible link in the sense of pastoral succession historically. That notion is another one that crept through the back door.

  • I think what makes the discussion so confusing is that I don’t adhere to the simple idea that a golden age was corrupted by papal Rome. As I said, I do see the continuity of Christianity thorughout the centuries and across these two millennia. I believe the church started out with many problems, heresies, and dissapointments. All one has to do is read the letters of St. Paul to see that. I also believe the Roman church was the Christian church for most people in Eeurope throughout centuries of history. And I see that some church structures fail and sometimes beyond recovery, at least for a while. It then becomes necessary to begin outside that structure, particularly when you’re practically kicked out anyway. I’m not arguing between two eternally polar opposites of Christianity and Roman Catholicism. I actually agree with much of what you say! I disagree that the Roman church is the only appropriate church. I feel other structures exist with far less error. As an historian, again, I certainly see the continuity of Christianity throughout time. I never said I saw a stop, start, stop pattern or any kind of pause. Christianity can happen both within corrupt structures and outside them.

  • To be deep in history and to be educated broadly is to become catholic. I would not say it translates to becoming Roman Catholic. That’s an argument from those who went that route, beginning with folks like Newman and culminating in the lastest fashionable conversion by Tony Blair. When the English get bored of Anglicanism they turn Roman Catholic. It gives them more to chew on and it provides them with a greater sense of certainty, I think. I’m trying to be sympathetic, and I really like Chesterton.

  • “The real presence is a doctrine that is as much intricate as it is absent in such detail in Scripture.”

    Not at all: for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. The Catholic Church has held to the real presence since the Crucifixion, as Justin Martyr, who wrote in the second century, indicates.

    “The veneration of the saints represents another later development, and to venerate any part of creation flies in the face of both Judaism and Christianity.”

    Rubbish, as the writings of the Church Fathers indicate:
    “Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.”

    Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

    “I’m not overly crazy about a guy who implied spirituality depended upon how many doielies and candle sticks lay about the alter.”

    You clearly have read precious little of Newman if that is your opinion of him.

    “And the early church would have thought it quite strange if one placed a marian statue at the front of worship to be crowned and paraded”

    We fly to your patronage,
    O holy Mother of God,
    despise not our petitions
    in our necessities,
    but deliver us from all dangers.
    O ever glorious and blessed Virgin.

    That is from a Marian hymn written in 250 AD, the Sub Tuum Praesidium.

  • “Newman started the Oxford movement. He was the product of a certain milieu which sought to recapture mystery and connection to the past.”

    Actually he was a virulent anti-Catholic who thought the Church Fathers would support the Anglicanism he embraced. He was shocked when he discovered that they were Catholic.

    “What that says is we worship God in spriti and in truth, that our right standing or inclusion with him is not from from apostolic succession and membership in a universally uniform church structure”

    You are very much mistaken. Christ founded the Church not as some sort of group encounter session, but as a Church with a structure and a heirarchy. That is why he had the Apostles and made Peter their head. The Epistles of Paul are concerned throughout with the Orthodox teaching of Christ and against Catholics falling away into factions.

    “They require no visible or tangible link in the sense of pastoral succession historically. That notion is another one that crept through the back door.”

    Nope, the concept of Apostolic Succession has always been a core teaching of the Church.

  • “I disagree that the Roman church is the only appropriate church.”

    I am not saying that the Roman Catholic Church is an “appropriate church”, I am saying that it is The True Faith. One of the many damaging features of the Reformation is the destruction it wreaked to the concepts of unity and orthodoxy in Christianity. I believe implicitly in the teaching of the Church that Christ intended for there to be one faith which would serve to convey His teachings. From the earliest days the Church was beset by heresies, but the Church Fathers never accepted that the existence of heresies in any way altered the necessity for unity and orthodoxy.
    Saint Polycarp, who sat at the feet of the Apostle John, on one occasion encountered the heretic Marcion: “Do you not know me, Polycarp?” “Yes,” answered the saint, “I know you to be the firstborn of Satan.” Saint Jerome relates this to emphasize the horror that the earliest Church Fathers had of heresy.

  • “That’s an argument from those who went that route, beginning with folks like Newman and culminating in the lastest fashionable conversion by Tony Blair.”

    I can think of few people more unlike than Newman and the pro-abortion Tony Blair!

    “and I really like Chesterton”

    I don’t always. I sometimes think Chesterton is foolish in some of his writings. His frequent indifference to facts that do not support an argument that he is making I find annoying. However, Chesteron always makes me think, and I believe that is the highest accolade for any writer.

  • It is true that Christ spoke of his flesh and blood as food and drink and that he said “this is my body, this my blood.” I rather suppose he was speaking figuratively, such as when he told the woman at the well that she should ask him for living water. Otherwise Christ would be saying his flesh and blood were really present, as you say, during the passover. This is impossible since he hadn’t yet been crucified, neither had he yet resurrected and ascended to heaven.

    Quoting the patristic fathers is a double-edged sword. They spoke truth and error. Although catholic-minded Protestants draw upon them for thought and inspiration, I would not take them verbatim and neither would Protestants, typically.

    Finally and most importantly, Scripture must be our final authority. We can assess tradition, experience, reason, and so on, but it must all finally be brought before the Bible for acceptance or rejection.

    There is a theory that Scripture and tradition form an organic unity, and that truth is ongoing in that way. I don’t beleive that for a minute. Does God still speak? Yes, he does. But through his Word and Spirit in ways that accord with what the Bible already states. God never goes beyond his Word.

  • My feeling is that the church became too institutionalized and dogmatic at some point. I see this with Greek Orthodoxy, too. As truth is further articulated error amasses alongside it, and a behemoth is created. The Protestant stance is semper reformanda, or the church always reforming. The idea here is that the church CAN grow too beaurocratic, too widely dogmatic, and can accumulate quite a bit of error with time. That it can lose touch with its origins and its sense of mission. That the PEOPLE of the church can reform and continue the business of doing church, but that this may require serious change and possibly relocation. I think that’s a stumbling block for many Roman Catholics. I don’t have any difficulty in believing this, however. My difficulty is in believing that a church structure is alwyas the right one and can never decline. I think of the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation. These were local manifestations of the church, Christ’s body. Some carried on quite well, others didn’t. They were warned not to be presumptuous, since their status was not guaranteed! This of course goes for any church structure or individual assembly. Much of this discussion would clear itself up if we both understood the nature of the church as it is Scripturally understood.

  • We have to think, too, of the historical situation with the fall of Rome and Constantine and all of that. Something a little different happened in the Byzantine East, and that structure’s evolution and thought is not the same as we know. I still disagree with their view of tradition also, but a different arrangement arose between church and state, and theology took a different direction. I guess what I’m saying is that the N. T. speaks of the body of Christ or the universal church, and it speaks of its local manifestations as assemblies. Then we have the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches which don’t really speak to that, but seem almost to represent different phenomena. Of course their argument is that an evolution took place and that tradition must be revered and taken for granted. I argue that while tradition may accrue and practices change, it must all remain in accord with Scripture. If it is such a departure as to contradict the principles and tenor of the N.T., then we must engage in reform. It simply will not do to say tradition continues and the church rules such adn such. Those elements must accord with what is already written.
    Another important point to raise is that the situation is not black and white with chruches and truth. We cannot always point to one location and say that only truth lies there, much less that truth lies only there. It just isn’t like that. What we have instead is a spectrum such as we see with the seven churches of Asia Minor. One can say that those churches are types and all kinds of variations exist today. What we don’t want to do is to become immersed at a location where much error abounds. We don’t want to become overly involved in a church where practices are terribly wrong.

  • So I think we need to remind ourselves first of the church’s definition. It is the body of Christ and that is universal. It is locally manifested in assemblies. These are the two ways in which St. Paul speaks of church. Then we consider the state of affairs of these early assemblies. Paul addresses a variety of problems (some things never change). Then the letters contained in Revelation tell us much the same thing, except that one or two of them were heading toward extinction. This fact immediately tells me a local church–not the church as in the body of Christ, but a local assembly—can drift so far away from Christian truth and practice that it is no longer a church in the true sense of the word.

  • “I rather suppose he was speaking figuratively”

    That certainly isn’t what people thought at the time who heard His words from His lips:

    “This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever… Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?… From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”

    More to the point, it is not what the Church taught from the beginning.

