Tolerance and the American Left

Friday, May 31, AD 2013

From Reason TV.  It is funny until one ponders that we live in a time where a broad swathe of Americans are able to be simultaneously unremittingly hostile to people who have the temerity to hold views differing from theirs on political and cultural matters, while also supposedly celebrating tolerance as a key part of their worldview.  George Orwell, a man of the Left, would not have been surprised by this:

In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by “thou shalt not”, the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by “love” or “reason”, he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else.

Liberal Tolerance

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14 Responses to Tolerance and the American Left

  • The theme of the anti-Koch outbreak was, “Save Our News.”

    Those people’s self-awareness is severely deficient.

    Apparently, they are not so moronic as to be unaware that the truth could stop the push for economic and societal regression.

    Note to the Koch’s: you can’t fix envy and stupidity.

  • “while also supposedly celebrating tolerance as a key part of their worldview”

    well the “tolerance” here is referring to innate characteristics (generally,) which political opinions aren’t. So it’s not inconsistent, it just comes to down to agreeing or disagreeing on different arguments.

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  • “well the “tolerance” here is referring to innate characteristics”

    Actually that is totally incorrect. Most Leftists preen themselves on being tolerant in general. Think the Coexist bumper stickers for example.

  • true to an extent. When people talk about “Islamophobia” for instance though they aren’t defending specifics of Islam, they’re talking in terms of prejudice against Arabs/others, real or not.

    I think (hope) most people would agree that tolerance in the most generic sense isn’t something to aspire to.

  • Not for most Leftists who appear to believe in toleration only in the abstract, unless it applies to people who agree with them or who belong to groups they have bestowed official victim status upon. Thus the Israelis, who by far run the most tolerant state in the Middle East are “intolerant” in the eyes of most Leftists while their PLO adversaries, noted for their ruthlessness against any individuals or groups who oppose them, enjoy victim status on the Left and thus can do no wrong.

  • that’s just a difference in how people view the conflict. When people think one side is in the right they’re gonna give them more latitude even if they commit horrible acts. That’s human nature.

    no one believes in tolerance in the abstract cuz it’d be incoherent. You’d have to tolerate whatever you define as intolerance which kinda defeats the purpose. Really it’s just a political term — everyone has their view of what their ideal society would be like, what it’d accept and reject, and that word’s a nicer-sounding way of putting things.

  • The Political left, in whatever form it takes, be it the dimwits who followed Robespierre, the Communists/Marxists, the Republicans of Spain, the socialist parties of Europe, the Nazi Party and our own Organized Crime Party (the Democrats) tolerate no dissent, no disagreement, no argument from their viewpoint.

  • “When people think one side is in the right they’re gonna give them more latitude even if they commit horrible acts.”

    The Left has a long, long history of tolerating monsters as long as they proclaimed the right slogans, and they do so while calling for tolerance.

    This risible site from The Southern Poverty Law Center underlines this adherence to tolerance as a prime political slogan of the Left:

  • no one believes in tolerance in the abstract cuz it’d be incoherent.

    Now that really is incoherent.

  • “The Left has a long, long history of tolerating monsters as long as they proclaimed the right slogans, and they do so while calling for tolerance”

    but isn’t this true across the political spectrum. People defended Franco, people defended Pinochet, a lot of Cold War politics was “enemy of my enemy” stuff. Which isn’t to say all examples are perfectly analogous. Just that people tend to be more about “understanding the context” when the politics being discussed match up more with their own.

    Bottom line is you’re right that liberals aren’t tolerant of dissenting viewpoints. Claiming hypocrisy is a dead end though because that’s not what they’re referring to.

  • “People defended Franco, people defended Pinochet, a lot of Cold War politics was “enemy of my enemy” stuff.”

    The analogy fails. For example imagine the horror of any college or university hiring a self-proclaimed fascist, while Marxists are plentiful in these institutions. When is the last time you saw young Conservatives sporting a T-shirt with the image of Franco or Pinochet, while Leftists arrayed in garb with Che Guevara’s image on it have become so common as to be trite.

    There is nothing on the Right like this in this country.

    Leftist adoration of murderous totalitarians has been an ever present feature in this country since the creation of the USSR, while at the same time Leftists ceaselessly preach tolerance.

  • but isn’t this true across the political spectrum. People defended Franco, people defended Pinochet, a lot of Cold War politics was “enemy of my enemy” stuff. Which isn’t to say all examples are perfectly analogous. Just that people tend to be more about “understanding the context” when the politics being discussed match up more with their own.

    I do not know if you noticed this, but in the lapse of time between 1945 and 1990 authoritarian government was the norm in every corner of the world outside the British Isles, Scandinavia, northwesterly continental Europe, North America, and the Antipodes. Just doing business meant you dealt with various and sundry unsavoury characters. These exercises in reasons of state are completely irrelevant to the internal dynamics of a working political society.

    Re: Franco and Pinochet. There were a selection of countries where electoral institutions and such and the political class attending them proved unable to govern or unable to govern more justly than would an authoritarian regime. The catastrophic breakdown of order in the southern cone of South America after 1964 is an example of this, but Spain in the interval between 1930 and 1936 provides another one. Pinochet was regarded respectfully by William Rusher and S.H. Hanke because he was successful Chilean political economy on a sound footing, not because their ‘politics matched up’ with military rule. (The ugliest discrete violations of customary privileges and immunities in this country’s history would be the Trail of Tears and Executive Order 9066; with whose politics do those ‘match up’???)

    Seconding the moderator: the Communist Party in 1947 had 100,000 members and had insinuated itself into gatekeeper positions in at least a dozen trade unions, in the publishing business, and in film studios well. It was also a recruiting ground for espionage. A considerable fraction of the elite collegian population ca. 1968 consisted of reds and watermelons (“Ho, Ho, Ho Chih Minh, the NLF is going to win”) and much of our chatterati went over to the other side during the Cold War. Read Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims for a history or sort through the public utterances of characters like I. F. Stone, David Dellinger, Susan Sontag, and Victor Navasky.

    The closest thing to a starboard analogue to any of this might be the 2d incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan. The 2d Klan was a fad organization that had imploded almost completely within 15 years of its foundation and was never anywhere near the country’s cultural control centers. You could offer the Silver Shirts or the German American Bund; they only existed between 1933 and 1942, had about 40,000 members, and drew largely from marginal immigrant subcultures. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade had 2,800 members; the list volunteers for the Nationalist cause in the United States could be counted on your fingers.

  • JDP,

    FYI: Were it not for ubiquitous leftist lies, there would be no need to defend them. Franco and Pinochet saved their countries from enslavement, massacre, and sovietization.

IRS Scandal: 157 Visits to White House

Friday, May 31, AD 2013



Hattip to commenter Art Deco who alerted me to this story.  Doug Shulman, the head of the IRS while the IRS was effectively operating as an arm of the Obama reelection campaign, visited the White House at least 157 times during his tenure.  His predecessor in the Bush administration visited the White House once, and compared the IRS to Siberia in reference to its lack of connection with the Bush administration.  Shulman was appointed by Bush in 2008 in spite of Shulman’s history of making political donations to Democrats.


Shulman’s extensive access to the White House first came to light during his  testimony last week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Shulman gave assorted answers when asked why he had visited the  White House 118 times during the period that the IRS was targeting tea party and  conservative nonprofits for extra scrutiny and delays on their tax-exempt applications.

By contrast, Shulman’s predecessor Mark Everson only visited the White House  once during four years of service in the George W. Bush administration and  compared the IRS’s remoteness from the president to “Siberia.” But the scope of  Shulman’s White House visits — which strongly suggests coordination by White  House officials in the campaign against the president’s political opponents — is  even more striking in comparison to the publicly recorded access of Cabinet  members.

Go here to The Daily Caller to read the rest.  When queried about his constant trips to the Obama White House here is Doug’s response:

In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last  week, Shulman cited several reasons for the visits: “The Easter Egg roll with my  kids . . . questions about the administrability of tax policy . . . our budget,  us helping the Department of Education streamline application processes for  financial aid.”

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19 Responses to IRS Scandal: 157 Visits to White House

  • As an addendum, it should be emphasized that the administration has had no initiatives of note in the realm of tax policy other than raising some marginal rates. The manifest interest the domestic policy staff at the White House would have in the views of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (who could tell them about the technics of tax collection) would be nil.

    Possible alternative explanation: assignations with the dame in the Manolo Blahniks

    or some other person in the employ of the White House. It would have to be someone with a private office with thick walls.

    You have Congressional inquiries, the Inspector-General’s audit, and the Department of Justice ‘investigation’. Is Mrs. Shulman also investigating?

  • Then there’s interesting bit about the head of the union that represents IRS employees meeting with Obama:

  • I bet Obama’s cheerleader/rat-dog journalists don’t have 17 seconds to cover this.

    John Eastman quoted at Instapundit, “The world is learning about the corruption of the IRS in targeting conservative groups, including various Tea Party organizations, for heightened scrutiny. But the corruption goes much deeper than harassing groups seeking first time non-profit designations, into actively sabotaging existing non-profit groups by releasing confidential information.”

    “What difference does it make?”

  • The moral of the story is…DON’T VOTE FOR LEFTISTS…EVER.

    The Republicans are the stupid party (unable to convey their proper message of a smaller government – and constantly giving in to media criticism)…

    but the Democratic Party is the dangerous party. Wanting to destroy the American ideal in favor of “change”.

    God help us.

  • OK, isn’t the IRS involved in the implementation of Obamacare? I’m not saying that accounts for 156 non-Easter-egg-related visits, but it’s something that a prior IRS head wouldn’t have had to deal with.

  • OK, the IRS will hire 10,000+ new agents to “collect” Obamacare taxes (thank you Chief Justice Whatzhizname) from healthy, young individuals that realize the penalty/tax is less than the insurance premiums.

    The penalty will not be criminal, but civil.

    The IRS can only withhold the penalty from tax refunds. So, anyone with a job (a declining number) and a brain (a vanishing breed) will have minimal withheld income tax from their pay.

    Here are some projections. Obamacare will devastate the private sector (already the number of small businesses is sharply dropping). Health care costs will rise. There will be long waits and rationing/death panels. Jobs will be destroyed. Millions more will be impoverished. Inflation will rise and the 99%-ers’ living standards will fall.

    Whose idea was it to raise taxes in the midst of the Great Recession?

    They’ll still defend Obama and Big Brother.

  • It is strange Pinky that he didn’t bring that up, but most people aren’t especially facile liars.

  • The president’s Jobs Council, created in January of 2011, was quietly disbanded
    this past January. At that point, it had been a year since it last met.

    In 2009, Army General McChrystal was appointed to command our war in
    Afghanistan. Six months later, it was revealed that in that time, the General
    had never met with the president, and had only participated in one tele-
    conference that included the president.

