27

Ghanîmah Comes to Rotherham

 

Rotherham, a city of about 257,000 in Yorkshire, England, is a battleground in a war that has been waged for 13 centuries:
More than 1,400 children were sexually abused over a 16 year period by gangs of paedophiles after police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labeled racist, a damning report has concluded.

Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorised as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help.
In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.
Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as “appalling”.
Following the publication of the report, the leader of Rotherham council, Roger Stone, resigned, but no other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action.

There were calls for Shaun Wright, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire (pictured above, left), to step down after it emerged that he was the councilor with responsibility for children’s services in Rotherham for part of the period covered by the report.

Details of the appalling depravity in the town and the systemic failures that allowed it to continue were laid out in a report published by Professor Alexis Jay, the former chief inspector of social work in Scotland. Victims were gang raped, while others were groomed and trafficked across northern England by groups of mainly Asian men.

When children attempted to expose the abuse, they were threatened with guns, warned that their loved ones would be raped and, in one case, doused in petrol and told they would be burnt alive.

Prof Jay wrote: “No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013. Continue Reading

2

August 31, 1864: Death Comes For Father Emery

father-emery

 

Destiny attended Emmeran Bliemel at his birth on the feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of soldiers, in 1831 in Bavaria.  From his early boyhood his burning desire was to be a missionary to German Catholics in far off America.  Joining a Benedictine Abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1851, he was ordained a priest in 1856. Continue Reading

August 31, 1864: Battle of Jonesborough

 images

Frustrated by his failures to cut the railroad lines to Atlanta,  Sherman at the end of August 1864 decided to use most of  his force to accomplish that goal.  On August 25, Sherman marched six of his seven corps out of the siege lines of Atlanta and moved them south east to cut both the rail lines into Atlanta.  Hood sent out Hardee with two corps to attempt to stop the Union movement.

By the 28th the Union was in control of a section of  West Point & Atlanta Railroad  and Sherman’s men were busy destroying it.  On the 30th, the Union corps closed in on Jonesborough, held by Hardee.  Hardee launched an attack on the Union force on the morning of August 31, that was beaten back after hard fighting.  Fearing a direct attack on Atlanta, Hood withdrew Stephen Lee’s corps from Hardee that evening.  On September 1, 1864, Sherman attacked the heavily outnumbered Hardee at 4:00 PM.  After tenacious fighting by the Confederates, the Union troops took Jonesborough and the last rail line into Atlanta.  Atlanta was now untenable for the Confederates to hold.

Here are Sherman’s comments on the movement that led to the fall of Atlanta: Continue Reading

10

What Islamic Terrorism?

 

 

Sometimes this administration is simply beyond parody:

 

 

The FBI’s most recent national threat assessment for domestic terrorism makes no reference to Islamist terror threats, despite last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting—both carried out by radical Muslim Americans.

Instead, the internal FBI intelligence report concluded in its 2013 assessment published this month that the threat to U.S. internal security from extremists is limited to attacks and activities by eight types of domestic extremist movements—none motivated by radical Islam.

They include anti-government militia groups and white supremacy extremists, along with “sovereign citizen” nationalists, and anarchists. Other domestic threat groups outlined by the FBI assessment include violent animal rights and environmentalist extremists, black separatists, anti- and pro-abortion activists, and Puerto Rican nationalists. Continue Reading

2

PopeWatch: Spirit of Vatican II

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

CINCINNATI, OH- A Solemn High Requiem Mass was held Thursday at St. Martura Church in downtown Cincinnati for the Spirit of Vatican II, aged 52. After suffering a progressively debilitating illness for the last ten years of its life as a new generation of priests re-examined the Council in light of Sacred Tradition, the Spirit of Vatican II passed away quietly in its sleep last Tuesday.

“The Requiem Mass really brought closure to the community,” said 26-year old Father David Flannigan, FSSP, who celebrated the Mass with Deacon Brady Schwartz, 32, and Subdeacon Anthony LaViera, 23. “While the death of the Spirit of Vatican II was certainly expected, we were glad to offer Mass for its repose.”

“What a beautiful Mass!” commented long-time parishioner Gladys O’Neal. “I hadn’t seen black vestments since I was a little girl. And as much as I love the song On Eagle’s Wings, the Dies Irae sequence really got me thinking about the Four Last Things.”

The Spirit of Vatican II is survived by a dwindling number of aging hippies who dropped out of seminary in the ‘70’s, some faded felt banners, and tambourines presently gathering dust in storage.

When asked to comment, Pope Francis said, “He never took care of himself and took way too many drugs back in the Sixties and the Seventies, which explains his taste in hymns.  May he rest in peace in glorious silence.”

2

United States Merchant Marine

Something for the weekend.  Labor Day weekend seems a fitting time to recall again the United States Merchant Marine.  The civilian fleet that carries imports and exports to and from the US, during war time it becomes an auxiliary of the Navy to ship troops and war supplies.  Officers of the Merchant Marine are trained at the Merchant Marine Academy, founded in 1943, at King’s Point, New York.

Technically civilians, one out of 26 merchant mariners died in action during World War II, giving them a higher fatality rate than any of the armed services.   Members of the Merchant Marine were often jeered  as slackers and draft dodgers by civilians when they were back on shore who had no comprehension of the vital role they played, or how hazardous their jobs were.  Incredibly, these gallant men were denied veteran status and any veteran benefits because they were civilians.  This injustice was not corrected until 1988 when President Reagan signed the Merchant Marine Fairness Act.  Some 9,521 United States Merchant Mariners were killed during World War II, performing their duty of keeping the sea lanes functioning in war, as in peace.

6

Josephus on the Execution of John the Baptist

No figure is as mysterious in Holy Writ as Saint John the Baptist, the Precursor sent to announce the coming of Christ, wrapped in the power and force of Elijah the prophet.  In many ways  the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets, like them preaching tirelessly and fearlessly a message of repentance, and, like most of them, announcing that a Messiah was coming to bring salvation from God.

Today is the feast of the beheading of John the Baptist.  It is a very old feast, as old, perhaps, as the other feast day we have for the birth of the Baptist.

The calls of the Baptist for repentance and his announcement that the long expected Messiah had arrived, had a shattering impact on his audiences, as they crowded around him to receive baptism.  The fire of his faith, and his complete lack of fear, is a standing rebuke to Christians who have allowed their faith to grow cold, and who fear the World, the Flesh and the Devil more than they love the God who loves each of us as though there were no other Men except us.

Here is the description by the Jewish historian Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, of the circumstances that gave rise to the imprisonment of John:

 

 

About this time Aretas, the king of  Petra, and Herod the Tetrarch had a quarrel on account of the following. Herod the tetrarch had married the daughter of Aretas and had lived with her a great while; but once when he was on his way to Rome he lodged with  his half-brother, also named Herod but who had a different mother,  the high priest Simon’s daughter.  There he fell in love with Herodias, this latter Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of their brother Aristobulus and the sister of Agrippa the Great. Continue Reading

15

PopeWatch: Melian World

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses—either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us—and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Spartans, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

Thucydides, Peloponnesian War

 

 

Pope Francis recently marked Ukrainian Independence Day:

The pope made his remarks Aug. 24, after praying the Angelus with a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

“My thoughts go in a particular way to the beloved land of Ukraine,” he said, “to all its sons and daughters, to their yearning for peace and tranquility, threatened by a situation of tension and conflict that continues unabated, causing so much suffering among the population.”

Fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces continues in the eastern part of the country, having killed more than 2,000 and displaced more than 30,000 over the past several months.

“Let us entrust the whole nation to the Lord Jesus and to the Madonna, and let us pray together above all for the victims, their families, and all those who suffer,” the pope said.

Go here to read  the rest.  PopeWatch hopes that Ukrianians enjoyed their independence day, because Fearless Leader Putin is doing his best to make sure that it might be the last one:

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of invading Ukraine as troop movements from across the border were reported for third time this week. His accusations were echoed by both the United States and NATO.

We’re keeping track of the developments below. Continue Reading

August 29, 1864: Democrat Party Platform

 

The convention of the Democrats in 1864 to nominate a standard bearer for President opened on August 29, 1864 in Chicago.  The convention was badly split between War Democrats and Peace Democrats.  The Peace Democrats were strong enough to have a platform approved which dealt with one issue, the War, and which was highly critical of a continuation of the War and called for immediate peace negotiations:

 

Resolved, That in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution as the only solid foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern.

Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity of war-power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States.

Resolved, That the direct interference of the military authorities of the United States in the recent elections held in Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Delaware was a shameful violation of the Constitution, and a repetition of such acts in the approaching election will be held as revolutionary, and resisted with all the means and power under our control.

Resolved, That the aim and object of the Democratic party is to preserve the Federal Union and the rights of the States unimpaired, and they hereby declare that they consider that the administrative usurpation of extraordinary and dangerous powers not granted by the Constitution; the subversion of the civil by military law in States not in insurrection; the arbitrary military arrest, imprisonment, trial, and sentence of American citizens in States where civil law exists in full force; the suppression of freedom of speech and of the press; the denial of the right of asylum; the open and avowed disregard of State rights; the employment of unusual test-oaths; and the interference with and denial of the right of the people to bear arms in their defense is calculated to prevent a restoration of the Union and the perpetuation of a Government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

Resolved, That the shameful disregard of the Administration to its duty in respect to our fellow-citizens who now are and long have been prisoners of war and in a suffering condition, deserves the severest reprobation on the score alike of public policy and common humanity.