    “Otherwise Christ would be saying his flesh and blood were really present, as you say, during the passover. This is impossible since he hadn’t yet been crucified, neither had he yet resurrected and ascended to heaven.”

    Christ was present in both the sacrament and in Himself, just as he is present on Catholic altars and in his glorified body in Heaven.

    “Quoting the patristic fathers is a double-edged sword. They spoke truth and error.”

    Protestants always fall back on this position when it becomes evident that the Fathers of the Church were Catholic, a title they proudly claimed for the Universal Church to which they belonged.

    “Finally and most importantly, Scripture must be our final authority.”

    Rubbish. It was the Catholic Church that wrote the New Testament. The New Testament derives its authority from the Church and not vice versa.

  • “My feeling is that the church became too institutionalized and dogmatic at some point.”

    Christ established the structure of the Church, and the fate of Protestantism indicates why He did this. Without such a structure and a final authority within that structure, each Man and Woman becomes his and her own Pope and Christianity disintegrates into a thousand feuding sects, followed by indifferentism, followed by dying sects and mass apostacy.

  • “Then we have the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches which don’t really speak to that, but seem almost to represent different phenomena.”

    The basic problem for the Greek Orthodox is that they were too firmly under the thumb of the Emperor. This was fueled by a thousand misunderstandings and the fueling of animosities through mistakes and the natural antipathy of differences in language and rites. The Catholic Church recognizes the Greek Orthodox as being in schism and not in heresy. There are ongoing efforts to heal the breach but I am not sanguine.

  • “This fact immediately tells me a local church–not the church as in the body of Christ, but a local assembly—can drift so far away from Christian truth and practice that it is no longer a church in the true sense of the word.”

    Hence heretics. The attitude of Saint Paul to such factionalists helped determine the attitude of the Church towards heresy.

  • Once complete, the written Bible reigned the church in, so to speak. The church could not say anything contradictory to it. So anything we find in the patristic fathers or church pronouncements over the years must accord with Scripture. If it does not, it is error and possibly heresy. We are brought back to the role of tradition, which is subserviant to the Bible. Even in St. Paul’s day heresy had crept into the church. All kinds of ‘traditions’ abound at all times. We must dispense with those that contradict Scripture. If false apostles and teachers existed in the earliest churches, I can easily understand how they would exist several generations later and throughout time. I can certainly understand too, how the patristic fathers may have erred in some ways, and how some of them may have become too highly revered. The assumption I have is that we always remain one generation away from error. I don’t believe that any assembly or large-scale church structure is exempt from that.

    Scripture speaks of the church as Christ’s body, so we are obviously one in him. We are one in the Spirit. I do not believe for a minute that this necessitates structural uniformity, which would in fact be quite undesirable. For one thing if the structure fails where would one go? Then we have to carry on elsewhere and create alternative structures. That’s what happened during the Reformation.

  • “Once complete, the written Bible reigned the church in, so to speak.”

    No book or books can reign since book or books are subject to interpretation by Man. Without an authority that can write such books and interpret them authoritatively, the written word is of little use. That is why Sola Scriptura in Protestantism always boils down to Sola My Interpretation.

  • Donald, you’ve made a couple of assumptions. First, you assume the Roman Catholic church created the Bible. The Bible evolved over a very long time and the New Testament writings were penned before any such structure came into existence. I do not say Sola Scriptura, but that the Scriptures are the FINAL authority. If anything contradicts Scripture, we must dispense with that thing rather than trying to squeeze it in or to reinterpret Scripture.

  • Contrary to what you might think, Evangelical Protestants agree on essentials. Disagreement arises due to the human condition, and we find this with Roman Catholics, too. I’ve spoken to many Roman Catholics who don’t like various pronouncements or one of the popes, and they get vocal about that. Some wish to see the Roman church go in a different direction. Others want it to return to a more traditional time, and so on. Variety is healthy to a point. It becomes a problem when we cross the border into heresy—when we deny essential truths of Scripture.

  • “The Bible evolved over a very long time and the New Testament writings were penned before any such structure came into existence.”
    The New Testament writings were all written after the creation of the Catholic Church by Christ. The term was used by men who received their teachings directly from the Apostles and by men who received their teaching from men who received their teaching from the Apostles.

  • “I’ve spoken to many Roman Catholics who don’t like various pronouncements or one of the popes, and they get vocal about that.”

    Which has zilch to do with the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is rather the whole point. Protestants differ and they found new sects. Catholics differ with the Church and the Church stands for what she has always stood for: the teachings of Christ, whether such teachings are popular or unpopular among ever fickle mortals.

  • Words and meanings, however, are two different things. Apostles, the church, and so on have different meanings for different people. I think the biggest mistake made here is that one might be anachronistic. What happened early on and what evolved later must remain separate in our minds.

  • No, those who used the term Catholic Church understood that they were referring to the Church as opposed to heretical sects that claimed the mantle of “Christian”. The term was usually raised in battles with heretics.

  • That these terms alter with time remains true. I think of how we claim various meanings for words like radical, liberal, conservative, etc., across time and space. Example: Americans who call themselves political conservatives are really political liberals in the broader scheme.

  • So we must define terms like catholic, apostolic, tradition, and church more clearly and in line with ancient understanding. And we must avoid anachronism. If we have a system or structure that slowly developed or appeared later on, we musn’t read it back into an earlier period. The key is to think according to the patterns and categories of the earliest period. Who can prove whether what evolved is better or worse but by comparing it to what went before, and most especially to the written Word by which all things are ultimately judged?

Illinois Taught Obama All He Knows About Governing

Sunday, January 27, AD 2013

8 Responses to Illinois Taught Obama All He Knows About Governing

  • Silver Lining Department:

    IL is number one in horseradish production.

    And, with a little effort, IL can improve its number three ranking (behind CA and NY) in the “most politically corrupt state” category.

  • What’s worse is that the pension liability problem COULD be alleviated considerably, were it not for the fact that IL has become so dependent upon short-term borrowing that when the bond houses say “jump,” we have no choice but to say “how high”? For this reason alone, some common-sense measures that wouldn’t risk massively expensive legal action are kept off the table.

    The unfunded pension liability is a problem that didn’t develop overnight (it’s been around for decades), can’t be blamed entirely on any one person, party or group of people, and can’t be solved overnight without doing considerable injustice to retirees, taxpayers, or both. The reasons for this are kind of complicated and I can explain them in later posts if anyone is interested.

  • ….more silver lining; University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein IL. And Marytown.

    My point is ” where sin abounds grace abounds all the more.” One of the greatest retreat centers is Marytown. Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration for over 85 years in this Holy sanctuary. IL. has it’s challenges sure, but it also has sacred homes that Abe would be lifting his head and heart to.

  • I was not aware that he ever learned anything moral about governing.

  • Aside from the fiscal lunacy and greedy corruption:
    Chicago has a Life Dept. !
    Hope for IL in an organized, spirited group in numbers that could probably fill two buses. My group was uplifted by walking near them for a time on Friday afternoon on Constitution Ave. with the snow beginning to fall. I’ll try to describe, although the impact was their creative variety of chants, for which I wish I took notes.
    Yellow hooded sweatshirts with LIFE on the backs in white, arm emblems on the idea of fire or police depts. – red four petals with Chicago Life Dept. in center.
    A couple of drummers to accompany as if a march.
    An arch of yellow balloons and a couple of clustered ones.
    Led by a ‘boat’ with wheels that could be raised by a few people, made of sturdy branches with a platform for the chant leader, festooned with yellow balloons.
    They were spirited and singing out their messages for all around to hear. (Great for tired, cold ones around them … )
    They stopped at the steps to the Russell Senate Ofc. bldg., which sported a camera on the second floor balcony and guards on the roof.
    Being short on memorizing powers, I noted they had at least ten chants, as well as patriotic songs. There was: Hey, hey, ho, ho; Roe v. Wade has got to go. And from a rock song, We will, we will, Save you. Salve Regina – first verse.
    We tarried for a while, the sons and daughters of some in our group paying attention and talking about next year…
    I wonder where they stopped next, we had a bus waiting – schedules to follow.

  • Illinois Taught Obama All He Knows About Governing

    Well done, Don 😆

  • “Chicago has a Life Dept.”

    Wonder if they were the same group that staged a pro-life “flash mob” event in Daley Plaza a couple of years ago, coinciding with a Planned Parenthood “Walk for Choice” event, cultminating with a release of yellow “LIFE” balloons.