    Yet Commissioner Shulman, who should be reporting to the Secretary of
    the Treasury, has 157 meetings at the White House over a two year period.

    Those with eyes to see can draw their conclusions as to how far this president’s
    stated priorities differ from his actual ones.

  • Don – Well, that might be what he meant by “administrability of tax policy”. That is to say, “administrability of tax policy” means something, but since I don’t know what, maybe it means that.

  • Very sharp observation, Clinton.

  • No Pinky, I think if he been there in regard to the IRS role in ObamaCare he would have said that, but since he wasn’t he didn’t. Now he should be recalled and asked detailed questions about each of these meetings, including who he met with, the substance of the conversations, what people were in the room and whether there were follow up e-mails, phone calls, faxes, etc. Everyone he talked to at the White House should be supoenaed and hauled before the committee.

  • Pinky, the Executive Office of the President has a policy development staff, but this Obamacare mess is a finished piece of legislation from which are being derived administrative rules and regulations. I am fairly sure it would be the Department of Health and Human Services writing the rules.

    In any case, the director of the National Economic Council is an attorney. The director of the Domestic Policy Council is an immigration maven hired from the staff of an ethnic lobby with a wretched reputation. It is doubtful either one has granular knowledge of the subject matter at hand. Dollars to doughnuts Mr. Sperling and Mme. Munoz and their staffs are pre-occupied with the President’s next public relations flourish.

  • Everyone he talked to at the White House should be supoenaed and hauled before the committee.

    I think much of the White House staff consists of confidential employees who cannot be lawfully subpoenaed. The budget director I think testifies in front of Congress, but I suspect the White House counsel is off limits. (Presumably, the White House employs liaisons to the Democratic National Committee, the congressional campaign committees, the Obama network’s committees and foundations, and the Sorosphere. I would want to talk to these characters).

  • Anyone can be lawfully subpoenaed Art for anything. If they believe they have a privilege against testifying, for example separation of powers, make them assert it in court and have a judge decide. Such privileges tend to wilt if evidence of a criminal conspiracy can be brought forth. Additionally another key question should be if any of these conversations were recorded, to complete the growing Watergate feel of this scandal.

  • I was not referring to the courts, but Congress. IIRC, John Dean’s memoir of working in the White House, the President’s office staff was considered exempt from being summoned in front of congressional committees. Dean’s testimony in front of that Senate select committee in July 1973 occurred about 10 weeks after Nixon fired him. I do seem to recall that a number of Mr. Clinton’s staff ended up with six-figure legal bills, so federal investigators were hunting them…

    (While we are at it, Dean reports in his memoirs that the core ‘enemies list’ drawn up by Charles Colson’s office – the people to be targeted for IRS audits and the like, not the people debarred from state dinners – had twenty names on it. So far we know the IRS put 75 organizations through the mangle over a two and a half year period).

  • Nixon knew the elite media was out to get him, even paranoids can have real enemies, hence his penchant for secrecy and circumspection. I believe Obama assumed that he could literally do anything and be immune from adverse coverage, hence I think he and his henchpersons have been sloppy. I think what we know currently about the IRS scandal is merely the tip of what this administration has been up to against those guilty of lese majesty against the lightworker.

  • FDR used the IRS against anyone who opposed him in the newspapers, as the newspapers and radio were the only source of news when FDR was dictator. I found that out in the book FDR Goes To War.

    Anything Nixon was accused of, FDR did and was worse about it. As for what does on with Obumbler serving out his last 43 + months in Washington…I am trying to survive. I can’t change anything. I tried to at the ballot box but not enough people agreed with me. I hope that there is a country left when Obumbler leaves for Hawaii in January 2017.

  • when FDR was dictator.

    You need to stop talking like this. It’s foolish.

  • FDR did set the example for using the IRS against political adversaries and he was not a dictator. His multiple presidencies however was not a healthy sign for the Republic and it was a good thing that his example term limited Presidents by constitutional amendment.

IRS Scandal: the Fifth Amendment, Useful Tools and Sacrificial Lambs

Thursday, May 30, AD 2013

Lois Lerner, director of the IRS Exempts Division while the IRS was treating conservative groups with the same even-handedness displayed by a group of foxes debating the rights of chickens, took the Fifth Amendment, the privilege against self incrimination, before Congress last week.  She did it in an odd way, first making a self serving statement and then taking the Fifth.  I found that passing strange as what is drummed into most defense attorneys about the Fifth Amendment is that you have your client assert the privilege and say absolutely nothing else.  The reason for this is that there is ample case law in criminal cases where defendants have inadvertently waived the privilege because they couldn’t resist the temptation to shoot their mouths off instead of simply asserting the privilege.  As far as I know there is no case law about whether you can waive your Fifth Amendment privilege before Congress by doing so, but a cautious defense attorney would have warned her strenuously against making the “I didn’t do nothin'” opening statement.  I assume that she either got bad legal advice or she got good advice and chose to ignore it.

Of course the atmospherics of Lerner taking the Fifth is disastrous for Lerner and her political string pullers at the White House.  Most people come into contact with the Fifth Amendment when they see video of some gangster asserting the privilege.  Although a court of law or a jury may construe nothing from the assertion of the Fifth Amendment, people who are not judges or serving on juries are perfectly free to make the reasonable assumption that someone would assert the privilege against self-incrimination only when they had good reason to believe they had violated the law.

As she goes under the bus, Lerner perhaps is pondering how she got there.  The explanation for that is simple:  she was a useful tool for the Obama White House in its desperate drive beginning in 2010 to slow the momentum of the Tea Party, a momentum that in 2010 gave the Republicans historic victories in the midterm election and was a mortal threat to the re-election of Obama in 2012.  The IRS was thus a key component in the reelection strategy of Obama by stopping the formation of tax exempt tea party groups and harassing those trying to organize such groups.

In Lerner, the men and women who pulled her strings at the White House found a willing accomplice.  During the Clinton administration, when she was head of the enforcement division of the Federal Election Commission, Lerner developed a well-earned reputation for targeting Republican and conservative groups:

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11 Responses to IRS Scandal: the Fifth Amendment, Useful Tools and Sacrificial Lambs

  • Did you catch this:

    as well as his supercilious and evasive testimony in front of Congress? I have to say you called this one.

  • “The IRS was thus a key component in the reelection strategy of Obama by stopping the formation of tax exempt tea party groups and harassing those trying to organize such groups.”

    Does this mean Obama is now a community un-organizer.

  • “Did you catch this:

    as well as his supercilious and evasive testimony in front of Congress? I have to say you called this one.”

    Good catch Art. When the prosecutions begin, and they will, some of these folks are going to have very interesting tales to tell in exchange for plea deals.

  • “As far as I know there is no case law about whether you can waive your Fifth Amendment privilege before Congress by doing so, but a cautious defense attorney would have warned her strenuously against making the ‘I didn’t do nothin’ opening statement. I assume that she either got bad legal advice or she got good advice and chose to ignore it.”

    As a liberal progressive Democrat, Lois Lerner BELIEVES that she did nothing at all wrong in targeting conservative groups, and nothing will persuade her otherwise even if she were convicted of wrong-doing. This is inherent in being a liberal progressive Democrat.

  • Obama could take a little, puppy dog and use it to beat to death a little old lady and the lying liberals would continue to “carry his water.”

  • Does anyone know if she did, in fact, answer any questions? Or is the matter still in Limbo (no offense to the poor souls there). I havn’t been able to listen to the news in awhile, so not sure of developments, if any.

  • If this most political president deliberately orchestrated a grand march against conservatives, he had a ready resource to tap. It seems most bureaucrats are Democrats. A discovery that the country is almost entirely in the hands of socialists is nothing about which to rejoice, except that perhaps Mr. & Mrs. Uninformed may have the scales fall from their eyes in time to arrest or perhaps reverse our progress “Forward” towards totalitarianism.

  • I am under the impression that the Fifth Amendment may only be invoked in criminal prosecution. This IRS case is a civil matter and Congress, the voice of the people, can demand an answer under oath from Lerner. Perhaps treason may be the criminal prosecution. Be that the case, let it go forward, but only for treason.

  • Your impression is incorrect Mary. The Fifth Amendment may be invoked in a civil as well as in criminal case, and in regard to any other type of proceeding where testimony or documents or communications of any nature are sought. The way around it is to grant immunity from prosecution for whatever is revealed in the testimony or documents or communications, although that is rather like buying a pig in a poke, since you do not know what they are going to admit to which they now no longer can be criminally prosecuted for.

  • Donald McClarey: I know that immunity is given for mothers who have aborted their child. That too, is a long time ago.
    Some years ago, when my husband divorced me in Superior Court, I claimed the Fifth Amendment. (I honestly do not remember why.) I was told that i could not use the Fifth Amendment in a civil matter. That was in 1978. So, I was flim flammed again.
    Lerner is a public servant. The woman works for us. Can she keep from us the facts of the labor she does for us? That is like the grape pickers keeping the grapes from the vineyard owner.

  • more,
    Lois Lerner worked for the American taxpayer and she owes us the fruit of her labor. When Lerner takes the Fifth Amendment she denies the taxpayers the facts and ought to be fired for not giving to the taxpayers what they paid for. If this suit is going forward on a civil law basis then a preponderance of credible evidence is all that is required for a guilty verdict in a court of law. Two witnesses establish a judicial fact in a criminal court. It cannot be both ways at the same time.

13 Responses to Men and Women: No Comment

  • Not much has changed in 4000 years.

    “Furthermore the Lord spoke to me, saying, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people.'” Deuteronomy 9:13

  • The first was hyperbole. The second not so much; and the reason God gave us GPS.

    I am “that guy.” It’s an admission. You’re dependent, incapable.

    Kit Carson never had to ask for directions. Neither did Christopher Columbus or Sergeant York.

    If it weren’t for “that guy”, approximately 90% of sitcoms wouldn’t exist.

  • Thanks for that hearty chuckle, Don. While my stubbornness about directions is overwhelmed by my impatience, this phenomenon really is true. I know guys who when they finally give up make their wives ask for the directions because they cannot bring themselves to do it.

    And few husbands have not had to endure multiple “I don’t want you to solve this problem, I just want you to listen to me” conversations.

  • Yep !
    That’s a woman alright ! 😉

  • “Excuse me, I’m, um, looking for Ikea. Do you know how to get there?”


    “OK, um, so, how do you get there?”

    “What’s wrong? Are you out of gas or something?”

    “No, I’m just lost.”

    “Does your car still work?”


    “Then get back in it, and find Ikea! You’re a man! As long as you’ve got a drop of gasoline left, you’ve got to keep looking for it! And if you run out of gas, drain your bank account, and keep driving! Come on! It doesn’t matter how long it takes, or even if the store’s closed when you get there! In your gut, you know you can do this!”