Resolved, That the sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily and earnestly extended to the soldiery of our army and sailors of our navy, who are and have been in the field and on the sea under the flag of our country, and, in the events of its attaining power, they will receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the republic have so nobly earned. Continue Reading

4

PopeWatch: Francis Cardinal George

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Spokeswoman Colleen Dolan says the archbishop of Chicago had hoped to make that trip in mid-October but will not be able to because of medical treatment. She says the trip may be rescheduled.

The 77-year-old George is undergoing treatment for a recurrence of cancer near his right kidney. Last week, the archdiocese announced he was participating in a clinical trial of an experimental drug at the University of Chicago Medicine.

George said early this year that he believes the cancer eventually will take his life. He survived bladder cancer eight years ago. Continue Reading

4

In Defense of John Bell Hood

John B. Hood

Yellow-haired Hood with his wounds and his empty sleeve,

Leading his Texans,

a Viking shape of a man,

With the thrust and lack of craft of a berserk sword,

All lion, none of the fox.             

When he supersedes Joe Johnston, he is lost, and his army with him,

But he could lead forlorn hopes with the ghost of Ney.

His big boned Texans follow him into the mist.

Who follows them?

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

Few Civil War generals get as bad a historical trouncing as John Bell Hood.  A talented regimental, division and corps commander, his tenure as commander of the Army of Tennessee is regarded as a disaster, with Hood being depicted as a reckless head on fighter who threw away any chance of victory by losing Atlanta and then leading his army to near annihilation during the Franklin-Nashville campaign.  I have largely accepted that historical verdict, but a new book, John Bell Hood, The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General, gives me pause.

Stephen M. “Sam” Hood, a distant relative of the general, does a masterful job of defending Hood from sloppy historical accounts.  For example, the quote from John Brown’s Body about Hood being all of the lion and none of the fox has often been falsely attributed to Robert E. Lee.  Among many other historical howlers that have made their way into historical accounts is that Hood, due to his injuries, was a laudanum addict.  Stephen Hood demonstrates that there is no contemporary evidence to substantiate this.  Stephen Hood does a service in this book, not just to General Hood, but also to Civil War scholarship.  Too many supposed factoids about the War, firmly ensconced in secondary sources, are mere fables, and John Bell Hood,  The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General is an unsettling book length demonstration of how these myths need to be dispelled. Continue Reading

5

Nuncio Tells Blunt Truth About Cuba

Archbishop Bruno Musari

 

If you want to know what is going on in Cuba, the Babalu blog is the go to blog.  Carlos Eire tells us about the man who has just become my favorite papal nuncio:

 

Archbishop Bruno Musarò, Apostolic Nuncio to Castrogonia,  blasted the island’s rulers recently, and a handful of news organizations are reporting on his comments.

Not surprisingly, the news reports thus far are only available in Italian, Spanish, and Polish.  Nothing at all in English.  No word from the AP or Reuters, or CNN, etc..

If the nuncio had denounced the “blockade” rather than the Castro regime, his comments would be getting a hell of a lot more attention, of course.

The nuncio’s remarks were first quoted by LecceNews24 in Italy, in an article entitled: “‘In Cuba you die’: Salentine bishop sounds the alarm.”  You can find that full report HERE.

TV Marti picked up the story, and you can find their report  HERE (includes video).    El Mundo in Boliva also ran the story.  Go HERE for that.  And if you can read Polish, go HERE for that report.

The comments were made after he celebrated mass in the Italian town of Vignacastrisi.  (Ha!  VignaCASTRIsi: Who says God lacks a sense of humor?)

Among his observations, the following stand out:

“In Cuba you die.” (A Cuba si muore).

“In Cuba eating is a luxury.”

“The Cuban people live in conditions of absolute poverty and degradation without human or civil rights. They are the victims of a socialist dictatorship that has kept them enslaved for fifty-six years.”

“Only freedom can give hope to the Cuban people.”

“The only hope Cubans can have for a better life is to leave their island.”

“Italians who complain about many things in Italy should know that in Cuba a physician only earns 25 euros per month and that in order to live with dignity many Cuban professionals have to work as waiters at night.”

“In Cuba everything is controlled by the government, even milk and meat. Beef is a luxury and anyone who dares to slaughter a cow in order to eat it is arrested and sent to prison.”

“After more than half a century, praise is still being heaped on this Revolution, but, in the meantime, the Cuban people don’t have proper work and don’t have a way of feeding their own children.”

“I’m grateful that the pope sent me to that island, and I hope to be there when the socialist regime comes to an end.”

Apostolic nuncios serve as the pope’s ambassadors to the world’s nations. Archbishop Musarò was appointed as nuncio to Castrogonia by Pope Benedict XVI in August 2011. Continue Reading

16

Dialogue

Coexist

 

Pat Archbold has a barn burner of a post up at One Peter Five looking at the calls by the USCCB for dialogue with Muslims:

 

It is a curious conceit of an obtuse generation that it believes itself to be committed to modernity, embodied by devotion to science and reason, and yet is so irrevocably immutable to evidence.

The spiritual (but not religious) Mecca of modernity in the Catholic Church is the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the headquarters of which would likely be a smoking ruin if we had a God quick to anger rather than slow.

The absurdity of this very modern institution is embodied perfectly in their recent USCCB statement on their “Commitment To Dialogue With Muslims.”

What is the bottom line? They are so committed to dialogue with Muslims, it seems, that they will persevere in useless dialogue until every last one of us Christians is dead.

“We understand the confusion and deep emotions stirred by real and apparent acts of aggression and discrimination by certain Muslims against non-Muslims, often against Christians abroad,” the bishops wrote. “Along with many of our fellow Catholics and the many Muslims who themselves are targeted by radicals, we wish to voice our sadness, indeed our outrage, over the random and sometimes systematic acts of violence and harassment—acts that for both Christians and Muslims threaten to disrupt the harmony that binds us together in mutual support, recognition, and friendship.”

In the face of a terrifying juggernaut of death and destruction that 50 years of dialogue have done absolutely nothing to stop and arguably encouraged, the USCCB is committed to more of the same. Everyone knows that dialogue with Islam is impossible since there is no monolithic Islam with which to dialogue, so we have endeavored to dialogue merely with its adherents. I think the most humble and unambitious goal of such interreligious dialogue would have been some sort of consensus that, in general, they shouldn’t try to kill us or anyone else. Even with the bar set so low, by any measurement, 50 years of dialogue has been a miserable failure. Continue Reading

13

I AM and Us

[56] Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it, and was glad. [57] The Jews therefore said to him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? [58] Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. [59] They took up stones therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

John 8: 56-59

 

 

Father Barron has a magnificent article in Catholic World Report in which he explains why it is improper to think of God as a Supreme Being:

Now to God’s invisibility. One of the most fundamental mistakes made by atheists both old and new is to suppose that God is a supreme being, an impressive item within or alongside the universe. As David Bentley Hart has argued, the gods of ancient mythology or the watchmaker God of 18th-century Deism might fit such a description, but the God presented by the Bible and by classical theism has nothing to do with it. The true God is the non-contingent ground of the contingent universe, the reason there is something rather than nothing, the ultimate explanation for why the world should exist at all. Accordingly, he is not a being, but rather, as Thomas Aquinas put it, ipsum esse subsistens, the sheer act of to be itself.

Thomas goes so far as to say that God cannot be placed in any genus, even in that most generic of genera, namely, being. But all of this must imply God’s invisibility. Whatever can be seen is, ipso facto, a being, a particular state of affairs, and hence something that can be placed in a genus, compared with other finite realities, etc. The visible is, by definition, conditioned—and God is the unconditioned. I hope it is clear that in affirming God’s invisibility, I am not placing limits on him, as though he were a type of being—the invisible type—over and against visible things, a ghost floating above physical objects. The invisible God is he whose reality transcends and includes whatever perfection can be found in creatures, since he himself is the source and ground of creatureliness in all its manifestations. Anything other than an invisible God would be a conditioned thing and hence utterly unworthy of worship. Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Crosshairs

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Interesting that the Vatican sent out Father Lombardi to deny that ISIS is planning to assassinate the pope:

 

In response to rumors that the Islamic State may be targeting Pope Francis, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. said there is no reason for concern.

“There is nothing serious to this. There is no particular concern in the Vatican. This news has no foundation,” the spokesman told CNA Aug. 26.

The rumors spread following an Aug. 25 article published in Italian newspaper “Il Tempo,” which said the number of jihadists in Italy is on the rise due to the influx of unidentified immigrants in the country.

According to the article, Islamic fundamentalists led by Al-Baghdadi plan to “raise the level of confrontation” in Europe and alluded to Israeli sources who said that Pope Francis is “also in the crosshairs of ISIS” as “the greatest exponent of the Christian religions” and the “bearer of false truth.”

Al-Baghdadi has been named as Caliph – the head of state and absolute monarch – of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, and is the former head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Continue Reading

28

Jesus Wept

 

 

Since my beloved son Larry died last year, not a day has gone by that I have not thought of him.  Immediately after his death I would think about him, literally, almost every minute of each day.  Now it is usually once every 15 minutes.  He enriched beyond measure the life of myself and my bride and I miss him with all my heart.  Larry had autism, and, as a result of his autism, my conversations with him were limited in words, although we each got our meanings across.  I greatly admired the way in which my son did not let his disability add sorrow to his life, and the joy he normally radiated warmed my soul.  I have had several privileges in my life that have been granted me by God, but I think the greatest was being entrusted with Larry.

Then I read how some parents who are having their unborn children tested for Down Syndrome react:

 

Rayna Rapp, a former abortion clinic worker who aborted a baby with Down syndrome herself, conducted a survey of women and couples who sought amniocentesis to screen for Down syndrome and other problems with their babies. All of the interviewees intended to abort if the baby was found to have Down syndrome. Some of the things that these parents say about Down syndrome children are deeply troubling to anyone who values life. Here are some comments from men and women who said they would abort if the test came back positive for Down.