  • PM-
    Thanks for the remembrance. The chant, We will Save you, is perfect. It is going to happen. The end of legalized abortions will take place.
    We must keep at it. Prayer and action.
    Thanks for sharing some of the event with us.

Morton of Merry Mount

Sunday, January 27, AD 2013

There was Morton of Merry Mount, who so vexed the Plymouth Colony, with his flushed, loose, handsome face and his hate of the godly.

Stpehen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone. Only seven of these entities are named. This is the fourth in a series giving brief biographies of these men. Go here to read the biography of Simon Girty, here to read the “biography” of the Reverend John Smeet and here to read the biography of Major Walter Butler.  In this post we direct our attention to Thomas Morton of Merry Mount.

A Devonshire man born in circa 1578, Morton was an attorney and a lover of plays and classical learning.  In 1624 he became involved in a trading venture to the Algonquian Indians in what is now Massachusetts.  In 1626 he founded the settlement of Merry Mount.  Morton ran a free and easy settlement, with the English settlers mixing freely with the Indians and quite a good time apparently being had by all.  On May 1, 1627 Morton erected a Maypole with much frolicking going on around it.

The pilgrims were shocked.  Governor William Bradford of Plymouth wrote:

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One Response to Morton of Merry Mount

  • Well, the Royalists and the Puritans were at odds to say the least. Their differences were political, theological, and ideological. They differed in terms of cultural practice, too. These two factions arose in different regions of England and their separate trajectories in America have been traced into the nineteenth century.

Theme From El Cid

Saturday, January 26, AD 2013

Something for the weekend.  The forgiveness song from El Cid (1961).  I have always loved this retelling of the legend of El Campeador, starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren, who purportedly despised each other during the filming.  I think the etchings of the intro capture something of the spirit of believing Spain, always waiting for the next great Crusade.

Here is my favorite sequence from the film:

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5 Responses to Theme From El Cid

  • Thank you so much Donald. That is one of my favorite scores and movies, and I have been around since talkies began.

  • Pure souls and majestic sounds of the pipe organ and hooves versus lost souls and contrived electronic sounds and motors seems like a way to describe the difference between cultures of life and death.

  • Thank you so much for posting this. I completely agree with PM’s comment above. Well said.

  • O, for another El Cid!

  • I made a long post about this two years ago – thanx for the link, Mr. McClarey, so I won’t repeat myself.

    My wife’s ancestors are from Spain, and mine are from Poland – countries on the opposite sides of Europe, yet both Catholic (at least Spain was) and both fought off Muslim invaders.

    I have to watch El Cid sometime. I wish there was a movie about the Battle of Vienna.

Prayer When It Suits Them

Friday, January 25, AD 2013


Pro-abort Senator Diane Feinstein, (D.CA)  at her press conference yesterday at which she displayed the guns she wants to ban, had it begin with a prayer by Episcopalian Canon Gary Hall, who runs the laughingly entitled Episcopalian “National Cathedral” in Washington, DC.  Canon Hall made news for himself earlier in the week by announcing that same-sex “marriages” would be performed at the “National Cathedral”.  I found it intriguing that a representative of a dying church would be tagged to baptize Feinstein’s gun grabbing efforts.

The Episcopal Church is clearly rotting away.

Self-reported statistics provided by the denomination this month show that the church has dropped from 2,006,343 members in 2009 to 1,951,907 in 2010, the most recent reporting year. The loss of 54,436 members increases the annual rate of decline from 2 percent to 3 percent, outpacing the most recently reported declines in most other mainline churches. The church’s 10-year change in active members has dropped 16 percent.

A branch of the otherwise fast-growing 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, the third largest family of Christian churches globally, the Episcopal Church had also seen a steady decrease in the number of parishes, losing or closing over 100 in 2010, as well as a drop in attendance from 682,963 in 2009 to 657,831 in 2010, a 4 percent drop. Fifty-four percent of all U.S. Episcopal Churches suffered attendance loss over the prior year. Over the last decade, attendance was down 23 percent.
The denomination, which once claimed over 3.5 million members as recently as the mid-1960s, has lost over 40 percent of membership even while the U.S. population grew by over 50 percent.



Why this is occurring is easy to determine by reading an article on Canon Gary Hall at The American Spectator.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Hall is not content to host conversational forums with authors and poets or preside over high-profile funerals like those of Gerald Ford and Neil Armstrong. From calling in December for new firearms restrictions, to announcing last week that the massive gothic church is available for gay weddings, Hall embraces liberal causes as easily as he dismisses traditional Christianity.


Previous generations of liberal Episcopal clergy often spoke in layers of obfuscation; discovering the heretical teaching buried in their writing and preaching required hours of decoding. Hall represents a younger generation of liberal Episcopalians who resemble nothing so much as Unitarian Universalists decked out in stoles and surplices; they are quick to denounce those who advocate historic Christian teaching—especially moral teaching—as intolerant perpetrators of injustice who must be silenced.

In an October interview with the Detroit Free PressHall announced that he is, “not about trying to convert someone to Christianity. I don’t feel I’m supposed to convert Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists or Native Americans to Christianity so that they can be saved. That’s not an issue for me.”

Hall was also forthcoming about the fact that he finds common cause with those who do not profess a faith in Jesus Christ.

“I have much more in common with progressive Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists than I do with certain people in my own tradition, with fundamentalist Christians,” Hall declared. “The part of Christianity I stand with is the part in which we can live with ambiguity and with pluralism.”

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13 Responses to Prayer When It Suits Them

  • Hall sounds as though he has given up reading and following Holy scripture and 2nd Jn 1:9 comes to mind; “Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” No conversions Hall stated.
    He is a heretic.

  • Self-reported statistics provided by the denomination this month show that the church has dropped from 2,006,343 members in 2009 to 1,951,907 in 2010, the most recent reporting year.

    Maybe classification of Episcopal sermons as “assault weapons” should be explored.

  • They’re still waving them blood-stained, little shirts.

    They have no decency. They desperately need distractions, hysteria, and out-right lies to divert people’s attention from the massive economic mess they created.

    Such guys make it up as they go.

    And, lying, vile liberals are “trading up.” “Patriotism” or “What about the children!” were fall back positions.

    Now, add morally destitute, pisky prayers.

    That there are close to 2 million signed up with this so-called religious institution says more about those people than about the institution.

  • The national cathedral in the US, to the extent there is one, is St. Patrick’s in New York, the Saddleback Church in California, or the Salt Lake Temple. When the presidential and VP candidates, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the house, and the nine, ahem, “finest” legal minds in the country don’t include one mainstream Protestant, it’s time to stop pretending that they represent the heart of American thought.

  • The Washington cathedral is a very handsome piece of architecture. It is a great pity that it has fallen into the hands of this buffoon.

    Go here to read the rest. Once upon a time the Episcopal Church was the church of most of the elites in our society: the Old Money, the WASP aristocracy. It was not uncommon for Protestants, and a few Catholics, as they climbed the social ladder, to join the Episcopal Church as a sign of “having arrived”. No more. The Episcopal Church is a dying church where Christianity has been supplanted by Leftist politics.

    James Hashcookies Pike, disgraced ‘Bishop’ of California, among them. In a letter to his mother, “Almost everyone at our social level is an Episcopalian. An RC or a straight protestant is as rare as hen’s teeth.” (See Joan Didion’s White Album).

    You could call it ‘leftist politics’, but ‘cloying mush’ might get closer to it. I was at one time a member of a ‘young adults’ discussion circle at an Anglican parish. We scarcely ever had a serious discussion of anything. Would you believe, though, that two individuals from that small discussion circle later repaired to the seminary and were subsequently ordained? One has in the intervening years had stable employment as a rector, the other not. They are both bloggers; one is much more opinionated than the other.

    A Catholic priest of my acquaintance once said this, “I want to get to heaven, and I want to take you with me’. It is impossible to imagine such clarity of purpose from an Anglican vicar. I knew those two satisfactorily well, but I could not tell you then or now what their lodestars were (or are) or why they thought they had a vocation. One has a soft spot for Latin American reds (and Planned Parenthood) and the other for homosexual men. The best explanation I have ever heard of the behavior of clergymen like this (courtesy Leon Podles) is that they sought ordination because they wanted to be den mothers.

    Then again, who’d want to talk to this guy?