  • “Then get back in it, and find Ikea! You’re a man! As long as you’ve got a drop of gasoline left, you’ve got to keep looking for it! And if you run out of gas, drain your bank account, and keep driving! Come on! It doesn’t matter how long it takes, or even if the store’s closed when you get there! In your gut, you know you can do this!”


  • Hilariously true!

  • And few husbands have not had to endure multiple “I don’t want you to solve this problem, I just want you to listen to me” conversations.

    I figure you’re joking, but… those are really important, to the women who need them. Women are more verbal, and putting the words out there– and getting a response– is a form of intimacy.

    I know it’s sometimes as pleasant for guys as kissing a husband whose beard needs some serious attention, but I would expect a gal to at least occasionally still kiss her husband, even if that intimacy was annoying.

    My husband did request that I try to remember to tell him when I just need someone to listen, though; we have “fix it,” “let me vent” and “I just want to chatter– listen for key words, it beats chewing my nails” classes of conversation.

  • I thought the first video was spot on. Women don’t want guys to fix things. They want the guy to listen to them.

    I don’t think the second video was about the guy getting lost. I think it was about the woman wanting him to listen. I didn’t think it realistic, because I’m a guy and I’ve never been lost. I’ve had to circle around the destination a bit, like this guy, but that’s not lost. It certainly doesn’t warrant the reaction his passenger had. I think he said he was lost to placate the woman and be a good listener, but I don’t think he was actually lost. Obviously, he failed to placate her because she only got more irritated. He did everything right, including not trying to “fix things”. He listened. Then she got mad because he didn’t “fix things” and ask for directions. So if he “fixes things” she gets irritated. If he doesn’t “fix things” she gets irritated. A guy can’t win. He just can’t.

  • Don

    Little known details about the visit of the three wise men seeking the birth of Jesus.

    Being wise men they knew this was to important of an event not bring their wives, so they gladly hired the extra camels and tents so their wives and families could come.

    Being wise men they went on the Star Web and got Astrology Positioning System (APS) coordinates and instructions to “follow the star”

    Being wise men they always stopped and got directions when their wives suggested. Also being wise men they realized the directions were mostly useless; checked the APS coordinates and “followed the star”.

    They and their wives were truly overjoyed at visiting their Savior and His family.

    The whole trip was a great success except for stopping to ask directions in Jerusalem. That was a bummer.

    Follow the Star

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • Where the h-e-double hockey sticks is her Iphone?
    Why didn’t either one of them print directions from their home PC for Ikea?

    Because then there would not be a video.

    Oh, and by the way, I knew where Ikea is before I got married…and my wife has the worst sense of direction. She could get lost in the living room.

  • Oh…one more thing. I would say…”Take the damned nail out and quit whining. I’m watching the Penguins.”

The Brilliant Ages

Wednesday, May 29, AD 2013

 We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Professor Anthony Esolen who has commented on this blog, in the brilliant video above for Prager University defends the Middle Ages from the ahistorical lies routinely told about that epoch.  The ancient world was in an intellectual dead end, the fall of the Roman Empire in the West merely being the outward sign of the spent force of the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. It was the much maligned Middle Ages that produced the intellectual trends that led humanity, for better and worse, to surpass the accomplishments of the ancient world.

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3 Responses to The Brilliant Ages

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  • If only those centralist Bourbons didn’t undermine the Chosen by God Hapsburgs so much and pressure the Pope into counterbalancing them, then perhaps we would be basking in some middle age order still! (Or so I have humbly supposed).

  • In part, I believe the false picture of the Middle Ages comes from identifying them with the feudal anarchy.

    But this is a gross over-simplification. South of the valley of the Loire, the line running roughly from Geneva in the East to the mouth of the Charante in the West, throughout Southern France and Northern Italy, the tradition of municipal government and of the written law continued unabated. The Teutonic element, introduced by the barbarian invaders – hereditary nobility, primogeniture, and privilege – in these lands had the character of an exotic plant, without roots. When Lord Acton says that “the love of equality, the hatred of nobility, and the tolerance of despotism implanted by Rome became, at least in Gaul, the chief feature of the national character,” nowhere was this truer than in « Le pays de droit écrit » the country of the written law. It found its expression both in the University of Bologna and in the high civilisation of Provence.

Hail Liberty! Hail!

Wednesday, May 29, AD 2013

The twenty-fourth 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, here, here , here, here, here , here and here.   Published in 1918, Hail Liberty! Hail!  is a translation by Rudyard Kipling, of the first few stanzas of the poem that is the basis of the Greek National Anthem.  It was written by him at the request of the Greek Ambassador to England D. Kaklamanos.

The original poem consisted of 158 stanzas written by Dionysios Solomos in 1823 during the Greek War of Independence.

Abandoning its neutrality, Greece had entered World War I on the side of the Allies in 1917.  Conflict between Greeks favoring neutrality, led by King Constantine, and those favoring Allied intervention led by Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos.  Eventually the forces favoring intervention won out, and King Constantine was forced to abdicate in favor of his son King Alexander.  This all turned out to be disastrous after the War as Venizelos, a Cretan by birth, was a strong proponent of the Big (Megale) Idea which proposed Greek control of the regions in Asia Minor along the Mediterranean Sea that had Greek majorities.  After the War the Greeks seized Smyrna in Asia Minor which led to the disastrous, for Greece, Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922.  The Greeks were resoundingly defeated by the Turks under Kemal Ataturk, and 1.5 million Greeks were expelled from lands in Asia Minor that they had occupied since the beginnings of Greek recorded history.  A half million Turks and muslim Greeks were expelled from a Greece that they had lived in for almost half a millenium.  The sentiments of the poem are quite high minded, but it serves as an example that high minded sentiments are not a substitute for wisdom in governmental policy.

WE knew thee of old,

Oh divinely restored,

By the light of thine eyes

And the light of thy Sword.

 From the graves of our slain

Shall thy valour prevail

As we greet thee again—

Hail, Liberty! Hail!

 Long time didst thou dwell

Mid the peoples that mourn,

Awaiting some voice

That should bid thee return.

Ah, slow broke that day

And no man dared call,

For the shadow of tyranny

Lay over all:

 And we saw thee sad-eyed,

The tears on thy cheeks

While thy raiment was dyed

In the blood of the Greeks.

Yet, behold now thy sons

With impetuous breath

Go forth to the fight

Seeking Freedom or Death.

 From the graves of our slain

Shall thy valour prevail

As we greet thee again

Hail, Liberty! Hail!

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Book Review: Pope Francis in His Own Words

Tuesday, May 28, AD 2013

The Darwin family is on one of its road trip vacations, so posting has been rather light. However, there’s no better time than vacation to catch up on reading, and thus on book reviews.

Like a lot of Catholic bibliophiles, I’ve been eager to get to know Pope Francis by reading his writings. This is a little tricky, as at the time of his election not a single one of Bergoglio’s books (and there aren’t many) was available in English. Thus, I jumped at the chance to get a review copy of Pope Francis in His Own Words from New World Library.

Whether this book appeals to you is going to depend a great deal on what sort of book you are looking for. This is not a unified theological work, it’s a collection of quotes (most of them one to three sentences) from articles, homilities, addresses and interviews with Bergoglio over the years and from his earliest papal addresses. Most of them are comparatively recent (1999 to 2013) and they are organized by topic. For example, under “On Poverty” there are two quotes:

“A community that stops kneeling before the rich, before success and prestige, and which is capable, instead, of washing the feet of the humble and those in need, will be more aligned with [God’s] teaching than the winner-at-any-price ethic that we’ve learned — badly — in recent times.”

Annual Message to Educational Communities, Easter 2002

“Is there anything more humiliating than being condemned [to an existence in which] you can’t earn your daily bread?”

Annual Message to Educational Communities, Easter 2002

As you can see, these are not mini essays on various topics as in John Paul II’s Crossing the Theshold of Hope. They are more on the order of short quotes, the sort collection you’d pick up once a day to read a quote or two from, not the sort of book that you’d sit down and read cover to cover.

The quotes are very accessible and often throught provoking. A few strike me as being so short and out of context as to be simply stating the obvious. For instance, under “On Atheists” appears the quote:

“[I] know more agnostics than atheists; the first is more undecided, the second, more convinced.”

Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra, 2010

Well, yes. That’s definitionally true, but not necessarily worth pulling as a quote. However, most of this fairly short book (90 pages of quotes and then a short chronology of Pope Francis’s life, followed by a long attribution section) is not filler of that sort.

This is not the book of Pope Francis’s writing that I’ve been waiting for. However, if you or someone you know enjoys a collection of short, inspirational “thought of the day” pieces, this may be a good acquisition or gift.

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One Response to Book Review: Pope Francis in His Own Words

Very Few Atheists in Fox Holes

Tuesday, May 28, AD 2013

The blog Science 2.0 repeats something that most combat soldiers have always known:  there are few atheists in fox holes:

But does war really transform people, or does it simply make the fleetingly religious more so for a short time? A recent analysis of archived surveys of Army Infantry soldiers after a battle –  Samuel Stouffer’s “The American Soldier” World War II  research (1) – found self-reported reliance on prayer rose from 42% to 72% as that battle got more intense.
“The question is whether that reliance on faith lasts over time,” said Craig Wansink, author and Professor of Religion at Virginia Wesleyan College, who did the analysis and co-wrote the paper with his brother Brian Wansink, food marketing expert and Professor of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. The World War II generation is a good one for analysis because the interest was religiosity long-term and young people in the 1940s were more religious overall than more recent generations.

A second analysis of survey results from 1,123 World War II veterans showed that 50 or more years after combat, most soldiers still exhibited religious behavior, though it varied by their war experience. Those facing heavy combat (versus no combat) attended church 21% more often if they claimed their war experience was negative, but those who claimed their experience was positive attended 26% less often.
The more a veteran disliked the war, the more religious they were 50 years later. 

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2 Responses to Very Few Atheists in Fox Holes

Senator Durbin, Bloggers and the First Amendment

Tuesday, May 28, AD 2013


One of the worst senators in the nation, Dick Durbin (D.Ill.), wonders whether the First Amendment covers bloggers in the above video.  I can understand why Durbin brings this up.  First, because Durbin is a Democrat hack.  Originally elected to Congress from the congressional district including Springfield, Illinois, Durbin ran as a pro-lifer, defeating pro-abort Republican Congressman Paul Findley.  Realizing that a pro-life Democrat was going nowhere in Congress, he switched to being a pro-abort and now has a 100% rating from NARAL and a 0% rating from National Right to Life.  That he is a Catholic is of course of no consequence to him in regard to his politically expedient choice of embracing abortion uber alles.  Durbin is a down the line liberal and most contemporary liberals and Democrats hate and fear the new media that does not give them lock step subservience as does most of the mainstream media.