  • I would have a very hard time dealing with a retarded child. Retardation is relative, it could be so negligible that the child is normal, or so severe that the child has nothing… All of the sharing things you want to do, the things you want to share with a child – that, to me, is the essence of being a father. There would be a big void that I would feel. I would feel grief, not having what I consider a normal family.(133)

  • I have an image of how I want to interact with my child, and that’s not the kind of interaction I want, not the kind I could maintain. (133)

  • I’m sorry to say I couldn’t think about raising a child with Down’s. I’m something of a perfectionist. I want the best for my child. I’ve worked hard, I went to Cornell University, I’d want that for my child. I’d want to teach him things he couldn’t absorb. I’m sorry I can’t be more accepting, but I’m clear I wouldn’t want to continue the pregnancy.( 133 – 134)

  • The bottom line is when my neighbor said to me: “Having a “tard,” that’s a bummer for life.” (91)

  • I just couldn’t do it, couldn’t be that kind of mother who accepts everything, loves her kid no matter what. What about me? Maybe it’s selfish, I don’t know. But I just didn’t want all those problems in my life. (138)

  • If he can’t grow up to have a shot at becoming the president, we don’t want him.(92)

  • It’s devastating, it’s a waste, all the love that goes into kids like that. (134)

  • I think it’s kind of like triage, or like euthanasia. There aren’t enough resources in the world. We’d have to move, to focus our whole family on getting a handicapped kid a better deal… Why spend $50,000 to save one child?(146)

All of these mothers and fathers (for they are already mothers and fathers to their babies growing in the womb) had chosen to have abortions if the baby had Down. The book did not specify which pregnancies actually tested positive and how many went on to abort. But all of the quotes above were made by men and women who fully intended to kill their babies if they turned out to be mentally challenged. Continue Reading

5

Parents and praying for their children in school

 

Dr. Edward Mulholland, an assistant professor of classical and modern languages at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, recently discussed a prayer for students composed by St. Thomas Aquinas which the Angelic Doctor prayed before studying:

Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your light penetrate the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion. I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Commenting on this prayer as it concerns college students, Dr. Mulholland describes parents and educators some of whom believe education is only about academics, others of whom believe it’s all about money, and yet others of whom believe it’s about prestige. And, yes, there are those parents and educators—almost certainly a very tiny minority in today’s world—who could care less about all of that, believing as they do that education is all about getting young people to persevere in morality.

As St. Thomas’ prayer reminds all of us, education and the virtue of humility are inextricably related: The proper attitude toward learning—whether in an elementary or secondary school or a college or university—is to allow God to form one’s mind to grasp the light of truth and, then, to will it in one’s life from the beginning through its completion. With that attitude, other utilitarian ends—academic success, money, and prestige—are put into proper perspective with morality becoming an imperative.

In 2008, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/U.S. Religious Landscape survey reported the prayer habits of Americans. Of particular interest, note the habits of U.S. Catholics:

Pew1

Among U.S. Catholics who report they do pray and broken down by political ideology, the following pattern emerges:

Pew2

Of those Catholic parents who report they do pray—irrespective of political ideology—how many pray for their children ?

With the new academic year now underway in many locales, wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents wrote down St. Thomas’ prayer on a notecard and presented it to each of their children, asking them to say the prayer at the start of each day of school? Better yet, to tell their children they will be saying St. Thomas’ prayer for each of them at the start of each school day?

 

 

 

To read Dr. Mulholland’s article, click on the following link:
http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/leading-out-of-double-darkness?utm_campaign=dailyhtml&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dispatch

http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report2religious-landscape-study-key-findings.pdf

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

21

George Orwell Was Only Thirty Years Off

Big Brother

Hattip to Instapundit.  Your tax dollars at work:

 

 

The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.

The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.” Continue Reading

26

Distributism: Novel Economic System

images

I have never written much about Distributism because, to quote Gertrude Stein, there is no there, there.  Chesterton and Belloc I think used Distributism primarily as a springboard to attack the capitalism they both loathed.  The details were kept vague because it was obvious that, unless humanity were suddenly to become exempt from sin, the implementation of such a system, if it could be implemented at all, would require a very powerful state indeed, something that Chesterton and Belloc both loathed just as much as they loathed capitalism.  Thus Distributism was something to be trotted out in their writings periodically, but neither Chesterton or Belloc made any attempts to seriously implement it in the real world, and of course one would not expect a pair of writers to do so.  That would be done, if at all, by those inspired by the concept.  However, although the concept evokes a lot of sturm und drang on Catholic blogs, attempts to implement it in reality have been precious few and far between.  It is therefore only appropriate that a science fiction novelist, John C. Wright, has examined a concept that I think will always remain firmly ensconced in the fictional realm:

 

 

A reader asked me my opinion of Distributionism, which is GK Chesterton’s tentative venture into economic philosophy.

For better or worse, my take on Distributism is uniformly and unabashedly negative. You see, I had studied economics for many a year before I stumbled across the writings of Mr Chesterton, and I found him wise and witty and much to be admired in all other areas but this one. Once he starts writing about rich folk, he speaks frothing nonsense, and there is a touch of hatred, of true malice, in his tone I do not detect anywhere else.

Chesterton holds that the concentration of wealth into a few hands was bad for all concerned, and looked favorably on the idea of each man owning his own means of production, and their incomes being more equal.

By what means this was to be accomplished is left vague in his writings. Whether this was to be by a medieval guild system, or some form of government-run syndicate, or an all-volunteer affair, is never mentioned one way or the other. He states clearly that he opposes the Enclosure Laws, by which common greens, formerly owned and used communally, were made private property; but he does not state clearly how, or even if, he would reverse this.

His position differs from Socialism mainly by being nondoctrinaire by being unclear. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: China

You can taste the fear in the Chinese reaction to the Pope’s statement that he is eager to visit China;

VATICAN CITY (RNS) China has reacted cautiously to a bid by Pope Francis to open new dialogue with Beijing, with some officials quick to warn the Vatican not to “interfere” with the country’s religion.

On his return flight from a five-day tour of South Korea, Francis said he was ready to go to China — “For sure! Tomorrow!” — after receiving a positive response to two goodwill telegrams he sent to President Xi Jinping as the pope flew over Chinese airspace.

“We respect the Chinese people,” Francis told journalists on the return flight Monday (Aug. 18). “The church only asks for liberty for its task, for its work.”

That is still a huge challenge, as the Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with China since 1951. The Catholic Church in China is divided between an “official” church known as the Catholic Patriotic Association, answerable to the Communist Party, and an underground church that swears allegiance to Rome.

The state-run Catholic Patriotic Association was quick to respond to the pope’s overtures for greater dialogue, albeit with a warning.

“China will always safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and it never allows foreign forces to interfere with religion. The Vatican should respect China in terms of the personnel of a diocese,” Liu Yuanlong, vice president of the association, told the state-run Global Times in a report also published in English.

 

Continue Reading

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Religion and the Zeitgeist

 

 

I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its conscience to neither kings or priests, the genuine doctrine of only one God is reviving, and I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.

Thomas Jefferson, 1822

For a very, very long time individuals have been proposing that if churches wish to survive in future they must “modernize”, which usually comes down to agreeing with the person giving the advice.  The hilarious fact is that churches that accept such advice normally rapidly lose members and become pale shadows, at best, of what they once were.  Alexander Griswold gives, at The Federalist, examples of what has happened to churches that have modified their doctrine in regard to homosexuality:

But a number of Christian denominations have already taken significant steps towards liberalizing their stances on homosexuality and marriage, and the evidence so far seems to indicate that affirming homosexuality is hardly a cure for membership woes. On the contrary, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

The Episcopal Church

In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay, noncelibate man to be consecrated as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. In the wake of his consecration, entire dioceses severed ties with the Episcopal Church, eventually creating the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). But the Episcopal Church continued to liberalize its sexual teachings, lifting a moratorium on any more gay bishops in 2006 and creating a “blessing ceremony” for gay couples in 2009.

In 2002, the number of baptized U.S. members of the Episcopal Church stood at 2.32 million. By 2012, that number had fallen to 1.89 million, a decline of 18.4 percent. Meanwhile, attendance has fallen even more steeply. Average Sunday attendance in its U.S. churches was 846,000 in 2002, but had fallen 24.4 percent by 2012 to only 640,000. Other signs of congregational liveliness have fallen even further. Baptisms have fallen by 39.6 percent, and marriages have fallen by 44.9 percent.

As for the ACNA? It’s seen its membership rise by 13 percent and its Sunday attendance rise by 16 percent in the past five years. Since 2009, the ACNA has planted 488 new congregations. In 2012, the entire Episcopal Church managed to plant four new churches.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) was formed in 1987, when three Lutheran denominations merged to create the largest Lutheran church in America. For most of its history, gay men and women were permitted to be pastors, so long as they remained celibate. But in a narrow vote at its 2009 Churchwide Assembly, ordination was extended to gay men and women in “committed monogamous relationships.” In addition, the Assembly passed an amendment allowing churches “to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

From ELCA’s formation in 1987 to 2009, the average decrease in membership each year was only 0.62 percent. But after the liberalization of the ELCA’s stance on sexuality, membership declined a whopping 5.95 percent in 2010 and 4.98 percent in 2011. Since 2009, more than 600 congregations abandoned the denomination, with almost two-thirds joining conservative Lutheran denominations like the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Churches in Ministry for Christ.