  • His remarks are in three sections. The insipid prayer is at the end, the policy jabber (revealing he knows next-to-nothing about the issue at hand) in the middle, and a self-referential spiel at the beginning. And you know what? It is a textbook performance. For upwards of 30 years, Anglican communicants have been treated to clergy making fools of themselves in just this way.

  • Art Deco, it’s appropriate that you mention Bishop James Pike, since he was one of the ‘new’ clergymen who did much to accelerate decline in the Episcopal Church. His agendas were mostly political and of the leftist sort, and his attendance at a seance was of course highly heterodox. Incidentally, he died a rather strange death: He ran out of water while travelling through the desert.

  • I find far more troubling the presiding bishop Schori. I can’t seem to pin her down though she strikes me as gnostic.

  • Art Deco, it’s appropriate that you mention Bishop James Pike, since he was one of the ‘new’ clergymen who did much to accelerate decline in the Episcopal Church.

    The House of Bishops did not have the cojones to put him in front of an ecclesiastical tribunal, though the bill of particulars was quite considerable (canonically invalid marriage, serial adultery, and, what was publicly well-known, heresy). He resigned in 1966 and saved them the trouble. He was the first of many rogues not properly disciplined.

  • Forgot about the serial adultery. Yes, he stood in stark contrast to the Rev. Richard Emrich, whose book “We Hold these Truths” represented the epitome of everything the Episcopal church and much of our society once stood for.

  • Isn’t he the grandson of Woodrow Wilson?

  • Pingback: Book Release: Thomas Kocik, The Fullness of Truth | Big Pulpit
  • I’m starting a Catholic gun rights and education group. Most of the blogging activity will occur here under the tag Defending Your Family. Anyone who is interested may email me here or just leave a comment. There are no dues and the list of members and supporters will be kept totally private.

Amazons Attack!

Thursday, January 24, AD 2013



Back in my misspent youth in the Seventies I served some time in the Green Machine.  (I like to think that I greatly contributed to the defense of the nation by leaving the Army.)  While I was learning the mysteries of how to manuever squads, the other officer cadets and I would train with female officer cadets.  Most of them found the fairly arduous training very exhausting.  A few of them were as capable as the least physically in shape of the men.  (I would have been in that category.)  This was only basic training and not the type of training that would go on at an infantry branch school for the Lieutenants assigned to that branch.  Women of course back in those days could not be assigned to the Combat Arms branches of the Army, and I do not recall one woman complaining about that.

However, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, on his way out the door, has announced a policy to allow women to serve in the Combat Arms.  Since my service was a peace time comedy of errors, and I have an XY chromosome combination, I will defer to the observations of Captain Katie Petronio, USMC, made last year:

As a company grade 1302 combat engineer officer with 5 years of active service and two combat deployments, one to Iraq and the other to Afghanistan, I was able to participate in and lead numerous combat operations. In Iraq as the II MEF Director, Lioness Program, I served as a subject matter expert for II MEF, assisting regimental and battalion commanders on ways to integrate female Marines into combat operations. I primarily focused on expanding the mission of the Lioness Program from searching females to engaging local nationals and information gathering, broadening the ways females were being used in a wide variety of combat operations from census patrols to raids. In Afghanistan I deployed as a 1302 and led a combat engineer platoon in direct support of Regimental Combat Team 8, specifically operating out of the Upper Sangin Valley. My platoon operated for months at a time, constructing patrol bases (PBs) in support of 3d Battalion, 5th Marines; 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; 2d Reconnaissance Battalion; and 3d Battalion, 4th Marines. This combat experience, in particular, compelled me to raise concern over the direction and overall reasoning behind opening the 03XX field.

Who is driving this agenda? I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming that their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality. Shockingly, this isn’t even a congressional agenda. This issue is being pushed by several groups, one of which is a small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS). Their mission is to advise the Department of Defense (DoD) on recommendations, as well as matters of policy, pertaining to the well-being of women in the Armed Services from recruiting to employment. Members are selected based on their prior military experience or experience with women’s workforce issues. I certainly applaud and appreciate DACOWITS’ mission; however, as it pertains to the issue of women in the infantry, it’s very surprising to see that none of the committee members are on active duty or have any recent combat or relevant operational experience relating to the issue they are attempting to change. I say this because, at the end of the day, it’s the active duty servicemember who will ultimately deal with the results of their initiatives, not those on the outside looking in. As of now, the Marine Corps hasn’t been directed to integrate, but perhaps the Corps is anticipating the inevitable—DoD pressuring the Corps to comply with DACOWITS’ agenda as the Army has already “rogered up” to full integration. Regardless of what the Army decides to do, it’s critical to emphasize that we are not the Army; our operational speed and tempo, along with our overall mission as the Nation’s amphibious force-in-readiness, are fundamentally different than that of our sister Service. By no means is this distinction intended as disrespectful to our incredible Army. My main point is simply to state that the Marine Corps and the Army are different; even if the Army ultimately does fully integrate all military occupational fields, that doesn’t mean the Corps should follow suit.

I understand that there are female servicemembers who have proven themselves to be physically, mentally, and morally capable of leading and executing combat-type operations; as a result, some of these Marines may feel qualified for the chance of taking on the role of 0302. In the end, my main concern is not whether women are capable of conducting combat operations, as we have already proven that we can hold our own in some very difficult combat situations; instead, my main concern is a question of longevity. Can women endure the physical and physiological rigors of sustained combat operations, and are we willing to accept the attrition and medical issues that go along with integration?

As a young lieutenant, I fit the mold of a female who would have had a shot at completing IOC, and I am sure there was a time in my life where I would have volunteered to be an infantryman. I was a star ice hockey player at Bowdoin College, a small elite college in Maine, with a major in government and law. At 5 feet 3 inches I was squatting 200 pounds and benching 145 pounds when I graduated in 2007. I completed Officer Candidates School (OCS) ranked 4 of 52 candidates, graduated 48 of 261 from TBS, and finished second at MOS school. I also repeatedly scored far above average in all female-based physical fitness tests (for example, earning a 292 out of 300 on the Marine physical fitness test). Five years later, I am physically not the woman I once was and my views have greatly changed on the possibility of women having successful long careers while serving in the infantry. I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females.

I was a motivated, resilient second lieutenant when I deployed to Iraq for 10 months, traveling across the Marine area of operations (AO) and participating in numerous combat operations. Yet, due to the excessive amount of time I spent in full combat load, I was diagnosed with a severe case of restless leg syndrome. My spine had compressed on nerves in my lower back causing neuropathy which compounded the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. While this injury has certainly not been enjoyable, Iraq was a pleasant experience compared to the experiences I endured during my deployment to Afghanistan. At the beginning of my tour in Helmand Province, I was physically capable of conducting combat operations for weeks at a time, remaining in my gear for days if necessary and averaging 16-hour days of engineering operations in the heart of Sangin, one of the most kinetic and challenging AOs in the country. There were numerous occasions where I was sent to a grid coordinate and told to build a PB from the ground up, serving not only as the mission commander but also the base commander until the occupants (infantry units) arrived 5 days later. In most of these situations, I had a sergeant as my assistant commander, and the remainder of my platoon consisted of young, motivated NCOs. I was the senior Marine making the final decisions on construction concerns, along with 24-hour base defense and leading 30 Marines at any given time. The physical strain of enduring combat operations and the stress of being responsible for the lives and well-being of such a young group in an extremely kinetic environment were compounded by lack of sleep, which ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen.

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45 Responses to Amazons Attack!

  • We have lost all respect for women. We went from standing when they entered the room and opening doors for them, to putting them on the front lines?

    Donald your last paragraph summed it up nicely, “Let’s Pretend” mode is in full swing!

  • Why on Earth would the top brass listen to someone with actual expertise and experience when they can listen to a committee with a cool name like “DACOWITS”?

  • I should think of something insightful to say on the subject, but what really struck me is that you don’t often see a split-screen shot where the Fox News gal is the second-cutest.

  • As a former infantry medic I can tell you this woman is spot on. The physical rigors of infantry operations take a toll on men, and this results in accelerated joint degeneration. Knees, backs, feet, anything that bears a load takes a hit. My brother ended up with back problems from his deployment to Iraq due to wearing body armor. I injured my feet from running in boots with heavy loads during training.