Second, Durbin, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, must obviously be a rotten attorney as the issue of the extent of First Amendment Freedom of the Press was long ago decided by the Supreme Court in Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938).  In that case, for a unanimous court, except for Benjamin Cardozo who recused himself, Chief Justice Hughes wrote:

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9 Responses to Senator Durbin, Bloggers and the First Amendment

  • Second, Durbin, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, must obviously be a rotten attorney as the issue of the extent of First Amendment Freedom of the Press was long ago decided by the Supreme Court in Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938).

    Is it just my imagination, or is it strongly atypical to find a Washington pol drawn from the bar who ever made a decent living as a lawyer? It seems at time that about 80% of them are people who could hardly be bothered (Charles Schumer, Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd, Bilge Clinton), hacks (John Kerry, Joseph Biden), or shady characters (John Edwards, Hillary Clinton). Can the lawyers on this board instruct us??

  • Another example of why I refer to this guy as “Dick Dirtbag”.

  • Is it just my imagination, or is it strongly atypical to find a Washington pol drawn from the bar who ever made a decent living as a lawyer?

    Abraham Lincoln was a fairly successful attorney.

    Oh, you mean in this century? Ummmm . . . .

  • “We need to ask 21st-century questions”. Yikes. That can’t be good.

  • Is this Durbin the fellow that lately called US troops Nazis?

    Anyhow, I’m wondering whether they wrote the Second Amendment to stop regressive idiots like “Dirtbag.”

    PS: Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution nor the Congress gave it to you. God and the Continental Army gave you freedom.

  • Arguably, Ted Cruz had a fairly successful background as an attorney (much of it, admittedly, political in nature) prior to seeking elected office (from Wikipedia):

    “Cruz was Solicitor General of Texas from 2003 to May 2008, appointed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.[1] He was the first Hispanic Solicitor General in Texas,[3] the youngest Solicitor General in the United States, and had the longest tenure in Texas history. He was formerly a partner at the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where he led the firm’s U.S. Supreme Court and national appellate litigation practice.[4]

    “He previously served as the director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the United States Department of Justice, and as Domestic Policy Advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush on the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. In addition, Cruz was an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, where he taught U.S. Supreme Court litigation, from 2004 to 2009.


    “Cruz served as a law clerk to William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States,[1] and J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.[23][3] Cruz was the first Hispanic ever to clerk for a Chief Justice of the United States.[24]

    “Cruz served as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department[1] and as the director of policy planning at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission under President George W. Bush.[22][1]

    “In 2003, Cruz was appointed Solicitor General of Texas by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.[3]

    “Cruz has authored more than 80 United States Supreme Court briefs and presented 43 oral arguments, including nine before the United States Supreme Court.[3][22][25] In the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, Cruz drafted the amicus brief signed by attorneys general of 31 states, which said that the D.C. handgun ban should be struck down as infringing upon the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.[25][26] Cruz also presented oral argument for the amici states in the companion case to Heller before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[25][27] Cruz did legal work during the Florida recount during the Presidential campaign of Bush/Cheney 2000.[28]

    “In addition to his victory in Heller, Cruz has successfully defended the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds,[22][25] the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools[22] and the majority of the 2003 Texas redistricting plan.[29]

    “Cruz also successfully defended, in Medellin v. Texas, the State of Texas against an attempt by the International Court of Justice to re-open the criminal convictions of 51 murderers on death row throughout the United States.[3][22][25]

    “Cruz has been named by American Lawyer magazine as one of the 50 Best Litigators under 45 in America,[30][31] by The National Law Journal as one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America,[32][33] and by Texas Lawyer as one of the 25 Greatest Texas Lawyers of the Past Quarter Century.[34][35]”

  • I take back “arguably” in my previous comment. That’s an impressive record for someone’s entire career, much less for someone barely over the age of 40.

  • I am curious to know what attorneys in private practice make of in-house counsel and government lawyers. This fellow Durbin’s entire career (13 years) was spent in political staff positions: counsel to this and that committee of the legislature and to this or that elected official.

  • When I was practicing law, in-house counsel positions and certain government positions were often sought after by those who wanted to maintain some semblance of work/personal balance in their lives. I wouldn’t say they were looked upon with any particular disdain by their private practice counterparts.

    My experience was that the bottom of the lawyer food chain (in the eyes of other lawyers) consisted of the ambulance-chasing, television-advertising personal injury lawyers.

Lawrence Charles McClarey: A Remembrance

Monday, May 27, AD 2013


The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away.   Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Job 1:21

To those who did not know Larry well, it might be assumed that he was dealt a pretty poor set of cards in this life.  Autistic, afflicted with seizures in his later years, and a brief life of 21 and three-quarter years.  However, to those of us who had the great privilege of knowing Larry well, he was blessed with many gifts, just as his life was a blessing to us.

1.  At his birth he was blessed with a twin brother, Donnie, who all Larry’s life would be his constant companion:  playing with him, and caring for him and guarding him from harm.

2.  He was blessed with two parents who loved him more than mere words can possibly convey.

3.  He was blessed with a beloved baby sister, a loving grandmother and grandfather and a cherished godmother, all of whom helped guide his steps.

4.  He was blessed with a wry sense of humor.  I will never forget the lopsided smile on his face as a toddler as he pretended to touch the computer printer paper roll because he knew that would always get a rise out of Mom and Dad.  His default expression was a smile.

5.  He was blessed with a joyful zest for life, from swinging on swings much higher than they were ever intended to go, to grooving to music he liked, swaying back and forth and rocking his head, to closing his eyes as he savored the big hamburgers he loved.  Life never grew stale or prosaic for Larry.

6.  He was blessed with a bold spirit.  At a year and a half he decided in May of 1993 that it would be a very good idea to walk to Renfrew Park without bothering to get permission from Mom or Dad!  In his later years he was fond of midnight strolls, once again without telling Mom or Dad!  One of my most cherished memories of Larry is him running ahead of the family like a gazelle, to Mass or to some other favorite destination. Life with Larry was an endless adventure, whether we wanted it to be or not!

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29 Responses to Lawrence Charles McClarey: A Remembrance

  • It sounded like he had a blessed life. Thank you for sharing this portrait of Larry, and welcome back.

  • He did Paul. I thank you and the other contributors for posting frequently while I was gone.

  • I loved reading this, your heart-felt appreciation for the glorious life of your dear boy is now at play in the fields of the Lord. Made in the image and likeness of God–sometimes what appears to be less than perfect reveals a much deeper perfection which shines out like pure gold. I wish Gerard Manley Hopkins were here to write once of his lyrical poems about Larry. He would surely convey the glory you were able to see in him.

    I don’t know if you know the story of Xena and Jonny. Jonny is about nine years old and autistic. Before Xena came into his life, he did not talk or allow himself to have physical contact with anyone. Xena is a mixed-breed dog that was found nearly dead of starvation. The picture of her in this state us utterly pitiable. The rescue agency thought she would surely die, but gave her an IV with nourishment and the poor thing rallied. They nursed her back to health and put her up for adoption. Jonny’s mother say a picture of Xena on Facebook and fell in love with her. The family took Jonny to the shelter to see the dog. Xena bounded up to Jonny right away and the bond was fixed instantly. The family took the dog home. Xena transformed Jonny who now talks all the time, sings, and show unbounded affection. Xena is his constant companion. You can follow the story on Facebook. It is proof of the action of grace and the touch of God’s hand in this life. Outreach, kindness, compassion, affection–these unveil the face of God. Your son, Larry, saw the face of God in the love that surrounded him in this world, and he unveiled that Divine Face for all of you. Xena and Jonny are the touch of God to each other. It’s as plain as day!

  • Thank you so much for that loving memorial. It gives us all the perspective we need on what is truly important. We need to focus on Our Lord, Our Church, and our families. The common denominator in all of this, is of course love. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Don,
    Thank you so very much for sharing; what a lovely blessing! God bless you and your family.

  • What a beautiful life.
    Thanks for sharing your love for him with us.
    His zest for life was so lovingly scripted by His best friend…you.

  • Thank you Don, for sharing a snapshot of Larry’s life – and the life and love he shared with you, for too brief a time. Your memories of the happy times will stay with you and turn your tears into joy.
    God bless you and Cathy and Donnie and Mary.

  • Thank you my friends. Our memories of Larry sustain us.

  • Thank you for sharing Larry’s story with us. What a joy-filled young man. We would all do well to emulate him.

  • “ . . . running ahead of the family like a gazelle, to Mass or to some other favorite destination.” And so it is fitting that Larry ran ahead of his family to his final destination, Heaven. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to a beautiful son.

    “The tears . . . streamed down, and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested.” — St. Augustine

    I extend to you and your family my deepest and heartfelt condolences.

  • Precisely the same thought has occurred to me Ginny!

  • Larry, ever a rugged individualist, marched to his own brass band. !!!

    Donald I recognize that in one of my own, and I know your joy and pride and wondering delight!

  • Don

    My sympathy and prayers.

    For 21 years you had a true blessing. His memory, and his prayers for his family at the foot of the Throne will continue to be a blessing.

  • Thank you, Don, for this beautiful remembrance of your son. As some of you know, I have an autistic daughter and she shares some of these traits. It is easy sometimes to get caught up in wondering why these children are not more “normal” and not stop to appreciate their real gifts. Thank you for reminding us to do so, every chance we get. God bless Larry, and your family, always.

  • The picture you posted above of Larry says it all. You can see the gentle, kind and loving innocence in his eyes and in his smile. You were truly blessed to have him as your boy. You and your family have a new saint to look out for you and he happens to be a member of your immediate family. WOW !!!! God bless you all. Will offer Mass & Communion tomorrow for all of you.

  • Children like Larry are God’s gift to us and what we do for them is our gift back to God. May he rest in peace and God give you and the rest of the family consolation.

  • Innocents and virgins. Created and conceived in innocence and virginity, God chose Lawrence Charles McClarey.

  • “We shall run and not grow weary, for our God is at our side, and we shall fly like the eagle, we will rise again!” My song for you and yours this morning!

    May he rest in peace. Gramma Jeanne

  • Praevenire melius est quam praeveniri. — “It is better to precede than to be preceded.”
    Don the pain of losing a child can only be understood by those who have suffered likewise. I hope that 21+ years of memories to cherish, and the sure knowledge of having an energetic patron in Heaven, will sustain you and your family in this vale of tears. Thank you for posting the beautiful memorial to your son.

  • Thank you my friends for your kind remarks. The pain of the loss of Larry in this vale of tears is diminished by my belief that he is in Heaven, my fond memories of him, and the support of good people like yourselves. In most lives there are portions, no matter how small, of pain and regret. I can’t say that about Larry. He led his life with joy and he caused myself and my wife nothing but joy.

  • You painted a beautiful picture of him in this post Don, thank you! I feel I have gotten to know him and your family more. His spirit carries on. I am blessed to have this image and it help with my own mission in the carrying of the Catholic Message.