By the end of 2012, ELCA had lost 12.3 percent of its members in three years—nearly 600,000 people. If the present rate of defections holds steady, ELCA will cease to exist in less than two decades.

The United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ (UCC) has long had a reputation for unfettered liberalism, sometimes bordering on the radical. In 2008, for example, the pastor of the largest UCC congregations in the country was one Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The UCC’s tendency for pushing traditional boundaries has led to unquestionably positive developments (such as the first African-American pastor as early as 1785) and the unquestionably silly (such as the first hymnal that refuses to call Jesus male). Needless to say, in 2005 UCC became the first U.S. mainline Protestant denomination to support same-sex marriage, and has been an outspoken voice in the gay marriage debate ever since.

While UCC has been bleeding members for decades, its decline rapidly accelerated after the gay marriage vote. Since 2005, UCC has lost 250,000 members, a decline of 20.4 percent over seven years. While an average of 39 congregations left UCC annually from 1990 to 2004, more than 350 congregations departed in the following three years. The UCC’s own pension board called the 2000’s decline “the worst decade among 25 reporting Protestant denominations,” and admitted that “…the rate of decline is accelerating.”

2013 marked a particularly grim milestone for the denomination, as membership finally fell below one million. If the post-2005 rate in membership losses doesn’t taper out, the denomination will cease to exist in 30 years.

 

Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Condolence and Love

 

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The habit of Pope Francis in calling people out of the blue has sometimes produced controversial results, but he made one call last week that all Catholics can support:

Moved by the grisly images of James Foley’s murder, Pope Francis expressed his condolences to the slain journalist’s parents in a heartfelt phone call.

John and Diane Foley received the call from the pontiff at about 3 p.m. Thursday, a family friend said.

“He was very compassionate, very loving,” said the friend, Father Marc Montminy, of St. Michael’s Church in Exeter, N.H.

Montminy added that Pope Francis spoke to the Foleys through a translator for about 20 minutes, offering comfort to the staunchly Catholic couple. Continue Reading

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August 25, 1864: Second Battle of Ream’s Station

Second Battle of Reams Station

 

The massive casualties taken by the Army of the Potomac since the beginning of Grant’s drive on Richmond had destroyed the combat effectiveness of many units in the Army, with large numbers of veteran troops either killed or in hospital to recover from wounds and the ranks filled up with hastitly trained recruits.  This decrease in combat capability was dramatically demonstrated at the Second Battle of Reams Station.  On August 24, Grant sent Hancock and his II corps south along the Weldon railroad to destroy as much of the rail line currently in Confederate hands as he could, to increase the difficulties of the Confederates in transporting supplies from the portion of the Weldon railroad they stilled controlled to Petersburg and Richmond.

All went well initially with Hancock’s corps destroying three miles of track.  However on the afternoon of the 25th a Confederate attack routed the II corps, with Hancock being forced to withdraw to the Union fortified lines.  Union casualties were 2,743 to 814 Confederate.  2073 of the Union casualties were prisoners, many of whom surrendered after only brief resistance.  Hancock’s reaction to all this, no doubt remembering the days when his troops were considered the elite of the Army, was to remark in despair to an aide as he was unable to rally his retreating troops:   “I do not care to die, but I pray God I may never leave this field.” Continue Reading

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August 24, 1814: Burning of Washington

One of the more humiliating events in American history, the burning of Washington was the low point in American fortunes during the War of 1812.

 

After the British landed an army to attack Washington, Captain Johsua Barney, a Catholic and Revolutionary War hero, go here to read about him, and 500 of his sailors and marines, joined the American army seeking to stop the invaders.  At the battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, Barney and his men put up a spirited defense, with cutlasses and bayonets against the advancing British, and throughout it all Barney rallying his men with cries of “Board ‘em!  Board ‘em!” Ultimately the Americans retreated, and Barney, seriously wounded, was captured one last time in his career by the British.  After being paroled by his captors, he spent the rest of the War recuperating at his farm in Maryland.  The heroic stand of Barney and his men had given enough time for Washington to be evacuated, and after the war the grateful citizens of Washington presented a sword to the old sailor for the land fight which ended his naval career. Continue Reading

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Tips to ISIS on Chicago

chicago-isis-tweet

Chicago ain’t no sissy town!

Alderman Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna

Got to love the modern age.  An Isis terrorist purportedly tweeted the above image which shows the Old Republic building in Chicago:

 

WGNtv.com reports the message on the paper as, “Soldiers of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria will pass from here soon.” The message is dated “20 June, 2014.”

The text of the tweet adds: “We are in your state, We are in your cities, We are in your streets.” Other tweets say, “we are here #america near our #target…sooooooooooooon.”

Go here to read the rest.  As someone who has some experience with the Windy City, I would like to give the ISIS terrorists some tips:

 

1.  Keep your beheading axes firmly under wraps.  If not, they will be quickly taken by the skilled thieves of Chicago and fenced within two hours flat.

2.  If you set up an operational base in a commercial section, it will be only a matter of hours before some official will be around talking about safety inspections.  Slip him at least 200 or I guarantee something will be found wrong and your base will be shut down.

3.  If you do park a vehicle on the street some sketchy individual will come up and offer to watch your vehicle.  If you do not pay him you might come back and find your car vandalized.  If it is a high end vehicle you might come back and find your car gone. Continue Reading

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American History and Political Correctness

“the difference between the old and the new education being) in a word, the old was a kind of propagation – men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.”

CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man

My son and my daughter when they were in high school both took advanced placement American history, earning A’s.  (Yeah, they heard quite a lot about American history from me as they were growing up!  “Dad, I only asked for three dollars!  What does Washington’s strategy during the Yorktown campaign have to do with it?”)  They enjoyed the classes and thought they were worthwhile.  I am glad they took the courses prior to the new framework for teaching the courses was initiated.  Larry Krieger is a retired American history teacher.  He specialized in teaching advanced placement American history, and was recognized in 2004 and 2005 by the College Board, the company that produces the courses, as the best teacher of advanced placement American history, and he has written several books to help students prepare for the course.  He has been leading the charge against the changes that the College Board is implementing in their American history course:

The Framework’s unbalanced and biased coverage of the Colonial era represents a radical departure from its existing topical outline and from state and local curriculum guides. While students will learn a great deal about the Beaver Wars, the Chickasaw Wars, the Pueblo Revolt, and King Philip’s War, they will learn little or nothing about the rise of religious toleration, the development of democratic institutions, and the emergence of a society that included a rich mix of ethnic groups and the absence of a hereditary aristocracy. The Framework blatantly ignores such pivotal historic figures as Roger Williams and Benjamin Franklin and such key developments as the emergence of New England town meetings and the Virginia House of Burgesses as cradles of democracy.

The absence of coverage on the development of religious toleration is a particularly egregious flaw. Freedom of religion is one of America’s greatest contributions to world civilization. Yet, inexplicably the Framework omits the Pilgrims, mentions the Quakers once, and fails to discuss the importance of religious dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams and the consequences of the First Great Awakening.

Thomas Jefferson described New England town meetings as “the best school of political liberty the world ever saw.” Jefferson was right. We encourage parents, teachers, and students to attend local meetings and ask school and political officials if the new College Board AP U.S. History Framework is aligned with their locally mandated courses of study. If it is not, then the public has a right and a responsibility to demand that the College Board rescind the new Framework and adopt a more appropriate course of study.

 

UNIT 3: 1754 – 1800

At the present time, a five-page outline provides AP U.S. History teachers with a clear chronological list of topics that they should cover in their courses. This traditional outline conforms to the sequence of topics approved by state and local boards of education. In contrast, the new redesigned Framework provides a detailed 98-page document that defines, discusses, and interprets “the required knowledge of each period.” The College Board has thus unilaterally assumed the authority to replace local and state guidelines with its own biased curriculum guide. These biases can be clearly seen in how the Framework emphasizes, deemphasizes, and omits selected topics in the period from 1754 to 1800.

The Framework begins this critical period of American history with a full page devoted to how “various American Indian groups repeatedly evaluated and adjusted their alliances, with Europeans, other tribes, and the new United States government” (page 32). The Framework then generously grants teachers the flexibility to discuss Pontiac’s Rebellion and Chief Little Turtle (page 32).

While the Framework emphasizes “new white-Indian conflicts along the western borders (page 36) and “the seizure of Indian lands” (page 37), it all but ignores George Washington’s life and indispensible contributions to American history. Although Washington was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” he merits only one random Framework reference: “Although George Washington’s Farewell Address warned about the dangers of divisive political parties and permanent foreign alliances, European conflict and tensions with Britain and France fueled increasingly bitter partisan debates throughout the 1790s” (page 34).To put this glaring omission into perspective, imagine how South Africans would respond if an unelected agency issued a history of their country that contained just one reference to Nelson Mandela.

The Framework’s decision to all but omit George Washington extends to his command of the Continental Army. Most state and local curriculum guides require teachers to discuss the significance of Valley Forge and the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. Instead, the College Board Framework completely ignores all Revolutionary War battles and commanders. Veterans and their families will by dismayed to discover that this is not an oversight. In fact, the College Board ignores military history from the Revolutionary War to the present day.  Students will thus not learn about the valor and sacrifices of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of the Potomac, the Rough Riders, the doughboys, the GI’s, and the servicemen and women who fought in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

The Framework’s superficial coverage of the Revolutionary War is typical of this poorly organized unit. For example, the Framework devotes just one sentence to the Declaration of Independence (page 34). John Adams later wrote that “the Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.” While the College Board Framework invites teachers to discuss “the architecture of Spanish missions” (page 34), it does not invite teachers to fully explore the republican ideals that motivated America’s founders. Confused students may wonder what cause motivated the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the soldiers at Valley Forge, and the framers at Independence Hall to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, and their “sacred honor.” For example, Richard Morris risked his life and sacrificed his fortune to promote the cause of freedom. Continue Reading

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Quotes Suitable For Framing: Martin Luther

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Hattip to Holly Scheer at The Federalist.