    As part of my insurance work, I need to assess people’s employability after an injury, and this includes assessing prior employment within a certain number of years. I’ve had a few who had served in the military prior to a work injury, and that had to be assessed. Combat arms are always classified as very heavy, and involve lifting and carrying over a hundred pounds at times, and doing that in awkward, non-ergonomic positions. Women do not have the same bone structure as men do, and this can increase the likelihood of an acute injury, or a chronic degenerative problem that comes about over time. Once you begin down that road of joint degeneration, its natural course it to continue to worsen over time. When people are young, they aren’t aware of this possibility. They feel great and think they will live forever in perfect health. So they take out loans that their bodies must end up repaying over time. They find out when they are older what chronic pain is.

    I would hardly call this sort of thing compassionate to women.

  • It is not about compassion for women. It is about further transformation of society into the egalitarian utopia. Gays in the military was also part of the process. What next?

  • What next?

    A military disaster (heaven forbid) to knock us to our senses?

  • “What next?”
    Their bringing back Mr. Ed the talking Horse
    and Mr. Lumpit the talking fish. It’s going to be a “dandy” of a good Corps.

  • A military disaster (heaven forbid) to knock us to our senses?

    No, that never works–it just means that things didn’t go far enough.

    What happens next is the female officers that wanted this get their “combat command” box checked, a bunch of enlisted women are put in positions they’re not suited for, lots of folks get killed, and the activists demand more for their ideas. Why not, they’re not paying the blood price.

  • At least it should strike terror into the enemy, if Kipling is to be believed:

    “When you’re lying half-dead on Afganistan’s plains
    And the women come out to cut up what remains
    Just roll on your rifle and blow out your brains…”

  • Hmmm…this is an interesting issue to say the least!

    I don’t find Donald’s anecdotal evidence very helpful. It reduces the differences between man and woman to purely physical terms, or at least overemphasizes this approach. Yes, men and women are physically different, a difference that makes men far more capable of enduring the strain of combat. Most woman are not physically capable of undergoing the same type of physical exertion, at least not without a serious toll being taken on their bodies. Most women, like the young lady interviewed by Fox, should not be participating in combat.

    But what about the exceptions? What if there was a woman who was just as physically suited as her male counterparts to participate in and endure the bodily toll of combat? I’m not saying that it’s a certainty that there exists a female physically capable of enduring combat situations, but I think it’s a hypothetical that is most certainly plausible. So on what grounds would she not be able to fight on the “front-lines?” The type of argument used by Captain Petronino and, at least in this post, Donald would fail, because it solely addresses the physical limitations of MOST women. If those limitations are ever exceeded, then what case is left to be made?

    While I still maintain that women, on average, are physically ill-disposed to participate in combat, I don’t think that’s the primary issue we should be exploring. We should be talking about nature, and whether there is something inherent in the nature of woman that would seem to indicate their place is not on the battlefield (on a related note…what do ya’ll think about stay-at-home-dads?).

    Honestly, this dichotomy reminds me of a disturbing trend I’ve seen in pro-life argumentation against abortion. Namely, that abortion is bad not primarily because it’s morally wrong, but because it’s not good POLICY. This is an essay that elevated this concern:

    The author’s point basically boils down to “proponents said abortion would reduce out-of-wedlock births, would reduce the crime rate, and reduce child abuse BUT IT HASN’T and therefore it’s bad policy.” But what if it HAD done all these things? And yes, I know there is something said about sin manifesting itself in a physical form, but it doesn’t always, at least no in an obvious or quantifiable way. My point is basically that these types of arguments are nice as supporting acts, but should never minimize the primacy of the “main show,” namely arguments focusing on the “nature” of things.

  • Here’s an article that, I believe, approaches this issue from a better place:

  • “It reduces the differences between man and woman to purely physical terms, or at least overemphasizes this approach.”

    This post was not meant to explore all the differences between mean and women JL. Having been happily married for over three decades, the father of a daughter and having a female secretary who has been my right hand for 27 years, I think I might have an inkling of all of those differences. It was meant to be a practical look at the drawbacks of this proposal in practical terms even for an uber physically fit woman like Captain Petronio. She would have been precisely the type of exceptional woman thought worthy to be in Combat Arms. Her testimony, riveting in detail, helps demolish the argument for the exceptional. As Foxfier, a female veteran of the Navy points out, this proposal will not be limited to the exceptionally fit like Captain Petronio. There will be immense pressure by the civilian leadership to put a lot of women in Combat Arms to demonstrate that the policy is a success. Physical qualifications will be ignored and a lot of women, especially enlisted women, will find themselves in situations where their inability, through absolutely no fault of their own, to keep up physically with their male colleagues will cost lives, quite probably a great many lives. To people who serve in the military that is what will count the most in regard to this new policy.

  • Not all comments have been about physical issues. As I noted, this was one more effort to engineer our society to an idealized state of equality. Something your link further suggests:

    “Long ago, we made equality our end, and this is the inevitable next stop on our long march. If that requires the sacrifice of our sisters and daughters, say the egalitarians, then so be it.”

  • “It is an army bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of Men.”

  • “Not all comments have been about physical issues. As I noted, this was one more effort to engineer our society to an idealized state of equality.”

    I agree Phillip, I was simply pointing out that this post overemphasized physical differences in its argumentation.

    “She would have been precisely the type of exceptional woman thought worthy to be in Combat Arms. Her testimony, riveting in detail, helps demolish the argument for the exceptional.”

    No, I don’t think it does. She is one of what, less than 10,000 active women in the Corps? Sure she had some of the highest marks with regards to physical fitness amongst her female peers, but the sample size is still incredibly small when one considers there are over 3 billion women in the world.

    And yes, the Corps is obviously extremely self-selecting in the sense that people in peak physical condition enlist or become officers. This is probably especially true of the women who serve. But arguing that no woman is physically capable of enduring a combat environment because Capt. Petronino was not is obviously fallacious.

    She is not some definitive “uberfrau,” the exemplar of physical prowess amongst her sex. And, in fact, she stands at only 5 feet 3 inches! I doubt many MEN could undergo the bodily toll of combat with a frame like that. Clearly, the link between “fitness” and “combat capability” is not a clear corollary, just as high SAT scores do not necessarily translate into academic success.

    I repeat, arguing that ALL women are not suited for combat because they are not physically capable of withstanding the conditions without a seriously detrimental toll on their bodies is foolish, and will be “demolished” if/when any woman ever shows herself TO be capable, which is a certainly plausible scenario to entertain.

    And yes, not limiting combat assignments to those women who are physically capable of enduring them is idiotic…but the same would be true of giving these assignments to MEN who weren’t physically cut-out for it, would it not?

  • JL, regardless of whether there are some women who might be able to handle the rigors of infantry life, the fact is that most will not. When I was in, I did an inordinate amount of heavy lifting for females. One lieutenant was physically incapable of even carrying her own duffel bag. I got off a plane from Korea once and had to carry my gear and hers.

  • I remember when I was at a Rights and Responsibilities Workshop during my Navy days. The subject of women in combat came up. This was over twenty years ago, mind you. Anyway, a Lt. CDR in our group, an electronics officer spoke up and said some of the best technicians he ever worked with were women. But in combat he wouldn’t want anyone of them around because they would be prime targets for the enemy. The demoralization effect it would have on the men would be insurmountable. He was absolutely correct.

    For similar reasons, I am also against women on NAvy ships. Ever since the Navy started allowing women to serve on auxilary ships like destroyer and submarine tenders, it has been an unmitigated dsisaster. Now, they are on combatant ships. And it’s an even bigger problem.

    Where are all the republicans expressing outrage about this and the overall gutting of our military by Obama? Another example of GOP weakness in the face of Democrap agression.

  • “JL, regardless of whether there are some women who might be able to handle the rigors of infantry life, the fact is that most will not.”

    And….so what? Doesn’t that simply mean that those women who are not physically capable of handling the rigors of infantry life should not be deployed in such a capacity? And isn’t the same true of men who aren’t physically capable? Again, I think any argument against putting women into combat is on extremely shaky ground if it is primarily based on appeals to physical differences.

    “When I was in, I did an inordinate amount of heavy lifting for females. One lieutenant was physically incapable of even carrying her own duffel bag. I got off a plane from Korea once and had to carry my gear and hers.”

    OK, this anecdote is helpful in allowing others to understand how your experiences have shaped your views on the issue, but, like Donald’s account, it really isn’t helpful to the overall discussion. The women you served with were not physically capable of undergoing demanding conditions, but I’m not sure why that leads to an argument like “MOST women are physically incapable of being in combat without severe bodily consequences and, therefore, ALL women should be barred from combat assignments.” Arguments against putting any of our wives, sisters, and daughters on the field of battle should be primarily concerned with the differences in the NATURE of men and women.