    God Bless Robert

  • Thank you, Donald. Every life is precious and worthy in God’s eyes. This theme needs to be repeated over and over again in today’s culture of death society.

  • Thank you, Don, for such a beautiful remembrance.

  • Thank you Robert, Paul and Karl. Memories of Larry will help me illuminate my path in a frequently dark world. How anyone could get through the death of a child without a strong religious faith is beyond me. I know that my memories of my son are the dimmest reflection of the glory that he now beholds.

  • It was such a blessing for your uncle Larry and I to get to hear you relay this in person at Larry’s memorial. Even though we never met him personally, after spending time with all of you we felt that we knew him a little. I will look forward to getting to know him better someday in that Eternal Kingdom. God’s comfort and blessing on all of your family.

  • Thank you Aunt Debbie! I can’t tell you how much of a comfort it was to have you and Uncle Larry present at the funeral. At times of tragedy family is so precious!

  • Thank you for this tribute, and again: deepest sympathies and prayers for Larry, you and your family.

  • Thank you for sharing the tribute to his life,family is so precious, I wish we would have gotten the chance to meet him. We will all meet someday in God’s kingdom.

  • Indeed we will Linda, and what a family reunion that will be!

Memorial Day: Why?

Monday, May 27, AD 2013


Not long ago I heard a young man ask why people still kept up Memorial Day, and it set me thinking of the answer. Not the answer that you and I should give to each other-not the expression of those feelings that, so long as you live, will make this day sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth–but an answer which should command the assent of those who do not share our memories, and in which we of the North and our brethren of the South could join in perfect accord.


So far as this last is concerned, to be sure, there is no trouble. The soldiers who were doing their best to kill one another felt less of personal hostility, I am very certain, than some who were not imperilled by their mutual endeavors. I have heard more than one of those who had been gallant and distinguished officers on the Confederate side say that they had had no such feeling. I know that I and those whom I knew best had not. We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluable; we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough. But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred conviction that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every men with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief. The experience of battle soon taught its lesson even to those who came into the field more bitterly disposed. You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive contests where overwhelming victory was impossible because neither side would run as they ought when beaten, without getting at least something of the same brotherhood for the enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south–each working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to get along without the other. As it was then , it is now. The soldiers of the war need no explanations; they can join in commemorating a soldier’s death with feelings not different in kind, whether he fell toward them or by their side.

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One Response to Memorial Day: Why?

  • Here’s in remembrance to those of the 2nd. Bn, 162nd. Infantry, Oregon Army National Guard who were killed in action in Iraq. May God embrace them in Heaven. They are the best that Oregon has to offer. May the 2/162 never need to be deployed again.

My Humble Thanks

Monday, May 27, AD 2013




I can’t thank enough all of you who extended your kind wishes and prayers for the repose of the soul of my son Larry after his passing.  Last week was the hardest week of my life and in the lives of my wife and remaining two children.  We would have found it impossible to endure but for the assistance of friends and neighbors, and just plain good people who came forward to rally around my family in our hour of need.  There is much evil in the world, but I think there is more good, something I will attempt in future to keep in mind.

My thoughts of my boy will always remain with me as a treasured possession, and prayers for him and  requests for his intercession are now a permanent part of the prayer life of my wife and me.  Going through this terrible tragedy has only deepened my faith that we are children of a loving God and that in this vale of tears our ultimate  purpose is to love Him and our neighbor to the best of our ability.  My Larry is now with Him, the source of all love, and I am content.

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6 Responses to My Humble Thanks

  • My deep sympathies, Sir. May our Lord bless you and keep you and your family now and always. He always welcomes us home. May your son rest in the arms of our Savior. Prayers for comfort and the repose of Larry. Peace to you.

  • This such sad news, I am so sorry for you, your wife and your family. A devastating event like this can be life-changing, you are right, but, if it’s any help, I just thank Almighty God for the years he gave me with my own dear wife, it’s enabled me to survive.

    The Lord giveth and He taketh away.

    I will offer my Holy Communion for your Larry this Sunday.

    In Domino,

    Ernie Todd.

    No reply needed.

  • I am deeply saddened by this news Sir. We offer our most heartfelt prayer for your son. Your son will be in my family’s prayers. I hope and pray that you and your family find strength and comfort in faith and prayer. God bless.

  • No death affects us the way we’d expect, because expectations are theoretical, and death is the least theoretical thing in the world. It’s the unambiguity of the experience that sets the mind reeling. There are no more if’s in this world for the person you’ve lost. As Christians, we understand that this world is only part of the story, a small part. At times like this, hope can be raw, almost feeling like despair in the level of surrender it demands. That’s only a feeling though – although it’s so intense that it’s unfair to call it “only” a feeling. Just as faith and love, when tested, can feel battered and bruised, without ever turning to hate or doubt, the hope is still there. This is the testing in fire, I guess.

    Read up about the five stages of grief. There’s a lot of stupid pop psychology out there, but the five stages of grief are real. They don’t necessarily flow one to the other, the way they’re often depicted, though. They can show up at times and in ways that’ll surprise you. And I know that six months sounds like an impossible amount of time, but don’t be surprised if it takes you that long to regain your footing.

  • Don, may our Lord bless and keep you. May He welcome Larry into His loving care and bring peace to your family.

The Holy Trinity

Sunday, May 26, AD 2013

Today is Trinity Sunday. Msgr. Charles Pope offers a meditation the Feast of the Holy Trinity that explains it about as well as any resource I have ever seen.

There is an old Spiritual that says, My God is so high, you can’t over him, he’s so low, you can’t under him, he’s so wide you can’t round him, you must come in, by and through the Lamb.


Not a bad way of saying that God is other, He is beyond what human words can tell or describe, He is beyond what human thoughts can conjure. And on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity we do well to remember that we are pondering a mystery that cannot fit in our minds.


A mystery though, is not something wholly unknown. In the Christian tradition the word “mystery,” among other things, refers to something partially revealed, much more of which lies hid. Thus, as we ponder the teaching on the Trinity, there are some things we can know by revelation, but much more is beyond our reach or understanding.


Lets ponder the Trinity by exploring it, seeing how it is exhibited in Scripture, and how we, who are made in God’s image experience it.

As the saying goes, read the rest.

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2 Responses to The Holy Trinity

  • Thank you Paul.
    Msgr. Pope is a gift.
    Have a beautiful Trinity Sunday.

  • Every attempt to rationise the mystery leads us into heresy. As Bl John Henry Newman observes, “There is no incompatibility of ideas involved in the doctrine of Sabellian, Arian, or Tritheist, that is, no mystery; but the Catholic believes and holds as an article of faith that the Divine Three, and again the Divine One, both as One and as Three, exist re not ratione; and therefore he has to answer the objection, “Either the word ‘Trinity’ denotes a mere abstraction, or the word ‘Unity’ does; for how can it be at once a fact that Each of Three, who are eternally distinct one from another, is really God, and also a fact that there really is but one God?” This however is the doctrine of the creed of S. Athanasius, and certainly is to be received and held by every faithful member of the Church, viz., that the Father is God and all that God is, and so too is the Son, and so too is the Holy Ghost, yet there is but one God; that the word God may be predicated of, an objective Triad, yet also belong to only One Being, to a Being individual and sole, all-perfect, self-existent, and everlasting.”

Mark Steyn on the Slaughter in Woolwich

Saturday, May 25, AD 2013

I wish I had something cheerier to start the Memorial Day weekend, but Mark Steyn, as usual, knocks it out of the park with his weekend column.

This passivity set the tone for what followed. In London as in Boston, the politico-media class immediately lapsed into the pneumatic multiculti Tourette’s that seems to be a chronic side effect of excess diversity-celebrating: No Islam to see here, nothing to do with Islam, all these body parts in the street are a deplorable misinterpretation of Islam. The BBC’s Nick Robinson accidentally described the men as being “of Muslim appearance,” but quickly walked it back lest impressionable types get the idea that there’s anything “of Muslim appearance” about a guy waving a machete and saying “Allahu akbar.” A man is on TV dripping blood in front of a dead British soldier and swearing “by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” yet it’s the BBC reporter who’s apologizing for “causing offence.” To David Cameron, Drummer Rigby’s horrific end was “not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam. . . . There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”

How does he know? He doesn’t seem the most likely Koranic scholar. Appearing on David Letterman’s show a while back, Cameron was unable to translate into English the words “Magna Carta,” which has quite a bit to do with that “British way of life” he’s so keen on. But apparently it’s because he’s been up to his neck in suras and hadiths every night sweating for Sharia 101. So has Scotland Yard’s deputy assistant commissioner, Brian Paddick, who reassured us after the London Tube bombings that “Islam and terrorism don’t go together,” and the mayor of Toronto, David Miller, telling NPR listeners after 19 Muslims were arrested for plotting to behead the Canadian prime minister: “You know, in Islam, if you kill one person you kill everybody,” he said in a somewhat loose paraphrase of Koran 5:32 that manages to leave out some important loopholes. “It’s a very peaceful religion.”

That’s why it fits so harmoniously into famously peaceful societies like, say, Sweden. For the last week Stockholm has been ablaze every night with hundreds of burning cars set alight by “youths.” Any particular kind of “youth”? The Swedish prime minister declined to identify them any more precisely than as “hooligans.” But don’t worry: The “hooligans” and “youths” and men of no Muslim appearance whatsoever can never win because, as David Cameron ringingly declared, “they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, Western values.” Actually, they’ve already gone quite a way toward eroding free speech, as both prime ministers demonstrate. The short version of what happened in Woolwich is that two Muslims butchered a British soldier in the name of Islam and helpfully explained, “The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day.” But what do they know? They’re only Muslims, not Diversity Outreach Coordinators. So the BBC, in its so-called “Key Points,” declined to mention the “Allahu akbar” bit or the “I”-word at all: Allah who?

As always, be sure to read the rest.

Douglas Murray also has a must-read column on the subject.


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4 Responses to Mark Steyn on the Slaughter in Woolwich

Why Live In Tornado Alley?

Thursday, May 23, AD 2013

Response to the devastating EF-5 tornado in Moore, Okla., which left 24 dead and more than 200 injured, has generally been compassionate. Thousands of ordinary Americans — including fellow survivors of natural disasters — are doing what they can to help.

In the fetid swamps of internet discourse, however, there are always those who use such disasters to advance their pet political or ideological agenda (e.g., climate change, government assistance, atheism vs. religion), or to question why the victims did, or failed to do, certain things that placed them in harm’s way.

Common questions asked after this tornado and others in recent years include why so many homes in the affected areas didn’t have basements, or why reinforced tornado shelters aren’t required for particularly vulnerable locations such as schools and mobile home parks.