 

 

When men write about war, then, and say that it is a great plague, that is all true; but they should also see how great the plague is that it prevents. If people were good, and glad to keep peace, war would be the greatest plague on earth; but what are you going to do with the fact that people will not keep peace, but rob, steal, kill, outrage women and children, and take away property and honor?”

 

Well, even that great heresiarch Martin Luther couldn’t get everything wrong.  Of course in regard to war, like much else, he merely lifted just war concepts from Catholicism for his new religion.  His quote is interesting however, because it does underline a problem with how many elites in the West, including elites in the Catholic Church, look at war.  War is viewed by these elites as something to be avoided at all cost.  Lip service is sometimes paid to confronting aggression, but endless excuses are brought up to avoid doing so at all, or doing so effectively.

 

Why this is the case is usually because it is thought that we can pick and choose our wars and we should always choose to avoid wars.  Most Western nations since World War II, if they have fought a war at all, have fought it far away from their shores.  The illusion has grown up in the minds of many Western elites that wars can simply be walked away from without consequences.  Of course, this is a self-serving falsehood.  After Congress, for example, cut off funding for the US military in South Vietnam in 1973, it was the South Vietnamese people who endured Communist rule, with a million of them being tossed into re-education camps, hundreds of thousands summarily executed, and a million boat people risking their lives on the high seas to escape.  Refusing to fight is rarely a cost free exercise, it merely means, for contemporary Westerners, that some people we do not know over seas will pay the price.  Acting in this manner is usually dressed up in glowing terms of being anti-war, pacifist and non-violent.  Perhaps this is a true description for the motivation of some, but I think for most it is simply a deeply cynical assessment that it is not my neck on the line or the necks of anyone that I love. Continue Reading

2

PopeWatch: The Good Korea is the One With Lights at Night

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

Seoul, Good Korea–The pope read a 10-minute speech in English at the Presidential office in Seoul, noting that the name “South Korea” was not distinct enough from “the other one” so as to help westerners remember which of the two is the bad one. Although he did not directly mention North Korea, the references were clear, with his speech following an address by South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who dedicated most of her message slamming the bad Korea.

“Catholics in bad Korea had been stripped of their assets, religious leaders kidnapped and murdered,” she said at the welcome ceremonial speech. “We here in the good Korea are trying best to follow the road of peace, instead of war and nuclear weapons,” she stressed. “That is why we are known as the good ones.”

Pope Francis followed her remarks by adding, “Yes, that would be good. Nuclear weapons are bad. But think about it… what if you just changed your name? It would really help us out. The whole flight here I was thinking that we were going to the bad Korea, and I was going to have to meet that guy with the odd face and weird haircut. What’s his name? Ah, yes…Dennis Rodman.”

“Another thing,” Francis continued. “It’s like, when I was watching LOST, I really liked Jin and Sun, but I did not know which of the Koreas they were from, so I did not know whether to trust them. Later on I realized that even if they were from the bad one, they could still be good, right? But I digress…it just would have been easier if they were from somewhere other than Korea. Any Asian country would have worked, actually. Last thing, maybe if you change your name, the LOST people could possibly remake the entire show with the new name and people who watch the show in the future will not have to try to figure out whether Jin and Sun are from the good or bad Korea and just focus their energy on what the smoke monster is and other things like that.”

At press time, Pope Francis has learned that the creator of Gangnam Style is from the “good Korea,” thereby making both Koreas “the bad one”. Continue Reading

August 23, 1864: Secret Cabinet Memo

Something for the weekend.  We are Coming Father Abraham, written by Stephen Foster in 1862.  Few songs better conveyed Northern determination to win the War.  However, by August 1864 that determination seemed to be wearing thin.

 

With the War stalled both East and West Union morale was faltering.  On August 22, 1864 Lincoln received a letter from Republican party chairman Henry J. Raymond suggesting that Lincoln offer peace terms to Jefferson Davis on the sole term of acknowledgement of the supremacy of the Constitution with slavery to be dealt with at a later date.   Lincoln’s morale remained unshaken, but he was a veteran politician and could read the political tea leaves as well as any political prognosticator.  That he read defeat in the tea leaves is demonstrated by what has become known as The Blind Memorandum.  Lincoln sealed this document and on August w3, 1864 asked his cabinet officers to sign it unread.  They complied.  Here is the text:

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.

A. Lincoln Continue Reading

9

PopeWatch: Ice Bucket Challenge

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Well, PopeWatch believes that the Ice Bucket challenge, to raise funds to fight ALS, phenomenon has indeed gone viral when he witnessed it occurring across the street from his office yesterday.  Now someone wants the Pope to get into the act.

 

Puerto Rico resident Juan Sepulveda Laracuente suffers from Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as ALS) and lacks mobility. The neuromuscular disease has paralyzed his vocal chords, and he’s connected to machines that keep him alive.

So with the help of a speech synthesizer he tells the audience on YouTube: “Tengo la terrible enfermedad de ALS, o mal de Lou Gehrig. Soy de Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, y reto al Papa Francisco al ice-bucket challenge.”

It translates in English to: “I suffer from the terrible disease ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I’m from Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, and I dare Pope Francis to take the ice-bucket challenge.”

Then you see his aid pull away his voice synthesizer and pour a small bucket of water on him, eliciting a grimace from his face as the cold water pours over him. The shock of the cold was enough stimuli to elicit the expression of a gasp on Juan Spulveda Laracuente‘s face. This brave man has already taken the challenge to the next level even if the Pope doesn’t participate. Continue Reading

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August 22, 1864: Lincoln Addresses the 166th Ohio

 

Lincoln, six feet one in his stocking feet,

The lank man, knotty and tough as a hickory rail,

Whose hands were always too big for white-kid gloves,

Whose wit was a coonskin sack of dry, tall tales,

Whose weathered face was homely as a plowed field–

Abraham Lincoln, who padded up and down

The sacred White House in nightshirt and carpet-slippers,

And yet could strike young hero-worshipping Hay

As dignified past any neat, balanced, fine

Plutarchan sentences carved in a Latin bronze;

The low clown out of the prairies, the ape-buffoon,

The small-town lawyer, the crude small-time politician,

State-character but comparative failure at forty

In spite of ambition enough for twenty Caesars,

Honesty rare as a man without self-pity,

Kindness as large and plain as a prairie wind,

And a self-confidence like an iron bar:

This Lincoln, President now by the grace of luck,

Disunion, politics, Douglas and a few speeches

Which make the monumental booming of Webster

Sound empty as the belly of a burst drum.

Stephen Vincent Benet

(I originally posted this on February 9, 2012.  The comments it contains regarding my late son Larry reminds me that in this Vale of Tears we can never know the ending of our personal history, but we can do our best to make it a tale worth reading when we come to our end, something that I think both Mr. Lincoln and my son accomplished on vastly different scales.)

Today is the 203rd birthday of the Sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.  The above video is an interesting and imaginative interview of Lincoln, if the film technology of the Thirties of the last century had been available in 1860.

Lately I have been reading a book on Lincoln with my autistic son.  I point at the words and he reads them, an early morning ritual we have carried out for the last 14 years.  Young Lincoln’s struggles against the poverty of his early years, and his lack of more than one year in total of formal education, strikes a chord with me in regard to my son’s struggles against his autism.  One of the many reasons why I find Mr. Lincoln’s life endlessly fascinating is the theme throughout it of the most extraordinary possibilities in all of us, no matter the cards that Fate dealt to us initially. more

11

I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)

There is an unspoken commonality between the two big domestic news items of the past week. The first, of course, involves the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. The second is the (farcical) indictment of Governor Rick Perry. The former has sparked outrage and continued discussions over items ranging from racism to police brutality. There has been a much needed discussion of whether the police have become more confrontational, and whether they have become overly militarized. Though the wizards of smart at such venerable institutions as Vox may not realize it, this has actually been an ongoing conversation for some time in conservative and libertarian circles. Even some on the right have attacked armies of strawmen in claiming that conservatives in general are reflexively defensive of the police. While we certainly are less quick to call for prosecutions before all the evidence is in (unlike certain governors), that doesn’t mean we automatically awesome that the police are in the right whenever a civilian is shot and killed.

As for the Perry indictment – well, when even the editorial pages of the New York Times and Austin American Statesmen, as well as lefty pundits like Jonathan Chait, acknowledge (through gritted teeth) there is no there there, you might just have yourselves a completely partisan and unmerited prosecution. But the conversation surrounding the Perry indictment has centered around its frivolousness and the potential impact on Perry’s political future. What it has not sparked is a similar conversation about prosecutorial misbehavior that we are hearing regarding police misbehavior. And that is a mistake.

Before continuing, I want to make clear that the two cases are not of the same gravity. Michael Brown is dead, whereas at worst Rick Perry’s possible presidential ambitions have been hampered (though there is a possibility that in fact this has been incredibly beneficial to his presidential aspirations). In the grand scheme of things, I would gladly take wrongful prosecution over being shot and killed by a police officer. Yet, when we talk more generally about law enforcement and criminal prosecution, we should be just as concerned about bad DAs as we are about rotten police officers.