    And no one has said anything about stay-at-home-dads yet…

  • Sorry JL, but you are flat out wrong here. Women in the military have lower physical fitness standards than men. They’re not going to change this. There are no special physical fitness standards to be an infantryman vs. an office clerk. At any point, that office clerk can be propelled into the role of an infantry soldier, and so the physical standards are the same for all specialties, with the exception of certain elite units like the Rangers. But for infantry, armor, etc., its the same standard as for the guy changing bedpans in a hospital. Ergo, women, who have a lower physical fitness standard in the Army to begin with, will meet a lower physical standard than the men in an infantry unit. I don’t think you’ve actually served, or if you did you must have forgotten a lot. It’s simply not true that women will have to meet a higher fitness standard. It’s already the case that they have a lower physical fitness standard.

    By the way, it wasn’t only one incident that formed my opinion. It was my overall experience. When I was in combat medic training we had to carry stretchers with an actual soldier through an obstacle course which included trenches, barbed wire, walls, logs, and an assortment of barriers. Women had real difficulty with this, and the men had to take up a lot of the slack. These were female soldiers who had undergone many weeks of hard physical training to build up strength, and who would not even be at the school had they not met the physical standards in place **** for women****. Again, it’s nothing against women soldiers, but they are not physically identical to men and it’s asking for trouble to integrate them into combat arms. It doesn’t sound to me like you served with an infantry unit like I did. It’s clear you’re not familiar with how it works.

    That said, you are correct that there are a lot of other arguments that can be made regarding women serving in combat arms.

  • One factor that hasn’t been mentioned is the fact that women are more liable to be subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of the enemy in the event of capture.

  • “Women in the military have lower physical fitness standards than men. They’re not going to change this. There are no special physical fitness standards to be an infantryman vs. an office clerk. At any point, that office clerk can be propelled into the role of an infantry soldier, and so the physical standards are the same for all specialties, with the exception of certain elite units like the Rangers. But for infantry, armor, etc., its the same standard as for the guy changing bedpans in a hospital. Ergo, women, who have a lower physical fitness standard in the Army to begin with, will meet a lower physical standard than the men in an infantry unit.”

    I guess I’m not getting too caught up on what the official standards are. As far as I know, men have one standard, women have a different one. People want to merge them into “one standard,” which I think is problematic.

    But here’s the crux of the matter: If there was a women who was just as physically capable as a man who served in the infantry, on what grounds would you bar her from combat duty?

    “It doesn’t sound to me like you served with an infantry unit like I did. It’s clear you’re not familiar with how it works.”

    Nope, I didn’t. But then again, most bishops have never been pregnant. My lack of information is just that, a lack of information, not some unavoidable blemish on my opinions because I haven’t undergone the experience.

  • This would also seem to indicate that you’re wrong:

    “Military officials who briefed reporters on background said occupations such as infantry and artillery have exacting physical requirements and appropriate standards will be maintained.”

    Looks like standards differ for assignments.


  • One obvious problem is pregnancy. Given that women in combat roles would be in their prime, childbearing years, this can be quite an issue. The Navy is currently dealing with this with one year shore assignments. The problem is, what will be the impact on combat units.

  • JL:

    You are speaking from ignorance. They said they won’t lower their standards. I’m sure that’s true. The standards have been in place for a long time, and they are different for men and for women. Given that they are already lower for women, there’s no need for them to lower the standards a second time. It’s already been done. Having served with an infantry unit, I can tell you first hand that all they need to do is pass the APFT to serve with an infantry unit, or any combat arms unit except certain elite units. You can find the actual standards here:

    An 18 year old male must do 42 pushups. A female of the same age must do 19. In fact, the minimum passing score for a male is considered a “max” for a female who would score 100% on the test for getting the least amount a guy would get. It’s very nearly the same situation with the 2 mile run. They may be trumpeting that “standards won’t be lowered” but that doesn’t mean squat because standards have been in place for years and they aren’t going to change. They have been different for men and women for a very long time, but you won’t see them acknowledging that fact to the media because that would make the public question it. The vast majority of Americans have never served in the military and won’t know to question it. If you pass the APFT, you’re good to go.

    But don’t take my word for it. Go here:

    and see what a recruiter says about infantry requirements. Basically he states there are no special requirements, and you need to maintain a 60% (60 points) to stay in, which anyone in the military must maintain anyway. And it takes a lower level of performance to get a 60% for a female than for a male.

    The spokespeople are playing word games with the press when they say standards won’t be lowered. Technically, that’s correct. But….

  • “Be all you can be” Equality is not the same as sameness. The equality DACOWITS wants is sameness.

  • JL:

    Sorry, I didn’t scroll up far enough to see you other post. Regarding your question about what would happen if a woman met the same physical requirements as a man, as practical matter that’s not going to happen. They go off of percentages. Now assuming you do have some Amazon woman who consumed steroids from the breast milk of her East German Olympic team weightlifter mother, and who can meet the male standards for an infantry unit… no, let’s go even further and say she meets the physical standards for one of the Ranger battalions and successfully goes through all of the various schools that lead to that assignment. At that point, one can assume that unicorns do exist. It’s an absurd assumption. But let’s go with it anyway. That event is going to be so rare that it’s going to be outside the experience of nearly everyone serving in the military. And at the point, the same people calling for women to serve in the military are going to make sure that standards are lower for women in the name of “equality”. To ensure the outcome they prefer, they will absolutely gerrymander the requirements to get women into combat positions by hook or by crook. This will be bad for morale. Men will resent it, except those who know how to play political games. The NCO corps will become nothing more than a bunch of “yes” men rather than independent thinkers who can solve problems on their feet in stressful situations. We will destroy the military by driving away honest, capable soldiers. The only ones left will be the opportunists.

  • In addition to the issue of disparity in terms of physical abilities is the factor the importance of the development of fraternal bonds amongst soldiers in an infantry unit. You inject sexual attaction into that environment, which will naturally follow with the mixing of the sexes, you have a serious problem in its own right.

  • Alphatron. I wouldn’t say I’m “speaking from ignorance,” I’m just simply repeating what professional journalists have said military officials told them.

    I’m going to try to address your points one at a time:
    -I know women and men have different standards.
    -Well, it seems like what the recruiter on the forum is saying contradicts what army officials have explicitly stated. One says there are elevated standards for infantry, the other says there are not. Both seem to have the requisite authority for me to take them at their word, so I’m not going to argue against either of them.
    -I will point out that, since women have been banned from combat, when people say “anyone who meets the requirements to get into the Army can be assigned to the infantry,” it’s possible that they aren’t referring to women at all since they can’t possibly serve in the infantry. So yes, any man who met the requisite standards could be called up to the infantry, but if they were going to allow women to enter the infantry, they probably would revise women’s standards, possibly creating explicit “not infantry approved” and “infantry approved” designations. I am just speculating, but it seems absurd to me to think that women being allowed to serve in combat capacities would mean that any women who meets the general standards for women would be allowed into the infantry.

    “Regarding your question about what would happen if a woman met the same physical requirements as a man, as practical matter that’s not going to happen. They go off of percentages. ”

    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by this. How is it “not going to happen?” If a man in the infantry has a certain score, and a women equals or bests it, how can she be barred from combat duty on the basis that she isn’t physically capable?

    “no, let’s go even further and say she meets the physical standards for one of the Ranger battalions and successfully goes through all of the various schools that lead to that assignment. At that point, one can assume that unicorns do exist. It’s an absurd assumption. ”

    Yah…I’m not really sure why you take my fairly plausible scenario (a single woman having scores comparable to any man serving in the infantry) and made it something ridiculous, which I haven’t even remotely suggested. It’d an absurd assumption because you made it.

    I’m not really sure I follow the rest of what you’re saying. It doesn’t really address my question, which I’ll word differently this time: if an individual woman achieved scores on these standards tests that were equal to or better than at least one man currently cleared for infantry duty, on what grounds could you bar her from the infantry? The “physically incapable” argument obviously wouldn’t work in such a scenario, because she’s just proved that she IS physically capable (unless the standards aren’t really a good indication of this, in which case they should be revised).

  • Alphatron. I wouldn’t say I’m “speaking from ignorance,” I’m just simply repeating what professional journalists have said military officials told them.