These are legitimate questions, but the purpose of this post is not to discuss the merits of various tornado safety measures. Rather, it is to explore the implications of a broader question that is frequently asked after these events — “Why would anyone live in Tornado Alley?”

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20 Responses to Why Live In Tornado Alley?

  • Why do these natural disasters happen?
    In one of the letters we read that the earth “is still groaning with labour pains”. Then in apocolypse we read how there will be a new earth. Blessedly, our Heavenly Father comforts us even though we are not yet in the new world but witness the labour pains of the earth. His love for us is great!

  • “Why would anyone live in Tornado Alley?”

    So… where’s this alley that tornadoes know they’re not allowed to hit outside of?

    More seriously– this isn’t exactly building on the side of an active volcano! I’d ask a similar question of folks who live in Hawaii before I’d ask entire swaths of some of the most productive land on earth why they live where they live.

  • I think the median annual death toll from tornadoes in this country is about 70, and the United States logs about two-thirds of the world’s tornadoes. It is just not a big risk factor. The persistent aversion of Southerners to basements is curious; can the engineering challenge posed by the water table be that severe?

    A more interesting question is why people in Tornado Alley and everywhere else in America have accepted the horrors of suburban town planning over the last sixty years.

  • If I am not mistaken, the active volcano(es?) on Hawaii are all on the Big Island. About 9/10ths of the population of the state live on the other islands. I am not sure much of population of even the Big Island is in a danger zone. Hilo was walloped by a tsunami in 1960; I do not think any of the eruptions of Mauna Loa in the intervening years have disrupted the life of population centers.

    Now, if you want to ask why the people of Oahu allowed greater Honolulu to grow into an overpriced ticky-tacky mess, that would be an interesting question.

  • I have my own question for the East Coast Elite who look down at Oklahoma.

    Why would anyone live on the East Coast? The East Coast just got clobbered by a massive hurricane last October, causing death and damage that exceeded the Oklahoma tornado. The East Coast is vulnerable to hurricanes and nor’ easters, which also cause destruction and death.

    No East Coast elitist snob will dare answer that with anything other than “climate change”, which we know is a fraud.

    East coast politics stink, the cost of living and taxation there stink, the traffic there stinks….you can have it. Of course, when a snowstorm shuts down DC, it’s national news (and it only takes an inch or two to be a DC snowstorm).

  • “where’s this alley that tornadoes know they’re not allowed to hit outside of?”

    Tornadoes are “allowed” to strike anywhere that conditions are right. Violent tornadoes of up to EF-4 intensity have struck close to D.C. and Boston in the past. A tornado hit what is now Capitol Hill in 1814 during the British siege of Washington — and may have helped, literally, save the Nation:

    Interestingly, one of the regular writers for the blog cited above tweeted something yesterday or the day before about not wanting to go back to D.C. after being “out here” for some time. Perhaps he might have gone on a storm chasing trip to the Plains (people actually do pay good money to go on “chasecations”) or gone out there for some other reason, and has found that life in flyover country isn’t so bad after all.

  • “The persistent aversion of Southerners to basements is curious; can the engineering challenge posed by the water table be that severe?”

    In Louisiana it is. We even bury them above ground.

  • “Why live in Tornado Alley?”

    Why live in the continental US where an eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano is long overdue and would render uninhabitable the greater part of the North American continent, and cause world-wide climatic change for decades to come?

    Why live on the East Coast that would be flooded for hundreds of miles inland from a tsunami caused by the long overdue Canary Island volcano eruption and resulting land slide?

    Why live on the West Coast where the San Andreas fault is long overdue for a major shift with resultant disastrous earthquake?

    Why live on planet Earth which is long overdue for a major asteroid impact such as what happened 60 million years ago on the Yucatan peninsula? Or overdue for a major coronal mass ejection from the sun, destroying all electronics and sending us back to the 19th century for decades and decades? That happened in 1859 and is called the Carrington Event. It destroyed early telegraph machines and would wipe out all our electrical power plants, computers, transformers, generators, etc. from the EMP pulse.

    The idea that there is a safe place to live is erroneous. No place is ever ultimately safe, and each one has its own hazards. Some recur over and over, and cause localized damage (tornados in the central US). Others occur every few decades (major east coast hurricane). Still others occur once a century or so such as the Tunguska meteor impact in Siberia in 1908 or the Carrington Event in 1859. The bottom line is this: all God has to do is remove His protecting hand. One little asteroid – say a mile in diameter – or one little hiccup from the sun and our fragile hold on civilization is brushed aside without the Almighty lifting even His little finger. And with our national – even planetary – embrace of sodomy, lesbianism, adultery, fornication, and abortion we are asking God to remove His protecting hand. Buckle up, folks, for the sad event in Oklahoma (which I do NOT claim is a punishment – sometimes random destruction occurs for no reason other than entropy) is nothing compared to what can really happen and has happened before in the history of our planet.

  • Geez, Paul’s just gone ahead and depressed me…

    j/k, Paul.

  • Basements are definitely a cultural thing that varies by national region. I lived in Texas for some years and remember asking why none of the houses had basements. “Water table’s too high” was one person’s response. This same person had a storm cellar on their property that was bone dry.
    Now I live along the Lake Michigan shoreline where everyone has a basement but really shouldn’t. A bad rain storm and a broke sump pump will turn our basements into in-ground swimming pools.

  • Folks freak out more about dangers that they’re less familiar with– plus, places you don’t know seem smaller. Some of my facebook folks that live in Colorado were reassuring family in Europe that no, they hadn’t been hurt in the tornadoes….

  • (Oh, and I wonder how many of the folks fussing about risk live in the area of St. Helens, like myself?)

  • “Oh, and I wonder how many of the folks fussing about risk live in the area of St. Helens…”

    Safest place to live – near commercial nuclear power plants. I live near four – the two McGuire PWRs to the northwest and the two Catawba PWRs to the southeast. I live about in the center. A little nukie never hurt anyone! Ha! Ha! Your friendly neighborhood nuke simply can’t resist an opportunity.

  • Hey, basements actually have a structural function. In places where the ground freezes to a significant depth, they keep the foundation from heaving up. But avoid a basement if you can because one of the most expensive things you can do, believe it or not, is dig a big hole in the ground. If you want the living space, it’s much cheaper to build it above ground. We have calice around here. My neighbor dug a relatively small hole in the ground and it cost him $4,500 just to rent the equipment!

    I live nearly a mile high and I’ve already had one skin cancer to deal with. And there’s always wind and dust that gets into everything, like clocks and motors. But here’s the key: This is my land. I am attached to it. Part of my identity is in where I live. To leave the desert, to leave my children who live near me, would be to leave part of me. I suspect that most Americans have much the same kind of attachment to place. If my place presents dangers it is part of my loyalty to my place to mitigate those dangers as best I can and, in the end, to love my place anyway.

  • In Mississippi we have clay that shifts when it rains ( which is often). Your basement would crack like my parents foundation or walls. Other parts are like Louisiana where the water table is so high that you spend more time bailing water than digging. Im not familiar with other geographical areas but its not just a cultural thing because basements are nice to have when its hot.

  • Yikes!!!
    Sounds like some of you want to move out of where you are. 😉
    Born and settled here in the North Island of NZ with my own little patch of paradise, about 100 ft. above sea level with the Tauranga harbour half a mile away ( great view, facing north)
    Haven’t had a decent tsunami here for about 7,000 years.
    Haven’t had a major volcanic eruption here for – umm – wait a minute – Mt. Tarawera 50 miles away erupted in 1886, spreading around 5 ft. of ash here, but its compacted down to about 15 inches – always visible when excavating house foundations.
    Haven’t had a decent earthquake here – ever. Oooo! – but had a biggie in Napier in 1932 – flattened the whole area. But that’s 200 miles away. And Christchurch had a biggie 3 years ago and flattened most of the central city – but that’s 600 miles away in the South Island. All we get here every year or two is a gentle waving rocking 🙂
    Our tornadoes are just little whirlwinds hardly enough to lift the roof of your garden shed.
    But seriously, as another commenter said, anywhere you go, there’s going to be forces of nature that we can’t control. Its a matter of managing the situation where you are, and taking the necessary precautions – building codes for building, Geotechnical care for choosing building sites, climatic conditions – just manage it and handle it if you’re where you want to be.

  • One particularly irritating aspect of the news coverage of the Moore tornado, IMO, was the manner in which many reporters rushed to declare it one of the worst, or even THE worst, tornadoes in U.S. history. That may have been understandable early on when the death toll was thought to be 90-plus, but even if that had proven true, it would still have not even been close to the “worst” in terms of fatalities. That title still belongs to the Tri-State Tornado of 1925 which killed almost 700 people in MO, IL and IN. Also, I have been seeing reports that there were actually only 1,200 homes in Moore damaged, not 12,000.

  • and taking the necessary precautions – building codes for building, Geotechnical care for choosing building sites, climatic conditions – just manage it and handle it if you’re where you want to be.

    It is important as a matter of policy that underwriters be permitted to act on what their actuaries tell them and proceed without public subsidies. And insist people pay for their water and electricity at cost.

    In this county, you have a sample of just about every sort of climate and biome this world has to offer (bar tropical rainforest). The most demographically dynamic areas in recent decades have been Las Vegas and Phoenix, both smack in the middle of unattractive swatches of desert. There is just no accounting for taste. The Aussies have the sense to leave their desert empty as God intended.

  • Elaine Krewer says:
    Sunday, May 26, 2013 A.D. at 7:30am

    One particularly irritating aspect of the news coverage of the Moore tornado, IMO, was the manner in which many reporters rushed to declare it one of the worst, or even THE worst, tornadoes in U.S. history.

    Oh, how right you are. See here:

  • A basement is an expensive element. It will be omitted from a construction budget if money is tight. There are other ways to protect a structure from frost damage, as well. To build a storm shelter is an option but it’s all a matter of risk management. From place to place there are varying percentages of risk from a menu of hazards. Building codes mandate design resistive to some of them but don’t go so far as to require storm shelters. Building codes are becoming overly intrusive on matters previously those of choice and individual judgment. We live where we are fed. We have no permanent house here but long for one of many mansions promised on high. Here, build the house on solid ground but remember that unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.

Like Most of America, Catholics Heading South

Thursday, May 23, AD 2013

Not even a month after moving down to Atlanta to start college I was asked to attend a wedding in eastern Alabama near the Georgia/Alabama border. As I piled into my friend’s sisters’ car, I explained that I was an Italian Catholic from New York City.

“Oh boy,” was the immediate response.

So naturally I spent the rest of the trip before the weeding envisioning some gentle folks in white hoods rounding me up and stoning me.

Despite my wildest fears, the most abusive thing said to me that weekend was “Yeeeewww taaalk kinda fuh-neee.” Otherwise a weekend in rural Alabama made me realize that the good folks down south, who seemed so alien to me, weren’t so bad after all.