The Perry case has drawn notice, but it’s certainly not the first case of a political prosecution. Indeed, it’s not even the first case of a purely partisan, political prosecution of a Republican coming from a Travis County District Attorney (see Delay, Tom). In Alaska, prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated the late Ted Stevens. Now these are political prosecutions, so it might be somewhat more difficult to empathize with the wrongfully prosecuted. But there have been other noteworthy examples of prosecutors either disregarding evidence, or simply engaging in prosecutions due to political pressure, or to advance their own careers. The most notorious example in recent years is perhaps Michael Nifong, the Durham county DA who pressed forward with rape charge against Duke lacrosse players even after it became manifestly obvious that no crime had been committed. This past year we witnessed the George Zimmerman trial, an event which occurred it seems largely because the DA was fearful of the political fallout (and I acknowledge that I might be somewhat generous about her motivations) if there was no prosecution. Even the Michael Brown shooting could become a political prosecution if it is felt that the police officer has to be tried merely to appease the mob.*

*Again, let me emphasize that I am not saying that a trial would merely be a political witch-hunt. We do not have all the evidence in, and it is quite possible that Darren Wilson ought to be indicted once all the evidence is in. I am merely saying here that there is a potential for an unjustified prosecution based solely on political pressure.

These are but the most notorious examples that come to mind, but undoubtedly there are others that are just heinous, if not worse. The point is that some prosecutors – much like some police officers – are motivated by less than honest intentions, and their behavior can be just as destructive to a person’s life. Now, I’m not saying that every incorrect prosecution is a wrongful prosecution. Prosecuting attorneys are mortal and can honestly but incorrectly come to the conclusion that the suspect is guilty. We can only hope in those cases that the jury can realize the error. Prosecutors should not be maligned for honest errors in judgment. But what is dangerous and what does tear at the social fabric is a DA who marches on in spite of contradictory evidence, who intentionally stifles exculpatory evidence, and who refuses to relent all because they just so desperately need a conviction, and any conviction will do.

We don’t fear District Attorneys as we do police officers because District Attorneys don’t carry guns (as part of their jobs), and so they aren’t going to wrongfully kill anyone. But we need to demand the same level of integrity from them as we do the police precisely because they are guardians of law and order. When they use their office as a political weapon, they are making a mockery of the rule of law.

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Removing the Bible and prayer from public schools has caused student behavior to decline?

 

It’s an eye-popping headline: “Education Expert: Removing Bible, Prayer from Public Schools Has Caused Decline” (italics added).

An education “expert” has evidence that the decades’ long decline in public education has been caused by removing the Bible and prayer? If true, that’s something of which everyone should take note!

Some background:

Recently, a professor at California State College in Long Beach and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ, William Jeynes, suggested to an audience at the Heritage Foundation the existence of a correlation between the decline of U.S. public schooling and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1962 and 1963 decisions that ruled school-sponsored Bible reading.

According to a CNSNews.com article, Professor Jeynes said:

One can argue, and some have, that the decision by the Supreme Court—in a series of three decisions back in 1962 and 1963—to remove Bible and prayer from our public schools, may be the most spiritually significant event in our nation’s history over the course of the last 55 years.

Okay. That’s a fair enough assessment. But, what objective evidence supports the assertion? That so-called “correlation.”

Citing data from the federal government (Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services and the U.S. Census Bureau) as well as research conducted by the advocacy groups Bibleasliterature.org, the Bible Literacy Project, the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, and California educator Nader Twal, Jeynes identified five negative outcomes since 1963 that have evidenced themselves in public schools across the nation:

  • academic achievement has plummeted, including SAT scores;
  • increased rate of out-of-wedlock births;
  • increased illegal drug use;
  • increased juvenile crime; and,
  • deterioration of student conduct.

Yes, those negative outcomes have evidenced themselves in government schools, no doubt about it.

But, that’s a pretty slippery statistical slope onto which Jeynes is venturing, unless he’s merely stating his personal opinion and citing alleged “research” to support his opinion. Why? There’s absolutely zero “proof”—no scientifically demonstrated causal relationship—that those negative outcomes are related to the removal of the Bible and/or prayer from government schools. They may be, but that’s different than demonstrating that they are. After all, aren’t most of those negative outcomes also associated with nongovernment schools—where Bible study and prayer have been present all of those decades—though perhaps not in the same magnitude?

Jeynes continued:

Now the question is, given that there is a movement to put the Bible as literature back in the public schools and a moment of silence and so forth, can we recapture the moral fiber—the foundation that used to exist among many of our youth?

To that end, Jeynes cited the movement to reinstate the Bible as literature in government schools, with 440 school districts in 43 states currently teaching this type of course. In addition, 10 states have passed a law or resolution to bring the Bible as literature in the public schools statewide.

Forget that slippery statistical slope. Jeynes’ proposed solution has absolutely no foundation in careful research nor the careful analysis of objective data. Reintroducing either the Bible and/or prayer into government schools may be a very good idea, but Jeynes fails to establish any scientific correlation or causation to support what in reality is only a hope. Yes, having hope may be better than doing nothing. But that’s not good social science research.

Moreover, much of the alleged “research” Jeynes cites to support his conclusion is not careful research and analysis of objective data. They are policy proposals based upon religious ideology. Once again, as good as that ideology may be, it must be subjected to rigorous research and analysis of objective data to determine its veracity.

Religious conservatives do themselves a grave disservice when they suggest that correlations “prove” causation.  The former indicate some type of relationship (positive or negative) while the latter demonstrate a hypothesis (“if…then”) given a pre-determined level of probability of error for analyzing objective data.

Implying causation may play well with the ignorant (that is, those who do not know better for a variety of reasons), but it doesn’t with liberals who know better and will use such “research” to make conservatives look stupid (that is, those who should have known better). It also besmirches the stellar reputation of conservative organizations, like the Heritage Foundation.

In the end, the kind of homily Jeynes offered his audience is better preached in a church than peddled as social science at the Heritage Foundation. Want the Bible and prayer returned to government schools? Organizing like-minded folks to mount a grassroots political effort doesn’t require “research.” It requires political will.

 

 

To read the CNSNews.com article, click on the following link:
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/education-expert-removing-bible-prayer-public-schools-has-caused-decline

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

2

The Known Unknown

Michael Blassie

“At a moment of great crises in the history of the world, he gave of himself,”

Archbishop Justin Rigali at funeral mass for Michael Blassie

Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie’s life came to an end at age twenty-four on May 11, 1972 when the A-37B Dragonfly that he was flying in support of South Vietnamese troops in An Loc was shot down.  His body could not be recovered because the North Vietnamese had control of the area where his plane was shot down.  The Saint Louis native, a 1970 graduate of the Air Force academy, had a short military career but an illustrious one:  earning a Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and an Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.  Thanks to the air support he and his colleagues gave, the North Vietnamese did not take An Loc.

Five months later partial skeletal remains were recovered from the crash site.  Initially identified as being Blassie’s, the remains were later reclassified as being unknown when it was erroneously determined that the height and age of the remains did not match with Blassie. Continue Reading

33

Hitler: Born Before His Time

 Three Laws of Transhumanism:

1) A transhumanist must safeguard one’s own existence above all else.

2) A transhumanist must strive to achieve omnipotence as expediently as possible—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First Law.

3) A transhumanist must safeguard value in the universe—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First and Second Laws.

Zoltan Istvan

Truly, this earth is a trophy cup for the industrious man. And this rightly so, in the service of natural selection. He who does not possess the force to secure his Lebensraum in this world, and, if necessary, to enlarge it, does not deserve to possess the necessities of life. He must step aside and allow stronger peoples to pass him by.

Adolph Hitler, December 18, 1940

 

 

Surveying our contemporary world, it is easy to reach the assumption that Adolph Hitler was simply born a century too early.  Many of the ideas he embraced have become completely mainstream, especially in Europe.  His view of eugenics for example, which he summarized in his look at Sparta in the book he wrote after Mein Kampf and which remained unpublished during his life:

Sparta must be regarded as the first Völkisch State. The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short, their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject, and indeed at any price, and yet takes the life of a hundred thousand healthy children in consequence of birth control or through abortions, in order subsequently to breed a race of degenerates burdened with illnesses.

After becoming dictator of Germany, Hitler implemented his beliefs in his T4 program which killed the mentally ill and all others who, through mental or physical defect, failed to measure up to Hitler’s master race dreams.  “Life unworthy of life”, the German phrase is “Lebensunwertes Leben”, was the verbiage that substituted for the simple term, murder, which accurately described the brutal reality.  Realizing that this policy would be controversial, Hitler did it as much in secret as possible, although critics, especially Bishop Von Galen, the aptly nicknamed Lion of Munster, did speak out.  Go here to read Von Galen’s take down of this murder of the innocents.

Now, Hitler’s policy is being given a trendy new repackaging in the erst-while Libertarian UK branch of Wired magazine, by “transhumanist”, and atheist, writer Zoltan Istvan:

 

 

The philosophical conundrum of controlling human procreation rests mostly on whether all human beings are actually responsible enough to be good parents and can provide properly for their offspring. Clearly, untold numbers of children — for example, those millions that are slaves in the illegal human trafficking industry — are born to unfit parents.

In an attempt to solve this problem and give hundreds of millions of future kids a better life, I cautiously endorse the idea of licensing parents, a process that would be little different than getting a driver’s licence. Parents who pass a series of basic tests qualify and get the green light to get pregnant and raise children. Those applicants who are deemed unworthy — perhaps because they are homeless, or have drug problems, or are violent criminals, or have no resources to raise a child properly and keep it from going hungry — would not be allowed until they could demonstrate they were suitable parents. Continue Reading

8

PopeWatch: Memento Mori

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Pope Francis reminds us that the Grim Reaper is not subject to papal authority.