    Those same “professionals” think that identifying the spot a shoulder strap is attached to as a bayonet spot is a minor mistake, and using a picture of an AK-47 for a military style AR is no mistake at all.

    Women, even those who meet the same physical standards– which, as linked, are not special— do not respond the same to physical “stress.”
    Medics have pointed out the massively higher rate of injuries, and a Marine officer even wrote a piece for the Marine Corps Gazette.

    Somehow, didn’t get much attention from those “professional journalists.”

  • It has to do with the way it is scored. A person needs a certain score to be in the infantry. Men and women are scored differently. The minimum qualifying physical fitness performance for a man gives a woman a maximum score. The physical performance that would give a woman a minimum score of 60 would give a man a failing score, and he would be drummed out of the military entirely if he did not bring it up within a specified period of time.

    So when the media says they won’t lower the requirements for women, they are correct. A woman will still require a sixty percent score, just like a man will. But a woman will need to do far less to obtain that sixty percent score.

  • The navy had fail, probation, then various levels of “passing,” then “excellent”– it was a point of pride for me that I always got at least a mid-level “pass” for my PFT if I were a male, but so many women couldn’t pass even the low level stuff that they put in a thing where your score could be averaged as long as you didn’t flat out fail in any specific. (From memory, it was largely because the middle aged women couldn’t do sit ups as well.)

  • Hey!

    They can form women’s infantry battalions like the WNBA and women’s soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, etc.

    In a violent world, peace is maintained by the disciplined valor of a nation’s armed forces.

    Will intergating women into ground combat units advance unit cohesion, discipline, and efficency (at destroying things and killing people)?

    Anybody around here old enough to remember a small Navy avaiators’ embarrassment called “Tail Hook”?

    Or, imagine a daughter of manslaughtering Ares, as it were, bursting into tears, and blubbering, “What difference does it make?”

    I’m glad the warden doesn’t read this.

  • In a democracy, who is a citizen?

    Under the Ancien Régime, the defence of the country was the task of the nobility, and the sword was everywhere the badge of the gentleman. In return, they enjoyed special privileges and a preponderant share in the government of the nation.

    The Republic declared that the nation is the community of all those who are not exempt from taxation, military service and other public duties, and, second, it includes all those, and only those, who are willing and capable of sharing in the service of the country. This was the logical basis of universal (male) suffrage.

    Accordingly, in France, until 1945, women, who were not liable to conscription, did not enjoy the vote and were ineligible for public office. This was logical.

    If women, as a class, are denied the right, or relieved of the responsibility, of defending the nation under arms, in what sense are they truly citizens? If men and women enjoy citizenship on different terms, how is the republic one and indivisible?

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour –
    bad logic, unless you plan to remove the citizenship of anyone who can’t qualify for combat. That would be the old and the disabled, as well as the XX chromosomed.

    France in the 40s is not the place I’d cite as an overwhelming logical argument against how bad of an idea it is to kill of the only people who can make new soldiers. A task, incidentally, which tend to kill more each year than enemy action, and all in the female category.

  • Even women oppose it.

    *waves hand wildly in the air*

    I’ve actually run into more bitter “manosphere” types that support it than women who do– and vanishing few military types that weren’t activists before they got in, or aren’t chasing stars.

  • When the French Foreign Legion in the 19th century came across female warriors in Africa they were reluctant to engage them at close quarters. As professional soldiers the idea of bayonetting a woman was repugnant. I have no doubt that our latter-day Amazons would have no compunction about sticking a bayonet in someone else, but what happens if an enemy soldier, suddenly coming face to face with a woman, hesitates, as well he might? Answer: he’s dead.

    No civilized society should even consider putting women in the front line, and those who advocate it do not understand the psychology of combat. The citizen-soldiers of the First World War, when they were pulled out of line, found that in the rest areas they encountered women, children, animals; this helped them forget for a time the horrors of the trenches. They were able to reconnect with their own humanity.

    Esprit de corps, unit cohesion, the idea of not letting your mates down – this keeps infantry soldiers going in combat. Introduce women into the equation and fighting just becomes a squalid business, devoid of the last remnants of honour and chivalry.

  • “Esprit de corps, unit cohesion, the idea of not letting your mates down – this keeps infantry soldiers going in combat. Introduce women into the equation and fighting just becomes a squalid business, devoid of the last remnants of honour and chivalry.”

    Good common sense John. It is frightening how uncommon common sense is becoming.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour:

    Regarding the obligations commensurate with citizenship, I would submit that the bearing and raising of children certainly qualifies. Motherhood imposes obligations that certainly affect the nation.

  • I swear I’m going to strangle the next person I hear whining about it not being fair. The military is not your high school Glee club, it doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not. What matters is defending our country, if putting women on the front lines is detrimental to that (and it has been proven so time and again) I don’t care if the woman in question passed BUDS with flying colors and is the best soldier in the unit, if she lowers unit effiecency she shouldn’t be there. If that affects her chances at promotion, well… that’s not fair, but again, the military shouldn’t be concerned about what’s ‘fair’.

  • Unfortunately the once esteemed virtues of manliness and womanliness are being sacrificed on the altar of the false god of equality. Like same-sex ‘marriage’ it reveals the moral bakruptcy of present-day western society.

Live Not By Lies

Thursday, January 24, AD 2013



Live Not by Lies is the last thing Alexander  Solzhenitsyn wrote before his exile to the West in 1974.  Solzhenitsyn was one of the giants of the last century.  Thrown into the Gulag while he was an artillery officer in the Red Army during World War II, he tirelessly, at the constant risk of his life, fought a lonely battle for freedom for three decades in the Soviet Union.  His courage and literary skill inspired people around the globe, including me as a teen-ager and a young man.  I never thought what he wrote would be applicable to the United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Alas, in the Age of Obama Solzhenitsyn’s writings have an increasingly unpleasant contemporary ring to them.


So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood–of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies–or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.

And from that day onward he:

  • Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
  • Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
  • Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
  • Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
  • Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
  • Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
  • Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question.
  • Will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
  • Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed.

Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.

No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.

But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul- don’t let him be proud of his “progressive” views, and don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a merited figure, or a general–let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and warm.

Even this path, which is the most modest of all paths of resistance, will not be easy for us. But it is much easier than self-immolation or a hunger strike: The flames will not envelope your body, your eyeballs, will not burst from the heat, and brown bread and clean water will always be available to your family.

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3 Responses to Live Not By Lies

  • Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.

    Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed.

    With just these two convictions, you can pretty much count out voting for 99.99% of American candidates, and reading newspapers and magazines (although I notice he said “subscribe to or buy,” so maybe he still allows you to read, just not support financially). On the bright side, that would leave you with a heck of a lot of time on your hands to surf the net for interesting blogs!

  • I don’t remember ever hearing God’s truth from the current administration.

  • “you can pretty much count out reading newspapers and magazines”

    I presume that would also count out working for or contributing any articles to a newspaper (which I do occasionally) or magazine, although I suspect he was thinking primarily of pure propaganda outlets like the Pravda and TASS of his day, or of Communist Party organization publications, rather than the garden-variety American newspaper. Although many American newspapers do have a left-leaning editorial stance, there are letters to the editor published with differing points of view and often guest editorials or columns presenting the “other side”, which someone has to contribute.

History is Boring!

Thursday, January 24, AD 2013

No, History is not boring, but it certainly is usually taught in a boring fashion.  The main culprits:

1. Badly Written TextbooksUsually drafted by committees of fairly untalented hacks, they frequently make the reading of technical manuals seem exciting by comparison.

2.  Politicized Drek-Textbooks often have a strong ideological slant.  These days that slant is usually, although not always, driven from the Left.  Therefore students are likely to read quite a bit on the treatment of women in colonial America, with the military history of the American Revolution left to a scant two pages.  This distorts History and usually drains the life out of it, as the study of the past becomes yet another opportunity to deliver a twenty-first century political diatribe.

3.  Ignorant Teachers-Too often History is taught by teachers who have little knowledge of it and no passion for it.  When I was in high school back in the early Seventies, coaches often were  assigned to teach History, under the assumption that anyone could teach it.  There were exceptions, and I still have fond memories of Mr. Geisler who taught American history and Mr. Vanlandingham who taught European history, but the usual level of the teaching of History was quite low.

4.  Laundry Lists-States often mandate inclusion of certain subjects in History.  This results in a laundry list approach of teaching History in which so many topics must be covered that short shrift is given to understanding a period as a whole.