*For the record, I guess I do talk kinda funny, what, with a lifetime of sipping cawfee on Lawn-guy-lund. 

That being said, it still took some getting used to being in an environment where practically everyone I knew wasn’t Catholic. Even though I spent the formative years of my life in the nation’s largest city, surrounded by a multitude of people with different ethnic and religious backgrounds, all but a handful of my friends were Catholic. And living in a borough (Queens) where it seemed there was a Roman Catholic Church on every corner, it was difficult to conceive I could ever live in a location where I would be a distinct minority.

That was nearly twenty years ago, and though things were already changing down south, it’s still impressive to read these kind of reports.

The story of St. Dominic’s Monastery’s southern move may be the story of U.S. Catholicism. New data shows that some of the fastest-growing dioceses in the country are deep in the U.S. South.

The third-fastest-developing diocese is Atlanta, which saw the number of registered parishioners explode from nearly 322,000 in 2002 to 1 million in 2012 — an increase of more than twofold, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Atlanta also has the largest Eucharistic Congress in the country, with an annual attendance of about 30,000, according to an archdiocesan official.

Atlanta is not alone. Charleston, S.C., has seen a 50% increase in parishioners over the last decade. Charlotte, N.C., grew by a third, as did Little Rock, Ark. The Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., established just 25 years ago, is now the 25th-fastest- growing diocese in the nation — and would rank near the top if those official figures counted as many as 60,000 unregistered Hispanic congregants, according to a diocesan official.

Dioceses like Knoxville stand in stark contrast to former Catholic strongholds like Boston and Philadelphia, where parish consolidations, school closures and dwindling priests are the norm.

“Instead of us closing parishes and closing schools, we’re doing the opposite. We’re in total growth mode,” said Deacon Sean Smith, chancellor for the Diocese of Knoxville.

This growth is very visible when I visit my Godchildren’s parish in suburban Atlanta and other parts south as well. These parishes are literally teeming with vibrant young communities, and it’s very heartening. Not every aspect of southern Catholicsm is exactly to my taste – Church in the round is a common feather of suburban parishes – but I won’t nitpick too much. I would also agree that the insularity of northern parishes is a stark contrast to the ever-increasing Catholic south.

There’s more at the link on the changing landscape, and it’s definitely worth a read.

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13 Responses to Like Most of America, Catholics Heading South

  • Yeah, the style of Church where the pews are arranged in a semi-circle around the altar, theater style.

    Now that I think of it, I have been to Churches where the pews are arranged in a full circle around the altar.

  • Oh, gad, so that’s what it’s called… the parish I went to in Spokane did that.

    The only doors that weren’t behind the priest were through the crying room…

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  • Not just the South, but Texas as well. Given that the first Europeans to set foot in Texas were from Spain and France it seems only right that the Catholic Church is now the largest religious body in Texas.

    As a further indication of the move to the Sun Belt, the Cardinal Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Daniel DiNardo, is from Pittsburgh (like me 🙂
    If Houston had a National Hockey League team (they had the WHA years ago and Gordie Howe played there) I would be there.

  • “Not just the South, but Texas as well.”

    Ahem. Texas IS the South. And the best part of it.


  • Very interesting and heartening NCR article. It points out that the increase in the Southeast isn’t primarily driven by the Hispanic population, as it is in the Southwest.

    Encouraging. Still too hot for me, though. But the anti-Southern bias in the North is a really interesting phenomenon. It’s perfect for our age: it’s a form of prejudice based on the assumption of the other guy’s prejudice.

  • Mr. Anderson….when Mr. Zummo was referring to Alabama and Georgia.

    Texas does not fit into any preconceived category. South, Southwest, West…any of these can describe a part of Texas, but not the entire state.

    Which is yet another reason that Texas is unique among the States.

  • The South is both a cultural and geographic region. Geographically, where people grow tobacco and cotton, there is the South. (With exceptions – New Mexico grows cotton, but it is not part of the geographic South.) So East Texas is by culture and geography part of the South. North Texas and West Texas are culturally Southern, even though they are not geographically part of the South.

  • The majority of Texans live in the eastern third of the state, which is geographically, culturally, and sympathetically tied to the Deep South. The two largest populations centers – Houston and Dallas – fall into that eastern third. The city that Penguins Fan references – Houston – is every bit as Deep South a city as New Orleans, Jackson, and Mobile, and arguably moreso than Atlanta, Birmingham, and Charlotte.

    The iconic parts of my home state that everyone thinks about when they think of Texas – the wide-open spaces of West Texas, the Hill County of Central Texas, and the Old Mexico remnants of San Antonio and the southern borderlands – are, with the exception of San Antonio, fairly sparsely populated compared to Texas east of I-35.

    Those iconic parts of Texas do not represent the reality for most Texans. Instead, what they represent are the places where most Texans go on vacation.

    And, as Mico Razon points out, even in those parts of Texas, most Texans would identify themselves as being part of the South (although in a uniquely Texan sort of way).

  • Well for what it’s worth, I’m not from Texas but I and everyone else I know who lives in my area have always considered Texas a Southern state.

  • Thank you for the article. I would bet that the South is the most pro-life and has the highest rate of military enlistments in the country. My husband attended grad school in Cambridge in 1990-1991. It was hard to find a Catholic school with openings for our two boys with all the closed churches and schools in Boston. We ended up in the suburbs for that reason. My mothers hometown parish in MN is now staffed by an Argentine order and the parochial schools in adjoining cities have been consolidated. Rather sad.
    I am amazed by the growth of the Knoxville diocese. My secondary education was at two Catholic girl’s schools which are now closed, Convent of Mercy H. S. in Mobile AL and then Immaculata Prep. School in Washington DC. In 1967 time most of the private and public colleges and universities in Virginia were not coed, so I ended up at the University of Tennessee – close enough to home but also far enough away. At UT Sunday Mass was a mile walk up hill off campus in a small, formerly Protestant church. I don’t remember any classmates or dormmates being Catholic; maybe there were five Catholic gals in my sorority. One’s religion wasn’t a topic of conversation, although there was always a few loud atheists, and abortion was the equivalent of a four letter word. By 1971, my senior year, the Newman Center with a large chapel/meeting hall had opened a block from the dorms. I taught CCD to third graders who were mostly professors’ kids. When I’ve returned for reunions, I’ve been surprised at the growth and the programs offered by the Center.
    As an aside I observed that those of us who had attended all female high schools, whether religious or secular, were at the top of our classes. I wonder if that still holds true for graduates of single sex secondary education? Another blog topic.
    PS Williamsburg’s new St. Bede’s is circular – makes me think of a rail yard round house.

  • St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I was received into the Church, is also “church in the round”.

    But it’s vast improvement over the “multi-purpose room” that used to serve as the parish church.

    The recently-constructed Dominican Priory attached to the parish, however, is architecturally very traditional.

A saint at work in the world…

Wednesday, May 22, AD 2013


Theological debate tends to divide, as each side in the intellectual debate attempts to prevail with its cherished argument being stamped as “Orthodox.”

In this regard, the Lutheran theologian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote something to this effect: “The orthodox in one generation had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the heterodox.  And, the heterodox in one generation also had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the orthodox.”

Thomas Aquinas comes to mind.

Seemingly unaffected by this important debate, the saints continue living the Gospel, even today.

Marielle Wakim, an editor at Los Angeles Magazine, forwarded to me a feature article appearing in its May 2013 edition concerning one of these saints among us.  Reading the article, I thought of Pelikan’s admonition.

From the profile aired years ago on 60 Minutes, readers of The American Catholic may be familiar with “G Dog,” “Father G,” “G,” or to those who’ve met him more recently, “Pops.”   He’s Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries, which he launched 25 years ago in Los Angeles and has built into the world’s most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program.

Fr. G

Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ
Founder, Homeboy Industries

“G” exemplifies a man on a mission—a saint—who has accomplished with real human beings what no government agency could ever accomplish.

A man of prayer, “G” rises each morning at 4:30 in his room at a Jesuit-owned Craftsman bungalow in East L.A. for one hour of prayer and meditation.  Yes, during the day “G” may drop the “F-bomb” in contentious situations and, yes, “G” enjoys single malt (Laphroaig).  On weekends, “G” celebrates Mass and counsels detainees at youth probation camps, performs baptisms, weddings, and quinceañeras, and answers ex-gang members’ distress calls. Thursday is supposed to be “G’s” day off, but spending at least 100 days each year away from Homeboys on speaking tours, forget that.

One of those whose life has been changed by meeting “G” is Mario Cisneros, who said:

I was running around, back and forth to jail, and I got shot in the stomach and still I’m not stopping—not asking myself “What’s wrong with this picture?” Finally my little brother, 15 years old, gets shot—they killed him. “Is this the time?” I said no, and I kept going and the gangs were at war, back and forth, back and forth. Little by little we’re just decreasing the population of our neighborhoods. And then finally I got tired of it. God’s giving me these passes, and I better take advantage of them….So I walk through the doors of Homeboy Industries and it’s such a beautiful place. It’s the best place I’ve ever been. You can feel the love whenever you walk in. When Father G walks up to me and says, “You ready?” I’m ready.

Once a high-level drug dealer with a gang, Hector Verguo—a Protestant who now takes the seat behind the Executive Director’s desk when “G” travels, told his fiancée that Homeboy would always come first for him:

Since I’ve been at Homeboy, I got to see God at work.  You see miracles happen here, like a miracle factory.  And when you see it happen in front of you, you know that this is supernatural—this is God.

While “G” has been eminently successful in building Homeboy into an enterprise that rehabilitates gang members, addicts, and the like by giving hope who believe themselves to be hopeless, this “saint” isn’t the best of mendicants.  Perhaps that’s why Marielle Wakim forwarded the article to me…to generate some donations for Homeboys Industries.

Whatever.  It’s the Lord’s ongoing work of salvation and the May 2013 Los Angeles Magazine feature about “G” and his mission is inspiring, even if “G’s” theology might be “radical” or “heterodox,” depending upon which side of the debate one supports.



To read the Los Angeles Magazine’s article featuring “G,” click on the following link:

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25 Responses to A saint at work in the world…

  • I am glad to see Hector Verguo has turned his life around, but he’s a “Protestant”. Doesn’t sound as if souls are being saved.

  • Catholic social teaching emphasizes providing for people’s needs as an expression of one’s love of God (and neighbor). The most effective catechesis is that witness. For example:

    #31c Deus carias est. “Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practised as a way of achieving other ends. But this does not mean that charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside. For it is always concerned with the whole man. Often the deepest cause of suffering is the very absence of God. Those who practise charity in the Church’s name will never seek to impose the Church’s faith upon others. They realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak. He knows that God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8) and that God’s presence is felt at the very time when the only thing we do is to love. He knows—to return to the questions raised earlier—that disdain for love is disdain for God and man alike; it is an attempt to do without God. Consequently, the best defence of God and man consists precisely in love. It is the responsibility of the Church’s charitable organizations to reinforce this awareness in their members, so that by their activity—as well as their words, their silence, their example—they may be credible witnesses to Christ.”