 

“Some theologians may say this is not right, but I think this way,” he said in a lighthearted exchange with reporters returning to Rome from a trip to South Korea. “Let us think about what [Benedict XVI] said, ‘I have got old, I do not have the strength.’ It was a beautiful gesture of nobility, of humility and courage.”

He added: “But you could say to me, if you at some time felt you could not go forward, I would do the same.” Asked about his immense popularity, the 77-year-old joked that he would probably die soon so should not get too proud: “I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then to the house of the Father.” Pope Francis also said he had some nerve problems that he treated with a South American tea-like drink called Mate, and that he had not taken a vacation away from home since 1975. Continue Reading

9

Why We Fight

0820-55113ec8d30c

Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated.

Theodore Roosevelt

May the soul of journalist James Foley, a Catholic, beheaded by the terrorists of ISIS, rest in peace.  May he now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.  May those responsible for his foul murder receive justice to the full for this deed in this world and the next.

12

Nutcase Comment of the Month

Tin Foil Hats

 

One of the services your humble servant performs for readers of this blog is to send to the trash the insane comments which we receive before you have to be exposed to them.  However, for your amusement I will now reveal a comment we received under the Only Dead Christians post:

Of course, Israel and the U.S. are behind ISIS (which is not an Islamic group, but a satanist one hiding behind Islam to try to destroy it), and so they, the Anglo/American/Zionist Empire, and not Muslims, are behind the killing of Christians.

Once you realize that not one Muslim had anything to do with 911, rather, it was a CIA/Mossad operation, it all starts to make sense. The purpose is to demonize Islam, so Christians will go to war with Islam instead of its real enemy, Zionism. Continue Reading

18

Only Dead Christians

anti-Christian Internet Poster

 

 

Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, in an op ed in The New York Times wonders why there is silence over the slaughter of Christians by jihadists around the globe:

 

 

WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.

The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.

Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas? Continue Reading

1

PopeWatch: Prayers

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

It is sometimes easy for Catholics to forget that their popes have their own personal tragedies to endure, just as we all do:

Pope Francis was deeply grieved, the Vatican’s official broadcasting service said on Tuesday, after the deaths of three relatives killed when their car slammed into the back of a truck on a highway in central Argentina.

A nephew of the pope, Emanuel Bergoglio, who was driving the car was in serious condition following the accident just after midnight on Monday. The nephew’s wife, 35, and two children aged 2 years and 8 months died.

“The pope has been informed and is deeply grieved by the tragic news. He asks all those who share his pain to join with him in prayer,” said a statement on the website of Radio Vaticana. Continue Reading

1

August 19, 1944: Liberation of Paris

The City of Lights liberation by the Allies began seventy years ago today.  It started, fittingly enough, with uprisings of Free French resistance forces throughout the city, launching attacks on the German garrison.  Some 800 Free French fighters would die in these attacks.  The Free French quickly held most of the city, while lacking the firepower to attack German strongpoints.  The entry into Paris of the 2nd Free French armored division on August 24, along with the 4th US infantry division, caused the capitulation of the German garrison on August 25, and Paris went mad with joy.

General Charles de Gaulle, normally a rather cold and distant man, gave a speech in liberated Paris on August 25, 1944 that gave full voice to this rapture: Continue Reading

15

Isis Waning

 

 

As predicted here, it is up fast and down fast for the ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, terrorists.  Strategy Page continues to provide the best coverage of events in Iraq on the net:

August 19, 2014: Kurdish troops have forced ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) fighters out of the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River. ISIL seized control of the dam on August 3 rd. This is the largest dam in Iraq and because of shoddy construction during the 1980s requires constant maintenance to prevent it from failing. If the dam did come down over half a million Iraqis could die from the flood and subsequent water shortages. The Kurds had been defending the dam since the Iraqi Army ran away in early June. ISIL also seized two nearby Kurdish held towns as they went after the dam.

This ISIL advance was not unexpected because the Kurds stretched themselves thin by trying to replace the Iraqi Army while also building and defending a new fortified border to incorporate Kirkuk and nearby oilfields. The Kurds asked for air support from the United States but did not start receiving it until the 8th. The Americans had already shipped in ammo and light weapons and some additional American trainers and advisors.

ISIL hit the Kurds with multiple columns of vehicles carrying armed men. This force included some suicide bombers and there were more ISIL gunmen coming from more directions than the small Kurdish force could handle. After a day or so of holding off ISIL the Kurds were ordered to withdraw and they did that in an orderly fashion on the 3rd. The Kurds organized a counterattack force and moved to regain the lost territory once the U.S. agreed to resume air support. There are still some ISIL gunmen in the vicinity of the dam, as well as some mines and booby-traps the Islamic terrorists set before they left. Kurdish forces are taking care of this.

In the Euphrates River Valley, near the town of Haditha, local Sunni tribes have rebelled against ISIL to maintain control of another major dam. This is a major setback for ISIL, which expected the Sunni tribes to support them and take care of local security. It’s an old story being replayed. The local tribesmen are not happy with ISIL efforts to force a strict Islamic lifestyle on them. Iraqi and Syria Sunnis have come to prefer educating their daughters and enjoying TV and videos. There is even more tolerance for buying alcoholic beverages from local Christians who have long been allowed to sell this stuff because their religion does not forbid it (and their worship services actually use wine). Also unpopular is the ISIL attitude that anything they do is above reproach. The Sunni tribes that ISIL expected to be allies and take care of administering the newly conquered territories have increasingly refused to go along. While the Sunni tribes like the measure of law and order ISIL has imposed they are not willing to accept all the other features of ISIL rule. The secular Sunnis (mainly the surviving Baath Party organizations) initially believed they could work with ISIL but have since turned against the strict forms of Islam ISIL insists on. Meanwhile ISIL has antagonized many Islamic conservative groups by destroying shrines and even mosques ISIL considers heretical despite the fact that most Sunni Arabs tolerate these places because they are very popular, and bring in a significant amount of tourist business from foreigners and religious pilgrims. Continue Reading

3

The Dawkins Scam

Dawkins

 

 

Andrew Brown at The Spectator has some interesting comments about the money making potential of being Richard Dawkins:

 

But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’

The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.

At this point it is obvious to everyone except the participants that what we have here is a religion without the good bits. Continue Reading

7

PopeWatch: Unjust Aggression

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

Pope Francis was asked yesterday if he approved of the US airstrikes against the ISIS terrorists in Iraq:

 

In these cases where there is unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop’; I don’t say bomb, make war — stop him. The means by which he may be stopped should be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit, but we nevertheless need to remember how many times, using this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor, the powerful nations have dominated other peoples, made a real war of conquest. A single nation cannot judge how to stop this, how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War, there arose the idea of the United Nations. That is where we should discuss: ‘Is there an unjust aggressor? It seems there is. How do we stop him?’ But only that, nothing more.” Continue Reading

9

Alibis

 

Robert Penn Warren

 

History is not melodrama, even if it usually reads like that. It was real blood, not tomato catsup or the pale ectoplasm of statistics, that wet the ground at Bloody Angle and darkened the waters of Bloody Pond. It modifies our complacency to look at the blurred and harrowing old photographs — the body of the dead sharpshooter in the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg or the tangled mass in the Bloody Lane at Antietam.

Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels for the Church so frequently that I have called him Defender of the Faith, has a very interesting post today which combines my two passions of the Civil War and the Catholic Church:

In 1961, at the start of the United States Civil War Centennial observances, LIFE magazine asked Robert Penn Warren for an essay about the effects of that war on subsequent US history.  That essay eventually became a small book entitled The Legacy of the Civil War which is still in print and is well worth your time.

It’s slightly more than one hundred pages and if you’re not as glacially slow a reader as the Editor is, you can probably polish it off in an hour or less.  Warren, a Kentuckian, is equally harsh with both sides, as he should be.  But the curse which was laid upon the South as a result of that war was something that Warren labels the Great Alibi.  I’m transcribing directly from the book so any errors are mine:

By the Great Alibi, the South explains, condones and transmutes everything.  By a simple reference to the “War,” any Southern female could not too long ago, put on the glass slipper and be whisked away to the ball.  Any goose could dream herself (or himself) a swan– surrounded, of course, by a good many geese for contrast and devoted hand-service.  Even now, any common lyncher becomes a defender of the Southern tradition, and any rabble-rouser the gallant leader of a thin gray line of heroes, his hat on saber-point to provide reference by which to hold formation in the charge.  By the Great Alibi, pellagra, hookworm and illiteracy are all explained, or explained away, and mortgages are converted into badges of distinction.  Laziness becomes the aesthetic sense, blood-lust rising from a matrix of boredom and resentful misery becomes a high sense of honor, and ignorance becomes divine revelation.  By the Great Alibi, the Southerner makes his Big Medicine.  He turns defeat into victory, defects into virtues.  Even more pathetically, he turns his great virtues into absurdities–sometimes vicious absurdities.

It occurred to me that one of the most terrible tragedies of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals is that it granted something like Warren’s Great Alibi to the Catholic left, the Christian left and other enemies of the Gospel.

For example.  You’re a Catholic theologian of leftist leanings or a feminist nun.  You have publicly written that not only should Katharine Jefferts Schori be allowed to preach in Catholic parishes, she should also be allowed to concelebrate the Mass.

The Vatican calls you out.  How do you respond?  Easy.  You simply invoke the Great Christian Alibi in the same way as Sister Elizabeth Johnson [No relation – Ed] does here:

A nun who drew U.S. Catholic bishops’ ire with what they consider radical feminist writings fired back Friday (Aug. 15), saying their investigation of women’s orders is wasteful when financial mismanagement and sexual abuses are being covered up.