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11 Responses to History is Boring!

  • Great analysis. I find the second item particularly obnoxious. As an anectdote- I was reading Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why The Greeks Matter, and the author’s treatment of Aristotle comprised less than a page and a half, whereas Plato’s Symposium received nearly an entire chapter (ironically entitled ‘How To Think’.) The reason? Aristotle’s metaphysics led to the Catholic Church’s sexual ethics, which modern people are way too smart to find reasonable. (paraphrase)

    So let’s ignore the massive influence Aristotle had on western civilization (that is, why the Greeks matter!) and focus on eroticism, since that is the bequest of the classical Greeks. (*removes tongue from cheek)

    On the other hand, Victor Davis Hanson’s books on Greek internecine warfare focus on only one particular aspect of the classical Greeks yet manage to actually give a reason why the Greeks matter, which Cahill never really gets around to, at least from what I remember. Once he waved off Aristotle I realized I could safely tune out.

  • The English actor James Purefoy, in promoting “Ironclad,” his medieval warfare film, said “It should be a crime to be a boring history teacher!”

    And yet, we’ve managed to do precisely that–make history a dull slog.

    Which leads to the present, a sad generation of people cut off from their pasts, living entirely in a present, at once ignorant, ungrateful and frivolous.

  • My history experience was a little different. We moved a lot when I was young. I must have had “US: Founding to Radial Reconstruction” four times, never anything past that for the US except as part of WWII. I knew the Greeks but never met the Romans. My only exposure to Europe between the Hellenic period and WWII was from a well-meaning sister who railed against the Philosophes – and yes, they deserved it, but a little context would have been nice. I don’t think I ever had history outside Europe and the US except for a smattering in Spanish class, but I suspect that’s pretty common in the US.

    As to this article: Point #7 cannot be overstated. I remember reading a quote to the effect that the US wasn’t settled by those we call the settlers, but by merchants, soldiers, and missionaries. That’s always stuck with me because we’ve eliminated the motives of the real historical people from history: profit, conquest, and faith. Money sometimes makes its way into history classes, at least in my era (HS Class of 1982), through Marx-influenced analysis. Nationalism and religion, though, were forbidden topics. I’d bet that these days you could present nationalism, but it’d be as distorted through political correctness as the profit motive was distorted in the textbooks I was exposed to.

  • Jason’s remarks about Aristotle raises a very interesting point.

    For us, of course, Aristotle was one of the giants of philosophy, but his work was unknown in the West until the 11th century, mediated through Arab translators. The only dialogue of Plato known in the West was the Symposium. It was the Stoics and the Epicurians that dominated late Antiquity, until the rise of Neo-Platonism with Plotinus in the third century.

    Again, that he was one of the best observational biologists of Antiquity was not recognized until the 16th century at least.

    The same paradox applies to Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. To us, they are the great figures of their age, but, outside a tiny circle of savants, they were unknown to their contemporaries. Newton was the first scientist who was a major public figure in his own day. Likewise, In the middle of the 19th century, the work of Bolyai and Lobachevsky was largely unknown, even to well-educated people. Non-Euclidean geometry entered the public consciousness with Einstein.

  • Thanks, Donald. I think much needs to be said about both the importance of history and the need to teach it well so that it appeals to people as enlightening and useful. But I see another problem. I think many people would like to keep history at a distance–people who are radically progressive–since history tends to reign us in a bit. History would guide us more rationally into the future, whereas ideologues would have us answer their call to leap into the dark. The places they wish to go would lack any real continuity with the past, and I think that’s why radical politicians tend to reject authentic history.

  • Don

    In the Seventy’s our world history survey professor read some of the better answers from the mid-term

    Q Who was Jesus Christ?
    A He lived about 0 AD and became a Christian because he liked the religion.

    And this was a Catholic university.


    A few years ago I was helping friend with her grandson’s reading. So i used the social studies book, they were doing the middle ages..

    It had high quality paper and ink, beautiful illustrations, arts and craft projects, and an age appropriate text that leaves the reader completely uninformed about the middle ages.

    So what if they can’t read there is nothing worth reading in that book.

    History is fun! Middle Ages Histroy is fun, You have to work to mess it up.

    (I got out “Just so Stories” and had him rap “How the Camel got his Hump” In fifteen minutes he was doing a lot better.)

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • “History is fun! Middle Ages Histroy is fun, You have to work to mess it up.”

    Quite right Hank. I have always enjoyed this scene from the movie Ruggles of Red Cap because it shows how a British butler who has become intrigued by Abraham Lincoln by reading a book about him, reminds Americans of their history:

  • “Which leads to the present, a sad generation of people cut off from their pasts, living entirely in a present, at once ignorant, ungrateful and frivolous.”

    Which makes it incumbent upon us who know the history Dale to teach it in any way we can. One of the reasons why I stress history so much in my posts.

  • “As an anectdote- I was reading Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why The Greeks Matter, and the author’s treatment of Aristotle comprised less than a page and a half, whereas Plato’s Symposium received nearly an entire chapter (ironically entitled ‘How To Think’.) The reason? Aristotle’s metaphysics led to the Catholic Church’s sexual ethics, which modern people are way too smart to find reasonable. (paraphrase)”

    Cahill is a rotten historian and an uber liberal former Catholic, current Catholic basher:

    “John Paul II has been almost the polar opposite of John XXIII, who dragged Catholicism to confront 20th-century realities after the regressive policies of Pius IX, who imposed the peculiar doctrine of papal infallibility on the First Vatican Council in 1870, and after the reign of terror inflicted by Pius X on Catholic theologians in the opening decades of the 20th century. Unfortunately, this pope was much closer to the traditions of Pius IX and Pius X than to his namesakes. Instead of mitigating the absurdities of Vatican I’s novel declaration of papal infallibility, a declaration that stemmed almost wholly from Pius IX’s paranoia about the evils ranged against him in the modern world, John Paul II tried to further it. In seeking to impose conformity of thought, he summoned prominent theologians like Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx and Leonardo Boff to star chamber inquiries and had his grand inquisitor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issue condemnations of their work.

    But John Paul II’s most lasting legacy to Catholicism will come from the episcopal appointments he made. In order to have been named a bishop, a priest must have been seen to be absolutely opposed to masturbation, premarital sex, birth control (including condoms used to prevent the spread of AIDS), abortion, divorce, homosexual relations, married priests, female priests and any hint of Marxism. It is nearly impossible to find men who subscribe wholeheartedly to this entire catalogue of certitudes; as a result the ranks of the episcopate are filled with mindless sycophants and intellectual incompetents. The good priests have been passed over; and not a few, in their growing frustration as the pontificate of John Paul II stretched on, left the priesthood to seek fulfillment elsewhere.”

    Victor Davis Hanson is my favorite living historian and I treasure each of his books.

  • Every nation, government, and civilization on the scrap heaps of history made the same fatal rejection of God. Our Founders had a better idea by accepting and trusting the God of Abraham, and while our nation trusted, ir prospered with liberty and religious freedom. To preserve this should be the history now taught in every classroom in America. Our repressive government has rejected the Declaration of Independence and declared war on children and the family. God’s moral laws are being officially flaunted, and history is about to relegate our nation to the scrap heaps as well. American patriots had better hone their revolutionary instincts to again defend our intended republic. The future of America may soon rest be in their hands. Especially now if only the criminals have assault weapons and over 10 round magazines.

  • Here is a little anecdote of how history is taught in our schools.

    One morning, I was working in the stables with two schoolgirls, (aged 16/17) who come to ride my horses and help out. They were studying the “Age of Revolutions,” for their History special subject and somehow we got onto the topic of Napoléon III.

    Yes, they knew all about Bonapartism & Napoléon III: “Stalemate in the class struggle” – “Bourgeoisie surrenders political power, in return for protection of its economic power” – “Bourgeois ‘freedom’ is the freedom to exploit the labour of others for profit” – “The independent Executive – Its instruments the déclassé Bohemians of all classes” – “Professional army made up of the Lumpen proletariat” &c, &c

    It was like listening to children saying their catechism.

    “And who were their opponents?” I asked

    “The proletariat, in alliance with the revolutionary intelligentsia,” they replied, in chorus.

    “And the peasants?”

    “They had no community, no national bond and no political organization,” they intoned, as one.

    For their teachers, there is nothing to the right of the Socialist parties, except greed and eccentricity.

    This is Scotland, after all.