  • “Catholic social teaching emphasizes providing for people’s needs as an expression of one’s love of God (and neighbor). The most effective catechesis is that witness.”

    That’s why it isn’t a government responsibility, at least not at the national, federal level. Individual members of a neighborhood, town or village may enact measures for social justice, but government is demonstrably incapable of doing so, and when given the money to do so, that money perverts and corrupts government to the point of what we see in the Obama Administration. Starve government and give to the poor. That’s true social justice. It helps the needy and neuters tyranny.

  • “Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism.”

    Though Caritas in Veritate notes that charity without truth is mere emotionalism. Which is why the quote you cite also notes “…that by their activity—as well as their words…” Activity and words. And not words alone but truthful ones.

    Reading the article, one sees that those in the program had broken families. Drugs and alcohol destroying the basis of society. This in part because the truth of a materialist culture, including the denial of the proper role of sexuality, is the ultimate root of the problems the good priest is trying to help. But if he does not address these issues truthfully, he ultimately is no more than other materialists. And does no good by these young men.

    Clearly truth without love is not Christian. But neither is love apart from truth.

  • Very good read! Thank you for sharing this. It’s good to read stories like this. It really makes you say that God really loves you no matter who you are and what you believe in. When you reach out to God, He will not leave you hanging. He will embrace and welcome you. Your life will really change for the better.

  • “I am glad to see Hector Verguo has turned his life around, but he’s a “Protestant”. Doesn’t sound as if souls are being saved.”

    I agree.

    This narrative doesn’t fit my definition of “saint.”

    Has Father persuaded any to convert? Has he convinced any to repent of their sins, Confess, do penance, amend their lives, and through good works glorify Almighty God?

    Maybe the author omitted it. Does Father lead them in daily Rosary or Eucharistic Adoration?

    I see this as a paean for an effective social worker.

    Social justice (where’s the umlaut?) uber alles.

  • T. Shaw is correct. All the good works in the world, all the filled bellies, all the clothed naked, all the satisfied thirsty mean nothing without repentance and conversion. Yes, Matthew 25:31-46 is part of the Gospel. So is John 12:1-8:

    1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

    4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

    7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

  • The Motley Monk made a good point.

    I just wanted to point out that Fr. Boyle has done a yeoman’s job in helping those in need of hope; but not that many converts, that’s all.

  • What kind of converts do you expect? Most of these young men are supposed to be Catholic to start with! If they have conversion of life and start going to church, the evangelism is done.

    As for Father choosing a Protestant young man, I would assume this young man also started out as nominally Protestant. Given the large number of Protestants, Pentecostals, etc. in HIspanic neighborhoods, it’s canny to have a Protestant on staff. (Though it may just amount to him having been there, trustworthy, and willing to work.) Mother Teresa never stopped Protestants, or even Hindus and Muslims, from helping in the work; nor did she provide help only to Catholics. But somehow nobody doubts that she was working to serve bodies and save souls.

    If the article were about Father’s conversion record, no doubt we’d hear a lot about it. But it’s not, so we don’t.

  • “Mother Teresa never stopped Protestants, or even Hindus and Muslims, from helping in the work; nor did she provide help only to Catholics. But somehow nobody doubts that she was working to serve bodies and save souls.”

    Yes, but she did so faithful to the teachings of the Church. Not denying them.

  • To put it another way, people are praising Father’s work with gang member and its success in helping them But Mother Theresa herself use to say “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.”

    That is because God calls us to be one with Him. This does not mean material success – even a noble success like working with gang members. He calls us to being in Him – the have His life in us through grace.

    But this does not occur through the denial of Him and the truths he has revealed and teaches through the Church. It occurs through assent to them, even if they are beyond are understanding.

    Putting faith in anything else is mere idolatry. Even if the idol is a social good.

  • “I am glad to see Hector Verguo has turned his life around, but he’s a “Protestant”. Doesn’t sound as if souls are being saved.”

    I’m confused by that statement. Are we arguing that protestants aren’t saved?

  • When Jesus gave his speech about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, caring for the sick, etc. in Matthew 25:31-46, his audience was the disciples, that is to say, the Body of Christ. We are called as part of our penance (if you will) to do good for others for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Every time we abdicate our responsibility and evade our accountability to do this our sacred duty onto nanny govt, we sacrifice on the alter of political expediency our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven and our adoption as sons and daughters of the great King. It is NOT the job of govt to help the poor. That’s OUR job as Christians.

    That being said, let’s remember John 12 where Mary (sister of Martha) was anointing Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil costing 300 denarii, a year’s wage. Judas Iscariot saw this and said that the oil could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. And what does Scripture say right afterwards? Jesus pointed out that we’ll always have the poor with us, and Mary did this in preparation for his burial, for we would not always have him. Furthermore, the writer of the Gospel goes on to explain that the REAL reason Judas advocated selling the oil wasn’t because he cared a darn thing for the poor. He was like every liberal politician today who has spiritually succeeded him. He said this because he used to steal from the disciples’ purse. Read it. That’s what verse 6 says: Judas was a thief.

    Remember also the story of the feeding of the 5000 in John 6. Afterwards Jesus and his disciples crossed the Lake to Capernaum on the other side. The crowd awoke the next morning and saw Jesus gone, so they followed on foot. When they caught up with him, they asked why he departed. What did Jesus say? It’s in verses 26 and 27: “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” Note Jesus did NOT give the crowd a second handout. He did NOT make them addicted to and dependent on free handouts.

    The social justice types in the Church have reduced the Gospel message to feeding bellies. That is NOT the goal. Jesus said so. The goal is saving souls from Satan and hell. Yes, as Christians we must care for the poor – back to Matthew 25 again. And yes, it’s nigh unto impossible to attend to one’s spiritual needs when one has an empty stomach. That’s why Jesus fed the 5000 with food first in John 6. But instead of paying attention to their spiritual condition once their bellies were full, they expected another free handout and Jesus said “No!” That began the Bread of Life discourse.

    This isn’t confusing at all once one reads and studies what is plain as day in Sacred Scripture.

  • Would we blame a paramedic for not doing advanced surgery on the way to the hospital? Perhaps he’s making the way for other physicians of souls to do their work later. I can find nothing to fault Fr. Boyle for. Sometimes you have to prioritize with the resources you have. Sometimes it remains for others to complete the work that has been started. Rather than fault Fr. Boyle, I would say others are also needed to complete the work, which can take a lifetime. These are men who have done and seen much. It can require multiple physicians to handle the worst injuries. I’d say encourage and expand on his work, not complain because he didn’t turn them into Aquinas scholars.

    I did a quick search on key words to see if I could find where he said something that dissents from the Faith, and I couldn’t find anything.

  • “I did a quick search on key words to see if I could find where he said something that dissents from the Faith, and I couldn’t find anything.”

    I would agree with that other than his comments that he would not recite the Baltimore Catechism when asked in school. An insight into an independent soul or code for “I reject teachings of the Church.” I really can’t tell.

    The response is to the comment in the post “…even if “G’s” theology might be ‘radical’ or ‘heterodox,'”. Well no. To continue your analogy. I would not blame a paramedic for not doing advanced surgery. But I would blame him if, instead of placing an IV, administering fluids and giving oxygen, he placed leaches in the hope of draining off evil spirits. By the same token, if Father G is showing the value of the sacraments, through example and word teaching the love of Christ etc., God is in fact working through him. But if he is teaching these young men that if they are in a committed relationship its okay to sleep with their girlfriends and, if one is open to children in these relationships, one can contracept now to prevent conceiving and, “Oh, she’s pregnant. Well, its a tough private decision that the mother has to make.” Again I don’t know if he’s saying these things or other such. But if he is, and I’ve heard many a “good” priest do so, then no, he’s not doing God’s work. He’s just another materialist.

    Salvation is God’s work. But men must cooperate in faithfulness, not heterodoxy.

  • The collect of Thursday’s Mass:

    Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry our in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

    We are body and soul. To take care of one while denying the other is not in accord with Catholic anthropology. So we cannot only retreat to the spiritual. But, neither can we care for the body while neglecting the soul. In fact, as the collect shows us, the spiritual is what is ultimately of primacy. For we are ordained to a supernatural and not natural end. So, the good that we do in this world must be informed by the spiritual in truth.

    The reading from Thursday’s Mass also talks about teaching children not to sin. Jesus says such men who teach others to sin will have a millstone placed on their neck and they will be cast into the sea. I do not know if Father G is doing such. But if heterodoxy is his way in this life, Jesus himself points out the risk for the next.

  • I’m puzzled by the speculation that “he might be heterodox”. Yes, there are heterodox priests. There are heterodox social worker types who use the Church as a means of realizing their Marxist ideals, but that doesn’t warrant an internet witch hunt because someone is giving jobs to former gang members. Last I heard we wanted people like that to turn their lives around, stop gang-banging and be productive members of society.

    Yes, as a priest he needs to bring them to heaven. It seems to me that what he is doing is a remarkable first step in that direction for these men and women.

  • “I’m puzzled by the speculation that “he might be heterodox”. ”

    Again, I am not sure either. It is the subject of the post however, and if he is such he is not a saint.

  • “Yes, as a priest he needs to bring them to heaven. It seems to me that what he is doing is a remarkable first step in that direction for these men and women.”

    Indeed he is if that first step leads to Heaven. But if he is heterodox, that first step is not in that direction. And that is wrong.

    “Whoever stays in him sins not: whoever sins has not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. …”

  • I think if we plan to judge the perceived transgressions of this good man, we might have to provide evidence.

  • “I think if we plan to judge the perceived transgressions of this good man, we might have to provide evidence.”

    “If” is the key word since its not clear that anyone is judging Father G. They are only judging the comment that heterodoxy does not matter if one is doing good.

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  • ” “If” is the key word since its not clear that anyone is judging Father G. They are only judging the comment that heterodoxy does not matter if one is doing good. ”

    A valid point. Of course, it depends how broadly one defines heterodoxy. If one were espousing pure Marxism that would be blatant heresy, but the church itself has been a bit heterodox relative to it’s own traditions of the past.

  • No. It has developed its doctrines and that development can be traced. That is quite different from saying certain things that have always been taught are now denied.

  • Sorry to be so late posting on this, but I have come to believe that “S.J.” now stands for “Social Justice” – a PERCEIVED Social Justice, which condones, among other things, abortion – as evidenced by the pro-abortion garbage coming from students and speakers at Jesuit schools. So sad to me, as one who grew up with Jesuits frequently in our home, attending a parish run by jesuits, and having jesuit-educated brothers.