“When the moral authority of the hierarchy is hemorrhaging due to financial scandals and many bishops who … cover up sexual abuse of children, a cover up that continues in some quarters to this day, and thousands are drifting away from the church … the waste of time on this investigation is unconscionable,” Johnson said.

And debate is officially over.  Who are you, you male member of the church hierarchy, to lecture me about anything at all, considering that the MALE hierarchy of this church covered up the sexual abuse of CHILDREN?

Leaving aside the psychological trauma of the victims, the Great Alibi freely provided to the enemies of both the Catholic Church and the Gospel may actually be the single most damaging thing to emerge from the sexual abuse scandals.

Because how do you answer it? Continue Reading

9

Happy Face Abortion

Happy Abortion

 

 

Janet Harris, writing in The Washington Post, wishes pro-aborts would stop calling abortions a “difficult decision”:

 

 

Contrary to numerous movies and “very special” television episodes portraying abortion as an agonizing, complex decision (“Obvious Child” notwithstanding), for many it is a simple choice and often the only practical option. A 2012 study published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health found that the vast majority of women seeking an abortion — 87 percent — had high confidence in their decisions. This level of conviction contrasts with the notion that millions of women vacillate over whether to have an abortion.

 

The circumstances matter, of course. Planned or wanted pregnancies involving fetal anomalies, or in which the health of the mother is in question, may require heart-wrenching decisions. But these situations are quite rare. A Guttmacher Institute survey of women in the United States seeking abortions found that 3 percent said the main reason was a fetal health problem, and 4 percent cited a problem with their own health. The percentage of women seeking an abortion because they were victims of rape or incest was less than 1.5 percent.

The far more common situation, accounting for 51 percent of all pregnancies among American women, is an unintended pregnancy, either mistimed (31 percent) or unwanted (20 percent). A 2008 study found that 40 percent of unintended pregnancies, excluding miscarriages, ended in abortion. It is in these cases that the portrayal of hand-wringing and soul-searching is more likely to be at odds with the day-to-day reality. Continue Reading

PopeWatch: Silence and Mourning

 

 

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Well chosen silence can be quite eloquent.  Pope Francis gave an example of this during his visit to South Korea:

During the solemn visit, part of his prearranged itinerary to South Korea, the Holy Father and his entourage stopped for a moment and prayed in silence in front of hundreds of small white crosses representing victims of abortion. Accompanying the Pope was Father Lee Gu-won, a representative of pro-life groups in Korea and missionary to people without limbs.

The moment of prayer today came after the Pope visited Kkottongnae (“Village of Flowers”), a Catholic center about 60 miles south of Seoul which seeks to provide care and rehabilitation to the severely disabled, homeless and those afflicted by addictions. The Pope’s visit to the memorial was especially appropriate given the stigma of disability in Korea and that genetic deformities are often used to justify abortions.

The “Cemetery for Aborted Children” is located behind the home and includes a statue of the Holy Family surrounded by a cross representing the unborn. Continue Reading

August 18, 1864: Capture of the Weldon Railroad

Petersburg_Aug18-19

 

 

On August 17, 1864 Grant was heartened when he received a telegram of support from President Lincoln.  Go here to read about it.  Grant remarked to his staff after reading the telegram:   “The President has more nerve than any of his advisors.”

Lincoln had advised Grant:  Hold on with a bull-dog gripe, and chew & choke, as much as possible.  Unbeknownst to the President, Grant already had underway an operation to do just that.  Major General Gouverneur K. Warren was ordered by Grant to take his V corps, supported by units of the IX and II corps and a small cavalry division, and move to the left to capture a section of the Weldon railroad, the main supply line for the Confederate forces at Richmond and Petersburg, which led south to Wilmington, the last major port of the Confederacy.

By 9:00 AM on August 18, 1864, Warren had brushed aside Confederate pickets and reached the Weldon railroad at Globe Tavern.  He deployed a division of his corps to destroy track, held another division in reserve and set another brigade, deployed in line of battle, north to guard against Confederate attempts to retake the railroad.  A.P. Hill, launching his attack at 2:00 PM used two divisions from his corps to retake Globe Tavern, but Warren counterattacked and recovered the ground he lost, his troops entrenching as night fell.

On the 19th, the IX corps reinforced Warrens V corps while the Confederates received three brigades of Major General William Mahones’ division along with “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry division.  Mahone, cementing his reputation, after the part he played in retaking the Crater, as one of the best generals for the Confederacy in 1864, launched a slashing flank attack that captured two Union brigades.  A Confederate frontal assault by Major General Henry Heth was easily repulsed, and the fighting ended with a IX corps counterattack leading to hand to hand fighting as nightfall brought a  close to the day’s fighting.

Torrential rains on the 20th prevented large scale combat.  Warren withdrew on the night of the 20-21 to a new fortified line.  Confederate attacks failed to dislodge him, and the battle of Globe Tavern ended with the Union in permanent possession of several miles of the Weldon railroad which necessitated the Confederates to bring in supplies to Petersburg and Richmond thirty miles from the nearest section of the Weldon railroad not under Union control.  Union casuaties were 4, 296 to 1,620 Confederates but the noose had been tightened around Petersburg and the Confederacy.

Here are the comments of General Grant on this operation in his Personal Memoirs: Continue Reading

11

Religion and Reality

And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,  
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.

GK Chesterton, Lepanto

 

Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report.  Father Robert S. Hewes recalls some very relevant history:

 

Getting all medieval..

 

Dear friends,

“Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy Love?”

The words above stood out like a thunderclap.

Earlier this morning (August 11th) I was reading the entry in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints” for the saint of the day: St. Clare of Assisi, a friend and contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.

I had not thought to have read such words from a Saint who followed her fellow-townsman Francis in the spirit of poverty and simplicity. As a line from a movie has it, Clare “got all medieval” that day.

Well, St. Claire WAS “medieval”.

However, the account of the events that lead to long-ago prayer of Claire are strikingly modern. An army in the service of (of all people) the “Holy Roman Emperor” in the year 1244 advanced on her city.  This host was ravaging the area around Clare’s convent just outside Assisi and was largely composed of hired “Saracens” (i.e., Arab Muslim warriors) and approached the walls of her enclosure. She took herself to the wall, the Blessed Sacrament borne before her in a pyx and she faced the advancing Islamic troops. It was then she prayed the words that began this article.

Not very ecumenical we might think. Maybe she was too harsh?

After all, can’t we all just get along?

It takes two to get along.

You and I are used to assuming all people are basically good, and all religions are essentially good.  How often do we think ‘we all believe in the same God”?

Do we?

What is emerging and is rampaging today now in the form of “ISIS” or “ISIL” is an old story: militant Islam carrying the sword and demanding total submission to Allah as they conceive him to be. We are in merely the newest phase of a struggle that has gone on intermittently from 1400 years in the Middle East and has now spread West, as it once did. Continue Reading

August 17, 1864: Lincoln to Grant

Lincoln and Grant

The gaunt man, Abraham Lincoln, lives his days.
For a while the sky above him is very dark.
There are fifty thousand dead in these last, bleak months
And Richmond is still untaken.
                              The papers rail,
Grant is a butcher, the war will never be done.
The gaunt man’s term of office draws to an end,
His best friends muse and are doubtful.  He thinks himself
For a while that when the time of election comes
He will not be re-elected.  He does not flinch.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

 

In August of 1864 the bottom seemed to be giving out from underneath the Union war effort.  Grants’s drive against Richmond and Sherman’s drive against Atlanta seemed to have stalled, with Confederate armies holding tenaciously to both cities.  Casualties, especially in the eastern theater of the War, had been appallingly high since the campaigning season opened in April, and after a massive effusion of blood the War seemed no closer to a Union victory.  Northern governors feared draft riots in their cities in the face of a growing conviction that the South could not be conquered.  On August 15, Grant wrote to Chief of Staff General Henry Halleck, in response to proposals that troops could be sent from the Army of the Potomac to put down draft riots:

CITY POINT, VA., August 15, 1864-9 p. m.

Major-General HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.

If there is any danger of an uprising in the North to resist the draft or for any other purpose our loyal Governors ought to organize the militia at once to resist it. If we are to draw troops from the field to keep the loyal States in harness it will prove difficult to suppress the rebellion in the disloyal States. My withdrawal now from the James River would insure the defeat of Sherman. Twenty thousand men sent to him at this time would destroy the greater part of Hood’s army, and leave us men wherever required. General Heintzelman can get from the Governors of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois a militia organization that will deter the discontented from committing any overt act. I hope the President will call on Governors of States to organize thoroughly to preserve the peace until after the election.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

Lincoln responded to Grant, and, if the anachronism may be allowed, his message back had a Churchillian ring to it: Continue Reading

5

Back Again

Vacations are always fun, although the older I get the more I find that I need a rest and recuperation period to recover from the vacation!  (The work that no doubt has piled up on my desk in my absence makes such periods of after vacation rest brief indeed.) My son has started in at SIU law school and he has received the usual law school admonition that they will teach him to think like a lawyer.  (What a terrible threat!)  He seems to be off to a good start.   GenCon was fun as always.  The high point for me was when the family and I attended the 12:10 PM Assumption holy day mass at Saint John the Evangelist across from the convention center in Indianapolis.  The mass began with the packed congregation belting out Hail Holy Queen, always one of my favorite hymns, and the congregation was so loud that I was able to sing at the top of my lungs, something I enjoy doing but that I rarely do since if I could be heard I fear it would quality as at least a misdemeanor if not a felony!  I was then delighted to learn that the three priests concentrating the mass were all gamer priests from around the country there to attend GenCon and who were substituting for the pastor who was on vacation. Continue Reading